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Michael
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I'm downsizing from 1:29 to 1/4" scale for my backyard (yes, backyard) layout. I have an Airwire 9000 throttle CVP Convrtr
and Lipo batteries. My question(s) is/are:

Should I go 3 rail or 2 rail (I tend toward Proto:48, but that's not chiseled in stone)?

What's the advantage of 3 rail?

Does it matter, considering my type of layout control?

Can 3 rail locos be easily converted to 2 rail?

Thanks for your time,

Michael

W C Greene
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Michael-O scale 2 rail is easily "converted" to r/c/. I would go with 2 instead of 3...My rationale is that (1) I prefer 2 rails over 3 (unless it is dual gauge). (2) Converting a 3 rail (tinplate) loco to r/c might be an easy fix but why not go 2 rail to begin with, because (3) With r/c, it doesn't matter whether you have 2, 3, or 5 rails, or no track at all...the train will still run.
(My opinion)...I never liked 3 rail. When I was a little kid, I loved my American Flyer train much more than my Lionel train because real railroads ran on 2 rails and I never saw one running on 3 rails.
I have a layout in my back yard-the Mogollon Railway-and just love it there. I found two things I love...radio control and running trains under the sun and moon.
With all that out of the way...WELCOME TO FREERAILS and don't be shy.

Woodie

Herb Kephart
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Hello Michael

Welcome to FreeRails!

I agree with Woodie. The only advantages to three rail is that wiring for certain track configurations (return loops primarily) is easier--but if you are going with on board batteries and R/C you don't have ANY wiring to the track--so why not have track that is prototypical looking?

I would avoid Proto 48, especially for an outdoor line. It involves buying, and changing out wheels to get the smaller profile--- and tighter tolerances for trackwork. In return, things look more prototypical close up--but unless you are going to view things laying with your nose in the grass, you won't notice the difference. My opinion, worth what you paid for it.


Herb

tebee
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Something I've never understood is why you lot across the pond have stuck with course standard three-rail O gauge stuff so long - it went out of fashion here when I was young and that's fifty years ago now !

So why has it survived there so long ?

Tom

W C Greene
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Because we're CRAZ-EEEEEEEEE! That's why. And why do model railroaders still clean track and worry about wiring when there IS an alternative. God only knows...

Woodie

mwiz64
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Three rail is generally guys that had Lionel stuff as a kid and kept in it for nostalgia purposes. Or some are collectors of rare stuff and like to run the less valuable new ones. Some run the really expensive stuff too but those guys generally are rich. Are there some new guys getting into 3-rail? I imagine there are some but that's not where the concentration of newbies are.

I think most serious newbies focus on stuff like we talk about here at Freerails. Heck, I consider myself a newbie and I build in 1:35n2.... and yes that's all Woodie's fault.

Last edited on Fri Jul 19th, 2013 09:26 pm by mwiz64

Milocomarty
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Lionel thats something like Marklin here in Europe, you love it or hate it..do think it looks ugly IMO

mwiz64
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I agree.... Three rails don't look good. They do make decent train toys for younger kids... At least the Lionel stuff does. It's bigger and more robust than HO scale stuff.

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Michael, I'm going to O-scale 2-rail simply because of the prototypical appearance of the track.

It just makes the model railroad look "realer"!

(I just ordered 120 feet of Atlas 2-rail O-scale Flex Track for the layout I'm building.)

HAL

 

 

mwiz64
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Wanna make it really look real? Hand lay the track. Use the money you save laying the track to buy some go those Fast Track turnout kits.

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Yes, I know that hand-laying is preferable, Mike...but I'm an elderly man with a Parkinson's Disease affliction which would make it impossible to hand lay every tie.  I can hardly write my signature in a legible manner anymore! 

However, I feel up to spiking down flex track sections!

Cheers to you...

HAL

mwiz64
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That's a bummer, Hal. Ill bet that makes using that Colt effectively difficult too. Well, enjoy the hobby in any way you can.....

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Mike, I haven't taken any of my Irons to the range in 3 or 4 years!

My wife used to go with me...she has her own pet Iron!

(I'd better get off THAT subject right away!)

 

HAL

Last edited on Sat Jul 20th, 2013 02:53 pm by

chasv
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i'm fond of black power irons have a single shot pistol kit working on a pos but is like model building you can modify it

Michael
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Thanks for all the replies! Looks like I'm going to be a regular "questioner" (because I don't know a lot). My question was primarily motivated toward conversion of 3 rail equipment into two rail. Ebay has had some nice 3 rail locos and passenger cars (my "fetish") but I don't know a thing about easily converting them.....or even if it's possible. From your answers, looks like I'll forgo Proto:48.

