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Not sure how I posted before I want to...anyway...I think all your points are well thought out, but in the grand scheme of things think of the possibilities of doing a special run of locos and being able to sell them to either side of the rail without having to guess how many 2 rail or 3 rail to build.  Build 100 and let people fight for them.  Is $50 really a deterrent if we are spending $1000 plus on a new steam loco?  I would welcome being able to have the flexibility of 2 or 3 rail...and while manufacturers don't care about the after market world, we do...and it would IMHO be worth it to pay $50 extra to be able to cross sell to either side.... your mileage may vary.

I think there are some oversimplifications in the cost analysis above. The SHS engine Rusty posted above cost $200 and it would not have cost $150 without the scale wheels and pilots. The reason is the extra parts included add little to the cost when packed at the factory. The biggest cost mitigator is the greatly increased sales volume resulting from the same SHS product being sold to both scale and high rail operators. The sales volume would have resulted in the increased costs spread over at least 50% more units. These engines were attractive to scale operators because they were DCC ready, they were not TMCC ready.

In O gauge MTH found a way to make the engines switchable between 2 and 3 rail. Lionel apparently has decided to not sell scale compliant engines. Were they in that market they would be including scale wheelsets with the S gauge diesels. It is trivially simple to swap the wheelsets, just take out 8 small screws to remove the truck cover plate lift out the wheel sets, drop in new ones and put the cover plate back on. Working slowly and carefully it takes me less than 10 minutes/truck to R&R the wheels on an SD70ACe. The engines already run on DCC as well as Legacy so the incremental cost might be $10 to pick up at least 20% more sales in S scale. If I were a OS2R operator I would not be optimistic Lionel will release engines with scale wheels for 2 rail track.

The wheels are not the problem here.   Also, if no one wanted these conversion sets, it would be easy to find MTH wheelsets... they are impossible to find. Even when they were making them, a run would come in and be gone instantly. Excluding Lionel and early MTH, just about all the other diesel locomotives are pretty simple to convert because the wheels drop out.

The MTH 3-2 truck "simplifies" the matter because its pre-wired for either way with the flip of a switch, but there is a mess of wires on top of the truck and its a pain in the neck to sort it out if you have any kind of conductivity problem.

The axles drop out of modern Atlas diesels individually. Swap the roller and its insulator for a wiper and its insulator, change the wheels and you're on your way. (I think you can even buy NWSL replacements if Atlas doesnt have em).

Weaver horizontal drives are a wheel swap and a rewire.

Red Caboose (and Atlas/Roco), same thing. The wipers are in there either way. You can just replace the wheels and toss the rollers.

The big problem you have is the handrails.

On something like an F unit, its irrelevant, which is why you see Atlas providing a replacement pilot with the 3 rail models.

On any narrow body unit, all of the handrails need to be replaced, as the ones for a swinging pilot are short. Stocking the handrails in every color is not feasible for the possibility that someone *May* want them, nor is supplying 2 sets with every locomotive.

You could overcome this by doing what lionel has started to do, fixed pilots, a big hole in the pilot and an O54 (27"R) minimum curve. The compromise being that to 2 rail it, you have to shove a filler in the pilot (but I guess with some filler and black paint, thats no problem). Breaking the 3 rail size of their very small curve radii will be the hurdle there.   The pitchforks will be out if everything suddenly needs an O54 or O72 curve when it previously didn't.

The other problem you have is the way the couplers mount.  A lot of times its a one way conversion to 2 rail, as you need to remove the truck mounting point for a lobster claw in order to have the space for a kadee box to sit there and not be in the way of the truck swinging back and forth. If you 2 rail it, its 2 rail (or at least 3RS for good), and people who tend to grow tired of engines and move them to make room may not like that.

I dont see the control system thing being a problem. DCC is standardized as has been pointed out, and by and large, the sounds are better and the hardware is cheaper.

Honestly, its a tinkerer's/craftsman's scale.  Doesnt bother me as thats what I like to do, but it just seems to be thats the way it is. Sure, you can buy everything off the shelf, lay sectional track, pull an engine from a box and go, but that doesnt seem to be the 2 rail way.

This is just my opinion, but O scale is like big HO. 3 rail is what it is.  There is more in common between 2 rail O and HO than with 3 rail. Someone mentioned that pulling HO and N scale people was a good idea, and honestly, it is.  All you need to do is explain that you can actually see what you're working on without tweezers and a magnifier, and bigger speakers make better noises.

