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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read about 3-4 weeks ago in a thread here where GRJ stated (and I paraphrase) "I run the 18" passenger cars on my layout, the 21" do not look quite right."

I have been buying and improving my passenger cars over the last 6 years. I started only running freight so I had no idea what was 1:48 or not. Like most, I saw a realism difference between the "shadow figure" cars and the more modern cars.

One of my 1st passenger car orders was the Lionel 21" Rock Island stainless steel set for $600 for 4 cars.

I added several Atlas 21 inch CB & Q "Zephyr" cars which are considered some of the nicest ones made. I now have a mix of 21", 18 inch and I believe a couple of MTH's "19" inch cars which recommend O42.

I am specifically building O72 net loops only for my 21" passenger cars and 3rd Rail locomotives.

I lacked a baggage car of all things for the Zephyr consist, which is up to at least 6 cars. I bid on and won an interesting Rio Grande LIONEL 18 " 4 car passenger set with the baggage, 2 dome cars and a nice 18" observation.

LIONEL RIO GRANDE RIO GRANDE CALIF ZEPHYR ALUM PASSENGER CAR 4-PK # 6-25722 NIB 23922257222 | eBay

Even though the photos are fuzzy in the auction, I am impressed with the Lionel 18" cars, of which in addition to these, I have 2-3 more.

So what to do? I have an Observation car in an Atlas 21" from a four pack purchased 16 months ago for a whopping $1250. I bid and won on that auction because the Atlas 21" Observation cars are very rare and go for as much as $600 alone, with most in the low $300's.

I technically do not need the LIONEL 18" Dome cars as I have 3 Atlas 21" Dome cars but again - the detail and authenticity of the LIONEL 18" Dome cars are nice.

I am wondering about a mix and match at least for my ZEPHYR sets. I don't need the roughly 12-13 cars I have now.

The only other 21" cars I have are the LIONEL 21" Rock Island Stainless set, and those have been going for less then my cost of $675 ($600 plus tax) so I am NOT going to dump these on eBay and take a hit for these beautiful cars.

So it's just do I off-sell some or all of my Atlas or mix and match? I don't think they look too bad mixed and I even have 3 MTH Rail King passenger cars that I will run in there.
 

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This is a perfect example of "Do what suits you!" If you find the mix-and-match look acceptable, then run them that way. The rivet counters may pooh-pooh this response, but this is just a hobby. And, in fact, there are plenty of prototype photos with differently sized and differently manufactured cars running in the same train. Having fun is the most important thing here.

Chuck
 

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I was looking to build a CZ set after picking up a Weaver Burlington E8. After checking out the possibilities, I settled on Atlas as the closest to prototype. Too bad they are not metal like the Lionel and K-Line cars but they are the only ones I could find with the full skirting. K-Lines are closer, Lionel omitted them altogether.
I put an ad in the OGR Wanted to Buy and got a response from a collector who had many and was willing to part with them for a reasonable price. Much lower than what you see on eBay. Some dealers still have them at the list price of 160 bucks.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was looking to build a CZ set after picking up a Weaver Burlington E8. After checking out the possibilities, I settled on Atlas as the closest to prototype. Too bad they are not metal like the Lionel and K-Line cars but they are the only ones I could find with the full skirting. K-Lines are closer, Lionel omitted them altogether.
I put an ad in the OGR Wanted to Buy and got a response from a collector who had many and was willing to part with them for a reasonable price. Much lower than what you see on eBay. Some dealers still have them at the list price of 160 bucks.

Pete
Pete
I have purchased 4 of them (Atlas 21") from Caboose Stop for $125 each and they still have several. But they are down to mostly Dome cars, mostly Silver Lariat etc. Thus I was forced to get the Observation car off eBay as I am not on OGR nor know guys who would be willing to sell. Now I have everything, too much really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is a perfect example of "Do what suits you!" If you find the mix-and-match look acceptable, then run them that way. The rivet counters may pooh-pooh this response, but this is just a hobby. And, in fact, there are plenty of prototype photos with differently sized and differently manufactured cars running in the same train. Having fun is the most important thing here.

Chuck
Thank you Chuck. I might get them all out and decide what to keep then put the rest on eBay to recoup some of my overall cost. I never thought I would have over $2200 in just one flag's passenger cars.
 

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I'm partial to scale dimensions in all but three categories. Wheel flanges, track width, and passenger car lengths. The 21" cars are beautiful, but they just require too much space in my opinion.

I don't have anything against them or those that run them.
 

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Hey Bryan, my general rule of thumb...............

If you're running a non-prototypical train and don't realize it's wrong, I'll laugh AT you.
If you're running a non-prototypical train and know full well it's wrong, I'll laugh WITH you.

That being said, I'm sure I've been laughed AT plenty of times over the years (and possibly yet to this day!). :p

All kidding aside, when it comes to 3-rail O-gauge, if it looks good, then it is good. (y)
 

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To me its not a question of mixing lengths rather mixing brands. I have K-Line UP cars in 15, 18, and 21” lengths I would run together but add a Lionel car and it stands out like a sore thumb due to the size being off in height and width. I think MTH and Lionel passenger cars are pretty close in size and might be a better mix.

Pete
 

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I have mostly 18" passenger cars, though I have crumbled and recently picked up the Weaver Reading Crusader set with the five 21" cars. I must admit, the 21" cars look pretty good, maybe I'm missing a bet here...
My only complaint, other that having to come up with interiors, is the small diaphragms don't look right with a big gap.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
GRJ,

I think it also helps that the train length is only 5 cars. Running a 12 car train of 21" cars might not look so fine.

Chuck
Chuck
The layout dimensions play a large role in my opinion, on choice of 18" to 21" or shorter. Two weeks ago I laid all of my passenger cars out just to see what I have, as I often buy ones that I already have.

My layout is a horseshoe of 11/12 feet on the ends with 24 feet long. While this seems large, as we all know in O, it is not. Even 18 inches x 5 = 90 / 12 = 7 1/2 feet for 5 plus an A A of 34 inches and you are at 10 1/2 feet or so. Obviously, one could say a hobbyist is splitting hairs by thinking this is a huge savings over 21" but you can almost add another 18" car in the consist vs. 21".

I am not going to bring all of my passenger cars back out, just the Zephyr cars and then decide with the ones that are clearly duplicates or redundant - such as having at least 6 Dome cars - going to the sale block to raise money for other stuff.

I'll likely run a mix. Another issue when I started buying passenger cars, I looked on ebay and saw "very little" for at least 5 years from ANY manufacturer in my road names. Now, moreso in the last year many, many passenger sets in Milwaukee Road, Rock Island and now even CB & Q and Zephyr flags are in the market.

Had I seen these LIONEL 18" when I was buying my Atlas 21" 4 pack for $1250, I definitely would have stayed with Lionel for the 1/3rd of the price I paid delivered. But I have not seen the Lionel Zephyr set for years, this was the 1st one I remember seeing.

It would be nice to perhaps have duplicates of the Observation Car, but we will see. Thanks to everyone for inputs.
 

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Not all real passenger cars were 84 feet (21" in O scale), and although I don't know the intricate details of how different railroads did things, I don't believe mixing them would have been out of the question.
 
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