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Monday, 26 August 2013

Removing & Touching Up Hair - From Your Action Figures

Painted Heads

"You can use acetone to remove paint from figures. I used it on some cheap Frontieer Hero dolls with really fakey looking facial hair and it worked well." -- JM

Pine Sol will normally remove paint, try that first. If that fails, bring out the big gun - oven cleaner. Don't try this on the visor though, it will ruin it. Test in a inconspicuous place first. -- Meerk

Here's a good paint removal tip. Automotive brake fluid, it's cheap and works well. I build scale models and have used it many, many times. You can soak or apply heavily with a tooth brush, be careful not to get it on any other painted surfaces though, it can work pretty quickly on light coats. You can also use it on spots with a Q-tip. Be sure to rinse in water to remove all residue. The brake fluid is water soluble so it will clean up nicely. -- Richard and Denise Pelletier

I decided to removed the paint from the lips of my brown hair-green eyed 30th Aniversary Joe I started out with a bottle of nail polish remover and a Q-Tip. Nail polish remover is a diluted form of acetone so I reasoned that it wouldn't do any damage to the vinyl of the head. And I was right! I just swabbed over the lips with the nail polish remover laden Q-Tip until the paint started to come off. The trick is, when the Q-Tip becomes saturated with paint to go to a fresh one. Also, don't put so much nail polish remover on it that it drips or disaster could loom. The only problem was the deep crevice between the lips, the Q-Tip wouldn't touch it. Fortunately, the paint was softened from the remover, and my trusty pen knife was able to scrape it all out, with absolutely no damage to the head at all! I doubt you could tell that there was ever paint there now. My friend couldn't. Don't forget the wash off any remaining nail polish remover residue, as it could corrode the head as time goes on.. Soaking a head in this stuff would probably be a bad idea. -- Bob SS.

Yes this would leech out all the plastisizers in the head and cause it to become brittle and crack. Just use a good acrylic like liquitex and paint over it. -- Wolfman

Use Remove-zit. You can get it from Cotswolds. It removes the paint with only one application. -- Snoserpent

I've used oven cleaner to remove the "chrome" from plastic model kits and the engine on the HOF Strike Cycle. I'm not sure how it works on paint, but it does an immediate job on the chrome! -- Rob

Try Easy-Off Oven Cleaner. It removes paint pretty well, usually leaves the plastic alone. Check it on a part that doesn't show to make sure it won't damage the surface. -- Trent

Want to remove the painted-on stars from the General's helmet? Buff them off with a little 600 grit sandpaper. Follow with polishing compound, or toothpaste and it'll look like they were never there. -- Meerk

Flocked hair

One way to remove the flocking is to soak the head for a couple of days in ordinary rubbing alcohol. Then the fuzz can be scraped off very easily with a blunt edged knife. Be careful not to scrape or cut into the actual vinyl of Joe's head. Also-you will be left with a yellow glue stain from the flocking process that can not be removed. Not such a problem on the head section because your paint job will cover it-but it can be a problem in the former bearded areas. I usually dry the hair out on a paper towel and save it for reflocking problem AT guys who need the Hair Club for -- Johnn Medeiros

"Boil the head and then soak it in alcohol." -- Conddor

"Be cautious when scraping off flocked hair because sometimes the heads are painted underneath and you may louse up an opportunity to get a clean painted head out of the deal." -- Don Thompson

Unable to dissolve the remaining glue residue, from a fuzz head, I picked up some automotive sandpaper (3M Imperial Wetordry, 1500 grit) and was able to sand the stuff off. I kept the paper wet, and by folding it, was able to get in the tricky areas -- behind the ears, around the scar, etc. I was even able to remove the residue in his mouth, sanding carefully so as not to take the paint off. -- Rob Leigh

I want to add another tip to Rob Leigh's procedure to removing the yellow glue residue. After using the super-fine grit sandpaper, I have found that two or three mild applications of baby oil to the sanded areas will help hide any abrasions to the plastic skin. You should apply one coat a day, allowing the plastic to soak up the oil. The oil seems to have no detrimental effects on the plastic. -- Steve Stanton

After removing the flocking, I repaint them with acrylic paints from the hobby shop. You can get them almost original with a little practice. I have even messed around with leaving mustaches, goatees, long sideburns, etc. when I remove the hair from the face. I use a little dixie cup to set the heads in overnight in the alcohol - its fits great. -- Conddor