The big problem you have is the handrails.

On something like an F unit, its irrelevant, which is why you see Atlas providing a replacement pilot with the 3 rail models.

On any narrow body unit, all of the handrails need to be replaced, as the ones for a swinging pilot are short. Stocking the handrails in every color is not feasible for the possibility that someone *May* want them, nor is supplying 2 sets with every locomotive.

You could overcome this by doing what lionel has started to do, fixed pilots, a big hole in the pilot and an O54 (27"R) minimum curve. The compromise being that to 2 rail it, you have to shove a filler in the pilot (but I guess with some filler and black paint, thats no problem). Breaking the 3 rail size of their very small curve radii will be the hurdle there.   The pitchforks will be out if everything suddenly needs an O54 or O72 curve when it previously didn't.

I disagree with this entirely.  Most people running 3R scale locomotives probably have wider curves as is.  If they don't, there will be PLENTY of swinging pilot models on the secondary market once someone starts making them with fixed pilots and fillable holes (like 3rd rail).  I didn't know Lionel was making fixed pilot versions of their diesels - if they are they should add the parts to fill in the big hole and switch to a draft box or Kadee compatible mount.

Even if they choose to do the replaceable wheels/pilot way, your telling me that 2-railers can't fashion and paint full length handrails?  They seem up to that task - may replace them anyway because the ones used are too thick.  The lobster claws should be removable without damaging the loco or ability to reinstall them.  This isn't rocket science. 

@AmFlyer posted:

I think there are some oversimplifications in the cost analysis above. The SHS engine Rusty posted above cost $200 and it would not have cost $150 without the scale wheels and pilots. The reason is the extra parts included add little to the cost when packed at the factory. The biggest cost mitigator is the greatly increased sales volume resulting from the same SHS product being sold to both scale and high rail operators. The sales volume would have resulted in the increased costs spread over at least 50% more units.

Bingo.  Increased sales, reduced SKUs, and no dealing with packaging, stocking, and distributing the parts - it's an easy win for the manufacturer and the buyer IMHO.

@AmFlyer posted:

I think there are some oversimplifications in the cost analysis above. The SHS engine Rusty posted above cost $200 and it would not have cost $150 without the scale wheels and pilots. The reason is the extra parts included add little to the cost when packed at the factory. The biggest cost mitigator is the greatly increased sales volume resulting from the same SHS product being sold to both scale and high rail operators. The sales volume would have resulted in the increased costs spread over at least 50% more units. These engines were attractive to scale operators because they were DCC ready, they were not TMCC ready.

In O gauge MTH found a way to make the engines switchable between 2 and 3 rail. Lionel apparently has decided to not sell scale compliant engines. Were they in that market they would be including scale wheelsets with the S gauge diesels. It is trivially simple to swap the wheelsets, just take out 8 small screws to remove the truck cover plate lift out the wheel sets, drop in new ones and put the cover plate back on. Working slowly and carefully it takes me less than 10 minutes/truck to R&R the wheels on an SD70ACe. The engines already run on DCC as well as Legacy so the incremental cost might be $10 to pick up at least 20% more sales in S scale. If I were a OS2R operator I would not be optimistic Lionel will release engines with scale wheels for 2 rail track.

Well stated. I am not optimistic that Lionel will release engines with scale wheels. About 18 years ago I thought that Lionel would have entered the 2 rail market to compete with what MTH was doing but as we all know it never happened. I am now of the opinion it never will. Then again you never know. At one time no one believed a Big Boy would ever run again but I highly doubt Lionel will sell locomotives with scale wheels and fixed pilots like MTH did. And remember Lionel will also have to insulate the wheels on O scale engines which is something they didn't have to do in S scale. What Lionel should have gotten from MTH is the rights to use or develop their own 3/2 technology.

@rplst8 posted:

I disagree with this entirely.  Most people running 3R scale locomotives probably have wider curves as is.  If they don't, there will be PLENTY of swinging pilot models on the secondary market once someone starts making them with fixed pilots and fillable holes (like 3rd rail).  I didn't know Lionel was making fixed pilot versions of their diesels - if they are they should add the parts to fill in the big hole and switch to a draft box or Kadee compatible mount.

Even if they choose to do the replaceable wheels/pilot way, your telling me that 2-railers can't fashion and paint full length handrails?  They seem up to that task - may replace them anyway because the ones used are too thick.  The lobster claws should be removable without damaging the loco or ability to reinstall them.  This isn't rocket science.

