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How to Fix Out of Standard Guard Rail (N Scale)

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  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Neenah, WI
  • 212 posts
Posted by sschnabl on Friday, September 18, 2020 12:52 PM

Another option would be to remove two of the plastic ties and replace them with PC board ties.  Then you could solder the guardrails to the PC board ties.  Just don't forget to file a gap in the middle of each tie to prevent a short.


  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 11,074 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, September 11, 2020 11:23 PM

I'm not at all familiar with the dimensions of N scale turnouts, but if you have a motor tool and some cut-off discs which will easily fit into the flangeway, you should be able to remove some material from the guard rails.  You'll need a steady hand, as the discs are rather fragile, especially when side pressure is applied, so be sure to wear eye protection.

Apply only very light pressure, and check after each pass to determine when you've removed enough material.

It might also be wise to work on the various turnouts in rotation, rather than concentrating on only one guard rail at a time, as each pass will generate heat within the rail, and you don't want that to alter the plastic ties which hold the rails in place.


  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 8 posts
Posted by cchristianmcguire on Friday, September 11, 2020 2:02 PM

Thanks for your help everybody!  My rolling stock all has new medium flange wheels from Micro-Trains, and they roll beautifully on all the trackwork except these few problematic switches.  I also used a NMRA gage to check the depth of the flanges and the width of the wheels when I installed them.  My locomotive is a NW2 from Broadway Limited.  It too rolls well just like the rolling stock.

I checked the turnout with my NMRA gage, and it definitely doesn't fit on the gage.  The gage measurement plus the problem only occuring on a few of my turnouts (and only on one leg of those switches) makes me believe it is the turnout and not the rolling stock/locomotive.

Not trying to discount the advice given, just elaborating on steps already taken.  I am new at this, so please keep sharing your wisdom!

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 4,321 posts
Posted by cuyama on Friday, September 11, 2020 12:54 PM

Randy is right. I've never heard of the guard rails being too tight on Atlas C55 (although a bad batch is conceivable), but the Pizza Cutter wheel problem is well-documented. How old are your engines, and from what manufacturer(s)?

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 29,113 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, September 11, 2020 11:17 AM

I doubt the issue is that the guard rails are too close. Rather, the flangeway is not deep enough to handle the oversize flanges on those locos. You can file the flangeway deeper without moving the guard rail. Code 55 track is not suitable for all N scale equipment, especially older stuff with larger flanges. Two options - stick with Code 80 track, or replace the oversize wheels. In rolling stock that is easy, in locos, that may involve turning them down yourself.


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  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 5,595 posts
Posted by rrebell on Friday, September 11, 2020 9:51 AM

You can heat it up with a soldering iron and wedge it over. You must be detail orientated and it can't need to move too much. If it pops out, CA should work, dose with Shinohara stuff.

  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: Wyoming, where men are men, and sheep are nervous!
  • 2,526 posts
Posted by Pruitt on Friday, September 11, 2020 7:06 AM

I'm not sure CA would hold securely over time on the plastic ties.

Depending on your roadbed material, small spikes might work. Drill a small hole through the tie for each spike, and let the roadbed hold the spike.

Before you do anything though, check that your wheels are properly gauged, if you haven't already. Could be your problem is just wheels too far apart.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 8 posts
How to Fix Out of Standard Guard Rail (N Scale)
Posted by cchristianmcguire on Thursday, September 10, 2020 7:58 PM

I have a host of Atlas Code 55 turnouts on my layout that are out of standard.  The guard rails on the turnouts are too close to the stock rail, and they actually cause rolling stock and locomotives to ride up the rail and lose electrical contact.  My locomotive dies almost everytime over these turnouts.

I have purchased a few sets of files hoping to take a little bit off the guard, but the space is just too small to fit files in there, even riffler files.  I am not thinking of moving the guard rail to make it in standards.

If I move it, how would I reattach it to the ties?  Right now, they are held in with the molded plastic spikes.  Would a drop of CA work on metal rails?  Thanks for your help in advance!

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