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Code 83 vs code 100 for staging

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Code 83 vs code 100 for staging
Posted by restorator on Sunday, September 03, 2017 8:52 PM

All in the post title. Your thoughts on whether to transition to code 100 for staging tracks or keep with the code 83 like the rest of the layout. My research turns up many varied opinions, but the biggest advantage I can see is more varied turnout availibility for less cost. 

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, September 03, 2017 8:58 PM

Cost I get, but how much more variation in turnouts do you need in a staging area?

 

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Posted by restorator on Sunday, September 03, 2017 9:08 PM

BigDaddy

Cost I get, but how much more variation in turnouts do you need in a staging area?

 
 

 

It appears to be cheaper and more options such as tight curved or even snap switches if one wasnt worried so much about appearance. In my case at least one area will be going into a closet under a set of stairs and I would like to snake around it as tight as possible while maintaining a reasonable amount of reliability. 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, September 03, 2017 9:18 PM

I have never tried to push the limits on tight turnouts and curves so I have no advice on that.  I will offer that Atlas is supposed to ship their curved turnouts sometime this fall.

 

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Posted by cuyama on Sunday, September 03, 2017 9:36 PM

restorator
tight curved or even snap switches

restorator
maintaining a reasonable amount of reliability

Those things are likely in conflict.

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Posted by restorator on Sunday, September 03, 2017 10:15 PM

cuyama

 

 
restorator
tight curved or even snap switches

 

 

 
restorator
maintaining a reasonable amount of reliability

 

Those things are likely in conflict.

 

Ok then, turnouts aside, would it be better to use code 100 for more reliability in general?

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Posted by wp8thsub on Sunday, September 03, 2017 10:26 PM

restorator
Ok then, turnouts aside, would it be better to use code 100 for more reliability in general?

No.  Code 100 and 83 turnouts can be equally reliable if installed and tuned properly.  There is no difference at all with reliability of flextrack between the two, assuming both products are in gauge.  Both can be equal in ease of installation.

Likewise, tight curves and snap switches can be equally troublesome in 100 or 83.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, September 04, 2017 3:31 PM

restorator
the biggest advantage I can see is more varied turnout availibility for less cost.   

Code 100 is less expensive so you can save money by using it in staging where appearance isn't very important.

As for variabilty, you can get mostly all the same variety in Code 100 from Shinohara as you do Code 83 by Walthers (made by Shinohara) if you need 3-way, double slip, curved turnouts (ranging from #6 to #8).  You should use what you prefer and if cost savings is a factor, there isn't really any limitation to using code 100.

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, September 04, 2017 4:02 PM

I would use code 83.

.

The concern is that most code 100 turnouts are older designs that could have deeper flangeways in the frogs. This coulc let the trucks dip, and could be unreliable.

.

That is my only thought.

.

I will use Kato code 83 Unitrack in all my staging.

.

-Kevin

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Monday, September 04, 2017 6:40 PM

SeeYou190
The concern is that most code 100 turnouts are older designs that could have deeper flangeways in the frogs. This coulc let the trucks dip, and could be unreliable.

This has not been my experience with Peco Code 100 turnouts and code 110 rp-25 wheelsets.   I have also sucessfully operated code 88 wheelsets on Peco code 100 turnouts.

In fact, my modular clubs standards for several years specified Peco code 100, Shinohara, or Micro Engineering turnouts if the turnout was located on the main line.  

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 8:38 AM

SeeYou190

I would use code 83.

The concern is that most code 100 turnouts are older designs that could have deeper flangeways in the frogs. This coulc let the trucks dip, and could be unreliable.

That is my only thought.

I will use Kato code 83 Unitrack in all my staging.

-Kevin

I imagine Kato unitrack could add up to a lot more money in a large staging yard - powered turnouts MBK price $41 each!  If money is no object, sure, go for it. 

Even if you go code 83 regular track from Atlas or ME, it's going to be quite a bit more expensive that code 100.  Granted, it certainly looks better, but as Rob pointed out, neither is inherently less reliable than the other, which is why I choose to save on cost and use code 100.

A plus for code 100 is that it is a bit more more durable, the rail being heavier and the tie spike detail being a lot thicker, and correspondly uglier.  I have, in a few cases broken the rail out if the finer plastic spikes on my code 83 track - so if you are rough, you can damage it.  Appearance may not be important in many staging yards, especially where they may be underneath - so the durability and lower cost of code 100 IMO makes it a good way to go in staging.

