Still Trying To Figure Out What Direction To Pursue In S Advice Please

Hello,

I've been contemplating if I should take the S adventure or not.  I have accepted the limitations of S in product availability.  I am just in love with the size which is an offsetting factor.  The one thing that I get hung up on is hi-rail or scale?

  I am new to S and would prefer to do scale wheels and scale couplers (no offense to the traditional guys).  I like running just about every era which includes modern.  I see that Lionel has offered the SD70, U33C and maybe others I am not aware of?  I see you can get a wheel conversion kit from Lionel to convert the wheels to scale. It is my understanding though that you can not convert their steam locomotive wheels to scale. Is this correct?And can you convert the steam locomotive couplers?   I guess I can do a transition car for the little time I would run steam.  Starting from scratch would I be shooting myself in the foot in trying to focus on scale?  Once again I really do not foresee running traditional pieces.  I saw the Fox Valley turnouts at a train show and they looked quite nice not sure what track works with them?  Then there is the question of the operating system.  I believe the newer Lionel will run on DCC. I think that is the way I would need to go with the American Models products. 

 The final question is there sustainability in S? Is there any data to show it is growing?  I hate to invest in something that will be extinct in 10 years.  Still do not care for HO, like O but just too darn big and scale demands such large radius.  Like they say S is the perfect size and that is the driving factor for me.

Too bad M.T.H. is risk adversive towards S which I can understand.  Thank goodness for American Models and thank you for Lionel to do what they have to do to keep S running.  S Scale America glad they are around too.  I'll be buying stuff from everyone. Now just have to figure out which track and turnouts to use.

I realize I am in the extreme minority in trying to do S in scale form but I think I would have a lot of fun with it and I know it would look beautiful .  Okay it is more work and hopefully someone out there would try to offer more product.

P.S. I will make  S gauge display cases for anyone who is interested in one.  Just have not had time to get them up on the website.  I use the track from American Models. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original Post
Classy Woods, LLC posted:

Hello,

I've been contemplating if I should take the S adventure or not.  I have accepted the limitations of S in product availability.  I am just in love with the size which is an offsetting factor.  The one thing that I get hung up on is hi-rail or scale?

Coming from a Scale Guy: I would say that at this point in time, it would be best to stick with the HiRail side of S.  There is much more available (mostly from Lionel) and if desired, can be converted to Kadee couplers if the Flyer style coupler bothers you.

  I am new to S and would prefer to do scale wheels and scale couplers (no offense to the traditional guys).  I like running just about every era which includes modern.  I see that Lionel has offered the SD70, U33C and maybe others I am not aware of?  I see you can get a wheel conversion kit from Lionel to convert the wheels to scale. 

Convertible Flyer Locomotives: SD70ACe, ES44 and U33C.  However, once Lionel exhausts their supply of scale conversion wheels, they are unlikely to make more.

It is my understanding though that you can not convert their steam locomotive wheels to scale. Is this correct?And can you convert the steam locomotive couplers?  

There was a third party that did scale conversions for the Y3, (approx $575.00 including DCC code upgrade) but he has exhausted his parts supply and is also unlikely to do more.  Some of the Lionel/Flyer steam locomotives had a Kadee bracket included.  Otherwise, you'd have to whip up a bracket yourself.

I guess I can do a transition car for the little time I would run steam.  Starting from scratch would I be shooting myself in the foot in trying to focus on scale?  Once again I really do not foresee running traditional pieces.  I saw the Fox Valley turnouts at a train show and they looked quite nice not sure what track works with them?  Then there is the question of the operating system.  I believe the newer Lionel will run on DCC. I think that is the way I would need to go with the American Models products. 

All new legacy Flyer locomotives have DCC code embedded, starting with the SD70's.  The U33C's do not have DCC code.  Scale guys gutted the electronics and installed their favorite DCC decoders.  Smooth operation on conventional DC through the Lionel electronics is dependent on the power pack.  Some work better than others.

