Are you interested in starting in the O scale hobby?

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by PRSLou, Dec 28, 2000.

  1. PRSLou

    PRSLou Member


    I know a lot of you are into HO/N/Z scale(s), but some are looking into buying O scale. A very good company that makes hi-quality starter sets and very good engines/cars is M.T.H. Electric Trains. This may sound like a "stupid" post to some of you experienced guys, but it may be very useful to the new hobbyist.

    Happy Railroading!

    [This message has been edited by PRSLou (edited 12-27-2000).]
  2. mrpayroll

    mrpayroll New Member

    Hello, just a little over a week ago I read a story on the Internet about Garden Railroading. I was immediately hooked! Of course when I was a kid I loved trains, but I had not actively thought about model trains until the story last week. I love the idea of creating my own little garden layout that has real trees and plants and has running water.
    Of course it seems that most people use G Gauge trains when they create a Garden Railway. But when I finally went into a shop and saw the size of the G Gauge, it seemed too big for my 17' x 40' layout that I have planned. Hence I am now looking at O Gauge trains, which seem to be more to my liking. My questions are:

    a) Do you think it is feasible to create a Garden Railway in O Gauge and would the track stand up to the weather in Los Angeles, CA?

    b) I have followed your advice about MTH trains and they seem to be a real good product. But their track seems to be attached to a plastic base, as least from what I saw on their website. For the Garden Railway should I use their track or do you suggest another companies track.

    c) Also the diesel engine that I am interested says that it runs on O42 track. I have seen other engines that run on other "O" sized tracks. Are there different sizes for "O" track? I would not want to buy incompatible pieces to run on my track.

    d) Should I stick with 3 rail track? Are MTH trains made specifically to run on 3 rail track? Are 2 & 3 rail trains compatible or should I make sure that I am buying the right piece for the right track?

    I have many other questions that I cannot think of right now, but hopefully this will get a dialogue going, which will help me to think of more questions. Hopefully my questions make sense.

    I thank you for your time and look forward to your reply. Chris

    [This message has been edited by mrpayroll (edited 12-29-2000).]
  3. PRSLou

    PRSLou Member


    I will try to answer you questions to the best of my ability.

    a) I myself would not suggest using O scale trains outside.
    1. They are not made for it.
    2. There is no good track to use outside. BUT, you could use stainless steel GarGraves track with plastic ties. Some people have done this with good results, but as I said before, I would not recomend it.

    b) I would not use MTH's track for any permanent layout - use the previously mentioned Gargraves or Atlas O scale track.

    c) All 3-rail O scale trains will run on the same track. The "O-42, O-27, O-72, etc," denote what diameter track the engine will run on. For instance: The diesel engine you are looking at from MTH, says that it will run on O-42 minimum. This means that you must have 42 inch diameter curves or wider.

    d) I would stick to 3-rail O scale. MTH engines are made only to run on 3-rail track. 2-rail and 3-rail trains are not compatible, mainly because 3-rail trains run on AC and 2-rail trains run on DC. Also, 3-rail trains have tons of sounds that are not possible in 2-rail. 3-rail also has several remote control systems similar to HO scale DCC. One example is MTH's new Protosound 2.0.

    Hope this answers your first questions! I will be happy to help in the future!


    [This message has been edited by PRSLou (edited 12-29-2000).]
  4. mrpayroll

    mrpayroll New Member

    Thank you for your quick reply. I have learned a lot from your response. I still want to look into "O" Gauge in the Garden. I would think that if I keep the train itself indoors, when not in use, and buy the track you mentioned, which should withstand the elements, then I should not have too many problems with the performance of the train. But, if more people agree with you, in the hobby shops and on this forum, then maybe I will have to go back to "G" Gauge.
    But once thanx for your quick response. Chris
  5. PRSLou

    PRSLou Member

  6. mrpayroll

    mrpayroll New Member

    Yes I bought that issue last week. I will go back and check it once again, since my choices have changed since then. Thanx Chris
  7. GKRR

    GKRR New Member


    just wondering if you had time to do your O scale outdoors (or if you decided otherwise). We plan to do ours outside even though we know there will be some obstacles ... just don't have enough room indoors and we prefer O.

  8. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Hi Lou:

    Some of the MTH accessories work well with “S” gauge layouts. I received the #334 Dispatch Board for Christmas, a really neat operating accessory. Lots of action! Of course MTH has also issued their own versions of the ACG log loader and Gabe, think they might have done the sawmill too. I’m going to replace the dispatcher on the board with an “S” scale guy one day. I think he’s even too big for “O” scale! They seem to make a good product. I do think their protestations about some of their products not being modeled after the Lionel originals is a bit disingenuous.

