Author Topic: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels  (Read 4130 times)

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atsf3751

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #75 on: March 18, 2017, 05:50:46 PM »
+2
We started handlaying code 40 track on our club layout for several reasons. Appearance being one of the primary ones, N Scale just looks better on small rail, especially in pictures. It gave us much more freedom in design because we could lay the turnouts to match the track plan and not force the layout to match a commercial turnout. We started in 1981 when there were not as many commercial choices and there was (still is) a very limited choice for curved turnouts.

When we started there were no narrow tread wheels which many of us now use and we discovered a handful of turnouts that needed to be relaid due to too large a flangeway. Now you can run anywhere you want on the club layout with fine flange, narrow tread wheels and not have any trouble at all. There are two yards that have code 55 flex track because of difficult access but all the turnouts for those yards are handmade. Most yards, including the two largest ones, are laid with code 40. We have a lot of experience with this with around 25 scale miles of track and over 200 turnouts.

We also do a few other things differently. Many of us (myself included) cut off the magnetic uncoupling lever from couplers, when operating we uncouple with picks. Several members have replaced their couplers with body mounted Z Scale couplers and one of them is now converting to MT True Scale couplers.

Marty Young
San Diego, CA
Marty Young
San Diego, CA

AKNscale

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #76 on: June 04, 2017, 10:35:15 PM »
0
Code 80 rails are MUCH more reliable in N-scale than mere code 40 especially when you start dropping anvils and ball-peen hammers on it....

"Understanding" or "thinking" doesn't have anything to do with why some people think thicker rails are more reliable than thinner rails.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

I completely disagree sir. My Atlas C55 "layout" is quite reliable even though I run the narrow Kato wheels on my locos and fine scale wheels on all my rolling stock. It all operates well together. Whereas Kato Unitrack gives me all kinds of reliability issues(yes, it's due to my wheel setup). As stated many many times, it's due to what you're running and how well the track/roadbed is laid.

Dropping an anvil or hammer on the track and damaging it has nothing to do with reliability. That's like taking a car and running it into a pole and saying it's not reliable because the radiator is cracked.

peteski

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #77 on: June 05, 2017, 02:50:37 AM »
0
I completely disagree sir. My Atlas C55 "layout" is quite reliable even though I run the narrow Kato wheels on my locos and fine scale wheels on all my rolling stock. It all operates well together. Whereas Kato Unitrack gives me all kinds of reliability issues(yes, it's due to my wheel setup). As stated many many times, it's due to what you're running and how well the track/roadbed is laid.

Dropping an anvil or hammer on the track and damaging it has nothing to do with reliability. That's like taking a car and running it into a pole and saying it's not reliable because the radiator is cracked.

To me it seems that Bob's statement (the first sentence) was in jest and you took it seriously. His second sentence to me states that higher (thicker) rail is not any more reliable than smaller rail.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

AKNscale

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #78 on: June 05, 2017, 11:05:39 AM »
0
If so, then he surely got me. I've heard that argument so many times, especially on the other forum I post on, lol

ncbqguy

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #79 on: June 05, 2017, 12:12:59 PM »
+3
It is time for action!!
As N Scalers we do not tolerate inaccuracies in our cars and locomotives.....why do we continue to put up with toy switches???
The problems with better wheel sets are not due to the geometry of the wheels....they are the fault of trying to run them on 1960- era standards European track!
We need state of the art track to go along with the trains of today!   
Many people use Peco track because of its built-in point throw mechanism and robust construction.   The "Code 55" line is clever using an embedded double base rail to retain structural strength while providing lower rail height.   However it is married to the tie size and spacing of original Arnold Rapido track and uses coarse N.E.M. Standards which are fine for huge treads and pizza cutter wheels.  Peco has expanded their line in every scale and gauge but has refused to market a N equivalent of their HO Code 83 line aimed at the North American Market.   
Atlas did a Code 55 line but it has some strange tie spacing at the switch block ties and lacks a latching mechanism which materially increases the cost of a turnout because you have to add some manual or electrical mechanism to secure the points.  It is also not as sturdy as it could be.
Micro-Engineering was the first to offer Code 55 and their turnouts are not as durable as they should be and are electrically weak.
I know that tooling for track systems is very expensive but it is IMHO the Number One problem in N Scale today.  Companies with existing lines probably feel that a new line would just canibalize sales of track they already are selling.  I think whoever brings out a well-engineered, robust, scale proportioned North American track system will quickly dominate the track market and drive many of us to build new or replace existing layouts creating new sales.
Thoughts????
Charlie Vlk
« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 07:28:53 PM by ncbqguy »

