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| | |-+  And another pet gripe ... 3-rail track realism
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Author Topic: And another pet gripe ... 3-rail track realism  (Read 4597 times)
Mad Tom

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« on: August 20, 2021, 06:53:16 PM »

A prominent unnamed Euro company has always had 3-rail HO. The third rail was replaced by much-less-noticeable studs over 70 years ago. Best of both worlds.

Why haven't US 3-rail track manufacturers in O gauge done something similar? Or has someone done something?

Visible third-rail is a big buzz-buster for me. Is a visible 3rd rail something that those modelers want ??
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trainyardjp


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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2021, 03:35:36 PM »

JP, of Acton MA, USA writes,
The K-Line company made 3 rail 'street track' with 19 inch & 21 inch diameter curves. The 3rd rail was basically a thin 'blade', designed to reduce appearance.
That track was mostly designed to operate trolleys, and other small 'single truck' vehicles.
Sure, it would be cool if such a track system existed for larger locomotives, but the idea of using small studs in place of a 3rd rail, has not 'caught up' to to the O gauge 3 rail world.
In the past, the Gar Graves company made 3 rail track, with a 3rd rail, that was chemically 'darkened' to blend in with the black ties, so that the rail would not be as obvious, compared to the 2 silver running rails.
-JP
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-JP
Mad Tom

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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2021, 06:08:48 PM »

I wonder if people WANT that "toy train" heritage, thus the avoidably ungainly appearance.

Well, at least I asked.

Thanks.
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trainyardjp


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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2021, 03:23:37 PM »

JP of Acton MA, USA writes:

(Replying to 'Mad Tom')
A long time ago, I saw an ad in Classic Toy Trains magazine, about a rather odd O Gauge '3 rail' track system. The track had the usual running rails. In place of what would have been the 3rd rail, was a humped strip of flat metal (not shaped like a rail - basically a flat strip of metal that was curved, the long way, over a thick wooden dowel) that ran the length of the track section. The center rail rollers on locomotives and lighted cars would simply roll along this humped strip of flat metal. The running rails were also electrically insulated from the  humped strip of metal
The name of the manufacturer that produced this particular track system, escapes me, as it was so long ago.
I would have to go digging through 'back issues' of Classic Toy Trains magazine, probably from late 1990s to early 2000s.
Looked like an interesting track system, but unfortunately, I do not own any of that track.
-JP
« Last Edit: August 27, 2021, 05:12:05 PM by trainyardjp » Logged

-JP
Len

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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2021, 04:25:12 PM »

A center stud system, like Marklin uses, would be replacing pickup rollers with a long metal shoe. Similar to old Marx and current Marklin locos. It's not really practical to convert locos with existing pickup rollers to such a system.

Atlas-O track uses a darkened center rail, but eventually the coating on top of the center rail wears off. It's not as bad as having a completely shiny center rail, but it is still noticable.

If the center rail really bothers you, you could always switch to 2-rail O scale.

Len
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If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.
trainyardjp


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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2021, 11:11:28 AM »

JP of Acton MA, USA writes,

After being in contact with Classic Toy Trans Magazine staff, regarding the ad for the particular track (as mentioned in a previous post), I was informed that the company that produced the track, was a company known as 'Lee Trains', based in Utah. Unfortunately, it seems that the company is long out of business. Any Google searches, yielded no results.
The ad in Classic Toy Trains Magazine, for the track in '?', was prior to the year 2000s (1999 or earlier).

Anyone who subscribes to Classic Toy Trains Magazine, and is a member of the new Trains.com website, could easily look up magazine archives and back issues, to find the ad for the track in '?'.
-JP
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-JP
Country Joe

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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2021, 04:51:19 PM »

The reason no one makes O gauge track similar to Marklin's HO 3 rail track is that it wouldn't sell since all existing O gauge trains wouldn't run on it. Keep in mind that 3 rail O gauge track was first made more than 100 years ago. It was toy train track, no attempt was made to make it look realistic. The trains that ran on it were toys, not scale models. After WW2 Lionel introduced Super O track, an attempt to make 3 rail track look more realistic. I'm not sure when Gargraves started making their Phantom Rail track but I think it was in the 1950s. Any O gauge track would have to be backward compatible so older O gauge trains could be run on it.

After WW2 Markiin changed from 3 rail O to 3 rail HO. Since they were starting from scratch they didn't have to make their track backward compatible since there weren't existing 3 rail HO trains. They introduced their track with black studs that were almost invisible serving as the third rail. They used long sliders that contacted a number of studs on locomotives and lighted freight and passenger cars.

Lionel's Super O, Gargraves' Phantom Rail, MTH's Scaletrax and a couple of other tracks are about as close as we will get to more realistic looking track. Most O gaugers are not bothered by the third rail. Many still use tubular track. If you find the third real that offensive you can use Gargraves or another track where the middle rail isn't so obvious or switch to 2 rail O scale.
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JohnB77

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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2021, 04:53:41 PM »

Much later reply to this thread, but...
MAD TOM wondered, "if people WANT that "toy train" heritage, thus the avoidably ungainly appearance."
I'm very new in O Gauge, having purchased in April a Lionel REA car and a single piece of Fastrack "just to get it out of my system," as I told my wife. I was in the midst of reading Ron Hollander's book "All Aboard! The Story of Joshua Lionel Cowen & His Lionel Train Company." It is the one book to avoid if you DON'T want to get tied-up in a long-term relationship with 3-rail trains. Not long after that I dusted off my long-dormant HO scale layout and simultaneously purchased Lionel's Lion Chief Super Chief set, complete with its awkward and ungainly oval of 3-rail track and O36 curves. I couldn't help but compare the admittedly tight 18" radius curves of the HO layout's 2-rails with those super-sized 3-rails bending, brazenly, unashamedly, to the same radius, even though the train was double the size. I saw that gleaming silver and red Santa Fe FT and impossibly-short passenger cars rolling on their proud pizza cutter wheels, connected by monstrous lobster claws, and I was hooked. Yes, it's a toy train. I have dealt with that and embraced the 3 rails in all their ungainly glory and toy train-ness. Now I alternate between HO scale construction in the basement and Hi-Rail world building on the second floor. It's a lot of stairs for old legs, but it is the life I've chosen.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2021, 04:56:19 PM by JohnB77 » Logged
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