PROTO:87 vs. Regular "Standard" HO

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by TruckLover, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Hey guys,

    im wondering how many of you model in PROTO:87 rather then regular standard HO?

    PROTO:87 is HIGHLY detailed and to actual scale. PROTO:87 wheels are significantly narrower then regular standard HO as you can see from these pics, PROTO:87 being the ones on the left sides of the pics



    PROTO:87 wheels can be upgraded to both locos and rolling stock. But if you want to update your wheels to the correct flanges, you will need to upgrade your track as well with PROTO:87 turnouts. They arnt that much more expensive then regular ATLAS or other turnouts.... here is a pic showing PROTO:87 vs. Standard HO turnouts, PROTO:87 being on the right side and Standard HO on the left:


    Notice how much of a difference there is in the turnout flangeways in the turnouts above, this makes for a MUCH more realistic look. But to use PROTO:87 turnouts, you much use PROTO:87 wheels also and vise-versa for better operation. PROTO:87 Turnouts come as kits and in 2 catagories, "FAST AND EASY PROTO:87", and "ULTIMATE PROTO:87".

    The "FAST AND EASY" feature plastic ties, code rail of your choice (C40-C83), and many detail parts and are available in #6, #7, #8, and #9 turnouts:

    The "ULTIMATE" ones feature all wood ties, code rail of your choice (C40-C83), and many detail parts to complete the turnout build. There available in #6, #7, #8, and #10 turnouts:

    The "ULTIMATE" line it is HIGHY recommended using there jigs to help in the ease of assembling them, but it is not required as the jigs are VERY expensive lol

    Check out there site, they have some neat stuff available that would really improve the looks of a layouts trackwork

    My question is, has/does anyone run PROTO:87? its a serious thougt of mine right now to switch over to there turnouts and wheelsets for modeling the Modesto & Empire Traction layout thats in the planning stages for me right now. just wondering if anyone else has experience, opinions, suggestions.... about PROTO:87 wheels and turnouts?
  2. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Told ya that you'd have thoughts of grandeur after checking out that site!
  3. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    hehehehehe im really thinking about making the switch over, Based on the pics and the info ive read on that site, it looks like a definite way to add that extra touch of realism to the tracks on a layout and the operations of rolling stock and locos :thumb: :mrgreen:

    It wont be a cheap switch, but if i start now, it wont be too bad lol
  4. e-paw

    e-paw Member

    At this time I'll stick with standard HO. To retrofit all my equipment with new wheels would be a monumental task in time and money. If I do make the switch It will probably be on a smaller switching layout with dedicated rolling stock.
  5. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Those folks lost me in a discussion about truck springs properly flexing in proportion to's a bit too short for all that.:mrgreen: Now, if you'll excuse me, my Tyco GG1 needs a clean and lube...:thumb:
  6. e-paw

    e-paw Member

    :mrgreen:On that note, how about converting some hi-fi f-7's or A Marx Hudson to proto:87 :mrgreen:
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Josh: if you're just starting and haven't bought too much stock, go for it.
    My stock is too large and much of it too olde to convert. Besides, if I converted, I'd go to the OO version, S4 or P4. Much the same reasons that I don't go DCC.
    If you'll be buying/building just for this layout, it's a good idea. You can always convert back for the next one.
  8. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I well remember the first time I saw PROTO 87 wheelsets, I was very impressed with how fine they were. If you're not that far in, there's no real reason not to give it a try. Even if you are well invested in the other, a diorama or module wouldn't be too tall an order...8 square feet of reality probably has a lot more detail work involved than any of us could imagine.
  9. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    thanks for the replys guys

    Im am pretty far into it. I dont have just a few pieces of rolling stock, ive got a full stagging yard full of cars + TONS more in the closet in storage for now lol. Plus all the engines.... lol

    But i think this would be worth it to make a slow but steady change over. Do maybe 20-25 cars at a time, and maybe knock all the engines that i have out at once to get those out of the way and upgraded to the new wheelsets lol

    I do have quite a few turnouts as well. And the only thing that really kinda sucks about PROTO:87 is that they dont have a #4 turnout right now. This is the turnout im going to need to most of on the M&ET switching layout im planning.... I dont know what im going to do about that major issue lol

    Ill drop them an e-mail and see what there plans for as far as #4 turnouts go lol. hopefully there in the planning stages and will hit the product line-up soon with the other ones
  10. chooch.42

    chooch.42 Member

    Josh - sounds like fun - but don't think my visually and dexterity-challenged bod could hold to the tolerances of Proto:87. :cry: Did you pick up any info sources on Fine:HO (NMRA S4.1)? Looks nearly as good, just (hopefully) not as finicky on the track standards (That's the difficult part !!!). Hey - Go for it, you certainly show us your precision skills on those TRUCKS !!! All the best. Bob C.
  11. taylor_up_bnsf

    taylor_up_bnsf taylor_up_bnsf

    I own 2 #9 righthand proto87 fast and easy switches. They are by far the best that I have seen. I love the details, and the frog. I plan on bying more of these fast and easy kits for the rest of my UP & BNSF socal sub layout.
  12. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Judging by the visual comparison of actual gauge of the proto wheels vs astandard HO, you would have to regauge every single bit of your track - not just your turnouts.