Fashioning and painting handrails isnt what is being discussed here. Thats what people have to do now, whether you 3RS or 2 rail it. I'm not sure scratchbuilding handrails is how you get people interested in starting in 2 rail.  The discussion going around is for conversion kits.  You cant convert just the wheels and call it good.

The assertion that most people running 3 rail have wider curves couldnt possibly true, or they'd quit selling the tiny ones in mass quantities, and the other side of the forum wouldnt be full of "How can I run a scale XYZ on O36 curves?"

Also with the couplers, its not the removal of the coupler itself, its the removal of the mounting for it on the truck. It often also involves removing the mounting ears for the swinging pilot. Even with the Atlas F units, they're up front about it being a 1 way trip to swap the pilot.

Last edited by Boilermaker1

I posted this a few years back for the benefit of those who wanted to "live in both worlds". It's not difficult. If rolling stock was provided with insulated wheel sets, locomotives were pre-wired this way, and "less precise" (code 172) wheel sets were used, a starter set of this type could be operated on a beginner's "Bedroom Floor Central" layout and still be used on an upgraded layout.

Hybrid_Locomotive_Wiring

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This brings me to two questions:

Why can't OS2R modelers recruit more model railroaders to participate in their scale?  (It seems that a few people could be recruited to cross a 6 foot aisle from HO to O.)

What can be done to encourage more people to model in OS2R?

I have my own thoughts about this but I would like to hear your thoughts first.   NH Joe

Well, I am still reading this thread with interest (though the last pages are going far afield).  Let me say this.  I grew up on post war O gauge 3 rail tube lionel equipment.  The only other gauges I had ever heard of were HO and S gauge at that point and I only knew a couple people that didn’t run the O.  I ran equipment and went to shows and stores from the 60s-mid 80s and then off to the army.  I am only now getting back into model railroading (and quite excited about it).  Not only had I never heard of 2 rail O as a kid, until this thread I have not heard of it as an adult (nor seen it at any of the shows, etc. I have been to).  So, specific to your question… it must not be all that well advertised in the areas I live?  I have all kinds of 3 rail and am going that way with this first build, but have been learning quite a bit from this discussion.  All of that having been said, I purchased a box of track at an estate sale this week and when unpacking it last night I found that I also had a bunch of two rail track in the boxes.  This is the first time I have ever seen it.  There seems to be two types… “banked” and “unbanked”.  I have straight and curved sections in both styles.  What is the point of the banking and who makes this?   Obviously, beyond the curiosity, I have no use for the two rail at this point and would be happy to sell it to those who would actually use it.  If you are interested, please email me for details.  All the best Joe, thanks for this interesting question.

Last edited by Chills
@AmFlyer posted:

I think there are some oversimplifications in the cost analysis above. The SHS engine Rusty posted above cost $200 and it would not have cost $150 without the scale wheels and pilots. The reason is the extra parts included add little to the cost when packed at the factory. The biggest cost mitigator is the greatly increased sales volume resulting from the same SHS product being sold to both scale and high rail operators. The sales volume would have resulted in the increased costs spread over at least 50% more units.

@rplst8 posted:

Bingo.  Increased sales, reduced SKUs, and no dealing with packaging, stocking, and distributing the parts - it's an easy win for the manufacturer and the buyer IMHO.

I think there is a little confusion on my estimate, my $50 price premium was based on a current O Scale Atlas Master, 3rd Rail, MTH locomotive prices ($500 - $700), not an S Scale model produced 20-years ago.   

