What is 3-Rail Scale?

 

3-Rail Scale is an approach to model railroading that strives to achieve the most true-to-prototype realism possible with locomotives, rolling stock, paint schemes, scenery, operation, and other aspects of the hobby within the context of using 3-rail O gauge track.

 

Regardless of the scale you choose, be it 1:48 on the North American continent, 1:43.5 for France and the UK, and 1:45 for Germany and Switzerland, the overall idea is to get as close to the prototype as you can in your pursuit of the hobby with the talents you possess.  This would include but not limited to the use of scale couplers, and other conversions that make the model as close to prototypical as possible.

 

 

3-Rail Scale is an attitude toward the O gauge hobby that derives satisfaction and fun from using the prototype as its guide. The intent in 3-Rail Scale is to continually strive for as much prototype realism as possible within the limitations of time, talent, and available space.

 

More than any other single thing, the desire for realism in miniature distinguishes 3-Rail Scale from other segments of the 3-rail hobby.

Alan Arnold
CEO/Publisher
O Gauge Railroading magazine
adman@ogaugerr.com
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Original Post

Looks like a good working definition.  It would be nice if posters to the new, expanded 3-Rail Scale Forum could refrain from using derogatory terms toward one or another aspect of someone else's modeling efforts, too.  For example, some of us who have chosen to retain the standard 3-rail couplers don't appreciate them being referred to as "lobster claws."  My layout has a point-to-point track plan.  I certainly wouldn't refer to the well-designed and executed layouts of others as "loopy goopy roundy round the Christmas Tree" or some other equally disparaging term.

 

Hopefully by including the elements of powered and non-powered rolling equipment, scenery, operation, signalling, etc. we can have some good discussion on how all of these elements come together to form a 3-Rail Scale railroad.  It's about a lot more than the couplers.

Count me in!

 

This is a great hobby (Some say the THE world's greatest) with lots of room for expression in many different ways. This forum (OGR) in general has greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the hobby and I find that my personal tastes have gravitated more towards realism for the past couple of years. Recently I have haven't even noticed the middle rail as 'unusual' and occasionally found myself looking at prototype photos and wondering where the missing rail is!

Originally Posted by Martin H:

I think Kadee couplers and fixed pilots warrant a mention in the description.  Also scale wheels

While not explicitly mentioned,

 

"...to achieve the most true-to-prototype realism possible..."

 

should be adequate to address that desire.


You know, when a tomato grows out of your forehead, it gets you thinking. What do we know about anything? Life is just a big, wild, crazy tossed salad. But you don't eat it; no sir! You live it! Isn't it great? Isn't it great?

 

 

 

 

Just so folks will know:

 

The description was written by Ed; revised slightly and edited by me; discussed between Rich, Ed, and me with final revisions added; and approved and posted by Rich.

 

Again, the intent is to make this designation inclusive of those striving to achieve a high level of realism with their 3-rail equipment, layouts, and operations, without including details that would, in effect, once again make things overly restrictive.

 

There are many ways to approach realism in the 3-rail world, and each approach has its merits as well as limitations.  It's the end result that counts, along with the enjoyment and enrichment individual hobbyists gain in working toward their respective goals.

So that big honking layout built by Tony Lash would by definition qualify as 3 Rail Scale then, correct Allan? His layout is/was head and shoulders above a number of 2 rail scale layouts I've seen.That's what a majority of us would consider as a 3 Rail Scale layout even tho he had un-fixed pilots, tinplate profile wheels and "lobster claw" couplers. 

So in a nutshell, if the layout has a realistic design, top notch scenery and buildings and realistically weathered rolling stock/motive power but you could still plop down an old Lionel 1666E and a string of sheet metal passenger cars on it and run them if you wanted that could possibly considered as a poster child of 3Rail Scale?

Man, I'm gonna have to up my game for my next layout!

 

Jerry

layout built by Tony Lash would by definition qualify as 3 Rail Scale then, correct Allan?

