Author Topic: Best Of Faux Code 40 track  (Read 2539 times)

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DKS

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Faux Code 40 track
« on: March 06, 2018, 03:31:22 PM »
+6
Problem: I'm using Code 80 sectional track for a layout I'd recently started—a deliberate choice. I've been doing my best to "deal with it," but lately, as I've been working on some decent-looking structures for the layout, I've become somewhat conflicted about the track choice. I'm not able to hand-lay track anymore, and there are no commercial products that would work with the same track plan—not to mention that everything is already built, and I'm not in a situation where I could start over. Consequently, I became somewhat divided over the conundrum.

My prior work with custom-made Code 25 rail demonstrated that the actual rail profile is secondary to the rail height with respect to overall aesthetics. This became a key factor in my insane new idea: converting Code 80 track to Code 40. In situ. "How," you ask? False ties.

Here's the concept: make laser-cut tie parts that fit in between the existing plastic ties of Code 80 track—new wooden tie parts that are tall enough to cut the apparent height of the rail in half. Now, I already know this won't fix the "European" tie spacing of most Code 80 sectional track. But I believe that rail height is the overriding aesthetic factor above any others.

Yes, it would be a seriously tedious process, requiring the installation of three parts for each tie: the center and both ends. But I'd never entertain this as a solution for a large layout; but this micro-layout is small enough that it shouldn't take all that long to upgrade all of the visible track.

Visually speaking, this is what I devised. In the illustration below, a cross-section of typical Code 80 track is first. Second, the three laser-cut parts necessary for the illusion. Third, the result. (Drawings are not to scale.)



It took two tries to get ties that worked, but once they did, I had bunches of them made, as well as "special" parts needed for the rail joiner areas and the turnouts. Here's how things looked after the initial installation; it may seem uninspiring, even awkward-looking right now, but wait until the ties are painted and the track is ballasted (the gaps are areas awaiting arrival of the "special" parts).



One nice byproduct of the process is that the ties can be a little irregular; there's variability in spacing and angle, giving the track an appropriate "rustic" look, perfect for an old backwoods shortline I'm modeling. As much as a PITA as it is to do, it's still far more practical for me than handlaying anything, especially Code 40-ish rail.

One little wrinkle: calculations are one thing, and actual conditions are another. While the ties were carefully measured and cut to visually reduce the Code 80 by half, in practice many of the false ties wound up being taller than predicted after installation, likely due to glue, paint and debris in the spaces between the ties. Consequently, my loco (an Atlas Shay) hit many of the ties, and I've had to shave them down a little with a knife. It's not terrible, but it does add another step to the process. Once that tedium was done, though, I colored the ties using an India ink wash, followed by a very thin white wash applied randomly.



Next came the "acid test" to see if all this has been worthwhile: ballasting. Although I prefer to ballast track after the scenery base is done, I ballasted a short stretch of track to see how it looks, using my traditional process: first, "wet" the ballast with 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, followed by white glue diluted roughly 50% with water, plus a dash of alcohol so it's "friendlier" with the wetted ballast.

Incidentally, I'm using ballast from Minitec of Germany: 50-0321-02 for the mainline, 50-1021 for the quarry sidings (it's lighter, more like crushed granite), and 50-0021-01 for the yard area (slightly darker and finer). These are made for Z Scale, but I've found them ideal for N, as I think most commercial ballast made for N is a bit too coarse. And because I was impatient to see the results, I used a trick I learned from Rick Spano: place a small fan near the ballasted area; this greatly accelerates the drying process.



It even holds up fairly well under macro photography in natural sunlight:



Compare the above with unmodified track:



I'd say it's worth the effort! Thoughts?
« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 03:33:16 PM by tom mann »
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nuno81291

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2018, 04:03:03 PM »
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Definitely a novel idea... haven’t seen this done before. Looks like a pain in the  :ashat: but the results are very nice. Now you need to detail with tie plates etc :trollface: the only issue I have is the rail seeming below the adjacent ties in some spots. Perhaps a darker rail color and a touch more ballast would fix that
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 04:05:11 PM by nuno81291 »
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DKS

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 04:09:49 PM »
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Definitely a novel idea... haven’t seen this done before. Looks like a pain in the  :ashat: but the results are very nice. Now you need to detail with tie plates etc :trollface: the only issue I have is the rail seeming below the adjacent ties in some spots. Perhaps a darker rail color and a touch more ballast would fix that

Yes, it was a "quickie" test to see what the end result was like. More fine-tuning needed, but I'm happy just getting most of the way there.
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wazzou

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 04:45:32 PM »
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So @David K. Smith, each tie is in three pieces then, correct?
Bryan

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DKS

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2018, 05:20:18 PM »
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So @David K. Smith, each tie is in three pieces then, correct?

Correct.
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Chris333

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2018, 06:04:40 PM »
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Get to a turnout yet  :scared:

I does look a whole bunch better.

coosvalley

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2018, 07:53:33 PM »
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I like the outside of the box thinking . And the results look really good.

 8)

thomasjmdavis

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2018, 08:21:27 PM »
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This seems not dissimilar (in concept) to how Peco makes their code 55 which is actually the same rail height as their code 80, but sunk deeper into the ties, with a sort of double base profile which makes it look (more or less) like rail sitting on top of the tie.
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tom mann

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2018, 08:49:39 PM »
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 Well this is so awesome it’s not even funny!  If you ever get some more made up I would like to buy a bag from you.

 It seems like with some shimming in between the original ties you could essentially place the faux ties anywhere to further randomize spacing.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 08:52:19 PM by tom mann »

Dave V

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2018, 08:58:49 PM »
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Get to a turnout yet  :scared:


Was wondering that myself...
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GaryHinshaw

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2018, 09:47:08 PM »
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Excellent approach to an in situ solution.  I like it.

ednadolski

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2018, 12:11:49 AM »
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Interesting idea, I wonder if this could be adapted to work on top of PCB ties, so that they could blend in with real wood ties.

Ed

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2018, 09:26:00 AM »
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Interesting idea, I wonder if this could be adapted to work on top of PCB ties, so that they could blend in with real wood ties.

Ed

I would think this would be the best use of it.

Reminds me of the Pico approach to doing code 55 where they bury.025 of the rail inside the ties to make it compatible with code 80.

I'm not sure I like the sunken into the tie look though
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DKS

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2018, 11:25:18 AM »
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The concept is indeed vaguely similar to the Peco pseudo-Code 55 trick, but that wasn't an option for me; the track was already down, and besides, Peco doesn't make the sharp turnouts I needed for the plan (nor does anyone else in anything other than Code 80). That said, Code 80 turnouts treated with this technique are, out of necessity, somewhat awkward-looking, but no more so than Peco's Code 55 turnouts, since the points are Code 80 and cannot be buried.

It's not an approach for, shall we say, more discerning modelers. It was a way to lessen the visual weight of Code 80 rail on a small portable layout. By the time I'm done ballasting and weathering and weeding up the track, it should be acceptable to me--at least considerably more so than the alternative.

I'll be posting images of turnouts later today--right now the ballast is drying on the five I've finished so far.
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DKS

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Re: Faux Code 40 track
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2018, 12:51:28 PM »
+5
As promised, turnouts (and a pair of crossings as a bonus)...









Low angle close-ups are obviously the most problematic, but normal viewing angles will be a little higher.
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