Secondly, it appears that you are really only talking about one manufacturer for this included conversion kit, that being Lionel.  The financial benefit to Lionel being that they will grow their sales by some percentage by adding sales through expanding into the 2-Rail market, which is valid.  However, Atlas, MTH, and 3rd Rail really have nothing to gain in new sales if they were to move off of their current sales model (separate 2R and 3R SKUs) and start supplying conversion kits with each model because they already sell to both the 2-Rail and 3-Rail market now.  If they did nothing, Atlas, MTH, and 3rd-Rail would still sell the same number of models and actually end up having a price advantage over Lionel (should Lionel ever decide to go this universal route) since Atlas, MTH, and 3rd Rail have no extra parts/packaging/shipping to account for with each model that leaves the factory.  Lionel may have some minimal cost savings on the single SKU scheme in factory labor but not enough to give a price advantage over the "other guys" with their current separate 2R / 3R model offerings that are not charging extra $50 for every single model to account for all the added conversion pieces.  Remember, it is the labor that is cheap in China, so doing extra labor for separate 2R and 3R models does not have that much of an impact on the overall price.  The average CNC machine operator over in China makes 50 cents / hour.  I don't think the person putting two different 2R and 3R labels on boxes, making closer to 20 cents / hour, is going to have almost any effect on the cost to produce the model.  I'm not saying that a similar conversion kit shown in the SHS photo will cost $50 at the factory to produce.  All those kit parts probably only add up to about $20 total to make for today's Lionel O Scale factory since some pretty sophisticated machines are needed to make some of these parts; however, by the time it gets to my door (even when included in the model box) the price will easily escalate close to $50 (larger packaging for added parts -> higher shipping cost for bigger model packaging to house the extra parts -> added import duty on increased declared model cost -> importer markup [Lionel] -> dealer markup).  Everybody gets their cut...

In the end, the only advantage I still see is to the modeler that buys a model on second hand market that wants to run it on different track five years after the model is originally made and everyone that buys that model that does not take advantage of the extra parts gets punished with a price increase for that privilege.  As a matter of fact, if Lionel is really serious about increasing sales and they were willing to supply a conversion kit with every model, then they should instead just offer a 2-Rail version just like the other guys.  If they are making all these 2R parts for each model anyway, then save everyone some money and time converting, make less parts for each version and offer a 2R model right from the factory without all the extra stuff in the box.  Supplying the conversion kit is just a long way around saying you want Lionel to make 2R models but by supplying a conversion kit they can do this without making any real commitment to 2-Rail.   If they go far enough to make the 2R parts, then they are already 90% there.

Basically, the same argument has been going on with P48 modelers that want the 2R manufacturers to supply Proto 48 conversion kits with new 2R loco models too.  Should we add a P48 kit to every model too?   Pretty soon all these included conversion kits that everyone wants will end up costing more than the model itself (I'm being facetious, of course, but still...).

Scott

Instead of trying to get another company into 2-rail, why not try to get the companies that are doing 2-rail to produce better quality, more accurate models. What about the GP7/9 fiasco by a company with more complaints than models. They advertise road specific details and yet you get wrong paint colors, lettering misplacement, missing road specific details cause it cost too much, etc.  We only have two companies left in 2-rail. I for one have stopped buying because of the overall poor accurate models compared to the other major scales. Why would any young person come into this scale that is so messed up when they can do Ho or N without all the problems. This discussion has come up year after year, decade after decade and we still are no further along. You want to promote 2-rail - get the manufacturers to consistently produce well researched models with QC. When you get models on the level of HO and N, then the popularity will improve.  I waited year after year for better diesel locomotives and yet am afraid to preorder because one cannot trust the manufacture of a quality accurate product.  A newcomer or even a veteran should NOT have to FIX, REPAIR, or SPEND more $$$$$ on what should be right from the beginning. Some says that this is a scratch builders scale, but this is not what the younger generation want nor do I. I do not have the time. I know I sound discussed with O, but it is behind compared to other scales.  I see O scale going nowhere as O scale manufactures dwindle.

Just my views and opinions, though they may not be worth much.

Instead of trying to get another company into 2-rail, why not try to get the companies that are doing 2-rail to produce better quality, more accurate models. What about the GP7/9 fiasco by a company with more complaints than models. They advertise road specific details and yet you get wrong paint colors, lettering misplacement, missing road specific details cause it cost too much, etc.

I don’t think there is a manufacturer on Earth that is perfect in this regard.  In any scale.  I cannot find a single instance of an out-of-the-box correct PRR GP7 anywhere on the web.

These sorts of things are definitely NOT what is holding 2-rail O-scale back.

You may not find a correct PRR GP7 in any scale, but items produced in O scale are subpar below in the research and QC what is produced in other scales. You can't tell me the Ho and N scale have GP7/9s produced are missing the correct number of handrails. Painted models with incorrect colors or just painted incorrectly continually.  If O scale is doing so well, why are shows dying like the Midwest Indy show? What about the shows that are only a few hours in one day that no one has time to travel to before they are closed because dealers go home because there are not enough attendees?  For me to continue in O Scale Trains, Rapido, or Horizon will have to get into the game or just maybe the present manufactures will have to do a much better job. One thing for sure, good quality models are lacking and there seems to be a lot less complaints in other scales with a lot more people. End of story!

