New guy & question about passenger cars

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by christo, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. christo

    christo New Member

    Hi all,

    I've been reading on this site for a couple days now and I must say that this is an exceptionally helpful and smart group of hobbyists. I've been thinking about doing a HO scale layout in my garage and have finally pulled the trigger on the first purchase that will drive me on my way, a Proto2000 E8A (powered/DCC) with E8B (unpowered) with B&O roadname. It looks like a really sweet locomotive and all my searching here leads me to believe I made a good initial purchase.

    I have about a 9x7 area for my layout minus about a 3x3 section in one corner. I think I have a pretty good layout, but I've got one major concern. I'm very interested in running a passenger train set up along the outside of the layout, but because of that nagging 3x3 section that I have to work around I'm left with 2 choices, 22inch or 18inch radius turns. I can make the 22 inch work so long as I don't get too fancy with switching and running double mainlines and such, but it will make for rather uninspired running of the passenger train. I have also designed a layout with mostly 18inch curves and I like this layout MUCH more. Its basically a bent dogbone layout with a bit of switching on it, and it also gives me the double mainline through the front part of my layout which is also something I really wanted to do.

    That being said, I've done quite a bit of searching here over the past couple days to find out if passenger cars can really make 18 inch radius turns. Everything I've read sounds like 22" is the best bet (but wider is better). And I've heard a few reports of folks running passenger cars on 18". I don't mind running shorties if they will really work on 18" radius. If there are passenger cars out there that will work on 18" can someone please make suggestions on what model maker to seek out? Or should I just save myself a bunch of headaches and go with my 22" curves?


    I've edited the post so that you can now see my two ideas for my layout. The top is the one with the 22" curves. Basically the passenger cars would have to run along the outside rail and make a continuous loop. The inside reverse loops would only get used if I run shorter rolling stock. The only thing I dislike about this is that I give up my double rail along the top (front) of my layout, which is something I really like the look of.

    This was my original layout that I planned on doing. It uses 18" turns and allows me to have the double rail
    along the front which is something that I really wanted. I also was able to add a little swithcing along it to spice things up a bit. I could add more switching if I like, but I'm choosing to keep the outter rails relatively simple. The small oval with switching is my attempt to put a bit of switching on the the track. I planned having this part sit a bit higher with the underlying track from the larger tracking to flow underneath through tunnels.

    I kind of liked the idea of having two completely different tracks so that if I want I can just have the larger looping track just run continuously while being able to concentrate on doing switching with the smaller and higher rails that would be coal and/or log running maybe.

    What do you think? One better than another? I definitely want to have the option to run passenger cars on this layout so if you want to give any suggestions or point out problems, please remember that consideration. Thanks again folks!
  2. rekline

    rekline Member


    The big 85' passenger cars sort of work on an 18" curve but look very awkward, stick with the 22". If you would like smaller cars Roundhouse offers some smaller series of cars modelled after older series. I have some 50'(?) passenger cars that I like to use on my round the tree layout. Nicely detailed and work well. Don't expect to use any large steam engines on 18". My PRR K4's work but I prefer to run them on 22" or greater. The E8 should work well but might not look prototypical with the roundhouse cars. Good luck and love to see your layout.
  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Athearn, Walters, ConCor, and others have all made "shorty" passenger cars that are anywhere from scale 60ft to 70ft long. All are designed to run on 18" radius curves. These are truncated models of both streamlined and heavyweight passenger cars. If you can live with the non-scale length, they will look much better on the sharper curves. In addition, you can get 4 shorties in the same length train as a 3 car scale train - which can for make for more believeable trains on small layouts.

    Take reklines words to heart about larger steam or diesel locos on 18" radius curves.

    If you can live with an older era - 1920s or earlier - a Bachmann Spectrum 4-6-0 pulling a train of the new Roundhouse Overland passenger cars will look mighty fine. Or substitue a Bachmann Spectrum or Roundhouse 4-4-0.

    my thoughts, your choices
  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge:thumb:

    I have an mu-ed pair of powered P2K E8As that are a hit at shows, I have yet to find the limits of their pull. As for curves for those passenger cars, the wider the better---or---go "shorties", such as older Athearns, a potentially unsatisfying but viable alternative. With that size layout possible, I would consider a track plan that has them running under the main layout, popping out at an urban setting like a station to offload/onload before disappearing again under the scenery maybe reappearing in another area thru a tunnel to disappear again. Easy to buy/build timer circuits would make it automatic and a realistic feature. A whole world of modeling opportunities could be considered with that approach.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Do you need to stick strictly to the 18" curves, or can you use flex track to achieve a 19" or 20" radius? Even a few inches will help. Also, easements at the beginning and end of your curves will help a lot with operational reliability (doesn't do much for appearances though - especailly in the tightest part of the curve).

    Hope that helps. And welcome to The Gauge!

  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You don't mention what is in that 3 x 3 section. Is there anyway you could run a narrow shelf behind the 3 x 3 or what ever is blocking that area?
  7. christo

    christo New Member

    Thanks for all the useful info folks. Sounds like I have my choice on 18 or 22's. Use 18 and have it crampped and not terribly realistic/nice looking on turns, or 22s and give up my double mainline. I've got to figure out how to post my 2 layouts that I've designed! I'll try to figure that out over the next few days.

    Russ, that 3x3 section in the corner is my hot water heater. Its pretty tight up against the wall. I can still make the 22's work if I give up my dog-bone double mainline. Basically, if I want to run the 22's with passenger cars, I will have to just run the track for that along the edge of the table. I'm still putting in reversing loops that have sharper curves to run general (but shorter) rolling stock that can keep most of the action running to the front of the layout.

    By the way, I'm living around the Coatesville/Gap, PA area and would love to get in contact with a RR group around here. (hint hint)

    Again, thanks for all the help and hopefully I will be able to post my layouts soon!
  8. christo

    christo New Member

    Please check the layouts added!

    I just wanted to give this a lil bump so that I can get some comments about the layouts that I'm considering. Considering that this is my first attempt at a layout I didn't go insane on switching, although I still feel like it will be quite a bit for me to handle for a long time. Anyway, please check the first post on the thread to see the layouts and give me feedback/criticism. If there are any layout fanatics out there that feel they could fit something better into my available space, please feel free to suggest something completely different. The only thing that I REALLY want is to be able to run passenger cars on it and I really like the look of a double mainline as well. Some light switching would be great as well.

    Thanks again folks.
  9. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Your E8 locomotive is definitely going to look better on 22 inch radius curves, not to mention any cars that would have normally been pulled by that loco.
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Are you going to have the ability to reach the back of the layout?
  11. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Including the walking space all around the layout, what are the real dimensions you will be occupuying? It seems likely that you need space in the center, and that you would get longer runs and wider curves going around-the-walls rather than on a table-top in that space.

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