Help with customizing old O27 track

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by LionelDad, May 2, 2009.

  1. LionelDad

    LionelDad New Member

    Okay, so I just spent two months building an "around the wall" train shelf for my two extremely patient 3-4 year old boys. It's a foot from the ceiling, goes through both of their rooms, and tunnels through the wall for a 70 foot total run. I just finished laying down 1/8" cork on the shelf tops and now it's time to customize the track sections. I've never done this before so here are my questions: 1) How do I cut old O27 track to fit my layout? 2) How do I solve the problem of s-turns that end up being "pin-to-pin" (I have this problem a few spots with 2 switches). Is there a way to remove pins or stick them on the opposite side of the track section? 3) How to I condition old dirty track sections for optimal elecrical connectivity? 4) What's the best way to wire such a long run? Will one connection cover the whole run? Thanks for any helpful tips you can provide. -Dave
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi and welcome.
    I haven't worked with O27 for about 50 years, so ...
    The pins should be removable with pliers. And maybe a vise. I used to use a screwdriver to open up the bottom of the rail and then needle nose pliers to tighten it up again. Lionel used to make a "track tool" that did the job and also had a hole to match the round bit of the rail. I never liked modifying expensive bits like switches!
    You can cut track by putting it in a vise and using a hacksaw. Lionel sells extra pins.
    Be careful with remote control switches -- some of these need an insulating pin in one rail for the non-derailing feature (the 2 short rails at the dividing end) and leaving it out will cause problems; please read the instructions.
    For a 70 foot run you probably need a bunch of feeders. Especially if you pull the pins out. I would use a piece of regular household lamp cord -- it's big enough and easy to buy. If you have more than one loop you can get different colours. You'll want a lot of lockons. Start about every 10 or 12 feet. You may want to break the wire and join 3 bits together for each lockon -- a lighter wire can go up to the track.
    Old dirty track sections? Not sure. I have a loop that's rusty and I don't know what to do. Old used track is cheap; replace it. There are various track cleaners both liquids and blocks. A bit of rubbing alcohol and a piece of cork works for some dirt.
  3. LionelDad

    LionelDad New Member

    Thanks for all the good info. That sure is a lot of lock-ons. Do I need to wire all the lock-ons directly from the transformer, or can I make a single wire hop from lock-on to lock-on? Sorry if these are dumb questions... I'm new at this. [​IMG]
  4. LionelDad

    LionelDad New Member

    Here's a crude representation of the track plan if anyone wants to critique or give wiring ideas. 2 squares = 1 foot. Thanks again -Dave

  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...Never done O27 myself (AF for me...!!) but you shouldn't "daisy chain" the lock ons. Bring two feeder wires (I use R. Shack speaker wire) from the main bus to each lock on, and make sure your rail joints are nice and tight, and that the pins are shiny-clean. You will also need to fix the track to the roadbed somehow to prevent it from moving and sending your priceless train 8 feet to the floor...!!
    Good luck & keep us posted....
  6. LionelDad

    LionelDad New Member

    Thanks Gus. Here's a sneak peak of the benchwork.

  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    That's some mighty fine looking "benchwork"...How is it held up..? Bet the kids will love it...:thumb:
  8. LionelDad

    LionelDad New Member

    If you look just to the left of the seam you can see a painted bracket above the shelf. They are 2.5 inch angle brackets and the shelf screws in from below. The shelftop part of the bracket is embedded in 1/8" cork to keep the shelf top flat. I'm going to lay another strip of 1/4 inch cork 3" wide under the track for further noise insulation. The kids hopefully will have half as much fun watching the train as their dad will when it's finished. Here's what the top looks like:

  9. bf109

    bf109 Member

    im not into trains , im 1 of those paper freaks :) but i do know my home improvement
    and thats a very nice job you did :thumb:
  10. LionelDad

    LionelDad New Member

    Thanks very much for the compliments. Now we'll have to see if I can get it running. I just ordered a book on 3-rail track wiring. My knowledge in this area isn't up to par for such a long stretch of track. When I tested the train, I just laid out a simple oval on the floor with one lock-on and one short connecting wire, but it seems I've complicated things a bit with this layout. I'll have plenty of time to cut track and adjust pins etc... until the book arrives. Thanks everyone for all the great advice. I'll check back in when it's up and running.
  11. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Dave! Lovely job! The one thing I see is the "s" curves approaching the turnouts, which have the potential of causing problems staying on track through the turnouts. I don't have experience with O but I would hesitate to do this in the smaller scales. I think you could alleviate this by swapping the turnouts.
    Just my 0.14 rmb
  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Something to consider.

    You can get larger diameter curves than O27 which match the O27 track profile. Marx made track with an O34 curve. Lionel and KLine made the O27 type track with O42 curves. And Lionel also made an O54 curve in the O27 line. The O34 and O42 track can be found at train shows, eBay, and other places selling used track. New O42 track is still available in some hobby shops.

    Switches are the issue. Lionel may have made a very few 042 switches to match the O27 track. And KLine made a lot of O42 switches. But finding them is not so easy.

    The larger curves will permit higher speeds without the train coming off the track. I never saw a pair of boys who didn't eventually race their Lionel trains. Don't ask me how I know this.

    my thoughts, your choices
  13. ytter_man

    ytter_man Member

    The rule of thumb on S curves is to leave in a straight section of track between as long as the longest car you plan to run over it. See this diagram.

    A good investment would be a pull-behind track cleaning car, getting up on a stool to clean all that might be a pain sign1

    You're doing something even most serious modelers would just never do, for fear of their wives taking a rolling pin to their noggin! :mrgreen:
  14. LionelDad

    LionelDad New Member

    Thanks for pointing out the s-turn problem, because I would never have thought of it. I must admit it caused panic, as my shelves are already laid out to accommodate that particular s-turn in question without much wiggle room as you can see from my schematic. I took my loco with my longest car, assembled the s turn on the floor and tested it. It seemed that at very high speeds the rapid change in centrifugal force has the potential to knock it of balance, but no more so than negotiating a 90 degree turn all in the same direction. At slow to medium speeds it seems very smooth and at no time in the turn can I find that the trucks are angled exactly the same as the "bad" diagram indicates. There is always a slight offset of the wheels through the turn. If the car doesn't "catch" on the way around, am I okay? If not I might have to change my bench work a bit which I'm definitely not looking forward to after all that work. But it is what it is..... what do you think? p.s. I love the track cleaning idea....I'll look for one of those. By the way you guys aren't gonna believe this - but this whole thing was actually my wife's idea, so I should be safe from the rolling pin over the head. I do plenty of other things to deserve that though.

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