I sat down over the weekend and figured out I have model railroad stuff in 5 scales: N, HO, S, O, and O-27 - too much. On top of that, some have multiple gauges or styles. In HO, I have some "toy" trains (Tyco) and scale models (Athearn Genesis, brass, etc.). In S Scale I have some Sn2, Sn3, Sn42, plus "true scale" and American Flyer. In O, I have On30 and some toy trains as well as "scale." Add it all up and I have a total of 12 different scale/gauge/styles to work with - and lately I've been looking into HOn30 and Z scale - too much right?
Maybe not. Everyone fills a little niche or need. My first love is HO Scale, both "toy" and "scale." Someday soon I hope to start on a 4x8 layout to run my Tyco stuff on, probably based strongly on the Great Northern Pacific (featured in "HO Railroad That Grows"). The scale stuff I'm going to eventually build into a layout that reminds me of visits to my grandparents house when I was a kid.
Sn3 and S standard gauge is for building a model railroad based on the Southern Pacific Slime Princess narrow gauge line in the Owens Valley and the standard gauge Jawbone Branch that connected to it at Owenyo, and the American Flyer stuff is an offshoot of the scale side.
So where does 3 rail O Gauge fit in? Well, it's perfect for playing trains with my kid. It's rugged and cheap enough to tinker with. I can get an O-27 steam locomotive for less than $100, and Williams diesel locomotives are priced about the same. Rolling stock is cheap on eBay, and the toy plastic kits are cheap too, and simple enough for my 9 year old son to build with minimal help.
My current inventory of O-27 locomotives is 1 Marx 4-4-2, two Lionel Atlantics, a Hudson, a Berkshire (Polar Express), and two RMT "Beeps." I also have a couple of Williams BL-2's that look a little big compared to the O-27 stuff, but they'll take the sharp curves (O-31 and O-42).
I'm thinking my first layout - I still don't have a layout - will be a 4x8 O-27 (actually O-31) layout. I was going to use FastTrack but the more I think about it, the more I'd rather have the "traditional" O-27/O-31/O-42 style track. This week all my FastTrack is going on eBay and once I get the money I'll be ordering the traditional track. In the spirit of FUN I also decided to build a simpler track plan than I'd originally planned. It will have a small holding yard so I can keep all my trains on the layout to avoid excessive handling.