Discussion in 'FAQs' started by sammyd, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. sammyd

    sammyd Member

    THis model train stuff is evil and insidious.
    I have a nice little ho layout I started "for the kids" but as I get into it I notice that the stuff just doesn't take "playing" well.
    So I thought about the set my dad had and bought a few Marx things.
    I have a few questions about it.
    I have heard that while most O stuff is modelled in 1/48,the Marx is closer to 1/64. Can someone confirm this rumor?
    If I have a reverse loop does it have to have any special wiring like the ho or does the 3 rail system take care of that?
    What is the best way to make the O-27 track look "real" roadbed, ballasting and weathering?

    Thanx for any responses.
  2. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    1/64 is S gauge and the track for it that looks prototype is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. On a budget you could add some strip wood ties and ballast it as any other. As to HO not being rugged that's true, but they are models just like RC planes, 1/25 cars, and sccale boats and planes. They too don't like rough treatment. The O stuff is stronger but much higher priced. 3 rail takes care of that.:) as the final answer. But be aware they have a reverse switch on the loco itself. FRED
  3. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Sammy,
    You might look at the Lionel "New Track."
    It's sort of like E-Z track, already ballasted,
    flat top, looks pretty good, not overly expensive.
    It is three-rail.
    Just a thought ... :) :) :)

    That S-Gauge ... If I had the bucks, I think I would
    go for it !! There seem to be a lot of new products
    and some well-detailed equipment. I'm not givin' up
    my HO, though!! :D :D :D
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    When you have the "Tinplate" or "Hi-rail" trains, the idea of scale can get left behind. When I was young, Marx made two classes of trains -- plastic and tin. The tin ones tended to have 4 wheels and be smaller and more rounded. The plastic ones were closer in size to some of the smaller Lionel. Lionel had various different sizes of trains as well. I'm not sure what Marx is producing right now. American Flyer before 1945 produced O gauge trains that were a bit small. After 1945 they used the same bodies to make S gauge trains which were more in scale.
    Most of the toy trains are a bit short in length and may be otherwise compromised. If you have a boxcar that says "40 feet" long, it should be 10" in O scale. An 85 foot passenger car should be 21" long.
    To make your track look better, cut more ties the same size as the ones on your track out of wood or cardboard. Place them between the ones you have now, leaving a gap of about one tie width between them. Paint them a colour about the same as the metal ties. Be careful with any ballast you add -- water in the glue can rust your track.
  5. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    O scale vs. O gauge vs. O27

    Hi there,

    I hope this will help a little bit. Marx stuff, as others have said, can be a little bit difficult to scale. Marx, Lionel, Flyer, K-Line, and MTH O27 stuff is indeed scaled at about 1:64, the same as S scale. People have been known to replace the trucks on O27 cars with S trucks and run them with post-war Flyer, or vice-versa.

    Standard O is supposed to be 1:48 scale. Marx never made anything in this scale. Flyer and Lionel used this for their high-end prewar sets; Lionel continued to use this size for its high-end sets after WWII, and modern manufacturers have carried on that tradition.

    The six-inch tin Marx cars aren't really scale at all. Their proportions are very whimsical. (I still like them anyway, but nobody will mistake them for reality.)

    The 7-inch tin four wheel Marx cars produced in the early '50s are almost 1:64. They're cheap when you can find them, but barely more realistic than the 6-inchers, and the 6-inchers beat them on looks, at least in my opinion.

    The 8-wheel Marx cars with the tilt or scissor couplers are for all intents and purposes 1:64.

    Reverse loops don't need anything special other than a non-derailing switch/turnout. Keep in mind that if you're running Marx, a lot of the low-end Marx engines don't like modern switches. A Lionel 1121, if you can find one, would be your best bet. Peter Riddle's book _Tips and Tricks for Toy Trains_ will tell you how to make an 1121 self-tending, and also has a diagram for a reverse loop.

    As far as making track more realistic, you can buy or make wooden ties. Or, some hobbyists just go nuts on the ballasting, noting that the ties on real railroads are often covered to the point where you can't see them. The December issue of _Classic Toy Trains_ had an article on that.

    Alternatively, modern high-end track from Gargraves, Atlas, Lionel, and K-Line is much more realistic-looking than the traditional O27 track, though it also costs 3-10x as much.

    I hope this helps.
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    :wave: :wave: :wave: Welcome to the-gauge, Dave!:wave: :wave: :wave:

    Thanks for posting that information!
  7. sammyd

    sammyd Member

    thanks for the info!
  8. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Jon, thanks for the welcome.

    Sammy, I'm still learning a lot of this stuff too. My Dad and I had his 1950s Lionel O27 gear set up in the basement when I was growing up, but neither of us knew a whole lot about it. That was during the 1980s when O scale anything was hard to come by.

    I dug it back out about six months ago after not having so much as seen it in more than a decade. Fortunately between the Web, a healthy number of toy train books in the St. Louis County Library, and a very helpful Lionel dealer a couple of miles from where I live, I've been able to pick up a lot really quickly.

    One thing I definitely recommend:
    I made some conversion cars so I can run American Flyer and Marx along with my Lionels. K-Line's Lionel-compatible trucks cost about $4, so this is a cheap modification, especially if you get a good deal on a Marx or Flyer car that's missing one truck.

    Marx stuff has a reputation for being available really cheap, but demand seems to be artificially high because of that. I've bought an awful lot of vintage Lionel in the past few months and paid less for it than the Marx stuff I got.

    Also, K-Line acquired the old Marx molds in the late '70s, and they have a couple of product lines that use them. K-Line's Keystone Klassics line uses the old Marx molds, painted up as PRR billboard boxcars like Lionel used to do, so they look great with vintage Marx or Lionel stuff. My local dealer sells the cars for $9.95 a pop. There's another outfit called Industrial Rail that sells O27 cars in the $20-$25 range, which undercuts Lionel's prices.

    Vintage stuff--at least the common vintage stuff--is usually cheaper than that, but if you're after realism, the modern K-Line and Industrial Rail stuff will give you more realistic schemes. Or you could always buy poor-condition Lionel cars, make whatever simple repairs might be necessary, then repaint and decal them.

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