I've got a DVD showing his layout and I wouldn't consider it anything but a toy train layout packed full of animation.  Nice and big for what it is, but not what Allan said here:

 

Again, the intent is to make this designation inclusive of those striving to achieve a high level of realism with their 3-rail equipment, layouts, and operations, without including details that would, in effect, once again make things overly restrictive.

 

Sounds like there's more clarification needed. Maybe I'm missing something, but I hope this isn't the direction this sub-forum will take

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

Originally Posted by Bob Delbridge:

layout built by Tony Lash would by definition qualify as 3 Rail Scale then, correct Allan?

I've got a DVD showing his layout and I wouldn't consider it anything but a toy train layout packed full of animation.  Nice and big for what it is, but not what Allan said here:

 

Again, the intent is to make this designation inclusive of those striving to achieve a high level of realism with their 3-rail equipment, layouts, and operations, without including details that would, in effect, once again make things overly restrictive.

 

Sounds like there's more clarification needed. Maybe I'm missing something, but I hope this isn't the direction this sub-forum will take

I tend to agree with Bob. As impressive as Tony Lash's HUGE layout was, it was simply just too sanitary for me, i.e. absolutely nothing weathered, not even the track.

Originally Posted by Hot Water:
Originally Posted by Bob Delbridge:

layout built by Tony Lash would by definition qualify as 3 Rail Scale then, correct Allan?

I've got a DVD showing his layout and I wouldn't consider it anything but a toy train layout packed full of animation.  Nice and big for what it is, but not what Allan said here:

 

Again, the intent is to make this designation inclusive of those striving to achieve a high level of realism with their 3-rail equipment, layouts, and operations, without including details that would, in effect, once again make things overly restrictive.

 

Sounds like there's more clarification needed. Maybe I'm missing something, but I hope this isn't the direction this sub-forum will take

I tend to agree with Bob. As impressive as Tony Lash's HUGE layout was, it was simply just too sanitary for me, i.e. absolutely nothing weathered, not even the track.

I'll "third" that. Large with a huge investment doen't make it good.

Nothing we do here will ever be all things to all people (a futile effort at best because that is an unrealistic and unattainable destination).  We're striving to do our best to make this forum--all aspects of it--as inclusive of the many varied hobby interests in the O gauge world as we can, but there is a limit.  For some, what we try to do will likely never be enough, and I guess my advice to those fine folks would be to seek out an alternative place where they can find more satisfaction.  There's a big world out there!

Originally Posted by sulafool:

Sounds like "hi rail" to me; what's the distinction, if any?

As originally practiced, hi-rail was 3-rail trains running in realistic scenery.  It was all about the layout.  A postwar scout pulling missile and helicopter launching cars on a layout with Gargraves track, ballast, hills and ground cover was hi-rail.  As defined above, 3-rail scale is about making everything from trains to scenery to weathering to operation as realistic as possible.

Come on guys, this isn't 027 on a nice layout. This is taking scale trains to the next level and making them look as close to the prototype as possible.


nobody wants to wade through threads about "toys vs models " or any of that other meaningless stuff for this sub-forum.  It's all about scale fidelity on 3-rail track. That's basically it. Scale fidelity that has the realism factor. 


Show us some realistic trains and make the eye the judge. I enjoy these types of trains just like many of us do.

Jeff Sohn

Jeff's right.

 

Thus far, 3RS has been an amazing forum with extremely talented, helpful individuals posting awesome stuff.  What this forum lacks in quantity of threads, the quality easily makes up for it. 

 

You are opening it up to a bunch of silliness and egomaniacs arguing that only they know what constitutes a toy train and how much MTH/Lionel stuff is a ripoff compared to the massive Chinese corporate mega-machine that is Bachmann.

 

But Rich and Allan own this forum and pay for it, and we do not.  Of course it is their call.

Originally Posted by Martin H:

 

You are opening it up to a bunch of silliness and egomaniacs arguing that only they know what constitutes a toy train and how much MTH/Lionel stuff is a ripoff compared to the massive Chinese corporate mega-machine that is Bachmann.

