Back to Big Wheels

I think I’ve known for a couple of months, but I didn’t want to admit it. Proto:87 isn’t going to work with The Industrial Lead layout. My initial tests were  positive: I set up a simple test track with Peco flex track and a modified Peco turnout; I ran an SD40-2 and a car or two with Proto:87 wheels a dozen of times; then I launched into a hand laying frenzy.

When I got to actually having an operational track ( it just didn’t work. Proto:87 just did not stick to the track. I ripped out my hand laid track and relaid it with Peco flex track and I switched to a four axle locomotive to see if I could make it work. It didn’t. The problem areas are the curves and any elevation changes.

It’s been over a year since I diverted to the Proto:87 experiment, and I think it’s time to move forward with the layout. It was fun experimenting and trying new things, but I’m losing patience and I’m pretty much losing my kids interest. It’s time to get this layout operational.


Author: Greg Amer

9 thoughts on “Back to Big Wheels

  1. Actually Proto:87 can work just as well as HO, even on not very well laid track, if you follow the guidelines and typically use simple proper suspension.

    Obviously seeing is believing, so check out the March 2015 You tube clips I just put up showing an 8 car train of Walthers’ Amfleets running around a 1 scale mile loop indefinitely at a scale 120 mph.

    And to show that this isn’t “on the edge”, here is the same train, running 120 mph backwards just as happily.

    For questions or more explanations than fit in this small space, contact me at the Stores website email.


  2. Hey Greg,

    Sorry to hear that things aren’t working our for you regarding P87.

    I’d still like to meet up if you get a chance. Email me on julesmwatson at


  3. Completely understandable. If you’re spending so much time to make things work, then the hobby stops being fun – especially for kids. You might find that semi-scale wheels from Reboxx are a good compromise – they look better than RP25 wheels, they come in various axle lengths and wheel diameters so they’re available for most rolling stock trucks, and they’re 100% compatible with HO scale (not P:87) track work.

    1. Thanks Trevor,

      Patrick helped weather the intermodal track the other day and I thought this is where we both want to be in the hobby. I’ve spent over a year sequestered by myself trying to make turnouts. At first I thought the kids could help, or that it wouldn’t take that long, so I could buzz through and get them back into the next project. But aside from laying ties and staining, there wasn’t much the kids were able to do and it didn’t go quickly and they’ve become bored.

      I think I’ll be using code 88 wheels. I really like the Athearn Genesis trucks and wheels because they have a rotating end cap. Problem is they are hard to find, I’ll mix and match for now though.

      I’m looking forward to using the Details West Frog Castings. I’ve converted a couple of turnouts with them, and they look great.


  4. I toyed with Proto:87 before moving up to S scale (not Proto:64). The nail in the coffin for me was Iain Rice’s admission in the last installment of his Roque Bluffs series in MR that he would recommend using a semi-scale (code 88) wheel tread instead of the full Proto:87 code 64 tread. The code 88 wheels seem to be a good compromise between appearance and performance. Or you could just move up to S scale where most “scale” wheels are code 110 to start with (so it’s basically the same as code 88 in HO). Keeping your kids interested is key, though!

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