18 inch radius

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Hookedtrout, Oct 9, 2004.

  1. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Generally speaking what steam locomotives can I run on 18" radius corners and what diesel locomotives can I run? Or what should I avoid?

    Will a 2-8-2 run ok on 18".

    Thanks for any input.

  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    2-8-2, 4-6-2, and smaller plastic steam will work on 18 inch radius. Brass is unpredictable because the manufacturers often don't compromise for operation. For diesels, any 4 axle deisels will work on 18 inch radius, 6 axle Athearns like sd9s will probably work, but sd40-2s, sd45s, etc will work but have unrealistic overhang. The really large modern power I don't know about.
  3. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Thanks Russ, got my deck all built and the track ordered, now I'm deciding on an era, engine, and DCC controller and I'm pretty much stuck all the way around. Guess when the track gets here I'll start laying it out and playing with the design and hopefully it will all come clear by the time I decide on the layout.

  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    The Athearn SD9 will work on 18" curves with a sight over hang..Other steam locomotives will include 2-6-0s ,2-6-2s and 2-8-0s.
  5. jtbterri

    jtbterri Member

    Quote from Russ;

    "6 axle Athearns like sd9s will probably work, but sd40-2s, sd45s, etc will work but have unrealistic overhang."

    How about the Atlas Trainmaster, the H24-66. I've got one on order and definitely need it to operate on 18 inch radius.

  6. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Something to consider, Hook, too, is not necessarily just the loco. Body mounted couplers on your carraiges can cause problems on a tight radius too. Especially on rollingstock with bogies. i.e. 8 wheel boxcars or longer 8 wheel freight/passenger cars. For such a tight radius, couplers should really be bogie mounted, not body mounted, and that includes the loco.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I found on a previous layout that body mounted couplers worked fine on 40' & 50' freight cars with four axle power down to some 15" radius that I used on a siding, long passenger cars and 86' freight cars are out. The Athearn 72' "shorty" passenger cars with truck mounted couplers will work on 18 inch radius. The biggest problem with truck mounted couplers for freight cars is that they don't back up around curves very well for switching moves.
  8. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    I run four-axle diesels and 40-50 foot rolling stock with body-mounted couplers around 12-inch (in HO) curves with no problem--I just don't uncouple on curves. One of my rules for rolling stock is "no talgo trucks" (along with "no plastic wheels.")
  9. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Some interesting replys, all of which I appreciate. :thumb: Been ordering supplies right and left and the fun is about to begin. Reminds me of a time when I was a kid and mom ordered the hot wheels off the box of Cheerios for me and I was waiting at the mail box every day. :D

    I ordered an SD35 for starters, I'm planning on doing the layout in the 50's and it will be mainly mountains and a small town. Maybe coal, maybe lumber, I haven't decided yet. I plan on running a steam engine but Squeak (my 6 year old wants a diesel so we will also have the SD35 for his sake. I guess if it doesn't work it will be for sale and we will move on from there. Some of my landscaping supplies have showed but the track and all the track supplies haven't arrived yet.

    Anyone have any experience with Rivarossi engines? I like the looks of some of them and the price seems to be reasonable. I can't seem to find any info on how DCC ready they are.

  10. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I own several Rivarossis. Known as the poor man's brass, they are reliable runners that are built to go around 18" radius curves. Even the Big Boy and Cab-forward can, though they do look rather out of place on them. I don't know if the newer, redesigned ones are capable of doing that. The newer ones are DCC ready. The older ones, while a bit difficult for the newcomer, can be made DCC ready. I've done it to three already. My 4 axle Athearns go around my Christmas tree loop with its 11" radius with no problem at all.
  11. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Rivarossis are okay locomotives. Not my favorite, as I think they are a bit expensive. I do have the American Orient Express set by Rivarossi, and the E8 runs well on DC. I've heard converting it to DCC will be a real pain-in-the-neck because it's not DCC ready. (DCC is not easy for someone who can't even install diaphragms right...)

    Here's what I've done:

    I got a Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0. One of the nicest, smaller steam engines available anywhere in my opinion. Looks great, runs better than some of my cars, and doesn't look too far out of place on 18". This model is DCC ready, and all you have to do is buy the decoder and plug it in the tender. Simple as that, nothing else.

    I recently got a Life-Like P2K GP7. Basically the diesel equivilent of the 2-8-0. Nice diesel, and again, great on those tight curves. Model Railroader is always repetitive and states GP7's are great locos for small curves and starter layouts. As for DCC, I'm still figuring that out. I think it too is just a plug and play.

    (As you can tell, I like plug n' play, cause it's easy enough for me!)

    Hope this helps.

