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We'll also give you basic information on modeling in 2-rail O scale, from planning and designing a layout, to building a layout, to acquiring and building your own models.
Although O scale is in the minority now, this was not the case in the early days of model railroading. Toy, or tinplate, trains using O gauge track began to be manufactured in the United States by the Ives Company in 1910. Speaking of 3-rail, most of the early O scale layouts used 3-rail track with the center rail removed and a third rail added on the outside of the two running rails. Early scale models would look crude compared to modern offerings, whether they were commercial or scratch-built, although there were notable exceptions.
In the meantime, HO scale gained in popularity, and soon after the end of World War II, O scale was no longer in the majority. If you are interested in learning more about the early history of O scale or model railroading in general, we suggest books such as 150 Years of Train Models by Harold Carstens or early issues of magazines such as Model Railroader, Model Craftsman (now known as Railroad Model Craftsman), and Miniature Railroading. For those who were hi-railers (O scalers using 3-rail toy-train track), the obvious justification for 2-rail is realism. One often cited reason for modeling 2-rail O scale is that modelers like the size and heft of O scale models. Another common justification for modeling in O scale is that details on O scale models are larger and easier to see than on smaller scale models.
Larger scales such as G scale may allow even more added details; however, these scales require a considerably larger space to build a layout, perhaps even the use of a backyard which modelers may not have available. We have mentioned O scale and O gauge, and now is a good time to expound on these terms since they are often erroneously used interchangeably.
Another gauge is 32mm for the British O scale of 7mm to the foot [from whence came the HO (half O) scale of 3.5mm to the foot]. We have given you some background on 2-rail O scale and made convincing arguments why you should model in this scale.
One excellent source of information is the O Scale Kings organization, the producer of this primer, which was founded in June 1999 to promote 2-rail O scale model railroading. The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) can also be helpful although this is a general organization that includes modelers in all scales. Two of the best information sources are the following magazines devoted exclusively to 2-rail O scale. All these fine magazines cover the many areas that other model railroad magazines include in their pages, but here the emphasis is strictly on items of interest to the 2-rail O scale enthusiast - no 3-rail articles or other scales in these pages. Another good information source is your local hobby shop if you're fortunate enough to have one who deals in 2-rail O scale equipment. Last but not least, catalogs and brochures from the manufacturers and importers of 2-rail O scale models will provide all sorts of information about their products and O scale in general. Now that you've gotten a handle on where to get information on 2-rail O scale, it's time to find out what 2-rail O scale is all about in terms of actually seeing and handling O-scale models for yourself, maybe for the first time. If you're fortunate enough to have a local hobby shop that sells O scale equipment, that of course is the obvious choice of where to go to look over the equipment and see firsthand what is available. As we mentioned earlier, visiting clubs and attending shows, meets, and conventions are ideal ways to find out all about O scale equipment. Freight cars - before 1990, only a few scale plastic freight cars were available on the market.
Passenger cars - before 1990, only a few companies produced affordable passenger car kits.
Diesel locomotives - before 1990, there were 3 plastic diesels available in 2-rail O scale on the market. Steam locomotives - before 1990, the choices for steam locomotives were either expensive brass models or kits that were NOT entry-level offerings. Traction equipment - before 1990, the number of traction or interurban kits available were rather limited. Detail parts - before 1990, few companies produced add-on details for locomotives, buildings, and accessories, and even fewer hobby shops stocked them. Brass - the brass industry has been a big part of O scale since the beginnings of imported models. In the 1990s, some manufacturers combined efforts with the hi-rail market and produced brass that run on either 2 or 3-rail track. As we've mentioned earlier, converting rolling stock from 3-rail O scale could be as simple as replacing trucks (or perhaps only the wheels) with their 2-rail counterparts and changing the couplers to scale couplers. Converting 3-rail models that don't have 2-rail versions is a little more challenging since it may involve more than just replacing trucks, drivers, and couplers with the 2-rail versions.
Changing to O scale from another scale is another story since probably nothing from the old layout can be converted, so it would involve purchasing new locomotives, rolling stock, structures, etc. As for layouts, those in 3-rail O scale with scale-type 3-rail track and large radius curves are in the fortunate position of being able to change over to 2-rail with a minimum of effort. Those in other scales would need to replace their entire layout, of course, although some of the benchwork could be salvaged for use in the new layout.