Yes, the blunt points on some code 100 track will give a "pot hole" effect as wheels go through those turnouts, like the Atlas code 100 turnouts - assuming you use those for low cost.  They will still operate reliably and again, appearance instaging?  Your call.  If you don't like the wheels bumping through the points, there are more expensive turnouts which reduce that effect but overall cost may still be enough to make code 100 attractive assuming cost is a factor for you.

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 7:29 AM

My standard gauge track is all code 83, except where it's Code 70 where the dual gauge is (none of that in staging, though.)

I've always wondered about having smooth transitions between various height track. Atlas has different height ties to make 83 and 100 compatible IIRC. ME makes plastic rail joiners that I used for the Code 70 to 83 transition. These usually work well, but I'm more comfrtable with them being out in the open than at all hidden during staging. Make sure you have this figured out before buying a bunch of track, as you want the transition smooth to make it reliable.

Of course, if there is no transition between codes, it avoids the issue entirely.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 10:26 AM

 That has been my attitude so far. In the past I built layout using Code 100. I have since built layouts using Code 83. All have been pretty much bulletproof. The cost difference in my mind isn't enough to offset the POTENTIAL for issues, in precisely the kind of location you don't want issues. Perhaps if I had a larger space and was putting in a 20+ track double ended 40' long staging yard, I might think differently.

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 11:55 AM

restorator

It appears to be cheaper and more options such as tight curved or even snap switches if one wasnt worried so much about appearance. In my case at least one area will be going into a closet under a set of stairs and I would like to snake around it as tight as possible while maintaining a reasonable amount of reliability. 

 

 

"All things being equal", cheaper is better: Code 100

Two kinds of reliability here:  design and durability.

For the former, I do hope you think and ponder long and hard about how YOUR design will not cause problems for any of your rolling stock.  Do you really want to crawl into a closet under the stairs?  Again??  And again??

For the durability part, I'd pick Code 100.  It's harder to bend big rails than smaller. And, once installed and properly working, you don't want any bent rails.  Yeah, rails don't "bend themselves".  That would likely be you doing that crawling into a closet thing.

Transistioning from one rail Code to another is pretty simple.  You buy this:

 

https://www.walthers.com/code-83-nickel-silver-transition-track-code-100-to-code-83

 

Ed

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 1:18 PM

mlehman

I've always wondered about having smooth transitions between various height track.

Years ago I bought an Atlas transition rail joiner, which was essentially a normal rail joiner with a slot cut into the middle top part of the joiner so a "step" could be bent into it.  This allows the bottom of the rail on one side to be at a different elevation than the bottom of the next "different code" rail. 

Of course if you keep the top of the rail level at the same elevation so wheels pass over with no bump up or down, the bottom of the rail will have to be at a different elevation due to differing thicknesses.  The transition joiner allows you to match the differing rail as necessary.  You adjust and solder the rail and it will stay fixed.  In some cases a bit of shimming may be necessary if the ties are lifted up on one side to ramp down - not a problem if some track doesn't compensate for it like the Atlas with it's differing tie heights does.  I've jointed code 70 track with Atlas code 83 this way.

But I never bought another Atlas transition joiner after I bought my first because I make my own by slotting standard rail joiners with my Dremel and then bend a step into the joiner.  Snicker snack.  And Bob's your uncle as the Brit's say.

I have since built layouts using Code 83. All have been pretty much bulletproof.

                                --Randy

I wouldn't call my code 83 bullet proof.  I've definitely shot some holes in it - perhaps accidentally or unintentionally.  The ties in my code 83 are much more fine and fragile and I've broken them off on my Atlas #6 code 83 turnouts in a number of cases.  I've also accidentally ripped rail out of code 83 track too.

Sure, you can spike it and make things work.  Maybe I'm a bit clumsy at times and I'm not getting any younger but the code 100 track is definitely much less likely to brake off those tiny fine molded in spikes.  I  think it's safer to assume not everyone is going to not have accidents etc. and thats where code 100 can be a good idea.  Code 100 is definitely much more "bullet proof" than code 83 from my personal experience so far building 3 decent sized layouts (16x19', 14x26' and 10x18'.

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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 3:25 PM

Hello all,

restorator
Your thoughts on whether to transition to code 100 for staging tracks or keep with the code 83...

Something to consider...

Railroads in 1:1 scale use heavier gage rail on the mainlines and lighter gage in yards and sidings. Prototypical railroads measure the rails in pounds per yard.

"Code" in model railroad refers to the height of the rail in 0.001 of an inch.

From the Kadee web site,
"Track code is simply the measured height of the rail, code 100 is .100" tall, code 83 is .083" tall, code 70 is .070" tall, and so on."

Many modelers in HO prefer code 83 because it looks proportionately more prototypical (realistic) than the larger code 100.

