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I attended the March Meet in Lombard, IL and posted photos of the event.  One of the layout tours was to the Prairie Scale Model Railroad Club.  This club occupies a 7,000 sq. foot space and the members are building an outstanding HO layout.  (I admire well done layouts in all scales.  You can see my photos of the Prairie club here:  https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...odel-rr-club-tour-ho  

I found out during my visit that the Prairie club was founded by a group of OS2R modelers who intended to build an OS2R layout.  They invited a group of HO modelers to share the space in order to spread the costs and construction.  Eventually, the HO modelers dominated the club and the OS2R founders either left or were forced out.  The key question is:  Why couldn't the OS2R modelers recruit enough people to work on their portion of the display so that the HO membership and O scale membership would have remained roughly balanced?

This same dynamic is happening in the SF Bay Area where I live.  There used to be three OS2R clubs in this area.  Now there are only two.  The OS2R display that closed shared 50% of a very large space with a HO display.  As the years went by, the club members modeling in OS2R declined until there were none. They weren't forced out.  With no one to run or maintain the OS2R display, the HO members took down the OS2R layout and they are building an expanded HO display in the vacated area.  

The two remaining OS2R model railroads in this area face a similar issues.  They share space with smaller scale model railroads.  The number of OS2R modelers in these clubs is steadily declining while the participants in the smaller scales just across a 6 foot aisle is increasing.  I suspect that at some point in the relatively near future that there won't be enough OS2R modelers in these clubs to support those displays.  

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

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I think it is the size of a layout more than product availability. HO guys (for the most part) want to run prototypical operations and they need long runs with lots of towns/industries along the way. They often build double decker layouts to gain an even longer run. I have to admit you do need a very large space to do what the HO guys do in O scale.

I am constantly hearing about older 2 rail guys passing on and their collections hitting the secondary market but yet there’s no product out there? With the exception of recent years I think the product availability thing is just another myth like how they used to say it is so much more difficult to wire a 2 rail layout as compared to a 3 rail layout.

True in recent years with the restructure of MTH less 2 rail products were offered but not a significant difference. Even in 3 rail in recent years some items are very hard to find due to the lower quantities and the BTO ordering system. Yes, you are not going to find 2 rail O at your LHS but between converting 3 rail rolling stock and knowing where to look for the 2 rail stuff it is out there. I think the problem with this is no demand due to some many 2 rail guys leaving the hobby for various reasons.

How about the myth that O scale 2R is very hard to keep on track? Your trackwork must be meticulous for 2R to run good. I have heard that one a few times. I am sure there are more myths and any myths will continue to be told as truth unless the person being told does their own research.  

How about the myth that OS2R runs only on DC and DC is much harder to work with than AC?

Maybe the reason HO is so popular (other than requiring less space) is because you can get what you want immediately. So searching for it requires very little effort and the user gets instant gratification.

They used to say when guys got old and their eye sight started failing the6 would switch to a larger scale.  I guess that doesn’t happen anymore.

Last edited by Hudson J1e

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.

Last edited by Number 90
@Hudson J1e posted:
How about the myth that O scale 2R is very hard to keep on track? Your trackwork must be meticulous for 2R to run good. I have heard that one a few times. I am sure there are more myths and any myths will continue to be told as truth unless the person being told does their own research.  

Sorry, but your statement that 2R trackwork doesn't have to be considerably better for reliable running is totally bunk as far as I'm concerned.  Quite frankly, 2-rail operation DOES require better trackwork than you can get away with with 3-rail.

I have seen quite a lot of 2-rail stuff for repair and upgrade over the years, and I even have a loop on my layout with Gargraves track with isolated rails to test it on.  I had one spot that had less than a 1/16" dip, that was enough to cause derailments with a number of 2-rail locomotives.  I truthfully never noticed it until the 2-rail locomotives found it for me, none of the 3-rail stuff ever had any issues there.

BTW, this is my own research.

My 2 cents.  O scale 2 rail requires enormous space id you want reasonable curves.  What 3 rail folks call 072 is an overly tight curve for 2 rail. 

I have (had) a 2 rail switching layout built up with atlas flex and peco tight radius turnouts.  A great way to learn the limitations, track work had to be perfect.  Any imperfection was painfully obvious due to the wheel flanges.

