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laurobb

Posted - 2006 June 09 :  10:34:27 PM  Show Profile
Just wondering does anyone have any idea what is more popular 2 or 3 rail, and wondering if someone can give tell me the advantages of one over the other. I love the way 2 rail looks but I just wonder what differences I could expect. Thanks Rob

Country: USA | Posts: 10

tom thorpe

Posted - 2006 June 09 :  11:18:53 PM  Show Profile  Visit tom thorpe's Homepage
Rob,

This would be a great question to post on 7/4/06


Tom Thorpe
www.curvedbenchwork.net

Country: USA | Posts: 841 Go to Top of Page

Phil Gatto

Posted - 2006 June 10 :  12:18:34 PM  Show Profile
Rob, first of all 3 rail is much more popular than 2 rail. No doubt about it.

There are many differences between the two and many things that are the same. For instance scenery and structures are the same for both 2 and 3 rail. Wiring is very similar though not exacty the same.

Some differences are with 2 rail all wheelsets are insulated (no electricity goes thru them) and with 3 rail all wheelsets conduct electricity. 2 rail usually requires larger curves especially for steam locomotives that have all of their drivers flanged. 3 rail requires much smaller curves and thus can be used in a smaler space.

2 rail track looks better than 3 rail track. How much do you want your model RR to look like the real thing? Do you want to run the postwar Lionel locomotives you had as a kid?

Most 3 rail locomotives come with sound and command control? Many 2 rail locomotives do not. How much does this matter to you?

There's more....but maybe you can give us some more info on what you want to try to accomplish and then we could suggest which may be better for you.


Happy Railroading Everyone!
2-Rails or No Rails!
Still waiting for 1:48 scale autos. ..

Country: | Posts: 581 Go to Top of Page

PRRJIM

Posted - 2006 June 10 :  1:12:57 PM  Show Profile
I just heard Pandora's box opening.....



Country: USA | Posts: 506 Go to Top of Page

gpandwrr

Posted - 2006 June 10 :  7:54:28 PM  Show Profile
The biggest difference between the two is that 2 rail only has 2 rails and 3 rail has.... You guessed it. There are several different types of 3 rail track, including some that comes in preballasted sections. The different manufacturers take different steps to minimize (or not) the visibility of the third rail. I don't believe there is as much diversity in 2 rail track.

The second biggest difference is that as a general rule, 3 rail locos and equipment are designed to operate on tighter curves than 2 rail. A 36" radius (called O-72, 3 rail is done in diameters) is considered wide in 3 rail, and pretty much anything in 3 rail will operate on it. Most 3 rail locos and equipment are designed to operate on considerably tighter curves, as tight at 14" radius (O-27), although 15(O-31) to 21(O-42)" radius is more common. This is done by using oversized couplers, swivelling pilots and large wheel flanges. However, it is possible to convert much 3 rail equipment to 2 rail standards, but if you do, it will require 2 rail type curves.

The third biggest difference is wiring. In 3 rail power is generally sent out by the center rail, which means that you don't have to worry about shorts on reverse loops. Depending on the type of track either one or both of the outside tracks serves as the common. On 3 rail insulated track (outside tracks are insulated from each other, the center rail is always insulated from the outside rail) it is possible to use one outside rail for the common and the other can be used as a trigger for signals, crossing gates, etc.

Fourth difference is availability. Most 3 rail manufacurers are beginning to produce their products so they can be readily adapted for 2 rail use. Many 2 rail manufacturers are starting to produce 3 rail versions of their equipment. However, the 3 rail market is signficantly larger than 2 rail in O, which usually translates into greater availability of 3 rail stock.

Fifth difference is the toy heritage factor. 3 rail is generally "backwards compatible" with itself, so you can operate the older toy trains, including operating cars, on most modern 3 rail tracks.

Bill



Country: | Posts: 256 Go to Top of Page

bculliton

Posted - 2006 June 11 :  11:18:19 AM  Show Profile

Gpandw has given you the differences btween the 2 systems in a rational manner without the overemotional rantings of some. For instance those who still proclaim how difficult reverse loops are in 2 rail when the problem was solved in the 1930s and is taken for granted in HO and N scales.
There are a lot of well done layouts in 3 rail and some are scale except for the 3 rail track.
If this were 30 years ago and you wanted to run off the shelf locomotives and equipment the decision would have been easy since most of the off the shelf items were in 3 rail. But today this off the shelf is available in 2 rail from Atlas ,Weaver ,MTH and Sunset/Golden Gate Depot.
Easily laid track and switches are available from Atlas. 2 rail is no longer the domain of the blacksmiths and I feel that because of the more prototypical track and couplers there will be more of a switch to 2 rail.
As far as operating systems such as DCS and TMCC I have no opinion since I have never used them but my slight exposure to DCC impressed me favorably.
I would start in 2 rail since I think that many of the "scale" 3 railers would switch if it were not for the investment they already have in time and money.


Bill Culliton
Modeling trolley lines of the Niagara Frontier

Country: USA | Posts: 22 Go to Top of Page

tom thorpe

Posted - 2006 June 11 :  1:48:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit tom thorpe's Homepage
Two questions.

