Two rail rolling stock operated on 3- does it matter?

A number of neat, two rail box cars have come up on various sites recently. I did not consider them since I am a three trailer. BUT....two rail run on three rail should make no difference. Am I missing something?

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

Original Post

Yes, track gauge (width) is the same for both 2-rail and 3-rail when using the traditional (incorrect) rail-spacing of 1-1/4" (O gauge), which equals 5 feet in 1/48 scale. However, 2-rail wheel treads are narrower and 2-rail flanges are smaller than those used for 3-rail equipment, and they are therefore closer to scale (but still not exact). The next step is Proto:48, which employs accurate 1/48-scale wheel tread/flange measurements and correct track gauge for 1/48 scale. To put it another way, tolerances are greater for 3-rail equipment.

I have gargraves and atlas track some ross switches and I have several O scale two rail cars running and have no problems.  I have several two rail brass locomotives converted to three rail with rollers and all I had to do was sharpen the frog on the atlas switches.  I don't have derail problems and I even run a 6-8-2 brass steamer that has had very little modifications.  I don't have the round tube rail on my layout and the smallest curve on the main is O-63.  Oh I also run 20 plus car trains.  Hope that helps. Bill

Good information and very useful. I am going to try one and like John notes I can always trade out the trucks. This discussion makes me wonder, I had a tank car a few years ago and it did not like switches. The wheels looked like they may have been two rail (or scale) per the information above, but I did not know what I was looking at. By th way, I run tubular so this may be interesting.

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

Running tubular track would be why you can't run 2 rail cars.  But no one says that you can't change either the wheelsets or trucks on the 2 rail cars.   You may have to add a spacer above the trucks to allow space for the flanges, doesn't have to be big.  All of the big companies make replacement trucks.

Gene Anstine

"Is two rail supposed to be more "scale" perhaps?"

Oh, yeah, buddy. Even if not in size (most nice 3-rail equipment is 1:48, too), 2-rail is certainly far more accurate in wheels, track curve radius, couplers and, most importantly, track rail count: 2.

"Running tubular track would be why you can't run 2 rail cars." 

The old-style Lionel round-top tubular usually gives the more (not completely, though) accurate 2-rail wheels fits, and I can only imagine a 2-rail car lost in a PW Lionel switch, even an 072 one - talk about a stranger in a strange land. Off in the weeds.

2-rail wheels do indeed typically - almost universally - smaller flanges, and the tread width is narrower, too. Both of these things can be a problem, especially in the switches, again.

Track with non-round rail heads (Atlas, GarGraves, Ross, Scaletrax, even Realtrax) will treat 2-rail wheels very well (GG track comes in a 2-rail version - same rail, minus one) - except for the switches, again. It's the deep Hi-rail flange ways intersecting with the skinny treads and skinny flanges - the wheel drops into the flange way and goes where it wants. 3-axle trucks can fake it, sometimes as 2 of the 3 axles are always on the track, supporting the other one in the flange way. Case by case. 

Frame-mounted couplers, discussed above, are usually an issue. Blasted rules of geometry!

(BTW, GG and Ross have "tubular" rails, but they are not round on the top like PW Lionel rail. What little curve the rail has is actually pretty much like the real thing, which is not "flat-topped", either.)

Well.....went to the Virginia train collector meet today and was going to give a look at a two rail freight car, wheels, etc. Did not see one and based on the critical mass of the feedback, unless I can get a two rail car at a price worth changing the trucks, I would have been wasting money.  thanks for all the information, I need to get in my head to pass on those RF&P cars I see occasionally.

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

hokie71 posted:

......., unless I can get a two rail car at a price worth changing the trucks, I would have been wasting money.

Maybe, maybe not - remember you can sell the 2-rail trucks and recoup some of your costs


A Pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An Optimist sees light at the end of the tunnel

A Realist sees a freight train

The Train engineer sees 3 idiots standing on the rails

 

MWB, You are the optimist and  good point!  the boxcars that look good are Atlas so those trucks should not be bad to try to resell or...  to find 3 rail trucks.  I will do some searching tonight!

Hokie 71

Chief of Operations, Free Union, Blacksburg, and Albemarle Railroad (FUBAR)

The wheel sets for three rail are not isolated meaning they conduct electricity. If you use a three rail set on two rail track you will have a short circuit. Using two rail wheel sets on three rail track without thinking real hard may not throw a switch if you use isolated rails for an indication. 

Jim

 

Hauling Coal and Tourist to Sodus Point on the PRR-Elmira Branch

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