Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Ruffrydausmc, Dec 25, 2006.

  1. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Don't give up yet. The terminology gets confusing, and your thread got off track (no pun intended). The difficulty is the changes in terminology and production over the last 60 years of Lionel history. You have a Lionel 3 rail O train set. It will run on ANY 3 rail O track system.

    Scale refers to the model's proportion in comparison to the real thing. O scale is 1/4" to the foot, or 1/48 full size.

    Gauge is the width between the rails. O gauge is 1.25" which scales out to 5ft, not the 56.5" of the real thing. But before WW2, when Lionel was getting started, that was considered close enough (and still is for 90% of those who model in O scale).

    O27, O31, O36, etc., refer to the diameter of the curves in the track. O27 is the sharpest curves, making a circle 27" across. Lionel used the term O in the '50s and '60s to refer to their O31 track, and the bigger trains that could not go around the O27 curves and switches.

    Lionel now includes Fastrack with all their currently produced train sets. The sharpest Fastrack curves are O36. Fastrack is favored for temporary setups becasue the track is raised off the carpet, and locks together much better than the traditional Lionel track, usually called tubular track.

    Tubular track is considerably cheaper than Fastrack, and is made in 2 different heights. To confuse things, the lower height is cheaper and was called O27 track, and the higher height is called O track. Both heights are available in a variety of curve diameters.

    There are other 3 rail O gauge track systems as well. MTH makes 2, Atlas makes 1, Gargraves makes 1 (those are all the current common production I know of). Any 3 rail O gauge train (Lionel or other brand) will run on any of the track systems, provided the curves are not too sharp for that train. All the 3 rail O track systems use the same O gauge of 1.25" (distance between the rails).

    The set you have was originally designed to run on, and came with O27 track, so it can go around the sharpest curves. Lionel changed to Fastrack for their sets a couple of years ago.

    In the '50s, Lionel and Marx were the only makers of 3 rail O gauge trains. Lionel needed cheaper trains to compete with Marx at the low end, so they developed their O27 line (Lionel was considered quite expensive even in their heyday). The O line cars and locomotives were closer to scale because they did not have to go around quite such sharp curves. The O27 line generally was not made to full scale to allow them to go around the very sharp O27 curves. Marx's trains were generally the same size as Lionel's O27 line. Today the O27 line carries the name of "Traditional size" to distinguish them from the more-to-scale models.

    There are many of us that enjoy the O27 size trains - they work just as well and are just as much fun as the scale and semi-scale stuff, but cost less and take up less space. It's hard for me to get excited about being exactly in scale when my track has 3 rails instead of 2. Besides, I'm having too much fun with the operating accessories and cars (my favorite part of Lionel) to worry about exact scale!

    I hope I cleared things up a little bit. Enjoy your set the way it is - it will run fine. When it comes time to add on, you will probably want to choose which track system you like better, and go with that.

    yours in training
  2. Ruffrydausmc

    Ruffrydausmc New Member

    Well Gil the problem to begin with was I didn't know the difference in the million O sizes and scales and guages. I was trying to find out just what exactly I had got. It's easier to just waste money and figure it out the hard way than ask you people.
  3. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    If you still dont know, you have an O 27 size train that come with 36 in diamiter curves and 9 inch long straits called Fast Track.

    But let us try once more.

    Here is tubular O 27 track


    tubular O 31 track


    Fast track


    Super O track


    Now this is all the track Lionel makes.

    You can get any of this track in diifernt lengths and differnt curve diamiters. For example you can buy 72 inch rated curves that make a 72 inche circkle, or a 54 inch circkle but that does not mean your train is an O 72 if you opperate it on 72 inch track. It is still an O 27 rated train .
  4. Geno

    Geno Member

    Welcome to the reality of this hobby- yuo are going to talk to people who may not have the patience to answer your questions and may be rude. Don't let it push out out of the hobby- if you're enjoying what you have just stick with it. You'll get the terminology later.

    Gil- with as much knowledge and experience you have I'd expect a better attitude from you of all people.:(:p

  5. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Geno you are correct. I am not that smart but I should show a little reserve.

    My appologies to all.
  6. Ruffrydausmc

    Ruffrydausmc New Member

    I'm not bashfull at all. That's why I came here for advice and you act like I'm idiot for not knowing what all this means. I'm not Casey Jones of model railroading!
  7. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    I sent you a PM. I am glad to email with you or even call you on the land line to help.

    That not with standing I suggest you may wish to try this forum, you may have better luck.

    Or google up some info and forum links also.

    I should have answered your question with the photos of the differnt track available from Lionel. . Sorry we couldn't help you.:confused:
  8. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    My personal opinion after re-reading the thread is that nobody treated you like an idiot. Several people made a sincere attempt to answer your initial questions, which was about what size curves your train set would take, and what size the trains themselves were. The thread then went into a discussion about the relative sizes of different manufacturers trains. At that point, you said something like, "I'm just going to sell it all because it's too difficult to understand."

    The point that was made in several of the responses is that understanding all this business of train size and curve diameters has/had no impact on your ability to use and enjoy your train set you received. These other matters only come into play when you are ready to expand with either more track or more locomotives and cars, or both. And along with the suggestion to run and enjoy the set, all the responses again tried to answer your original questions in more detail to assist with you understanding what the terminology meant. Gil even went to a non-trivial amount of time and effort to photograph and post pictures of all the various types of track Lionel has made.

    This forum is not Lionel's tech support center, nor their customer service center. Rather it is a group of guys and gals who enjoy playing with trains, and who like to share their experiences, advice, questions, and encouragement with each other. I would extend the same welcome to you, and would hope that you would share your experiences with the rest of us. Pictures are always welcome - I love seeing pictures of new trains others have bought or built. In my personal experience, this particular forum is by far the most patient and helpful for newcomers - which we all were/are at one time or another.

    Please ask if you have other questions. In the future, I'll wait a day or so to see what other responses are before I duplicate the same info in different words. But I do love to talk about my experiences with 3 rail O trains when I get the chance.

    just my thoughts, your choices
  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    duplicate post

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