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Seeking advice on track type

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Seeking advice on track type
Posted by Lonehawk on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 12:32 PM

Hi.  I'm looking for some advice on what type of track to use in my new layout.  I've read a number of posts about track ranging from "stick to your prototype" to, "if it looks good, do it."  I'm kind of middle of the road (right of way?) between these views.  Looking good is important, because, heck, if you don't like how it looks, you'll worry about that more than the running of the layout.  But I also like it to be "plausible".

I'm proto-lancing a mid-1930's era branch line railroad based on the Arcade and Attica in Western New York.  Sort of a "what if this railroad had been more successful" exercise.  The prototype uses 70 lb rail today, (which as I understand corresponds to code 70), and hauls fairly light traffic, typically less than 500 frieight cars plus seasonal excursions each year. Historical data on trackage is a bit hard to find.  

I'm thinking about doing my layout in code 83, and the traffic on my layout would be much higher than the prototype.  If it makes a difference, motive power would be either an 0-8-0, a Consolidation or a Mike, or some combination thereof.  I'm leaning toward Consolidation, which the ARA runs today.

So, is an upgrade to heavier rail, in this case from code 70 to 83 plausible?  Would it work with the time period?  Is that the sort of investment a railroad would make if the traffic were heavy enough? Maybe not in the 30's but perhaps in better years in the '20's?  For the record, I can make my track plan work in either size, so that's not a factor.

 

Thanks!

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 4:34 PM

Hello all,

What scale are you modeling?

From the Kaddee website:

"The term Code 110 and Code 88 relates to the width of the wheels and has no relationship to track code.
Code 110 wheels are .110" wide and Code 88 are .088" wide.
Code 110 wheels are the common (or "Standard") width wheels and Code 88 are what is called "Semi-Scale" and are used when the modeler wants a more prototypical looking wheel width.
Actual HO-Scale prototypical wheel width would be around .067" wide and although they will run OK on the average track they will not go through common turnouts and crossings.
Code 88 (.088") is just about the minimum width of wheel that will run on most standard or common track if gauged correctly.
It really is a matter of appearances because there's very little operational differences between running Code 110 or Code 88 wheels.
Code 88 wheels look really good and are most noticeable on open frame cars like hoppers and tank cars. However, they also look great on boxcars, gondolas, and reefers but not quite as noticeable.
As mentioned above track code and wheel code have no relationship meaning Code 110 and Code 88 will run on most any code of track.
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.

(Paragraph breaks and underscore added by poster for clarification)

That being said, code 100 rail would best represent the heavier of the rails while code 83 and 70 would represent the "lighter" rail stock.

This is only applicable to HO scale. Other scales will use the same "code"- -rail height- -but will visually appear differently compared to the rolling stock.

I use HO scale code 100 track so I can run any code of wheels.

There are "transition rail joiners" that can mate code 100 to 83 or vice-a-versa. You could also fabricate rail joiners from code 83 to 70 and even 55 for HO scale.

Hope this helps.

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Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 4:37 PM

http://www.proto87.com/Prototype_and_HO_rail_sizes.html

Code 70 approx 100 lb rail

Code 83 approx 132 lb rail

This site lists rail used by some prototype railroads    

http://www.icrr.net/rails.htm

 

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 4:42 PM

 Painted and ballasted, it becomes much harder to tell that the rail is too high. I've seen well done N scale code 80, which is equivalent to something well north of 150 pound rail, that doesn;t immediately scream "N scale" because of the rail height. 

 These days, HO code 83 probably has the biggest selection of available pieces, and I see nothing wrong with using code 83 track for a prorotype that used 70 pound rail. You can get rail and in a few cases flex track and some turnouts in smaller sizes, but you may end up having to hand lay - if that's your thing then by all means use the smaller rail.

                                           --Randy

 


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Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 6:27 PM

jjdamnit
That being said, code 100 rail would best represent the heavier of the rails while code 83 and 70 would represent the "lighter" rail stock.

