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Hello Folks,

After a 54 year absence from my model train hobby, I am returning to it, to build a very basic, simple but interesting, iron-clad indestructible layout for my three 5 year old grandsons to get started on.  All of my prior experience was with the HO gauge, but I have decided to go O-27 with this one.  I like the size and simplicity of the stock.

But, knowing nothing about the gauge, I will be bothering you guys with very simple questions for the next few weeks.  I am buying all track, equipment and stock in used, VG condition, piecemeal.

Here is my first question.   When I was a kid, around 1965, my cousin had an O-gauge train set, from Marx Toys.  It had 0-27 gauge track, and came in a set with the locomotive engine and cars.  But, no matter what he did, the front weels of that darned engine would not stay on the tracks in the turns unless you went at a creep speed, and sometimes not even that.

Can someone recommend to me a relatively small, Lionel,  O-27 locomotive engine, maybe 1945 to 1955,  cast iron, that will definitely stay on the tracks?   Is an 0-2-0 the best bet? If not, then what please?  A locomotive that constantly derails in tight turns is no fun.

Thanks for all replies.

Mannyrock

 

 

Original Post
@Mannyrock posted:

Thanks very much Arnold.  Is there much difference between the 2065 and the 2055?  The reason I ask is that I see a fully refurbished 2055 and tender, for sale online, C-6, for only $55.00.  The 2065 models seem to go for double that amount!

 

Thanks,

Mannyrock

I have both, and I believe the only difference is the number.

What you want is the locomotive and tender to be in good working order in all respects.

Mannyrock

You should find O27 easier to work with and put the cars back on the rails as it is twice as big as HO.  You should have no problems with O gauge once you figure out what you like and want as to train gear and a layout if you go for one.

First I would get some good books on O gauge trains.  Some can be seen in the OGR topic on favorite train books trending now appearing below.

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...1#147972074728433951

I would go for Lionel 2018 or 2026 for a good inexpensive, great runners, good puller and rugged, simple valve gear engine. Or maybe a Marx 666.

Look at Lionel LW transformers at 125 watts and cheap with a lighted dial for night and light varies with voltage/speed.

Next up go for Lionel 2035, heavier and good puller.  Even better and bigger,  but as big you can go on 027 is Lionel 2046 or 2065.  I would start with the 2018 or 2026 though.

For some of the best operating, reliable, and low cost are Marx 1590 metal frog switches.  The frog or moving part should be metal not plastic.  I have 31 of them on my layout, most for 40 years and only one or two has had trouble.  The Marx switch will work with Lionel and even the fat wheel Marx like 333, that will not pass on Lionel switches.

I would look at the "for sale" forum on this site for train gear, eBay provides better choices but with more competition and local train shows are good with no shipping charges, if the virus lets them start up.

Charlie

Check out my topic on building my inexpensive layout with $10 turntable at link below with page one having a table of contents.

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...ra-027-layout?page=1

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Saw a suggestion above about going O Gauge rather than O27. That difference is a bit of a throwback to when O27 track curves were limited to 27" diameters from Lionel (maybe others). O27 was actually available from Marx in 34" which is wider than 31" O Gauge. Since then, O27 has been made in 42", 54", and 72" diameter curves, so if you plenty of O27 (lower profile than O Gauge) tubular track, you can reduce your derailments by adding some wider diameter curves.  Lionel and K-Line also make/made switches/turnouts in 42" diameter so you can go wider there, too, compared to 50+ years ago

If you're truly starting over, higher profile O Gauge does offer more options for curves and turnouts, no doubt. Personally, I find the O27 lower profile track more appealing.  Point is that today, one can run just about any engine made (except for the absolute largest scale engines) on O27 track, but limited to 42" on the turnouts.

O gauge track height is the same as modern offerings such as lionel fast track.  If you foresee additions in the future this may be a plus as you can acquire transition track from one style to the other.   

I totally understand wanting to go with postwar style equipment.   Please share pictures as you proceed. 