3-rail O-scale layouts usually use AC power, so converting to 2-rail operation would require changing to DC power, which may be a major undertaking if the majority of the electrical components on the layout are AC compatible only since these will have to be replaced. You've gotten some familiarity with 2-rail O-scale equipment and checked out what equipment is available, so now where do you start in planning and building your model railroad empire?
The space available will also play a role in your decision about what type of railroad you can model.
Now that you've determined the space available for your layout, you should then decide what era you wish to model. Now you need to decide if your railroad will follow a certain prototype or be freelance, and that will determine the type and lettering of your equipment. One thing that must be considered in planning an O-scale layout is the weight of O-scale models.
One of the great masters of model railroad layout design was the late John Armstrong, and in planning your layout you can do no better than studying his layout designs for ideas and adaptations to your own planned empire.
For those who have already built layouts in other scales, benchwork for O-scale layouts should not be fundamentally different except that it should be robust enough to support the heavier weight of O-scale locomotives, some of which could weigh as much as ten pounds or more, such as large articulateds. Owing to the size of O scale, benchwork most likely will be of the open framework type with risers to support the base on which the roadbed and track are laid or to form the basic outline for scenery. Instead of using nails to fasten the framework together, screws or bolts may be used advantageously in that if the layout ever has to be dismantled, it would be easier to do so and also to reassemble later.
Some modelers have made benchwork from iron instead of wood using such materials as slotted angles (under various brand names and types) or even pipes, but of course this means that the builder must have the equipment and tools for metal working.
If you want more information on building benchwork, you can find what you need in the many books and how-to manuals at your local hobby shops (some suggestions are listed in the appendix).
The basis for all good trackwork is the roadbed, and for 2-rail O scale this is no different from other scales or hi-rail.
For those changing over from other scales who are already familiar with trackwork, tackling O-scale trackwork should be a snap since, except for size, there should be no difference in the methods of laying track. Hi-railers generally use sectional track, and these modelers can continue to use sectional track in 2-rail O scale. Track sections are also available with different rail sizes such as code 148, code 125, etc. As for the modeler who prefers to hand-lay his own track, there is no limit to what he can accomplish. Trains will run only as well as the trackwork allows, so no matter what the approach to laying track, it must be done as perfectly as possible. Traction modelers have an additional challenge with overhead wires or catenary systems in that these must be well constructed also in order for equipment to operate properly. There used to be an old joke that O-scale layouts had lots of neat-looking locomotives and rolling stock but was challenged when it came to scenery, or rather the lack of it. Scenery is one part of model railroading that is common to all scales in that methods and materials are universally applicable, so model railroaders should already be familiar with making scenery. This is another area where the same principles apply regardless of scale, unless one is in tinplate or hi-rail operation in which case some new learning is in order. The basic DC power pack consists of an AC transformer to reduce the house AC line voltage to the model operating voltage range and a full-wave bridge rectifier connected across the transformer output to convert the AC to DC. Basic control with standard DC power is straightforward, consisting of a rheostat to adjust voltage to control speed and a switch to change polarity to the rails to control direction of travel. One variation to this approach is to use a variac (a variable-output-voltage transformer) instead of a fixed-output-voltage transformer, the output of which is rectified to DC. Recent advances in control include radio control, such as Locolinc, or the latest form of control, DCC (digital command control). Maintenance is an important and a must ritual for all model railroaders regardless of scale, layout size, tinplate or scale, 2-rail or 3-rail, etc.. A layout that runs well without a lot of derailments is because attention has been paid to maintaining the track in tip-top condition. One advantage of O scale is that because of heavier locomotives, dirty track is less of a problem compared to the smaller scales. Lubrication of O-scale locomotives and cars follow the same guidelines as for any other scale, but it is more important because the heavier weight of O-scale equipment will cause more wear and tear if there is not sufficient lubrication.
As in all scales, screws, bolts, nuts and other fasteners should be checked periodically for tightness, especially on locomotives.
One of the facts of life is that there is never enough time to do everything one wants, and this is true of model railroading.
Even though there is a large variety of 2-rail O-scale models on the market today, not every prototype locomotive, car, structure, etc., will be commercially produced, partly due to the small 2-rail O-scale market.
Besides building complete models, some firms also offer customizing or upgrading of your own models. Not all of us are empire builders, either from time or skill constraints, so we can be at a loss when it comes to designing and building our layouts.
