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I am unpacking trains here at our new place and have unpacked about 300 pieces of O gauge track. I do not know the curve size of the 3 types in the box, and the track is not marked as to size. Can a person tell by the number of ties/section, what the curve size is? Or, do I need to assemble some of it and measure the resulting circle? Notice curves with 3, 5, and 6 ties.

In my 69 years of model railroading, I have never before built a Lionel layout using anything except O27 and Super O track. This will be my first layout with true O gauge profile track. Thanks.

Jeffcurve track 1curve track 2


Images (2)
  • curve track 1
  • curve track 2
Last edited by mowingman
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Dear friend,  The standard "0" gauge track is 036.  You can tell these by if the match the turnouts you have. The other track in your pictures appears to be 072, the longer curves.  The shorter curved pieces could be 054.  They were made by Lionel during the 80's, 90's, till "Fast Track" came along.  Post war original track has "Made In NY" stamped on each tie.  Later (modern) production may have just the "Lionel" stamp and "China" stamped on each tie.  Post war original track the ties were all blackened metal or flat black, top and bottom. The newer track (modern) the top of the ties were painted black and the underside is a white or light gray color and no NY stamp.  Hope this helps a little? 

I agree with Uberstationmeister

Big ones look to be O72

Other sizes might be O42 but probably O54

To be sure:

Make a circle (or half circle) and count pieces 16 pieces make a circle in O72 for example. Like you suggested.

Also note the number of ties per piece (But here is variance between manufacturers example Menards has less ties per  radius in O72  if I remember.) Keeping the same manufacturer on all track will help if possible but not entirely necessary.

Then label a reference piece in each size. I wrote out labels and stapled the labels through the rails. It helped a lot in the layout phase.

031 is a pretty small piece so easy to tell.  IMO O42 and O54 are the hardest to distinguish though the number of  ties may be different. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Hope this helps

Steven T

Last edited by train steve

Thanks for all the valuable info. I think I know what I have now, but to be sure, I am going to lay out a circle of each and check the exact measurements. I will for sure save one piece of each and mark them with the curve size for future reference. All of my track is Lionel, and about 2/3 of it looks to be brand new. It is all from an auction that I "accidentally" won, while not paying attention to lot numbers. I am glad I have it now.


I decided to lay out the various track pieces and see what I really have. I found out I actually have 4 different curves as follows:

1. Older 3 tie/ section = O31 curve. Have all black ties on these.

2. Newer 3 tie/ section = O42 curve. New unused track with ties that are black on top and white on the bottom.

3. 5 tie/section = O54 curve

4. 6 tie/section = O72 curve

Now that I have these all sorted and measurements on the pieces, I plan on packaging them in separate bundles and marking the bundles with a tag.


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