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I started Purchasing Super O in 1966 as 15 year old. I had O27 from 1956 until 1966. It took until 1976 for me to acquire the amount of Super O Track that I needed to build the layout that I desired. I was going through high school , college and the USAF during that time and not located where that track was plentiful at a reasonable price most of that time. The old Hobby Models of Evanston, Illinois helped me build that collection while attending college in Evanston

I ran Super O until from 1976 until Lionel seduced me with O72 switches in 1985 or 1987. I now regret that I left Super O for O72 which led me to Atlas O. I should have held on to my Super O as I had purchased new unused stock. The money that I have wasted in O72 and Atlas O is shameful. Because I could not get some Atlas O54 recently, I built the same layout in Super O. It is great. I just have to add some sidings and an automatic stopping feature. This track is great. It is too bad that Lionel lacked the vision to remake Super O in 2 additional radii (O54 and O72) with switches . The conductivity and working of accessories (Milk Car, Dump Car and Horse Coral Car) are great.

O72 and Atlas O are great when it comes to fit up. But there is nothing like watching FMs, Gps, F3s and small Hudsons run on Super O Track. I took 34 years to find out that the grass was not greener. I will admit that I enjoyed operating on O72. Atlas O always possessed major voltage drop problems. Long live Super O track. BTW, I never had roller groove problems between 1976 and 1985. One day I will post an operating video.Screenshot 2021-04-22 151418

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@E-UNIT-79 posted:

I never understood that either Big John. Why did they come out with fast-track when they had such a beautiful design with SuperO

When it developed Fasttrack, Lionel was also thinking about its starter set market, & something to compete with MTH's already released RealTrax   It also wanted something more user friendly than 027, that stayed together & didn't cut up your hands during dis/assembly.  Also, Super O was a non-issue then as, according to Lionel, it no longer had the ability to manufacture it (and, if it did, Super O surely would not have been a starter set item.)   

Last edited by RadioRon

FasTrack is a roadbed track system. Super O was a variation on standard tubular track. One has nothing to do with the other. As others have noted, FasTrack was Lionel’s response to MTH’s RealTrax.

And despite the enthusiasm shown by hobbyists today, Super O was far from successful for Lionel, which is why certain components were never made.

A little off topic, but maybe someone can answer. I recently bought some trains from a friend, and with them came a box of track. Most of it is Super O, and there are two remote switches as well. The track is pretty dirty, and a few pieces have rust on them.
I don’t know if I will ever use it, but I thought I might try to clean it up. Is it worth the effort? Any tips as to the best methods for cleaning it?

I also use Super O. The switches are the weak point of the system also some rolling stock flanges bottom out on the track 'spikes', the steel ones holding the rail to the ties. The track profile being close to prototypical, you can get away with using 2-rail rolling stock but for the switch guard rails sometimes causing derailments. I usually swap out the wheels for larger 3-rail types to avoid those derailments and sometimes turn down the 3-rail flanges to get them off of the spikes. 0-48 curves and switches (of a better design) would have been nice to have when using more-to-scale rolling stock.

@Scrambler81 posted:

I bought some trains from a friend, and with them came a box of track.   Most is Super O, and there are two remote switches.  The track is pretty dirty, and a few pieces have rust on them.  I don’t know if I will ever use it, but I thought I might try to clean it up.  Is it worth the effort?  Any tips as to the best methods for cleaning it?

If you don't end up wanting them there are always people looking for Super O, especially if you have switches. 

@Allegheny posted:

Super O was a good track system.  If Lionel had done a little homework they could have improved on the design and rereleased it.  Of course there may have been a need for a transition piece to mate up with the older version of Super O.

I'm still hoping they will see the light and offer it up again - hopefully within my lifetime that is!

Well, I would say that Lionel "did their homework" and specifically decided NOT to re-make Super O - probably for customer convenience and economic reasons.

I like Super O and would buy it immediately (and pull up all my Atlas track!) if it were made again with the appropriate pieces.

Not to be, I suspect.

My all time favorite Lionel layout is the one featured in the 1957 consumer catalog, which I believe was designed for Super-O.  The L shaped dual "Five by Niners" is Fantastic.

