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@Strummer posted:


PS: and yes, the biggest mystery is why S isn't the predominant scale, given its "perfect" size... 🤔

Yup - and a 1:64 Big Boy is still pretty darn hefty.     

I ditched 3-rail for S.  Availability of steam power for my road (ATSF) is limited - but the overall size is just more appropriate for my world.

Oh - and I know it was asked...  I'm 40. 

Last edited by Jacobpaul81

I would also state that it's a technology and availability issue.  In HO scale, I can buy a prototype detailed locomotive that features great detailing, advanced lighting, DCC, and great sound for under $350.   To achieve that in O scale 2 rail, I need to spend north of $700 whether it be to purchase a turnkey Sunset 3rd rail model or spend more money to buy an OMI brass model that I need to install the lighting and DCC in.  Not to mention that in O scale, it's hard for me to buy what I see on the railroads.  If I want to buy a GE ET44AC (Tier 4 GEVO) in HO, I have 2 great options in Intermountain and Scaletrains.  I don't even think the model exists in O scale (MTH?)

I also agree with the space issues.  More people are interested in prototype operation and that requires space to make than just a loop of track around the wall.

Sean

@rdunniii posted:

It all boils down to money.  With sufficient application of money all the other things disappear.  I am now one of the train collector types because I have accepted I will never have the space to build a layout I will be satisfied with.  That means a space where I can run 100 car+ P48 trains where they can be far enough apart that they do not see each other i.e., equidistant signal blocks, when going in the same direction  and has about 15' minimum radius.  There is a bowling alley nearby that has been shut down for more that a decade but they still want way too much to lease the space.  But that is a good amount of space.

I got out of HO when it became too small to see or work on.  Not going back there.

Perhaps forming or joining a modular group would work for you?  The other scales have members where people build modest modules.  When joined together, however, the modules form large and impressive layouts that give all members room to run long trains.  My brother is a member of a modular On30 group that routinely puts together layouts that are 60 X 30 feet at trains shows.  Some module groups have annual meetings just to run their modules.  

The OSK/OSC organization is developing modular standards to for OS2R.  I hope that they will be ready soon.  You will probably have to create your own P48 group.  NH Joe

@rplst8 posted:

This I agree with.  I don’t know exact numbers, but I’d venture a guess that over 90% of O 3-rail is semi-scale or older postwar in which I have no interest.

Take a look at Lionel's 2022 catalog.  There are plenty of scale offerings in their Legacy Line.  Except for the couplers and wheel flanges, most items are scale.  The models are also well detailed.  

Lionel also has a traditional train line that is more toy like.  NH Joe


The OSK / OSC club has begun a new and comprehensive effort to promote OS2R.  The people involved want to see OS2R flourish.  They don't want to see the March Meet, Indy Show, and other OS2R activities wither away.  They don't want to see OS2R clubs close one by one.  Promoting the hobby and helping it to flourish is also a valid approach.

The OSK made a push a few years ago, but have been conspicuously absent from public viewing of this new and comprehensive effort to promote OS2R.  Just what are they doing now?

I've noticed that I like owning lots of trains.  I think many hobbyists are the same. We accumulate a lot of stuff because we like having it, even if we don't have the space or collector gene.  Because of space, availability and cost, O scale 2 rail is one of the larger and more costly for locos and rolling stock.  These  factors make it harder to have a collection and/or layout that is literally or aspirationally attractive to many prospective hobbyists.  Some of the same thing happened in large scale I believe.  Aside from the LGB magazine, there is no hard copy magazine any longer for large scale, whereas there is a hard copy for O 2 railers.  There is no on-line large scale magazine for large scale (G) but there is one for O gauge two railers. So things could be worse.  Two rail O scalers seem pretty happy with their choices, and are amongst the most active and creative scratch builders, so maybe there isn't a problem of any substantial magnitude?  O two rail works for lots of people, and for those for whom it doesn't, there are lots of other choices, including O three rail, HO, N, etc.

