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Track Laying Standards

6248 Views 18 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  double00
QUOTE but would be garanteed to run on any track which is also built to standard

LisaP4 commented elsewhere about track being built "to standard".

How about some guidance here for the new folks looking in?

Now I know this may sound silly to some but I bet a lot of folk build track on the floor at home.

In fact don't Fleischmann encourage this with some of their promotion material? Their track does have a plastic underlay in the way that the old Triang Standard track had. This track was also built on carpet of course by most folks here who had there first set as a nipper (I know I did!)

So what do we mean by "track being built to standard"?

The standard for one modeller might be different to that of another.

So what is good track laying?

Happy modelling

PS just to remind folk that Hornby, Peco, Bachmann and others do not recommend that their set track is built on the carpet. Just in case some of us get ideas!
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When I said "track built to standard" I was refering to it's physical dimensions (such as flangeway width) more than how well (or not) it is laid.
There's at least 5 differant standards for 00 or H0 track, not all of which are compatible with each other. Then of course there's the wheel standards which Bachmann and Hornby use which don't seem to conform to any standard, just however they feel like shaping the wheels when they make them.
Oh right!

Missunderstanding. Sorry.

Do the different standards require different approaches to track laying? I have always been a set track person (toy train standards I know but I'm happy) and have no experiance with anything else.

Code 100 set track and flexible track, code 75, finescale, P4, etc?

Clearly the finer the standard the higher the standard of track laying has to be. Flatter, smoother jointing, larger radius consistent curves, smaller gradients with even gradient, etc. In actual fact you have be be a civil engineer when you think about it!

Happy modelling
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Set track is obviously the easiest of track to lay, push it together, connect your controller, and you're ready to run your trains. It's biggest draw backs are that it has too heavy a rail section (it would be 9" high if it were fullsize!), and it doesn't "flow" like prototype track does, it is either straight or curved.

With code 100 flexitrack you can lay it to look more like the prototype, with that almost fluid like sweep as a straight gradually becomes a curve, and even long sweeping curves rather than straights. It still has the heavy rail section of set track though, and you will need to cut the rail and fit your own fishplates (rail joiners).

The only differance between code 100 flexitrack and code 75 flexitrack is that code 75 uses a scale rail section, so it look alot better, and you can still run any ready to run models on it.

However most 00 track (Peco, Hornby, etc.) is actually built to H0 scale and is designed for the American market, this means the sleepers are too small and too close together, therefore some people use track from C&L or SMP which has the correct sleeper size and spacing for British 00 models.
The only problem here is that you need to scratchbuild your points (it's actually alot easier than it sounds!) using parts available from C&L, or have them professionally built for you by firms such as Marcway.
You can still run most ready to run models on 00 finescale trackwork, but you may need to replace the wheels on some older models (say anything older than about 10-15 years).

Next problem is that 00 track is actually too narrow for the loco's and stock (2.33mm or a scale 7 inches) so if you want to correct this you have 2 options.

EM (short for Eighteen Millimetre) uses a gauge of 18.2mm, like 00 finescale there is flexitrack available from SMP and C&L, and you will also have to scratchbuild your points using parts available from C&L, or have them professionally built for you by firms such as Marcway. You will also have to change the wheels in all your loco's and rollingstock to suit the new gauge, which can be quite difficult in EM.

P4 (short for ProtoFour) uses the exact scale gauge of 18.83mm, there is also flexitrack available from SMP and C&L, and point kits are available from Exactoscale (these are about easier to build than plastic wagon kits), or you can scratchbuild just as with 00 finscale and EM (I have a single slip taking shape on my work bench at the moment), or even have them made for you by firms such as Model Signal Engineering. You will also need to cahnge all your wheels to suit the wider gauge, but it is often easier to do this in P4 than EM.

If you'd like more info on P4, take a look at my site - P4 Made Easy - shameless plug I know

Also here is a length of Peco 00 code 75 flexitrack beside a length of C&L P4 flexitrack for comparison. Note on the P4 track the longer, wider sleepers are spaced further apart, and the gauge is considerably wider, which is correct for 00 scale models.
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Fleischmann track comes with an attached roadbed but does not encourage in any way placing a layout on the floor let alone the rug regardless of any promotional material. Fleischmann track has no locking mechanism resulting in continuous track separation unless it's secured to some surface.

This is definitely not a toy track system.
Don't worry. I am a setrack person too! With not much space available then tight curves and small radius points are essential to pack everything in when I play around.

I suspect that those who demand higher standards and more realistic looking track have more space. Also finer standards tend to be fragile and require a permanent fix. Think about the market that Hornby supply track to.

There, we come back to those kids again!

Interesting bit of info - The Pritchard Patent Product Co (Peco) have the UK patent rights for producing products for railway modellers. Hornby (by virtue of their purchase of Hornby Dublo in the early 1960's) have the patent rights for producing model railways as toys. Its all historical and neither enforces the rights (it would seem) but they are there in black and white and there could be "lines" (Ho! Ho!) that neither company crosses.

Happy modelling
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For some years now I have been building my own 00 pointwork, for the very reasons that LisaP4 has identified above. It is the only way to get smoothly flowing pointwork and complicated junctions.

The following photo shows what I mean:

The double and single slips and the diamond crossing in the centre are all built with copperclad sleepers and code 75 rail similar to that which is supplied by Mainly Trains in their Scaleway point kits. The plain track on the left is SMP. On the right I have used C&L point kits in the loco yard. All this track has correctly sized sleepers for 4 mm scale with the correct spacing. The check rails are set for a minimum back to back gauge of 14.2 mm and old Hornby, Triang, Wrenn and Hornby Dublo 2 rail will not run through smoothly.

