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As this is the "3-Rail Traditional Toy Train" OGR forum, we need to hear from those with that style of layout.  We are a small minority of viewers and participants on this, our forum, so it will be helpful and interesting to learn more about our layouts, and their operation.

So please post a small,  short introduction to your "3-Rail Traditional Toy Train Layout" to include a few pictures and an short description.  When we run out of posting these introductions, lets post descriptions of a your current interests in what you are running, improving, changing, planning, etc. on your layouts.

I will start. The following link tells all about how I designed, built and operate my layout.

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...fties-era-027-layout

Table of Contents end of Post 1 on page 1

The title tells most all about it, the layout is an action packed, fifties era, Lionel/Marx 027, operating and switching, conventional controlled, portable Toy train layout.  It is 44 years old and still improving.

The layout started in 1977, as one train board layout with the following track plan and was on the floor for 6 weeks a year, with this plan, until 1988.  Size is 11 ft , 2 inches long and 5 ft, 9 inches wide, is in two sections, and the inside loop includes an oval and figure 8 allowing train reversing in either direction and has 11 Marx switches. The outside loop has two alternate/storage tracks and has 9 switches.  This train board can runs 4 trains, with two trains per two blocked relayed loops, and numerous operating accessories.  It includes a homemade $10 turntable with pit, homemade round house and now an operating Lionel Gantry Crane.

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Train Complete 1-17-2015 116

In 1988, a second train board was added making an L shaped layout and adding a second control panel and Lionel LW transformer, and the layout was still on the floor.  Size of addition is , 7ft 6 in x 4ft 7in.  This addition has a second Actionable Touch Track Diagram Control Panel and a third LW transformer.  The third loop includes a dog bone giving train reversing in either direction for the outside loop for both train boards and has 11 switches.  The layout can now runs 5 trains with two trains per two blocked relayed loops with one train running on the new train board and has numerous operating accessories.  The layout now can be operated by only one operator and by two or three operators with two control panels and has a total of 31 Marx switches had a Wye added in 2020.  The layout is now been up permanently since 2011.

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Layout Day Arial 8-18-2021 2021-08-18 015

So, Postwar 3-Rail Traditional Toy Train fans, let us learn about your layout and layout operation and we will all get more acquainted.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie
Original Post

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I've been a Lionel Pennsy collector, operator and repair person for many decades.  I also spent 37 years on active duty in the Army.  A highly detailed, sceniced layout was never an option.  We moved about 20 times.  I always envisioned my retirement layout along the lines of a department store holiday display.  Lionel track, trains and accessories.  Below are some pictures of my 3 rail Lionel toy train room and layout.  16X16 with two 072 blocks and two regular O gauge blocks.  TMCC, Legacy and conventional.   DSC00662 - CopyDSC00663 - CopyDSC00664 - CopyDSC00665 - CopyDSC00226Train Room

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@Choo Choo Charlie wrote:

As this is the "3-Rail Traditional Toy Train" OGR forum, we need to hear from those with that style of layout.  We are a small minority of viewers and participants on this, our forum...

This view has been posted before so let's put this myth to rest. There are currently as of this moment, 28,705 members on this forum. There's NO way that these are all scale guys. We all know there's a big difference between members who "lurk" on this forum, and those who actively post. And there's just a lot of folks who don't post, or post in frequently.



And if the scale market was SO BIG ...



I could on in this vein as there's lots of evidence. But here's another angle.

I don't have any train problems to post about, as I very seldom have any despite me running "inferior" trains according to the thinking of some here.

My K-Line S-2 isn't working..." Nope, that doesn't happen. No need for a post.

"I'm having problems with my Lionel starter set 4-4-2..." Nope, that doesn't happen. No need for a post.

"I'm having constant derailments on my Lionel MPC-era design 027 switch tracks..." Nope, that doesn't happen either. I haven't had a derailment (other than my own error) in decades. So again, no need for a post.

And I still have fun in the hobby. My repaint post linked below is both evidence of that, and an encouragement to those looking for some creative endeavors in "027 scale" .



@brianel_k-lineguy,

I hear where you're coming from, but I don't think that Charlie was looking for a tirade when he launched this thread.

Questions:

  1. Are all 28,705 of us more alike, or more different?
  2. Are we friends or foes?
  3. Is it time to kick some of us out because our preferences are too different?


You're arguing for tolerance and respect.  Please give some as well.