Fortunately, American Models is simplicity itself so adding your preferred operating system is relatively easy.

 The final question is there sustainability in S? Is there any data to show it is growing?  I hate to invest in something that will be extinct in 10 years.  Still do not care for HO, like O but just too darn big and scale demands such large radius.  Like they say S is the perfect size and that is the driving factor for me.

The optimist in me says S is still sustainable, even though things look pretty bleak right now.  I've been in S for over 30 years and S today is still a little better off than it was 30 years ago.  Right now, American Models is the cornerstone for S.

Too bad M.T.H. is risk adversive towards S which I can understand.  Thank goodness for American Models and thank you for Lionel to do what they have to do to keep S running.  S Scale America glad they are around too.  I'll be buying stuff from everyone. Now just have to figure out which track and turnouts to use.

Many electrons have scarified their lives talking about MTH S.  I'm not sure they know what to do.  One thing I am sure of is they have squandered the reputation that came with the S-Helper Service purchase.

Fox Valley track would probably be the best bet to use.

I realize I am in the extreme minority in trying to do S in scale form but I think I would have a lot of fun with it and I know it would look beautiful .  Okay it is more work and hopefully someone out there would try to offer more product.

Attitude is part of the game plan.  Even during the "glory days" of the 1990's-early 2000's it was still somewhat of a challenge to be in S...

Rusty

P.S. I will make  S gauge display cases for anyone who is interested in one.  Just have not had time to get them up on the website.  I use the track from American Models. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S scale is the perfect size for running a model railroad. As long as you realize that the assortment of rolling stock is far more limited than either HO or O scale, S is an excellent choice. Within S scale (I'm referring to it as the more accurate "scale" than the common "gauge."), there are the two choices you noted: "scale," meaning more prototypically sized rail, wheels, and couplers; and high-rail that is larger and more toy-like.

The scale-sized products are available from American Models as a choice when you order, from MTH, from older S Helper Service products that wisely combined scale and high-rail wheels for all products except their Consolidation steam locomotive, from Des Plaines Hobbies S Scale America, and from all of the manufacturers of highly detailed brass products.  Each of these manufacturers, with the exception of the brass manufacturers, also provides versions of rolling stock with high-rail wheels. Lionel is chiefly high-rail; but they did provide the option of scale wheelsets for their U33C, SD70ACe, and ES44AC locomotives. The SD70ACe and ES44AC wheelsets were interchangeable. All rolling stock and locomotives can accommodate Kadee scale-sized couplers, some more easily than others. Lionel lately has made it easier to change the very large toy-like couplers to Kadee couplers, even on their steam locomotives.

The choice of wheel size matters because almost all switches operate with one size and not the other. Scale-sized wheels derail on high-rail switches; high-rail wheels derail on scale-sized switches. The track does not matter as much unless the deep flanges of some high-rail wheels strike the tie plates/spikes on scale-sized track.  

My decision was based on the A.C. Gilbert train set my mother earned for me in 1952 by selling newspaper subscriptions. That set still runs, and it had to run on my layout. The temptation was strong to go to HO or to scale-sized S scale; but out of respect, I made a compromise: American Models track and switches, high-rail wheels, and Kadee scale-sized couplers on everything that was not the original 1952 set. This decision allowed me to run everything available except scale-sized brass locomotives (that my wife says we can't afford anyway). If the American Models track looks reasonable to you, than the high-rail wheels that run on it might not be objectionable. Almost no one notices that the wheels behind the trucks have deeper flanges or that the rail is a bit high on my layout--but the very large "lobster-clawed" couplers on the original set do stand out as toy-like.