Note: There are many other good references available, including many in video tape and DVD format. Basic Model Railroad Benchwork: The Complete Photo Guide, Jeff Wilson, 2002, Kalmbach Publishing Co. By clicking Confirm bid, you commit to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder. By clicking Confirm bid, you are committing to buy this item from the seller if you are the winning bidder and have read and agree to the Global Shipping Program terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. By clicking 1 Click Bid, you commit to buy this item from the seller if you're the winning bidder.
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We hope that by the time you finish reading this primer that question will be fully answered and your interest will be piqued enough to join us in this fascinating aspect of the model railroading hobby.
In short, we hope to supply you with enough tantalizing information to get you started in 2-rail O scale model railroading. Indeed, model trains have been around since the middle of the nineteenth century, and it has been reported that one John Gwartzell was building O scale trains as early as 1894. This outside third rail carried one side of the power to the trains and was mounted on raised insulators so the track looked much like the track of prototype electrified railroads that do not use an overhead wire system for power distribution. Like everything in which a broader interest grows, accessibility to the desired models required that they be more readily available, and from the mid-1930s on, more commercially produced models appeared on the market, so the modeler had a continually larger basket of goodies to choose from. In 1952, however, a new phase began with the introduction of highly-detailed built-up O scale brass locomotives and cars that were imported from Japan by Max Gray. The best answers come from those who are already in 2-rail O scale, whether they are old timers who started with it or are converts from 3-rail O scale or other scales. O scale models look substantial rather than like something small enough to stick in one's pocket or that look like they can be easily broken. This helps those whose eyesight is not what it used to be or whose hands are not as steady anymore. O scale provides the modeler the capability to build a layout inside and protected from the elements. Their primary focus is 2-rail realistic models which encompasses all aspects of modeling, including mainline, branch line, narrow gauge, interurbans, and Proto 48. Especially helpful are directories of hobby shops which stock O scale supplies, listings of O scale clubs and organizations, and schedules of shows and model train meets including the annual O Scale National Convention which is held every summer in different locations around the country. Besides imparting their own knowledge, they can recommend other sources such as how-to books on the subject or introduce you to customers who model in 2-rail O scale. Perusing their literature can be a very rewarding and informative learning experience about the nuances of 2-rail O scale modeling.
Now you can really see 2-rail O scale in its element, learn more about what models are commercially available, and get an idea of the price range of different models. Especially at conventions and the larger meets, manufacturers, retailers, and just plain old modelers have lots of display or sellers booths where you can examine their goods and ask questions about their models.
The choices here are still limited, but at least one company is producing diecast 2-rail steam locomotives that cost far less than the brass alternatives. Usually, the only way to obtain the desired traction related equipment was by scratch-building. Many of these kits were toy-like or very limited runs, so we had to scratch build almost every structure on our layouts.
Today there is a wide variety of accessories, including vehicles, trees and other scenery, car loads, people, and animals.
In 2-rail we also now have ready-made track systems with fixed-radii curved track sections, straight track sections, and No.
This increased the number of models produced and in most cases lowered the price of O scale brass.
Indeed, several manufacturers produce O-scale models in both 3-rail and 2-rail versions, and they sell trucks separately for either configuration, so for these models there's no trick in making the conversion. If the 3-rail track uses scale rails, then it could be as simple as removing the center third rail and replacing or modifying turnouts, crossings, and other components, so the entire layout can be easily transformed without a major overhaul. The main concern here is if the existing benchwork will be strong enough to support the heavier O-scale equipment (more on this later in the benchwork section). Regardless of scale, one of the first considerations is space and how much of it you have for your creation.
For example, if your space is limited, then obviously you can't model the mainline of a railroad like the New York Central, so you might consider a narrow gauge or a trolley layout. Many cars and locomotives in O scale come undecorated, which means that painting and lettering are necessary to finish the model to the road name and color of your choice.
The most common one is the round-and-round layout where trains run continuously in a loop. Benchwork must be sturdy enough to support the heaviest of the locomotives and the scenery that you will be using (more on benchwork in a later section).
His designs, as well as completed layouts based on his designs, have appeared in model railroad magazine articles, and he has written books on the subject (two of them are listed in the appendix).