When I was young I gave up on 0-27 and switched to 0 gauge track. The reason was that the 0-27 was not rigid enough to run heavy engines on a carpet. After the switch to O gauge track, I found other advantages in a wider variety of track products available.  It you want to keep the engine on the track, go to the largest circle diameter track you have room for. I always found 0-72 curves a lot more fun as I did not have to worry about going too fast. The train never same off the track.  As for an easy to run engine for a child, I would suggest you look at a 1615, an 0-4-0 switcher. On most Lionel steam engines the front truck is easily removed.  On many of them the rear truck is tied into the drawbar that pulls the tender so removing the rear truck may complicate things. On the difference between the 2055 and 2065, the difference is the 2065 has a different boiler front with a feed water heater and two illuminated white class lights. 

If the Marx was tin,  that was part of the problem. Light stuff. If cast and large it might have actually belonged on a larger circle. Marx made other dia. too.

If the track was warped, that was another issue compounding the various other imperfections. If track was taken apart often and roughly, the flanges likely picked at the flaired tube joints.  Bad track would have a Lionel jumping too, just slightly less.

Finally Marx and Lionel don't always play well together in turnouts and on special tracks.  On a plain loop, they are both very happy.   

 Marx and Lionel motors are both very hard to kill. The Marx were toys and it reflected in the price, except for the later scale ones, the focus was toy not model use. But the Marx motors are impressive.

I suggest you look at Menards O if you are on budget. New track cannot be beat. After cleaning and using tons of 0-27 over the last 10years, I'm telling you buy new if you can. (Menards is cheap, and a slightly lower quality than Lionel O. But slightly better than Marx track was.  Besides smoothe running, and less work, O is a bigger tube/pin, taller, and thicker metal. The thicker metal delivers power better, claener joints deliver power better day one, no fuss.  A 31or32" (?) or like me, a 36" circle, was at my door in 2.5 days for under $50 a while back. About $ 2-5 each including long 30-40" straights. 

You can take old 0-27 and force it over O pins to adapt from O to 0-27 for 0-27 turnouts etc., Just smooth out flares with pliars on the top & inside edge of outer rails.  But O turnouts are better than O -27.

Note; I love my 0-27 and have tons. I'm giving you the old "if I knew then what I know now know now".  Buy new track, buy as big an ODas you can. Then buy the most watts in a power supply you can imagine exists..and then anything  else you dream up is much more likely to work without much hiccup or hitchs or need to replace with "more".  Nobody complains they bought too big a power supply and it makes them unhappy how well things work with it.

(KW, VW ZW LW and others..90w hardly cuts it go big.

Basically I like, any 6 driver motor. 2-6-2, 2-6-4, 4-6-4.   Rollers vs shoes. And fyi magnetraction rebuild bearings are not made and hard to find. A rebuld as a plain loco would be all you can do for a worn set of those special.bearings outside of buying another to strip for partz. Best not to place to high a value on the difference between magnetraction over non magnetraction versions of one style.

 

Glad to see the 2026 in the line up for possible purchase of an 026 engine.  Mine is over 65 years old and still performs like a charm.  It was my first engine, and it has great nostalgia for me. Even blows O rings through the smoke stack!.  Had to replace the whistle motor in the tender to keep that classic sound.  I have several modern units, but this engine and original consist remains part of the layout on its siding.  Kids love to see the O rings.

Welcome back!  And BTW, this forum provides excellent help, no matter what your RR issue.

Michael

Wow.  You guys are certainly experts!   Thanks very much for your advice.  The reason I am going 027 is that when you create a layout for child, you want him to be able to reach all of the places on the track, in the event of a derail or putting in a small accessory.   This makes sure that the child can actually be involved in the set, rather than just being propped up on a stool with a throttle, hat and whistle.    So, I want to keep this particular layout very small, max would be 4 feet by 8 feet.   To do this and be interesting, I think I want to stay with 027 curves and maybe a few 031 curves.

