Retarders For Model Railroads

Does anyone know if any company makes retarders for an O Gauge freight yard ?  I'm using Atlas O nickel silver track.


If not,  does anyone know how to make simple retarder for a classification yard ?


I'm hoping someone can figure out a simple idea.


Corvettte (Paul)

Original Post

Many years ago the late Ed Ravenscroft had a beautiful operating hump yard on his HO layout in Glencoe, IL. It got a big write-up in Model Railroader around 1961/62. Ed modeled the retarders on the tracks but they were non-working, at each one he used a puff of compressed air (triggered by a relay) to slow the cars as they rolled downgrade from the hump. You could use the same method in O gauge, or maybe use toothbrush heads (or something similar from the hardware store) to slow the cars by rubbing the bristles against the wheel flanges as they pass through your retarder.   

Hi guys,


The short answer is no, there are no commercially produced retarders in O; at least not functional retarders.  There are several people who have modeled hump yards in O, both 3-rail and 2-rail, including forumite Bill DiMenna.  I'm not sure what, if anything, Bill used for retarders.  Most folks who have modeled a hump yard in O have done it without retarders because scale cars do not coast like the real thing.  I have seen successful retarder systems in HO using both compressed air (nozzle blowing against the cars as they pass) and magnets (artificially "weight" a car with steel plate at is passes).  All the systems I have seen in person were scratch built.

I've seen some old articles where cheap paint brushes with the bristles up through the ties would rub against the axles of a car to stop it or slow it. That could be adapted to O scale/O gauge fairly easily. Would require some good carpentry to cut the slots into the sub-roadbed. Also, weighting the cars to NMRA recommendations (greater than the recommendation for smaller cars like PS2 2-bays and ore cars) would pretty much be a requirement

Matt Jackson
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Hi Fellows,


Thanks for all the help.  So far the compressed air sounds the best of all.

I would not need to stop all cars, so the paint brush idea (even though it sounds neat) would not work because it would then slow down every car.


The testing I've done shows me that a light car will run the 20' along with the 2" hump, and at the end it will just touch the bumper I put at the end of the track.

I've built the level for the freight yard 2" higher at one end of the 20'.  You don't notice it, but that should, along with the hump, put the lighter cars at the end of the 20'.

It's the heavy cars I might need to slow down some.


Corvettte (Paul)

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