Newbie questions

I have a two year old who loves trains.

So, for Christmas, I was thinking of building a layout in his room - around the wall about a foot below the ceiling. I'm looking at O gauge.

Here's a couple of questions I have...

I see there is "O" and "O27". What is a realistic turn radius for the corners? I don't want it so tight that the train has to crawl along, but I don't want it so open that it sticks a ways out from the wall. The room is about 12' long and 10' wide. On one short wall are two adjoining closets. I even thought of running the train thru the wall, into a closet and back out for a tunnel.

Next question is this - my son was born in 2002 - is there such a thing is a "2002 model" engine? What I mean is a steam engine produced in 2002. I'd like to start with that and a couple of cars then add a car at each Christmas.

I guess with this type of layout there's not alot of room for creativity, I was planning on building a shelf out of plyood one 1x6. If anyone has photos or suggestions, that would be great.



Reply to
Tommy Evans
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No, no, no!

Your son should be able to actually touch the trains, put them on the tracks, and so forth. One ft below the ceiling??? How's he gonna see the trains?

O-27 is 27" diameter, so you don't need much space. Get a 3ft square or larger piece of 1/2" good-one-side ply, and 1" insulation foam to glue to it (use Liquid Nails or similar - make sure it's the water-based acrylic latex stuff.) Paint the foam all over with medium to light tan latex paint to seal it, then paint "scenery" on it with latex and/or acrylic craft paints. Use a variety of greens and browns, mark out some "roads" and paint them grey, and so forth. Mount the track on it, using double sided carpet tape under the ties, and 1" nails through those little holes. Store the thing on its side against the wall. You could set up the circle of track on the carpet every time he wants to play with it, but that takes a long time, and eventually the track pins get too loose to be useful.

If you must build on a shelf, at least bring it down low enough so that he can see when standing on a low step-stool. You can build shelving and cupboards under the train shelf - I'm sure you can use more storage space, we all do. :-) At the corners, the shelf will have to be about

18" deep at the squared ends for O-27, but along the wall it can be narrower. If unsure, lay a quarter circle of track on some box-board, and experiment with clearances. You need at least 2" on each side of the track (mneasured from the tie ends.) You can make a turn-back loop at each end; you'll be pleasantly surprised at how little space an O-27 loop takes. And that will give you space for a large cupboard or dresser for even more storage. :-)

Oh, and watch out for miniferroeuqinitis - a benign but lifelong condition, that has been known to strike many parents and grandparents who "only wanted a small layout for the kids." :-)

Have fun!

Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir


Thanks for the info.

He does have some "Thomas the Tank Engine" track and rolling stock that he loves to play with, hands on. That's part 2 of his Christmas gift- I'm building a table for him so he can play with it himself. There are several toy stores and book stores around here that have some elaborate Thomas setups in their store, and he can sit and play for hours with them. The stuff we have here isn't mounted on anything, so I spend time setting it up, and he'll destroy it during play in no time.

Also - being two - he likes to throw things from time to time. (He pegged me in the head with his juice cup yesterday and went to timeout for that). I'd hate to subject a nice model train to that at this age. LOL.

Here in Fort Worth there's a new resort called the Gaylord - it's the same people that own Opryland. It's a HUGE hotel, and for Christmas they have a very, very cool and elaborate train setup. I'd say at least 10 separate tracks. Some go through Christmas trees about 8 foot off the ground, some wind around a waterfall. We went last week and my son was in heaven.

Thanks again!


Reply to
Tommy Evans

O track is 31" diameter over the ends of the ties, and O27 is 27" dia. This affects both the speed trains can go (must be slower for tighter curves, and the size of the locos and cars that can run on the track. O27 is limited to smaller O27 trains, now called "Traditional" by Lionel. O track will accomodate O27 trains and many of the larger O size trains. Many of the recent (last dozen years or so) O gauge models are full 1:48 scale proportion and some of these require even larger radii to operate. Many of the recent, improved lines of track with built in roadbed and realistically spaced ties (as opposed to the old 3 tin ties per track section) come in a wide variety of radii. O42 track, for example with a radius of 21", will only be about 13" out from the corner of the room assuming you use the 1 x 6 for the tangents with the track centered on it. Try the largest the looks reasonable in the room to give you the biggest choice of equipment and least operating (derailment) problems.

Since you mention steamers produced in 2002, I gather you are talking about models introduced each year vice prototypes locos. The various manufacturers introduce several new models each year, but they do not typically designate any as a yearly special in the same way Hallmark, for example, has a specific 2004 Christmas ornament (or rather scads of them). There were specials for the Lionel centennial a few years ago, but that tends to be the exception. Look in catalogs for the models listed as "new", or ads in magazines like Classic Toy Trains for the "2004 new releases", or in collectors guides like the "Greenberg's Guides" which list the years each model was made.

Another avenue would be to consider the prototype - what new model locos did GM and GE introduce in 2002, or what new locomotives did you son's favorite RR buy new that year? Railfan magazines and RR historical groups often have this kind of info.

A 1 x 6 may be a bit narrow. The track center line is usually set back about 4" minimum from a layout edge in O gauge. You might get by with 3" if you put on a vertical lip to catch any derailing trains. This would leave only 3" from the track centerline to the wall (and less if it's a 1 x 6 board only 5.5" wide). The overhang on large locomotive in tight curves can be considerable, and I would guess many front corner running boards etc. may hit the wall with this spacing. Your local dealer should be willing to set a few differnt trains of different size tracks so you can take some measurements to establish your design minimums. Hope these comments help. Gary Q

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Is THAT where all those accused priests got sent to, eh?

Reply to
Steve Caple

Don't worry too much about the speed of the trains. I had Lionel back when I was a kid and ran them at full speed all around the track with no problems. Then I found out about real train speeds and slowed miine down a lot to the point where I get coimplaints sometimes when I run on somebody elses layout. Get the set and have fun with your kid. Let him own it rather than you and he may take very good care of it. If he starts breaking things for the fun of it, let the damaged stuff stay that way until the set is destroyed and let him know that the reason why it is broken is that he broke it. He may then really learn respect for other's stuff then as it is a lesson that every boy needs to learn.

-- Why isn't there an Ozone Hole at the NORTH Pole?

Reply to
Bob May

Went to a couple of local dealers today. The first was a store handling nothing but model trains. It was pretty cool (my son had a blast - pointing at everything and screaming "choo choo twain!". The owner suggested I use a

12" wide "shelf" to allow for any buildings, etc - and he was pretty sure I'd add another circle of track later on.

I looked at one of the Lionel starter sets there - that was his recommendation. His prices were a little steeper than another local hobby shop ($289 for the New York set with Railsounds vs $249); his track prices were a bit more, too.

I think I'll go ahead and get a set then play with shelf sizes to determine what is best.


Reply to
Tommy Evans

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