Those of you who love 3-Rail Traditional please keep up the good work.  Your work is just as inspiring as the finest scale-sized modeling, and is indeed the foundation of the hobby.

Mike

P.S. Now I have to ask a simple question.  If all the non-modern stuff was really as bullet-proof as you imply why did Lionel have a service network from it's earliest days?  I suppose that back in the day, unlike the present time, folks who worked within it were just like the Maytag repairman -- lonely.

Johns GG1 and Hokie 71

Those are some neat layouts and I love the elevated tracks, lots of train shelves and a turntable .  The pictures are worth a thousand words.

I have eliminated installing elevated tracks for 30 years as my layout was portable and they would be a pain to put up and take down.  I am putting them on" the list" as a future consideration now that the layout is up permanent.  I keep lists of just about every thing.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

I think this topic is a great idea and will enable us to learn about and see our traditional 3 rail layouts in one place. Thanks, Charlie, for starting this thread.

My layout is essentially a Postwar, tubular track, long and narrow switching layout, laden with Postwar accessories and sidings. Here are a few panoramic photos:

20220305_164810

20220305_164842

20220322_165037

20220622_025824

20220622_025832

20220622_025540

20220619_081130

20220619_081156

Whatever you love, whatever your passions are, you can show them on your layout. Mine include baseball, Lionel operating accessories, tugboats and barges in the water, Plasticville, scenery, among others.

The layout is about 35 feet long and 3 to 4 feet wide, except for a new addition (where the Plasticville village and boats and barges are), where it is about 12 feet wide.

I started building the layout when my now 30 something children were 8 and 10 years old, and it has been great fun expanding it, scenicking it, and tinkering with it ever since.

Arnold

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I bought trains through newspaper ads for many years.  I learned quickly that if a postwar lionel train was in decent cosmetic shape, almost 100% would run fine after some oil.  Therefore my cash offer could be substantially higher than for a mistreated, rusted train. 

I'm not saying they were bullet proof but many were older than me. 

BTW Mike the number was actually 97.634%.  Just saving you the time.

We have a separate more scale- like layout in a 12 x 16 foot shed. But a year and a half ago, my wife suggested I build a small layout to have in our front room. So I decided to build a small 4 x 4 foot layout in post war style and run my first train set (a 1956 Switcher set I received for Xmas that year). That same year, my little brother received a small set with the Lionel 520 electric locomotive. I had bought a 520 engine and the same type cars that my brother had received so I could recreate his set, and I planned to run these sets on this 1956 style layout. I used the same 027 manual switches I had received the next Xmas and 027 track. It was fun building it, and it’s fun running these old trains.

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Last edited by WP

Questions:

  1. Are all 28,705 of us more alike, or more different?
  2. Are we friends or foes?
  3. Is it time to kick some of us out because our preferences are too different?




My answers:

1. Yes

2. Friends

3. NO!!

My answers are supported by the diversity in my "Friend's Layouts" post series on my website. Just yesterday our LITCA group had a BBQ of 14 of us - layouts of those attending include: Scale O. Traditional O. HO. Flyer S, TT, N and T-rail. Large and small, in planning, professionally built and home built

If we are going to talk about a traditional toy train layout I can't think of anything more traditional than a carpet central around Christmas time.   I assembled carpet centrals many times over the years and there are dozens of stories I could offer about running the trains for visitors.

traindisplayred

  This display dates from 1981.  At the time I was single so I could do anything I felt like as far as making use of floor space. What I would do was move all of the furniture out of the living room and stuff it into the bedroom (there wasn't a lot of furniture so this wasn't a big deal) and cover the entire living room floor with my latest creation.  About this time my sister wrote me and asked for an updated picture of myself.  I was going to set a camera up on a tripod and take a timer picture but before I could do this one of my co-workers came over with his family to view the layout. 

  He was taking pictures so I asked him if he would take a picture of me at the controls of this layout.  As it happened his wife and two children were sitting along side me when he snapped the photo.  In due time he sent me a print and I forwarded it on to my sister.  Apparently some of her friends wanted to see what I looked like so she pulled out the picture and showed it to them.

