Offbeat Internet

3rail O-scale Trains

3rail O-scale trains come in three varieties: First, there are highly detailed full scale model trains, that are comparable to those typically found in HO or N scale. An example of scratchbuilt versions are the trains that ran on the layout of the famous modeler John H. Armstrong. An example of ready-to-run versions are the Lionel Signature series of models. Second, there are the semi-scale toy trains designed for "Hi-Railers" (people who build highly detailed, but often fragile, scale scenery models for their semi-scale toy trains) and "Toy Train Enthusiasts" (people who use touchable semi-scale scenery, that functions similar to stage props... the scenery merely infers the scene in which the semi-scale toy train actors perform). Examples of these are the MTH RailKing series of semi-scale toy trains. Third, there are the kids toys, often referred to as O27, which make no pretense of being anything but toys. Examples of these are old Marx toy trains.

This webpage is dedicated to the "Toy Train Enthusiast", who operates their miniature railroad in a manner that gives their semi-scale toy trains a transportation purpose (whether real-world duplication, imaginarily believable, or a combination of both).

How to Play with 3-rail Trains (*.doc)
~ Locomotives (*.rtf)
~ Cabooses (*.rtf)
Model Railroad Operators Locomotive Duty Selection Matrix (*.doc) = an engine suitability cheatsheet for model locomotive hostlers

Caltrain Commuter Timetable - c.2016 (*.pdf) = an example of prototype train scheduling on a modern commuter railway
Trackwork and Railway Structures - c.1926 (*.pdf) = a very rare prototype railroading textbook, chock full of information useful to a model layout builder
All About Subways - c.1938 (*.pdf) = photobook showing all aspects of underground railway construction, from planning to completion

Notice: Although 2-D trackwork and building footprints in the below examples are drawn to scale, the 3-D building and accessory graphics are rendered in simple block-form without any features. Many buildings and accessories were dimensioned upon plastic toy train structures, but for superior results, larger custom Papercraft buildings are recommended.

Layout Vision Development (*.pdf)
~ Imagineering what I see (*.rtf)

Overlooked switching layout idea:

Article: The Passenger Train Oriented Layout (*.pdf)
Article: Modeling Passenger Servicing Facilities (*.pdf)

Passenger operations don't have to be dull. There's a lot of action taking place in this compact coach yard...

Garage Wall Layout (*.rtf) - a constricted shelf layout, featuring a full service passenger coach yard and an express depot
~ Garage Wall Layout (*.scarm)

Urban trackside industry ideas:

Explanation: Urban Industry Examples (*.rtf)

O-scale turnouts are expensive, which is why children will rarely own more than two. Because adults often also cannot afford all the turnouts they desire, these idea track plans were designed to demonstrate what could be accomplished using only a minimum number of turnouts. To avoid monotony, each of these track plans were also designed to look visually distinctive from each other, especially in regards to the associated track side building shapes and placement. Although these plans incorporate only one industry, a further turnout savings could be realized if multiple industries shared the same spur. Space savings can also be made if spurs overlap (e.g., one spur might branch above the main line, while another imediately after the turnout branches below).


Transloading facility that unloads and holds autos for dealer pickup - (destination)
[ideally a second spur would service the opposite side of the platform]
~ Automotive-1 (*.scarm)

Injection molding autopart manufacturing plant - (origin)
~ Automotive-2 (*.scarm)


Historic bottling plant - (origin)
~ Breweries-1 (*.scarm)


Concrete ready-mix plant - (destination)
~ Cement-1 (*.scarm)

Coal Customers

Powerhouse - (destination)
~ Coal-1 (*.scarm)

Heating coal dealer - (destination)
~ Coal-2 (*.scarm)


Lakeside rail-to-ship corn collection elevator - (destination)
~ Grain-1 (*.scarm)

Iron Ore

Steel plant orecar overflow holding track - (destination)
~ Ore-1 (*.scarm)


Cold-storage meat warehouse - (destination)
~ Livestock-1 (*.scarm)

Trackside livestock water sprayer - (passthrough)
~ Livestock-2 (*.scarm)


Lumber yard - (destination)
~ Lumber-1 (*.scarm)

Custom furniture maker - (origin)
~ Lumber-2 (*.scarm)

Milk and Dairy Traffic

Offline creamery milk transloading platform - (destination)
~ Milk-1 (*.scarm)

Package and LCL Traffic

Express depot - (origin)
~ Package-1 (*.scarm)

Flower wholesaler - (destination)
~ Package-2 (*.scarm)

Freight house - (origin)
~ Package-3 (*.scarm)


City newspaper - (destination)
~ Paper-1 (*.scarm)


Internal combustion engine fuel dealer - (destination)
~ Petroleum-1 (*.scarm)

Heating oil dealer - (destination)
~ Petroleum-2 (*.scarm)


Produce broker - (destination)
[ideally a third spur would service the opposite side of the upper tarmac]
~ Produce-1 (*.scarm)


Dimensional stone wholesaler - (destination)
~ Quarries-1 (*.scarm)

Seasonal Canning Factories

Can factory - (origin)
~ Canning-1 (*.scarm)

Team Tracks and Transloading

Wharfside gantry crane - (origin/destination)
~ Transloading-1 (*.scarm)

Metal recycling - (origin)
~ Transloading-2 (*.scarm)

Trailers and Containers

Intermodal track - (origin)
~ Trailers-1 (*.scarm)

Waterfront Operations

Navy pier - (destination)
~ Waterfront-1 (*.scarm)

First Class traffic ideas:
(using toy-train accessories)

Related: Modeling Passenger Operations (*.pdf)


Diner (*.rtf) - commissary track
~ Diner (*.scarm)


Sleeper (*.rtf) - sleeper setout track
~ Sleeper (*.scarm)

U.S. Mail

Mail (*.rtf) - mail car track
~ Mail (*.scarm)


Switcher (*.rtf) - switcher pocket
~ Switcher (*.scarm)

Portable module ideas:
(using toy-train accessories)

Here are examples of purpose oriented portable layout modules (using a interior door as their base), which attempt to maximize play value (animated accessories and cars are accommodated) with a minimal number of turnouts. These examples highlight ways you can create justifiable destinations for even uncommon and odd-ball cars.

Proposal: Possible 0-scale Tinplate Module Standards (*.doc)

Single panel

Airfield (*.rtf) - air express transloading
~ Airfield (*.scarm)

Bygone (*.rtf) - antiquated urban light industry
~ Bygone (*.scarm)

Emergency (*.rtf) - fantasy suburban rescue services
~ Emergency (*.scarm)

Missiles (*.rtf) - fantasy missile proving ground
~ Missiles (*.scarm)

Mountain (*.rtf) - rural coal mining
~ Mountain (*.scarm)

Ladder (*.rtf) - compound ladder
~ Ladder (*.scarm)

Multiple panel

Article: Platform Vehicles (*.pdf)
Action Station (*.rtf) - an entire passenger facility on a four-panel return loop
~ Action Station (*.scarm)


SCARM - "Simple Computer Aided Railway Modeller" software download website - (still Win2k compatible)
SCARM forum
TrainLife - An archive of Model Train magazine scans