Question for O Scalers

back in the day, when I was a youngster (a looong time ago) my trains where O and O-27 gauge and they had the center rail for power I see photos of O scale layouts in the various model train publications the track is a 2 rail assembly as in HO some point in time the power pick-ups must have moved away from the center rail....question is how long has this been the system....and I suppose my old 3 rail locomotives (which I still have and will not part with for any amount) would not work on the new system....



  • edited June 2018
    O scale layouts with 2 rail "HO gauge" track is actually ON30, which is narrow gauge.

    O - Scale
    N - Narrow guage
    30 - scale 30 inches between the rails

    3 rail track is still available

    On30 has been around for a very long time some other O scale gauges are -
    ON3 - 3ft between rails
    ON18 - 18inches between rails

    ON30 is the most popular.

  • " in HO gauge" doesn't necessarily mean using actual HO scale track, just running on 2-rail track as HO for the most part does. 1:48 scale, O scale, can obviously be standard gauge as well as On30 (taking advantage of the happy HO track "accident"), On3, On18 or any other gauge someone wants to model in.

    The old Lionel O and O-27 3-rail engines will not operate on 2-rail track (though not having Lionel equipment or being in this scale I do not know if conversion is possible or practical).
  • edited June 2018
    As Mike mentioned there is a very popular sub-set of O Scale modelers, in fact growing in popularity among some O- Scalers, called 1/48th scale also known as P:48 scale. ( While both 1/48th scale and O scale run on two rails, 1/48th scale (P:48) differs from what most modelers refer to as O-Scale in the distance between the rails. O-Scale rails are set at 5'0" apart while P:48 scale rails are set at the prototype width of 4' 8-1/2" apart, the same as our American railroads and the distance between the wheels of Roman chariots and our everyday pioneer wagons. P:48 modelers like to model their equipment based on prototype standards and often use a smaller gauge (height and width) of rail that comes closer to the prototype railroad they model. They typically hand lay their ties and rail and switches using 125, 80 or 60 pound rail to match their home road. The wheels on P:48 equipment also match the tread width and flange depth more accurately. One can find wheels the proper size and style to match the piece of equipment they model. One often finds that P:48 modelers will scratch build their locomotives and freight cars to get as close to the prototype they model as they can in all their details. This seems to be a more possible, less frustrating, goal in P:48 than in smaller scales like HO and N. As you can tell P:48 modelers are not in a hurry to "run trains" but take a slower pace and savor what they do. Probably why P:48 modelers would be more commonly be drawn to build SierraWest Scale Model kits!

    I am currently modeling an ABA set of Phase II F-3 locomotives based on the prototype F-3 locomotive used by the Burlington Railroad. The set I am modeling (9960 ABC) began life out of EMD destined to pull the California Zephyr from 1947 until about 1952 when they were replaced by E units on the CB&Q portion of the CZ route between Chicago and Denver. When shipped to the CB&Q these units were silver to match the streamlined cars of the CZ. After the CB&Q pulled them from the CZ they were re-geared and went into freight service and the CB&Q repainted them white to match the other F units on the "Q" freight roster. I am also modeling a CB&Q GP 7 and GP 9. I have been working on these
    "Q" F and GP units re-gearing their drives to run at more prototypical slow speeds. Again the key is to savor the modeling experience.

    Later, Dave S. Tucson, AZ
  • thanks
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