Third Rail

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by jawharp1992, May 8, 2007.

  1. jawharp1992

    jawharp1992 Member

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    No, I'm not confused about what area of the site to place this under. I've been looking around, and I found a few pictures in a Model Railroader that showed the track having 3 rails. Also, when I went to Travel Town (Local Train Museum), they have one strip of track for the cars that has the same 3rd rail. I don't get it? Is it for electric trains or something?

    -JH-
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    Marklin ho is 3 rail ac powered, but usually they don't use a thrd rail. Instead they use a little metal nub that looks like a nail head on each tie.
  3. jawharp1992

    jawharp1992 Member

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    OK, but I also saw this on a real track, too. What's that for?
  4. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Rather than use overhead wire for the pickup, they place a third rail next to the track. Electrical pickup is through a shoe attached to the truck of the locomotive.

    New Haven and NYC used this system coming into Grand Central Terminal in New York.

    The pictures you saw in MR may have been older O scale layouts that used a 3rd rail outside the track in much the same was as the prototype, except it was for all locomotives to pick up, rather than just electric ones. John Armstrong used this on his Canadaigua Southern.
  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    That type of pick up on the prototype is usually restricted to use in subway or other underground operations where pedestrians can be kept away from the tracks. If outside third rail electric was used out in the open, someone accidently stepping on the third rail could get electrocuted, hence the use of overhead wire wherever electrics run out in the open spaces.
  6. jawharp1992

    jawharp1992 Member

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    That might be it. I don't think that is it in the museum, though. I saw some of the cars on the middle rail, too. I don 't get it! If it's for electricity, than the car must get shocked and burn. Here's a diagram of what I saw at Travel Town.

    Attached Files:

  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    Oh! That's dual-gauge track. The outer rails are standard guage. The inner rail and lower rail are a smaller gauge, probably 3'.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

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    Could it be dual gauge?

    Loren
  9. jawharp1992

    jawharp1992 Member

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    Wo! I knew there was narrow gauge, but never knew they mixed them. I guess the obvious things never come right on time, huh? Well, new Q. With this system, can they have for example a standard gauge engine pull narrow gauge cars assuming they have the same kind of couplers?
  10. nhguy

    nhguy Member

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    Ok I'll take this the other direction. I think he's talking about the 3rd rail inside the two outside rails. That right JH? Is it off set from the other rails? Closer to one rail than the other? Or is the rail your talking about actually sit outside the 2 tracks elevated a little?

    If that is the case for the first description then you are probably looking at dual gauge track. One is standard gauge or 5 feet 8 and 1/2 inches and the other is 3 foot gauge or narrow gauge track. This was common throughout the West and even some eastern states. This was a yard or station that had train service by Standard gauge and Narrow gauge railroads. They would interchange with each other.

    If you talking about the second description then it is a 3rd rail power pickup as Squid said.
  11. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    OK, if it looks like this: [​IMG]


    ... then it's electric third rail. If it looks like this:[​IMG]

    then it's dual-gauge track.
  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    It depends if the couplers are at the same height. When Nacionales de Mexico had dual gauge, the couplers on the two gauges' equipment were at the same height, so switchers with sufficient side play in their couplers could switch cars of the other gauge. Otherwise, adapter cars are necessary.
    http://ghostdepot.com/rg/images/rolling/mow/010793 idler car coupler end 1995 jrprn.jpg
    Idler Flat X3050
    Idler flat #010793
    DRGW 10793 Dual Gauge Car 2002
    FCA QNB-644543-8E
  13. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Not always the case. The 84 mile Harlem line and 74 mile long Hudson line are two examples that are neither buried nor restricted. There are several lines in Europe that are neither subway nor captive urban lines.
  14. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Slip of the fingers there NHGuy? Standard gauge is 4' 8 1/2"... at least on this continent :p :D

    There were broad-gauge railroads... the original Erie railroad had a 6' gauge, the Grand Trunk in Canada was 5' 6", and the Great Western in England was 7'!
  15. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    There still is broad gauge around the world. 5' is standard in Russia and Eastern Europe. 5'3" is standard in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) and common in Australia and Brazil. 5'5-2/3" is standard in Spain and Portugal. 5'6" is standard in India, Pakistan and Argentina and common in Bangladesh.

    Unlike metre or 3' gauge, broad gauges (which, as can be seen, aren't much broader than standard - no 7' anymore) are usually used in place of standard gauge. Australia is the only country using a substantial amount of broad guage to have 4'8-1/2" as standard. Argentina also has a significant amount of standard gauge.

    Similarly, 3'6" is the most common gauge in Japan, South Africa and some other African countries. Again, Australia is an oddity, where 3'6" is only the second-most-common gauge.

    The Brazilian adapter car I linked to isn't standard and 3', but 5'3" and metre.
  16. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

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    There were railroads in the US that used dual guage trackage well into the 1960's, but by the mid 70's most of them had taken up the inner rail and discontinued the use of narrow guage equipment. There are very few non-tourist narrow guage railroads in the US today and even fewer dual gauge railroads.
  17. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    There were locos equipped with coupler pockets so they could couple to both standard and narrow gauge cars. I saw a model piece of an end beam with 3 pockets on it. I think it could be installed either way up, depending on whether the loco was standard or narrow. A standard gauge loco would have the center pocket high and 2 lower ones offset for narrow; a narrow gauge loco would have the center pocket low and the offsets high.
    I don't think this was common. It would be a fun arrangement when you got to one of those places in the track where the narrow gauge switched from one side to the other.
  18. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    I saw a picture of some track in Australia where there were 4 gauges at the same point.
    The EMD factory in London has tracks with all sorts of gauges in them because they make for many countries. They also have a groove in the concrete floor because they move 5 foot gauge trucks and chassis along standard gauge rails.
  19. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

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    Man! Making turnouts in that many gauges must be a night mare.
  20. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    After the 1960s, I only know of two narrow gauge common carriers in the US and Canada. The White Pass & Yukon ended service in 1982 and was revived in 1988 as a tourist line. The Newfoundland Railway ended service in 1988 and was torn up in 1989. Neither of these railways had dual gauge trackage becaue of the circumstances that allowed them to outlast other narrow gauge lines: they were isolated. Only industrial and tourist lines are narrow or dual gauge these days.

    I'm not so versed on the situation in Mexico. I know they had many 3' gauge lines, most of them being converted to standard gauge in the 70s and early 80s. Thus, dual gauge track could be found at least into the mid-80s.