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    While it is possible for any given model (of anything at all) to be very close to scale, all model railroads are a caricature of the prototype. The most fanatical fine-scaler still uses curves sharper than any prototype and the largest model empire still has no more than a few scale miles of track. It always comes back to different-strokes-for-different-folks or whatever-floats-your-boat. That is, is it fun?

   Personally I am of the Frank Ellison school in viewing the layout as a stage and the rolling stock as the actors in a play that I put on. Operation is my thing and I stick with bullet-proof truck-mounted "lobster claws", oversized flanges and the third rail for the sake of near-100% coupling/uncoupling performance, zero derailments and 100% no-stall electrical performance.

   I use Lionel near-scale NW2s, near-scale F3s, near scale extruded aluminum passenger cars, and MTH near-scale freight rolling stock rolling along on semi-realistic Fastrack through semi-realistic scenery. To my eye and brain this stuff looks and acts like real trains in miniature. I have watched more than a few prototype coupling/uncoupling operations and the lobster-claws are large enough to visibly evoke the real thing in my brain. When I look at the oversized flanges and 5' gauge in my mind I see the real thing. Again, to me it is all caricature and mind games and it is fun.

    As such I do enjoy the 3rs forum but probably have nothing to contribute there.



I’m following this with interest. There is no real equivalent to O Gauge Hi-rail in UK, although the O Gauge Group I went to a couple of weeks ago might be so defined. 

There WAS once a definite school of “3 rail scale OO” at one time, using 3 rail and stud contact track in a scale modelling context (including stud contact EM at times) mostly with hand laid track. 

I think it’s mostly because Tri-Ang, who out-competed Hornby Dublo, were always 2-rail so the “nostalgia” sector here is “Tri-Ang 2-rail”


MELGAR posted:
PRRMP54 posted:

I must be a 3-rail scale person, too although my third rail is about 4½ inches above the center of the track!


Very nice trolley work. Is there a 1920s era bus model to go with it, instead of that modern vehicle?


Sorry for the late (very) reply, I just saw this thread again. Yes there are some suitable buses by Corgi from the fifties that would fit in fairly well (if you can tolerate 1/50 buses with 1/48 trolleys and 1/43 vehicles) as cars similar to the orange one ran into the early to mid fifties. Or one could do a little "era-swapping"; a 1930s PCC, a 1960s bus, and Divco milk trucks:

East Penn 2005-029F



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  • East Penn 2005-029F
Last edited by PRRMP54

I was very interested in 3 Rail Scale when this specific forum was still part of the 3-Rail forum.  The early days of the 3-Rail Scale forum were a little contentious to say the least, but it has certainly calmed down quite a bit over the years.  I did a few conversions to fixed pilots and scale couplers on locomotives and converted most of my PRR & NJT fleet to 3RS about 10 years ago.  

However, about 8 years back I caught the 2 rail bug and that is why I don't post much on here anymore.  I found that scale wheels and scale rail without the 3rd Rail was just more appealing to me.   No disrespect to any of the 3 rail scale modelers.  It is a great look and has a lot more options.  

I still collect 3 rail as well as I belong to a 3 rail operating club, but keep the roads more in line with what might be seen on a western themed railroad.  Mainly ATSF, SP, a tad of UP, and Amtrak.  

In two rail, I've been pretty good about limiting my purchases to CNJ and PRR.  I was proud of myself lately as I passed on a well priced GEM PRR F3 Mogul as it was about 25 years out of era with the PRR I model.   However, I'm already pretty heavy on the PRR side so mainly focusing on CNJ at the moment.  It's hard to find accurate base models to start with so the thrill of the search is what makes that exicting.

Still this is a great forum and I see a lot of wonderful modeling going on in this realm.  

Last edited by GG1 4877
@GG1 4877 posted:

I was very interested in 3 Rail Scale when this specific forum was still part of the 3-Rail forum.  The early days of the 3-Rail Scale forum were a little contentious to say the least, but it has certainly calmed down quite a bit over the years. 

Yes, that's how I remember it as well.  I looked in on it, but decided that I didn't want to put up with the self-righteous shrieking about lobster claw couplers and oversized wheels ("Oh, the humanity..."  ).  So I stayed away and kept the Panhandle out of any discussion on it.

For the record, I think of the Panhandle as a scale model railroad that happens to operate on three rails.  Retaining the couplers and wheels is a practical nod to trouble-free operations.


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.

Maybe it would be a good idea to put a brief description of three rail SCALE in the header for that section of the forum. Just like you did for the HONGZ forum.

That might stop at least SOME of the folks who post in the wrong forum.


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