O Scale Newbie

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by PAConrail, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. PAConrail

    PAConrail New Member

    Hi all,

    Just looking for some tips and info about O. I've search Google/Yahoo on 2 rail O but haven't found much. I haven't had a layout up in years but would like to get back into it now that I have some time. I have been into HO for many years.

    One question that I have is does DCC work with O?


  2. Chief Eagles

    Chief Eagles Active Member

    Welcome. I'm a 3 railer. Might check ou this forum. ogaugerr.com Register and go into their forum index. They have a special just fro 2 railers.
  3. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    HI Tom,

    Here is the link that Chief was refering to


    To answer your question, yes DCC can be used on O gauge, but it is very costly because of the amperage that O guage demands. Most O gauge use either TMCC (by Lionel) or DCS (by MTH) for command systems.

  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Actually, I think DCC with modern O scale (2 rail) is only a little more expensive than DCC for HO, and certainly comparable to the AC command control systems. I don't see where these huge current draws are coming from unless you are running lighted 10 car passenger trains with 3 powered units all pulling. Most of today's locomotives draw about 2-3 amps max.

    DCC costs: $180 for a throttle and base station with 4 amp output. Another $80 for an 8 amp booster. Decoders are probably $120 per with sound, $70 without. Less than $200 each for additional wireless throttles, including receiver. I'm willing to be shown I'm siginificantly off on these prices or currents, but I don't think I am.

    Overall, there ain't nothing cheap about O scale, but it's pretty breath-taking when done well.

    my thoughts, your choices
  5. PAConrail

    PAConrail New Member

    Thanks for the replies. I will definitly check out that link too. Here is the platform I made for the layout. It is framed with 2x4's and 3/4" plywood for the top.


    Is this ok for O right? For the turns I mean or will it be tight? The 3" section will be the yard so no turns in there.
  6. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    The 5' leg will be tight, since 36-inch radius is pretty much the standard for 2-rail O, and that works out to 6 feet. If there's a way you can extend that leg a bit, that'll help a lot.

    I'm pretty sure there are a couple of 2-railers here who will chime in. (I'm a 3-railer too.) The OGR site has a very large and active 2-rail section, so that's a good place to hang out. OGR is a good place to find lots of 2-railers to talk to; here, the highlight for 2-railers probably would be the Scratching/Bashing forum, where they talk about building stuff. Most of the scratchbuilders/kitbashers here are in HO or N scale, but the techniques still work great in larger scales. There are some extremely talented modelers here.

    I know there are a couple of 2-rail mags that have a web presence, and one even has some back issues you can download for free. Check out www.oscalenews.com and www.oscalemag.com but make sure you've got some free time when you do. And buy a package of paper for your printer.
  7. PAConrail

    PAConrail New Member

    Thats going to be tight. I went to the hobby shop to get a few track pieces and they didn't have any 2 rail. Lot's of G though. Seems that there is more for G than 2 Rail O. I may have to stay with HO :(.

    I wanted to go with O this time because I am more interested in the actual running of the trains and not so much for the scenery work. It's like 75/20. :)
  8. PAConrail

    PAConrail New Member

    Ok, I did some re-measuring and I can add 2 ft to the 5ft leg or add 1ft to each leg. Any suggestions?
  9. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Yeah, there's a LOT more G and 3-rail O out there than 2-rail O. Here in St. Louis, out of about 10 shops that sell trains, only one deals in 2-rail O, and the only reason for that is because the owner is a die-hard 2-railer. He does the 2-rail O out of love. He pays his bills on 3-rail O, American Flyer S, and HO. But I would think in Philly you'd have at least one shop that does 2-rail O. Philly makes St. Louis look like a small town.

    Another option would be On30, which is narrow-gauge O that runs on HO track. (You can get On30 track with ties that are scaled appropriately for O.) On30 is more common than standard gauge O. And you could do On30 with the tables you've got, since you're talking 18-inch radius standard, same as HO.

    Or there's 3-rail O, which is great for running especially because the track can reverse back on itself with no special tricks. Of course that's my preference.

    Does any of that help?
  10. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Ah, well, if you can add 2 feet to the 5' leg, I'd lean towards that. The yard won't need the extra space as much as the turnaround will.
  11. PAConrail

    PAConrail New Member

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks for the help. 3 Rail is very tempting because of it availability, but I can't get over the look. :) Most of the good hobby shops are outside of the city. It seems like Atlas has the most to offer in 2 Rail track. Any other makes of track I could be considering also?

  12. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    I think Atlas is the big name in 2-rail track. Gargraves might make it too, but I'm not positive about that. Also take a look at Atlas 3-rail track, and MTH Scaletrax, which tries to disguise the third rail. I don't know why there isn't anyone making stud rail in O gauge, like Marklin's 3-rail HO.
  13. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Hi PAConrail,
    While the new Atlas 2-Rail track is the most common, the older track from Atlas and AHM still show up on eBay and at train meets. Also Roco and Peco from Europe have switches that work with Atlas track. Old Pullman sells kits for switches and may still sell prefab switches. Before Atlas introduced their current track, I bought some MTH Scaletrak with the idea of removing the middle rail. Why MTH used the wide tie spacing is a question that has been asked often and not answered. For flex track, Micro Engineering and House of Duddy are available besides Atlas. If you've used flex in HO then O shouldn't be any different. There are several sources of rail so hand laying track is another option.

  14. ampguy

    ampguy New Member

    hi -- ultra newbie here

    first post -- my six year old is outgrowing his thomas/brio wooden trains, but we're definitely on the very budget side of O/27. Complete newbie here. Have about 3 O cars and a circle of 3 line used O track from a train show.