Last edited by George diSanti

OK guys.....some of the comments here are not very constructive.  Frankly, part of the reason why there may be a decline in certain aspects of this hobby is because of the lack of support for providers of product and services.  But that is a whole different thread.  If you all want high quality models in 2-rail, then you are going to pay.  Manufacturers have to produce models that will sell and so if you are not willing to pay thousands of dollars (several thousands) for an accurate to the last rivet model, then manufacturers are not going to produce it.  You will instead see less detailed and somewhat compromised models at prices that more folks are willing to pay.  Anyway, it would be a better thread if some of the "experts" here would make constructive comments with how they would bring a model to market, how much, etc.  While your are at it, think about supporting another segment of this hobby....OGR magazine.  We welcome both 3 and 2 rail modelers and would love to have more submissions of 2-rail modeling!

Last edited by OGR CEO-PUBLISHER

I went to a 2 rail show today and I think the sentiments were pretty much that 0 scalers just want to live in peace and focus on working on their railroads. Some of the comments I heard were "why would someone open the door and throw a grenade in" to "I'd rather have a completely awake colonoscopy than participate in that thread." The show was well attended, lively, friendly and truly a great gettogether. It could be a matter of misperception that there is a problem at all, I don't know. At the show I found out that several importers are bringing in items that I absolutely want and will order and this was a totally unexpected score. Behind the scenes reporting here on a great day for 0 scale.

I went to a 2 rail show today and I think the sentiments were pretty much that 0 scalers just want to live in peace and focus on working on their railroads. Some of the comments I heard were "why would someone open the door and throw a grenade in" to "I'd rather have a completely awake colonoscopy than participate in that thread." The show was well attended, lively, friendly and truly a great gettogether. It could be a matter of misperception that there is a problem at all, I don't know. At the show I found out that several importers are bringing in items that I absolutely want and will order and this was a totally unexpected score. Behind the scenes reporting here on a great day for 0 scale.

Additionally, the show was very well attended belying any perception of a lack of popularity by both young and old, including parents with children in tow.

Seeing comments about MTH's center beam lumber cars all of a sudden where I have not seen them before tells me something.  Now that Midwest has shown samples of their brass version, everybody wants brass quality at MTH prices.  The MTH version is one of their better cars but even if most major inaccuracies are corrected they will not be close to the brass version.  The amount of new tooling or retooling necessary to update the MTH version to an Atlas master line or even trainman version would raise the price of the car to the neighborhood of the new autoracks.

The new Atlas well cars are new tooling Master series.  I do have most possibilities reserved including extras.  The same is true for the new containers they have announced.  With Atlas not doing reruns of their other contemporary cars in the foreseeable future, you takes what you can get.  I'm not sure what prototype well cars they are talking about because I'm not familiar with rebuilt 48' cars with flat sides.  But then Atlas does usually does pick the unusual rather than the common for O Scale.  Disappointing to me but it is what it is.  A standalone version of their 53' Gunderson car would have worked just as well for me.

I would like it if Atlas updated the MTH 5-car articulated skeleton flats but that tooling is pretty much worthless.  I don't know if they even bought they Centerbeam car tooling.

From my talking to younger attendees at the March Meet (under ~50), most, but certainly not all, want more contemporary offerings they can go down to their nearest real railroad and watch (with their children vs their grandchildren).  I will be doing the same at the upcoming O Scale West.

Last edited by rdunniii
@rdunniii posted:

Seeing comments about MTH's center beam lumber cars all of a sudden where I have not seen them before tells me something.  Now that Midwest has shown samples of their brass version, everybody wants brass quality at MTH prices.  The MTH version is one of their better cars but even if most major inaccuracies are corrected they will not be close to the brass version.  The amount of new tooling or retooling necessary to update the MTH version to an Atlas master line or even trainman version would raise the price of the car to the neighborhood of the new autoracks.

The new Atlas well cars are new tooling Master series.  I do have most possibilities reserved including extras.  The same is true for the new containers they have announced.  With Atlas not doing reruns of their other contemporary cars in the foreseeable future, you takes what you can get.  I'm not sure what prototype well cars they are talking about because I'm not familiar with rebuilt 48' cars with flat sides.  But then Atlas does usually does pick the unusual rather than the common for O Scale.  Disappointing to me but it is what it is.  A standalone version of their 53' Gunderson car would have worked just as well for me.