  Their uniform reaction to the picture was NOT positive. Some of the more printable comments were:

  1. My God, his wife must be a saint!

  2. How could he possibly treat his family that way?!

  3. If he pulled a stunt like that with me I'd leave and find me a good lawyer!

  4. Shame on him for forcing his wife to sit still for something like that!

  5. I can't believe it!  He plays with his trains and just makes his kids watch! What a creep!

  6. What kind of a jerk makes his wife and kids dress up while he sits there in jeans and a sweatshirt?



My sister had to quickly explain to everyone that:



1. I was single

2. The lady and the children in the picture were visitors and were the wife and children of the guy who took the picture.

3. Most of the time my living room looked like every other living room.

  When I told my friend about the reaction to the picture we all got a good laugh.

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Images (1)
  • traindisplayred

If we are going to talk about a traditional toy train layout I can't think of anything more traditional than a carpet central around Christmas time.   I assembled carpet centrals many times over the years and there are dozens of stories I could offer about running the trains for visitors.

traindisplayred

  This display dates from 1981.  At the time I was single so I could do anything I felt like as far as making use of floor space. What I would do was move all of the furniture out of the living room and stuff it into the bedroom (there wasn't a lot of furniture so this wasn't a big deal) and cover the entire living room floor with my latest creation.  About this time my sister wrote me and asked for an updated picture of myself.  I was going to set a camera up on a tripod and take a timer picture but before I could do this one of my co-workers came over with his family to view the layout.

  He was taking pictures so I asked him if he would take a picture of me at the controls of this layout.  As it happened his wife and two children were sitting along side me when he snapped the photo.  In due time he sent me a print and I forwarded it on to my sister.  Apparently some of her friends wanted to see what I looked like so she pulled out the picture and showed it to them.

  Their uniform reaction to the picture was NOT positive. Some of the more printable comments were:

  1. My God, his wife must be a saint!

  2. How could he possibly treat his family that way?!

  3. If he pulled a stunt like that with me I'd leave and find me a good lawyer!

  4. Shame on him for forcing his wife to sit still for something like that!

  5. I can't believe it!  He plays with his trains and just makes his kids watch! What a creep!

  6. What kind of a jerk makes his wife and kids dress up while he sits there in jeans and a sweatshirt?



My sister had to quickly explain to everyone that:



1. I was single

2. The lady and the children in the picture were visitors and were the wife and children of the guy who took the picture.

3. Most of the time my living room looked like every other living room.

  When I told my friend about the reaction to the picture we all got a good laugh.

Love this too? Bravo to you, Robert, as well!

Arnold

I love all the layouts, thanks for posting guys.  Robert's post on his old carpet layout was especially great.  It shows O gauge toy trains can be fun, interesting and run without a fancy layout.  Temporary layouts on the carpet on the floor are the only place available for lots of folks like apartment and small house renters. It has special appeal for families with small children:  on the floor where the kids live and second the carpet is easier on the engines and cars and have a soft landing area and when they fall of the track.

If I had not committed to building my layout while Constant Spring part of Kingston, Jamaica in 1977, I would have had the layout on the hard terrazzo floors of our rental house.  We would have needed lots of soft cushions to sit on the floor.  As it was we had a bare bones start of my current layout.  But fun was had running 4 small 2-4-2 plastic Lionel engines.

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

My 15x19 L-shaped layout is probably ly my last O-gauge, three-rail Lionel-oriented layout. It follows several years of presenting holiday layouts in the living room (and later) in our two-stall garage. We invited 200+ friends to our Holiday Open House events, and my wife Carol prepared a table filled with snacks. Some foodies probably favored the table more than the trains!

After the years of hosting our Holiday Train Open House events, I joined (and later led as its President) a local O-gauge train club. Members built several layouts open to the public at local venues during the calendar year.at a local venues. Later still, a corps of area hobbyists built and operated a large O-gauge layout at Layman Library during the holiday season. During its five-year run, more than 22,000 visitors dropped by.

Then I focused on designing and building the current L-shaped layout. It's not a "hi-rail" layout; rather, it's a deliberate attempt to  create a 1950s-ish layout with no scenery but filled with buildings, operating accessories, and a modest track plan of Lionel tubular track and switches.

The lower level has an industrial district with sidings and operating accessories, a Victorian neighborhood with houses, a suburban neighborhood, a city park, a downtown area with appropriate operating accessories, and a Dinosaur Park (for kids to enjoy). The minimum curve and switches are all O42 - the largest size that would fit in the Train Room.

The upper level has three short trolley lines - all of them with Christmas décor- plus 35 Department 66 North Pole Village lighted porcelain buildings.