    Am wondering what I need to look for on ebay or wherever for a used transformer and controller, maybe some addl. 3 line track (probably won't initially go beyond a 4' x 6' oval) and of course engine, but nothing fancy, collectible or expensive. will likely be trompled or something.

    any ideas or recommendations on forums for absolute newbies at this? thanks!
  15. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    For track, O27 tubular is the cheapest. It is available is O27, O34 (old Marx), O42, and some bigger curves. The drawbacks to O27 track are that not all locomotives and cars will take O27 curves - especially the switches; it doesn't stand up to being stepped on as well as some other track, and the best O27 switches (K-Line) are out of production at present, and may never come back.

    Next cheapest track is O tubular - looks like O27 but is higher and sturdier. Comes in O31, O42, and larger curves. The number is the diameter of a circle of the track in inches. The switches, both Lionel and K-Line work fairly well.

    Most expensive, but arguably the most realistic is Atlas track. Comes in a great variety of curves - O27, O36, O45, and so on. Also has flex track that you bend to the curve you want. The smallest curve switches are O36, which limits you somewhat on a 4x6. Atlas track is not meant to be used on the floor - needs to be mounted on a table top or roadbed.

    Then there are 2 commonly available (but incompatible with each other) track systems with roadbed built-in - Lionel's Fastrack and MTH's Realtrax. Both are sturdy enough to be stepped on by a kid or used on the floor. I have no experience with Fastrack but many Forum members really like it. Smallest curve and switch is O36. Realtrax does not take kindly to being taken apart and reassembled a lot - the joints become loose and don't hold very well. Realtrax is based on O31 curves. Realtrax is more expensive than Fastrack. Fastrack is more expensive than tubular, but less than Atlas.

    http://www.thortrains.net/ has a lot of track plans for small spaces in each of the track systems so you can get a feel for what will and won't fit in your space.

    I would personally recommend getting an older post-war Lionel transformer (or 2). For your size layout, a 1033 or 1044 (90 watts input) will run eveything quite well. Larger post war transformers (LW, RW, SW, TW, KW) are also available, but the ZW is over-priced IMHO. If you want new, the MTH 750 or similar is a good starting point. Avoid the current Lionel CW as a newbie if you can - it has given many users fits. Later, if you want and/or can afford sound and command control, you can use your older transformer for lighting and accessories.

    Hope this helps.
  16. ampguy

    ampguy New Member

    Thanks Fred!!

    All very useful info. Exactly what I was looking for. I'm scouring the used sources for 1033 and 1044s, and hope to find one for not too much $$, maybe up to $30 or so.

    I've already got some used O track to make a circle, but since I think I bought the used track for ~$10 or $12 at the show, it's not a major concern to get new track if needed, the fasttrax sounds interesting. I will put together the circle in an hr. or so and be able to tell whether it is 027 or another diameter.

    I also have 4 trains, again not a major expense, and they are O or 027 so should run on most anything although I understand theymight have trouble on 027s.

    What I don't have is an engine. Any ideas for this? Thanks very much. I've also checked out the link that has all of the layouts, lots of great info. there that I'm sure we'll be using.

  17. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    For engines, being limited in $$ helps me stay with engines that will do O27/O31 curves.

    Williams has a pretty decent variety of very durable, nice running locomotives at very reasonable prices. I do not own any myself (yet), but have heard nothing but great reports. The only complaints were the horn or whistle sounds not being as realistic as other makes on their high end locos. The detail on Williams is also not to the same level as other high end makes, but the prices aren't the same either.

    Lionel "Traditional" locomotives are the right size, and are another alternative, as are some of the K-Line, and MTH Rail King. Lionel and K-Line both have recently introduced nice small switching locomotives that will pull 4-5 cars, priced at just under $100. For larger engines, check the minimum radius or curve - generally posted in the catalogs.

    Hope this helps.
  18. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    If you want new, a good choice is a Beep, by Ready Made Toys. It looks like a shortened Geep. It costs $60 and is a good, reliable runner and comes in a good variety of road names.

    For used, a Lionel postwar 2026 or 2037 is a good choice. They're reliable, have good pulling power, and are inexpensive. In good condition, they go for around $50 or $60.

    The absolute bargain-basement choice would be a Marx 490. I know there's one on eBay now with a buy-it-now price of $7. They're very easy to find for less than $10. They're reliable engines, but as far as features they're limited. No smoke, usually no headlight, and usually no reverse. But they're cheap and if it gets busted up, you aren't out much. Marx locomotives work fine with Lionel tenders, so you can use them to pull a consist of Lionel cars.
  19. ampguy

    ampguy New Member

    Thanks Fred and Dave,

    After adding it all up I think we're going to take the plunge on a Thomas Tank Engine O set as the Fastrack is much friendlier on the carpet for frequent layout changes, and it comes with the engine and a couple of coaches that my son is very familar with. I realize the CW80 isn't that great, so I'll budget some to plan on replacing that as needed, and will also check out the Williams and Marx engines.

    With my son's wooden track Thomas stuff, he's always had other brands besides learning curve, Brio, and another engine that was always faster than the learning curve battery powered thomas, percy, and lady engines, so when we played with multiple engines we had to start the faster engine just ahead of the slower ones.

    The thomas character on O size will be a familiar transition, and as he gets older, we'll mix in some better quality stuff as he learns to take good care of the stuff. Thanks!
  20. PAConrail

    PAConrail New Member

    I officially turn my thread over to ampguy. :wave: :D

    I decided to go with HO based on the room that I have. Thanks for all the info about O.

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