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What is the difference between O and O27. I have a prewar locomotive that has O27 on the bottom name plate
 

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The 027 track is 7/16” high, versus 0 track at 11/16” high. Locos from Postwar with 3 digit numbers are typically for 0 Gauge. The 4 digit numbered locos are for 027 track. There are a few exceptions, but the above statement is the norm. The 0 Gauge locos have problems when trying to use on 027.
The Prewar locos with 027 tags will run on either track.
 

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Cheeper to produce. The purpose was to get more track in a small area. The beginner sets had 027 track.
This. When I was a kid, O27 sets were considered 'beginner's toys' and O was the 'Cadillac'.

(For the younger folks here, 'Cadillac' was a very good thing.)
 

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Thinking back, the only engines that might not run on 027 were the 773 Hudson, 746 J, and the Trainmaster. Even the F3s ran on 027, no? The Texas Special was an 027 set.
True the O gauge sets were more desirable though.

Pete
 

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The 0 Gauge locos have problems when trying to use on 027.
It's a little more complex than that.

Here is a list of incompatible postwar locomotives and rolling stock. Note: The F-3 will run on O27 track, but the fuel tank will rub on Lionel's O27 switch housings.

Many—most ?—locomotives and rolling stock rated for O31 will run on O27, but not all.

In addition to the O27 rails being lower and lighter-weight than O gauge (O31), the ties are lower, folded over at the ends, and brown instead of black.
 

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Also, many pre and postwar Lionel steam locomotives were manufactured under different numbers depending on whether or not they were in an O gauge set or an o-27 set, the only difference being the number. A 2020 turbine from 1946 is identical in all ways except the number to a 671 turbine from 1946 for example. Some of the smaller Hudson's also were used in O and o-27 sets with different numbers to distinguish them.
 

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The following comes from “Greenberg Guide to Lionel 1901-1942, 0 & 00 Gauges, Vol. II, page 18:

Lionel’s initial 0 Gauge track sections in 1915, consisted of 3 tubular rails, fastened by three metal ties, with the center rail insulated by fiber from the metal ties. Eight curves formed 28 1/2” circle, with straight sections at 10 1/2” long.

In 1919 Lionel increased the circle diameter to 31 1/2”, and increased the.length of the curved sections. This stayed the same until 1942.

In the 1930’s Lionel introduced FIVE new types of track, an inexpensive 0 Gauge track made in both 2 & 3 rail versions, which became what is known as 027; a premium 0 Gauge track, which it called 072; and both two & three rail 00 Gauge track.

The 027 track was first made by Lionel in 1930-31 for it’s Winner Line, it’s new line of very inexpensive electric trains. As a cost reduction process, a new less expensive trackwas made for these trains. The track was an adaptation of the existing IVES track, retaining the 1 1/4” spacing between the outside rails, that defined 0 Gauge. The track was made with thinner gauge steel and was lower in height. A circle of Winner track made a 27 1/2” diameter circle, compared to 31 1/2” of 0 Gauge track.

Lionel (& American Flyer) took over IVES, after bankruptcy in 1929, and Lionel eventually bought out AF. We were coming out of the Depression of 1929, and in order for Lionel to stay competitive, it needed to produce less expensive sets, compared to its earlier 0 Gauge Sets, which were quite expensive. Thus Lionel produced very low expensive trains, early Lionel-Ives, such the Winner Line; Lionel Jr. Sets, that all included the lower profile, lower costing 027 track.

Lionel first offered its premium 0 Gauge track, 072, in 1934 with its new 752 Streamliner Set. 072 track had the same height, metal gauge, and width between the rails as Lionel’s traditional 0 Gauge track, but consisted of 16 pieces forming a 72” diameter circle, while traditional Lionel 0 Gauge Track only required 8 pieces to form a 31 1/2” circle.

This should explain why & how both 0 & 027 came about.:smilie_daumenpos::smilie_daumenpos:
 

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In our case had 027 inner loop and ran many post and prewar lionel engines fm's, f3,gg1s,624,623 and many different steam engines never had a 773 unfortunately as for prewar ran 260e,251e,252,253,224e and others.

Did not have switches just a simple loop as switches would have been a problem with clearance because of the switch covers .
 

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Bottom Line is avoid using O27 track. Build with standard O and your layout will be happier.
 

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Matt, That was just one persons opinion, and doesn’t really answer the multitude of question comparing them. Although basically quoted from Greenberg’s book, my post explains it all, and answers the O.P.’s question
 
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Matt, O27 track is fine but limiting since many trains can't handle the tight 27" curves or hit the housing on O27 switches. O27 size track comes in other curves like O42 and O54 and switches were made to O42 dimensions. The main problem with O27 track today is that as far as I know no one makes it. I don't know how easy it is to find more track and switches if you need them. If you have O27 track I don't see any reason not to use it to run traditional size trains.

If you have plenty of straight and curved track but need switches I believe that Gargraves switches are easy to use with O27 track. My cousin had a fairly large O27 layout when we were young and ran an F3 and a 726 Berkshire with no problems on his layout. In fact, we had a lot of fun with it.
 

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I am aware of the differences between O and O-27 and O-27's limitations, however it is likely that the original poster (OP) is or was not. Statements such as "The 0 [sic] Gauge locos have problems when trying to use on 027 [sic]" and "Bottom Line [sic] is avoid using O27 track. Build with standard O and your layout will be happier" do not help the OP and others new to this hobby understand the differences.

There are valid reasons for using O-27, particularly the ability to create more complex layouts in confined areas. Some of us prefer the aesthetic of O-27 over that of traditional O. There are, of course, equally valid reasons for not using O-27 track, especially if you are interested in running bigger engines and cars, and/or scale layouts.

In terms of product availability, my understanding is that there is a huge amount of "new old stock" (NOS) for most pieces, with the exception being switches. However, there is an abundance of switches available on the used market, and both Ross and Gargraves switches are compatible with O-27. (I recommend the K-Line K-0265/6 switches over the Lionel 6-5121/2 O-27 switches. Ebay is my go-to source. Inspect the photos and descriptions carefully, and hold out for reasonably low prices.)

For the original poster, if he is interested in O-27, there is a lot of useful information, including layout suggestions at Thortrains.net, though some of it is dated. (Thortrains.net has lots of info for O and other gauges as well.)
 
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Matt, I'm sorry, I forgot that you weren't the original poster. I addressed my answer to you but it was meant for him. I don't know why I thought you were the original poster. I think I had a senior moment. :dunno:
 

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Matt, I'm sorry, I forgot that you weren't the original poster. I addressed my answer to you but it was meant for him. I don't know why I thought you were the original poster. I think I had a senior moment. :dunno:
No offense taken. I have senior moments all the time and I'm still years away from receiving AARP junk mail.
 

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Yep, nothing but problems with O/27 track and switches.:rolleyes:

This video is ALL O/27. Unedited.
( I don't know why the video shrunk?)



Granted, I will admit if you have the room true O track and switches are the way to go. You can get larger curves in to run larger trains. O track has more meat to them too.

But.........O/27 can work. :smokin:
 

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My layout is @ 16' X 21', uses O-27 style track with 42" minimum curves and K-Line O-42 switches. No, I can't run locos that need
large curves but large locos look out of place on small layouts IMHO. The H-Line switches are low and I have not had anything catch on them.
My layout has been in use for @ 15 years.
 
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