If I was younger and had the $$$ I'd construct a house with a 100% copy of the basement shown in the painting.  My stepdad was tall and slender and I still visualize him holding my hand coming down the stairs that's illustrated in the print.

Item:  It would be interesting for O Gauge Railroading to consider conducting a poll to see:

(1) how many O gauge modelers use Super-O

(2) and how many modelers including anyone new to the hobby, would use Super-O if it were produced again in Century 21.

Request:  A stand alone special release featuring O Gauge Railroading member's Super-O layouts would be Super O Cool in 2021!

Happy Rails

Godspeed

Joe

Last edited by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

First off, welcome back to the church.  Don't kick yourself too much with your flirtations with Lionel O-72 and AtlasO.  They just showed you how great Super O is.  I experimented with AtlasO for the wider curves.  What it taught me is that unless I was willing to go to something 72" or wider I was still going to run into problems with equipment requiring greater minimum diameters and was still going to have unrealistic overhangs.  So now the Atlas track is slated for the trains I will be turning over to one of my kids this Christmas.

Jim R, I don't think it is fair to say that Super O wasn't a success.  With large amounts of traditional O and O27 track already out there it was going to take some time for Super O to really catch on.  Since Lionel had already peaked by the time it was introduced Super O didn't get that time.  Now admittedly this is looking at things through Super O colored glasses, but I see Gar-Graves, Ross and Atlas as the successors to Super O.

As for Lionel actually having done their homework, I don't think their heart was ever in a Super O revival. 

Super O was plain and simply a failure from the standpoint of mass-market manufacturing. Gargraves, Atlas and Ross appeal to the same dedicated hobbyist market as Super O.

If you think otherwise, you’ll have to explain why Lionel’s FasTrack and MTH’s RealTrax have stood as standards in train sets for more than 20 years.

Remember that both MTH and Lionel have repeatedly indicated that their train set market has been the revenue-generating center of their businesses. That market is the modern-day equivalent of Lionel during the brief Super O period.

There is no other way to look at it. Super O was dropped because it didn’t support Lionel’s profits. That made it a failed product.

@Scrambler81 posted:

A little off topic, but maybe someone can answer. I recently bought some trains from a friend, and with them came a box of track. Most of it is Super O, and there are two remote switches as well. The track is pretty dirty, and a few pieces have rust on them.
I don’t know if I will ever use it, but I thought I might try to clean it up. Is it worth the effort? Any tips as to the best methods for cleaning it?

Scrambler, I read about a guy that bought a Lionel display from the late 50's. The Super O track was very dirty, a bit rusty, etc. You might need to square this with your wife, lol, but he got great results putting it into the dishwasher on high. He was right there when the cycle ended and immidiately took the track out and wiped down each piece. They all came out great! His story came from an OGR issue in the 90s...

@Jim R. posted:

Super O was plain and simply a failure from the standpoint of mass-market manufacturing. Gargraves, Atlas and Ross appeal to the same dedicated hobbyist market as Super O.

If you think otherwise, you’ll have to explain why Lionel’s FasTrack and MTH’s RealTrax have stood as standards in train sets for more than 20 years.

Remember that both MTH and Lionel have repeatedly indicated that their train set market has been the revenue-generating center of their businesses. That market is the modern-day equivalent of Lionel during the brief Super O period.

There is no other way to look at it. Super O was dropped because it didn’t support Lionel’s profits. That made it a failed product.

Jim, I doubt you've got the whole picture, here, although you make some good points. Perhaps the bigger reality here was that by the time Super O was introduced in '57, Lionel's days were numbered and profits had been falling for years. HO had assumed the position of king then, as it still is, and Lionel was cheapening everything it could to try to cushion the blows in their train sales. Had Super O come out when they were 1st playing with the idea somewhere in the early 50s, I believe, it may have had a much better run.

Over the last year I’ve jumped on the Super O bandwagon and now the rebuild is underway.  Going with the dealer display look:

True it is a little more cantankerous than regular O, but the issues I’ve run into are easily manageable.   The switches’ bark is worse than their bite.

