Variations in O rolling stock

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Mwether, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. Mwether

    Mwether New Member

    Hi all.

    With lots of help from the members of this forum, I picked out a new K-Line O27 set for my son's big Christmas present next year. The boxcar that came with it measures about 9.5"x2.5"x2.5" (excluding the trucks). I'd like to buy Christmas cars to have running around the tree when he comes downstairs next December, but I want them to match visually. The tricky bit is that eBay seems a great source, but I can't inspect the cars before buying.

    Am I right that there are at least three scales available?
    O27: 1/64
    O "Semi-scale": 1/58
    O Scale: 1/48

    Short of asking sellers for measurements, is there a way to tell what will look right behind my loco?

    Thanks for any input,
  2. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member


    The trucks on all three sizes you list are the same, since the track gauge is 1.25". So the O27 cars will have an oversized looking set of trucks. The box car measurements sound like a semi-scale car. It will be better proportioned than the O27 car truck to car size. The scale cars will be wider than either of the other two car types. If the cars you are looking at have the trucks sticking out beyond the car sides it is O27. The semi and scale cars will overhang the trucks. I guess the visual guess would be the way to go. Also the K-Line and MTH web pages have search engines that will help you compare the cars. Hope this helps.

  3. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    I agree with Greg. I just got out a tape measure, and an O27 car measures about 7 3/4 inches. A semi-scale car measures about 9 1/2. Since K-Line's tooling for its O27 cars and for its semi-scale cars came from two distinct manufacturers, try comparing the boxcar you have to the pictures you see online. The molded details will differ on an O27 K-Line car, as the tooling for K-Line's semiscale cars came from a different manufacturer than its O27 tooling. K-Line uses the same tooling over and over, so the molded details remain the same throughout the product line; only the graphics vary. The brakewheel on the O27 boxcar is pretty distinctive and is usually a dead giveaway. Take a look at pictures of plastic Marx boxcars on Ebay to train your eye to recognize K-Line O27; K-Line uses the old Marx tooling for its O27s, and that's all Marx made.

    A couple of other general rules: MTH doesn't make O27 cars, so its cars will be either scale or semi-scale. I believe the same is more or less true for Williams.

    But, if you get stuck and you accidentally buy an O27 car, here's a trick. Boxcar sizes vary slightly in the real world anyway. The 1.75-inch difference between semi-scale and O27 amounts to 6 feet, which is more than the difference between a 36-foot and a 40-foot boxcar, but you may find it doesn't bother you. The width difference between O27 and traditional semi-scale is about 3/8 inch. It may be noticeable if the train is sitting still, but while the train is moving it's likely to be less so. If you find either of these bothers you, here's a trick: segregation. Lump your semi-scale cars together towards the front of the train. Then, put a flatcar or gondola (a tanker would work in a pinch too) after the semi-scale boxcars. One works; a series of them is even better. Used flatcars are dirt cheap; find Christmas-sy dollar store items to put on them for a load to give them an excuse to be there. Then put your O27 boxcars behind those. Cabooses came in so many different shapes and sizes that chances are your caboose will look equally good next to either an O27 or semi-scale car.

    I run mostly O27 but I've used this trick to mix in traditional-sized cars and I've been pretty happy with the results.

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