narrowminded

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #80 on: June 05, 2017, 01:14:14 PM »
+2
It is time for action!!
As N Scalers we do not tolerate inaccuracies in our cars and locomotives.....why do we continue to put up with toy switches???
The problems with better wheel sets are not due to the geometry of the wheels....they are the fault of trying to run them on 1960- era standards European track!
We need state of the art track to go along with the trains of today!   
Many people use Peco track because of its built-in point throw mechanism and robust construction.   The "Code 55" line is clever using an embedded double base rail to retain structural strength while providing lower rail height.   However it is married to the tie size and spacing of original Arnold Rapido track and uses coarse N.E.M. Standards which are fine for huge treads and pizza cutter wheels.  Peco has expanded their line in every scale and gauge but has refused to market a N equivalent of their HO Code 83 line aimed at the North American Market.   


Atlas did a Code 55 line but it has some strange tie spacing at the switch block ties and lacks a latching mechanism which materially increases the cost of a turnout because you have to add some manual or electrical mechanism to secure the points.  It is also not as sturdy as it could be.
Micro-Engineering was the first to offer Code 55 and their turnouts are not as durable as they should be and are electrically weak.
I know that tooling for track systems is very expensive bu it is IMHO the Number One problem in N Scale today.  Companies with existing lines probably feel that a new line would just canibalize sales of track they already are selling.  I think whoever brings out a well-engineered, robust, scale proportioned North American track system will quickly dominate the track market and drive many of us to build new or replace existing layouts creating new sales.
Thoughts????
Charlie Vlk

One thing Atlas could do right now is quit the hinged rails and go with one piece with a notch at the hinge point.  I say this only after modifying a failed turnout that had a common, known problem, conductivity past the hinge and cosmetic discoloration due to the plating wearing through.  And the fix required no modification to the existing device, just a new rail piece with necessary tapering and a soldered on tab, not unlike the method used on their code 80 turnouts.  And THAT detail, the throw bar attachment, could be changed to a much simpler attachment built in to a new throw bar design, eliminating the solder step and simplifying the throw bar attachment.  It also would be changes to just that part not requiring any major tool rework.  Not unlike the hand layers' method of using an attachment in the style of the shortened rail joiners or even just a couple of "spike heads" as already exist up and down the rails of turnouts and track.

That would leave only the frog as a less than great piece, largely due to the plating wear.  Just thicker plating on the existing part might be a low to no cost patch but also a nickel silver piece would finish the whole thing in a fashion that would be pretty bulletproof and would make it easy to solder to for frog powering.  At that point, would it be too much to ask for an easy way to add frog powering?  Done in quantity, would it really cost much if any more?

Just some thoughts from an outside observer who doesn't understand.... or maybe does. :| ;)
« Last Edit: June 05, 2017, 01:47:25 PM by narrowminded »

robert3985

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #81 on: June 06, 2017, 06:02:46 PM »
+1
It is time for action!!
As N Scalers we do not tolerate inaccuracies in our cars and locomotives.....why do we continue to put up with toy switches???
The problems with better wheel sets are not due to the geometry of the wheels....they are the fault of trying to run them on 1960- era standards European track!
We need state of the art track to go along with the trains of today!   
Many people use Peco track because of its built-in point throw mechanism and robust construction.   The "Code 55" line is clever using an embedded double base rail to retain structural strength while providing lower rail height.   However it is married to the tie size and spacing of original Arnold Rapido track and uses coarse N.E.M. Standards which are fine for huge treads and pizza cutter wheels.  Peco has expanded their line in every scale and gauge but has refused to market a N equivalent of their HO Code 83 line aimed at the North American Market.   
Atlas did a Code 55 line but it has some strange tie spacing at the switch block ties and lacks a latching mechanism which materially increases the cost of a turnout because you have to add some manual or electrical mechanism to secure the points.  It is also not as sturdy as it could be.
Micro-Engineering was the first to offer Code 55 and their turnouts are not as durable as they should be and are electrically weak.
I know that tooling for track systems is very expensive but it is IMHO the Number One problem in N Scale today.  Companies with existing lines probably feel that a new line would just canibalize sales of track they already are selling.  I think whoever brings out a well-engineered, robust, scale proportioned North American track system will quickly dominate the track market and drive many of us to build new or replace existing layouts creating new sales.
Thoughts????
Charlie Vlk

I agree with ya Charlie, and it's been the main problem for decades IMO.  That's why I started hand-laying my own turnouts in the late 1970's in code 55 and code 40 (hand laying code 40 track too so that pizza cutters would roll on it).  I'm not going to extol the benefits of rolling your own turnouts in this post, but for sure, If a well-detailed, reliable, well-engineered, readily available, correctly proportioned, DCC friendly, made in Britain or the USA (to avoid the inevitable China political supply/reorganization problems) line of turnouts and flex track in rail drawn specifically for N-scale in code 45 (visible height) with a decent rail cross-section and railhead width were available, I'd be buying 'em!