In HO scale code 100  represents rail larger than used on the propotype except some sections of the Pennsylvania Railroad. (152 & 155 lb rail) 

Code 83 (132 Lb) is considered by about right, by many modelers, for most main line HO scale applications.

The link I posted earlier shows that historically the largest rail on many railroads was about 100 lb  Code 70 in HO, some 110 lb  code 75 in HO

 

rrinker's comment about painting a ballasting is correct.

Chart comparing prototype rail weight to midel rail height in various scales         

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

 

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Posted by Lonehawk on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 6:45 PM

Wow. Thanks for all the great information.  jjdamnit, your post was particularly informative, as was DSchmitt's.

I am modeling in HO (sorry for forgetting that, and also I think I put this in the wrong section, but it's here now), so it looks like I'll be going code 83 (thanks for your point on N-scale though, rrinker.  The same idea applies to HO, I'm sure).  I've seen both first hand on layouts, and I do like the look of the smaller rail.  And as I've seen elsewhere and been reminded here, a good job of ballasting and weathering can work wonders.

- Adam


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Posted by dstarr on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 6:57 PM

I laid code 100 track on my layout mostly because I had access to a nice bunch of used code 100 flex track  for free.  It's a little big, but after I brush painted the rails rust brown they  looked much smaller.  I believe code 83 is the smallest rail in HO for which ready made flex track and turnouts are available.  Paint the rails, and it will look just fine. 

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Posted by DSchmitt on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 7:18 PM

 

The wheels on the cars and locomotives, to be operated, should also be considered when chosing rail code. Code 83 works with virtually all, but code 70 has problems with some (mostly older equipment) due to wheel flange depth.  Wheels are generally easy to change on cars, but difficult to change on locomotives.

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 7:36 PM

I would definitely use Code 70.  I might even use a bit of Code 55 for some industrial trackage.

I wouldn't let the "deep flange" problem get in the way.  Anything you have that has deep flanges should either be tossed or fixed.

If Shinohara track suits you, they make a lot of things, including switches in 4,6,8 and even a double slip switch.  

83 is just too big for the railroad you want to make.

 

Ed

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Posted by Medina1128 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 5:30 AM

A lot would depend on the motive power and rolling stock that you already have. Older Rivarossi steam locomotives had deep flanges on their wheelsets. Replacing them could be a problem. If so, I'd run code 100 track. If your equipment has NMRA RP-25 profile wheelsets, then you should be able to run codes 83, 70 and 55 without any problems.

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Posted by mobilman44 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 5:50 AM

Hi,

Certainly some good advice so far.   One additional point I would like to make however.   Working with code 100 (I prefer Atlas) is relatively easy.  But of course it is bigger than some would prefer (although painting and ballasting minimize that aspect).  Code 70 and more so 55 may be very realistic, but they can be difficult to solder, etc.  

So that leaves code 83 - a nice compromise in size, with components readily available from many sources. 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by joe323 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:23 AM

Unless you are inviting a bunch of rivet counters over to your layout I would not get too obsessed with track code and the prototype.  code 83 seems like a reasonable compromis. 

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 7:34 AM

rrinker
I've seen well done N scale code 80, which is equivalent to something well north of 150 pound rail, that doesn;t immediately scream "N scale" because of the rail height.

From what I have viewed over the past 40 years, code 80 N scale track, ballasted or not, painted or not, looks "gross" and toylike.  Of course as they say, YMMV, but if I were to switch to N scale, I would not use code 80 in visible areas - only staging.  To me, code 80 track indeed screams N-scale very loudly.  I suppose it's a matter of ones level of tolerance; everyone has to decide for themself but for me, painting and ballasting it doesn't hide it's overscale appearance; painting/ballasting/weathering camouflages HO code 100 better, relatively speaking.

The wheels on the cars and locomotives, to be operated, should also be considered when chosing rail code. Code 83 works with virtually all, but code 70 has problems with some (mostly older equipment) due to wheel flange depth.  Wheels are generally easy to change on cars, but difficult to change on locomotives.