Regarding Atlas retooling of MTH cars, they should work on the 50' airslide hoppers by thinning down the roof walks and corner stirrup steps. Also the 2 bay ACF 2970 covered hoppers need their roof walks thinned down or have metal roof walks installed instead of plastic.

I don't want to hear that retooling costs too much. If Athearn can do it with all of their former roundhouse cars then Atlas can do it. Over the past 15 years Athearn is forever retooling something. O scale deserves just as much if not more.

I went to a 2 rail show today and I think the sentiments were pretty much that 0 scalers just want to live in peace and focus on working on their railroads. Some of the comments I heard were "why would someone open the door and throw a grenade in" to "I'd rather have a completely awake colonoscopy than participate in that thread." The show was well attended, lively, friendly and truly a great gettogether. It could be a matter of misperception that there is a problem at all, I don't know. At the show I found out that several importers are bringing in items that I absolutely want and will order and this was a totally unexpected score. Behind the scenes reporting here on a great day for 0 scale.

Christopher,

I infer that you are referring to the Strasburg show?  I saw the photos of the show in another post.  It appears to be a great show.  

However, one small show in what appears to be an OS2R rich area of the country is not an indication of the popularity of this hobby segment.  The real measure is the number of new layouts that are being built and how many people are buying new product.

I don't know of any new OS2R layouts that have been started in the SF Bay Area, where I live, in the last 10 years.  I do know of 4 layouts that have been taken down because of the deaths of their builders.  Bob Jakl, who built the magnificent Burlington OS2R layout, passed away about six months ago at the age of 90,  I don't know what will be the fate of his railroad.  

The two OS2R SF Bay Area clubs were both started in the post war era.  Both of them share a large space with displays in the smaller scales.

One of them may have to move in the next several years because their property is slated for redevelopment.  The club shares its space with an HO display.  A club member told me that the HO display will be rebuilt if the club can get a new space but that the OS2R display probably will not because they don't have enough OS2R people to take on such a large project.  This is same thing that happened to the Prairie Club that I mentioned earlier in this post.  You may recall that the Prairie Club started as an OS2R club but they couldn't get enough people to build it.  The HO display now occupies the space.  

Several people have mentioned that they would like to manufacturers to make new OS2R well cars, etc.  There has to be enough people to buy them before anyone is going to make them.  It is a chicken and egg dilemma.  Will you be buying them?  I would guess not because your layout is set in the steam era.  

Hopefully more modelers will become interested in OS2R and build layouts so that this remains a viable hobby segment.  

In the meantime, those people who are content with the status quo should continue to enjoy the hobby as they like.  That is a legitimate hobby approach.  

I have always enjoyed the articles and photos of your magnificent layout.  Please keep them coming because they show what a person can accomplish in OS2R and hopefully will inspire people to build in that scale.  NH Joe

However, one small show in what appears to be an OS2R rich area of the country is not an indication of the popularity of this hobby segment.
If it isn't then your following metric is equally flawed; a full sold out show and packed venue usually equates to popular by most assessments.
The real measure is the number of new layouts that are being built and how many people are buying new product.

One never really knows just how many layouts are being built given that 2 rail O scalers tend to fly well under the radar on their activities and all too frequently we only find out about a layout in an obituary.  But it still got built.  Also, layout building tends to be a multi-year, frequently multi-decade adventure for many and that actually limits the numbers of modelers that enter into that pursuit. Many never do.  And, those cannot be counted out as being not popular as they are also buying products against that time in the future wherein they arrive at the intersection of time, opportunity, and sufficient resources.  

As for new products, the litany of poor quality inaccurate O scale products extends beyond what the mortal coil can begin to assemble.  Produce good quality, accurate O scale products minus the pandering and compromises to the non-scale market; start there and see what develops.  Until that takes place, expect the rejection of recycled rubbish of which we are under no obligation to support.

@mwb posted:
If it isn't then your following metric is equally flawed; a full sold out show and packed venue usually equates to popular by most assessments.

One never really knows just how many layouts are being built given that 2 rail O scalers tend to fly well under the radar on their activities and all too frequently we only find out about a layout in an obituary.  But it still got built.  Also, layout building tends to be a multi-year, frequently multi-decade adventure for many and that actually limits the numbers of modelers that enter into that pursuit. Many never do.  And, those cannot be counted out as being not popular as they are also buying products against that time in the future wherein they arrive at the intersection of time, opportunity, and sufficient resources.  