In addition, visiting clubs or home layouts can provide a wealth of data on how actual benchworks are done, and you get the benefit of other modelers' experience. The heavier O-scale equipment makes sound absorption even more important so that noise is kept to a minimum. For everyone, there are two basic methods in approaching trackwork: sectional track or hand-laying track. At one time sectional track was available only in flexible sections that the modeler had to bend to the required radii, but there are now available curved track sections with fixed radii in 2-rail O scale. Companies such as Right-O'-Way manufacture just about every kind of prototypical model track components, so a modeler can reproduce an extremely realistic track with two tie plates and four spikes for every tie, with rail joiners every 39 feet just like the prototype. This is even more important in the smaller scales, so O scale has an advantage in that it can tolerate imperfections in trackwork better than the smaller scales. This can be achieved very easily (contrary to popular belief) by using some very simple fixtures and gauges.
That is not really true because, in fact, many O-scale layouts have beautifully done scenery.
Suffice it to say that all the popular methods apply, such as wire screening on wooden forms with overlays of plaster, Hydrocal, paper strips soaked in plaster, etc., or foam blocks to form the foundation for the scenery. DC is the standard power source for 2-rail O-scale operation, so except for amperage ratings, electrical components used in other scales can be adapted for O scale.
This DC is unfiltered so a small AC component remains superimposed on the DC wave form which should be a straight line in pure DC.
All model railroaders with layouts should be aware of this, so nothing revolutionary will be introduced here. Spikes can become loose, track can get out of gauge, shifts in benchwork can cause track to buckle, weather can affect track alignment, or a host of other conditions can affect the integrity of trackwork. The weight of the locomotives provide better contact between the wheels and the rails, so stalling is minimized. One method is to use fine grit sandpaper or the abrasive track cleaning blocks, but again this method also removes wire material in the process.
For those people who want a specific model that is not commercially available, custom builders are available who will build that specific model to specifications. Say you have a favorite unpainted brass locomotive, but your painting and lettering skills aren't up to the standards you want for that model. Most of them advertise in the model magazines, either in commercial ads or in the classified ads columns. Model railroad magazines and your local hobby shop are good sources for additional material.
Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount.
We'll tell you something about the history of 2-rail O scale modeling and how it differs from other scales and from the toy trains most of us are familiar with when we were children. A caveat, however - this primer targets people who already are acquainted with the model railroading hobby. Manufacturing of O scale equipment began in the 1920s, and O scale was the predominant scale from the early 1930s until after World War II. Imports of these brass models continue to this day, with models getting even more detailed and elaborate, including factory-painted models, although most models are now made in South Korea with some manufacturing being done in mainland China in recent years. O scale models have a presence so that one doesn't need binoculars to see them clearly as they traverse around the layout.
The popular lore holds that this dimension was the distance between the wheels of the chariots used during the Roman Empire.
Any member would be happy to help you learn about 2-rail O scale and provide you with the benefit of his experience and knowledge.
The advantage here is that this is a large organization, and you have a greater chance of finding an O scaler locally to help you in your quest. Visiting clubs and attending shows, meets, and conventions are ideal ways to find out just about everything you could possibly want to know about 2-rail O Scale. They also have the advantage of dealing with suppliers of 2-rail O-scale products and can help you with brochures, catalogs, and other valuable information. All the manufacturers and importers will be glad to answer your questions and help you in your quest of 2-rail O scale modeling.
Here you can find just about everything ever made in O scale, including long out-of-production items as well as the latest hot-off-the-production-line models.
The quantity of products manufactured in 2-rail O scale in the last 15 years has been incredible. Today there are at lease 10 manufacturers producing equipment ranging from ready-to-run to kits for different building skills.
Because of the lower demand in O scale, brass was one of the only ways for O scalers to get a variety of equipment to operate or collect. Today, you can find many O scale brass locomotives that are no more expensive than HO-scale locomotives. Contrary to what you may have heard that O scale is a lot more expensive than say HO scale, that is a misconception. As for locomotives, it may also be possible to purchase the 2-rail drivers to replace the 3-rail ones. Those layouts with tinplate 3-rail track would require more effort depending on the situation. Some finicky modelers insist that locomotives and rolling stock adhere strictly to the prototype as to type, paint color, and lettering. It can be a simple circular layout plan, or it can be a loop folded over one or more times so that trains seem to traverse the layout more than once before returning to the starting point to begin the cycle again.
