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If you have the space consider 0-54 curves.  0-54 will handle many of the larger locomotives that won't run on 0-42. It also enables you to reach any point on the layout by leaning over.

Unfortunately 0-54 switches are difficult to find. I use 0-72 switches. In one case I use an 0-31 switch  leading to a siding only used by MTH Brill trolleys.

Check out my website at myworldoftrains.shutterfly.com for photos of my layout.



Lew Schneider

Richard P.

I have "walked in your moccasins."

Using ANYRAIL software, I designed an L-shaped layout with O31 curves and switches, mostly because I had Lionel O31 tubular track curve sections and twelve Lionel O22 (O31 curvature) tubular switches on hand.  When I realized some of my locos wouldn't negotiate O31 curves, I adopted O42 as the minimum curvature for tubular track and switches on a revised L-shaped layout with two levels. O42 was the largest curvature I could fit onto level one, and I used O31 trackage on level two, dedicated to trolley lines only. Diagrams of the two levels are attached for reference.

I sold all the Lionel O22 tubular switches via eBay and recycled that money into K-Line O42 tubular switches. I acquired O42 tubular curved track sections. The O42 curvatures were placed everywhere, even at sidings.

Later, I acquired locomotives that required larger-than-O42 curves. Admittedly, they were impractical acquisitions, but in my defense I was seduced by beautiful models of Rock Island trains.  They are now resting as "Shelf Queens" on aluminum shelves mounted to the walls of the train room. Beautiful to look at, but not run-able on my layout. Proof for the axiom, "Build a layout as large as you can accommodate and afford."

I regret that the O42 version of the track design maxed-out the available space in my train room. I initially wished for O54 or O6O curves, but that would require building a new wing on our house!  I toyed with the idea of re-designing the layout with larger curvatures as an around-the-walls layout with NO perimeter aisles, but that would be impractical for train operations and difficult for access to the borders -- where (according to Murphy's Law) most of the derailments will happen.

It's true ... size matters. In layout-building and otherwise.

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394

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Images (2)
  • MHM Layout, Level 1 as JPG
  • MHM Layout, Level 2 as JPG

You've got good advice above! I've done the 27 to 31, 31 to 42,and  42 to 72.

To answer your question regarding the switches could be a rather lengthy explanation as you have to take into account the switch placement post-change to 042, straight track removal, etc... However, it appears you have a loop with an inner passing that uses o31 switches? In that case, you shouldn't have to change the curve radius of your inner passing but the location of the switches to enter the inner passing may change due to track geometry.  

Also, before you decide to go o42, if you are ever thinking of going to o54, o60, o63, 072, etc... you might want to hold off on the o42- I would have in retrospect. Basically, to make a circle using full o54, o60, o72 or o36 half curves requires 16 pieces. Thus, on my layout I have an o72 and three o60s in each corner of the outer loop(used to have 072- 2 o60- 1 half o36 but that o36 was just too tight)

Just wanted to give you a heads up. If you have more questions, just ask.

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Images (1)
  • 031 to o42

The answer here depends on how much space you have.  If you have the space, O72 is the way to go.  Everything looks and runs better on O72.   If you have to compromise, O42 is certainly not bad but - that is what I use on our outer loop - but you will have limitations.  

The other thing to consider is the wisdom of running full scale equipment if space is enough of an issue that you cannot accommodate O72. I debate this internally all the time.  Where I have landed, fwiw, is that unless you have room for a very large layout, sticking to the scaled down equipment is generally better because it simply looks better on those smaller layouts.  So MTH imperial steam or Lionmaster is the way to go generally.

HTH.

Didn't see it explicitly mentioned, but is it correct to assume that you're sticking with tubular track?  (I'm a fan of tubular - easy to cut, inexpensive since it's fallen out of favor, and can be made realistic by adding ties and ballast if desired.)  I agree with the previous posts - go as big as you can.  IMO, going from O31 to O42 doesn't buy a whole lot of benefit. 

O42 switches can be hard to find, and the K-Line ones have a different tie pattern than regular tubular track.  Lionel O72 switches can be found at reasonable prices, but they can be a challenge to operate on.

If you're not committed to staying with tubular, it opens up a whole range of options, but you will incur a lot of expense and lose the old school look.   

So the question at the end of the video … Do the 031 switches need to be changed also?

My thoughts are that it depends on what the switches are being used for. I couldn’t tell from the video if they were dead end sidings or were passing sidings accessible from both ends.

You can mix and match different size curves around the layout with whatever switches you want.  Any engine can go through the straight section of any size switch. The issues come up when you try to run a larger engine through the curve of a smaller switches. If you have dead end sidings in which you only back a train in and disconnect, 031 switches probably won’t be an issue. But if they are passing sightings and you want larger engines to maneuver in and out of the curve sections, you should probably go with a larger switch.

For what it’s worth, as I‘m planning my next layout I’ll have a combination of different sized curves and switches. My main line will be larger curves with 072 switches and that’s where I will exclusively run larger engines. But on my branch line and industry sidings, I will have smaller curves and switches where I only intend to run switching engines and other smaller engine types.

Last edited by VJandP
@StevefromPA posted:

You've got good advice above! I've done the 27 to 31, 31 to 42,and  42 to 72.

To answer your question regarding the switches could be a rather lengthy explanation as you have to take into account the switch placement post-change to 042, straight track removal, etc... However, it appears you have a loop with an inner passing that uses o31 switches? In that case, you shouldn't have to change the curve radius of your inner passing but the location of the switches to enter the inner passing may change due to track geometry.  

Also, before you decide to go o42, if you are ever thinking of going to o54, o60, o63, 072, etc... you might want to hold off on the o42- I would have in retrospect. Basically, to make a circle using full o54, o60, o72 or o36 half curves requires 16 pieces. Thus, on my layout I have an o72 and three o60s in each corner of the outer loop(used to have 072- 2 o60- 1 half o36 but that o36 was just too tight)

Just wanted to give you a heads up. If you have more questions, just ask.

Thank you for your advice I appreciate you taking the time to look at my issue!

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