Last edited by Landsteiner
@SANTIAGOP23 posted:

The availability argument is so immature. I mean is 3 rail equipment readily available? Yes, but so are PEZ dispensers.

@rplst8 posted:

This I agree with.  I don’t know exact numbers, but I’d venture a guess that over 90% of O 3-rail is semi-scale or older postwar in which I have no interest.

Take a look at Lionel's 2022 catalog.  There are plenty of scale offerings in their Legacy Line.  Except for the couplers and wheel flanges, most items are scale.  The models are also well detailed.  

Lionel also has a traditional train line that is more toy like.  NH Joe

So in the 2022 catalog, Lionel dedicated 76 pages to "Scale" or "Standard O" offerings and 96 pages to Traditional items.  That is definitely a better ratio than in the past, and I have no problem with this balance.  However, I'm looking at the whole market including the secondhand segment of the hobby.  If you go to York or just look through pages of items on popular auction sites, the vast majority of things being sold are post-war, MPC era, or even modern traditional or "semi-scale" items.

I think Santiago's point (and mine in agreeing with him) is this: The total market for 3-rail dwarfs 2-rail, definitely on the supply side, and maybe on the demand side too (I'm less certain of this).  But just prior to MTH's restructuring, I'd say that the 2-rail and "3-rail scale" markets were probably about the same size.  I think Santiago's sentiment (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that if all the people interested in 3-rail scale switched to 2-rail, and the manufacturers focused on that market, we'd all be happier.

This is why MTH's Proto-Scale 3-2  system was so promising IMHO.  I think had they made fixed pilot conversions part of the products in the box (including wheels etc.) they would have had a REAL winner.  The 2-rail guys aren't afraid of a little "tinkering" to convert them anyway.

Unfortunately, I have no real ideas of how to make OS2R more appealing to hobbyists.  There is not a club in my area for 2R or 3R, but there is a decent HO club, but if you mention O of any variation, I feel I am talking greek to them and they are just waiting on my to be quiet so they can go back to HO conversations...just my perception I am sure.

I think as hobbyists, we are stymied by the market and market share of OS2R.  Imagine if I really talked up 2R to a friend and he said that sounds awesome and he then says...where can I buy a starter set to get my feet wet?  me: ummm well, you will have to piecemeal it together and look at used stuff and etc, etc.  VS 3R or HO, N, etc...many options are there.

We as hobbyists, can promote all we want, but until manufacturers come aboard, I feel we are paddling up hill.  I would guess most OS2R were in other scales and ventured over so they had a better understanding of what was involved, vs a newbie to not only OS2R but the hobby itself.

Last edited by roll_the_dice
@rplst8 posted:

So in the 2022 catalog, Lionel dedicated 76 pages to "Scale".......

But how much of it is really accurately scale?  Based on and accurately reflecting prototypes?

The 2-rail guys aren't afraid of a little "tinkering" to convert them anyway.

While true, not 100% so.  The numbers of 2-rail guys willing to spend time doing "tinkering" is decreasing.

One of my ideas for promoting two-rail would be a (relatively) inexpensive, widely-available starter locomotive—either DC powered or readily convertible to either DCC or battery power and one that uses Kadee or Kadee-compatible couplers.  I think that Atlas had some good ideas but botched rheir implementation in the 1970’s: they would have done better to come out with a two-truck first-generation diesel switcher and something other than that Roco industrial switcher and those Euro-couplers, even if they were only Kadee-compatible dummy knuckle couplers. Better mechanisms would have helped, too.

I earlier stated my interest in shelf or modular/“Domino” layouts like Wingate and David Barrow’s O scale project.  If we want the idea to grow, we need locomotives suitable for such projects: four axle switchers or road switchers (or perhaps an 0-6-0 or a 2-6-0) instead of another iteration of a 2-8-8-2 or an eight-axle UP Centennial.

