Last week I posted a video of several O-Gauge wire-guided models of typical 1950s family cars running on my layout's downtown Main Street, which I recently converted to a guide-wire road.  I most like to run 1950s-era cars but have eight models of more modern sports and muscle cars, as shown in the photo below.   Below that I have posted links to videos of two of them running.  The Cobra is particularly fun to watch because it is blasting through downtown and well over twice the speed limit!!



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John, the second of the two links is the one to the Cobra.  I worked for me just now. 

Jim D: run time is usually about an hour and a half to three hours before they begin to slow due to low voltage (they run at lower speed for about another half hour).  nd it depends on speed they are set at and the battery size that could be fit in the car.  The Cobra, with a tiny battery if set to maximum speed (about a scale 65 mph) will run only about an hour.  Set to half speed it will run about 90 minutes.  Model station wagons that have the interior filled with batteries and windows painted black, on the other hand, will run all day (maybe six hours, about as long as I am ever in the train room running trains) at about a scale 20 mph.


Lee, the video links didn't show up when I was looking before, but they showed up now.  Very cool videos, I'm sold on this and Streets has just become obsolete!

@Bossman284 posted:

Can this cars be programmed to make routine stops?  

The car is equipped with a magnetic reed-switch "stop sensor."  This sensor is placed away from the center-line of the vehicle so as not to interfere with the steering magnetics.  Then, an electromagnet coil, like the uncoupling coil in a UCS track, is buried in the road bed where you want to stop.  Apply power to the coil and any passing car will then stop. Release coil power and car starts moving again.

I don't know about the O-gauge implementations but in the HO version there is even a so-called "parking" coil.  This operates backwards so to speak; that is you apply power to the coil to release the car from stop.  This way you don't burn coil power for a car that is parked (stopped) for long periods.

Again, I don't know about O-gauge but in HO it's a DIY'ers dream coming up with stopping scenarios.  For example, detecting that a bus is coming and only turning on the coil at bus stops.  Or detecting that a school bus is approaching a grade crossing and momentarily turning on the stop coil so the driver can look both ways before proceeding.


Yes, there all manner of sensors and PLC controllers for various cool things.  I am working on installing an "Abstandssteuerung" next.  It senses when one car is following too closely to another and momentarily turns on that under-road magnet to halt it until it falls back a few feet.  also have two planned uses where a "turnout" has a car turn off and stop, then senses when no collision will occur with other traffic it if lets it turn and get back into the traffic lane.  One will be a taxi pulling out of the traffic lane into the taxi stand in front of the hotel, another, for cars going through the drive in window at a bank.  

There is also an operating traffic light and four-way intersection control which I might install, although i don't think I can build roads to I have a four-way intersection anywhere on my layout.  

Lee, Do you still have your lake with the moving boats? If so will this work for the boats or is the system you had in place adequate?

I have observed an HO variation in action at a local club.  What seemed to add significant realism is that the road follows hill and dale.  

Integrating a lift bridge into the fray might work using similar stoplight circuitry resulting in tons more added interest.  Then add a moving ship to trigger the bridge....and on...and on

Unfortunately, what with the excessive space requirements in O, it can soon overwhelm the train aspect of the layout.  But adding a vignette of action would be easier to work into an existing layout while producing a fascinating focal point.  Hmmmm.  That PW 313 just got a lot easier to work into a scale layout.


I have a 12 foot x 2 foot shelf on the layout, that's where I am going to put my town.  These would be a natural there.

I never heard of wire guided cars, how do they work?

They're battery powered.  The theory is simple, they have a magnet attached to a steering arm and it follows an iron wire embedded in the roadway.  In practice, as Lee has explained, there's some mechanical engineering that goes into the actual smooth operation.  Apparently, it's not as easy as it looks.

Do any of the cars ever deviate enough to hit the (if I counted properly?) 2 people standing right on the center line of the street? 

If not, I am definitely impressed.  (well, I'm actually impressed either way , but seeing those people in the middle made me wonder if there had to be multiple "takes" of shooting the video)


Last edited by Dave45681

Needless to say, I wanna see 007 blasting down Main Street, shooting smoke, firing machine guns and ejecting the bad guy... 


Calling all mechanical engineers!

These are really cool. But there must be a way to conceal the magnet hanging out front.


Well one thing is to paint it the color of the road: that helps "disappear it" to good degree, but there are various ways, they just either cost A LOT more or involve even more delicate tiny assemblies.  So for the time being I am content with these.

Last edited by Lee Willis

It may have been Carroll Shelby's 1:43 scale look-alike driving that Cobra, or Steve McQueen in miniature form

How do the cars start and stop? Is it automatic when power is applied to the wire, or do they have on/off switches?

I recall seeing a video of the German HO car system used in Hamburg's Miniature Wonderland - similar operating principle, and the cars entered a re-charging port automatically when batteries became low, or at some interval in time, not sure which, and thus no need to remove them from the exhibit.

Years ago, about 2010 or so, Lionel's CEO was quoted in an issue of OGR that they were working on an improved "Streets" system, and I have to wonder if it was based on similar principles. Some of us waited and waited, but nothing ever came.

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