Frequently Asked Questions
Question:- Which 'Gauge 1' rail do I choose?
Answer:- We have now stopped supplying the old fashioned code 200 rail, but there is absolutely no reason why the newer code 180 will also join to it, and the tiny difference in rail height can easily be blended at the rail joint with a few strokes with a file. If you are new to Gauge 1 and have no previous track then the new code 180 would be the choice these days, not only because of price, appearance and running qualities, but also because all future developments are being based around this rail section. If you are coming up from the smaller "00" or "0" scales, many still think of nickel silver as the best, but stainless steel would be a better choice and is only slightly harder to cut. The picture below shows the different rail heights, or should I say, 'what difference', as you can see from this, there is virtually no difference. So those who have the older code 200 rail can easily join to the new code 180 rail, and take full advantage of all the new items available. In the centre, the brass code 200 bullhead rail. This is joined on the left via my lost wax brass fishplate, to the new code 180 stainless steel rail which has been rust treated. On the right is the new code 180 stainless steel rail joined via my new 20mm universal A.S.A. plastic fishplate.
Question:- Which 'Gauge 3' rail do I choose?
Answer:- The existing 'Gauge 3' bullhead rail is as near to scale as you could want, the Stainless Steel rail is by far the most popular but I now do this in brass, and there are no plans at the moment to supply this in nickel silver. The brass rail is no longer available from the 'Gauge 3 Society' membership sales.
Question:- Is the Gauge 1 'Fine' track made to finescale standards?
Answer:- No. The use of the word 'Fine' for this track refers to the sleeper and chair design and size and not 'back to back' finescale wheel standards, or finescale check chairs measurements.
Question:- Where do I find out the details of the 'Fine' track?
Answer:- If you want to read about the development of the new 'Fine' or 'Finescale' track, please click here
Question:- Do you make 'Gauge 1' 'finescale standards' check chairs?
Answer:- No. You are going to have to use the normal ones and cut in half and trim.
Question:- How can I tell the difference between Polypropylene plastic and ABS?
Answer:- You can tell the difference between the plastics in several ways; 1) If you take a cotton bud with a small amount of weld glue and rub on the ABS then you will see the plastic melting onto the bud, whereas the polypropylene will not be affected. 2) The polypropylene plastic has a matt finish whereas the ABS plastic has a gloss shine when new which disappears after a few weeks of being outside in the sun. 3) The polypropylene tends to be more flexible and softer when new. 4) Take a small off cut and burn, the polypropylene burns with a clear blue flame whereas the ABS burns with an orange flame and some black smoke.
Question:- Which sleeper unit best matches my existing track?
Answer:- If you want to match 'Tenmille' track, then 'Standard' track has the same size sleepers and thickness, and use the 3 bolt chair. If you want to match 'Peco', then the 'Fine' track would be best, but they are not exactly the same. If you are relaying your main line for example, what most people would do is to use the older track (which is still serviceable) in the sidings and lay the main line in new.
Question:- Is your track 'Set Track' or Flexitrack'?
Answer:- All my track is the 'Flexitrack' type, suitable for use on the straights and curves. The curve track will require cutting to fit.
Question:- What is the Track Spacing?
Answer:- The distance between two running lines is called 'Track Spacing', and is measured from centre of the track to the centre of the next track, and is as follows:-
For Gauge 1 - Straight running lines 115mm (4.527") minimum, Curved track under 12' 0" radius is 120mm, below 8' 0" it is 125mm. Straight Sidings it is 120mm. If using Narrow Gauge or American stock, an extra 25mm should be added to these measurements.
For Gauge 3- Straight running lines 150mm minimum, Curved track is 175mm, under 13' 0" (4m) radius is 180mm, below 9' 0" (3m) it is 185mm. Straight Sidings it is 155mm. If using Narrow Gauge or American stock, an extra 30mm should be added to these measurements.
Question:- Should I lay my track level or can I include an incline?
Generally if you are running “Live Steam”, then lay as flat as possible, but if you do include an incline this should be very gentle. If running electric, then 1 in 50 gradients will be fine, but 1 in 100 would be better.
