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

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Buying track I did not need

With an operating two rail layout, Lionel three rail OO gauge track is not something I really need, and I have never owned any of it. But then the collector in me kicked in, and I started looking for a small, odd lot of this classic track, and finally found one for a reasonable price.

I guess it gets at why people collect stuff. Something catches you interest, you want to find out more. You want to actually hold it in your hands; you want to find a full set of a certain item, etc. To find that last piece will take some effort sometimes.

Holding this track in my hands now has been interesting, as I have not held a piece of it in years. It really does not “feel” pre-war. I can kind of imagine how someone would have felt back then to hold it in your hands for the first time, this is pretty amazing stuff. I did a quick survey with a couple of my favorite junior high students to guess how old this track was. They guessed that it dated to the 1960s-70s. Lionel had quite a product going with the pre-war OO line; no wonder collectors drive a market for our defunct but most interesting scale.

The one thing that really surprised me and I have never seen noted in print is that they are out of gauge! It is a little hard to estimate by eye but the gauge is at least 19.5mm and probably closer to 20mm. While it does look like Scale-Craft equipment would run fine on this track, this does perhaps explain the wide tread profile and large flanges seen on Lionel equipment.

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