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I'm way behind on this. I don't mean to sound 2R challenged, or hold the rest of you back, but how, exactly, do you go 2R? There should be a sticky or a web page on this. I don't what you would do or what you would need, and I'm not an electrician, so saying "just make it like an American Flyer" would not educate me. Can someone maybe direct me to a explaination rescource? 

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A few suggestions:


The magazine "O Scale Trains" is 99.44% 2-rail O scale.  They also have a booklet "A Guide to Modern O Scale 2nd Edition" that is very helpful as to other resources.  Please note that the term Modern refers to modeling in O Scale today and not to the era being modeled.

Any of the booklets from Kalmbach Publishing on wiring, benchwork, scenery and track planning are very good.

Your local hobby shop may also know someone in O Scale, and help set up a meetong.

Join O Scale Kings.

Plan to attend the March Meet in the Chicago area and the O Scale National in the NYC area.


Ditto Chip's response but I would add a very important foot note. Joe G has a lot of great 2 rail resource in print.   


Go slow! 


Ask a lot of questions.  Educate yourself before you spend one dollar.  Folks in your position are easy pickings for "teachers" wanting to sell you stuff.


Take in a few big 2 rail events like 0 Scale west or Chicago or a National event.  Join a two rail club.


Leave you wallet at home for the first six months to a year.  You can make a lot of mistakes if you jump into too soon.  You will thank me for that!


Read, read, read.  tt


PS, just noted your address, consider going to the Chicago meet in March and spend a full day or two. Lots of open houses, great bunch of guys, lots of resource.


Chicago is thee best two rail 0 scale show period! Contacts made there will be invaluable.



Last edited by Tom Tee

Think about what it will take to convert to two rail any three rail stock you like. Think hard about it and research. Did I say think twice already... Some conversions are easy, others not so much.


Take things slow. I have dabbled in two rail myself. I second everything else that has been said already in this thread.

If you can find a 2 rail swap meet/show near you, go and talk with some of the people there! Better yet, someone with a 2 rail layout you can visit.


Read this forum and ask questions if you're not sure!


2 Rail used to be plain old DC power, as opposed to AC for 3 rail. Now there are quite a few options, one of the best being (my opinion here) radio controlled rechargeable battery power. The locos are run by on board rechargeable battery packs, therefore no track wiring is needed (a really big deal in my opinion).


If you search back through the topics here on this forum you should learn a lot.


There are many here who will help you if you ask!


There is NO shortage of 2 rail equipment if you know where to look!



Wow! THanks for your enthusiastic responses. Yes, I'm in Chicago daily for work. WHere is the Chicago event to be held, and when?


Obviously I have too much time and money in 3 rail  to move quickly into two rail, but I'd like to at least know what it is, in case I build another layout.


Is two rail always asocaited with scale size? I prefer O-27, personally.

In your position, here is what I would do: buy a 2- rail Williams 0-6-0 off of eBay for around $300, some cars from the used market or Atlas industrial, and some snap track.  Put a Radio Shack bridge rectifier on the output of your simplest transformer, and a DPDT switch for reversing.  Set it up on the rug, run it, and see if you like 2-rail.  If you don't, then sell it and press on.  Shouldn't cost that much in the end.


I have three of those B6sb Williams switchers, and think they are great. One had tinplate flanges, but all are now 2-rail.  Cheapest was 175, most expensive was 300.


I have a few plastic freight cars, used mostly for engine break-in when I want to run light, but still watch a train. Back in the olden days they were a buck each, but you had to trim the flanges and add scale couplers.

Originally Posted by Jay Mack:
Is two rail always asocaited with scale size? I prefer O-27, personally.

Yes, 2 rail is scale!


And, I can make a cheaper suggestion than Bob - grab an old Weaver RS-3 for under $100 instead of the 0-6-0; there's a herd of AHM plastic cars on eBay, and there's even some track to match.  You can get set up and running for under $300 total to test drive 2-rail scale model RR'ing. 

Originally Posted by Jay Mack:

Obviously I have too much time and money in 3 rail  to move quickly into two rail, but I'd like to at least know what it is, in case I build another layout.


Is two rail always associated with scale size? I prefer O-27, personally.

yes, two rail is almost always associated with scale with some modelers going to the extreme of changing the slightly erroneous 1/4" to the closer 17/64th scale.


also be prepared for a layout size change, especially if you abide by true O27 running now.  in scale O, a 36" radius curve (O72 equivalent) is almost the absolute minimum for a scale layout and if you want to run 4wh-coupled locomotives, or clear couplers or sideframes for a lot of rolling stock, 60-72" radius mainline curves should be considered.


if you want to stay O scale but lack the room, you might consider consider On3.


definitely consider DCC.  layout wiring is much simpler, not to mention the amazing control and functioning.  almost all animation tinplate offers aside from (in most cases) smoke.



Great advice.  Here is how I started.  Went to a few 2 rail shows in Wind Gap Pa.  Picked up some flex track.  Off of ebay picked up some old Atlas turnouts, tight radius but OK for my purpose.  Several Weaver cars were converted to 2 rail by purchasing 2 rail trucks (train show & ebay) and kaydee couplers.  Had a Weaver RS-3 for a while, then picked up an Atlas SW switcher for a steal.  That was it.  One loco, 9 freight cars and a small switching layout that is perfect for my space and skill set.  The bridge rectifier idea is perfect for a 3 rail guy who probably has a few transformers hanging around.  I did that for quite a while as well. 

Originally Posted by Jay Mack:

Oh, the "Chicago Show" is in Lombard! While it's possible to get to Chicago, it is not possible to get to Lombard. Very disappointing.


When I say I prefer O-27, I do not mean 27" curves. I mean smaller size trains. People don't use smaller size trains in 2R?


Someone should make an inexpensive 2R starter set.

I'm not sure, but you seem to be asking if there is in fact a smaller size of 2 rail train out there than O Scale at 1/48th (note that applies regardless of 2R or 3R).


I have to respond with yes there are several other scales where 2 rail is actually the only discipline...for example as Marty noted, going smaller there is S Scale which is 1/64th, HO Scale at 1/87Th, N Scale at 1/160th and Z Scale at 1/220th (I think). O Scale is apparently the only example of a Scale where a 3 rail option is available such as yours are with it's 027 track.


I'd ask you what you personally want from your trains? That might help to direct further comments on this inquiry.




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