Two rail has advantages that three rail doesn’t for people changing scales. People stepping up from HO or N can still use some of their “conventional” power supplies or DCC electronics.  I run three rail with a local modular club and I’m reeling from Lionel Legacy throttle sticker shock.

i still think two-rail would do better with more widely-available locomotives. Infrequent imports and delays of more than two years squash interest, especially among those of us 60 years and up.

I tried ordering an Atlas diesel switcher six years ago.  That was when Atlas started having problems with its factories.  I then tried ordering a Weaver Baldwin switcher. That didn’t pan out either. I finally was able to get a pair of switchers: both are three-rail and I wish to High Heaven that someone would make a conversion kit.

shelf layouts aren’t just for full-time O-scalers either. Some O narrow gaugers would love to have a switcher move cars to the transfer table instead of moving them by hand.

IMO, the lack of a decent, readily-available diesel road switcher  (or small steam power) is contributing to two-rail’s continuing decline.

@rplst8 posted:

This is why MTH's Proto-Scale 3-2  system was so promising IMHO.  I think had they made fixed pilot conversions part of the products in the box (including wheels etc.) they would have had a REAL winner.  The 2-rail guys aren't afraid of a little "tinkering" to convert them anyway.

I totally agree with this. I bought a 3/2 MTH GP9 (the hi-rail version) and converted it to 2 rail. Changing the wheel sets was easy but the pilot had to be fixed by me. I can't stand floating pilots. It was a lot of labor and I wouldn't mind the labor if I was happy with the results but I wasn't. It was very difficult for me. There is probably a better way to do it than I did it that I don't know about. I won't do that again unless I can figure out a way to get better results. Even if MTH did not include the fixed pilots as part of the locomotive it would have been great if you could get the parts from them including the full length hand rails. I believe Atlas would convert their GPs and such but it had to be done by them so that meant sending them the locomotive and paying for the service.

@Mister_Lee  I like your idea on a starter set.

Last edited by Hudson J1e

I would also state that it's a technology and availability issue.  In HO scale, I can buy a prototype detailed locomotive that features great detailing, advanced lighting, DCC, and great sound for under $350.   To achieve that in O scale 2 rail, I need to spend north of $700 whether it be to purchase a turnkey Sunset 3rd rail model or spend more money to buy an OMI brass model that I need to install the lighting and DCC in.  Not to mention that in O scale, it's hard for me to buy what I see on the railroads.  If I want to buy a GE ET44AC (Tier 4 GEVO) in HO, I have 2 great options in Intermountain and Scaletrains.  I don't even think the model exists in O scale (MTH?)

I also agree with the space issues.  More people are interested in prototype operation and that requires space to make than just a loop of track around the wall.

Sean

Sean, I agree with your statement but isn't also true than in HO you will need more locomotives to occupy the same space compared to O scale? So when the typical HO guy buys that prototypical locomotive to pull their train won't they want to double head them? Or picture a roundhouse and turntable each occupying the same space. One HO and the other O (could be 3R or 2R). The HO guy is going to have more tracks and will have to buy more engines to fill those tracks.

I think most model railroaders or collectors buy too many trains anyway regardless of scale. We see those comments on here all the time. I just think that whether it is a train layout or wall space the enthusiast will have to buy more HO or N scale locomotives than O scale locomotives to fill the same amount of space and this negates most of the price difference. ALL OPINION.

@Mister_Lee posted:

One of my ideas for promoting two-rail would be a (relatively) inexpensive, widely-available starter locomotive—either DC powered or readily convertible to either DCC or battery power and one that uses Kadee or Kadee-compatible couplers.  I think that Atlas had some good ideas but botched rheir implementation in the 1970’s: they would have done better to come out with a two-truck first-generation diesel switcher and something other than that Roco industrial switcher and those Euro-couplers, even if they were only Kadee-compatible dummy knuckle couplers. Better mechanisms would have helped, too.

I earlier stated my interest in shelf or modular/“Domino” layouts like Wingate and David Barrow’s O scale project.  If we want the idea to grow, we need locomotives suitable for such projects: four axle switchers or road switchers (or perhaps an 0-6-0 or a 2-6-0) instead of another iteration of a 2-8-8-2 or an eight-axle UP Centennial.