  I also want a very small , cheap, switcher engine, that they can easily handle and attach a few  cars to by hand.  I am looking at the 1970s Lionel 8209 switcher.    But, I cannot find out anywhere whether this little locomotive is AC or DC. 

Thanks in advance.

Mannyrock

Manny, for starters, I am an 027 operator. Back when I got back into the hobby, 027 track is what came in nearly every starter set. So that's what I went with for practical cost reasons. But also back then, the choices were 027, 0 gauge, Gargraves or out of production Super 0.

Once you've settled on wanting 027 track for any number of reasons, the biggest drawback in my mind, is the electric switches, which come factory wired to run off track power. You can rewire them to run off secondary power, which is the way the 0 gauge switches come.

I settled on manual switches. The Lionel ones with the brown colored switch box housing (produced from 1970) have a horizontal motion lever that moves from the left to the right, which is quite easy to set up operation using nylon fish line, giving you a "poor man's" electric switch.

I also made a decision years ago, to have the choice of running my layout on either AC or DC power. Some of the smaller steam Lionel engines (especially the 8200/8209) produced during the MPC years are quite nice for being low cost locos. I replace the Pullmor motor chassis. The way the 8200 comes, it has a manual reverse lever inside the rear cab of the steamer. The DC motor chassis is same size, so they are switched with no alterations. The 8209 comes with a forward/reverse mechanical e-unit.

Not trying to cram in a circuit board reverse, I can then can add additional weight to the chassis and engine shell. But without the board, the engine will run on DC only. But with DC current, the engine stills runs forward and reverse. And with the added weight, these engines can now pull a train.

Oh, and they stay on the track. Never had a problem with them jumping curves. And by chance if the front guide wheels jump on switch tracks, a small magnet or some added weight to that front wheel assembly will cure that issue.

The same goes for the small Industrial Switcher diesels produced in the mid-1990's. Removing the circuit board allows more space for added weight, making the engine run and pull better. You could add a small in-line rectifier and run the engine on AC in forward only, but what fun is that? So again, having a DC power source allows forward and reverse operation. And I can always switch back over to AC current to the track should I choose.

____________________

Aside from my long winded explanation above, I see nothing wrong with 027 track. It allows for greater layout design possibilities in smaller spaces. YES, you won't be able to run larger locomotives and rolling stock... on the upside, it's a good way to save money.

On a postwar steam engine note, the 2018, often overlooked by collectors, is also a very decent running engine with magnetraction and smoke. I have one and am very pleased with it.

I've been building 027 track layouts on hollow core doors for years, and have gotten good at it - figuring out quite a few tricks along the way. Most of the other track systems won't allow much more than an oval on a hollow core door.

Take a look at what I do with my 027 trains on the link in my signature line below. Here's a preview.... Both engines have added details, added weight, working headlights and the original motor chassis replaced with a newer Lionel DC motor chassis.

There's no room for a decent smoke unit in these. I use pillow batting for my smoke, which looks much better than the typical cotton once used. Since these photos were taken, I mist the pillow batting with black and grey spray paint.

2-4-0 MPC era steam switcherLionel MPC dockside switcher

 

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Images (2)
  • 2-4-0 MPC era steam switcher
  • Lionel MPC dockside switcher
Last edited by brianel_k-lineguy
@Mannyrock posted:

Wow.  You guys are certainly experts!   Thanks very much for your advice.  The reason I am going 027 is that when you create a layout for child, you want him to be able to reach all of the places on the track, in the event of a derail or putting in a small accessory.   This makes sure that the child can actually be involved in the set, rather than just being propped up on a stool with a throttle, hat and whistle.    So, I want to keep this particular layout very small, max would be 4 feet by 8 feet.   To do this and be interesting, I think I want to stay with 027 curves and maybe a few 031 curves.

  I also want a very small , cheap, switcher engine, that they can easily handle and attach a few  cars to by hand.  I am looking at the 1970s Lionel 8209 switcher.    But, I cannot find out anywhere whether this little locomotive is AC or DC. 