It’s great stuff.  It hits the sweet spot of having a realistic look without making traditional Lionel equipment look out of place.  

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I don't think that Super-O was a failure at all.  1953 was Lionel's biggest year in terms of sales and profits... then, everything changed in very rapid succession.  Automotive sales exploded while James Dean and Marlon Brando didn't know what a train was and the Interstate Highway System left rail travel in the dust.  Simultaneously, the rest of the world began exporting again and competition heated up while Levittown sized homes couldn't accommodate O gauge.  Super-O may have been the wrong answer in a changing world... but, it certainly was not the problem.

Last edited by Dennis-LaRock

Like many others, I loved the appearance of Super O.  So, many u years ago, I bought a batch with a pair of switches to try it out before starting a layout in a new house.  My F-3's would not make it through the switches without derailing.  I had to make a batch of my own third rail connectors since the batch I bought had way too few included.  So, I sold it all.

Looking back, to me the reason it was a failure was it was way to complex.  Think of it, with tubular track all you need were four different pieces: a curved, a straight, an uncoupling section and a cross track.  And you can add a switch.  And maybe some half sections.  Building and operating a layout was simple for both kids and adults.

Now, with Super O, you had to have little, easily lost clips for third rails for each piece of track, you had to have make up sections for uncouplers, you had to have special "blades" for operating cars, no simple power lockon, again a special length of track.  So, you had to have a good math "feeling" to put a basic layout together.

To me, a successful Super O would have:

+ offset third rail ends so they would slide past each other and provide a good friction based electrical connection

+ uncoupling sections like regular O and 027 track, standard length, with the uncoupling coil and operating car rails built in

+ a standard length power track with screw terminals

+ and of course, testing your switches to make sure they handle all equipment you make before selling them!

Guess it is too late to send those suggestions to Lionel

Peter:  AtlasO had an active forum back when they introduced their O gauge track.  I asked why they repeated Super O's mistake of using power blades rather than simply making an operating track.  Someone claiming to be an Atlas representative said Atlas didn't see it as a mistake, but instead as something that offered the user greater flexibility.  Was he being honest?  Was it simply an economical solution to something Atlas didn't see as being a big seller?  I don't know.  Even with the benefit of hindsight though it is interesting that Atlas went with the power blades and short uncoupler track.

For those who preferred not to use the short super O terminal track there was also the option of power and ground lock ons.  My father bought extra terminal tracks which we tended to use to balance out the terminal and uncoupler tracks on the other side of my brother an my ovals.

@Bill N posted:

For those who preferred not to use the short super O terminal track there was also the option of power and ground lock ons.  My father bought extra terminal tracks which we tended to use to balance out the terminal and uncoupler tracks on the other side of my brother an my ovals.

Today we forget that the power and ground lockons were the only option when Super O was introduced. The #43 power track wasn’t brought out until 1959, which is one of the reasons why the things are so blasted expensive relative to other Super O pieces (they typically go for about $20 each on eBay).  

There is a relatively complete Lionel D-224 display layout in Super O currently advertised online.    I suspect the owner is unaware of its exclusivity, and the 65 years of damp storage shows prominently.  Anything made of steel, outside rails in particular, well, appear similar to the current condition of the Titanic. 

What could Super O  have morfed into had Lionel been healthier?   Bet  they'd have worked out any teething problems long, long ago.

Bruce

I have bounced back and forth between tubular and Super O for years.  The small radius issue is really not that big a deal since it is easy to make what ever radius you like.  I currently have 36, 48, 54. and 72 diameter curves in my collection.  I am currently using Menards 72 in diameter curves with Lionel 72 in switches but will be switching back to Super O this summer for military train season.

Rolland

Before FasTrack came out, thete was this runor in Houston about some sort of Super O 2.0.  When I saw the available track for the first time, it was O36, and it had the short uncoupling track.  First words out of my mpith was "Super O Dash 2!"  ("Dash 2" like the EMD line)

I do not know why both Super O and very early FT has the short round electromagnet uncoupling track.  Seems FT went to a 5" short uncoupling track.  Makes sense.  Why didn't SO?

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