Can you discuss O27 with me?

caxu Oct 9, 2017

  1. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    Over the last month I've been trying to nail down the scale I would proceed to work in at home.

    After giving much consideration I think I've decided on S scale for this. However, during my journey I've encountered O27 which at first appearance looks extremely close to S scale.

    Can anyone discuss the differences between O27 and S scale for me?

    As far as I know Lionel and Marx were the main legacy proponents of O27. Were their any other manufacturers?

    Also is MTH's "RailKing" lineup the only modern source of brand new O27 product? Unless I'm mistaken Lionel hasn't touched O27 in a while.
     
  2. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    O27 is simply an O Gauge train (1.25") that runs on a 27" diameter (not radius) curves. They are a true toy train, and I love them. What do you want to know? I know a lot about 1945-69 Lionel
     
    acptulsa likes this.
  3. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    I read this on another forum: "The downside is that S will take up more space than O27."

    Is this true? In other words you can squeeze more in the turns than S scale?

    Also, is there a guide online that will pin point locomotives of higher quality? I know the term "toy train" gets tossed around - and that doesn't bother me -- but I am also looking on what to look for on a super durable O27 loco.

    Other info: I do not care/will not use smoke, I don't care about train sounds or "choo choo": the sound of the train on the track will be enough for me.
     
  4. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    I have locos and cars built in the 1940's, old Lionel lasts
     
  5. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    Are there any time periods to be avoided when Lionel was cranking out crap O27?

    What features made for a durable loco?
     
  6. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    All eras of Lionel had crap, Scout sets were crap, and in about 1980, they made the cheapest imaginable crap starter sets, the mechanics tend to hold up
     
  7. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Yes. Consider that in HO, 18" radius is the standard toy train curvature. You can put a circle of 027 inside that and have, oh, about nine inches of leeway to account for overhang.

    My sister inherited Dad's c.1935 027 tinplate Lionel steamer. I had to unsolder one end of each wire a few decades back and use shrink-tube to keep the remaining Bakelite insulation on the wires. Other than that? Oil.
     
  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I am a past member of TCA and TTOS. Collected Lionel, did repairs. Long ago.... Also collected some AF.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, O-27 is in fact closer to S gauge in rolling stock appearance.

    As to track, are you speaking of the tinplate style? If so S gauge track radius, 40 inches, is far larger than O-27. In fact it is larger than Lionel's basic O gauge of 31 inches. Originally there were three O options: 27, 31 and 72. Since then others have been added, such as "Super O". With the present day FasTrack it is over 80 inches.

    As noted there was some equipment which was very low quality. Especially the late sixties "pancake" motor style. Ugh.
     
  9. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    When I look at the MTH and Lionel catalogs the smallest radius they state is "minimum O31 radius." I couldn't find any models from these companies with "O27 compatible".

    On the other hand I did find some trains under the Williams/Bachman brand that state "navigates O27 curves."

    Does that mean Williams/Bachman are the last manufacturers of O27?

    How does O31 compare to S scale?

    This is really a tough one. Yesterday I walked away from a S scale layout thinking it was the one. Quite frankly if O27 is that close to S scale it's a miracle that it has survived this long. I also read in the K-Line wiki that some of their molds for O27 were used for S production.

    This is all very fascinating. :ROFLMAO:
     
  10. country joe

    country joe TrainBoard Member

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    As boxcar pointed out you can go with O31 and still have much tighter curves than S gauge. O31 makes a 31" diameter circle. All Railking will run on O31 curves so you have a lot to choose from. With O31, or O gauge, you can run just about anything Lionel made except the big scale locomotives and some freight and passenger cars. The O gauge switch tracks are robust, reliable and relatively inexpensive.

    To give an idea of size you can fit 2 loops of O31 track on a 4x8 board but only one loop of S gauge because of the diameter of the curves. If you really love S you should go with it. If you just want a bigger train and don't care if it's O or S then go with O. There is a lot more available and you can fit a little more into a small layout.
     
  11. country joe

    country joe TrainBoard Member

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    A lot of locos and cars listed as O31 minimum will negotiate O27 curves. Sometimes it's not the curves but the switch tracks that cause the problem. Longer locos and cars will hit the switch machine housing on the switch. Unfortunately, I don't know of any list of what will run on O27 and what won't.

    Menards has some rolling stock that they advertise as O27 minimum comparable.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    We need to look at terminology here. "O-31" merely indicates a circle diameter of Lionel tinplate (more "toy"-like) style track.

    "Scale", rather than "gauge" is another story. "Gauge" is the distance between rails. But it has nothing to do with prototypical accuracy. "Scale", on the other hand, indicates models which more closely imitate the prototype. So we must be careful with descriptive words.

    "S scale" versus "S gauge" are two very different topics. Are we talking tinplate? Or are we speaking about items which appear most closely to resemble what is seen every day, as we pass along tracks of the real companies and their operations?
     
  13. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    No not tin plate. These would be primarily post war trains and maybe some modern ones. The thing is there are some nice attractive modern locomotives but they add a lot of unnecessary baggage (for my personal preferences) like smoke, noises, and specific control. I would prefer super high quality but without the electronics that can fail.

    I'm going to be visiting S-Fest at the end of the month and if I'm not bounced for bringing up O27 I will probably make a decision at that point about the way forward.

    After speaking with a few guys I'm probably going to join an O scale club irregardless next Month.

    Maybe invite the strongest members from each gauge and have them fight to the death - and who ever wins will be my choice. :LOL:
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Re: "Tinplate", it was manufactured in S by AF until the mid-1960's, so well beyond post-War. Picked up by others and continued to this day.

    You therefore seem to be talking "scale" trains? Those do exist, too. But not anywhere as available as HO, N, Z, etc.
     
  15. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    Yes my targets are either S scale AND gauge or O gauge O31 minimum but not necessarily O Scale (ie: "Toy trains").
     
  16. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    OK! The ***LAST*** question(s) I will ask regarding this topic.

    Here is some verbage from the MTH catalog: "Our near-scale model is a full 17" in length, yet operates comfortably on O-31 curves."

    So the word comfortably to some may sound like "it works, but it looks like it's forced; or doesn't look natural at all."

    Going off those measurements how will this look on O27 and/or O31?
     
  17. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I'd assume it won't operate on 027. You are probably aware of it, but be advised that quite a number of wonderful Lionel post-war items won't run on 027, including the 726 and 736 Berks, the 746 N&W J, the 773 Hudson, the F-3's, FMs, GG-1s and even some rolling stock like the 2500 Series passenger cars, the Madison cars and obviously the depressed center flat cars.

    I'm no expert, but use of 027 might fence you out from operating some of the nicer products made by Lionel and others.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  18. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    What Hardcoaler said.

    It takes a lot of work to make a 1/48 scale design go around a 31" diameter. If they went to the trouble to make it do 27", they will almost certainly say so.

    And no train looks natural going around 031 curves. Certain trolleys do, and speeders and handcars. No trains.
     
  19. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    I want to thank everyone for their help. After receiving all the advice and information I think I will stick with a single scale which will be S.

    For me and my personal situation, I believe S is the one.

    [​IMG]
     
    BoxcabE50 likes this.
  20. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    This is mostly correct. Lionel in the post war era marketed O locomotives with a three digit number and O27 had four digits. The Alco was designed to be an O27 loco, and I have a pair with a three digit number.
     

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