Thanks in advance.

Mannyrock

Definitely understand the desire to keep the reach short.  But remember that you can't mix O (31" diameter) and O27 track.  Well, not easily at least.  Although as mentioned earlier, wider radius O27 track is available, it's a double-edged sword.  Demand is low, so it's hard to find, but it's very inexpensive if you can find it - the seller will be grateful to get rid of it.  That's a long way of saying to do what Eddie suggested above - go with O gauge track.  It will work much better in the long run - the difference in cost is small, and it expands your options. 

 

 

@Mannyrock posted:

Thanks for all of the great information.

Mallard, I have a question.  You say you can't mix 031 track with 027 track.  Why?  Are you saying that I can't have a layout with an outer loop using  031, which switches to an inner loop that has 027 turns?

Geez.  this is really complicated.  

Mannyrock

 

You can mix O31 and O27, but the O31 pins are bigger diameter and the height of the track is great. You have to fit the O31 pins into the O27 track with brute force and shim the 027 track.

BTW, @brianel_k-lineguy is correct in saying that the Lionel remote switches are a weakness. While not perfect, the K-Line switches—K-265, left, and K-266, right—are much superior. They can also be run off of either accessory or track power. There are two generations, those with incandescent bulbs, and those with low-profile housings and LEDs.

Another locomotive to consider is modern Lionel's 0-6-0 steam switcher, which originally were sold with conventional control, then as LionChief, and this year in LionChief+ 2.0. They have die-cast shells, and a strong can motor. With some patience and looking on Ebay, you should be able to pick one up for $100 or less. The one caveat is that mine stalls occasionally on switches—switching into neutral—presumably from the short wheelbase/bumpy track—but you can always lock the reverse unit in forward. They are, however, reliable runners.

If you are open to diesels, you might also consider a Williams, now Williams by Bachmann (WBB) GP9, F3, or NW2. They are based on postwar Lionel molds, but have modern can motors, reverse boards, and sound. You should be able to get a GP9 for $100–$130 on Ebay. They are known as stump-pullers for their pulling prowess and are about as solid a locomotive as you will find.

When I returned to the hobby six years ago, I thought, about upgrading to FasTrack. My father, an S-gauger, urged me to stick with O27, because I already had a fair amount of track. I am glad that I did. It's much less expensive than FasTrack, it's much quieter, and since my room for a layout is limited, I can do more with less.


Don't worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds. What you don't learn here, you'll learn by trial and error.

It's really not all that complicated. Yes, you can mix O-Gauge track with O27 track, but as the old saying goes, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.  As others have pointed out, O-Gauge will give you sturdier track  and more flexibility for switches, but it brings added cost.

O-Gauge no longer has the advantage of wider diameter curves. You can get 34", 42", 54", and even 72" curves in O27 so unless you're going to run $2,000 scale-size, behemoth engines, O27 will serve you well.  If you've got plenty of O27 straight track, I suggest stickin with O27 UNLESS YOU WANT BETTER SWITCH SELECTION. To me, that's the big consideration for anyone starting out. Higher profile O-Gauge offers more and superior options that are independently powered (a big plus) and available in curves wider than 42".  If 42" is sufficient, you can find K-Line switches in O27 profile that are independently powered with 42" diameter, but, admittedly, they're a bit hard to find on the used market.

Nothing else wrong with O27. Frankly, I find the lower profile more eye pleasing. To me, O-Gauge is too tall.

Here's are two  videos of a fellow forum member's former O27 layout. He has since replaced the O27 track with Gargraves (maybe Atlas), but these videos proved to me that the track choice is a small part of the excellence of one's layout. This is one of the best I've ever seen and it was done with the cheapest track on the market.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAmTfu3f8bw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a0hYta-ZA8

 

  

Whew! So much data.

I am glad this issue was brought up, because I had no idea that O and O-27 had different height dimensions.

But, my research indicates that Gargraves #801 adapter pins, and a one-quarter inch gentle slope, would solve the track problems.   I'll have to look into the electric switch issue.

