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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Trackwork - For The Average Enthusiast

I have decided to take a fresh look at my track work with a view to replacing it for something a little more appealing and better performance.

Currently my turnouts are 00 Peco code 100 small radius insulfrog and the straights are Graham Farish 00 Code 100 Formoway (The latter no longer marketed).

Let me start by saying that previously I was a finescale modeller in EM for many years using hand built code 75 turnouts with C&L chairs and SMP Scaleway code 75 straights. I am therefore, very familiar with the code 75 v 100 debate. If any EM/P4 modellers have started reading this then you might turn away now. What follows may interest the average enthusiast.

My backward(?) step to 00 and code 100 was purely because I could not face converting to EM the finely detailed r.t.r steam locomotives that have come on the market in recent years. My use of code 100 was because I had bountiful stock from even earlier modelling activities.

The main issue I have with my present track work is that the small radius turnouts tend to encourage derailments. I really should move up to medium points at the least and consider moving to code 75 for authenticity.

First thing to consider is the prototype. In the first half of the sixties a mix of flat bottom and bullhead rail in 60' lengths was in use on BR(S). On the main line at Crewkerne flat bottom rail was in use but anywhere along the main line you could find a mix of both. Sidings were still in bullhead and turnouts remained in bullhead due to the high cost of replacement. At this time wooden sleepers were the norm.

For model track my first decision is to use r-t-r turnouts, as I see no benefit in making these for 00 gauge when the track gauge is so unprototypical. Disregarding 'toy' track the r-t-r- options are either Tillig or Peco. Neither products are accurate to UK prototype. Tillig being for overseas networks and Peco - well the sleeper spacing and size is wrong, the chairs unrealistic, has cosmetic mechanics around the tie bar that bear no resemblance to the prototype and it's flat bottom! This just goes to show that compromise is necessary, which for the 00 gauge modeller (who is already living with an inaccurate track gauge) should not be an issue.

I bought myself a Peco code 75 elctrofrog turnout for trials. Sit this alongside a code 100 and the difference is (remarkably) not that significant. I whole heartily agree with the findings from this research. It's mainly the wide flat bottom of code 100 that makes it look too bulky when viewed from above. This is where code 75 has an extra advantage since it's narrower flat bottom is not far off the desired bullhead in appearance.

The Peco code 75 has much finer and tidier appearance than code 100 around the frog (i.e. the V) because there are no breaks in the rail, which brings us to the major technical difference. The frog and switch blades are electrified throughout. This means the locomotive has consistent power feed throughout its journey through the turnout and as a consequence trouble free running at slow speeds. The downside is course-scale metal wheels may cause momentary shorting through the switch blade. For command and control systems this event would result in fail safe cut out of power and possibly longer term damage. Peco have made provision in the design for the User to rewire the turnout and circumnavigate the shorting issue, but this also requires an electrical switch that is mechanically connected to the switch blade movement. I'd like to avoid that if possible so my next step is to set up a live test and run all my stock through.

By the way, point operation is currently by means of a finger rather than remote control and this shall probably prevail.

To Part 2

1 comment:

  1. I have both 75 and 100 and find the latter very reliable electrically whereas the code 75 is giving me problems despite constant cleaning.



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