Don't dismis three rails

Any questions about designing a model railway layout or problems with track work.
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wahiba
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Don't dismis three rails

Postby wahiba » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:45 am

before i started on my layout I naturally visited a few model railway shows. Some elaborate models, a bit to much for me. There were smaller ones, usually end to end with locos movign at snails pace. paint dries quicker.

What really caught my though, and the kids as trains were actually running, were the old Hornby Dublo three rail layouts. No need for sound cards here, that tinplate track produces enough sound of its own. Anyhow I investigated, bought a few bits of track and an old loco converted to 3 rail. Well, I was hooked.

Instead of expensive new DCC, which I was not really interested in i decided to look at recycling 3 rail. Commercially the biggest available stock in the UK is Hornby anf Trix. As it is pretty cheap I acquired some of both.

Trix looks more like modern track, well the later fibre stuff does, but in terms of construction quality it does not hold a candle to HD tinplate. Trix track does have one advantage. The running rails are insulated from each other so it is actually possible to run two rail locos on the three rail track. There is an older Trix track on a bakelite base, but it really is too clunky.

I decided my first tailchaser would be HD. I have an idea to use the Trix for an automated end to end layout.

Acquiring the track is easy and for the main sections and manual points pretty cheap. Some of the shorter lengths can cost as they are not so common. If like me you are ready to bodge and cut up some of the plentiful long lengths then not a problem. SCARM includes HD3 so planning is easy enough.

So ingnoring the appearance (it is a model railway) what are the advantages of three rail? Well with HD3 electical connectivity is good. Setting up the ovals for the first time I created shorts by not always getting the centre connecting clips right. Once I realised what I had to do, usually just bend them slightly the track went together well. No heavy cleaning and there was still current all around. A wipe acros the tops and some recently aquired HD3 locos ran.

Three rail track has certain electrical advantages. Reverse loops require no fancy wiring. Same for points. Sections can be isolated using the centre rail. HD has some short sections for this, but it is easy enough to make your own up. There are two radii available so twin track is possible. I have seen three circuits, with trains running on all three at a recent show. Impressive. Kids, of all ages love it.

One advantage of this track is that before pinning it down it is possible to test out various layouts. There are holes in the track and small screws are the best way to make it more permanent. Of course it was designed not for permanent layouts, but to be laid out on the floor, then taken up etc. It is tough stuff, especially compared with modern looks right track.

This video is the first of the layout in progress. I just love the sound.

https://youtu.be/GeS5cqvIrwA

Next shows HD3 locos and a conversion of a modern Hornby. Quite easy. Conversions will make up most of my running stock, I like doing things differently. Rolling stock is Hornby Dublo and Triang. Note the coupling problem, editing did not hide it completely.

https://youtu.be/afUhgQHNOFU

For my adventures in three rails and some practical info thry this site:

http://threerail.tripod.com/

Have fun

David

whynot
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Re: Don't dismis three rails

Postby whynot » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:51 pm

Fascinating! And thought provoking. Once one accepts that even the most highly detailed, most skilfully built, most realistic, most true to prototypical operation etc layouts are actually nothing more than toy trains (which is my view), then there is indeed no fundamental difference between "finescale" and 3 rail. There, two heretics!
dave j
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Emettman
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Re: Don't dismis three rails

Postby Emettman » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:45 pm

whynot wrote: There, two heretics!


Call yourself heretics? I've built and exhibited a layout without a scale.

I have seen some nice display layouts for H/'D track and stock,both large and compact,
and as a young boy with two rail Triang trains I was fascinated by H/D 3-rails's ability to do return loops with no fuss at all.

Chris
"It's his madness that keeps him sane."

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pete12345
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Re: Don't dismis three rails

Postby pete12345 » Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:02 pm

Marklin have always gone against the grain and pursued the angle of improving the appearance of 3-rail rather than converting to 2 rail as most of the others did. With their stud-contact system, the two running rails are connected for symmetry, but I guess there's nothing to stop you having a fully-insulated stud contact system. The central studs would presumably be the common rail. The downside is that you'd have to have locos facing in specific directions unless you installed some form of switch on the loco, perhaps hidden in the cab on a steam loco. You could then switch it to left rail, right rail or off completely (which would remove the need for isolating sections!)
Once an engine attached to a train, was afraid of a few drops of rain...

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Bufferstop
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Re: Don't dismis three rails

Postby Bufferstop » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:26 pm

I started with HD 3 rail in 1953, its reliability and trouble free running weren't much to do with the extra rail more to do with reliable pick-up, good engineering and weight. The track rarely needed cleaning and the locos were heavy enough to make good contact whatever the track condition. When I did switch to two rail (Triang TT3) I found it very frustrating that it was so difficult to achieve fine control of the locos. As for using fully insulated(Trix system) 3 rail track to run multiple trains DCC has just about rendered it history.
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wahiba
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Re: Don't dismiss three rails

Postby wahiba » Fri Nov 20, 2015 6:20 pm

The type of three rail automation I am looking into is where both running rails have the same supply, but by judicious cuts a train stops and is then sent on its way by one following, or even on another track. Tram modellers use it, where the third rail is the overhead. I first saw it at a show where three trams were chasing each other around a figure of 8, but never caught up.