The issue above is largely moot these days, but one one happens to have ver old HO rolling stock with "pizza cutter" flanges, then you could possibly be limited from using the smaller code tracks such as code 70 or maybe code 83.  The vast majority of HO products made in the past 25 years should not have any issues with common HO track in the major code 70/83/100 track.

 

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 7:54 AM

DSchmitt
In HO scale code 100 represents rail larger than used on the prototype except some sections of the Pennsylvania Railroad. (152 & 155 lb rail)

As modern locomotives and freight cars get heavier so does the rail on major main routes.. Short lines is facing to light of rail for today's heavier cars especially grain cars.

C100 fills the bill for this heavier main line trackage.

 

Larry

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:00 AM

mobilman44

Hi,

Certainly some good advice so far.   One additional point I would like to make however.   Working with code 100 (I prefer Atlas) is relatively easy.  But of course it is bigger than some would prefer (although painting and ballasting minimize that aspect).  Code 70 and more so 55 may be very realistic, but they can be difficult to solder, etc.  

So that leaves code 83 - a nice compromise in size, with components readily available from many sources. 

 

This is what I'm thinking as well, given my research and what I'm seeing here. I'm not really worried about flanges, since the only equipment I will be running that is older than that 25 year mark, as mentioned by riogrande, would be a couple of gons, and I could easily swap the wheels out if needed.  Most of what rolls here will be new or recently-made seconds.  Like I said earlier, I'm not worried about counting rivets, but I don't want anything obviously out of size or toylike, if I can avoid it.  My benchmark is "plausible".  So given the parts availability, ease of use, and my own expansion plans (eventually), code 83 is looking like the best option, with maybe some 70 for sidings/yards.

- Adam


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Posted by SouthPenn on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:16 AM

joe323

Unless you are inviting a bunch of rivet counters over to your layout I would not get too obsessed with track code and the prototype.  code 83 seems like a reasonable compromise.  

I agree. No one that has seen my railroad has ever mentioned the size of the rail. Even where it transitions from one code to the other. 

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:21 AM

Go with Code 83; it has the widest availability of products, and is the only HO code where you can get Number 5 turnouts (which are a marvelous thing).  As mentioned above, nobody is actually going to notice.

Code 55 is 83 pound rail, but you'd have to make all your own switches.

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:23 AM

Also, I know somebody who uses Code 83, Code 70, and Code 55 on his HO railroad, and he has to point it out to people because nobody ever notices.

 

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

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Posted by Graham Line on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 11:41 AM

Casual visitors aren't going to be clued in to the availability of different rail sizes. Even so, their brains are going to register the fact that some track is less hefty, and therefore, probably less important, than other segments. Some of these details that are not noticed on their own -- like fat framing in windows -- still contribute to the overall effect.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:00 PM

The casual visitors to my layout would always notice the automobiles.  I could have had steamers pulling a string of well cars and they would see nothing wrong, but autos all caught their eyes.

I built the first part of my layout with Code 100 and then switched to Code 83 for the rest.  I really like the Code 83 much better for appearance.  The ties are also larger in Code 100, at least the Atlas track, and the thinner ones look better.  I find Code 83 easier to ballast, too, probably because the tie depth is lower.

If you're going to be particular about the track, you could use Code 70 for spurs and little-used branch lines.

I had a lot of very old Tyco cars left over from my teenage years.  They were fine on Code 100, but I did notice that the old plastic pizza-cutter wheels would ride up on the ties in places instead of sitting firmly on the rails.  Eventually I replaced all my plastic wheels with metal ones and solved that problem.

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Posted by BATMAN on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:03 PM

Graham Line

Casual visitors aren't going to be clued in to the availability of different rail sizes. Even so, their brains are going to register the fact that some track is less hefty, and therefore, probably less important, than other segments. Some of these details that are not noticed on their own -- like fat framing in windows -- still contribute to the overall effect.

 

Agreed, the more you cheat or fudge on things, the more it starts to add up as far as the appearance of the layout as a whole. 

