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Overhead and Third Rail

17685 Views 102 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  Brian Considine
Is it true that the lack of an easy to acquire and use overhead or third rail electrical supply in model form, makes it unlikely that electric locos and MU's will ever sell strongly in the UK?

I am sceptical, for the simple reason that having seen a fair number of privately owned, typically family European mainland layouts, although electric traction is a commonplace, the overhead lines are rarely modelled. It's just too vulnerable on a layout used by children; and even where it is an 'adult' layout with good attention to scenics, the most you might see are the masts on the far side from the operator position. Exhibition layouts are a different matter: but we should never forget these are a very small percentage of all layouts built.
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Its not just about market and sales. the whole subject of catenery and third rail is fantastically complicated.

Just like the real railway the wires are subjected to heat variation which means to avoid them looking stupid and wobbly they have to be sprung-ju8st like the real ones. this is perfectly feasable in 4mm and a few manufacturers sell the pieces to do it but putting overheads onto a layout requires enormous planning and is not something that should be taken lightly. people often think that the real wires look very complicated but they fail to realise that there is a reason for that complication and those reasons also apply in 4mm.

I too would love a cheap overhead wires system but its crazy to think that your average trainset modeller is capable of installing them. there would be no end of broken pantographs heading for margate and barwell.

As for third rail. try to find me 2 junctions that have the same third rail arrangement!??
The number of variations is massive. mainly due to the fact that third rail while often seen as a modern image subject has been in place for a century now. the arrangement is altered to suit the junction in question. the idea of having it fixed to RTR track is just not practical.

These are great subjects to model. but my advice (and i give this as strongly as possible) is to wait untill you have mastered the basics of railway modelling and then try and get thiongs a bit finer. make sure you uinderstand track geometry and then try and do a third rail or overheads.

Third rail is very easy to do. if you understand it properly.

If anyone is seriously interested then spend £4 on the sommerfeld guide to overheads and their catalouge. read it from cover to cover. i learnt an awfull lot and i think you would too.

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QUOTE (John Webb)Regarding the prototype third rail - there is a metal clip on top of the insulator in which the almost square conductor rail sits. I am almost certain that the bottom of the conductor rail is shaped in some way to ensure it cannot move out of the said clip once in place.

That is correct of the london underground is some stations. unfortunatly not of the southern main line.
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