Two rail has advantages that three rail doesn’t for people changing scales. People stepping up from HO or N can still use some of their “conventional” power supplies or DCC electronics.  I run three rail with a local modular club and I’m reeling from Lionel Legacy throttle sticker shock.

i still think two-rail would do better with more widely-available locomotives. Infrequent imports and delays of more than two years squash interest, especially among those of us 60 years and up.

I tried ordering an Atlas diesel switcher six years ago.  That was when Atlas started having problems with its factories.  I then tried ordering a Weaver Baldwin switcher. That didn’t pan out either. I finally was able to get a pair of switchers: both are three-rail and I wish to High Heaven that someone would make a conversion kit.

shelf layouts aren’t just for full-time O-scalers either. Some O narrow gaugers would love to have a switcher move cars to the transfer table instead of moving them by hand.

IMO, the lack of a decent, readily-available diesel road switcher  (or small steam power) is contributing to two-rail’s continuing decline.

I so agree!  But may I add.  The Hobby in general is in a state of decline , and not just 2rOS, , but across the board in all the scales,   You have a couple of generations , that cant build a dam thing and for the most part dont even know how to use tools!   And as long as the current  manufacturers  continue to load up there products  with crappy over price electronics, over priced ready to run cars ( Make affordable kits)  and  Track Systens  that are realistic , the hobby and  2R OS will continue to decline,

I so agree!  But may I add.  The Hobby in general is in a state of decline , and not just 2rOS, , but across the board in all the scales,   You have a couple of generations , that cant build a dam thing and for the most part dont even know how to use tools!   And as long as the current  manufacturers  continue to load up there products  with crappy over price electronics, over priced ready to run cars ( Make affordable kits)  and  Track Systens  that are realistic , the hobby and  2R OS will continue to decline,

Young people can't build models? Uh, ok:

MTH Premier Santa Fe 2900 class Northern, or lets build a 3rd steam locomotive from junk | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum (ogaugerr.com)

@SANTIAGOP23 posted:

The availability argument is so immature. I mean is 3 rail equipment readily available? Yes, but so are PEZ dispensers.

Something may be a non-issue for you, and yet it could be a major problem for someone else.  When investigating why O 2 rail isn't more popular you need to take the potential market as they are, not as you want them to be.

In the mid-1980s I wandered into a shop that had some of the most gorgeous O 2 rail steam locos.  It was one of four events that I identify as getting me back into O, albeit 3 rail.  In all of the years since I have not set foot in another shop that had a significant amount of O 2 rail.  It isn't for lack of trying.  By the time a potential model train fan is exposed to his first O 2 rail locomotive he's probably already experienced HO, G and O 3 rail.  He may already invested in one of these alternatives, and has a good idea of where to purchase for these alternatives.

Don't knock PEZ dispensers.  There are people out there who enjoy collecting them too.

If you look at statistics one of the main issues is cost. You can see that the older you are, the more wealth you have:

The Fed - Distribution: Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. since 1989 (federalreserve.gov)

O scale 2 rail and 3 rail are expensive hobbies. If you are in the 20-40 year age range (mostly defined on OGR as "younger people") than you don't have as much disposable income as someone 50+. If you are into model trains the smaller scales provide much more bang for your buck. Instead of getting one locomotive for $500-1000 in O 2 rail you can get an entire train, locomotive to caboose, in HO. Plus if you're younger and in a smaller home you can have more equipment in a smaller space. A smaller budget, due to child care costs, mortgage costs, etc. all contribute to smaller scales popularity as well.

Think about it. If you're in your 60s and have money to buy trains you probably didn't have that disposable income 30 years ago when you were starting a family. It's basic economics, space requirements, and the proliferation of other hobbies that didn't exist 30 years ago for younger generations enjoy. Pretty simple. 