Power is the next choice. I decided on DC power back in the mid-1980s when I restarted because it was less expensive, easier to control direction of locomotives, and because the original set could still run on DC. I avoided Lionel's Legacy system until the temptation to get a Y-3, SD70ACe, and ES44AC was too great. All of these locomotives can run on AC, DC, or Legacy AC; so I have no worries about accidentally destroying a circuit board by using the wrong power. (American Flyer U33C, Mikado, Pacific, and Challenger are AC or Legacy AC only.) Switching to DCC would be too expensive for me to convert all the American Models locomotives I have; and a remote, hand-held DCC system is more expensive than the Lionel remote, hand-held Legacy system, so I have not made the switch. If I were starting out now, I would probably invest in DCC for its compatibility. MTH's DCS system is another option, but it appears MTH has abandoned S scale altogether.

Sustainability? That question could also be posed for model railroading in general. But boys and men love trains, and as boys turn to old men with old eyes, S scale appears ever more attractive because it is larger than HO. Even O scale modelers forced to down-size as they get older are looking at S as a smart move. The other great advantage is that the S community is small enough that people actually get to know each other fairly well--manufacturers and modelers alike--and are very willing to help each other out. As much as I enjoy modeling and running trains, I enjoy meeting and talking to people whose names I recognize from posts, articles, and phone calls. The S water is fine...jump in and you won't be sorry.

The scale wheel vs. hirail wheels problem is not impossible to overcome, but doing so reduces the scale look of your track. You will still have to use oversized rail, and for my layout, I chose to use closed-frog turnouts, which can work with either sized flanges. Originally this was because I wanted to accommodate hi-rail because a friend was a big Flyer fan, though he still hasn’t tried to run anything on my layout. Recently, I have found myself running an Atlantic and a 4-4-0 (both of which are over 60 years old), and enjoying it immensely.

There are other turnout options, SHS (now MTH) had a moving point in the frog which seemed to work, same system for Lionel and their FastTrack. I believe Tom (AMFLYER) was running both scale and hirail wheels on his custom built layout that used switches made from modified commercial Tim Warris turnout fixtures, but you would have to ask him to be sure. Perhaps he’ll see this and comment.

As for power, I personally don’t care for proprietary control systems such as DCS, TMCC, and Legacy, especially if they can’t work with DC. That said, I do like the FlyerChief remote system and have several locos so equipped (R/C & BlueTooth ROCK!). They are able to run on layouts using almost any power; DC, DCC, AC, DCS, Legacy, etc., you just have to be sure the voltage doesn’t exceed 16 volts.

S scale is really the perfect size, it’s just a shame that except for American Models and S Helper Service there has been so little manufacturer support, even though there are valid reasons for that, depending on who you ask.

Bill in FtL

Bill's comments above about my turnouts are accurate. I can operate scale or high rail wheels. The rail I chose is MTH .138 high. I tested .125 rail but it was too low to work reliably with all high rail wheels. Today Fox Valley makes #5 turnouts with .138 rail that can be made to work with both scale and Highrail wheels.

I use Legacy with ZW-L's for track power. This way I can operate command  control and also use the Cab 2 controller to run the original Gilbert engines.

Tom

Classy Woods, LLC posted:

. I looked at the hi rail wheels and they are okay to me.  Now AC or DC power?  I want to run Lionel and American Models locomotives in command mode.  I assume I would need to go DC for DCC? The newer Lionel can run on DCC correct? 

DCC uses it's own power source, it is not DC.  DCC puts out a modulated square wave alternating voltage resembling a communications signal rather than the fixed sine wave frequency of AC.

A conventional DC locomotive will just sit and buzz on a DCC powered track.

Any Legacy Flyer locomotive made after 2012 will run on DCC.  A FlyerChief locomotive will run using a DCC power source, but has to be operated off of the FlyerChief handheld controller.

Rusty

Hoping my layout will be 15' x 30' and want to run multiple locomotives at the same time. 

So if I am understandig this:

Lionel Legacy: DCC controller okay And TMCC

American Models: install decorders and sound for DCC

If I own any Flychief they need to be ran using  their own remote but the DCC powesource is okay. No big deal.