How many folks from USA sneaking into Mexico?

How many folks converting 2 rail trains to 3 rail?

There is a reason.


Tom Thorpe
www.curvedbenchwork.net

Country: USA | Posts: 841 Go to Top of Page

christopher2

Posted - 2006 June 11 :  6:17:09 PM  Show Profile
I think GPANDWRR gets an A+ for that description.


Country: | Posts: 92 Go to Top of Page

CBQer

Posted - 2006 June 11 :  7:29:09 PM  Show Profile
2 rail or die trying.

Dick


Milwaukeerailroadshops.org

Charter Member Golden Spike Club.
Nebraska, Dakota, & Western Railroad.
Veteran, Viet Nam 1968

Country: USA | Posts: 1215 Go to Top of Page

AGHRMatt

Posted - 2006 June 14 :  8:11:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit AGHRMatt's Homepage
I'm only talking scale-sized here since I don't do O-27. I won't get into command control issues as its an apples-to-pears comparison.

3-rail Advantage: Big Power on 36" Radius (AKA O-72). Every piece of 3-rail equipment from locomotives to 89-foot flat cars will operate on 36" radius.

3-rail Disadvantage: Big flanges, big couplers, and that third rail in the middle. Most of us can live with these, but in the grand scheme of things, those are pretty big departures from prototype fidelity.

2-rail Advantage: More realistic track, flanges, and couplers.

2-rail Disadvantage: More space required; careful selection of locomotives and rolling stock to fit your curves is required (there are several work-arounds documented in this area, though.)

As for detailing, Atlas rolling stock in particular is is very well detailed in 3-rail and 2-rail since the car bodies are the same in both runs; just the trucks and couplers are different. The locomotives have swinging pilots in 3-rail to allow negotiation of sharper curves. 2-rail pilots, of course, are fixed.


Matt Jackson
Angels Gate Hi-Railers
San Pedro, California
http://www.angelsgatehirailers.org
http://home.earthlink.net/~mcjackson

Country: USA | Posts: 365 Go to Top of Page

BNUPSPSF

Posted - 2006 July 06 :  7:12:48 PM  Show Profile
Meant to respond to this post sooner, but was busy
Regarding O scale, I am a lifetime three railer
I like the old tinplate track and switches, and use an old Lionel KW transformer
Did modify the switches and switch controllers to remove all lights
Switch positions are now indicated by prototypical trackside signal lights
Scale is important to me, and I only run scale stuff
I do like the oversize flanges and Lionel style couplers
If I was on a shrink's sofa, would say "am sure it all started when seeing my brother's 2035 run buy throwing sparks, with headlight, switch lights, tinplate track and some accessories
My layout has the charm of the toy aspect with the realism of scale
And I like it very much
Especially so with Atlas THREE rail rolling stock
Advantages for me over two rail are the tighter curves and reverse loop wiring. But I do not recommend these as a basis for choosing three rail over two rail
My recommendation is to do what makes you happy


BNUPSPSF

Country: USA | Posts: 103 Go to Top of Page

CBQer

Posted - 2006 July 07 :  12:19:59 PM  Show Profile
There is a third area in O Scale that is called Hi-Rail using 3 rail track but the actual modeling follows 2 rail in it appearance. Broader curves, 1/4 scale models (no Industrial Rail, K-Line or Williams unless it is built to 1/4 scale standards not 1:43 (O-27)) that can look very good. I am a died in the woll 2 railer. None of the some 5000 protype photographs I have taken have a 3rd rail.

Dick


Milwaukeerailroadshops.org

Charter Member Golden Spike Club.
Nebraska, Dakota, & Western Railroad.
Veteran, Viet Nam 1968

Country: USA | Posts: 1215 Go to Top of Page

Phil Gatto

Posted - 2006 July 07 :  12:26:20 PM  Show Profile
quote:
2 rail or die trying.

Dick


That's exactly how I feel. No offense intended towards 3 railers of course.


Happy Railroading Everyone!
2-Rails or No Rails!
Still waiting for 1:48 scale autos. ..

Country: | Posts: 581 Go to Top of Page

AGHRMatt

Posted - 2006 July 07 :  3:54:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit AGHRMatt's Homepage
quote:
Originally posted by CBQer

... None of the some 5000 protype photographs I have taken have a 3rd rail.

Dick



I was surveying the remnants of the Redlands loop and found a 40-foot section of track with a third rail spiked perfectly in the center. My suspicion is that it was either a crude guard rail or a track crew prank. I have the photo somewhere.


Matt Jackson
Angels Gate Hi-Railers
San Pedro, California
http://www.angelsgatehirailers.org
http://home.earthlink.net/~mcjackson

Country: USA | Posts: 365 Go to Top of Page

Lisa Marie Tahtaras

Posted - 2006 July 07 :  8:29:19 PM  Show Profile
I decided that it was just the same amount of work to build my layout with 2 rail track as it would be 3 rail track. I don't have any worm fussy feelings about running 3 rail trains with my family, when I was young. I enjoy O scale much more than I do HO and with nice looking two rail track, it is even better.

Lisa Marie

Country: USA | Posts: 232 Go to Top of Page
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