Author Topic: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels  (Read 6660 times)

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Chinapig

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #90 on: June 08, 2017, 02:35:01 PM »
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Hi

Peco occasionally have a trade stand at shows and living in England I've had the chance to chat to the team and ask the very same questions you're asking.  Over the last four years I've asked that question twice - why don't Peco make American N Scale track.

I've had two different answers.

About four years ago they said they wanted to do it but couldn't recruit the development staff to undertake the design.

About two years ago the reason was all of their machinery was running at full capacity to meet current demand for existing products.

That was the gist of the answers - it was quite a while back and my memory is fading but I didn't really believe them.  I think it's because they fear it will only cannibalize their current sales.

I'm moving over to Atlas Code 55 track and hand made turnouts now.

Ted
Member of Gosport Model Railroad Club: www.gosportrailroadgroup.org.uk
modelling oNeTrack modules.

narrowminded

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #91 on: June 08, 2017, 03:16:56 PM »
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I think these guys are really on to something.  Add turnout pieces and you're off and running!
http://www.shop.cvmw.com/N-Scale-Sample-Pack-CVT-30016.htm
Mark G.

Mark5

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #92 on: June 08, 2017, 03:36:41 PM »
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I think these guys are really on to something.  Add turnout pieces and you're off and running!
http://www.shop.cvmw.com/N-Scale-Sample-Pack-CVT-30016.htm

Yeah pretty cool, still have yet to play with it. Some discussion here:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=38525.0

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #93 on: June 08, 2017, 09:03:04 PM »
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I'm moving over to Atlas Code 55 track and hand made turnouts now.

Ted

I like Atlas code 55 flex... Think it's a darned good product.

I installed hundreds of feet of it and didn't find it any less durable than it's code 80 sibling.

Yeah, the spike heads are too large.  After I weather the sides of the rail they become much less noticeable.

Atlas code 55 turnouts need some work.  I've stalled many and have come up with work-arounds for those that have become problematic over the last decade.  Yes, Atlas should consider upgrading them with several of the suggestions made in this thread.

I do not view hand-laid as a panacea either... First you have the time involved.  With my schedule I'd much rather spend $15-20, slap the thing down in 30 seconds and be done with it.  In addition I'm not a big fan of no spike heads... Just looks odd to me.  Plus I'm not keen on how the frog looks on a hand-laid turnout as opposed to the prototype. 

At this point there is no perfect solution... Maybe a manufacturer will address this at some point.

robert3985

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #94 on: June 09, 2017, 06:00:54 PM »
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CAUTION!! SEVERE THREAD-DRIFT AHEAD!!   :D


I'm moving over to Atlas Code 55 track and hand made turnouts now.

Ted

I think this is a good move, especially the hand-laid turnouts!  However, I am not a big proponent of Atlas C55 flex and consider it to be the second choice for realistic looking N-scale C55 flex track. 

First choice IMHO is Micro Engineering C55 because the spikeheads (or what passes for spikeheads) are noticeably smaller than Atlas C55's, the rails are more securely locked in place (no loose rail problems and less expansion/contraction problems after it's down).

As has been correctly stated in this thread, there is no perfect solution, and ME flex has its problems too, and is markedly different to lay smoothly if you're used to "floppy flex".  Floppy flex has it's own problems, and is more difficult to lay to an exact radius than either ME55 or Peco55. 

Another problem with ME55 is that the tie casting is not as clean as the Atlas product, and requires some cleanup, particularly on the tie ends.  I just hit the flex before I start laying it with a sanding block to square the tie ends up, and this goes very quickly.

Lastly, ME C55 is made in the USA, and will never experience the periodic shortages that China-made products inevitably do because of political reasons.  ME has had shortage problems in the past due to equipment breakage and molds wearing out, but never for the extended periods of time that Atlas track products suffer from.

Of course, I am constantly photographing my equipment in extreme closeups, so the difference in spikehead details between Atlas and ME track for me gets literally put under a microscope, and in this circumstance, it's pretty obvious that ME track looks a lot better.

Photo (1) - Atlas C55 flex on the left vs ME C55 on the right:


Although I have not heard of any anecdotes of operational problems due to the loose rail that Atlas track has, with the continuing trend towards narrower wheel treads in N-scale, this MAY become a problem if you want to replace wheelsets with more prototypically proportioned ones.  Additionally, on long relatively sharp curves such as a helix, gaps cut in Atlas flex have a tendency to form a small straight section in the cut rail on either side of the gap, which throws the track gauge off and also allows the gap to potentially close and short without an insulating spacer in it.  ME track, the rails being much more tightly held, won't have those actual and potential problems.

