Am I making a mistake by mixing different makers, tracks together?

As I pursue  my "dream layout" I'm finding availability and budget restrictions in trying to be pure to one line. Right now my closest collection includes my first purchase from years ago K-Lines Santa-Fe "Silver Chief", which will be my "Super Chief". I now have the K-Line Fleet of Modernism cars as my Broadway Limited. Purchased the  K-Line NYC streamlined cars as my 20th Century because it had the Horizon observation car(I won't use the dome car). This is out of the era I wanted but cannot find any authentic K-Line 20th Century. Finally I have the set of Lionel California Zephyr cars. Right now I'm looking for the three locomotives to run the trains. Getting a refurbished ZW to handle all four. Started with Super-Snap track but looking for affordable quantity. Menards has cases of tracks with seems to be the cheapest alternative. I can find used Lionel track for a dollar locally. Checking prices on locomotives I'm finding MTH Railkings to be within reach compared to the others.  I'll continue to check EBay and such to add. My questions relates to this mish mash of items together. I'm just looking to have train on track with minimal issues. Is this a prudent and realistic approach?

My Dream Layout - Phase One - Recreate the the competitive run between the 20th Century Limited and the Broadway Limited. Include the scenic run up the Hudson for the 20th and the "Broadway" and Horseshoe Curve of the PRR.  Include the side by side race into Chicago Union Station. Phase Two - Super Chief and the California Zephyr.

Original Post

I'm in a learning curve. Can you elaborate on the z4000?

My Dream Layout - Phase One - Recreate the the competitive run between the 20th Century Limited and the Broadway Limited. Include the scenic run up the Hudson for the 20th and the "Broadway" and Horseshoe Curve of the PRR.  Include the side by side race into Chicago Union Station. Phase Two - Super Chief and the California Zephyr.

Silver, I have no experience with the Super Snap track you have, but it is suppose to be able to mate with regular tubular 0 gauge track like that by Menards or Lionel. Reviews here of the Menards track have been somewhat mixed, with loose track pins being sited as one problem. Also Menards to date makes no turnouts, so you'll need to buy used Lionel ones.

Super Snap track was also remade by RMT, but is currently not being made by anyone. Lionel has also dropped tubular 027 and 0 from production. But the tubular 0 and 027 is pretty plentiful on the secondary market.

Really the most cost effect track is 027, but with some of the passenger cars like the 15-inch ones, you'll need a larger diameter than the standard 27 inch. 027 track was made in larger radius curves, but those are not quite as common. MARX years ago made 027 track in a 34-inch diameter.

Also consider, if you like the realism of the Super Snap track, that you can make and add additional ties to the tubular track. I've made my ties for 027 track out of brown foam, which helps to reduce the rumble noise of the trains on a solid wood surface.

Concerning your transformer: I run many of the K-Line Alco's like what you have. These have DC can motors mounted inside the trucks of the engine. The K-Line S-2, MP-15, and RDC Budd cars were the same configuration. These affordable engines tend to have jack rabbit starts with a transformer like the ZW that puts a minimal 6 volt start to the track. Really, any modern transformer that starts with a lower minimal to the track than 6 volts, would be good for your K-Line Santa Fe Alco.

The MTH locos use larger vertically mounted DC motors, so they are not as sensitive to the low track voltage as the above mentioned K-Line engines. But bear in mind the size of most MTH locos is larger and closer to scale (including most Railking locos) than the K-Line Alco's you have. So they might look out of place to you.... or they may not.

MTH did at one time make locos that came with either a horn or whistle only. These locos end with a -0 suffix at the end of the product number. At one time they re-branded some of their smaller sized Railking (number number starts with 30-) engines under the affordable Rugged Rails banner product number begins with 33-). These engines came with a horn or whistle only. All their other engines came with their Proto system. The PS-1 is the first and oldest of the MTH systems. This may need to be either replaced or removed. There are plenty here knowledgeable about MTH, so it'd be good to ask specific questions when you find a loco you think you want to buy.

