passenger trains

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by medic1772, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. medic1772

    medic1772 New Member

    I'm wanting to build a passenger line.I was reading an article about rolling stockthat advised me to stay away from this on small layouts. I am new at this and do not want to create a lot of problems.Any advice will be helpful.I most likely going to have a 4x8 layout with 18 and 22 degree curves.I am using a Atlas beginers guide for info.I have no one in my area that model I am hoping to start a club and create intrest. Thanks Tommy
  2. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    I wouldn't let that advice get in your way, Tommy. Yes, it's hard to run passenger stuff prototypically on a small layout... But it's hard to run anything prototypically. I'd say if you lust for passenger cars, go for it! My only advice is on the physical level - stick to 60' "shorty" cars rather than more prototypical 80-85' cars. They'll run better on tight curves, tight grades and through smaller turnouts. They'll also simply look better on a small layout, where large passenger cars CAN look rather silly.

    I have a very modest layout (about 10' x 12' L-shape) myself, prefer passenger to freight, and run both 60' and 80' passenger cars - though I find myself running the 60 footers more often as they run better and look a little less out of place.

    My layout is mostly 22" radius, though I previously had an 18" setup and the 60' cars ran fine on it. I've never run the 80' cars on 18" radius, but suspect they'd have problems or at minimum look truly duncy.

    Another option is to model civil-war era and use 4-4-0's and true "shorty" cars of that period, which will easily run (and look fine) on small radius curves. I have a 4-4-0 set that I run on occasion and always enjoy the little guy.

  3. medic1772

    medic1772 New Member

    Thanks for the help.I had found a Atlanti coast line train with passenger cars.The cars are from IHC not sure of the scale.They look long.MY Dad worked on simular train in the 1960's when he started to work for ACL. HE is retired now from CSX I am trying to get him to do this with me, He is full of history both good and bad.
  4. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge, Tommy!

    The problem with passenger trains on small layouts is the big overhang of the very long passenger cars on curves with a narrow radius. This doesn't look very realistic, and it can also become an operational problem, e.g. when you have tight S-curves on your layout.

    If you really want to run modern equipment (that is, loooong 85' cars), you have to put up with that.
    However, there is another solution: Not quite 100 years ago passenger cars were notably shorter. There were the 60' Harriman coaches or the even shorter 50' Overland cars. They look much more at home on tight curves - and carrying passengers is operationally the same thing in shorty passenger cars or in streamliners.
    If you don't like to build a old-time layout, there is still the possibility to run some modern freight equipment, but the main theme of your layout could be a museum train society running excursion trains. Then you can even place your short 'oldies' behind a modern diesel in a landscape with modern indusries, cars etc.

    Just an idea... :)

  5. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    I have a friend who models the Sonoma Valley Wine Train, a real excursion train that pulls vintage cars through the California Wine Country with a relatively modern diesel. You can justify almost anything...
  6. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Tommy -

    Yes, most modern-era (i.e. 1930's and later) cars you will find are LONG - 80' plus. Some manufacturers make non-prototypical "short" versions of these cars, but you have to look for them (Life-Like certainly did, and Rivarossi also did).

    If you do go for 80' cars, I would particularly NOT recommend the Spectrum series for smaller layouts. They have a system of body-mounted-but-swiveling couplers - which ought to be a good idea for small radius, but in practice doesn't do well even on my 22" radius (i.e. I basically can't run them because they decouple constantly).
  7. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    The Athearn cars do have a prototype and they are 70' long. Con-Cor makes 72' cars that do not have a particular prototype, but they look fairly good. Both Con-Cor and Athearn have talgo type trucks, so they will run through 18" curves with no difficulty. They look a little toyish doing so, but they run well enough. The Athearn cars make particularly good looking commuter cars. I don't know if ACL had commuter service though. The IHC heavyweight cars run well, with weight added. They have talgo trucks as well and should operate through 18" radius curves without difficulty. But, they will look strange doing so.
  8. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    The Sonoma Valley Wine train purchased the used Ski Train equipment from the Denver and Rio Grande Western when that line modernized with the current equipment.
  9. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    Technically "shorties" are passenger car models that are made shorter than the real ones so they can go around tighter curves. Not all short passenger cars are "shorties" since not all prototype passenger cars are / were 80' long !!

    Athearn's baggage, RPO, and coach are in the 65-72' range and are the correct length. Athearn also offers a diner and observation car that at 72' long are about 8' shorter than the real (Santa Fe) cars.

    Walthers Trainline offers four 60' cars (baggage, RPO, coach and combine) that are accurate models of real (Chicago and NorthWestern) 60 ft. cars.

    MDC/Roundhouse "Harriman" cars are all 60' length, that I believe is correct size for the RPO and baggage cars but the others are shortened to match them.

    The Walthers cars are just coming out now so I haven't run any yet, but Athearn and MDC are both good and should work even down to 18" radius. 60' cars will look a little better going around those curves though.

    BTW I have some IHC and Rivarossi 80' passenger cars, with couplers mounted on the trucks. Although they look best on the mainline/secondary trackage I run them on with 28" radius curves and No. 6 turnouts, I have tested them on some of my industrial tracks and they will go thru a No.4 turnout and around 22" curves with no problem, I don't have any 18" R to try them on, but suspect they would work there too.

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