As for three rail and DCC. DCC suffers the same reverse loop problem as two rail. A three rail DCC set up would not have the problem.

I am waiting for proper digital radio control. Track would still supply power but signal, at least for trains, would come over the ether. No doubt technically possible, but really needs a standard to go commercial.

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Bufferstop
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Re: Don't dismis three rails

Postby Bufferstop » Fri Nov 20, 2015 7:36 pm

Bachmann showed a system using Bluetooth and mobile phones as handsets. It might stand a chance if they show commitment to it, a dedicated handset might be a start!
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Bigmet
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Re: Don't dismiss three rails

Postby Bigmet » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:40 pm

wahiba wrote:...I am waiting for proper digital radio control. Track would still supply power but signal, at least for trains, would come over the ether. No doubt technically possible, but really needs a standard to go commercial.

Radio control for rail will go through a similar 'shake out' process that saw the Lenz DCC format emerge as the winner by being offered as an open standard, and the NMRA adopting it as a standard. (Even now DCC has several minority variant flavours, linked to model maker brands.)

The radio control offerings I have looked at are degraded by the persistence of the aero/boat/car r/c mindset, that the operator can only drive one thing at a time, from a small selection. This results in architectures which uniquely bind a single receiver to a single channel on the controller. Not necessary in model rail. A radio signal can transmit code to all receivers bound to a single channel, and only that receiver with the correct address in the code responds, exactly as the DCC signal works. (A system with multiple channels available will be of potential value at a show, where neighbouring exhibits can by agreement - or automation - use different channels to avoid any potential for conflict.)

If you are currently satisified with the reliability of power from the track, you might as well adopt DCC: if the track power gets through, so does the control signal.

Bufferstop wrote:Bachmann showed a system using Bluetooth and mobile phones as handsets. It might stand a chance if they show commitment to it, a dedicated handset might be a start!

But the USP is no need for dedicated control gear, use your existing device with a software app. And that's essential to contain the cost, as otherwise DCC wins easily on price of entry; what with the Bluetooth loco modules being much more expensive than a DCC decoder. The price balance is Bluetooth cheaper for a few locos, DCC cheaper for over half a dozen. The business promoting this is looking for profit: snag newbies with a low cost entry price, hope to keep them buying much more expensive (= more profitable) loco modules than DCC requires, now that competition has driven basic DCC decoder cost low, low, low.

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Wolseley
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Re: Don't dismis three rails

Postby Wolseley » Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:07 pm

whynot wrote:Fascinating! And thought provoking. Once one accepts that even the most highly detailed, most skilfully built, most realistic, most true to prototypical operation etc layouts are actually nothing more than toy trains (which is my view), then there is indeed no fundamental difference between "finescale" and 3 rail. There, two heretics!


Make that three heretics. After about 20 years away from railway modelling, and almost 40 years without any sort of layout, I have resumed my old interest in model railways, not with an HO New South Wales railway layout and scale models, but this time with Hornby Dublo 3 rail. Perhaps it was prompted by the arrival of a grandson 15 months ago, and my thought that some day he might be interested in such things but, as it turned out, when I laid out some tracks on the dining room table last weekend, when all the family was over, it did catch his attention for a reasonable amount of time, but it also interested my 13 year old nephew and my younger daughter's fiancee, both of whom wanted to take over the controls for some time. And our grandson has now added "train" and "toot, toot" to his vocabulary.

In case you're wondering, the Duchess of Montrose and the BR Standard Tank did duty on that occasion. I also have a Bristol Castle but, as that as in near mint condition, it stayed in its box for the day....

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Wolseley
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Re: Don't dismis three rails

Postby Wolseley » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:54 pm

Wolseley wrote:
whynot wrote:Fascinating! And thought provoking. Once one accepts that even the most highly detailed, most skilfully built, most realistic, most true to prototypical operation etc layouts are actually nothing more than toy trains (which is my view), then there is indeed no fundamental difference between "finescale" and 3 rail. There, two heretics!


Make that three heretics. After about 20 years away from railway modelling, and almost 40 years without any sort of layout, I have resumed my old interest in model railways, not with an HO New South Wales railway layout and scale models, but this time with Hornby Dublo 3 rail. Perhaps it was prompted by the arrival of a grandson 15 months ago, and my thought that some day he might be interested in such things but, as it turned out, when I laid out some tracks on the dining room table last weekend, when all the family was over, it did catch his attention for a reasonable amount of time, but it also interested my 13 year old nephew and my younger daughter's fiancee, both of whom wanted to take over the controls for some time. And our grandson has now added "train" and "toot, toot" to his vocabulary.

In case you're wondering, the Duchess of Montrose and the BR Standard Tank did duty on that occasion. I also have a Bristol Castle but, as that as in near mint condition, it stayed in its box for the day....


One more now. I just bought an A4 Sir Nigel Gresley in LNER garter blue. I suppose that now I need to get some LNER carriages.....

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Wolseley
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Re: Don't dismiss three rails

Postby Wolseley » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:41 am

Wolseley wrote:One more now. I just bought an A4 Sir Nigel Gresley in LNER garter blue. I suppose that now I need to get some LNER carriages.....


An update: two N2 tank engines are being added to the roster, one LNER green, the other early BR lined black. They should arrive next week.


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