Some would say, why that I should have built an EM or P4 layout, but really I have too much stock to contemplate conversion.

The points are operated by Fulgurex or Lemaco point motors which are broadly similar and have two switches for changing the polarity of point crossings, signalling and so on.

The track here is all laid on 10 mm thick dense foam rubber tiles. Elsewhere I have used the dense foam rubber sheeting used by campers to go under their sleeping bags. The foam rubber is stuck down with white PVA glue taking care not to stretch or compress it. The track sections are similarly stuck down onto a layer PVA glue, pinned in position and, whilst the glue is still wet, ballasted with N gauge stone ballast, then weighted down and left for three days.

Signalling will follow one day.

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Had a look at the link and that is some classy looking pointwork Colombo. Very nice indeed.
I came across that photo accidentally, via a different route, so did not have the benefit of knowing in advance what it was.
I had to think long and hard before I was even half sure it wasn't real!
The only clue is the missing piece of track bedding at the left and the rest is so unbelievably convincing that, for several minutes, I could only think it was an extremely neat piece of excavation work.
It is absolutely fabulous work - I am completely and utterly gob-smacked.
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After reading the pages of this topic - what is the correct procedure in laying one's layout, regardless of Gauge used.
On setting down a point on a proposed layout - does the moving blade of the point face to the right or left hand side? of the track.
Laying out a station, should trains travel to the right or left? or is it left to the modeller to decide, as it does not matter?
If a modeller decides to replicate the full size trains, then it is to the left for the upper line and right for the down line.
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The British train convention is that trains travel on the left of double tracks, just as motor vehicles do on the roads. Generally, they will maintain this rule through simple one or two platform through stations. Multiple track/platform stations naturally require some crossing over to reach the required selection of platforms. A particularly 'odd' case is any terminus, in that the train will (usually but not always!) arrive on the left in the direction of travel. But, unless the train is physically moved to another platform before departure on its next trip (time consuming and inefficient), it will leave from that same arrival platform which is now its departure platform, on the right in the new, opposite direction of travel! But it will then be switched to the opposite, left track as soon as possible after leaving the platform area.

I think your question about points perhaps refers to whether the points should be 'leading' or 'trailing'. That is whether the loco is travelling towards the blades (leading) and is so able to directly change routes in the direction of travel, or trailing, where the loco is coming from one of the divergent routes towards the convergence into one track. Another way of looking at the descriptions is that leading is where the loco travels over the blades before crossing the frog and trailing is where it crosses the frog before reaching the blades.

Certainly on full size railways it is considered much safer that trains should cross points in the trailing direction, as this drastically reduces the possibility of derailment or mis-switching. There are many exceptions created by the necessity to change routes 'on the fly', in which case a speed reduction is usually required to negotiate the diversion safely. Conventions do change over time and I am sure someone else is better qualified to advise on prototype practice at stations in particular. In any case, of course, no one is forced to slavishly try to copy full size practice - that's one of the advantages of 'playing with trains'!
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That's some beautifull pointwork. Nothing beats well done hand made points and I would love to spend some time making #10 points for my railroad.

Fast Tracks is a US company that will help you make it happen: (OO not available)

Step 1 - Pre-Forming the Guardrails (3 Min)
Step 2 - Pre-Building the Frog Point (8 Min)
Step 3 - Preparing & Inserting the PC Board Ties (8 Min)
Step 4 - Preparing the Stock Rail (4 Min)
Step 5 - Soldering the Stock Rail (2 Min)
Step 6 - Forming the Switchpoint/Closure Rail (10 Min)
Step 7 - Soldering the Switchpoint/Closure Rail (10 Min)
Step 8 - Blending/Dressing The SwitchPoints (2 Min)
Step 9 - Installing the Switchpoints (3 Min)
Step 10 - Installing the Guardrails (3 Min)
Step 11 - Installing the Throwbar (4 Min)
Step 12 - Cutting the Frog Isolation Gaps (4 Min)
Step 13 - Testing the Turnout for Shorts (3 Min)
Step 14 - Painting the Completed Turnout (3 Min)
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What a GREAT set of videos!
The right tools make everything a good deal easier, but seeing someone actually doing it is worth a thousand words.

I once hand made a few N Gauge plain turnouts using only a roller track gauge, a junior hacksaw, a jewellers file, pliers and a soldering iron, using a set of Peco points as a model. Looking back, a good number of years now, I don't know how the heck I managed it but I recall the sense of achievement was tremendous. I wouldn't DREAM of hand making plain track though - a mind numbing task at best.

Dennis, give it a go - you could really enjoy it - seriously!

Those videos are tempting me to try again - just to see if I still CAN!
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Oh dear, oh dear, the dreaded dialup modem and it's speed. Tried the two minute demo and after 8 minutes had only 46% of the film downloaded. Watched that bit and called it a day. Shame because I really liked the small section I was able to watch.
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CeeDee - a suggestion for next time.
Set up downloads (Save target as . . .) on maybe 4 of the files and just go to bed. Four at a time is dreadfully slow but they should all be sitting nicely completed by the time you return to consciousness! Well worth getting them for replay purposes - the tutorials are so well presented.
Now that's a good idea, tonight it is.
Videos most informative and shows what can be achieved with the correct tools, but most important the knowing how to use these tools expertly.
I have bought several Peco points for my layout and one or two points where the blades fail to nest in properly. I found using very fine grade emery cloth and much patience, rectify this fault.
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