Also, if your layout will be large, access holes or spaces must be placed so that models are within easy reach. Modelers in other scales are already aware of this, so the same methods can be used for 2-rail O scale. Currently the only limitation is that the number of radii for such track is limited, and the radii available are suitable only for smaller O-scale equipment.
Sectional track sections with concrete ties instead of wood ties are also available for those who want to model the latest prototype road.

Switches, or turnouts, have frog and guard rail castings with all the nut-and-bolt details just like the prototype, and rail braces and gauge plates to scale are also available to make very realistic turnouts. Another advantage for O scale is that the heavier locomotives make better contact with the track, so stalling due to circuit interruptions because of dirty track is less frequent than with the smaller scales. Several companies provide overhead wire components such as switch frogs, hangers, crossings, and poles in 2-rail, so the modeler can have realistic traction operation.
Those in tinplate or hi-rail usually use AC power sources, so for those folks, some of their electrical components cannot be used when they switch over to 2-rail O scale. To reduce this AC component, capacitors are connected across the power pack output to smooth out the DC. The only thing to add is that, owing to the weight of O-scale equipment compared to the smaller scales, more attention should be paid to maintenance, especially for trackwork, traction overhead wire systems, locomotives, and powered traction equipment. Derailments in O scale can be disastrous when heavy locomotives are involved, not only to the model but to the modeler as well. Keeping the track clean is still essential, however, to prevent build-up of dirt on the wheels. The preferred method is the use of commercial cleaning agents followed by wiping with a dry cloth to remove any cleaner residue buildup.
There are many lubricants on the market today that are specially formulated for model railroad applications.
Furthermore, not everyone has the skills to build that dream model that is not commercially available or to build that dream layout. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. You'll get information on how to begin, where to find equipment and supplies, what magazines cater specifically to 2-rail O scale, and, very important to everybody, how much it will cost. The more realistic current standard of 2-rail operation did not become widespread until the 1940s. Also in recent years, an increasing number of rather inexpensive plastic models with details rivaling more expensive brass models have come on the market, and their popularity has been growing.
So models should properly be called O scale models, not O gauge models, although toy trains using O gauge track are commonly called O gauge trains. You are also invited to join the organization not only to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow O scalers, but to help the organization with its vision to promote 2-rail O scale.
The NMRA is an old organization, established in 1935, and set up the standards for all the scales so that equipment from any manufacturer will interchange with those from any other.
Reading about something is fine, but there's nothing like talking face-to-face with someone knowledgeable to learn about the subject in question.
We also have turnouts and flexible sections of track from many manufacturers as well as highly detailed track parts such as frogs, points, rail joiners, tie plates, etc. Steam, diesel, traction equipment, freight and passenger cars, and even bridges and buildings have been produced in brass by a number of importers. There is a wide level of variety and detail in brass models, so there are also many choices for the modeler to make. It's true that you can spend a bundle of money on O scale, but that's also true for any scale. For those modeling traction, equipment can be easily converted to 2-rail by simply changing the wheels and modifying the truck width (i.e.
If the curves are wide enough to accommodate the planned 2-rail equipment, then replacing the track system is sufficient without a major disruption of the layout.
As a little research will show, there is a part of every railroad which is adaptable to any possible space which an O scaler may have available, from a small switching operation of an offline industry to a large passenger mainline.
On the other hand, if you like narrow gauge or traction, the layout can occupy a whole basement or attic without regard to space. Then there are some who feel the urge to invent a private road name, using a family or familiar place as the source. It's OK to reach over to pick up an HO-scale locomotive, but try picking up a 15-pound O-scale locomotive at arm's length without damaging the model or getting a hernia in the process.
This usually involves using familiar materials for the roadbed such as Homasote, cork, foam, etc., which are already used in other scales.
As for flexible track sections, there are many manufacturers producing these, so the modeler has a wide choice of products. As for switches, or turnouts, many manufacturers produce these in different turnout numbers, so there is a wide choice for the modeler to select from.
This takes a lot of work, however, so most modelers take a simpler approach although some modelers have gone the whole distance in reproducing trackwork as realistic as possible. Some good reference books and catalogs that describe construction techniques and overhead wire diagrams are listed in the appendix.
These systems are more complicated and more expensive, but they have the advantage of great flexibility in the control and operation of trains. Track-cleaning cars are available which clean the track as they are dragged around the layout.