 

But Rich and Allan own this forum and pay for it, and we do not.  Of course it is their call.

I for one never posted over here due to the fact that I am not bothered by the "lobster claws"   Besides that, my interests at this point are scale.  I guess I'll see how others are received here before I participate.

Charlie a.k.a MichiganRailRoad714 - D3R - NMRRC


 

 

Show us some realistic trains and make the eye the judge. I enjoy these types of trains just like many of us do.

 

I'll second that sentiment too.

 

There are a bunch of talented people that I hope to see post here because I would like to learn from what they are doing and I think that many others could also take away new ideas from some of the most creative people and layouts in the hobby.

 

I don't know if anyone else here has seen Tony Lash's layout in person.  I was able to get to see it first hand on an OGR tour a couple of years ago.  Some elements of the layout were out of the best of the toy train tradition.  And other elements rank among the best I have seen from a prototype modeling perspective.  The large coal mine, power plant and rail to water transloading facility gave all those N&W hoppers a reason to be or, as I heard Ross Custom Switches Steve Brenneisen put it, made the layout a model transportation system.  If Mr. Lash would like to post here I'd love it!

 

I have also learned from operating at Pat Marinari's layout.  Pat had a fully kadee equipped roster on his layout but his diesels had, Oh the Horror, swinging pilots.  Anyone in any scale could learn from what Pat is doing for prototypical operations.  And we here could benefit from his knowledge on coupler conversion on 3 rail O rolling stock.  Anyone who saw a swinging pilot in a photo from Pat's layout and complained about it would really be silly and missing out.

 

I am really glad to see that Norm Charbonneau is interested in posting here.  He is doing some of the best modeling in any scale. 

 

If anyone here hangs a big emphasis on any one element of modeling and a post by someone else doesn't contain enough of you favorite thing just look at what is there.  You know, that "glass half full" kind of attitude.  Or, from a modeling viewpoint, if weathering is a high priority for you and someone else posts photos of unweathered models just think of them as a can of krylon primer away from being just your style.

 

As I understand it from the definition above and the comments from some of you....the only difference between this forum and 2-rail scale is the use of 3-rail track.  And if that is the case, I think this is a good thing.  While I probably will never reach the same level that members here will achieve, I am going this direction over time.  I have converted some rolling stock over to "scale" couplers but most likely will not do a lot of weathering to my locomotives, etc.  So....hopefully I will be able to participate over here every once in a while. 

 

Model railroading is much like many other hobbies.  While everyone in the hobby likes trains, there usually are sub groups..."cliques" that form where members have in common more specific goals and / or ways to enjoy their hobby.  The unfortunate thing about this is that many times it causes splits among those that were once friends or at the least sometimes evolves into labeling...like "lobster claws", etc. Lets hope that will not happen here.

 

Still, I believe that the "new" definition may bring more folks over here where they can benefit from the already great modelers that are regular posters in this forum.

 

Finally, just read Ted's post above as it is written in the true spirit of the future of this forum and what it could become with the help of all of those involved.

 

 

Alan

I look forward to what this newly defined sub forum will offer. It will be my first stop each day. I am a beginner, but will strive to be as true to the prototype as I can be. That is what interests me. This will include many aspects- track, rolling stock (that will include weathering and couplers), scenery, and operations. The journey is the fun part. I'm going to experiment, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. That's OK, I have a lot to learn. I'm not overwhelmed, but anticipating each phase with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning. I've felt that way for several years now, as I've done research, worked on my track plan, and now as I've started my bench work. And I'll keep looking at all of the great work here on the forum, and incorporate (steal) the secrets of the masters

 

Andy

I spent this past weekend, Thursday through Sunday, touring 25 layouts as part of of an NMRA regional convention. And while there wasn't a 3 rail O layout in the lot, I feel a greater connection to that group than to the collector / toy group that most people tend to associate with 3 rail trains.

