Hello all.

Scale O gauge begins to evolve in 1924 with the new voice of Modelmaker magazine drawing modelers across the nation together . Initially center 3rd rail was used ..but with assorted variations to hide the center rail with ribbon rail or smaller gauge wire . Egolf introduced 6'as a diameter for his two Pacifics

Outside 3rd rail appears by 1929 with layouts near the NYC area, where several prototypical railroads could be found to justify it's use. ( save of course steam engines ) 

Prior to NMRA several variations to the height and distance of the 3rd rail from the other two existed . 

Outside 3rd rail requires gaps at switches ...so the outer rail jumps from side to side , hence sweeps on both sides of engines ..gaps require two sweeps ...to continual running ....at a gap the 3rd rail dips down ...so the sweep slips off or is raised up depending on direction. 

Signalling was simpler wirh the outside 3rd rail operation . Blocking is simple just add a gap. 

Outside 3rd rail is supported by rail chairs ...many different styles were made ...as well as a large variety of sweeps. Outside rail was commonly HO rail ...or wire or square stock...depending on your budget . 

I was very fortunate to purchase a pile of outside 3rd rail,...the remains of 3 layouts ...yes with 3 different rails and a variety of rail chairs ....it has been fun picking a choosing pieces to string together to build a working layout . 

So once you have a working loop,...then tbe fun of running vintage trains ...that predate the NMRA standards ...so back to back , length of sweeps etc ...all become points of excitement when crossing switches ...

All good fun ...it has been a learning curve ...I'm still learning ...

Cheers Carey0628192307_HDR0628192305_HDR0628192301a0628192259_HDR0628192301_HDR

 

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I to have been playing around with outside third rail. I put outside third rail on a prewar 701 switcher, the tender, and a 717 caboose. It was never very popular and has been gone for a long time, so parts to put this together are very difficult to come up with. I am still looking for insulators to do another 701.  No track to run on yet.  Lots of fun. 

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I have a collection of 3-rail New York Central (P-2b and S-2) and New Haven (EP-3, EF-3, EF-4, EP-5 and FL-9) electric motors by MTH, Lionel and Sunset. All would be realistic to run on outside 3rd rail. The idea intrigues me but it would be a huge effort to convert them and build a layout. Very interesting thread though.

MELGAR

Outside third rail is also still in activity in France. Even if it is certainly the last layout in operation here it must be seen as an historical place to visit.

Here is a nice report of the layout in the East station in Paris. It dates back to the thirties and has been maintained by members of the club since this time. Actually it is in the processed of being restored to keep it running old school. Even modern models are modified to run on that layout as for example the MTH 241 mountain you can see running, and many others.

Sorry if it bother you as it is in French, so start at 2.50 minutes to skip the intro.... 

I have some engines that have spent their life on this layout and they are still running well even if they have a high milage.

Daniel

Carey, your trackwork looks great!  Really a giant leap forward in realism to move that center rail outboard.

The pickups are not difficult - a lot of folks just used speedometer cable.  I hate to say it, but I have sent a lot of outside 3rd pickups to the recycler.  The rest will go to Carey, if they show up here.

Hello all ...Daniel thank you for posting the link to the great layout ....interesting that the layout and the first sign of outside 3rd rail ( that I've found ...so far) is 1929 ...  next time in Paris it will be a must to visit ..

 

Bob thank you for your kind words ....and saving future 3rd rail sweeps for me .

Melgar ...good to see the Lionel switcher and caboose with the sweeps .... outside 3rd to center rail ...is the easiest conversion possible ... on those few Lionel products ...      in Model Builder ( Lionel's magazine) they had an article about adding outside 3rd rail shoes for the City of Portland ...and Hiawatha .

 

Cheers Carey

FRENCHTRAINS posted:

Outside third rail is also still in activity in France. Even if it is certainly the last layout in operation here it must be seen as an historical place to visit. Daniel

Amazing that it survived the war. If I ever get to Paris, that will be a required place to visit.

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

I picked this up from ebay a couple of years ago and may either gap it for two-rail (but leaving the third rail in place) or just use it and the section of double track that came with it as a display.

IMG_2330IMG_2331IMG_2332E44 PRR 2-rail-02

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

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Daniel,

That is a very interesting layout. The outside 3-rail construction is beautiful. One thing I especially liked about it is that the trains operate at high speeds over wide radius curves. I'm also interested in whatever you can tell me about its history during World War II. During that time, my father was in France with the U.S. Army.

MELGAR

Hello Melgar, I am sorry but I do not have any specific information about the layout during World War Two, I can only imagine that it has stay in service, it has not been damaged. Many German soldiers where also very interested in trains so may be it has help to preserve it.... who knows. Now all members from that period time are gone and it is very hard to have informations.

Thanks for the service your Father have done in France and help us to be free, and happy Fourth of July.

Kind regards,  Daniel

B&O pamphlet, date unclear. Look closely and you will see that it was an O scale, outside 3rd rail layout. I know very little about it, except for what is contained in the text. It reads..." This miniature system can be set up or taken down in eight hours. There are more than fifteen hundred electrical connections between the control box....and the track. Seventy four relays govern the signals and train control......."

It also boasts of "miniature reproductions of B&O Signals....."

Many things unique to the B&O are featured in 1/4 inch.

IMG_1615

IMG_1616IMG_1617

          Look closely above,  and you can see the 3rd rail.

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          From a time when railroads valued public perception.

 

C.J.

 

 

 

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