It seems to me DC is the way to go if I am not concerend with running older American Flyer?

So AC is more attune to operating conventional locos like older American Flyer and AC specific American Models locos.  With the Flyerchief you can opearte multiple locomotives on AC sepatately as they have their own remotes.

Am I understanding all of this correctly?

 I just need to figure out what direction to go when ordering American Models locomotives.  Any other thoughts?

Thank you everyone.

 

 

 

 

AmFlyer posted:

Bill's comments above about my turnouts are accurate. I can operate scale or high rail wheels. The rail I chose is MTH .138 high. I tested .125 rail but it was too low to work reliably with all high rail wheels. Today Fox Valley makes #5 turnouts with .138 rail that can be made to work with both scale and Highrail wheels.

I use Legacy with ZW-L's for track power. This way I can operate command  control and also use the Cab 2 controller to run the original Gilbert engines.

I know this has been done, but I can’t figure out what the modifications would be that would allow a pre-made turnout such as Fox Valley’s to work with both scale and hi-rail wheels. I can understand modifying a Warris’ Fast Tracks turnout somehow because you are essentially building it from scratch, and both a moving frog-point and a closed frog turnout are easy enough figure out. Is there a tutorial or something online or in print that details this?

My switches on my own layout are the closed frog type offered years ago by the late Earl Eshleman, who during a phone conversation indicated my batch of turnouts may have been the last ones he produced. They work like the old Tru-scale HO high-speed switches from the fifties & sixties.

Bill in FtL

My interest in S is nostalgia, hence AF postwar link coupler. What would a "scale" S person use for buildings? The buildings on my small S layout are a "compromise" of Plasticville and HO buildings that sort of "work". O-size buildings are a joke. I don't want just trees and grass.

Classy Woods, LLC posted:

I saw the Fox Valley turnouts at a train show and they looked quite nice not sure what track works with them? 

 

See the post below as to a review of the Fox Valley turnouts... 

 

 

 

 

 

RANDY ZBARENMEMBER

Tom Stoltz posted:

 

So 12 days since these were sold out and nobody has a review?  I did see a blurb on the S-scale list that they look nice…

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Tom, I purchased  about 20 switches and as I said before they are great. I run scale couplers with hirail wheels. All brands go through frogs with ease. American Models, SHS, Lionel, and Des Plaines Hobbies cars go through without any wheel hop. Easy to connect to SHS and Lionel track with no wheel hump. Seem to be same height as the eye can see. You can feel that they are the same height. It took two layers of Des Plaines Hobbies cork to equal the height of Lionel and SHS plastic roadbed. It has an open frog design with inner guardrails. No stalling of any engines at slow speeds over frog and Lionel sound keeps going. There are switch throw rods on  each side, so you can easily adapt to any switch motor. When using them manually they lock in position and do not  jump out until switched again. They have solid stainless rail. Tie color match SHS and Lionel. Make sure you buy extra track joiners. You can use SHS yellow insulated joiners and they fit perfectly or you can use the Fox Valley Models rail joiners. If you have any problems with the switch you can send it back to them and get a new one. We had one that came in with a rail broken off in the box and we sent it back and got a new one. Sure beats building your own using a jig for $34.00 per switch. 

Bill, the thread 3 below this one in the S Forum called Fox Valley Turnouts has a lot of information on how to make open frog turnouts work for scale and high rail. I also posted closeup pictures of my turnouts there. It requires getting the height of the frog insert correct and the spacing between the rails and wing rails correct. When this is done all highrail wheelsets must be perfectly in gauge to work w/o derailing. 100% of the Lionel Flyer rolling stock will have to be regauged, all are about 1/10" too narrow, the engines are correct. About 50% of my Gilbert cars needed regauged. All of the AM and SHS equipment worked as delivered.

Joe, there are many S scale buildings available, all are kits. My layout also uses some HO structures modified with a higher base and scale doors. As mentioned 1/48 scale buildings do not work for S in my opinion. For layouts with a more nostalgic look I use Snow Village from Department 56. Many of the buildings and some of the houses are 1/64 scale.