The lower level is wired for Lionel's TMCC and MTH''s DCS control technology - selectable through a knife switch. Trains respond to a CAB-1 or a Remote Commander respectively. The upper level is wired with DC through a PC power supply routed to three separate voltage control knobs.

A track plan for each level is attached. Also some pix of the layout.

Mike Mottler      LCCA 12394

Attachments

Images (10)
  • E-W Platform (2018_05_04 23_14_37 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC)
  • N-S Platform (2018_05_04 23_14_37 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC)
  • Victorian Row (2018_05_04 23_14_37 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC)
  • East Suburbia (2018_05_04 23_14_37 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC)
  • Lionel Oil Field (2018_05_04 23_14_37 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC)
  • MTH Car Wash (2018_05_04 23_14_37 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC)
  • DSCN2125 (2018_04_21 20_17_09 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC): Cemetery Scene
  • DSCN2122 (2018_04_21 20_17_09 UTC) (2018_10_01 17_57_01 UTC): Dinosaur Park
  • MHM Layout, Level 2 as JPG (2021_09_10 19_03_36 UTC)
  • MHM Layout, Level 1 as JPG (2021_03_12 16_27_26 UTC)

My 15x19 L-shaped layout is probably ly my last O-gauge, three-rail Lionel-oriented layout. It follows several years of presenting holiday layouts in the living room (and later) in our two-stall garage. We invited 200+ friends to our Holiday Open House events, and my wife Carol prepared a table filled with snacks. Some foodies probably favored the table more than the trains!

After the years of hosting our Holiday Train Open House events, I joined (and later led as its President) a local O-gauge train club. Members built several layouts open to the public at local venues during the calendar year.at a local venues. Later still, a corps of area hobbyists built and operated a large O-gauge layout at Layman Library during the holiday season. During its five-year run, more than 22,000 visitors dropped by.

Then I focused on designing and building the current L-shaped layout. It's not a "hi-rail" layout; rather, it's a deliberate attempt to  create a 1950s-ish layout with no scenery but filled with buildings, operating accessories, and a modest track plan of Lionel tubular track and switches.

The lower level has an industrial district with sidings and operating accessories, a Victorian neighborhood with houses, a suburban neighborhood, a city park, a downtown area with appropriate operating accessories, and a Dinosaur Park (for kids to enjoy). The minimum curve and switches are all O42 - the largest size that would fit in the Train Room.

The upper level has three short trolley lines - all of them with Christmas décor- plus 35 Department 66 North Pole Village lighted porcelain buildings.

The lower level is wired for Lionel's TMCC and MTH''s DCS control technology - selectable through a knife switch. Trains respond to a CAB-1 or a Remote Commander respectively. The upper level is wired with DC through a PC power supply routed to three separate voltage control knobs.

A track plan for each level is attached. Also some pix of the layout.

Mike Mottler      LCCA 12394

Well done, Mike!

Peter

If we are going to talk about a traditional toy train layout I can't think of anything more traditional than a carpet central around Christmas time.   I assembled carpet centrals many times over the years and there are dozens of stories I could offer about running the trains for visitors.

traindisplayred

  This display dates from 1981.  At the time I was single so I could do anything I felt like as far as making use of floor space. What I would do was move all of the furniture out of the living room and stuff it into the bedroom (there wasn't a lot of furniture so this wasn't a big deal) and cover the entire living room floor with my latest creation.  About this time my sister wrote me and asked for an updated picture of myself.  I was going to set a camera up on a tripod and take a timer picture but before I could do this one of my co-workers came over with his family to view the layout.

  He was taking pictures so I asked him if he would take a picture of me at the controls of this layout.  As it happened his wife and two children were sitting along side me when he snapped the photo.  In due time he sent me a print and I forwarded it on to my sister.  Apparently some of her friends wanted to see what I looked like so she pulled out the picture and showed it to them.

  Their uniform reaction to the picture was NOT positive. Some of the more printable comments were:

  1. My God, his wife must be a saint!

  2. How could he possibly treat his family that way?!

  3. If he pulled a stunt like that with me I'd leave and find me a good lawyer!

  4. Shame on him for forcing his wife to sit still for something like that!

  5. I can't believe it!  He plays with his trains and just makes his kids watch! What a creep!

  6. What kind of a jerk makes his wife and kids dress up while he sits there in jeans and a sweatshirt?



My sister had to quickly explain to everyone that:



1. I was single

2. The lady and the children in the picture were visitors and were the wife and children of the guy who took the picture.