That being said i had the opportunity to visit Ed Rappe's model railroad, it is nothing short of spectacular,  i imagine an operating session would be equally rewarding.  Same goes for the trolley layout built be the owner of micromark.  3r especially high rail affords some of us the opportunity to get close to the level of 2r but the cost and space constraints limit the market penetration. 

And to close, because i had the time this winter i was able to build and populate a HO switching layout for about $150, track, rolling stock, scenery.   The same effort in oscale 2 rail would have presented a challenge.

I THINK there are a lot of myths around O scale.   First the availability of O scale is not a problem.    There is a lot of two rail, both new and used available.    MTH was a very minor player in my opinion in 2 rail.   Atlas O was bigger, Sunset 3rd Rail, is a big one.   There are various small ones - lots and lots of them.    The thing about 2 rail is that most mfg build to NMRA standards, therefore you can mix and match equipment from many mfg.   When you get into 2 rail and look around, you find a lot of availabile models.   They are just not in the same places as the 3 rail stuff usually.

Track work does have to be better, but not so much so as to be difficult.    Remember, track work in HO is even more sensitive and many more guys do it than do O 2R or O 3R,  

While space can be an issue, you can model a lesser size scenario.

Cost is not an issue.    I read an editorial once that Modelers buy enough stuff to fill up the available space.    So if a person buys HO, or N, he buys much more than O so ends up spending as what is available in hobby budget.

Wiring with DC is much simpler that wiring with AC.   Everything is polarity based.   You don't need E-units or any other kind of device for reversing    Simple wire from one rail to one side of the motor, and from the other rail to the other motor pole.    To change direction, simply reverse polarity on the rails.      Reversing loops do require a little more work, such as putting a DPDT switch or a modern electronic device to change polarity in the reversing section.

I think a big issue is that model trains are not as interesting in general.    My operating group is a round robin group with on 3RS layout, my 2 Rail Layout and a bunch of HO layouts.    Generally all the attendees are getting older at all of them, not just the O Scale ones.   WE have a few younger guys, but very few.    So it is not just interest in 2 Rail O scale, it is interest in all model trains that is not as strong.

Lots of mythology already stated but behind that are some truths, too.

Size......well that all depends on what your objective is and you can make that as large or as small as you want it to be - nobody makes you build an empire that you spend a life time building and another lift time maintaining.  My layout is in an 11'x16' room.  Finished as well; never finished on maintaining.

Costs....again that all depends on what your objective is and you choose - nobody makes you go out and run massive steam or even large diesels, or large heavy electrics.  Lots of smaller steam and diesels out there; just what is the basis for the demand for massive steam or even large diesels; compensation for inadequacies........

Track.....there's pre-fab track in 2 rail and/or you lay your own.  I have no idea what sort of tolerances are needed to keep stuff from de-railing in 2-rail, but I must have met them....somehow.....oh wait, there's a track gauge. Dip in the track.....if you lay track that poorly using an uneven roadbed, you deserve derailments....that failure's on the human part of the partnership.

DC......terribly, horribly..........easy to deal with........and despite that I have no idea what I'm doing yet it all works, and everything you might need is readily available.....even for the dreaded horror of reversing loops is simple, basic DC.  Almost 100 years of 2-rail running on DC and strangely enough, folks have figured out things

Availability......again that all depends on what your objective is and you choose - yup, there are gaps in era availability that exist independent of the number of rails.  Yes, there is tons of stuff on secondary market; estates get dumped out for sale all the time and going to the better shows and meets one finds all sorts of fun, interesting stuff.  Primary market is sadly shaky.....

I guess if your eyesight is good and your manual dexterity excellent, you should look at N or HO so you have a massive empire to spend a life time building and another lift time maintaining, while running massive steam or even large diesels, or large heavy electrics with a huge availability factor..........but wait, somehow the modelers of what, 75-80% of model railroading manage to keep their trains on the track running using DC.  Will wonders never cease...

Sorry, but your statement that 2R trackwork doesn't have to be considerably better for reliable running is totally bunk as far as I'm concerned.  Quite frankly, 2-rail operation DOES require better trackwork than you can get away with with 3-rail.

I have seen quite a lot of 2-rail stuff for repair and upgrade over the years, and I even have a loop on my layout with Gargraves track with isolated rails to test it on.  I had one spot that had less than a 1/16" dip, that was enough to cause derailments with a number of 2-rail locomotives.  I truthfully never noticed it until the 2-rail locomotives found it for me, none of the 3-rail stuff ever had any issues there.

