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If memory serves me correctly, this issue was raised some time ago by forum member VA Golfer.

At that time, the engine was rated by Lionel as being capable of negotiating O42 curves. The forum member found that while the engine could, indeed, negotiate O42 curves, it would consistently derail any piece of rolling stock coupled directly behind it when going though an O42 curve. I assume that Lionel has since designated the engine as requiring O54 curves.

I also seem to remember that the forum member was able to devise a way to couple the first car to thee engine in such way as to correct the problem. However, I'm not certain of this.

I bring this up because I had a similar situation with, of all things, an MTH Premier Amtrak DC-3 Inspection Car w/PS3, and I was able to find a solution to a similar problem.

The MTH engine is rated for O72 and I had an O54 mainline that I desired to run it on. I was able to slightly bend the side ladders out just a bit to allow the engine to negotiate the O54 curves without any issues at all. However, the engine would stall out when passing though a ladder of Ross #100 turnouts. I determined to connect a tether between the engine and a lighted Amtrak caboose in order to provide the engine with a more constant source of center rail power. Marty Fitzhenry provided both the caboose and the required Dallee mini-connectors. This solution worked perfectly with just one problem. The cabooses's leading truck would derail going through an O54 curve. It seems that, like the aforementioned Lionel Shay, the engine's coupler did not have the required "swing" to successfully negotiate the O54 curve.

The solution was to find a piece of rolling stock with pickup rollers that were able to swing out just a bit more than those of the Amtrak caboose, and tether that car's pickup roller to those of the engine. Fortunately, I had an older Lionel PRR smoking caboose with such a truck and, after tethering its pickup roller to that of the engine, the combination worked perfectly on my O54 mainline.

Perhaps using a car with an extended truck coupler would work for the Shay, as well.

Last edited by Barry Broskowitz

The K-Line/Lionel 2 truck shays have a similar problem with the coupler. It has little or no ability to pivot which is what derails the cars behind it. I assume the fix is to remove some material on either side of the coupler to allow more side to side movement.

Frankly disappointing that these shays which were built to negotiate sharp curves require larger radiuses than some scale Hudsons and Mikados.


I believe the shay with the coupler problem was the former K-Line 2-truck model. I don't recall any coupler issues with the 3-truck Shay as shown by the OP, but I suppose it's possible that something changed recently.

The original runs of Lionel's 3-truck model (early 1990's through early 2000's) were rated for O54, but they will do O42 only when the drive shaft/cylinder block is on the outside of a curve. There isn't enough "compression" available in the drive shaft to make O42 with it on the inside.

Lastly, there's no way the locomotive can be operated without the third truck/tender.

Again, things might have changed recently, but I have a hunch you'll find the above info to be correct.


Suggest you try this: don’t couple the first car to the tender but rather just attach the two couplers with a piece of wire. I think that will allow enough pivot play for the freight car to remain on the track on narrower curves. I have done this with the two truck shay and found it made running on 036 possible even though officially rated for 042. It really doesn’t look that bad either.

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