As to the rumor that hand-laid turnouts have less realistic looking frogs than commercially available products do...here's the rebuttal.  On a hand-laid turnout, you are free to make your frog as prototypical as you can, with added details and more correct angles and sharper frog points.  It doesn't take but a couple of minutes to cut .003" brass strips to insert and solder between the rails inside the frog to form a "floor"...especially if you've invested in a resistance soldering station.  Bolt-head details can be easily added to the outside of your hand-laid frog by either embossing your own bolt-head strips using a NWSL Riveter or buying the details from Proto 87 Stores.  These two steps, which involve only maybe 5 extra minutes added to construction time, make hand-laid turnout frogs much more detailed than ANY RTR turnout frog.

As to the lack-O-spikes contention.  Yup, this bothers me a bit too, but on the other hand, my turnouts are prototypically proportioned, have very realistic throwbars, tri-planed point rails - so I don't unrealistically notch the adjacent stock rails at the switch headblocks and towards the frog, and I can make turnouts in any # I want or need.  With Atlas turnouts, yes, I get spikeheads (HUGE spikeheads!), very unprototypical throwbars, odd-looking brightly plated cast frogs & switch points, and each of their turnouts is grossly out of proportion...being about 30% too short between the frog points and the switch point toes.  This last point makes the diverging effective radius much smaller than it would be on a correctly proportioned turnout...which on an Atlas #10 isn't a big deal from a functional standpoint, but...on their #5's...it IS a very big problem.

My preference is that I would rather have no spikeheads than grossly big ones, and at the same time, have correctly proportioned turnouts in any # I need or want, more prototypical looking throwbars, switch point rails, guard rails, frog proportions and details, and have a much smoother running, more reliable mechanism...and for me, I have no question in my mind that it's worth the extra time I spend making them.

Photo (2) - Monolithic turnout construction for operational smoothness, minimal rail joints, and better appearance:



Photo (3) - More realistic looking throwbar arrangement, tri-planed point rails, functionally bulletproof, visually much better than ANY N-scale RTR turnout:


Photo (4) - Hand-built # 8 Frog - no added bolt head details yet.  This looks inferior to RTR frogs?? :


Photo (5) - Point rail heel hinges from Proto87 Stores - better looking, better functioning than any RTR turnout:


One more thing...etched turnout tieplates with scale sized spikeheads ARE available from Proto87 Stores, and I have several of these frets.  I haven't used them yet because they are so minuscule that I'm afraid they'll disappear when I paint and weather my turnouts.  Truth is, we've become used to the grossly huge spikehead details on commercial N-scale track, and if we combine commercial flex with hand-laid turnouts, even with added prototype-proportioned tieplate and spikehead details, those added details will be noticeably smaller than the big details on RTR flex.

Is it worth it to add those extra details on hand-laid turnouts??  I don't have the answer to that question yet, but I think Ed Nadolski ( @ednadolski ) could pipe up with some relevant comments about it and what he's done with his ultra-detailed hand-laid turnouts on his layout as well as his problems using Atlas 55.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: November 02, 2017, 05:01:12 AM by robert3985 »

ednadolski

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Re: Plastic vs Metal vs Wide vs Narrow N scale wheels
« Reply #95 on: June 09, 2017, 08:36:17 PM »
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CAUTION!! SEVERE THREAD-DRIFT AHEAD!!   :D

<...snip....>

Is it worth it to add those extra details on hand-laid turnouts??  I don't have the answer to that question yet, but I think Ed Nadolski ( @ednadolski ) could pipe up with some relevant comments about it and what he's done with his ultra-detailed hand-laid turnouts on his layout as well as his problems using Atlas 55.

Sorry if I am contributing to the drift, but since you asked:   the problems I've had with the Atlas C55 were due to cutting electrical isolation gaps in the loose/sliding rail on curves.  When cut, the rail wants to straighten back out, moving out of gauge in the process.   Bottom line: for gaps, make them in the other (non-sliding) rail, or (better) stabilize with Gapmasters or 4-6 soldered PCB ties before making the cuts.   Otherwise, I have used the Atlas C55 in my layout and helix and it has generally worked well for me.  (the only other problem was with some old #5 turnouts that had gauge issues, but it seems Atlas has fixed that.)

As far as detailed turnouts are concerned, this is the thread I had on it:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=34762.msg404138#msg404138


Track detailing IMHO really is a matter of mindset and how much effort you want to put in to achieving the look that you want.   Near-scale detailing in N becomes something of a 2-edged sword since the closer you get to scale, the harder it gets to see the details.  Things like viewing distance and layout light levels become a factor.   Also in N the C55 rail itself becomes a constraining factor on fidelity, since it was actually designed for light rail in HO scale, and thus is over-sized in several dimensions even for modern heavy rail.

I'm going to be doing more of the detailed turnouts for my Tehachapi layout. It's 'foreground' track and will be brightly lit so that the details will be easier to see.  Importantly, there will only be a handful of turnouts, so it should not be too oversized of an effort for me (I hope :D ).

I'm skeptical that any manufacturers will be changing their track products any time soon.  It just seems there are too many barriers, some practical and others less so.


Ed