For those folks, there is a wide range of commercial services that will do the jobs for them. As an adjunct, some painters can also do other work as part of their disassembly of the model in preparation for the painting, such as adding some extra detail parts or adding lighting. His layout designs are legendary, and examples of his work show up from time to time in the model railroad magazines. And almost all of them have display booths at shows and conventions where you can examine examples of their work and find out more information about what they can do for you. Locomotives were available as castings kits, partially machined kits, or fully machined kits and were priced accordingly. An increasing trend is the proliferation of built-up plastic models that are ready to run right out of the box: no assembly or painting required. Many O scalers have hand-laid their track using wood ties, scale-section rail, track parts, spikes, and ballast to create beautiful trackwork.
Today, about 10 importers produce and import brass from Asia, mostly from South Korea, but some from Japan and more recently from China. O scale models are about twice the size of HO-scale models and about eight times the volume, but that doesn't mean O-scale models are going to cost twice to eight times as much as HO models.
There are many famous large O-scale layouts that are traction or completely narrow gauge without any standard gauge operation at all. One plan that will work regardless of the amount of space is the point-to-point system as exemplified by the real railroads. Books and magazines are available which cover this subject in detail and should be consulted for advice and guidance. Some track even has ties that are pre-weathered for realism so the modeler doesn't have to do his own weathering. More expensive power packs add extras such as pulse power, throttle response, braking and other features for more realistic control and operation. In radio control, each locomotive has a receiver, and therefore it can be individually controlled, independent of other locomotives. And if you need help in building your layout, there are firms that will do the work for you, either from your design or as a turnkey project from design to finish. Even some of the easier-to-build kits required some drilling as well as tapping for screws. And for those in traction, modeling in O scale allows building more accurate overhead construction with closer-to-prototype wire dimensions compared to smaller scales. For example, a plastic diesel locomotive will cost anywhere from about $150 to $300 or more while an all metal (including some brass) locomotive can cost around $300 and up. Traction models have the added advantage in that each unit contains its own power and can be run in combinations of one or multiple units similar to the prototype.
Trains proceed from one end of the line to the other end where locomotives are turned around to begin the return journey.
Those in tinplate and hi-rail can make DC power packs using their current AC transformers and adding rectifiers on the outputs.
Thus it is possible, for example, to double-head different locomotives which otherwise would not run at the same speed at the same track voltage. Many companies specialize in reworking or modifying mechanisms so that the model runs as smoothly as silk.
Most brass locomotives will cost more depending on the level of detail, all the way up to ultra-detailed museum-quality models. This makes for realistic operation and many layouts, including large club layouts, employ this strategy which is favored by those interested in prototype operation.
The main frame-work usually consists of 1x4's or 1x6's although some 2x6's have been used for extra strength such as where one might have to climb onto the layout for maintenance or other tasks. The latest system, DCC, has even greater flexibility in that besides independent control of locomotives or traction equipment, it can also be used to operate other functions such as whistles, bells, lights, etc.. As for cars, plastic cars can be had for as little as $30 in kit form while brass models can run up to several hundred dollars each depending on the type of car and the amount of detail and finish. A variation on this is an out-and-back plan where a reverse loop is incorporated at the end of the track.
In DCC, decoders are installed in each locomotive and are programmed by the operator to perform the various functions desired when the commands are sent out from the controller. A less common method is to use a metal polishing cream which not only cleans the rails but also polishes them and prevents rapid build-up of oxidation. Traction equipment (freight and passenger) is in the same price range depending on the car or locomotive type, level of detail, finish, and whether powered or unpowered. One inescapable fact of O scale is that the size will limit the amount of track on your layout even if you have a huge basement, attic, or train room. As you can see, these prices compare favorably with HO-scale model prices and so are not way out of line.
A more common cleaning method is to use abrasive track cleaning blocks on the rails, but this method has drawbacks because not only does it wear away the rails, it also leaves scratches on the tops of the rails which are good traps for accumulating dirt and grit. In addition, the larger size of O scale compared to say HO means that less equipment is needed to fill a same sized layout, so it's possible that an O-scale layout could end up costing less than a smaller scale layout. These are very complex systems, and anyone who wants to learn more about them should consult books on them and the manuals and literature published by the various manufacturers.

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