Turnouts in #4, #6, #8, #10 and #12, with compatible wyes and curved turnouts would be a good start.  Flex with both concrete and wooden US style ties with fine spike/tieplate details to allow most modern medium and low profile wheels to roll unobstructed would compliment the turnouts.

Peco would be my candidate to do the job, and it would be imbedded rail track just like their N-scale code 55, except they'd draw new rail, with a visible code 45 above the rails.  Since tieplate and spike details would be cosmetic only, spikeheads and tieplates could definitely be near-scale sized and proportioned, as well as the ties not only having scale length and width, but also height. 

As a possible bonus, branchline track could also be manufactured with lower visible rail height ( code 35 ) if the cavities are properly thought out, but in a perfect world, branchline track would have ties spaced further apart than mainline trackage, with the occasional crooked tie.

Yeah yeah...dream on!!

In the meantime, I'm using up my hoard of Railcraft code 55 and code 40 flex and continuing to hand-lay my turnouts.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
Cheers!!
Bob Gilmore

jdcolombo

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #82 on: June 06, 2017, 07:10:45 PM »
0
I agree with ya Charlie, and it's been the main problem for decades IMO.  That's why I started hand-laying my own turnouts in the late 1970's in code 55 and code 40 (hand laying code 40 track too so that pizza cutters would roll on it).  I'm not going to extol the benefits of rolling your own turnouts in this post, but for sure, If a well-detailed, reliable, well-engineered, readily available, correctly proportioned, DCC friendly, made in Britain or the USA (to avoid the inevitable China political supply/reorganization problems) line of turnouts and flex track in rail drawn specifically for N-scale in code 45 (visible height) with a decent rail cross-section and railhead width were available, I'd be buying 'em!

Turnouts in #4, #6, #8, #10 and #12, with compatible wyes and curved turnouts would be a good start.  Flex with both concrete and wooden US style ties with fine spike/tieplate details to allow most modern medium and low profile wheels to roll unobstructed would compliment the turnouts.

Peco would be my candidate to do the job, and it would be imbedded rail track just like their N-scale code 55, except they'd draw new rail, with a visible code 45 above the rails.  Since tieplate and spike details would be cosmetic only, spikeheads and tieplates could definitely be near-scale sized and proportioned, as well as the ties not only having scale length and width, but also height. 

As a possible bonus, branchline track could also be manufactured with lower visible rail height ( code 35 ) if the cavities are properly thought out, but in a perfect world, branchline track would have ties spaced further apart than mainline trackage, with the occasional crooked tie.

Yeah yeah...dream on!!

In the meantime, I'm using up my hoard of Railcraft code 55 and code 40 flex and continuing to hand-lay my turnouts.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

I don't know why Peco won't undertake an update of their N track line for the North American market.  What they have sells well, I think.  People love the spring-over turnouts and the robust construction of the Code 55 track (we use it on our Ntrak modules, because the stuff is basically indestructible).  I probably wouldn't rebuild my layout now, but if I ever did a new layout in the future, I'd clearly prefer something like what Bob suggests (embedded rail construction and spring-over live-frog turnouts built exactly to NMRA tolerances).  I always hesitate to second-guess manufacturers, because they certainly know the market (and their costs) better than I do, but it seems to me that if Peco had updated its N scale track prior to Atlas coming out with their Code 55 line, Peco would be the clear king of the hill today.  And I think they still COULD be king of the hill with a track line as described by Bob.

John C.

jereising

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #83 on: June 06, 2017, 07:53:18 PM »
0
Charlie's right.  Period.  All we need is for someone to front the dough.  I can't see Atlas doing it.  ME could capture the market but has limited investment capabilities IMO.  And yes, PECO could do it, but I'd sure hate to think a US company would let them steal a march.

