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.


Not captains of industry, not makers of things, keep your vulgar monies! We are a justice sandwich, no toppings necessary. Living rooms of America, do you catch my drift? Do you dig?

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

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