BTW, this is my own research.

Well John, I have had a few temporary layouts with Atlas sectional track over the years and I have zero problems that weren’t caused by me. The track wasn’t even secured down. I do agree with you that 3 rail track is more forgiving but people will make it sound like you have to be super meticulous to get 2 rail to run reliably and it just hasn’t been my experience that this is the case. I wonder if it has to do with the GG track. I have always used Atlas or Micro Engineering. I have no experience with GG 2 rail track. All I am saying is people will make it sound like you have to be a master of precision to get 2 rail to run reliably and my experience is that it is nowhere near that difficult or troublesome.

Last edited by Hudson J1e

Well how about, video games? The rising genaration seem addicted. It only requires button pushing, and very little space. Its hard to grow model trains, with that kind of competition. The satisfaction of creating, seems to be replaced with a mind numbing fixation. It has to have an effect on growing the hobby, just thinking! ( I release this doesn't includ every one )     cTr...( Choose the Right )

Hi Everyone,

This topic seems to come up on the forum in one way or another. Like one post stated, there are many truths in the responses that have already been given. One undeniable, provable, undisputable, and 100% accurate truth is that I did not know 2-rail O Scale existed until about 3 years into my 3-rail build. And get this, it wasn't until about 2 or 3 more years after that I learned about Proto 48. Crazy right? Had I known, things might be different. I'm not sure if that resonates with many but for me that is why. 3-rail was more readily advertised. However I have gotten my "feet wet".

On my relatively small 2-rail non-empire I have done nothing differently from what I have done with my 3-rail as it relates to track laying. I built solid rigid benchwork, I had a cad track design and for the most part I followed it. In laying the track I made sure to avoid any obvious and unappealing kinks in track and used the same roadbed throughout the layout. I mostly run 4-axle diesels and actually can run an SD9(Sunset) and an Atlas SD40 with no problems.

Some argue that space is a factor. Though I don't doubt that plays a role that probably should not be a main concern. Many 3-railers I know wish they had more space. Even those with pretty significantly sized layouts. Many 2-rail converts had nice sized 3-rail layouts and when changing over to 2-rail admittedly the layout wasn't quite as large but not by any significant level. We do what we can with the space we have.

Atlas used to make a Trainman train set complete with transformer and track. You could get it in 2-rail or 3-rail. This was a great idea but you just don't see that anymore. At least as it relates to 2-rail. If you could go to your LHS or online store and they readily had 2-rail equipment would that change things? Also, if a company like Lionel would get into the 2-rail market would that change things? Not that it will happen but what if your LHS only had 2-rail equipment and you had to wait for companies like Sunset, Atlas, and Lionel to come out with BTO 3-rail models? In other words, the other way around. This is the microwave generation and if people are going to get in the hobby it has to be in your face. No one wants to find the key, then the door, then actually open it. Sad but true.

Just my 2 cents...

Dave

Last edited by luvindemtrains
@PRRronbh posted:

I have always presumed 2-rail to be DC vs AC for 3 rail.  So in that is the answer.  AC much easier to work with for all ages.

Ron

The first O Scale trains on 2 rail track, or out side 3rd rail had AC motors  Miniature permag. DC motors, became available just before the war  ( AC toy train motors will run on DC, before most households had electricity they ran in wet cell batteries)  AS far as ac , easier to work with, , all the other scales  Z, N ,TT , HO, S , (Existed before AF) O Scale, Gauge 1and F and all the Ng variants, all run on 2 rail track, and all have DC motors .

Last edited by Dave Koehler

The problem is the increased chance of short circuits for limited space operations with reverse loops.

People need to have large buildings with a vast amount of room for the track plans to be realistic in 2-rail O scale.

The trend towards tiny houses is the opposite is what is needed for the construction of a home 2-Rail O scale track layout for a model railroad.

People are going to need a large model railroad club building for 2-rail O scale model railroads.

Andrew

Both two rail and three rail look good setting on a shelf.  From the other side of the room, I can't tell the difference.

There are a lot of different opinions, IMO.  O-scale two rail, in most cases, starts at O-144, or 72" diameter, to accommodate the prototypical wheel flanges.  Realistic couplers, and fix pilots, add to limited curve operation.  Again, they all look good setting on a shelf.  IMO.  Mike CT.   

Last edited by Mike CT

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