I would have handlaid, but I ain't getting any younger and wanted something runnable before I croak.  Fortunately my Atlas are working well.  But there's this one switch in the yard, and another at Bealville...hey, they work MOST of the time...and still look silver....
Jim Reising
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And on Trainboard:
http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?t=99466

peteski

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #84 on: June 06, 2017, 08:40:37 PM »
0
Has anybody actually contacted Peco directly and propose to them to produce the type of track described here? Or ask why they have not considered producing such track?
--- Peteski de Snarkski

Point353

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #85 on: June 06, 2017, 08:50:33 PM »
0
I know that tooling for track systems is very expensive but it is IMHO the Number One problem in N Scale today.  Companies with existing lines probably feel that a new line would just canibalize sales of track they already are selling.  I think whoever brings out a well-engineered, robust, scale proportioned North American track system will quickly dominate the track market and drive many of us to build new or replace existing layouts creating new sales.
Aside from the companies who would be reluctant to risk cannibalizing sales of their current track products, is there anyone else who, in your opinion, might be capable of developing and producing such a product line?

ednadolski

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #86 on: June 06, 2017, 09:12:06 PM »
+1
Turnouts in #4, #6, #8, #10 and #12, with compatible wyes and curved turnouts would be a good start.  Flex with both concrete and wooden US style ties with fine spike/tieplate details to allow most modern medium and low profile wheels to roll unobstructed would compliment the turnouts.

Peco would be my candidate to do the job, and it would be imbedded rail track just like their N-scale code 55, except they'd draw new rail, with a visible code 45 above the rails.  Since tieplate and spike details would be cosmetic only, spikeheads and tieplates could definitely be near-scale sized and proportioned, as well as the ties not only having scale length and width, but also height. 

As a possible bonus, branchline track could also be manufactured with lower visible rail height ( code 35 ) if the cavities are properly thought out, but in a perfect world, branchline track would have ties spaced further apart than mainline trackage, with the occasional crooked tie.

Yes, and I want a pony.... :D

Ed

peteski

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #87 on: June 06, 2017, 10:05:56 PM »
0
Aside from the companies who would be reluctant to risk cannibalizing sales of their current track products, is there anyone else who, in your opinion, might be capable of developing and producing such a product line?

Walthers?

While I'm half-joking, they are the elephant in the room that has the capability to develop and produce a line of N scale track items.  But knowing their apparent aversion to N scale, this is just my wishful thinking.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

dcutting

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #88 on: June 06, 2017, 10:34:11 PM »
+1
This is sparking my interest coming from the manufacturing side. I don't know how many of you guys have seen this video before...


...it goes to show how much equipment is needed for something like this. This is the major issue. I doubt that the actual extrusion of the rail is that bad; the main cost of the track appears to come from the laborious task of sitting there and making every piece of the track by hand. You could hypothetically make any profile track you want... but in the end the big obstacle is going to be the tooling and the labor costs.

I would agree that a peco double-flange is the way forward here, along with more turnouts. Someone would need a serious, and I mean serious setup to produce anything like this. A few of the things you would need:

  • 3-axis CNC Mill to create tooling and cut points and pockets en masse (Budget $10,000+ for a decent mill)
  • A big moveable injection press like the one in the video (I can't even estimate - Probably ~$50,000 just to guess) - another way would be to get an even larger machine and do it in a one-shot process.
  • Some kind of supplier that would make the rail precise enough. Not too bad, but it will cost a lot to tool and minimums will be high.
  • Someone to sit there and tinker with the machines and run them all the time. Not me. ($40,000 a year or more)

So just to get started during your first year that's $100,000 excluding materials. If you made even $2 off of each stick of flex track (I doubt you could) you would have to sell 50,000 pieces. I did forget to mention turnouts, but you get the point (pun alert  ;)). If you amortize those costs over five or six years, your yearly cost will still be $50,000 and you won't have even paid yourself. Plus you won't sell so much at first because you're a new manufacturer and a new standard. I don't think anyone is willing to take that risk. That could go very badly. Even established manufacturers won't do it unless they have cash sitting around (which these days never happens).

Just my 2 cents... I think we are better off sticking to fast tracks for now.
David Cutting
cescalemodels.com

robert3985

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #89 on: June 08, 2017, 02:04:02 PM »
0
I completely disagree sir. My Atlas C55 "layout" is quite reliable even though I run the narrow Kato wheels on my locos and fine scale wheels on all my rolling stock. It all operates well together. Whereas Kato Unitrack gives me all kinds of reliability issues(yes, it's due to my wheel setup). As stated many many times, it's due to what you're running and how well the track/roadbed is laid.

Dropping an anvil or hammer on the track and damaging it has nothing to do with reliability. That's like taking a car and running it into a pole and saying it's not reliable because the radiator is cracked.

As Peter ( @peteski ) states, the comment about hammers and anvils is a joke, and pokes fun at those who persist in insisting code 80 N-scale track is "more reliable" than track made with C55 or C40 rails.

To be perfectly clear, I am a strong proponent that code 55 track and code 40 track is just as "bulletproof" as track using taller rails, so you and I AGREE. 

I don't know how you got out of what I wrote that I was saying the opposite.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
Cheers!!
Bob Gilmore