Here's what I've found works best for repairing "Bald Spots": Removing & Repairing "Life-like Hair". The secret is....Paint remover! By using one of the slow acting paint strippers (for example:Safest Stripper) you can remove the hair from almost any fuzz head completely.
Just apply to the hair/beard and allow to sit (at least 2 hours), then using the BACK of an Exacto-knife blade scrape the hair off. Be careful when you do this as the plastic of the head gets slightly soft and the blade can dig in to the surface. It won`t all come off in one try,you will have have to reapply and do it again, but eventually you will get nearly all of it off.
The next step is the most Important, In the areas that didn`t come clean, you must apply regular paint stripper. WARNING: This stuff is very CAUSTIC, IT WILL BURN YOUR EYES AND SKIN, ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION. And I mean that.
Anyway, apply to the remaining hair/glue, wait a minute then scrape the area clean. I have never had one that would not come clean, and I've done over 30.
Sometimes, the area where the beard is will be slightly discoloured. If the stain is bad, add a "5 o`clock shadow" to hide it. You can either paint one on or "Tattoo" one on. The tattoo method is as follows: Using a fine needle,poke the beard area of the head, about a million times (or at least it seems like a million !;>} ) Then apply acrylic paint in the correct colour, and wipe off almost immediately, don't try to do the whole area at once, apply to a small area then wipe and so on until you cover the whole beard area.
Another Warning: don`t get the regular stripper on the painted areas of the face (unless you want to remove them too,) and use the smallest amount of stripper you can - it really softens the plastic of the head. Put much of this stuff on or leave it too long, and you'll scrape off chunks of Joe`s face! (makes for interesting Horror effects!)

The safe stripper will not remove the paint generally. If you find a fuzz head that is a painted hair underneath, use only the safe stripper and you`ll gain a painted hair figure. I've never had the safe stripper damage the paint on a head. -- Kevin Merklley


Painted Heads

Most paints (model, spray, etc.) never dry on the toy-type plastic. One paint that does is automotive touch-up paint. I use it to touch up paint on my old Star Wars figures. -- Mark Bradley

I retouch some of my vintage painted heads because it makes them look better. I always use acrylic paint like Liquitex. This way, it can be removed down the line if one prefers the original state. -- John Medeiros

I have seen people use Sharpie brand markers to touch up black painted heads. -- Don Thompson

I hate to admit it, but sharpie markers work pretty well for very small spots. They'll come off with acetone if you want to "unrestore" it. -- Richard Knepper

The only painted head I've touched up was a black-haired foreign soldier. I just used black acrylic paint from a tube, spread thinly on a wadded-up kleenex, and rubbed it lightly around the head as if I was applying polish. It fixed the bald spots right up, and the result is close to indistinguishable to the original paint in terms of gloss. It dried right nicely, too. -- Benjamin Adams

Repainting a figure might cause it to come out too shiny. You can make the appearance more like the original by using some dull coat spray on the head. I use this to take the sheen off the plastic on the model RR kits. I think it'll work well on a painted head. -- C Cabrera

The one part I seem to have trouble on is right around the base of the neck-- this is the part that has to flex to put the head back on the torso. Regular acrylic doesn't have enough flex to it, so it peels a bit. You can help this by sanding the rubber-- it gives the surface more "tooth" for the paint to grab onto. I've mixed acrylic silicone caulking (available at hardware stores) to acrylic paint before-- this improves its adhesion and flexibility-- but it leaves a slightly glossy sheen. It's worth playing with if you're having big problems when you paint on flexible materials. And it's a lot cheaper than buying those specialty Hollywood mask paints. Jimbob
I've found that Testor's acrylic paints work well (water wash up too). A splash of tan and the Nick heads from Cotswold began to look better (also, some eye reduction with flesh tones, etc). -- Bruce Wilhite

Flocked Heads

"I've repaired flocked hair rubs using spirit gum and hair scrapped off an old head. Spirit gum is a theatrical adhesive used for attaching fake beards and such. Its nice because it goes on thin, but stays where you put it. After applying the adhesive to the bald spot just pat on some of the scrapped off hair and your joe looks good as new. I'm not sure about the long term holding power, that remains to be seen." -- Porter

"I usually have luck by using another donor head, that's in worse shape of course, and using tweezers to pull out small spots of hair to transplant. Super glue usually works good. It will look ok as long as it's not a huge amount of hair loss." -- Dr. Quest