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:16 PM

I have dozens of Rivarossi locomotives and rolling stock with large flanges and they work great through Atlas & Peco code 83 turnouts.  The Rivarossi deep flanges do not like code 83 Shinohara or Walthers turnouts in DCC mode.  The deep flanges short at the frog and the decoders need to reboot.  Just minute sparks in DC mode, not enough to interrupt operations unless going at a very slow creep.  The arcing at the frog can be a bit embarrassing if your showing off. Smile
 
 
 
 
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 2:11 PM

Bayfield Transfer Railway

Also, I know somebody who uses Code 83, Code 70, and Code 55 on his HO railroad, and he has to point it out to people because nobody ever notices.

Perhaps, but most of us build our layouts to satisfy and impress ourselves.  Just saying...

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Posted by CNSF on Thursday, January 11, 2018 4:31 PM
I've used all four sizes on my layout - 100 for hidden staging because it's cheapest; 83 for the visible main lines; 70 for secondary trackage; and a little bit of 55 on some industry spurs. I don't know if casual visitors notice, but I built the layout for me, not them, and I definitely notice the difference. Code 70 is probably more prototypically correct for your main line, but the arguments based on 83's availability are strong. My recommendation is to go with at least two sizes, because your eyes will notice and appreciate the difference. So 83 for the mainline and turnouts, and 70 for sidings and spurs would make sense.
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Posted by mobilman44 on Thursday, January 11, 2018 4:54 PM

Hi,

I would like to reinforce the comments about "casual viewers" not having a clue about track size......  Viewers of my HO layouts over the years noticed the vehicles, the painted backdrop, and the usual scenes that people typically see in the real world (i.e. farms, loading docks, diners, etc.).

I've had more than a couple "knowledgeable" folks looking at my transition era layout and didn't have a clue about steam locos, much less track size and such.

As someone wrote, you are building the layout for you.  Twer I were you, and 20 years younger, I would go with the code 83 and never look back.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by BF&D on Thursday, January 11, 2018 8:17 PM

I'd go with Code 70  -  it looks much better, especially for the era you're modeling;  for transition era railroads up to the early/mid '50s, I favor code 70 with Code 55 for some yard and sidings.  Ballast won't hide it if you know it's there  -  and doesn't hide that much even of you're unaware.  If you were doing a PRR main drag, even in the '30s, Code 83 woud look OK  -  maybe not for yards, sidings and service tracks, but OK for the main.  But the Pennsy laid some really heavy iron.  Go with Code 70.   

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Posted by SouthPenn on Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:41 PM

As already mentioned, build what you like. 

The one thing that most of the visitors notice about my track work is the wood ties in the areas that I have hand laid rail. 

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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, January 11, 2018 10:11 PM

MisterBeasley

If you're going to be particular about the track, you could use Code 70 for spurs and little-used branch lines.

Mr B (or anyone else): How to easily transition between two different track codes?  Is it better doing that over using the same code and different heights of cork roadbed?

On my 1st layout I used ME code 83 throughout and plan on doing likewise.  It appears that's what most use and offers the greatest availability.

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Posted by hornblower on Friday, January 12, 2018 2:26 PM

I would also recommend HO scale Code 83 due to the wide selection and pricing competition.  I also highly recommend the use of Atlas N scale Code 80 rail joiners on the HO Code 83 track. These joiners are significantly smaller than HO joiners and nearly disappear when the rails are painted.  As the fit is rather tight (some pre-sizing is usually needed), they hold HO scale track just as well as HO joiners.  Pre-sizing is accomplished by sliding each joiner over a piece of Code 83 rail that has one end filed into a tapered shape.  Wrap the other end of the piece of rail with tape to create a comfortable handle.  

Hornblower

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, January 12, 2018 2:43 PM

kasskaboose
 

Mr B (or anyone else): How to easily transition between two different track codes?  

 

 

It's very easy.  

You "spike" the thicker track down.  You place the thinner track next to that, and shim it up with styrene until it matches.  Then, they MATCH.  

You don't actually HAVE to use some special rail joiner.  If you do a good job of spiking, the rails will stay in alignment.

 

Is it better doing that over using the same code and different heights of cork roadbed?

 

That wouldn't change the "Code", which is what we're talking about here.

 

Ed

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