    The garden railroad gang could probably use the gargraves SS track. They need to check on how UV radiation affects the plastic ties. I think you can get the Gargraves wooden ties in three rail. This might work if the modeler applies an “Olympic” semi transparent stain to the ties so they will hold up outside. Ca. doesn’t stay wet like SC does so it might work. I use the wooden SS 2-rail for my “S” gauge modules and they hold up well as far as oxidation goes. They don’t handle impact abuse as well as the old Lionel or Flyer track.

    I agree with everything Lou said, except I think “O” gauge would look good outside. I do think you need to look very carefully at the track. It’d be a ROYAL pain in the tookis to have to replace your entire track in two or three years.

    Thanks for opening this up Lou! Do you ever check out the “OGR” website? Just a note, the consensus in our club seems to be that the Lionel version of Gabe is a bit sturdier that MTH’s. But folks seem to like MTH’s log loader just fine.

  9. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I think you will find that O gauge/scale is quite common in England for outdoor garden layouts.If it works there ,there is no reason it won't work in the states.
  10. GKRR

    GKRR New Member

    Thanks a lot Catt! You're the second person who's mentioned England/Great Britain with regard to O garden railroads. If they can do it there, we will certainly do so here (like weather in the Pacific Northwest). I guess it's a good thing that it's possible because my hubby had his mind made up to make it work one way or another.

    Kathy of ...
  11. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    O gauge will work outside. One secret is the drainage and using a light oil on the track to impede rust and help with electrical conductivity. I read about a ground layout in New York state that ran well, with a light coat of WD-40 wiped on the rail before operating sessions. Other than a coat of snow, reasonably dry conditions should prove to be no problem. Once the track is used outside, I wouldn't take it in for an indoor layout. But proper soldering of electrical connections and a heavy feed wire should make it operate for some time.

    Greg Elems
  12. GKRR

    GKRR New Member

    good points again Greg,

    we're many months away from actually laying any track and we plan to elevate it and prepare the roadbed properly for surface and drainage. Glenn is meticulous about these projects and maintenance, so I'm sure it will work out. This project will be a portion of our yard yet-to-be-landscaped and will be the highlight of the yard.

    We wouldn't mix the inside and outside track or projects and our outdoor locos and cars will have a small depot/railyard to run into when the grownup kids are through playing for the day.

    thanks again,
    Kathy, of ...
  13. pcentral

    pcentral Member

    Hi Guys,
    I wanted to add to what Lou has said and clear up a couple things, no offense intended Lou! O scale is generally considered as 2 rail track and O gauge is considered to as 3 rail track. Refering to 3 rail as O scale could cause confusion with some people(like some of the clerks at the LHS). Also, MTH does make some of their engines for 2 rail operation, so be careful with what you get. The one other thing is O27 track has a smaller profile than O gauge track and some engines will not run on it. I would suggest Atlas O if you are dead set on O gauge outdoors, check the thread on track selection for my comments on this and a link to their website.All the Gargraves I have ever seenor used has rusted after getting wet. I have S,O and G gauge layouts and went with G for my outdoor layout, as it is most suited for outdoors. In England they use quite a bit of steam powered locos in their outdoor layouts and therefor don't require electricity or clean tracks. Be warned, you will need to do more maintenance with O than if you used G gauge. Also, check out for another company that has good O gauge trains. Some of the new rolling stock they have coming out is super detailed.
    Chris, I think you could build a great layout with G in the space you have. I have a L shaped setup that is about 20' one way and 12' the other and about 6' wide. I friend of mine has a beautiful G layout that is about a 1/3 smaller than what your space isand he has a small pond, town, mountain, several trestles and can run two trains hands free. With all of this it still looks very spacious. Just my commentary and good luck with whatever you choose. Steve
  14. PRSLou

    PRSLou Member

    Hey ya, I'm one of the main guys over on the OGR forum. Very good place, but with school and all I don't have much time. I also haven't been to this board in a while...good place though.

    Between the time I first posted this thread and now, a lot has changed in the O scale industry. For one, MTH no longer manufactures engines in 2 rail. All the manufacturers have upped the quality and detail in their products. MTH's DCS/Protosound 2 have hit the market and have performed well. Tons of stuff.

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