I saw a cool picture of a fuzz head that had been "mohawked" and was dressed as a D-Day paratrooper. If the bare area is on the sides, just give him a mohawk! -- Rob Sorrels

If the bald area is larger than a pencil,don`t waste your time. You probably won`t be happy with the result. You have to have a "donor" head. It must have the same colour hair. Apply the Safe stripper to the donor head as above. Quite often, when using the the stripper the hair will come off in sheets. Save these for repairs. Cut the hair to fit the bald spot or glue several small pieces into the area. Try to fill the area completely. Now, use fine point magic markers to colour in the area around and on the bald spot. Just dot the marker against the head. If you haven't noticed, the hair has 3 colours of hair strands (except black) and you should try to match these colours. If you are careful,this will work perfectly. -- Kevin Merkley

The biggest problem is lint. Get the lint out before you remove the fuzz otherwise it is a chore to pick out. -- Mark Redmond

There are two ways to go on reflocking a head.
  1. The "low expence" way is to get some heads to sacrifice. These need not be Joes, but they should be a good color match. What you do is pluck a patch out with a tweezers, then carefully dip one end into a little pool of superglue and place it on the head to be patched. Take your time and use minimal glue or you will just end up with a tweezer with the tips glued together.
  2. The expensive way is to reproduce what they did in the factory. You build an electro-static gun. This puts a small electric charge on the little "hair" fibers and uses an electrode to shoot them out a nozzle on to a preglued Joe head. This may sound insane! But other hobbiests do it. Look though model railroad books for articles about "Static-Grass". They will tell you how to build it all. The main hang-up is no good source for a good color match on the fibers. If you want bright green haired Joes, you are set. I did collect some purple, either for punk Joes, or if you look close at the dark hair, you will see little purple fibers in there. -- Bryan Broocks

I use the easy but less professional method of reflocking Joe. I got really fed up with picking up a piece of hair, touching it to glue, and then putting it on Joe's head carefully. Instead, I separate all the little Joe hairs, scrape them together in a little pile, apply thin layer of glue to bald spot with toothpick, and sprinkle hair on bald spot. Wait a moment, and scrape off excess with clean toothpick. The hair looks fine doesn't have the smooth characteristics of the other way. I don't rub Joe heads, so it looks good enough to me. -- Aaron

For the complete article CLICK HERE
GI Joe® is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Cleaning Model Trains

Cleaning model trains needs to be done from time to time, but it doesn't have to be difficult. A train left sitting on a shelf for a few years can develop a surprising amount of dust. Removing the dust can be tricky, especially on a detailed and delicate model train.
There are two good ways to remove loose dust from models, brushes and compressed air. A dry, soft-haired brush works best for gently removing dust from a model without damaging delicate details. Brush lightly, working from top to bottom. Be particularly careful around details and electrical contacts.
For getting into tight places, compressed air is a modeler's friend. You can use canned air cleaning products designed for electronics, or an airbrush. In addition to cutting costs, an airbrush allows you to regulate the pressure. Start low and work up. Air is a good alternative for getting dust out of trucks, running gear and other areas with moving parts.

For stuck-on dirt and grime, you're going to need more than just a dry brush. Use liquid cleaners very sparingly on models. Some chemicals can attack paint, decals, even plastic. Museums generally use an extremely mild (1%) solution of soap and water to clean artifacts. The same will work on models.
Apply a mild soap wash with a cloth or towel that is lightly damp. Work slowly and cautiously until you find the pressure and moisture necessary to remove the dirt and only the dirt.
Cotton bud sticks work well and make sure not to use a soap that is 'Gentle on Hands' it will put more residue on your project. These are tighter wound and won't leave lint behind like Q-tips.

Wheels and Electrical Pickups
Dust and grime on the piece may ruin a model's appearance, but the same dirt can destroy its operation if it coats the electrical contacts. Left unchecked long enough, dirt build-up on wheels can even cause a derailment.
For normal cleaning, soaking a paper towel in liquid cleaner works well. Place the towel on a track and drag cars back and forth, pressing down lightly. For locomotives, clean one truck at a time, keeping the other truck off the towel on the tracks for electrical pick-up. To clean while you play, try some of these easy-to-make passive wheel cleaners.
For heavy dirt build-up on wheels, a small flat-head screwdriver or hobby knife can be used to gently peel off the grime.

