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Assume we have no other consideration but how well a given 3-rail system can be expected to handle wheels from most eras, i.e., pre-war, poat-war,,,, (you get the idea), which system do you recommend?

Forget about: looks, cost, availability, reliability - all that stuff.

If there's more than one, please rank them if possible.


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The issue with early Marx is that the gears on the wheels of some locomotives basically made the flanges wider (the gears were behind the flange).  The only track system I know that has switches or turnouts made to accommodate the "wide flanges" is Marx's which had spring loaded wing rails and no guard rails (which create another problem) so you have to decide which compromises you're willing to live with.

@artyoung posted:

It's simple enough: Lionel "0" tinplate. It's been time-proven for over 100 years.

Marx(& Lionel) large gear locos will bounce hard over "O" switches with guard rails.

@Charlie posted:

That is about answers the question Geepboy. No reason to really spend any more time on research.

There's always room for more research.

Marx metal switches and Lionel 1121(& 1024) switches lack the guard rails that upset the susceptible equipment that won't run on "O" switches, so those track systems are more universally workable given the original question... so a better answer would be "pre-1952 Marx & Lionel O-27".

Tubular Lionel track and Hirth Hobbies switches will handle everything from most prewar, to postwar, to modern hi-rail models. Prewar Marx with tall gears is a no-go though. The nice thing about the Hirth switches is that they can handle large articulated engines.

The modern Lionel O-72 switches cause derailment issues with a lot of hi-rail and brass steam locomotives. K-line super snap switches work nicely with modern era hi-rail engines but I have had issues with certain engines shorting out on them and cars with sliding shoes catch on the guard rails which can cause some pretty spectacular wrecks.

Well, I had Fastrak years ago, and now have Atlas, and I have never had any problems running any three rail locos as long as it is not a modern one fitted with scale wheels.

Oldest: Marx tinplate wind up 0-4-0 and four car consist (my Dad's from around 1934)

My own Oldest: Marx 0-4-0 electric (plastic body) from 1950s.

All kinds of Marx, Kusan, Lionel post-war stuff.

All kinds of modern MPC and later stuff

Most recent: new Lionel, arrived this week.

@Lee Willis posted:

Well, I had Fastrak years ago, and now have Atlas, and I have never had any problems running any three rail locos as long as it is not a modern one fitted with scale wheels.

Does that caveat apply only to locos or does it also apply to all rolling stock?

And if it does apply to all rolling stock, is there a 3-rail system that can handle both types of wheels - O Gauge and O scale?


I'll add my small 2 cents comment just for the heck of it.  I use O27 profile track and K-line low-profile switches exclusively.  I have absolutely no issues with my post war 2343 Santa Fe, my 2 1960s Lionel steamers, and my modern Lionel By MTH tin-plate Baby Blue Comment and what I call the Christmas tin-plate train.

Both tin-plates, especially the BLue Comet though, have big drive wheels and big flanges, certainly bigger flanges than my 3 older trains.

for what it was worth.

- walt

@geepboy posted:

Why do a lot of people go with Ross switches but GarGraves track? I am considering Ross track with Ross switches. Is there something negative about this combo I am unaware of?


GarGraves track has the same rail profile and connectors as Ross but is less expensive.  However, while they have gotten better, Ross switches are superior to GarGraves.  It is kind of a best of both worlds thing.

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