Lionel or MTH?

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by JoeGrapes, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. JoeGrapes

    JoeGrapes Member

    Hi, I'm new to this. I had the old Lionel in the 50's when I was a kid and HO in the 70's. Now I want to get back into trains with o gauge. I'm going to build a layout around the walls of a finished room in the basement. I've been looking at Lionel and MTH steam engines. The middle of the road stuff. I'll be using 072 curves and Lionel O Gauge track with grades around 3% going up and maybe close to 4% going down. Should I go with one over the other? Proto Sound or TrainSounds? Any suggestions would be a great help. Thanks all.
  2. Geno

    Geno Member

    It all depends on what you want- are you going for a classic poswar look, a more modern scale layout with realistic scenery, weathered equipment and buildings, or a combination of both? Do you you have any trains now?

    Most of the guys here seem to like 0 or 027 track both for reasons of economy and practicality. The O72 switches are nice, but at $75/ ea new, you're going to spend alot of money if you're using more than a few of them.

    But there are plenty of track systems out there that have switches in the $40 range. Both Atlas and Gargraves are popular and reasonable in terms of cost. Fastrak is a bit more, but is a good performer and has the built-in roadbed, so it's gaining in popularity as well. I wouldn't recommend MTH Realtrax, as it's contacts will loosen over time and cause continuity problems.

    Both Lionel and MTH offer nice steamers with and without command control. As far as sounds go, you'll get alot of opinions of both brands. But it can be gereally agreed that MTH's steamers have better smoke units, and that they have more models to choose from in both their Premier and Railking lines- the latter being the more affordable one.

    Pick up some catalogs from your local hobby store, talk to as many train people as you can, and go from there.

  3. JoeGrapes

    JoeGrapes Member

    Thanks Geno, I did pick up the Lionel and MTH books. I will have some scenery but since the track will be at eye level, extreme realism will not be my main concern. That's why for now I'll stick with something in the RailKing price range. What is important is that the engine must pull a fair amount of cars in as steep a grade as I can get. I'll have 269" of going up grade and 209" of going down grade with a total of about 70 ft. of track. The highest part of the track will be suspended so I can walk under without ducking. Probably about 76" from the floor. And the lowest part about 68" from the floor. Lower if I can go more than a 3% grade.
  4. Geno

    Geno Member

    Most traction-tired engines, steam, diesel, or otherwise, can easily handle a train of about a dozen freight cars up a maximum grade of 5-6%. Beyond that you get into tire-spin issues, which require more than one engine to overcome the grade.

    Since a 3% grade equates to a rise of 3" per 100" of track, you're at about an 8" rise on the upgrade and about 6 1/4" on the downgrade, which means you need to find that extra 90" there to bring the track down to your 68" track level. A 3.5 or 4% grade will work too, but put extra strain on your engines- I'd stick to 3% at the most.

    Any curved track on a grade also acts as an additional percentage (around .5%), so that 3% is already pushing it. It's not that you couldn't pull a train up a steeper grade, but in the long run you'd be putting more wear and tear on your engines.

    What kind of track will you be using?

  5. JoeGrapes

    JoeGrapes Member

    I'll be using Lionel O Gauge track. With all the different makes out there is there anyone I should stay away from? There is a K-Line Allegheny steam engine I like at the local train store that seems pretty reasonably priced. With the steep grade I have planned I think an articulated engine would fit in better.
  6. Geno

    Geno Member

    Lionel O gauge is beefy compared to 027- I think you're okay there, since any aftermarket repros should match the steel thickness of the original. If not (you'll be able to tell just by comparing the two) just buy original, since there's plenty of it available used.

    The K-Line Allegheny would make a fine addition to your layout to challenge your grades- and I'll bet it can handle more than a dozen cars easy.


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