Tom

Classy Woods, LLC posted:

Hoping my layout will be 15' x 30' and want to run multiple locomotives at the same time. 

So if I am understandig this:

Lionel Legacy: DCC controller okay And TMCC

American Models: install decorders and sound for DCC

If I own any Flychief they need to be ran using  their own remote but the DCC powesource is okay. No big deal.

It seems to me DC is the way to go if I am not concerend with running older American Flyer?

So AC is more attune to operating conventional locos like older American Flyer and AC specific American Models locos.  With the Flyerchief you can opearte multiple locomotives on AC sepatately as they have their own remotes.

Am I understanding all of this correctly?

 I just need to figure out what direction to go when ordering American Models locomotives.  Any other thoughts?

Thank you everyone.

 

 

 

 

Pretty much correct. 

Unless you're going to get serious about running traditional AC powered Flyer, I would suggest save a couple of bucks and get AM with DC operation and install DCC at your leisure.  AM has sound in a couple of locomotives, but it's very archaic and nowhere near anyone else in sound quality.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm a Scale Guy.  My railroad will run DC or DCC at the flip of the block toggles and that works well for me.  I wind up running conventional DC for the most part as I can really only run one train at a time on my railroad.  I've upgraded a couple of locomotives to DCC, but it's not real high on my priority list.

Fortunately, Lionel Legacy and MTH DCS electronics will detect what power is applied to the rails and respond accordingly.  MTH does have a switch on the locomotives for DCS/DCC.  I discovered by accident, the MTH locomotives will respond to DCC with the switch in the DCS position, but don't know if all functions would respond.

Rusty

Tom, thanks for the info. So, let’s see if I got this right; in order to have a Fox Valley turnout compatible with both scale and AF, you start with a scale turnout and modify it with a ramp in the frog’s flangeway area, which causes the AF wheels to ride up onto the edges of their flange (rather than riding the wheel’s tread) through the frog. This effectively reduces the gauge at that point, owing to the severe taper of the hirail flanges. Is that correct?

Doesn’t the ramp cause the hirail wheels (and the car as a whole) to have a noticeable “bump” when their flanges go through the frog?

Does this also mean that the coin trick for checking the back-to-back gauge of AF wheel-sets is no longer useful?

Gauge is usually checked where the tread meets the flange. Is there now a new number for this dimension in the wheel standards and rp’s?

This is the second posting of this message, the first seems to have gotten lost somehow.

Thanks,

Bill in FtL

I do not have any Fox Valley turnouts so I have not seen them up close. What I would do is start with highrail turnouts and narrow the guard and wing rail gaps with plastic shims. Then build up the insert at the frog to just the point that the highrail wheels hit them. The scale wheels drop slightly but with the narrower wing rails they will not derail. When the turnouts are finished the dime wheel gauge method still works on the Gilbert and Lionel wheels. I re-gauged over 100 cars with a dime for the new layout.

Tom

Thanks Tom! As I said earlier, my little layout uses code 148 closed frog turnouts which don’t really need guardrails for either scale or hirail wheels, they are just there for looks, really. The truth be known, the turnouts actually work better without them, because if they are not in place exactly right, they can cause derailments, particularly with hirail wheels. Up until very recently I ran scale wheels only, but now I have a FlyerChief 4-8-4 and a Berkshire, so I need to make some adjustments. My switch machines were the Delaire pneumatic ones, which I liked, but they are long out of business, so I need to change to BluePoint mechanicals while I’m at it. For some reason, at age 72, crawling underneath to work on stuff overhead has lost it’s appeal. Fortunately, most sections are only 4’ modules, so I can do it one section at a time, but once that section is taken out for maintenance, the whole layout is out of action until it gets returned. At least that’s my excuse for deferred maintenance...

Thanks again, Bill in FtL

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