  12. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    I'm with ya on plug and play. With a little instruction I'm sure I could install the decoder as I don't have to much problem with creativity and constructing things. My concern would be if it isn't built to be DCC ready how is it going to function. It's like putting a V8 in a Jeep, it's doable but what are you going to have when it's done. Will you be happy?

    I'll stick to plug and play on decoders with you.

    And yes all that helps me a bunch thanks.:D

  13. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    It may be too late for the present layout (or not) but I'll put in a plug for larger curves. 18-inch radii are really a straight jacket for trains, so if you can spare the extra couple inches and even make the minimum radius 22-inchs (secitonal track) or 24-inches if you can deal with flex, your trains will thank you!
  14. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Kind of a catch 22 I guess. The first stage was the deck (after I built the "Train Shack") and I was building an L shaped deck in the 10 X 12 Shack so I asked a lot of questions on size and height and I was assured that I didn't want it to be wider than 3 feet or I would hate it as it would be difficult to work on and access. I played around with the atlas software and found out in a hurry that 3 feet wouldn't alow me to turn around so I made the ends 4' 6" for a run of 3 feet then angled back into 3 feet deep which gives me enough room to make a turn with a radius of 18 inch (compromise I guess). I wasn't raised around a railroad lifestyle nor do I have railroad family members so the engines and stuff don't really mean a great deal to me on a personal level so I'll take what works on 18" radius and I'm sure I'll be tickeled pink with it as long as it runs great and looks great.

    Not sure I've mentioned this before but the layout is mainly being made for my son (Squeak) who is 6 years old. I'm not really looking for something with a lot of sidings and realistic rolling stock pick up and drop off (wrong terminology I'm sure). I will have some of that but this isn't going to be a real deep passionate kind of thing for me on the history, accurracy level (at least not at this point). In fact I'd dare venture that the biggest fun for me is the part I'm involved in right now, the building and constructing part. I love artistic things and constructing things. Running the train will be more along Squeaks end of the deal. I'm sure there's a lot more fun ahead for me playing with it but once the construction end is over (does it really ever end?) my favorite part will be at end. From then on it will maintenance and putting the train back on the track for Squeak. It won't ever come off will it? :D

  15. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    Sounds like you have your design parameters pretty well defined. Building and construction can really be a fun part of the hobby - I've enjoyed it myself. Since 18-inches is the radius, I'm sure there are plenty of choices on the market in rolling stock and engines which will work well for you. Stick with 4-axle engines and 40-50' long freight cars and "shorty" passenger cars like Athearns, and you should be in good shape!
  16. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Thanks a bunch Rio :thumb: appreciate all the advice. It's one thing to go on an adventure but going blind is an entirely different thing. If it weren't for the internet I don't think I would have ever attempted this adventure.

    You guys are my eyes :eek: that's for sure.

  17. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Ha HT, Not tryin' to be a party pooper here, just thought you might like to know the SD35 was not introduced till 1964.
  18. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    I'm always happy to share what I know.

    As for your time period of modeling interest, if you are mainly wanting early diesel and steam, just stick with the shorter wheel base versions and you'll be in pretty good shape. Here are some examples of early diesels:
    Versions of these are availabe at all prices ranges from Bachmann, MRC, Athearn, Stewart, Proto1000, Genesis and Intermountain. If you are trying to go cheap, I'd steer you away from Bachmann and toward the Proto 1000 F3's - they look almost as good as Stewarts and from all reports run very smoothly, better than Bachmanns and for about the same price - at least the earlier production models had a very low streat price. Stewarts can be had from Ebay at good discount prices and probably run better than any other F unit!
    -GP7, GP9 RS1, RS2, RS3 are some good 40's and 50's 4-axle road switches and can be had from Athearn, Atlas and Proto 2000.

    As for steam, I've heard that Bachman Spectrum steam is much better than their diesel series and run smooth and look nice. I'd limit myself to 3-axle main drivers to keep it friendly with 18-inch curves (like 4-6-2, 2-6-2, 2-6-4, 4-6-0 and 0-6-0).
  19. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Doesn't surprise me but with time travel and all after "Back to the Future" I should be fine. I guess if it puts any of the little HO people of Squeakville in shock I'll put in an institution to take care of the issues and bring back some of todays modern therapists to make sure the Squeakville families are well taken care of. :D

    Seriously the SD35 is Squeaks as he isn't as impressed with the steam engines (YET) as I am. Once the BLI hits the track with sound and all I'm sure the SD35 will find it's location under the bench in storage. And it will be :wave: :wave: SD35 for awhile. At least until time catches up with us, time doesn't stand still in an HO layout does it?

  20. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

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