 

It was very interesting to see that even among 2 railers, different aspects of the hobby were favored by various people. Some layouts were super detailed with relatively simple track plans. Some people were serious prototype modelers with layouts designed to be operated by large crews.

 

When you get down to it, 3 rail scale, is just model railroading with an extra rail.

 

Next time the NMRA regional comes to town, I'd like have my layout on the tour.

I agree that the NMRA is a great local source for realistic modeling ideas.  We just had an NMRA regional convention here (actually hosted by the Dayton, OH division) last week.  I hosted an operating session on Thursday, an open house on Friday, taught a clinic Friday night (part of an "Operation Boot Camp" class), hosted another operating session Saturday morning (for the Boot Camp participants) and another open house on Sunday.  It was an absolute blast.  I had help from some of my regular operating crew (one models in HO, one 2-rail O and one N) for all sessions. 

 

Operators and visitors were very complimentary on the trains, the scenery, the trackwork, the operating scheme and how smooth everything ran.  (One nice thing about our large flanges is that the stuff stays on the track REALLY well.)  This is the fourth time my layout has been included (all other layouts were always HO or N) in convention activities: an NMRA regional based in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati NMRA National Convention in 2005 and a PRR Technical and Historical Society convention.  It is a lot of fun to show these other model railroaders what can be done in 3-rail today.

 

I am looking forward to participating on this forum and getting new ideas.  

 

Ted,  I agree with your thoughts on the two layouts,

 

I have seen Tony Lash's layout in person with my local round robin club.  It has a lot of neat scenes that are scale and others that have a toy train look.  I enjoyed it and hope he contributes to this forum.  Keep in mind, the majority of the work was done around over 13 years ago.  I do not know how much 3rs was in place back then, but I wonder what his layout would be like if it was built now.  

 

I have been privileged to see Pat's several times since it was started.  I think people on this forum can learn a lot from layout like Pat's.  Until the reboot of this forum, anyone with swinging pilots and big couplers would be excluded.  

 

 

 

Great comments all. Haven't seen any photos as yet.

Would this one be apppropriate?

Supposedly a scale model of the Mighty PRR T1 with a decent coupler and weathered track.

This is at our club layout where we will definitely have to deal with both extremes of the 3 rail hobby.  

With selective focusing I may still be able to depict some realistic scenes among the plasticville structures, Mel's Diner, and Superstreets!

DSC07210

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I feel my GOAL for my layout will be 3RS. (room prep still ongoing) As an HO scale convert I want the same SCALE look I had in HO. Full scenery, scratchbuilt or kitbashed structures, no 'operating accessories' or over sized items like crossing watchman. BUT I will use Gargraves track, Ross switches, ballested and weathered, will this knock me out of the 3RS category?  Is GG to 'toy like'?? And while I have plenty of pure scale locos and rolling stock will having 'traditional size' operating sessions not allow me in 3RS club?? THX

 

My latest 3RS loco........

PRRT1D

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I've thought for a while the forum needed a shot in the arm and maybe this is it.

 

I do think the comparisons and discussions scale couplers, scale flanges, and discussions about the elimination of swinging pilots, scale track (even with the center rail), or anything about scale should not be discouraged at all if the ultimate goal of the section is to be 3RS. In that regard, the group here really had a good thing going.

Originally Posted by Big_Boy_4005:
 
Originally Posted by Bob Delbridge:

(One nice thing about our large flanges is that the stuff stays on the track REALLY well.)

That's the truth and from 3 feet away can hardly be seen.

Bob, that brings to mind this quote from the Shawshank Redemption:

 

"I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a man's shoes?"

 

Insert "train's flanges".

 OK great. You guys changed the name. So can I point out a great Buffalo modeler's layout without causing a war now?? What if he has something he hasn't changed the couplers on yet and someone sees it????

 Will I get kicked out because someone counts the rails on my layout??

I think a lot of damage was done and people left for their own reasons.

SAD.

I'm running into it on all the divisions. Wasting my time I guess.

who's the next one I have to prance around??

 Makes me want to leave the hobby all together.

 

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

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