O gauge track question

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by patfield, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. patfield

    patfield New Member

    I bought a Lionel O gauge Alaska railroad set that came with Fastrack. Will my train operate on regular 3 rail track? I would like to make a layout on a 4x8 plywood but will need to get some more track. I see lots of track on auction on Ebay but am afraid to bid because I don't know what type of track will work. Is all 3 rail track electrified? Also, will my fastrack attach to other types of track? Sorry to sound so clueless but I am just getting into the hobby. Any info would be appreciated.
  2. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    Yes your train will work on either 027 tube track or O gauge (031) tube track. Lionel does make an addaptor piece for Fastrack to O gauge track, but not for 027 track.
  3. patfield

    patfield New Member


    Thanks for the info Spankybird. I will see what track I can find at a reasonable cost. I will probably have lots of questions once I start getting the layout going.
  4. RXRron

    RXRron New Member

    Buy the fastrack it's the best and so easy to use
  5. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    IT is far from the BEST and is very noisy and costly. :cry:
  6. Geno

    Geno Member

    I have qiute a bit of 027 track- I kept it instead of going to fastrack for the same reasons. O27 track is only available from Lionel in 042 and 054 curves, the switches come in 027 and 042 curves. The fastrack has the advantage of coming in 036, 048, 060, 072 and 084 curves, and having more switches-036, 060, 072. I'd order it from a big discounter like Charles Ro or Justrains- they've got better pricing on the Fastrack any any hobby store.

  7. Brian R.

    Brian R. Member


    I run my trains on O-31 track. It is the minimum that most of the nice (affordable) engines run on. I suggest getting O-31 or bigger curves. O-27 limits your ability to expand your layout. If you get rid of your FastTrac let me know. I may buy some from you. Or most places let you trade in track to get credit towards other track.
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    patfield: All O gauge 3-rail track will be compatoble with your trains. There are a couple of instances where certain bits of rolling stock are not compatible with certain brands of switches, but you should be OK with a Lionel set.
    The major incompatibility you'll find is curves that are too sharp for some cars and locomotives. The catalog will tell you what the minimum curve for your train is.
    As you can see, Fastrack arouses fervent opinions both pro and con. And the only other track that can be added to it is Lionel O or equivalent. (Is Gargraves compatible?)
  9. Brian R.

    Brian R. Member

    Gargraves is compatible. In fact, it is the most used track by 3-railers. It is the most realistic looking and you can get it in flex-track version. Helps to limit the amount of cuts you need to make when fitting pieces together. Pretty much any 3 rail track will work for your trains. Some like MTH Realtrax, others Fastrac. Both pretty much are the same. Some peopl even like the shadow rail (this system has a black rail in the middle to make it look more 2 railish). I'd stay basic right now and either add on to your fastrac or go with a basic 3 rail setup for now. there is a ton of track that can be had on ebay for descent amounts of money. Get it while you can right now because X-mas season is right around the corner and lord knows prices are going to be skyrocketing like gas prices will.
  10. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i run lionel pre and post war, and marx trains, and im thinking about getting some MTH , will they ALL run on fast track?
  11. Brian R.

    Brian R. Member

    MTH, LIONEL, K-LINE, ATLAS, 3rd RAIL, and any other company that produces 3 rail cars and engines will run using the fast track system. You will be fine.
  12. smullen

    smullen New Member

    I was going to get into HO, but after a few trips to the Hobby stores I think I want to go with O...

    I really like all the Engines, cars and accessories that I saw for in O... Plus there are two stores near me that just sell O... This one, looks like a fricken Grocery store of trains....

    Anyway, my question is mostly on tracks...

    At 1st I'd have thought O guage was O guage, but now I see

    Two Rail
    Three Rail

    Fast Track
    some other track
    027 tube track
    O gauge (031) tube track
    fastrack in 036, 048, 060, 072 and 084 curves,
    switches-036, 060, 072

    I'm sure there is more I missed...

    Can you guys post a rundown of whats for what?

    I want to build something after Christmas and I don't want to start ordering stuff and and up with a buncha peices I can't use...

    Is there a guide, matrix or something???
  13. Brian R.

    Brian R. Member


    To start, O scale track in general is easy to wire. ON reversing loops you don't have to wory about changing currents and such. Everything runs off the middle (3rd) rail.

    2rail track is just that. It is a Lionel version of HO track. I personally see no advantages to 2 rail track other then it is the most prototypical track.

    Now on to 3 rail.

    O27- this track had the tightest curves. It is the most restrictive type of track to run because most new engines run on a minimum O-31 radius. O27 is good to run 2-4-2 starter sets on and trolleys, but thats about it.

    O31-this is the minimum track radius for all MTH railking and Lionel Lionmaster engines. The curves do not take up a lot of room, and the allow you to run bigger engines and rolling stock. These are the curves I use.

    O42- again this track has a wider turning radius for scale sized engines.