Don't forget electrical contacts inside the trucks as well. It may be necessary to partially disassemble the trucks to get to the contacts. Clean the backs of wheels and the metal contacts gently with liquid cleaner. Blow any dust out of gearboxes and wheels as well.
While you've got the trucks apart to clean wheels and contacts, take one more moment to re-lubricate. A small drop of light oil in the journals on freight and passenger cars, and a compatible grease in gearboxes will reduce friction and noise. A little is all you need.


Monday, 19 August 2013

Tips on Removing Action Figure Heads/Limbs

A short dip in boiling water and the head will soften and pop right off. Repeat the process to put it on another neck. The head will harden back up." -- Don Thompson

"On the question of hard heads, a hair dryer also will work and doesn't get the figure wet." --

Here's how to take off the head of an action man snow board raider (IAM). Simply grab the head and pull upward until it comes off. Putting another head on works the same way, only you push. Sometimes, if the head is hard, warming it with a hair dryer makes it soft and easier to put on/take off. I have done this four or five times and never damaged anything. Don't worry about the little pin. -- Bob S.

 I have used the unorthodox method of heating hard heads in the microwave starting at about 10 seconds on high and increasing the time in 2-3 second increments on stubborn heads. You do have to be careful or you will melt them. -- RRG-Zach-La

If you want to trade the heads with someone, do it with the posts. It is easy to change the post. Simply lift it up and slip a small screw driver or ice pick into the elastic hole to hold it in place, then just slip the post off the hook. If you insist on taking the head off the post, then use some warm (hot) water to soften the head. -- Matthew

For more of this article CLICK HERE
GI Joe® is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Simple Wheel Cleaners for Model Trains

Cleaning wheels and rails is a never-ending task on every railroad, no matter what your scale or how frequently you run. There are many products on the market for cleaning both, and new ideas seem to emerge every year.
Maintenance and cleaning can really be divided into two categories. There is preventive maintenance which keeps the dirt in check and then there is heavier cleaning that must be done when the former can't keep up.
The best way to maintain your preventive maintenance schedule is to make it easy - so easy you don't really have to think about it. Products like the "Dust Monkeys" from Woodland Scenics are one such example of a good track cleaner that works while you play, without looking completely out of place like most cleaning cars.

But rails are only part of the problem. You'll also have to address the wheels on the train itself. a good place to start is replacing your plastic wheels with metal. Metal wheels tend to attract less dirt - and they track better! But this isn't the final answer - enter these "Passive Wheel Cleaners."
Other Great cleaning items:
  • Rozzer's Track Cleaning Fluid
  • Rail Tracker Cleaning Kit (Woodland Scenics)
  • Roto Wheel Cleaner (Woodland Scenics)

Roto Wheel Cleaner in HO & N

Monday, 12 August 2013

Don't Get Stuck - picking out adhesives and glue. Part 3

Types of Glue

The main types of glue that a modeler will need in their armoury are;
  • Polystyrene cement (reviewed July 29/13)
  • Cyano acetate (‘super glue’) also known as cyanoacrylate (CA glue) (reviewed July 29/13)
  • Epoxy Resin (reviewed Aug 5/13)
  • Clear ‘canopy’ glue (reviewed Aug 5/13)
  • Gloss varnish (reviewed Aug 5/13)
  • Clear rubber/silicone cement (today's item)
  • PVA adhesive (today's item)
  • White glue/woodworkers glue (today's item)
  • and there is always a new one coming to the market

Clear Rubber And Silicone Cements

There is a wide range of tube glues mainly intended for domestic use that are often branded as ‘All Purpose’ or ‘Universal’ glues.  They generally dry clear and remain rubbery.  The majority are solvent based, but there are varieties advertised as “safe for children” that do not contain any solvents.

PVA Glue

This is a thin water based white glue that dries rubbery.  It has wide range of commercial and domestic uses.  For example, in the construction trade it is often watered down and used to prime walls prior to painting.  It is very popular in kindergartens and schools because it is ideal for sticking paper and card and safe for children to use.  
We do not carry this at this time

White Glue / Woodworkers glue

This looks very much like PVA glue, being white and water-based but it is more viscous.  It has limited use for most modelling applications, but is very good at bonding wood, so may be useful when making dioramas or bases.  Some modellers use it to bond clear parts such as cockpit canopies.  It may dry clear or white depending on the manufacturer.

