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I'm beyond confused!

In an effort to get back into model railroading and give the kids something fun and interesting to play with we picked up a couple of the Menards/Target sets this year when they went on clearance. So now I have a decent amount of strait and curved fastrack, two smaller amperage transformers and two trains. All of the stuff that came in those sets.

Coincidentally last weekend there was a big train show close by, so we took the kids and I picked up some odds and ends, some O guage track, some fastrack adapters, and it turns out I now have a couple O-27 switches and a cross. One of the dealers at the show told me the Menards/Target sets are cheap entry level sets, the engines are junk and the transformers lack enough power to do much of anything beyond their basic layouts.

Now to make things even more confusing I just talked to a local dealer who said the track that comes with those sets I got will not be able to operate the larger more powerful engines from older eras or "decent" sets. I just measured, and the fastrack curves I have are a 36" diameter. This dealer said the larger engines are going to need at least a 42" or larger, otherwise they will keep derailing and will short out.

Help! I've got my eye on an old postwar engine that I think we used to have when I was a kid, a 2026 from 1948, the older one with the two wheels in back not four. But now I'm concerned that this won't work on the O36 fastrack curves and switches!

Can someone explain this all simply? Thanks!
 

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The Lionel 2026 is an O27 train which means that it will work on your Lionel Fast Track...

http://www.postwarlionel.com/cgi-bin/postwar?ITEM=2026

The reason why the bigger locomotives need wider curves is because of the amount of wheels they have... That is why the inner wheels on locomotives normally do not have flanges on them... Basically you are trying to drive something that is straight (the set of wheels) around a curve... That was a horrible explanation, LOL... The words are just not coming to me today :(
 

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Just to straighten out the curve.

O scale, to ease your wondering ,got to Lionel or MTH sites and drool over the engines. They give the minimum curve radius. I am using 027 and my F3 works fine. What I am saying is that there are very few large engines. IF you are a BIG BOY lover ( the biggest)goto HO scale to set up. Then you need some good space. Fastrack will handle a lot of engines but not all. The newer diesels are large but I bet your track will handle them.

This all comes down to scale , room, affordability.
Decisions decisions.

Gonz your on the right track.
 
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