Thanks,

Mannyrock

 

@Mannyrock posted:

Whew! So much data.

I am glad this issue was brought up, because I had no idea that O and O-27 had different height dimensions.

But, my research indicates that Gargraves #801 adapter pins, and a one-quarter inch gentle slope, would solve the track problems.   I'll have to look into the electric switch issue.

Thanks,

Mannyrock

 

According to Gargraves website, the #801's are O Gauge (O31) mating pins. It appears the #802's are for O27 to Gargraves applications.

http://www.gargraves.com/accessories.html

Last edited by Training Wheels

Hello, I have been following this track question but I don't understand why someone did not mention that the sets that are manufactured by Lionel and MTH would fit the bill because a set will provide the track, the locomotive, some cars, and a transformer that will all work together. The simple layout will be very easy to grow because the compatible track, locomotives, and cars are easy to find. The layout would be up and operational by now if the set had been purchased when this lenghty conversation had started.

@Mannyrock posted:

Thanks for all of the great information.

Mallard, I have a question.  You say you can't mix 031 track with 027 track.  Why?  Are you saying that I can't have a layout with an outer loop using  031, which switches to an inner loop that has 027 turns?

Geez.  this is really complicated.  

Mannyrock

 

O and O27 tracks are different heights, and O gauge track pins are a larger diameter.  Connecting them together CAN be done, but it's more work than it's worth.    

Just a short note on mating 0 and 027 track.  It's very simple: just use mating track pins that have the appropriate diameters for each track on their respective ends. I have two 027 sidings in an otherwise 0 gauge layout to take advantage of the tighter radius curves.  Those tighter curves are important in layouts with limited space. 

I would also agree with those who point out the greater options and quality in 0 gauge railroading, but if you want to follow the KISS principle, 027 is just fine.  Go for it!

Michael

Lionel O rail  is strong enough for a 150lb person to step on more than a few times.

Try that with 0-27 and it's off to the bench to hope you can save that piece.

A kid can crush 0-27.

I mentioned Menards was Marx quality, and is in ways, but that was more about metal finish, pins and paint... The curves were just as strong as Lionel or very close, maybe stronger. The curves laughed at my 180lbs standing on it.

Long straights had the same rail strength , but those ties were weak. They collapse flat if stepped on. But the rails stay flat and even. Hold the rail down on the remaining ties and the flat tie on an end will.hang without touching. I.e. very little flex in the rails; strong. They stay in gauge too.

The saving grace for me was I did need to force fit to 0-27 and the new flat tie rail height is a nice smooth match to 0-27 in height now. (I was running in my driveway using every last 0-27 piece I own..... it seemed longer when it went from bedroom to kitchen .....so I added 160" of Menards straights into the mix.  

And I mentioned force fitting. First, the shorter 0-27 hangs on the top of O pins and shimming is more to stop the 0-27 twisting with a loco on it. Shimming sounds more involved than it needs to be. Outside it's a scrap of cardboard or stick where the concrete has a little sink spot of 1/8"

The weight won't bending the joint apart,.or spreading the rail web or anything. On a tube rail, if a joint it is smooth from about 11oclk to 4oclk (or 1oclk/8oclk) around a pin, thats all that matters to wheels and flanges.

Useful, because as you and after you clean, you'll be looking and seeing the flairs, closing up tubes, overclosing some, reopening, reshaping, re staking pins, etc.

Watch for 0-27 pins with a seem/slit along the legnth. Replace the center one with a solid pin and be mindful of the others if rusty on or near them. These are hollow, rust on the inside and can't carry as much power as a solid pin even new. The center rail already has half as much metal to deliver power with per joint as the 2 outer rails do. A solid pin at least evens that out some. Alone one weak hollow pin on center can glow red hot.... That's how I discovered this, at night.  It melted foam under it. too. About a half dollar sized hole and blackened ground cover. (It's some years of old brown tie 0-27)

 

 

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