I have found the Lionel 1033 transformer ideal for running these kinds of locos. The 1033 has 2 different voltage settings you can use to the track. The B-U setting of 0-11 volts is ideal for these K-Line engines. The top limit of 11 volts to the track helps to prevent these locos from running like speed demons and flying off the track. The A-U setting of 6-17 volts is good for other kinds of locos like postwar and MPC Lionel.

One more bit of info: RMT also remade the former K-Line RDC Budd Car and the S-2, which RMT made into a S-4. But RMT used a different spec motor in their locos which runs much slower than the K-Line versions, so they don't have the same jack-rabbit starts with a typical postwar transformer that starts with a minimal 6 volts to the track.

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There certainly are more choices today with buying and setting up a 3-rail layout. But with the choices, also comes a lot more confusion especially for a beginner. So continue to ask questions. Better to know beforehand, than to find out after you've spent money.

brianel027

 

SilverChief posted:

My Dream Layout - Phase One - Recreate the the competitive run between the 20th Century Limited and the Broadway Limited. Include the scenic run up the Hudson for the 20th and the "Broadway" and Horseshoe Curve of the PRR.  Include the side by side race into Chicago Union Station. Phase Two - Super Chief and the California Zephyr.

Before you decide on track, how big is your planned layout? The only reason I am asking is that your "recreations above" are certainly all the classic ones but I would think to replicate would take up a lot of real estate.

You need to be honest with yourself too. A large layout to recreate the above is not cheap....

If you have room for a larger layout to accomplish the above, I would consider scrapping the short sections of tubular track and going flex. You will have thousands of joints with the sectional stuff.

If this is one of your first layouts, I recommend starting out small to avoid getting overwhelmed. Get used to working with the materials required for a layout. I have seen too many dreams get dashed by starting out "too big" and never finishing due to the shear size of the project.

Not trying to be harsh, just adding my 50 years of experience and also my two cents for whatever that is worth.

Donald

"If two rails are good, than three rails has got to be better."

 

"Give a person a toy train and watch them play for a day. Teach a person to fill their basement with trains and give them a lifetime hobby."

I'm in 100% agreement with Donald! Start small and plan for expansion has always been what I have told newcomers to the hobby. Nothing can be more frustrating than attempting to build more layout than you can realistically handle in terms of time and money.

I have, at one time or another, used just about every track system out there, past and present. Today, with my new layout, I am using GarGraves track and Ross switches...something of a standard these days in the 3-rail hi-rail world. If I was not using that combo, I likely would be using Atlas O track.

The Z4000 transformer I use has served me well over a good long time. I have no real experience with the latest Lionel ZWs, but my guess is you can't go wrong with either transformer.

 

I love them, I use 5, but the 1033 is a bit light for some trains imo. An LW ,KW, VW, or ZW is better. (basically 125w or more, prewar versions too) You could use a couple of Bridge Rectifiers to knock the 5v start voltage down a bit if this bothers you when using small or simply lower volt locos. The Z4000 (Z4k) is the MTH modern version of a ZW more or less. Those as well as Lionel's modern units have a faster acting ciruit protection that electronics in todays trains can benefit from. (the faster trip speed doesn't hurt with post war either) RMT may have some more stock now. I didn't read close. Menards had some insulation paper under the center rail have issues in the initial runs. I haven't heard a complaint in a few years now. My own order was fine, great, sturdy, clean, great fit to each other. It was inexpensive and on my porch within 48 hours of my order.. shipped regular ground! I loved the experience. Don't buy used tube track unless it gleams and talk in loose change terms if you do. A hobby shop near here used to give old tubular away. I will take it for free, but won't pay a dime if its old. New track performance is worth the few extra bucks, be it Menards, S-snap, or what ever.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





No mistake in mixing if you consider HOW. There may be height differences to shim, etc.  But if you secure track well and fed each by wire, You don't really even need pins.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





Allan Miller posted:

I'm in 100% agreement with Donald! Start small and plan for expansion has always been what I have told newcomers to the hobby. Nothing can be more frustrating than attempting to build more layout than you can realistically handle in terms of time and money. 

