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I have a chance to purchase a 2-8-4 Lionel Berkshire Nickel Plate #779 engine #28050.  I know minimum radius is 0-54.  I can rework my current layout from a mix of 0-31 and 0-42 track to mostly 0-54 except for one area that I can not go any larger that 0-42 because of wall and doorway in the way.  My question would the Berk be able to turn on 3 sections of 0-42 track.

Last edited by Rich Melvin
Original Post

Smokie, Two things.  I too love that engine, the Lionel NKP Berk #779, and own one.  I use 3R Atlas track, and I could not keep it on the rails with anything less than 054.  Let me define "keep it on the rails":  While the engine stays upright, the drive wheels, that is, at least the four inside drivers, cannot tolerate the sharp 042 curve  radius, and slides a bit side-wise off the rails, giving the engine minimal traction.  BTW, whereabouts in TN?  I have a place in Unicoi, just outside of Erwin, the home of the Clinchfield.  More correctly, thanx to the CSX, it was the home of the Clinchfield.

Sevierville  I use Lionel tubular 0-27 profile.     My father-in-law worked at Lima Locomotive Works from the early 40's thru the end when the plant became Clark Equipment.  He when from building Steam to Diesel, Road Construction equipment to Fork Lifts and such.  He mostly had a hand in building the 779.  He retire when Clark closed the plant in 1980.   He watched them Tear down the last of LLW main building along South Main st in Lima.   He lived in Delphos Ohio at the just a few  blocks from the Western end of the AC&Y railroad.  A really good book about Lima Locomotive Works is  "Lima the History" by Eric Hirsimaki.

Ah, good old Sevierville.  I love that place...except for the horrible summer traffic.  I'm guessing your F-I-L had a nice life, especially if he loved railroading and particularly big engines.  Thanx for the tip on the Lima book.  I'll look for it.  But I must confess that I am an ALCO man, having gone to school in Schenectady, NY, less than a mile from their plant.   Well, I gotta vaporize.  It's getting late and I'm tired.  Catch you on the rebound. 

@Rod Stewart posted:

I have found most Lionel big steam will operate on at least one curve diameter less than specced. Just my experience. YMMV.

Two notable exceptions are the EM-1 and the VL Bigboy. Both are rated for 072, and that is for sure the minimum. 


They will usually run on one diameter less than rated, if there are no switches. Throw in a switch and that goes out the window. 

I'll throw another monkey wrench in this discussion. What about 044.5 in Fastrack curves? It's 048 full curves on each end and 036/048 half and quarter curves in the middle.  

That's not 44.5. That's o48 full curves on each end with o36/o48 half curves in the middle.

Mixing curves doesn't change the overall radius. It just gets tighter where the smaller radius curve is.

IMO if you can't have o54 curves, go with a smaller locomotive like a Mikado.

I own a scale berk and run it on my o60 outer loop.

I have tried it on my o48 inner loop and on top of looking hideous because the drivers on the inner two axles are hanging in mid air. The pilot wheels rub the steamchest.

Just because it can doesn't mean you should . Ive seen images of o scale locos with paint scraped off of the counterweights on the wheels from the drive rods rubbing.

The other risk is potential issue with the wires going to the I.R. drawbar as the are pushed and pulled against the chassis of the locomotive

Last edited by RickO

But if I got this scale berk (the Lionel 779) would it work on my curves? 

Your reworked loop with 054 and 042 should be just fine for the 779. As I said mine his no trouble on a loop of mixed 054 and 042. This loop has two Lionel 042 switches (re-issues of the old K-Line 375 and 376) and there are no issues with them in either position or either direction. 

The 779 is a nice running nicely detailed Berk, and it has two Fatboy speakers that sound great. It has puffing smoke and puts out great smoke after a smoke unit overhaul. Only 2 chuffs/puffs per rev, so if you want 4 per rev you need to add grj's Chuff Generator. I am very happy with the one I have. 


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