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Friday, 9 August 2013

Replacing Model Train Wheels

Wheels are just wheels, right? Actually there are many different types of wheels on real and model trains. Putting the right ones beneath your rolling stock can make a big difference in the way your trains run.
Size Matters
Wheels come in many different sizes. For freight and passenger cars, 28 inch, 33 inch and 36 inch diameter wheel sizes are most common. 28 inch wheels are sometimes found on older equipment but are most frequently seen in modern times on multi-level autoracks where reducing the car height as much as possible is the goal. 33 inch wheels have been the most common size for most of the 20th Century. 36 inch wheels are seen on modern cars, especially hoppers, covered hoppers, tank cars and gondolas. Locomotive wheels can come in even more sizes.
Choosing the right size is important since changing the size of the wheel will change the height of the car. If couplers are mounted on the car body, their height will also be altered.
In addition to size, there are numerous other construction detail differences in prototype wheels. Most of these are hard to distinguish in model form. One of the most commonly modeled variations is a pattern of ribs on the back of the wheel. These were frequently found on wheels through the first half of the 20th Century. The ribs acted like a fan to help cool brakes and journals. With the adoption of roller bearings in the latter half of the century, ribbed-back wheels became increasingly less common.
Why Replace Wheels?
"My train rolls fine, why do I have to replace the wheels?"
Maybe you don't. Many of today's models already come with very free-rolling metal wheelsets. Older models however, especially those with plastic wheels, may benefit from a new set of wheels.
Test Your Metal
Plastic wheels not only have a greater friction on the rail, they also collect dirt much more easily than metal. Dirt build up on wheels spreads back to the rails and can cause electrical pick-up problems. Excessive dirt on the wheels themselves can even cause a derailment.
Metal wheels roll more freely and are much easier to keep clean. Heavier wheels tend to handle imperfections in the track better as well. An added benefit, you'll get a little more of that "clickety-clack" sound as the train crosses rail joints. Because they roll more freely, your locomotives will be able to pull longer trains.
In addition to the wheels themselves, the journals also have a major impact in how well a truck will roll. The journal is where the end of the axle rides in the sideframe of the truck. Model journals are much more basic than the prototype. Most model trucks are plastic today, some are metal. Plastic on plastic, metal on plastic, or metal on metal, the best axle is the one that fits its sideframe properly. Choose and axle that is loose enough to spin freely, but not so loose that it will wobble in the pocket.
Oil 'em Up
Even with a good fit in the journal, a little light oil will help keep your wheels turning. As on the prototype, the journal is a site of great friction. Left unchecked, a model "hot box" can actually wear out the sideframes or the ends of the axles. This is most common when metal axles are used with metal sideframes. Put a small drop of light oil in the sideframes when you insert the wheels.
Changing the Wheels
Actually changing out wheels on most rollingstock is a very easy process. For plastic trucks, simply spread the sideframes outward gently until you can pop out the wheels and axle. It may be easier to do this with the truck removed from the car. Some metal trucks may require additional disassembly. Sprung trucks (with actual springs between the sideframes and bolster) require special car to prevent springs from coming loose.
Many manufacturers make replacement wheelsets for locomotives as well. Usually, locomotive wheels are press-fit onto the axle and can be removed / installed with moderate pressure. Choose a replacement wheel that is made for that type of model.
One of the most important elements of any wheelset is its gauge. Wheels spaced too close or too far apart will not pass through switches, crossings or even normal track. Gauge can be checked by using a standards gauge like those made by the National Model Railroad Association. An NMRA gauge can check many other critical clearances too.
If your wheels are out of gauge, remove the axle from the truck. Holding a wheel in each hand, gently twist and pull / squeeze the wheels to move them in or out as necessary. This can normally be accomplished with moderate pressure. Recheck the gauge and when the adjustments are final, re-install the wheelset.
Choosing the Right Wheels
Perhaps the hardest part of replacing wheels is choosing the right ones. There are many different manufactures making replacement wheels in every scale. Most replacement wheel manufacturers offer guides to choosing the right set for you. You don't have to use the same manufacturer's wheels on every car, but consistency can make operations more standard and sometimes buying in bulk can save money.
If you are not certain, come down and talk to our guys. Or send us an email with your questions.