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HEY MICHAEL

Why not just buy 2-rail equipment?

That's what I'm doing!

HAL

Last edited on Sun Jul 21st, 2013 02:59 pm by

Bill Fornshell
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Converting 3 rail 0 scale to 2 rail is easy.

http://www.freerails.com/view_topic.php?id=3946&forum_id=53&page=1

Remove the roller things that ride on the center rail and the track pickups then convert to Radio Control with Battery power.

First, check the Amp requirement of the loco motor and get an RC Receiver that can handle the Amp's necessary or something like that.

W C Greene
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Yes, it may be easy to convert 3 rail "tinplate" locos & cars to 2 rail...BUT...the deep flanges on the locos and cars won't operate well on "scale" 2 rail O scale track. To make it work, you would need to turn down all the flanges and re contour the wheel treads for smaller rail and the gauge may need to be "adjusted" also. I would look for O scale locos & cars if I were to want to run on 2 rail track. I am sure that my views of this will be shot at by someone, it never fails.
Experience is advising you here.

Woodie

mwiz64
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Maybe I'm just not very well exposed to all that's available in 3-rail stuff but my perception is that most of it is fairly toy like. That which is not toy like, is expensive enough that there is no advantage to converting it.... Unless you just can't get that same model in 2-rail.

That said, if I were a wealthy man, I'd have a collection of prewar Lionel stuff sitting on shelves on one wall of a train room. I just think it looks cool.

Last edited on Mon Jul 22nd, 2013 03:49 pm by mwiz64

Michael
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Yay! THAT'S what I was looking for..the conversion process . Thanks!

Michael:bg:

Last edited on Mon Jul 22nd, 2013 05:13 pm by Michael

W C Greene
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Obviously, nobody reads my posts (above) so have fun with this "conversion"...

Woodie

usavet48
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Woodie,
You crack me up!
Converting 3 rail to 2 rail can be easily done in some cases.Changing out trucks and couplers can be done relatively easy on the newer Atlas O freight cars. The newer passenger cars could also be a walk in the park, but the differancein price between 3 rail and 2 rail is literally a few bucks. I have converted 3 rail cars only when the 2 rail were no longer available. It costs more that way, but you have what you want,

Now, as far as the licomtives go.....those are a royal pain in the old keester!!! Converting then from 3 rail not onky consists of turning wheels, flanges and the center roller, but you also have the problem of insulating the trucks and actually changing the wheelsets as 3 rail is AC and 2 rail runs on DC. Then there us the motor........

If you want to convert to P:48, then you have re-gauge the wheelsets and well as the aforementioned changes. You want steam ? Do all of the above and then mill the chassis, get P:48 scale wheels with scale flanges. And theb there's hand laying thr track. House Of Duddy has P:48 flex track, but in all my years in Ow60, the only P:48 switches that are availabke are in kit form and you had better be good at handlaying track as P:48 is very unforgiving. You don' t see many large P:48 railroads out there.

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Please excuse the typos in my last message, guys. I got a new stupid smart phone today and between fat fingers and weakening eyeballs, this is a real treat!

Bob D
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I've been in 3-rail for about 20 years and currently have a 12x12 3-rail layout. About the only advantage to 3-rail is there's a load of stuff out there for running on 3-rail track.

But...most of it can be converted to 2-rail, especially the rolling stock. Engines require a lot more work as the drivers/wheels have to be turned down/replaced so the wheels will ride on the rail and not off the rail on the pizza-cutter flanges.

All my 3-rail equipment now has Kadee couplers and the diesels have fixed pilots instead of those awful-looking pilots that swing with the trucks.

I now have a 2-rail Weaver RS3 (it came 3-rail but I got some NWSL 2-rail wheels and converted it) and will most likely build a 2-rail shelf switching layout.

There are some folks who run equipment with 2-rail wheels on 3-rail equipment, but when going over switch frogs the wheels will dip unless a shim is placed at the bottom of each frog.

With the MTH DCS system, it can run off AC or DC from what everybody says, I haven't tried it (I currently have both MTH DCS and Lionel TMCC on my layout and can run all brands of 3-rail engines).

I just ordered a battery-powered RC system from Tony Walsham in Australia to install in my RS3 or in one of the 3-rail engines I have, a MTH Railking 2-8-0. If this works as planned I may be converting the other 12 engines I have to BPRC.

3rd Rail/GGD makes their equipment on both 2 and 3-rail and have come out with some of the best looking passenger cars I've seen. Pricey but you get a great looking model.

Bob D.

Last edited on Fri Apr 24th, 2015 06:30 pm by Bob D


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