Update: My pedantic-because-he's-correct brother informs me that one reason for the 'strangeness' is the ratio of gauge to car length, reflected in Lionel trains by the 'O' rating. The O rating determines the minimum radius of a full turn of track in inches; most Lionel O gauge stock is O27, which (as my bro points out) is waaaay shorter w.r.t gauge than reality. This is true. Lionel makes other engines, though, some of which go all the way up to O72 (mostly the more insanely detailed and hence expensive steam replicas) - these, by nature, would be unable to make those sharp turns I described above and hence would be restricted to curves that would ameliorate that sense of wrongness.
Also, Jacob tells me that of course one can set up a train set to slow down in the curves. He said it with a great deal more disdain for my ignorance than I can convey here, all of which, I'm sad to say, was warranted.
Posted by jbz at November 6, 2006 8:41 PM