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Simple question.  For your standard O Scale Freight Car that has no electronic features (FRED light) or shoes for operating features, etc., can that car run on 2-Rail track without any concerns or necessary modifications?  Are those 3R to 2R issues with the isolated rails mostly come into play with passenger rolling stock?

Reason for asking is that if/when I do attempt 2-Rail, I want to know if all I will have to worry about is the locomotive and that I could run the same scale length freight cars on either type of track at separate club layouts without having to go through the trouble of building up two separate inventories.

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Three rail cars usually have metal wheels and metal axles. As such, both sides of the axle are electrically connected and will short out the two rail power. If your three rail cars have plastic wheels, you should be OK.

Additionally, two rail track is often much lower profile, so the flanges on the three rail wheels will bump along the ties.

Battery Power will enable you to run 3-rail cars on 2-rail track (no electricity to the rails), but that means swapping out 1 or 2 control systems for an entirely new system.  I've converted 24 engines over to BPRC, all my equipment is still using 3-rail wheels on code 148 2-rail track.  Track is Micro-Engineering, Atlas, and Signature Switch.  My special order Signature Switch turnouts were made so 3-rail wheels would run thru them without any problems.

Thanks for the information.  I guess that it's not as simple as I thought.  I will have to purchase a separate 2-Rail freight equipment.  Further investigations to continue on my part.

You might consider just changing out the trucks to 2 rail insulated trucks.  I have finding wonderfully crafted brass trucks that don't break the bank for freight cars with closer to scale width frames in many styles that really make a huge difference on the appearance in a 3 rail car.  It's an extra $40-$50 investment in the car, but still cost effective versus buying new equipment.

Unless of course then you end up like me where you don't like the plastic cars as much anymore and just start buying 2 rail brass rolling stock. 

Another option is changing the wheelsets in your current trucks to two rail insulated trucks.  With most manufacturers, this is not that hard to do.

On my previous layout I had an interchange track between a 2 rail and 3 rail section of the layout.  There was an insulated track in between so engines had to stay on one side or the other.  I had a about a dozen "dual use" freight cars with 2 rail trucks and couplers that I used to switch back and forth.  It worked fine, and like others have said you had to change the trucks or they would have shorted out the 2 rail tracks.

You can run 2 rail stuff on 3 rail track for the most part.   It may bounce through switches but you can fix it if its problematic.  You dont need dedicated freight cars, just convert a bunch of 3R ones. NWSL makes wheel sets that drop into just about every manufacturer's trucks. The big pain is taking the trucks apart without launching the springs into the 4th dimension. You can also do it by buying pre-done 2-rail trucks (oddly enough, for about the same price) for a lot of brands.

MTH 2R trucks have smaller bolsters than 3R ones (lowers the car, dont need the coupler spacer included with the car)

Atlas trucks usually just screw right onto Lionel cars (and lowers the car)

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