3. Most of the time my living room looked like every other living room.

  When I told my friend about the reaction to the picture we all got a good laugh.

Great story!

Peter

@WP posted:

We have a separate more scale- like layout in a 12 x 16 foot shed. But a year and a half ago, my wife suggested I build a small layout to have in our front room. So I decided to build a small 4 x 4 foot layout in post war style and run my first train set (a 1956 Switcher set I received for Xmas that year). That same year, my little brother received a small set with the Lionel 520 electric locomotive. I had bought a 520 engine and the same type cars that my brother had received so I could recreate his set, and I planned to run these sets on this 1956 style layout. I used the same 027 manual switches I had received the next Xmas and 027 track. It was fun building it, and it’s fun running these old trains.

It occurred to me as I watched this video not only how delightful a 4'x4' layout can be, but how well you had sceniced it - minimal scenery, but just the right amount so that when viewed from a low angle, it provides separation from front to back - hugely reduces the boredom of a round n round small layout. Really a nice, small layout John, very pleasant to watch!

George

My layout is the essence of toy trains. It's my version of the Lionel Dealer Display Layout D-105, a 5x9  multi-level running two tracks. I added a few tweaks here and there but it is mostly faithful to the D-105.

Lots of operating accessories and trackside signals and pure fun for me. Postwar is what makes it all go for me.

EDIT:  Here's a short video of an original Texas Special passenger set with the "red letter" cars.

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Videos (1)
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Last edited by johnstrains

Our layout started in 2008 when my boys were little. It’s on a 4x8 piece of plywood and is basically a folded over dogbone with an elevated trolly track. I’m an EE by trade, but really enjoy the traditional / post war aspect of the trains. I find it very relaxing to rip the older stuff apart, see how it works, and fix them up. I deal with enough of the high tech “fun” at work…91DF934A-4A5B-4E4A-A4D7-62E25516A808

15AA5575-E24E-4293-B75F-9AFC2540F5A1D394407F-70AE-4394-A043-EB5B69102CE097E6C939-91B3-4D48-B68A-68BB7DB110121D432D89-96AB-4FCD-8BEF-ABD8D9E9C4E7

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Hi Charlie! Cool topic!

I had a traditional Lionel postwar type layout with accessories that has since been sold, taken down and moved to a friends house back in 2005.

here are some photos of the four semi hollow doors with a plan from “Easy Lionel Layouts You Can Build” by Peter Riddle



While I made a friend very happy The layout was sorely missed so a couple of years ago I decided to rebuild it!

sorry the photos aren’t too sharp. These are the only historic  photos I have.

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Images (3)
  • DB3A899A-8034-4120-BF10-02668D894C4E: Door #3
  • 22C7E4F6-EA56-4483-9D06-379A45F785DA: Door #2
  • 6B3E3ED9-0461-46C2-967A-8B7696B9D236: Door #1
Last edited by Leroof

Charlie, my former layout as pictured in last post had Four  semi hollow doors, luggage latched together supported on sturdy metal legs. It  had a working catenary (overhead electric power) and it worked flawlessly through all four tables!  Very 1950’s vibe. Door # 4 had a separate ZW transformer for switching sidings and accessories. One could operate this alone while isolating the rest of the layout for continuous running and or a separate operator. Good times we’re had.

I am slowly rebuilding this layout with three tables currently (maybe the fourth table too) and will reinstall catenary. reestablished former layout will have a different look but function much the same as the one in early 2004 to 2005. It will have a lot of plasticville, and probably only one major accessory per door this time around. I am raising it 10 to 12 inches higher soon. This will give a considerable trackside view.

thanks for starting a cool thread.

Last edited by Leroof

This is a fantastic thread. Thanks to everyone for the pictures and stories. Here are a couple of pics of my work in progress layout. It’s 6x16, 027 profile track, all curves are 042 or 054. There are 12 042 switches with several operating accessories. This is version 3.0 on this benchwork. V1.0 featured nested 054 & 042 loops and a trolley line.  Someone suggested running trains on the loops might become boring. This latest version consists of one circuit with two reversing loops, a long passing siding and several spurs for accessories and storing engines.
I run mostly LC+ and MTH PS1.
Having fun but at some point I may redo the layout to add mountains bridges and tunnels.
Thanks for looking.

Mark

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Images (2)
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