Lionel Trutrack System compatibility

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Lionel Trutrack System compatibility
Posted by phrankenstign on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 8:41 PM

I've got a few questions about this track system Lionel offered for a couple of years in the early 70s:

 

1) Did Lionel ever produce a conversion track to join the Lionel Trutrack system to "O", "O27", or Super "O"?

2) I've seen left and right switches, straight & curve tracks, and road bed for all of them.  Were any crossings, uncoupling & remote tracks with their associated road bed ever made?

3) Does anyone here have a Lionel Trutrack System layout?  I don't think I've ever seen any pictures of one in Classic Toy Trains magazine, and I've been reading it since 1993.  (I've got every issue since Vol. 1 No. 1, but I got those through ebay in the late 90s.)  Perhaps if I get the electronic version of CTT, I can do a search for one, right?  (Plug!)

4) What caused the Lionel Trutrack System to fail?  Was the fact it was made out of aluminum the main reason?  If so, wouldn't it have been simple to change over to steel or nickel silver?

 

I've got a crazy idea I've been toying with for years.  It involves using a variety of track types in different sections of one layout.  The white track K-Line produced would be used in a wintry section with snow and Christmasy scenes.  Lionel's transfer table with extension(s) could be used to connect differing sections where no conversion/adapter track is available.  I'm not a fan of flexible track.  I prefer sectional track.  So I may have MTH Real Trax track on one side, with Lionel FasTrack on the other.  Maybe another has K-Line Super "K" while the other has Atlas 21st Century Track System.  It could be one of the tracks leads to a step ladder yard made with Lionel Super "O" track.  Another branch line might consist of Lionel Trutrack System, while the main line was all K-Line SuperSnap or GarGraves sectional.

I've never been a "true scale" fan.  I've always enjoyed the "toy" aspect of the hobby.  That's why the different track types appeal to me.  I'd definitely have some good old-fashioned Lionel "O27" track in there too.  The only problematical track I've used is Lionel Super "O".  It made grooves in the Scout-type engine pickup rollers.  I always liked the look of it, though.

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Posted by cwburfle on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 4:36 AM

Trutrack does not function, period. Around thirty years ago, I purchased a bunch of brand new track from a dealer who warned me that it was only good for display.
I put together a circle of it, and placed a train on the tracks. The train would not go around. The rails are made of aluminum. As aluminum oxidizes, it looses conductivity. The power joiners for the center rail are poorly designed and poorly attached. I haven't looked at any for a while, but I think the running rail joiners are similar to what is used for standard HO and N gauge track.

I have a carton of straights, a carton of curves, and the matching road bed. I also have one switch. If I saw the other odd pieces they made at a reasonable price, I'd pick up samples as a curiousity item.

I have used some of the Trutrack straights for display.

By the way, the plastic used for the ties must be brittle. I dropped a piece and the end of a tie snapped off.

 

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Posted by EIS2 on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 1:53 PM

I did a search in the CTT archives and it produced two results; Feb 1996 pg 41, and May 2003 pg 22.  Trutrack was just mentioned in passing in both articles.  There was no review.

Earl

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Posted by cwburfle on Thursday, April 13, 2017 6:56 AM

TruTrack was cataloged in 1973, I am fairly certain CTT did not exist. Either Model Railroader or Railroad Model Craftsman ran an occasional article about Lionel. I think it was RMC, but I am not positive.

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Posted by EIS2 on Thursday, April 13, 2017 2:29 PM

Classic Toy Train's first issue was Nov '87.

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Posted by phrankenstign on Thursday, April 13, 2017 10:28 PM

cwburfle,

Do you know if any tracks other than straights, curves, and switches were made?  That's all I've seen in the flyers and catalogs from the period Trutrack was out.  I find it difficult to believe Lionel's employees decided to make the rails out of aluminum without thoroughly testing it first.  It's look was quite a bit better than standard "O" and "O27".

 

When Super "O" came out, Lionel came out with packs of conversion pins to mate it with traditional "O" and "027".  I didn't see anything like those nor a conversion adapter track to mate Trutrack with "O" nor "O27".  In fact, I don't remember seeing any starter sets with Trutrack included.  Over the years, Lionel has produced expansion track sets to enable beginners to add to the starter set's included track (usually enough to form a circle or oval).  Without Trutrack being included in those kinds of sets, I think it was unrealistic of Lionel to think beginning hobbyists would be willing to stop using the track that came with their set.  Lionel should probably have taken more time planning the marketing of their Trutrack system.

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Posted by rtraincollector on Friday, April 14, 2017 12:18 AM

Lionel came out with a conversion from O to fastrack but discontinued it. Why who knows for sure. could be lack of sales but everyplace I knew carred it seem to have to restock it. Want to force people to goto fast track don't think so as there is so much of the other out there it would take decades if it was stopped being made today ( by who ever felt like making it as Menards is ) 

Trutrack I really never knew about it till you asked about it. But reading what I'm reading in this colum it really doesn't surprise me. Some one thought they had a way to make track cheaper. 

