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Hello!  Looking for the collective expertise of the group!  Just got back into O gauge, and I have a small basement layout.  There are three loops in a 5' x 8' space.  I have a Lionel trolly set so it comes with a loop of 027 track.  I then have a loop of Lionel Fastrack 036 and another one with 048.  None of these are connected, there are no switches, so each is separately powered.  I am currently using a KW for the 036 and 048 and a 1033 for the O27 track.  I want to start getting some engines that I happen to like buy want to make sure that I don't run afoul of minimum radius issues and have to just put them on a shelf!  I will probably get some small post-war switcher engines to run on the 027 and O36 loops, but I really like some of the FARR locomotives from the Lionel MPC era.  I have read in two different places where someone said they run on 031 but someone else said you need 054 - obviously not something I will have.  I have an opportunity to get my hands on the #6-8702 Southern Crescent 4-6-4 with its passenger cars; or I can just get the locomotive itself.  I know that large passenger cars can be problematic with shorter radius curves and was going to look for the "baby madison" cars down the road.

I like the 6-3100, 6-8002, 6-8003 (really any Hudson, Berk, Northern) for the MPCs

I would think many of the post-war engines that aren't close to scale (which is what I am looking for anyway) would be okay other than some big ones. I am staying away from the command control stuff, like the conventional running only.

Am I on the right track here?  Anything else I should be considering or thinking about? 

Thanks!

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Concur with Mallard. Literally everything made by Lionel between World War II and 1988 will run on O-36. That includes the Scale Hudsons from that period, too. Most will also run on O-27. From 1988 to 2000, almost everything will run on O-36.

For the most part, MPC re-used postwar tooling, so the MPC Berks and (non-scale) Hudsons are based on postwar models: 736, 646, or 2065. The MPC steam passenger sets used the 13-inch "Baby Madison" cars, which were all-new tooling by MPC. The 14.5-inch postwar-style Madison cars were reintroduced by LTI in the 1990s. Those also look good with MPC steam.

Like postwar Lionel, MPCs rolling stock was a mixture of scale (or nearly scale) and decidedly undersized, yet most of it looks pretty good together. Certainly, anything originally sold or marketed as a set will look "right".

I would recommend getting a Greenberg's Guide covering this period. It will orient you to what is available, and with some study you will develop an eye for the postwar / MPC "look," which will help a lot when it comes to knowing whether the train in front of you will look correct with what you already have at home. The best (in terms of number of photos and pages in color) is 1970-1991, Volume 1, but there is a 1970-1987 edition which is adequate, and also probably a little cheaper.

@nickaix posted:

Concur with Mallard. Literally everything made by Lionel between World War II and 1988 will run on O-36. That includes the Scale Hudsons from that period, too. Most will also run on O-27. From 1988 to 2000, almost everything will run on O-36.

For the most part, MPC re-used postwar tooling, so the MPC Berks and (non-scale) Hudsons are based on postwar models: 736, 646, or 2065. The MPC steam passenger sets used the 13-inch "Baby Madison" cars, which were all-new tooling by MPC. The 14.5-inch postwar-style Madison cars were reintroduced by LTI in the 1990s. Those also look good with MPC steam.

Like postwar Lionel, MPCs rolling stock was a mixture of scale (or nearly scale) and decidedly undersized, yet most of it looks pretty good together. Certainly, anything originally sold or marketed as a set will look "right".

I would recommend getting a Greenberg's Guide covering this period. It will orient you to what is available, and with some study you will develop an eye for the postwar / MPC "look," which will help a lot when it comes to knowing whether the train in front of you will look correct with what you already have at home. The best (in terms of number of photos and pages in color) is 1970-1991, Volume 1, but there is a 1970-1987 edition which is adequate, and also probably a little cheaper.

nickaix, I appreciate the following up with all the details.  I have the Standard Catalog of Lionel Trains (1970-2000) so I have been looking through that as well as actually Lionel catalogs from the 1970s that I just got my hands on them.  I will look for the Greenberg guide as well, as you can never have enough info. 

I have an older layout that was made with a lot of O-27 track with some modified Lionel and Marx O-27 switches that have epoxied  O-45 and O-60 curved track to open up the curves for certain situations but the engines listed here also run quite well thru the old O-27 curved track with no problems and if someone criticizes your overhang of the boiler, just ignore them.  It's your layout not theirs.  All engines below are listed as O gauge in the catalogs and believe me they do run quite well on O-27 curves and switches

Looking at the picture you can see there the curved section of track was cut off this old Marx switch and a straight section was epoxied in place on .  You can use any curve you want also to make it fit your particular situation.

Engines listed are: K-Line GP-38 2301 diesel,

Lionel 1201 Pere Marquette 2-8-4,

Lionel 8977, 0-6-0 B6 switcher.

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  • Straight track epoxied to Marx switch
@Lary posted:

I have an older layout that was made with a lot of O-27 track with some modified Lionel and Marx O-27 switches that have epoxied  O-45 and O-60 curved track to open up the curves for certain situations but the engines listed here also run quite well thru the old O-27 curved track with no problems and if someone criticizes your overhang of the boiler, just ignore them.  It's your layout not theirs.  All engines below are listed as O gauge in the catalogs and believe me they do run quite well on O-27 curves and switches

Looking at the picture you can see there the curved section of track was cut off this old Marx switch and a straight section was epoxied in place on .  You can use any curve you want also to make it fit your particular situation.

Engines listed are: K-Line GP-38 2301 diesel,

Lionel 1201 Pere Marquette 2-8-4,

Lionel 8977, 0-6-0 B6 switcher.

Lary, I appreciate it.  I just like watching trains run, so three loops on my 5 x 8 is what I will be doing and as I haven't gotten any of these locomotives yet, as I start accumulating, I want to make sure everything will work!  Soon, like we all do, I will have more locomotives than I have track for so those will go on the shelf to switch out now and then so all of them will be runners!

RJP, it should be noted that practically every Lionel train set made from 1970 until the introduction of FasTrack in 2004 came with 027 track... with scant few exceptions. For a number of years, Lionel only cataloged 027 track. 0 gauge straights and curved track are first listed again the 1977 catalog. And no other 0 gauge track types except straights and curves.

So any engine or car that was made in a set with 027 track, will obviously run on 027 curves. Granted, as said above, there may be some overhang. Fast forward to today, and in the Lionel catalogs, many set items are listed with a minimum curve of 031, like the FT, various GP and RS3 diesels. And yet many of those products came in sets before FasTrack with 027 curve including the FT various GP and RS3 diesel. Maybe because Lionel not longer makes and 027 curve? And yet rolling stock is listed in catalogs as 027 minimum curve. An exception is the Harry Potter type steam loco that does need the 036 curve.

Yes, there are some steamers (as with the Postwar years) that need an 031 curve. The FM TrainMaster diesel probably does too. And certainly any larger loco that will make an 027 curve will look better on a larger radius. But sometimes you have work with the space you have.

And one more thought: Although opinions differ on what passes as acceptable, because of the plastic roadbed, you will find the noise level of trains running on FasTrack to be much louder than with your 027 tubular. Whether that's bothersome to you, is your preference, as this has been debated before. And though most agree FasTrack is louder, some argue that trains running are suppose to make rumble noise. And looking at layout videos on YouTube, there are a lot of layout with FasTrack, so obviously many accept this.

Last edited by brianel_k-lineguy

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