@Lou1985 posted:
@Dave Koehler posted:You have a couple of generations , that cant build a dam thing and for the most part dont even know how to use tools!
Yes you did.

ok i will stand corrected , on that!  But for a couple of generations now younger people (in General ) do not make up a majority of sale in the Kit market!  hows that!  But the tool part is correct! again check it out!      and harmony yards its up to you to prove me wrong

In my opinion the most promising target market for new entrants to O scale 2 Rail (and P48) are existing N scale or HO scale modelers. A modular O2R standard and some clubs that meet publicly could really help push things along. I agree with SundayShunter about the importance of the right “mindset”, and I think the popularity of switching layouts is precisely the mindset that can help propel O2R.

As a convert from N and HO myself what got me hooked on O scale was the heft of the models, the depth of the sound and the richness of the details. Put that in front of the right crowd and you can’t help but get converts.

I also think we’re at the leading edge of a huge O scale second hand market wave. Lots of widows will have no use for the hundreds of trains their dearly departed collected over the years. Often times stuff that rarely got used, just purchased and shelved.

More modern fidelity 2 Rail locomotives would also be a big boost, new generation has nostalgia for a more modern era.

Just some of my thoughts. I’m excited about the future of the hobby and have high hopes for the hobby.

@Lou1985 posted:
O scale 2 rail and 3 rail are expensive hobbies. If you are in the 20-40 year age range (mostly defined on OGR as "younger people") than you don't have as much disposable income as someone 50+. If you are into model trains the smaller scales provide much more bang for your buck. Instead of getting one locomotive for $500-1000 in O 2 rail you can get an entire train, locomotive to caboose, in HO. Plus if you're younger and in a smaller home you can have more equipment in a smaller space. A smaller budget, due to child care costs, mortgage costs, etc. all contribute to smaller scales popularity as well.

Think about it. If you're in your 60s and have money to buy trains you probably didn't have that disposable income 30 years ago when you were starting a family. It's basic economics, space requirements, and the proliferation of other hobbies that didn't exist 30 years ago for younger generations enjoy. Pretty simple.

Except, you really don't have to have $500-1000 locomotives.  I've only crossed into that range twice in 20 years and have as the normal modeler too many locomotives.  Rolling stock can be had for a lot less proportionally as well.  Last train show I attended (this month...) a brass tank car came home with me for $35.  None of the cars on my table for sale that day were more than $75 and most were under $50.

Space as I noted at least 3 pages back is dependent on the modeler's objective - there is nothing that requires one to build a massive empire layout.  My own is in an 11x16 room.  Also finished and has inherently has minimal maintenance thanks to that constraint in size.

@mwb posted:

Except, you really don't have to have $500-1000 locomotives.  I've only crossed into that range twice in 20 years and have as the normal modeler too many locomotives.  Rolling stock can be had for a lot less proportionally as well.  Last train show I attended (this month...) a brass tank car came home with me for $35.  None of the cars on my table for sale that day were more than $75 and most were under $50.

Space as I noted at least 3 pages back is dependent on the modeler's objective - there is nothing that requires one to build a massive empire layout.  My own is in an 11x16 room.  Also finished and has inherently has minimal maintenance thanks to that constraint in size.

While what you found is inexpensive, HO and N are still cheaper. You can get 5-7 HO freight cars for $35 at a show easily. The smaller scales are more attractive to people less disposable income, which tends to be people in that 20-40 age range.

You don't have to have a massive layout, however a lot of people enjoy running large locomotives or trains, depends on how you enjoy the hobby. In that case HO is better for a lot of people than 2 rail O.

