Appropriate track code, does it really matter?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by jon-monon, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Daytime chat has been discussing this some...

    The facts (this comes from Nov 2000 MRR):

    In 1921 mainline rail averaged 83 lbs/yd which is equivelent to HO code 55.

    In 1956 mainline rail averaged 105 lbs/yd which is equivelent to HO code 70.

    By 1983 mainline rail averaged 117 lbs/yd which is equivelent to HO code 83.

    The delima:

    Since even lighter rail is common off the mainline, this may make it difficult to model with the correct scale rail everywhere on your layout. Compounding the problem, is the fact that some manufacturers don't make all the weights of rail you may desire. So, what can be done to build a model empire without upsetting the rivet counters, hand laying all of your track, working little plastic people to death, and /or scratch building your own rail???

    The options (the opinions?):

    The first option might turn some rivet counters green, but you could just ignore the code and go with what works, is available and/or cheapest. As Shamus says, the chances are noone will notice the difference once it's all ballasted and weathered. Here code 100 would have the advantage that everyone seems to make it, so you can use cheap flex track with higher end turnouts. Code 83 would be nice if you can get the turnouts you want.

    The next option would be to go with heavier rail on your mail line (or branch), then use a lighter rail in the yards. This may allow more realism while maintaining manageable track that "runs anything". You may also get away with cheap flex track this way, especially if you can go 100/83.

    I also recall some discussion about how what's scale and what looks right isn't always the same thing. I think we were talkin' tele pole spacing or something, but to me code 100 doesn't look wrong. I look at the little spur by my house and it looks a lot like code 100.

    In any event, it seems wise to run something darned reliable in out of sight and hard to reach areas, like tunnels and the back of the layout.

  2. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    Rivit counters don't bother me. I do what I please on my own railroad.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    No question.

    All your suggestions seem to be what people are up to right now anyway. I've seen a few Proto:87 pictures, and that is darn impressive!

    For me, I wish that I had gone with flextrack instead of sectional, "numbered" turnouts (i.e. #4 or #6) instead of Snap Switches, and Code 83 instead of 100. But I'll live with what I've got until next time. And next time, it won't be no lil' 4x8 either.

  4. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Absolutely, just do your own thing, it might not please everyone, but what the hell - it's your railroad. I use code 100 Peco track & Points (Turnouts) have done for many many years and found them most reliable. Even re-used them three times after they were ballasted. Washed out the ballast and started again.


  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    I only started construction on the Trim Creek & Western*, but on my standard gauge section I use code 100 in the tunnels and staging yards - because it's sturdy ...and cheaper.

    Out in the open I'll use Code 70 (part handlaid track, part flextrack) and PECO code 75 turnouts (I'm modeling a branchline).

    And - come to think of it - should I have some code 100 left when I start construction of the visible tracks, I'll use them anyhow. Like Shamus said - after all, it's MY railroad. :p

    Jon, just tell them li'l plastic tracklayers to use whatever their boss is offering them to work with. Main objective: Keep the boss satisfied - period!


    *) Hey Jon, take notice: Trim CrEEk , not Crick!!! ;)
  6. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Counting and Picking

    Hi Jon, There's two rules here:

    1. Nobody counts my rivets
    2. Nobody picks at my nits
    :D :p :D :p :D :p :D :p :D :p

    Said it before and will say it again:) "If it looks right to you then it is right":) :)

    Course if someone happens to show up with a chocolate cake I might relax the rules a bit!!!:D :D :D :D :p
  7. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Sign next to my trainroom door says THIS IS MY RAILROAD

    In other words do it your way,or the way you can afford to do it.The only one you have to please is yourself.:D :D :D
  8. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Jon, I agree with everyone else here, go with what you like. I use code 83 for three reason's. It's works better than 100 when building turnouts, Is still large enough to be hassle free and is always in stock at the LHS.

    Now, See how the day chatter's and night chatter's can get along :D

    We've had to get out the folding chairs a few times. Of which there is plenty of, so we'll leave the light on fer ya'.;)

  9. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    I use Peco code 75 for everything. Why? Cause that the one I picked up first at the shop.

