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Offline Twinrover1965  
#1 Posted : 11 June 2019 14:44:06(UTC)

United Kingdom   
Joined: 18/03/2018(UTC)
Posts: 5
Location: England, London
I have purchased some 1950s VB track which I saw on ebay recently and is in good condition. I am well aware of its association with Marklin M Track. However, I have got the second version which has a brass third rail but was mounted on quite an attractive silver coloured metal bedding, and no, it isn't Primark. Another rail and it would make quite decent London Underground tube track but that is wishful thinking! The first type, released in 1950, was a sandy colour, and the third kind abandoned the third rail altogether and had studs [pukos] instead. Does anybody know the years in which this, second, silver grey version was available? From my own estimation, it could have only been a few years in the latter part of the 1950s that it was advertised. I think by the time Triang swallowed up VB in 1960 the stud system was already in use.

I would also like to know what electrical system should be deployed as ostensibly it seems AC loks and electrics should be used. However, I have seen reference to VB trains and track being 12volt DC, similar to Hornby Dublo. To avoid damage to my loks and possible summoning of the emergency services, could anyone clarify, please? Any recommendation for a controller? The feeder track, by the way, has three terminals.

I would also appreciate any technical tips/insights regarding using this track. I have frequently read that all the VB items were well made and respected for good quality in France and even in the UK until Triang came along and smashed it to pieces, spitting it out a year later. in 1961. It is worth noting that their modern day counterpart, Hornby is doing exactly the same thing to Electrotren, Jouef and Rivarossi. Let's hope they don't get hold of Marklin!
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Offline kimballthurlow  
#2 Posted : 12 June 2019 04:30:57(UTC)

Joined: 18/03/2007(UTC)
Posts: 5,841
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Hi TwinRover,
I have quite a lot of the VB track, and I assume it is the same as yours with greyish base.
Firstly it matters not which type of electricity you use, AC or DC.
I use mine with Hornby Dublo 3 rail rolling models.
But I can also use it with ordinary modern 2 rail Hornby etc.

Here some facts which I have researched over time.
The VB three rails are isolated from one another.
So you can use it with 3 rail or 2 rail models, though not at the same time.
This is unlike Hornby Dublo (and Maerklin), where the two outside rails are connected, and the centre rail is isolated.
It is built to a very substantial specification, with pressed steel bed, individual Bakelite sleepers, and Bakelite insulation between rail holding clips and bed.
I would say that due to the high standard, and time in manufacture, it would have cost 3 times the HD equivalent at the time.
The outer rail on curves, is super-elevated by 1-1.5mm, by a clever pressing and folding of the metal track bed.

The earliest VB track was I understand on a cork base (not metal). That may explain the sandy colouring you mention.
I have seen the two-rail version of track, but have never seen any VB centre-stud track.

HO Scale - Märklin (ep III and VI, C Track, digital) - 2 rail (USA and Australia) - 3 rail (English Hornby Dublo) - a few old O gauge.
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Offline Michael4  
#3 Posted : 12 June 2019 09:20:48(UTC)

United Kingdom   
Joined: 02/02/2017(UTC)
Posts: 334
Location: England, South Coast
I have a two rail 12v DC VB loco.

It has pick ups that would have been interchangeable so that it could run on 3 rail, Hornby style.
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Offline Gleis3601  
#4 Posted : 15 June 2019 08:01:36(UTC)

Joined: 28/10/2017(UTC)
Posts: 5
Location: Hessen
very nice
Offline Michael4  
#5 Posted : 15 June 2019 12:19:05(UTC)

United Kingdom   
Joined: 02/02/2017(UTC)
Posts: 334
Location: England, South Coast
Like this:

UserPostedImagevb435 by dralowid, on Flickr

Battered but good quality.

For those who remember London in the 50s/60s VB was available at the big toy shop, Hamleys, in Regent Street. I remember there was a track all the way round an upstairs balcony and the Mistral, with silver coaches could be seen running at high speed with pantographs sparking when the lights were turned down. Of course at the time it was a record breaker.

There is nothing quite like live catenary...
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Offline Twinrover1965  
#6 Posted : 12 July 2019 13:07:51(UTC)

United Kingdom   
Joined: 18/03/2018(UTC)
Posts: 5
Location: England, London
Thank you all so much for your informative and helpful replies. I have discovered a superb book devoted to VB Trains [published by LR Presse at 49 Euros] with the full story, including a whole chapter devoted to the many varieties of track.

In fact, it was VB's engineer that had developed the "stud" - ["plots" in French] track and patented it in France in the mid 1940s. Marklin purchased the patent in 1949. However, VB iself didn't market this system until 1959, retaining third rail, which was more expensive than the two rail stud track, until 1960. I strongly recommend getting hold of this book.

While the text is in French, the colourful and engaging illustrations are enough to tell the story. VB Trains Book.jpg
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