As for new products, the litany of poor quality inaccurate O scale products extends beyond what the mortal coil can begin to assemble.  Produce good quality, accurate O scale products minus the pandering and compromises to the non-scale market; start there and see what develops.  Until that takes place, expect the rejection of recycled rubbish of which we are under no obligation to support.

Well said and accurate

Seems to me the statements being made confirm 2 rail scale is not popular - the definition of POPULAR Google Search is  (of cultural activities or products) intended for or suited to the taste, understanding, or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals.  OR  1 : of or relating to the general public · 2 : suitable to the majority

As stated above:   a full sold out show and packed venue usually equates to popular by most assessments. One never really knows just how many layouts are being built given that 2 rail O scalers tend to fly well under the radar on their activities and all too frequently we only find out about a layout in an obituary. This clearly does not support the definition of popular.

I was at a small show recently when there was a single 2RS switching layout. The guy at the layout was oblivious to the people around him and would barely answer questions about what he was doing, ... I know all 2RS people are not like that but he did nothing to promote 2RS - I had to think - if you don't want to talk to people, why did you bother bringing the layout to the show? I would guess this guy was under 50, certainly not in the retiree bunch.

So back to the original question of increasing popularity??  getting to the general public today means social media - and lots of it to attract a whole lot of eyes.  People who want to sit in their train caves and be left alone are not the type to lead a popularity charge.  I would argue until a critical mass of 2RSers step out and lead a vigorous and consistent popularity charge, 2RS will just keep creaking along - at best.  

  For me to continue in O Scale Trains, Rapido, or Horizon will have to get into the game ....

Don't hold your breath waiting for Rapido to enter the 2-rail O sector. I asked them directly on a British Forum about it, and it was a very definite "No!" - they just don't see a viable financial future in 2-rail, because the overwhelming clamour would be for 3-rail versions, a market in which they have no intention of competing.

They are actually heavily involved in producing 4mm scale models of British buses - the fact they would rather make these (and other British models) instead of setting the U.S. 2-rail O market ablaze with something awesome - to me says a great deal about the state American 2-rail is actually in.

I have not read all the post on this thread so if this has been said forgive me.  OR NOT !  Many Many people received their first train as a small child and added to that to the point that by the time they were adults and financially able to have some nice trains they had so many three rail trains they felt they could not conveniently make the switch.  My father and I had some two rail locos and cars built from kits but the great majority of our trains were three rail.  We ran everything on Gargraves track and would have to remove all the three rail equipment from the layout before we could run two rail locos.  I traded or bought the trains from all my friends and more likely than not they were Lionel and if not Flyer. Today two rail train collections are being sold by the heirs of the people who originally owned them and can be acquired for prices quite competitive with high end three rail scale so If I were doing it all again I would likely choose two rail. Too late, for me that train has already left the station.  On occasion I still buy nice two rail locos if the price is right.  Then again, every now and then I have a longing for a really nice postwar Lionel layout with all the operating accessories.   It's very hard to out-grow the seeds which were planted in our youth.    Let that be a warning.                 j                     

@New Haven Joe One thing I politely disagree with is that Strasburg is a "small show". It may be small compared to York but in the realm of 2R it is a large show. It is easily 1.5 to 2 times the size of the old Wind Gap 2R show. Well worth attending even though I have only been there 3 times.

On the other hand the fact that things are great at Strasburg indicates to me that OS2R is alive and well in the northeast. I don't see how that is an indicator of the 2R hobby as a whole. I have read an article by David Vaughn where he wrote about the state of 2R and how to increase interest in it. I can't remember where I read that but IIRC the article was not saying that the sky is falling and 2R will be gone in a few years but that there is somewhat of a decline in interest. Exactly how much of a decline no one knows but I agree with this from my own observations and I think what David was or is doing was good for the hobby. All opinion.

I honestly don't know what can be done about this, if anything. Perhaps it is just a natural ebb and flow of the hobby. Interest rises and lowers sort of like a stock.

@rdunniii posted:

Seeing comments about MTH's center beam lumber cars all of a sudden where I have not seen them before tells me something.  Now that Midwest has shown samples of their brass version, everybody wants brass quality at MTH prices.  The MTH version is one of their better cars but even if most major inaccuracies are corrected they will not be close to the brass version.  The amount of new tooling or retooling necessary to update the MTH version to an Atlas master line or even trainman version would raise the price of the car to the neighborhood of the new autoracks.