    Code 100 looks a bit chunky for my likeing.

    However, HO track is just that. HO gauge. To me, picking different code track to relate to load/bearing/prototype track, is like trying to get HO gauge track in Standard, Broad, and Narrow gauge. We don't seem to worry about the realism/prototype relationship between Standard and Broad gauge (of which my prototype era/topography is based.) The mainlines between Melbourne and Sydney run parrellel Standard and Broad gauge tracks, with some parts of the track "dual gauge", especially station platforms and major yards.

    NSW is "standard" gauge, whereas Victoria is "broad" gauge.
  10. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    I must be the odd ball code 100 is what I use.
    I have looked at all the rest and decided long ago everthing seem to be happy with the code. I was having trouble a while back running old English steam on anything less than 100

    And as said befor its MY rail road and I like it
    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Ron - LOL if you get those little plastic people to oil the doors to the loco they won't creek, and I think you would like to have a nice crick on your layout!

    OK, I think when it comes to track code, and gauge, we'd better follow the army's policy, what is it? Don't look don't tell? :D :D :D

    Woody, glad you mentioned gauge; anyone with one of those beautiful tyco Plymouth MDT's a runnin a slim gauge loco on standard gauge track :D :D :D I have three...
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think it will depend on what your purpose is in modelling.
    I have a lot of old British engines that don't take kindly to small rail or even NMRA code 100. I've laid some code 70 and some British "scale" track and I get some bumping along the ties.
    If you're into operation, you may want to go with something sturdy.
    If you're building for contests or photography, you may want to go with the finer rail. (There was one famous contest winner of a steel mill (?) that had a snap-switch very visible in it.)
    If you can promise yourself that all your rolling stock will have RP25 wheels or smaller, go with the small stuff. If you may not be able to resist that big-flanged Rivarossi articulated or Shay, stick with code 100.

    And I've got a stack of code 125 16.5mm gauge as well!
  13. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Well, I haven't actually started laying any track yet, but when I do it will probably be code 100. Why? Cheaper and more reliable, and since I'm just starting out, those are much important considerations to me than 100 per cent scale accuracy. What's the point of something that is exact looking if trains derail or if I can't afford to buy it?

    I don't expect to have many rivet counters over to the house once my layout is operational. (I better not!) But I did have one guy in a hobby shop snorting at the inaccuracy of a model I was buying. As he went on and on about how the number boards were actually this way, and the headlight was actually that way, I waited until he paused for breath and then shared this little piece of information I learned some time ago. The prototype was actually made of steel and powered by coal, not electric tracks! The LHS owner laughed, the guy shut up, and I bought the model.

    It reminds me of watching the movie Babe with a sort-of nit-picking friend of mine. He says " those sheep would never give their password to a dog" to which I said "but it's okay that they can talk?"

    I guess my point here is it's all pretend. So do whatever you like amd have fun!

    :p Val
  14. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Right on Val! Ithink you could probably get away with stepping on his foot too if you wanted.
  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    but we have an exclusive contract

    to pick up from one of your posts, "some manufacturers don't make all the weights of rail you may desire", you don't have to buy all your rails from the same source.
    Val: nice comeback. Ask the fellow to help you pick out the proper detailing castings -- if they are made. Does he know what you plan to do with your purchase? You might be planning to redo it as a Rock Island heating boiler.
  16. charleswebb

    charleswebb New Member

    I think that model railroading should be fun:D If it isn't then it is not a hobby, but a job:(

    I can see the point of the rivet counters. If using the right scale rail for your layout is what make your railroad look the way you want more power to you:D

    On the other hand if you are a two footer like me (that is, it looks good from two foot away) what ever the LHS has in stock works for me:D :D

    The thing to remember is this hobby is to make you happy, nobody else;) If your railroad looks and runs the way you want it, you have made the grade:cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:

    You know there are a lot of modelers out there that don't even have a layout, so if you do you are already ahead of the game no matter what code track you use:p :p :p :D :D

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