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Monday, 5 August 2013

Don't Get Stuck - picking out adhesives and glue. Part 2

Types of Glue

The main types of glue that a modeler will need in their armoury are;
  • Polystyrene cement (reviewed July 29/13)
  • Cyano acetate (‘super glue’) also known as cyanoacrylate (CA glue) (reviewed July 29/13)
  • Epoxy Resin (today's item)
  • Clear ‘canopy’ glue (today's item)
  • Gloss varnish (today's item)
  • Clear rubber/silicone cement (next week)
  • PVA adhesive (next week)
  • White glue/woodworkers glue (next week)
  • and there is always a new one coming to the market

Epoxy Resins

These adhesives consist of two parts – the hardener and adhesive – which need to be thoroughly mixed before application.  Sometimes they come in separate tubes and sometimes they come in a double syringe.  
Like superglue, the epoxy resins glue almost anything to anything, but they also need a good clean grease free and preferably roughened surface to get the best bond.

Clear ‘Canopy’ Glues

Sticking clear plastic parts presents problems.  The fumes given off by polystyrene cements and even cyano glues can make the clear parts become foggy.  It is very difficult to use epoxy resin glues on clear parts without smearing the glue on the parts.
For this reason, a few modelling suppliers have produced their own glues specifically designed for clear plastic parts and these are sometimes called ‘canopy’ glues.

Gloss Varnish

It may be surprising to find gloss varnish in a list of adhesives because clearly it is not intended to be used as a glue at all.  However, gloss varnish is surprisingly useful for holding very small parts, such a photo etch buckles in place.

Continued Next Week!

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Friday, 2 August 2013

Introduction to O Scale Model Trains

O scale run by Robby at the Chinook & Hobby West  booth at Supertrain 2013

O scale model trains are all proportioned 1:48 to the prototype. In other words, they are 1/48th the size of a real train. O scale conveniently works out to 1/4 inch = 1 foot.
O is one of the oldest scales still in common use today. And it's popularity is growing. O scale can be confusing for beginners however because there are many variations.
2 vs. 3 Rails
Some O scale trains run on conventional two-rail tracks like other scales. The majority of mass-produced trains run on 3-rail track that is derived from a system developed by Lionel. The third rail simplifies wiring by making the outer rails the same polarity. This makes it possible to build reversing loops, wyes and turntables without a creating a short.
O scale track and curves don't follow all of the same conventions as other scales, read more about the different types of O scale track here.
Generally, two-rail O scalers are more apt to build a conventional scale layout with broad curves and scale equipment. 3-rail layouts have been generally thought of as more toy like. There is a quickly growing segment of the O scale market that is building highly realistic layouts using 3-rail track.
These "hi-rail" layouts combine the availability and generally lower cost of three rail models and track with a scale appearance. The term hi-rail comes from the oversized rails used in 3-rail track.
Toy Trains
A large segment of the O scale market collects and operates trains that are more like toys than scale models. These trains date back to the 1940s and many are quite valuable. These layouts typically include very sharp radius curves and equipment that is reduced in size and modified to negotiate those curves. Simple tubular track and an abundance of animated accessories are also halmarks of a classic toy train layout.
Reproductions of many of the most popular trains and accessories from the past are still produced today along with more contemporary models. This makes it affordable for new-comers to recreate an operating layout, but can also be a challenge for new collectors who may think they are getting something old.
Proto 48
Even with their greater scale appearance, most two-rail O scale trains still suffer from one flaw...their gauge. The 1.25" standard gauge track used for most O scale models actually works out to 60 scale inches, slightly wider than the 56.5" of standard gauge. A small niche of the hobby actually corrects this by laying all track by hand and installing correct wheelsets on rollingstock.
Choosing O Scale
If you are considering choosing O scale trains for your model railroad, here are some thoughts to keep in mind.
  1. Availability - The most popular 3-rail O scale trains are widely available. Two-rail models are somewhat harder to come by, although 3-rail versions can be converted. For the collector market, older models can be found at train meets and online auctions. Obviously some are more plentiful than others.
  2. Cost - The cost of O scale trains varies greatly. 3-Rail trainsets are comparable in cost to smaller scales. More detailed scale models and collectibles can run very high prices.
  3. Size - The size of O scale trains makes them fairly easy to handle for children. The lighted and animated accessories and simple wiring of 3-rail track are also appealing. The overall size and mass of O scale models really captures the feeling of the prototype and offers a great platform for super-detailing and customizing models.
  4. Space - Toy train layouts, with their unprototypical curves, can actually be built in a rather tight area. A circle of O-27 track actually takes up less space than a comparable HO scale starter set with 18" radius curves. Scale layouts however will require a much greater minimum radius and necessitate a larger room for the layout. A 72" radius curve is considered adequate for most large O scale models - that means a simple circle will require a platform or room at least 12'x12'.