To use the larger code 100 on yards and sidings may make fiscal sense but it doesn't make prototypical sense.  

Some companies make code 70 and code 55 for HO scale use.

Using a larger code rail in yards and sidings doesn't make sense in makes cents.

Hope this helps.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 4:05 PM

jjdamnit

Hello all,

 

 
restorator
Your thoughts on whether to transition to code 100 for staging tracks or keep with the code 83...

 

Something to consider...

Railroads in 1:1 scale use heavier gage rail on the mainlines and lighter gage in yards and sidings. Prototypical railroads measure the rails in pounds per yard.

"Code" in model railroad refers to the height of the rail in 0.001 of an inch.

From the Kadee web site,
"Track code is simply the measured height of the rail, code 100 is .100" tall, code 83 is .083" tall, code 70 is .070" tall, and so on."

Many modelers in HO prefer code 83 because it looks proportionately more prototypical (realistic) than the larger code 100.

To use the larger code 100 on yards and sidings may make fiscal sense but it doesn't make prototypical sense.  

Some companies make code 70 and code 55 for HO scale use.

Using a larger code rail in yards and sidings doesn't make sense in makes cents.

Hope this helps.

 

Except he's talking about using it in staging (ie off stage), which already isnt prototypical.

As to what JJ is talking about, here is a pretty complete chart that compares Ho Scale (and others) actual rail height to its corresponding weight per yard.

http://wpporter.worthygems.com/railweight.php

 

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 6:42 PM

Never used any Atlas code 83, trackwork, only Walthers/Shinohara code 83. Perhaps Atlas is more fragile? I've never had an issue with code 83 and if anything can be klutzed up, I usually can do it. Like Randy, code 83 seems robust enough, but I've got far more code 70 on the narrowgauge and don't have issues with it either.

I should also note that more than half of my standard gauge track is hidden, lots in staging and the rest the back half of a folded dogbone buried under narrowgauge above. Despite the need to reach in awlkwardly at some points, clearing the rare derailment (usually the fault of cats, don't ask...), and use my Centerlines to clean it, the code 83 works without complaint.

Now, some folks claim you're not a serious narrowgauger unless you're using code 55 (or less! Surprise )in HO. You breathe on code 55 and it may wilt. I use a little on sidings and bridges, but that's something that is too wimpy for my tastes. Looks great, if you can keep it straight (or curved properly, as the case may be), though.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 7:10 PM

I still remember when a buddy of mine bought some Code 40 when it came out.  He said a lot of bad words during installation.  Darn cute when it finally behaves, though.

 

Ed

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 7:24 PM

7j43k
He said a lot of bad words during installation. Darn cute when it finally behaves, though.

Yeah, glue only, pretty much, or your flanges bounce on the spikeheads if you handlay. Flex is a bit like a trying to lay a cobweb when you first get ahold of it.

I just came back to add a comment that the small rail sizes really do look great, but everyone has to consider their frustration factor in making their choices if you go there.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, September 07, 2017 6:44 AM

Sure, code 83 track is robust enough, but my argument is, if appearance isn't important and cost savings is (for many of us), then code 100 is a good way to go.  It can take more abuse, it can survive an accidental slip with a tool much better than 83.

I have have very little issue with my Atlas code 83 flex track, but with the Atlas code 83 turnouts, I've busted off spikes on several of the accidentally when working with stubborn rail joiners, - it's easy to slip with a took an knock them off.  Trust me, I know.  That said, usually it's more an annoyance and there are enough molded on spikes to hold the rail in gauge and after painting etc. it would not be hard to notice.  

As always YMMV but the the pro's of rubustness and lower cost of code 100 track in staging are compelling for some and it works reliably.

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, September 07, 2017 7:50 AM

 I have to say, after 2 layouts with nothing but Atlas Code 83, the only Atlas Code 83 I broke were the sections of flex I deliberately stripped the rail out of to use in my Fast Tracks jig. Joiner slip might be my only potential issue since on both I used caulk to lay the track, no chance of a tool slip hammering in a track nail. I even pried up and reused 2 turnouts when I changed my mind on a siding I had running along the front edge of the layout. 

 I did pop a frog loose trying to solder to it, but a drop of CA and popped it back in and it worked as well as any of the others. On my last layout, I drove in self tapping screws in each one to solder a wire to, and even witht he force ot runnign the screw in, never had one pop off or otherwise damaged. Soldering the wire to the brass screw was then quite easy with no chance of overheating the frog.