    Whatever blows your skirt up, I guess. :cool:
  13. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    hehehe thanks Bob :mrgreen: Ill have to look into the fine:HO too, ive never heard of that either, right now im just trying to learn everything i can about PROTO:87 that i can lol, i even joined there Yahoo Group last ngith and asked some questions, including the question of wheather or not there going to be doing a #4 turnout :thumb:
  14. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    They look nice Taylor :thumb: Is your rolling stock and engines converted with PROTO:87 wheels as well?
  15. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    You've made some good points Charlie. I do agree with you on the fact that your always going to be able to tell that its a model railroad 99% of the time no matter what you do to it to make it the most realistic as possible....

    Also the point about perfecting trackwork is a good one too, i know many people that want there tracks perfect, but in reality, in real life tracks, there pretty much never perfect, even when there laid, there are always going to be slight bends, kinks and stuff like that in the rails. I just would like to do the PRORO:87 line because its something new and not many people have done it yet. The price is just right now me, its not to much more then Atlas Customline switches, and i personally like the looks of the PROTO:87 switches better. And trust me, thats a first, ive always stuck with Atlas C83 Customline switches lol
  16. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer


    what do you mean by re-gauge your track?
  17. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    sign1A tyco gg1 sign1

  18. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I looked seriously at P87, and ended up deciding against it. Some things I learned during my investigation:

    Properly gauged regular track works just fine for P87. However, track that is excessively widened (think Atlas) may have P87 wheels dropping between the rails. The maximum permitted gauge widening for curves is much less for P87 than for NMRA HO because of the narrowness of the wheel treads. If you check carefully, you will see ME flex track has a narrower track gauge than Atlas.

    Gauge widening is essential to allow rigid wheel bases to go around sharp curves. As a result, minimum radius goes up significantly in P87. The smallest practical radius for ordinary equipment and very small locomotives is about 22". Small 2-8-0s typically take 26" or better in P87. Generally, a minimum radius less than 3 times the length of the longest car or engine will not work in P87, period. This was a show stopper for me - I don't have room for bigger than 18" radius curves. Chances of a P87 2-8-0 or 4-6-0 running on my 18" radius curves are pretty slim. Even 50ft passenger cars would be out. Most folks in P87 with normal railroad equipment use at least 30" radius curves.

    Equalization of locomotives is generally required for successful operation. Very few commercial steam locomotive models are equalized. Most diesels have enough flex (4 wheel trucks) or slop (in the 6 wheel trucks) to qualify for psuedo-equalization once the wheels sets are replaced.

    Steam locomotive models are particularly difficult to convert to P87. This was my second show stopper. While many diesels can be converted just by a change of wheels, the face of P87 drivers are a slightly different distance from track/locomotive centerline than NMRA HO. This means the valve gear and drive rods must be adjusted to the new driver face spacing. And this assumes you can find P87 drivers of the right diameter and spoke count for your model. Or can make your own. Then, the drivers must be equalized or sprung, along with the pony and trailing trucks. The Brits have a lot more experience with these mods, and have better parts availability.

    As mentioned by others, turnouts have to be built to the wheel spec you are using. A reasonable workable compromise that is used extensively in HOn3 is to use code 88 wheels (sometimes called fine-scale) with track that is kept to the minimum NMRA spec. To prevent wheel drop, a turnout flangeway needs to be less than half the tread width. Code 110 wheels will work with NMRA max 0.050" flangeways, but code 88 wheels will rattle and drop on the larger frog numbers. If you set flangeways at NMRA min of 0.040", wheel drop is no longer an issue. But to achieve min spec flangeways with a normal wheel check gauge requires minimum track gauge. If track gauge is right at minimum spec, your equipment will need slightly larger turnout numbers, but will run superbly, even with code 88 wheels. This is why #4 turnouts often give trouble in HOn3.

    my thoughts, your choices
  19. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Thanks Fred, yours as well as others advise and thoughts have led me to the decision that i will stick to regular old standard HO for now lol

    after joining the PROTO:87 yahoo group and asking a few questions about the wheels and tracks and having them answered, ive decided that PROTO:87 isnt for me right now. It REALLY will be just to much work to make the switch, and ill end up spending WAY to much money lol

    Fred basically sumed up what was answered to me from the PROTO:87 group. That basically the PROTO:87 line up requires much bigger radius's and turnouts to opperate properly and that a #4 turnout would just be not of any use in PROTO:87 as it would not work to well and most likely just derail every car that goes through it.... The group suggested that i use a #5 turnout at the bare minimum and even then i might still have issues with the performace of the turnout. And since the whole layout would be mostly small turnouts, this simply would not work for me lol. I guess thats why they only make a turnout as small as #6 at this time. This was the major thing that has led me to say no thanks to PROTO:87 at this time, i simply just dont have the room to use large turnouts. I might however use the PROTO:87 line of tracks on a few modules, and have designated rolling stock and engines for the layout.... but im not sure at this time of that either lol

    Many Thanks to everyone who posted in this thread :wave:
  20. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Josh: is your new layout a limited one or are you going all out? You might consider a small themed one and just convert the cars and locos required.

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