    Gargraves track- many modelers swear by this track because you can get it in flex track. That means that you can bend it however you need it with little or no cutting needed to make the track fit, depending on the area of course. This track also comes with wooden rail ties and a blackened center rail to make it look real.

    O36 and O72 switches are used the most common. O36 allows smaller engines to switch from one track to the other, while O72 gives enough clearance for bigger engines.

    Lionel Fastrack and MTH Realtrax are convienient because they click together and come "ballasted". But thats where it stops. Both these tracks have hollow bases, making them fairly noisy when placed on styrofoam or plywood boards. Not an enjoyable sound to listen to when you have multiple trains running.

    Also, if you are going to start a layout I suggest investing in a very good transformer such as a Lionel ZW or an MTH transformer. The Lionel gives out a ton of power. Also, most of the new engines come with a command control set up. Think ahead and plan your layout with the intent to use a command setting. Command control is very easy to use, and is easy to wire up. I use Lionel TMCC control because I buy mostly lionel engines. I cant say enough about the simplicity of the system.

    if you have any further questions, feel free to email me at chvycmaro91 @comcast.net or PM me. i will send pics of my xmas layout and show you what the turns and track look like if you wish. along with what a lionmaster engine looks like on the curves.

    good luck. hope i helped.t
  14. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    O scale two rail is, as the above post states, "is more prototypical". It is not a Lionel version of HO track unless you are talking about Lionel train sets. O scale two rail is a whole other animal and your Lionel three rail equipment will not run on it.
  15. smullen

    smullen New Member

    Yes, thanks, that did help, greatly even... It all makes perfect sense once laid out....

    I'd love see the pics of your Christmas layout and Lionmaster Engine...

    Thanks again for taking the time to type all that out....
  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Expanding on the above:
    Most of these different tracks will not connect together. There are a few interconnection sections made (Fastrack to O31) and O31 connects to Gargraves and maybe a few others. Different radii of the same track will interconnect (all the O27 size, say). You can get them connected together, but it's a hack and hammer job.
    O27 started as Lionel's "cheap" track; I think they got it when they bought Ives. It was intended for starter layouts, with the expectation that you would eventually switch to O. Marx also made O27; many Lionel layouts were expanded with Marx track, despite the Lionel warranty warning.
  17. raybanduchi

    raybanduchi New Member

    Mind if I butt in?

    Brian R.
    Great data thank you! You said, "O42- again this track has a wider turning radius for scale sized engines."

    Does that mean the track is wider than the O-31 or the angle of the curve is different?

    Also, I've learned enough to determine I have a post-war Lionel (I think). Most of the track is a little rusty. Someone suggested I junk it and buy all new track, instead of trying to clean it. I've got a modest plan in mind, once I figure out how to plot it. But whadda you guys suggest I do?

    When you guys say tube track, is there any thing else in "O" besides tubes wit the little pins?

    Also, why is it (and I don't want to offend anyone), that many of the "O" gauge accessories look-er, well kinda cheesy-and the HO's and others look better?
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The Lionel Fastrack is tubular, but shaped like the prototype rail. MTH uses solid brass rail with clips to carry current under the roadbed that clip together when the track is put together.

    The reason ho accessories look better than Lionel is that Lionel is intended to be toy trains for kids, especially the operating accessories, whereas ho is intended to be for scale modelers. I belong to a modular club in ho scale. At most of the shows we set up, the Lionel club is also set up. They have one guy who built an awesome trestle that goes all the way to the floor. Most of the Lionel guys just play with their trains and operating accessories. When one of our club members complimented the guy on the trestle, one of the other Lionel guys said, " I don't know what is wrong with that guy. You give him some material of anykind and he makes a model out of it!" We refer to our sections as modules, the Lionel guys refer to theirs as "boards". Our modules are sceniced with ground foam, structures, mountains, etc. Their boards are covered in carpet, usually brown, black, or grey. This isn't a knock on the Lionel guys, just an observation of our differences. In fact the only thing that I don't care for about the Lionel layout which is also true of the LGB layouts is the use of "smoke" on everything. When every locomotive is pouring smoke out of the stack and various accessories have smoke units pouring out smoke, the pollution levels nearby can get awful.
  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    ray: the number designation is the diameter of a track circle. It gets confusing because we also use O27 to designate the lighter track, even when the diameter is larger. O31 used to be (and often still is) just O.
    I think that the track diameters don't duplicate until you get to 72". And the differences are enough to give reasonable 2-track or 3-track main lines.
    The angles of the curves could be anything. The catalog should tell you how many to a complete circle, but sometimes you can get half and double curves. Usually larger diameters have more curves per circle (fewer degrees per curve) because they're trying to keep the lengths of track within a range for shipping.
  20. raybanduchi

    raybanduchi New Member

    Thanx Guys,

    Any advice on what I should do about the my track?

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