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Customer Questions

What should I use as a replacement ingredient for my train engine to make it smoke?

It is recommended that you only use corn oil and water to make the train engines smoke. Do not use vegetable oil, because it will damage the train heating element inside the engine

What's the difference between O-Gauge and O-Scale?

Technically speaking “gauge” refers to the width between the rails and “scale” refers to the ratio of the model to the real thing, i.e., the prototype. “O Gauge” is 1.25″ between the rails and “O Scale” is a ratio of 1:48, or one-quarter inch to the foot. More commonly “O Gauge” refers to trains that run on 3-rail track and “O Scale” refers to trains that run on 2-rail track.

O Scale is unique in the sense that there are four different ways to model in “standard gauge”.

  • There are two versions of 3-Rail modeling: Nostalgia and 3-Rail Scale. Nostalgia has a toy train aspect to it (think early Lionel from the 1950s as the best example of this category).
    There is also what is coming to be known as 3-Rail scale. This still uses 3-Rail track but these modelers emphasize scale couplers and even scale wheels
  • In 2-Rail modeling, the gauge of 1-1/4″ is a hold over from the time when O Scale models made their way over from the European continent. In 1/4″ scale this worked out to be a track gauge of five feet. Modelers just lived with this anomaly for decades, although there were attempts to correct the discrepancy, usually by increasing the scale ratio of the models from a 1/4″ to the foot to 17/64″ of an inch to the foot. This never really caught on since it involved scratchbuilding everything.
  • In the 1960s a group of narrow gauge modelers developed a wheel and flange profile based upon the prototype’s AAR standards, so they could operate standard and narrow gauge models on dual gauge track reliably. This become known as 1/4″AAR and did catch on, eventually becoming what we know as P48 today.

If this all sounds confusing, it’s because it is. O Scale is the only one of the popular indoor modeling scales that hasn’t outgrown its toy train roots and influences. But take heart, because much of the equipment made for 3-Rail is suitable for scale or prototype based modeling with a little extra work. So you can have the best of the many worlds O Scale currently offers.

I hear all these terms like "O, O-27, O-31, O-45, O-72 " etc. What do these terms mean?

These terms and numbers might be confusing at first, but they are actually quite simple. Let’s start wit ht the “O” in all these terms. The O simply stands for O-gauge. The O scale was originally invented by Marklin trains around 1900, but Lionel took it big time. From what I’ve read, they called it O scale because it was smaller than the existing “1” scale (also known as wide scale) at the time. Anyway, the number next to the O is a direct representation of the diameter of a completed circle of track. So, a completed circle of O-27 track measures 27 inches across. Standard O-gauge track is O-31, meaning that it’s 31 inches across a completed circle of track. O-45 is 45 inches across and so on. This comes into play when you consider the scale of trains you are running, how realistic you want your layout to look and also how much space you have to work with. Since a turn of O-27 track only requires 27 inches, you can have a lot more train in a smaller space. But the tradeoff is that O-27 is not as realistic looking as standard O. With standard O, you get a more realistic looking scale, but you’ve also got to have a lot more space to make those big turns.

Why are O Scale products so hard to find?

The overall market for O Scale is very small compared to HO or N Scale. In addition, many of the product manufacturers are small time operations; literally someone who is working from their garage or basement in many cases. Due to the niche aspects of the O Scale marketplace, the production runs are often very limited in quantity and once an item is sold out it’s often considered to be gone forever. This is why many O Scale modelers tend to be pack rats in nature.

What does "postwar" mean?

The term “postwar” refers to the era of Lionel trains following the end of World War II, spanning from 1945 to about 1969. Hence the term “postwar”. In contrast, the era of Lionel trains prior to World War II is known as “prewar”. Prewar trains tended to be more toy-like while postwar trains were more realistic looking. Postwar Lionel trains were made in the USA and the craftsmanship and quality was second to none. This was the golden age for electric trains and pretty much anything from the postwar era is a collectors item. Some postwar Lionel trains that are still in good condition can be worth a good chunk of change. After 1969, Lionel’s quality went down and the trains were not as good as they used to be. Fortunately, as I mentioned on the home page, the new century has become a new golden age for electric trains. High quality trains are back in production and some of the new stuff that Lionel is cranking out is just as good or even better than the original stuff. The only difference is that now all the stuff is made if China instead of here. But if you ask me, I think moving the manufacturing the China was one factor that made this new golden age possible. With lower productions costs, train makers are able to make high quality items for reasonable prices once again.

Shipping

How is shipping calculated?

During the checkout process, and before you enter any credit card information, you will be provided with your shipping options and the associated costs. Shipping, with some exceptions, is based upon weight and distance. Shipping rates are based upon real-time interaction with the carrier’s systems.

Can I see how much shipping will cost without starting the checkout process?

Yes, U.S. and Canadian customers can use our built-in shipping calculator. Simply add the appropriate items to your cart and click on the Shopping Cart link. Right below the list of items in your cart, there is a link labeled “Calculate Shipping”. When you click on this, you will be asked for your ZIP Code, State, and Country. After entering that data, you will be given a list of shipping options and costs.

The shipping seems high

A majority of our customers think our shipping and handling charges are reasonable. Most complaints come from orders smaller than $50, which makes the shipping charge to appear high as a percentage of the total order. The shipping charge as a percentage of the total order goes down significantly with increased order amount and quantity.

If you question the shipping charge, please leave a message on the comment section. We’ll make adjustment according to the exact situation.

May I pick up my order to save shipping?

Yes, you may by choosing the “Pickup, No Shipping Charge” shipping method. However, please always place your order online first before coming to our store to pick up your order. Ordering online first would save you waiting time. After placing an order call us before arrival. A shipping charge may still be shown on the order. Please just ignore it since we’ll make adjustment once we receive the order.

Payments & Returns

Do you accept Returns?

Yes, Returns must be authorized and returned within 5 days. All returned items may be subject to a 15% restocking fee.

Which payment methods do you accept?

Our Payment Gateway is Paypal

Customers can Checkout Without a PayPal Account

PayPal has optimized the checkout experience with an exciting improvement to their payment flow.*

For new buyers, signing up for a PayPal account is now optional. This means you can complete your payments first, and then decide whether to save your information in a PayPal account for future purchases. The checkout is more convenient, resulting in more satisfied customers.

Here’s how the PayPal checkout works:

1. Customers enter their name and shipping address.

2. They’re prompted for their credit card, email address, and phone number.

3. (Optional) After reviewing their information, they may choose to save their information by creating a PayPal account to make future transactions faster.

Please note that PayPal’s fraud prevention measures remain in effect for buyers who use this checkout. PayPal applies the same techniques for this checkout as it does for other transactions.

How long does it usually take for my item to arrive?

Shipping is usually within 1 day for all items that are in stock. Of course, weekends and holidays will delay shipping. Items that we need to order, will be shipped as soon as we receive them, usually within 7 to 10 days, except for advance orders from a manufacturers catalog, which often take months to be released. We ship USPS.