Question:- What is the best type of track for track power?
Answer:- The best choice for track power is Stainless Steel rail as it keeps the cleanest, next is nickel silver and lastly brass as this will tarnish and require constant cleaning.
Question:- What is the best way to join track for track power?
The best way to join the rails is to 'bond' them using a short length of multi stranded hook up wire soldered to the outside of each rail about 1" (25mm) from the joint and to use the lost wax nickel silver fishplates. However these fishplates alone with copper grease has been shown to be perfectly satisfactory. A further alternative is to use the plastic fishplate with very fine copper wire stripped from hook up wire, this is laid in the bottom of each Fishplate and run underneath twisted and tack soldered, trimmed then assembled onto the rails with the addition of some copper grease.
Question:- What is the best pointwork for track power?
Answer:- I have now introduced pointwork which is suitable for track power. This uses an insulated form of the lost wax tiebar, with modified conductive blade rail fishplates, and a bonded nose bar.
All come with pre-soldered fly leads soldered to the rails.
Question:- How can I lay double track?
Answer:- There is nothing specifically made for this purpose, but you can use a radius curve and tweak in (lightly pull) for the inner track and fix in place, then tweak out (lightly push) for the outer whilst using a track gauge. The 'track gauge' can be home made from a piece of mahogany, about 10mm x 6mm and cut 2 x 2.3mm (the rail width) (3.2mm for G3) grooves spaced apart at whatever you need. The minimum for G1 (centre to centre) is 115mm on the straight and 120mm for curved, or 150mm if using Narrow Gauge or American Stock. The minimum for G3 (centre to centre) is 160mm on the straight and 170mm for curved track.
Question:- Could your track be used for another scale, for example 3½” gauge or Gauge 2 track?
Answer:- At the moment we do not make any track gauges other than the 32mm (16mm Narrow Gauge), 45mm (Gauge 1) and 63.5mm (Gauge 3). But you could buy the ABS version sleeper units, cut out small sections to reduce track gauge, or likewise to increase the track gauge take some spare sleepers units and cut small sections and weld back together on a level surface with weld glue, clean off excess plastic when dry. Or alternatively buy the ABS chairs and ABS Tophat pins and weld together, then plane up some timber sleepers (mahogany or teak is best for outside), drill holes at the required distance apart, assemble chairs onto the rail, space apart by each sleeper and press in.
Question:- What are the options if I want multi gauge track?
For Gauge 1/Gauge 3 dual gauge track you can either use 'Gauge 3' ABS sleeper
units and code 250 stainless steel rail, with the additional 3rd rail weld glued
to the sleeper unit using the separate ABS chairs, these are set to 'Gauge 1'
standards using a roller gauge or my aluminium track gauge. You could also
use 'Gauge 1' 'Fine' or 'Standard' long turnout sleepers cut to the required length
and 3 running chairs weld glued to the desired track gauges. As a cheaper
option, you could also use either 'Gauge 1' 'Fine' single or 'Standard' double
sleeper units, cut just beyond the 2nd chair, then an additional part sleeper
unit weld glued to the main cut sleepers.
To use G Scale LGB 45mm Track, and adding a 32mm Narrow Gauge rail, use the following method. The LGB track is made in polypropylene so you cannot glue or weld chairs to it, but you can use code 250 rail and Gauge 3 plain 'Running Chairs' with the 'Tophat' Pins glue welded in the base, then remove the outer 2 bolts and the base up to the chair support line (as shown in the picture). Centre pop the LGB track exactly 5mm away from the existing chair edge, and drill a 3.7 or 3.8mm diameter hole (a small jig could be made if you have a lot to do). The rail will sit about 1mm below rail height, so either cut some 1mm thick ABS or styrene sheet, 9mm x 6mm and weld glue under the inner chair base or just use some black 'Stixall' (available from Toolstation Ltd.) applied to the chair under surface and push the chairs and rail down to the correct height and clean off the excess Stixall when dry with a sharpe craft knife.
