What Scale

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by flcaptainbill, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. flcaptainbill

    flcaptainbill New Member

    I am not a model train enthusiast but have a son that LOVES trains. He is almost 6 now and ever since he was 2 his favorite thing in the world has been trains. Almost all of his toys are trains. Every time he gets a new one his face lights up. He still plays with all of them that he has that are not broken.

    That is the problem I have. He keeps getting cheep train sets for Christmas and birthdays etc and they last for a while till they get dropped and the battery door breaks off etc.

    What I want to do is get him a good train and set up a track that goes around the top of the wall in his room that he can start and stop without having to touch it (and that his 2 year old brother who also likes to play with the trains can’t get to).

    I understand that HO is the most popular scale but I am afraid that will be too small to see. I cannot find anywhere that tells what average size each scale is. What I am looking for is a scale where the engine and cars are approximately 3-4“tall.

    My next question is about layout. His room is 12.5’ X 9.5’ which gives me a linear distance of 44’ but what I do not know is how much track to get. I know that I may run into issues making the turns. Can anyone provide a link to a page (or other threads here) that outline the amount of space required to make a 90 turn in each of the scales?

    Thank you in advance. If this anything like the boating boards that I am a member of I know that this group will be a wealth of information.
  2. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    For a display like that, you'll want O or O27 gauge trains and track. (Or maybe a G gauge) They are a bit larger and easier for a 6 year old to handle if you decide to do a more ground level display. (Also, if you get on eBay and find some of the older pre-70's Die cast Lionels, they are built like little tanks and can take more abuse) As for the measurements, you're probably going to want a base about a foot wide minimum for the straghtaways. (In case the train derails it will be less likely to plummet to the floor. You will want a bit wider if you go G as well) I'll let someone else who's better at math than me help you with the dimensions for the curves. ;)
  3. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    I agree with Cannonball to look at O scale (Lionel or Atlas) or G scale (Bachmann or LGB). Large scale is designed for outdoors so it is not at all delicate like the smaller scales. I do not have experience with Lionel's newer products or Atlas's so I can't comment on the durability of those. Slightly bigger than HO, but smaller than Lionel, is On30 which Bachmann offers in various sets. (This is O scale running on HO track.)

    To make a 90 degree turn, you simply need to know the radius of the curve and add a few inches for overhang. For example, O27 curves are 27" diameter (13.5" radius, roughly), so the distance you need to start the curve from each corner is 13.5" plus a few extra inches. In G scale, the smallest curves are 2 foot radius (24"), but the larger equipment needs a little more room for overhang. (Note that most G scale track is marketed by diameter, so the above would be 4 foot diameter curves.)

    If you are looking at specific dimensions for locomotives and rolling stock in the various scales, check out Tower Hobbies' website. When you click on the train sets they have, many of the descriptions list all the dimensions for what is included.

    Hope that helps!
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    O scale is 1:48, and G scale is anything from about 1:20 to 1:30 (approximately).

    Another option for kids is the LGB stuff. It would look quite good at ceiling height, is also robust enough for little ones to play with, and has a variety of "whimsical" cars available too...

  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Wrong. O27 curves are 27" diameter.
  6. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I received LGB (G scale) when I was less than 2yrs old. While the bachmann, kalamazoo, and other brands all got destroyed, every LGB brand piece has survived to this day...I'll be 24 on Weds, so that stuff is durable. I destroyed some Lionel as a kid.

    An LGB starter set is around $250....and it'll come with a locomotive (usually a steam engine) and 2 cars.
  7. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    Didn't know that, my apologies! Like I said, I don't know too much about Lionel. Learn something new every day...

    Original post has been corrected.

  8. flcaptainbill

    flcaptainbill New Member

    Thank you for all the quick replies.

    We will be visiting the Great Smokey Mountain Train museum in Bryson City next week and I am sure that he will see a bunch of stuff he will want. Have any of you been there? If so any suggestions about what to make sure that he gets to see?
  9. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    That's a desiel operation. I don't think they have any steam locomotives there...if he's a Thomas fan. If you're going to Dollywood, they have 3 White Pass & Yukon 2-8-2s from Alaska and a consolidation...they operate steam through the 30th. Let us know where you'll be driving and we can let you know what's along the way.
  10. flcaptainbill

    flcaptainbill New Member

    Panama City Beach to Gatlinburg through Montgomery (to meet my sister) and Birmingham.

    Bill R
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Train sets come with straight tracks that are 9" or 10" long. Lionel (and others) make tracks that are equivalent to 3 or 4 straight tracks in one piece. They're usually a better bargain *but I was in a shop recently where 3 short pieces were cheaper than one long one).
    If you uses Lionel's fasttrack. curves are a 36" circle; straights are 10"; so for your 12.5' piece, you need almost 9 feet of straight (108") which is 10 or 11 pieces -- depending on how close to the wall you get. 9,5' leaves a 6 foot straight or 7 pieces. There are half pieces to make it come out easier.
    A Lionel steam engine is usually sturdier than little brother; the cars are plastic and slightly breakable.
  12. flcaptainbill

    flcaptainbill New Member

    I ended up getting him a Thomas O-Gauge set. Will post pictures of the setup at the museum. I thought it was pretty impressive.

    I have been looking on e-bay for additional track and it all seems to have round connectors where the track that came with the set has rectangular.


    Will the two work together?

    Will the set run on older "O-Gauge" three rail track?
  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    That's Fasttrack

    Bill: what you have there is Lionel's newest fiendish invention called Fasttrack. It doesn't mate with any other type of track, even the other brands that look like it. It also costs a lot more than other tracks.
    Well, you can buy transition sections to mate it with Lionel O track (the tubular track, larger size) but not O27.
    It's not a bad track, given that the rails don't look like rails. It goes together easily and you can pick up a loop of it.
    Some of the old timers have taken to it; some say they get rid of it and use the traditional track.
    All Lionel's O trains will run on all 3 forms of their track if the curves are wide enough. The catalog tells you what the minimum curve is for each piece of rolling stock.The rails are all at the same spacing.
  14. flcaptainbill

    flcaptainbill New Member

  15. flcaptainbill

    flcaptainbill New Member

    Where is the cheapest place to buy about 40 feet of fasttrack?
  16. Illus

    Illus Member

    Just to help you along the way, if you are looking on eBay, the correct spelling is Fastrack, there is only 1 T. But when I was looking at Fastrack on eBay, it usually ended up costing more with shipping than it does to go to a hobby store and buy it! If you go to the Lionel website, there is a dealer locator there, you can find the nearest place where you can buy track.

    Lionel Dealer Locator

    FWIW, the Fastrack is alot more child friendly. You don't have to worry about them cutting themselves like you do with the older style tubular track, and if you are doing an around the wall, it is less likely to come apart (even though I am sure you will screw it down...) The only downfall is the Fastrack is a bit louder to run the train on.
  17. Geno

    Geno Member

    The cheapest place I've seen Fastrak was at Standard Hobby Supply. They list the 10" straights and 36" curved sections for $2.49/ea., and the 30" straight for $6.99.

    Their prices for track packs and switches are also very good.



Share This Page