I got back into this hobby 25 years ago when I was 31. I had a mortgage, electric bill, gas bill, credit card bills and car insurance. Back then MTH was new and some models were sold for more than list price. A couple of years later about 1999 I bought a Hudson for $1200. The train store let me put it on lay away. I scrimped and saved to make the payments it eventually I got it. I put money aside from paycheck and used credit cards rewards where I could. Yes, I could have went to HO and bought a Hudson for probably $800 cheaper but I wanted O scale. There were a bunch of engines I wanted that I had to pass up on because my budget wouldn’t allow it and whenever I could afford a good deal on the secondary market I went with that. I think I averaged about one locomotive per year. Some years 2-3 some none. It all depended on the secondary market and what was available at what price. Yes, it took a very long to build up a roster of locomotives but eventually I got there. With HO the gratification would have been a lot sooner. What stinks is had I not been so impatient and waited 15 years (yes I know a long time) I could have gotten the same exact engine for $400. Now that I am 56 I still don’t have a large budget for trains but even if I did I need very few more trains. It’s not a race. No one should feel that they have to build a large roster or collection of trains in a short period of time. It’s hard to be patient but take your time and enjoy the journey. Just my experience.

@Hudson J1e posted:

I got back into this hobby 25 years ago when I was 31. I had a mortgage, electric bill, gas bill, credit card bills and car insurance. Back then MTH was new and some models were sold for more than list price. A couple of years later about 1999 I bought a Hudson for $1200. The train store let me put it on lay away. I scrimped and saved to make the payments it eventually I got it. I put money aside from paycheck and used credit cards rewards where I could. Yes, I could have went to HO and bought a Hudson for probably $800 cheaper but I wanted O scale. There were a bunch of engines I wanted that I had to pass up on because my budget wouldn’t allow it and whenever I could afford a good deal on the secondary market I went with that. I think I averaged about one locomotive per year. Some years 2-3 some none. It all depended on the secondary market and what was available at what price. Yes, it took a very long to build up a roster of locomotives but eventually I got there. With HO the gratification would have been a lot sooner. What stinks is had I not been so impatient and waited 15 years (yes I know a long time) I could have gotten the same exact engine for $400. Now that I am 56 I still don’t have a large budget for trains but even if I did I need very few more trains. It’s not a race. No one should feel that they have to build a large roster or collection of trains in a short period of time. It’s hard to be patient but take your time and enjoy the journey. Just my experience.

$1200 seems like too much for an MTH Hudson that long ago.  The MSRP was $999.

@rplst8 posted:

$1200 seems like too much for an MTH Hudson that long ago.  The MSRP was $999.

I'm not sure about the Hudson and I did have one, but some early MTH pieces had prices that were going through the roof at that time. That is about when I got out of 3 rail and sold an MTH Y6b for $2,200. When they came out the retail was something like $1,300 but I paid $1,150. I sold some Challengers for way above retail at that time also. They went fast at those prices, too. The guy I sold to was a dealer and he turned around and marked up the price and sold the engines to another guy right there in the York parking lot.

Last edited by christopher N&W

I'm not sure about the Hudson and I did have one, but some early MTH pieces had prices that were going through the roof at that time. That is about when I got out of 3 rail and sold an MTH Y6b for $2,200. When they came out the retail was something like $1,300 but I paid $1,150. I sold some Challengers for way above retail at that time also. They went fast at those prices, too. The guy I sold to was a dealer and he turned around and marked up the price and sold the engines to another guy right there in the York parking lot.

Well, you did good; got to remember that it's immoral to let a sucker keep his money.........

This is how I see O Scale 2-rail market. It will never be attractive to the younger generation.  O Scale is always behind the times. Why would they buy O scale when they can have a HO locomotive with walkway lights, ground lights, lit number boards, and other light packages. They can have DCC Ready (DC) models where they can add their favorite decoder or have DCC and Sound. In O Scale we have a manufacturer who produces Tank drive and poorly accurate models like missing handrails, wrong paint choices and incorrect details. Another company has China drive with open frame trucks so it collects dirt and dust. Another company that did 2 and 3 rail and would take molds from different models to save cost. Example, use steps from another locomotive and use it on a different model that had different steps. When O scale decides to do locomotives with DCC Ready (DC) or a DCC and Sound that are well researched and correctly executed then we will see younger people come into the market. Cost and Size will not be such a problem as they will make it happen. For now O scale will always be behind other scales.

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