The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Article on On3 track for American OO in the Train Collectors Quarterly

The October, 2008 issue of the Train Collectors Quarterly has an extended, five page article by Ed Morlok on using On3 flex track for running American OO trains. On3 track standards are exactly the same as for American OO--other than the ties being somewhat over-sized this track works great with classic OO trains [but On30 track won't work! See the UPDATE]. This is an article really worth checking out for anyone thinking about becoming an operator.

One issue addressed in the article is that of three-rail operation. Operators today fall into two categories, inside third rail and two rail. I run two rail, but Lionel collectors often desire the inside third rail as used by Lionel, and a loop of original Lionel three rail track in good condition will cost you an arm and a leg. On3 flex track can certainly have a third rail added; you will just need to spike it in by hand down the centerline of the track.

Back in the day outside third rail was very common in American OO. Looking at early Nason catalogs, this was standard for them, only later did they offer two rail products as an option. So far as I know however there are no operators using outside third rail today. Ed Costello used outside third rail on his big layout into the late 1970s but before his death I am told converted it to two rail.

One other note on the TCA article I should mention, I personally always find it odd to see our gauge referred to as American 00, as numbers, instead of American OO, as letters. It was normally called “double O” not “double zero” back in the day, and catalogs and publications are consitent that it is OO not 00. I certainly prefer to use OO instead of 00.

UPDATE: See this article for another view of some On3 track modified for use in OO. The above photo is from reader Drew M.

AND PLEASE NOTE: On3 track is exactly the same as American OO gauge but On30 track won't work! On30 track is the same as HO gauge! I think the popularity of On30 ready-to-run trains has clouded the issue a bit, as it is not the same as On3 but people seem to assume it is.

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