                                       --Randy

 


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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, September 07, 2017 10:02 AM

I have to say, after 2 layouts with nothing but Atlas Code 83, the only Atlas Code 83 I broke were the sections of flex I deliberately stripped the rail out of to use in my Fast Tracks jig. Joiner slip might be my only potential issue since on both I used caulk to lay the track, no chance of a tool slip hammering in a track nail. I even pried up and reused 2 turnouts when I changed my mind on a siding I had running along the front edge of the layout. 

For the record, I've never damaged track when hammering a track nail in - but "nice try" if thats an attempt at thowing a "negative" argument at securing track with nails or spikes.  After 3 layouts I've found I am solidly in that camp.

No, the damage was done using stubborn rail joiners and slipping with tool trying to push them on the ends of the code 83 turnout rails.  It's pretty easy to do if you are not careful and apparently you have greater dexterity than I do - good for you.  And that doesn't stop me from using smaller codes like 83 or 70 in visible parts of the layout, which is usually most of it.

Code 100 durabilty is still a solid argument for using it in staging, and lower cost.  I don't think those are deniable.

BTW, probably a factor in why I've knocked those tiny plastic spikes off while installing rail joiners is because I'm using those older Atlas code 83 joiners which they no longer make.  Those a lot harder to get onto rail and are pretty tight which is why it's much easlier to have these kinds of accidents.  But they are also alot better visually - I know others are using N scale code 80 rail joiners for the same reason - they are more inconspicuous and work in liue of the out of production Atlas code 83 joiners.

Gotta talk like a lawyer around here so here is the fine print again: YMMV and hobbyists may choose code 83 and do so with full knowledge of the pro's and con's, which is why I assume the OP is soliciting our feedback.  Point being made, thats me away up the road, as they say in northern UK.

Cheers!

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Posted by Medina1128 on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 10:14 AM

You could use Micro Engineering code 70 track. Since you're transitioning to a lower rail height, I'd use the following method.

  • Flatten a rail joiner and solder to bottom the rails of your turnout.
  • Slide the code 70 rails into the rail joiners.

Visually check the vertical alignment.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 11:03 AM

Or, for transitioning from one code to another, use an Atlas transition rail joiner or if you are cheap like me, make your own from a standard rail joiner by grinding out a slot in the middle.

Transition joiners just have a flat spot in the middle so you can bend a "step" into it.  That way the larger rail bottom can be lower than the adjoining smaller code rail.

I've seen people describe flattening out one side of a joiner for the smaller code, but the advantage of using a transition joiner is the "step" in the joiner allows you to easily adjust/align the top of the rail to be even and smooth.  Plus, since rail on both sides is inserted into the same joiner, although at different heights, the rail will held in alignment as you look down from the top, similar to a standard joiner. 

If you use a joiner that is flattened on one side, the rail on that side is only resting on it and you'll have to solder it to the bottom of the rail while it is "floating", and hopefully get it right.  With rail inserted on both sides to a transition joiner, the joiner holds the rail in alignment while you are soldering.  I prefer that personally.

There is enough "give" that you can make sure the insides of each rail are even and smooth too.

In summary, the advantage to using a transition joiner is that the rail on both sides is held in place by the joiner so it makes it easier to adjust and solder.  You can tweak the alignment in the vertical plane and horzontal plane before soldering and it will generally stay put. Once soldered, the rail alignment is locked in place at thet transition point.

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 6:47 AM

I'll put in my My 2 Cents worth for the ME transition joiners. They're plastic and are offered in various combinations so that you get an exact alignment between the rail tops on both sides. In my case, it worked out well to make most of my transitions where insulated gaps would go anyway.

However, a soldered transition, whether bought or hacked from a standard joiner, is stronger than the plastic ones. This can be important on curves, where there can sometimes be some sideways forces to deal with.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 7:09 AM

Speaking of plastic insulated rail joiners...  Next time around I think I'll try to find an alternative to the Atlas plastic ones which I don't like much.  They are soft, rubbery and don't hold rail very well.  I did see Peco offers them and if ME makes better ones, I'll have to try them.

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 8:00 AM

The ME insulated joiners are a hard plastic, so may be just what you're looking for. Note that they fit tightly, so takes a little practice to not mangle them at first. This is particularly so if using a different rail than ME, as the profile can be different enough that the fit is tighter even though all is the proper code.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 10:12 AM

LION has 14 MILES of track on the layout opf him.

100% Model Power code 100 track, the cheapest I could get. Atlas switches for the most part, but others as well.

Many switches have been reused many times. Ergo they have been repaired many times, I might as well have built my own switcheds, but of course I did not. LION still afeared to do that.

LINE of LION very PROTOTYPICAL... New York has derailments all of the time these days.

 

ROAR

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