Yes. Even if you have lots of room, just use a small part of it at first; get a layout running, learning along the way. Tastes and "dreams" will evolve. Budgets, too. The longest journey begins with the first step, blah, blah, blah and all that other philosophical nonsense. 

Thanks for everyone's insight! If I can claim the space between the dryer and move the freezer I could have a 6x12 foot space to work with. I know comprise will be needed to make them all fit. Future location both for the setup and myself hopefully will have designated space.....

My initial thinking for the western trains is to have a desert/mountain scene for the Super Chief. On the other side of the mountain a river gorge for the Zephyr. No real terminus, just a loop back through a tunnel. This would be in the front half. 

Maybe a second level for the eastern trains. I'll probably have  a long stretch of straight track, having the two trains run side by side recreating the race into Chicago(city scenery background) and nothing else because of space. Loops to reverse the course.

I'm going to look into track software to draw it out. Right now I have about 55 feet of track to work with, mostly straight. Will add as needed.

 

 

 

My Dream Layout - Phase One - Recreate the the competitive run between the 20th Century Limited and the Broadway Limited. Include the scenic run up the Hudson for the 20th and the "Broadway" and Horseshoe Curve of the PRR.  Include the side by side race into Chicago Union Station. Phase Two - Super Chief and the California Zephyr.

I have a 9' by 12' layout. Originally I use lionel 0 gauge tubular track that I had in storage for years. Several years ago I was able to pick up a quantity of supersnap track at a good price (brand new) and so I began to change over. To me they looked much better and came in convenient 20" and 30" sections (also 40"). I had trouble getting supersnap switch tracks so I mated the Lionel 022 switches and they fit well with the supersnap. Last year I found a source of supersnap switches (Trainz) at a reasonable price). 

Though no longer made, supersnap pops up on EBay and other sites (Eastern Depot, RMT,  etc.) and I have found just about what I wanted to run three separate trains plus a trolley plus multiple sidings. Unfortunately you just have to keep looking (do Google searches).

JohnF

Lots of good advice on this page. Like you, I own a refurbished ZW and use it for my Christmas layout. Give some consideration to buying a Lionel PowerMaster for each loop. It helps mitigate the jack rabbit starts and serves as a better circuit breaker plus you can use a CAB-1 remote control for the track voltage, whistle, and bells, a "poor man's" command control.  I've purchased PowerMasters used for $25-$30.

Nothing wrong with going with good, old-fashioned O27 or O and making your own ties (or buying from RR Plastics if available).  In a 6' x 12' space, you can do a lot with tight curves if you're not going too big on rolling stock. My new layout in 8' x 12' and I don't own anything requiring more than 31" curves. Most of what I own (75-80%) runs on 27" curves. So, my sub/non/semi-scale stuff looks great on 54" and 42" curves, as good as big scale items on 72" curves. Same for your O27 SilverChief and Fleet of Modernism sets....run them on 42" or 54" and they'll look great.

I like my layout and am satisfied. It'd be done if not for caring for ill parents 2016-2017.  If I had to do it again, I'd really focus on switches first and go from there. I started with 42" Lionel O27 switches but quickly replaced them all with 42" K-Line O27 switches. Nice upgrade, but I'd probably spend the bucks for better (Ross, etc.)

Here's a thought not tossed around for a while. Keep a small loop on the floor or on a card table so you can run something while you take your time building. 

Nothing to run can lead to loss of drive on a big project.

  Something running inspires my drive, solutions, and new ideas too. 

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





Al Smeraldo posted:

I have a mix of "o" tubular and Gargraves flex with lionel o22 switches  double cork roadbed under the flex where it meets the tubes

Question - do you continue the cork under the flex or taper it off?

My Dream Layout - Phase One - Recreate the the competitive run between the 20th Century Limited and the Broadway Limited. Include the scenic run up the Hudson for the 20th and the "Broadway" and Horseshoe Curve of the PRR.  Include the side by side race into Chicago Union Station. Phase Two - Super Chief and the California Zephyr.

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