There are two ways of looking at curiosity. Either a good way to get wiser or it’s a well known way of dispatching cats.

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I have got the URL for this website showing on my Facebook TrainStation game as an invitation for railway enthusiasts to visit and possibly get in touch if they want to exchange trains via the game. While collecting mail from a fellow player’s station I noticed that they had erected a similar sign. So, me being nosy, I paid their site a visit.

It appears to be more sales based than just a hobbyist’s website and one of the items listed caught my eye. The loco appears to be designed to fit around the motor, look at the boiler profile between the dome and the cab. Obviously distorted to allow the large electric motor to fit, not unlike Tri-ang’s early clockwork models with over-scale bodies to accommodate the spring. I’m not in the least bit interested in buying this old toy but I am curious about the electrical pick-up. From the first image it is obviously three-rail, the central skate being clearly visible under the chassis.


Nothing unusual there, many modellers still use the three-rail system. In fact some German and American manufacturers still supply new three-rail equipment. What is unusual is the other side of the loco, it has collector skates over one of the running rails too.


This is by no means unique, I have a German-built (two-rail pick-up) O scale narrow gauge loco with rail skates, but is it an original feature or has it been added by a previous owner of the locomotive?


The skates may be a back-up for normal current collection via the wheels or it may be that the loco collects current purely via the sliding contacts and the wheels are electrically isolated.

Now this is what has really spiked my curiosity!

If the wheels are “dead” (and isolated from each other so as not to cause a short circuit) then a train using the skates to pick up power could be run on the same track as a conventional two-rail train with both being independently controlled.

Why would I want to run two trains on the same track? The third rail is usually seen as an eyesore on toy train sets, though Marklin do also have a stud contact system that is not nearly as obtrusive.

Well, the upper incline from Centrales to Rio Paleta on the FCPyF is slightly steeper than the incline from Resurreccion to Centrales and may need a banking engine for some trains. Now can you see what I’m thinking? How about if the banking engine uses the Fell system for added traction and braking?


Then the central third rail is not un-prototypical!


Lateral thinking maybe, but that’s how my mind works sometimes. It started of with playing TrainStation and ended up with considering some civil engineering on the FCPyF.

Such are the joys of insomnia. I’ve been up since 4am!

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About Bob Hughes

Ex railwayman, life long railway modeller, lover of real ale and spicy food.
This entry was posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Other people's trains, Retro modelling, Standard gauge, Toy train chit chat, TrainStation (Facebook game). Bookmark the permalink.