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Purchased some Lionel O42 track recently and noticed on the underside that the ties are painted Gray. 




Is this something that Lionel used to do on the O42 track or is this something recent? 


I have no problem with it, in fact I like the Gray because it makes it easier to differentiate immediately between O31 track (which has 3 ties like the O42) when one is putting down track on a temporary basis without having compare tracks side-by-side in a pile of a couple dozen pieces of track.  Also prevents finding out after the fact why your curve didn’t line up correctly with the straight.


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Last edited by Amfleet25124
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Originally Posted by Amfleet25124:

...without having compare tracks side-by-side in a pile of a couple dozen pieces of track...

I gave up and finally labelled all my track on the bottoms of the ties. The Lionel O-27 42" & 54" with three ties kept getting intermingled, causing geometry issues when setting up the Christmas putz. The K-Line O-27 42' was OK as it has 4 ties.

I've noticed that on some of the newer track I have which I probably picked up about 10 years ago.  with mine it seemed more like the bottoms were unfinished as opposed to specifically being painted grey.  This was on 031 curves and straights.  I always assumed it was just a sign of someone trying to save a penny on production costs.  I also noticed the new track has thinner steel.  I found that out the hard way when I over tightened some screws holding the track down and again when I accidentally stepped on some that was one the ground.  The modern track ties got smushed, while the postwar track held up fine

Originally Posted by aussteve:
I wish they would go back to making them with extra ties.  Back in the 90's
031 track had 3 ties
042 track had 4 ties
054 track had 5 ties
072 track had 6 ties

I could spot the track I needed very quickly.   Cost savings I'm sure.

I never knew that.  Made too much sense to keep it that way I guess.


Just to clarify to all, the O42 track I have purchased from multiple sources (LHstores, FeeBay) over different times so it wasn't just one single batch.


Last edited by Amfleet25124
Originally Posted by aussteve:

Kevin, here is a pic of the different curve tracks and number of ties.



I even had it written on the box I sold track out of to make it easier for the customers to match up what track they really wanted.  Guess that won't work in today's environment





Would be nice if it had stayed that way, LOL.


Like someone mentioned earlier, probably cost cutting measures to the customer's disadvantage.  At least I know now if I ever buy old tubular track what to expect.

The ease of identification was a big plus to me.  But the track seemed more stable, less flexible.  I liked that during carpet installations.  It was always still flexible enough during layout install that you could bend/stretch it and get that extra couple of degrees curve one way or the other.  Of course the 6 or so screws make it permanently that shape. 
Does anyone else do that?

I anchor the tube track as little as possible.

1 per joint in the curves max.

An 0-27 oval might get 8 screws.

Until the straights are over 4 pieces long, they wont get one on an oval. 

On long straights, its one every three pieces.


Use Lionel/Ives track clips, and you'll really only need two screws


Its a shame the tracks are produced lighter than before vs thicker/better.

 One thing I used to do, I don't think I could today, is pick up a small oval track and carry it to another room.

 The O was ok. But 0-27 was an iffy proposition even back then.

   I think it might just droop and bend under its own weight, let alone withstand mild contact with another object along the way.


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