...

I would like it if Atlas updated the MTH 5-car articulated skeleton flats but that tooling is pretty much worthless.  I don't know if they even bought the Centerbeam car tooling.

...

I definitely like the MTH Center Beam cars. The initial runs of these cars are the 73-foot prototypes, but were set up like the 63-foot cars. So the trucks were in the wrong place. Converting them involved mounting the trucks in line with the jack pads, notching the end sill and installing Kadees. The later cars had the trucks in the right place and included Kadee mounts. I've done six so far in loaded/empty configurations. Here they are running at the club (yes, it's a three-rail club, but the locomotive goes both ways).

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I have followed this thread with great interest!  Sad to say ,nothing new here!   These comments have in some form for over 40 years, and just not  the 2 rail vrs  3 rail but in all the scales .  I am all for promoting  O Scale , in 2rail or 3 rail and I believe it can be done.  It takes expertise , a lot of money,  and the will to follow through with it !  There are great track products  (Atlas  or hand laid ) in O 2 rail , and an acceptable looking 3 rail ( although grossly over sized)    There  are Companies that  produce beautiful engines and rolling stock, With all the electronics and special effects , with an over inflated price to go with it!  There is Nothing In 2 rail starter sets ( simple DC or RC) Capable of being up graded to what ever sound or DCC control, they may want in the future! there would also need to have affordable cars Kits to go with it .    And all at an affordable price!    All it tacks is expertise  a lot  of money ( a half a Million to start ) . all with no guarantee  of making a profit, 

@AGHRMatt posted:

I definitely like the MTH Center Beam cars. The initial runs of these cars are the 73-foot prototypes, but were set up like the 63-foot cars. So the trucks were in the wrong place. Converting them involved mounting the trucks in line with the jack pads, notching the end sill and installing Kadees. The later cars had the trucks in the right place and included Kadee mounts. I've done six so far in loaded/empty configurations. Here they are running at the club (yes, it's a three-rail club, but the locomotive goes both ways).

Now all you have to do is reduce the side sills by about a third and they will be really nice.  I have not done that successfully yet.  And then remove that wrong under beam.

Last edited by rdunniii
@rdunniii posted:

Now all you have to do is reduce the side sills by about a third and they will be really nice.  I have not done that successfully yet.  And then remove that wrong under beam.

True, but I'm too lazy. The under beam is the same one they used on the auto racks (73 feet instead of 89 feet). The cars sit so low, you can barely see the under beam even in that low-angle shot. The auto racks were shortened so they'd work with 21" radius (O-42) curves. I plan to convert a couple of those just because I can and they don't look bad in a string with the Atlas articulated auto racks.

@Number 90 posted:

Over 20 years ago, I decided against O scale and began to work toward having an O gauge layout, because:

  1. O scale requires more space.
  2. AC is easier to work with than DC for track.
  3. O scale brass locomotives and cars are very expensive.

Item 1 was the most influential factor.  It wasn't difficult for me to learn how to ignore the center rail and enjoy running O gauge trains.  I still spent a lot of money, but have enjoyed my trains and the layout, as well as having met many friendly O gauge modelers.  The trade-off was impeccably detailed equipment versus easy, low stress model railroading.

Tom couldn't have expressed my view any better! 

I modeled in HO since the late '60s, with a dabble in N scale to boot, so I was used to DC.  As my eyesight got worse I considered O scale 2 rail, but with my limited space, I would have had to settle for a switching layout.  I don't really like to do much switching.  I did buy an On30 engine and a couple cars to run on my HO track and built one O scale building kit.  I liked the size of the building kit, but couldn't get enthused with the typical narrow gauge railroading.  So, 10 years ago, I tried O gauge and learned about AC trains, DCS, TMCC.  It was the best choice for me.

@mwb posted:

As for new products, the litany of poor quality inaccurate O scale products extends beyond what the mortal coil can begin to assemble.  Produce good quality, accurate O scale products minus the pandering and compromises to the non-scale market; start there and see what develops.  Until that takes place, expect the rejection of recycled rubbish of which we are under no obligation to support.

I don’t get it.

Some people say it’s a “tinkerers hobby” others want perfection at 1:48 scale.

I’d just be happy with engines that don’t destroy themselves in shipping and paint that is +/-5 Pantone shades from accurate.

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