Question:- Do you make '0' gauge track?
Answer:- I do not do '0' gauge track, but you can adapt the 1 gauge track. Either buy the ABS gauge widened track and cut down and re-join by welding (gluing), or buy the G1 3 bolt chairs and pins and use your own wood sleepers. Use code 180 rail with either method. You could also use the new 16mm Narrow Gauge track which has the same 32mm track gauge.
Question:- Is gauge widened track worth it?
Answer:- The gauge widened track is moulded in a more expensive and better quality plastic, and is weldable (glueable) to the super elevation wedges if desired. Basically you will be able to run most Gauge 1 locos and stock around radiuses of 9 ft. and over and Gauge 3 over 12 ft., but the tighter the radius the more side friction on the wheels and the more risk of binding and derailment. So with gauge widened track, stock tends to run freer and does not slow up so much on the curves.
Narrow Gauge, by its very nature tends to waddle around most radius's, but anything under 5ft. radius would benefit from Gauge Widening.
Question:- Should I use super elevation wedges?
Answer:- This depends on what type of running track you want to active. If you just want a county branch line with slow running stock, then only use super elevation (also called 'Cant') for appearance sake. But if you want to run main line stock at any reasonable speed then super elevation tends to make the stock stick to the track rather than try to fly off! The main thing to remember is to make sure the super elevation is gently taken out over 2ft or so of track in the transition or on the straight. In any case the super elevation adds greatly to the appearance.
Question:- How many super elevation wedges do I use?
Answer:- I have found that placing a super elevation wedge under every 4th or 5th sleeper is sufficient. But you can use more if you wish.
Question:- What is 'Wheel Coning'?
Answer:- This is the small radius that is intentionally add to the joint between the wheel tyre and rim. Most manufacturers add this radius, but there are some small companies who don't. Whilst all stock will run will perfectly fine with or without coning, in some extreme cases deep flanged wheels without coning may bump on the chairs.
Question:- How do I use the 'Radius Curves'?
Answer:- You cannot accurately lay curved track without the use of a template, there will always be areas of differing radiuses which will result in loco and stock 'hunting' as it negotiates curves. The tighter the curves, the worse this will become. So this is worth the cost if you need nice flowing trackwork.
Question:- I have had some fire damage to my track, how can I repair this?
Answer:- Up till now about the only way to repair fire damaged plastic sleepers is to remove the whole section of track and replace the affected sleepers, this can be annoying if this is in the middle of a length. But as I am the only manufacturer who uses A.B.S. plastic for the sleepers, it means the track no longer has to be lifted to carry out the repairs but can be done in situ. I do a kit which provides sufficient to replace 10 damaged sleeper units, in situ without the need to lift the track. The old damaged track is carefully removed, and the area swept or vacuumed to remove debris. The plain sleeper is pre-cut to the desired length and slid under the rail into position. In some cases you may need to remove the spacer bars. Cut the chairs in half in line with the centre of the rail, apply a small amount of weld glue to the sleeper unit each side of the rail and slide the chair halves into position to grip the rail, apply gentle pressure for about 20 seconds. Repeat with the other chair. Remove any excess weld glue with an old polypropylene paint brush or piece of foam. JOB DONE!
Question:- I have laid my track and ballasted it, but how do I stop any moss?
Answer:- Moss may well grow on track beds, especially if a ballast has been used. Shadier areas are particularly vulnerable. Whilst a small amount of moss may be desirable to soften and give a more natural look, too much will detach ballast and cause derailments. We recommend a Spring and Autumn application to the track bed with either a commercial moss killer, or get a watering can with a fine rose, add one tablespoon of Iron Sulphate and several drops of washing up liquid per gallon, top with water and stir and then walk along the track bed and apply, even to areas that appear not to have any most. After several days any moss will turn black. You should be able to rub off in due time. Prevention is better than cure, so make sure this is done when moss is very small, and when it will be dry for several days.
Question:- Are instructions included?
Answer:- I supply free detailed track laying instructions upon request, and individual items come with instructions. These can also be downloaded here.