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Posted by cwburfle on Friday, April 14, 2017 4:06 AM

Do you know if any tracks other than straights, curves, and switches were made?

There was a terminal track. In addition, all my straights and curves are bulk packed. All my roadbed is carded. I'd be interested in finding some carded straights and curves. I don't know whether I'd try for bulk packed roadbed because they only way to know would be to purchase an entire case.

In fact, I don't remember seeing any starter sets with Trutrack included

Good thing, the track didn't work.

By the way, the one complete switch I have is a piece of junk. The control parts are flimsy, and very difficult to move.

 

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Posted by phrankenstign on Saturday, April 15, 2017 2:49 PM

rtraincollector

Lionel came out with a conversion from O to fastrack but discontinued it.......

.........But reading what I'm reading in this colum it really doesn't surprise me. Some one thought they had a way to make track cheaper. 

 

So what was the "conversion"?  Was it a straight track or just connecting pins (like what was done for mating Super "O" with "O" and "O27"?

From what I understand, the Trutrack system was quite a bit more costly than Lionel's traditional "O" and "O27".  Unfortunately, it appears the quality just wasn't there.  It's odd, because you'd think many of the employees designing the track would have used it at home with their own trains.  I know if I'd been one of them, I would have wanted to be one of the first to use it at home.  Traditional track, switches, and crossovers give years of service.  Why would Lionel think a nice looking---but cheap qualityand expensive alternative---track was a viable product to put on the marketplace?

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 15, 2017 3:31 PM

There are times when reputable companys who you'd think would know better do some incredibly stupid things.   Rushing a new product into the market without adequate R&D, "torture testing," or what have you is one example.  "Putting the blinders on" and refusing to accept what's going on right in front of their eyes is another.  Lionel wasn't the first and they surely won't be the last.

Why?  Who knows why?  Human nature I guess.

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Posted by cwburfle on Saturday, April 15, 2017 5:07 PM

 It's odd, because you'd think many of the employees designing the track would have used it at home with their own trains.

How many Lionel employees had trains at home in 1972-73?
My guess: very few to none.

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Posted by phrankenstign on Sunday, April 16, 2017 12:02 AM

cwburfle

 It's odd, because you'd think many of the employees designing the track would have used it at home with their own trains.

How many Lionel employees had trains at home in 1972-73?
My guess: very few to none.

 

Why would you think that?  I think Lionel's employees would be more apt to enjoy model railroading.  I think they'd be much more knowledgeable about the collectiblity of certain models.  That insight would probably make employees more inclined to collect those as an investment opportunity initially.  It's also possible over time the interest in actually running those trains they may have helped produce further lured them into the hobby.

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Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, April 16, 2017 5:13 AM

Why would you think that?  I think Lionel's employees would be more apt to enjoy model railroading.

People don't tend to pick up hobbies that are the same as what they do all day.

In any case, the track was made in Italy. By the time there were any production samples to play with, wouldn't everything have been in place, and all the money spent on design and tooling?

Some folks claim that if the connector issue was addressed, the track would have been OK. I don't know about that, because as aluminum oxides, it becomes a non-conductior.

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Sunday, April 16, 2017 9:02 AM

phrankenstign

 

 
cwburfle

 It's odd, because you'd think many of the employees designing the track would have used it at home with their own trains.

How many Lionel employees had trains at home in 1972-73?
My guess: very few to none.

 

 

Why would you think that?  I think Lionel's employees would be more apt to enjoy model railroading...

Not at the time TruTrack was being developed. These were displaced UAW car builders making trains in Detriot(Mount Clemens). By the time the Visitors Center layout was built, well after Kughn bought Lionel, then yes, there were train folks among the workers at Lionel.

Rob

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Sunday, April 16, 2017 9:08 AM

phrankenstign

 

 
rtraincollector

Lionel came out with a conversion from O to fastrack but discontinued it.......

.........But reading what I'm reading in this colum it really doesn't surprise me. Some one thought they had a way to make track cheaper. 

 

 

So what was the "conversion"?

And here is the MENARDS version:

Rob

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Posted by phrankenstign on Sunday, April 16, 2017 12:32 PM

....So FasTrack has the same way of connecting used by Trutrack?

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Sunday, April 16, 2017 1:38 PM

Umm... no.  I didn't refer to anything about TruTrack, only about the FasTrack conversion.

There was no TruTrack conversion/transition piece.

Rob

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Posted by phrankenstign on Sunday, April 16, 2017 6:27 PM

btw  Did Lionel also produce a FasTrack to "O27" transition piece?

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, April 16, 2017 6:56 PM

phrankenstign

btw  Did Lionel also produce a FasTrack to "O27" transition piece?

 

Not to my knowledge. From what I can see the relative dimensions of FasTrack and 027 track are just a little too different to make that possible.

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