Author Topic: Micro Engineering is for sale…  (Read 4146 times)

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ednadolski

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #60 on: November 11, 2021, 08:02:45 PM »
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I'd be up for N-scale rail in Code 46 with a correct railhead width and top contour, with the web being the right height too, and the foot being exactly the correct width.

Pic is a bit blurry, but it looks like that rail web would have to be rolled to less than 0.005" thick.....   :scared:

Can we get some true scale-sized spikes to go with it?   (and maybe some P:160 wheels)  :D

Ed

wazzou

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #61 on: November 11, 2021, 10:39:41 PM »
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It comes to mind there is an entrepreneur well versed in N Scale that might be a candidate...FVM's Matt Gaudynski.  IIRC he was beginning to offer S scale track...when the world imploded.



I certainly don’t mean any disrespect at all, but it’s been difficult for FVM to produce anything in the last few years, even with sure sellers like wheels in the catalog.
Given what little has been public, I completely understand.
I really hope for the best of outcomes but I don’t think I understand why this would be a good scenario if we expect uninterrupted product availability.
Otherwise, it’s no different than what we’re already experiencing, but just with more products people rely on.
Bryan

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robert3985

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #62 on: November 12, 2021, 12:31:10 PM »
+1
Pic is a bit blurry, but it looks like that rail web would have to be rolled to less than 0.005" thick.....   :scared:

Can we get some true scale-sized spikes to go with it?   (and maybe some P:160 wheels)  :D

Ed

@ednadolski Ed, you'll note that I didn't mention any effort to make the web a scale thickness....just the correct height.  I included the drawing for the measurements on it for anybody who might be interested, particularly for the railhead width, the railhead profile (curved top), overall rail height, and rail foot width. 

Since the photo evidently is difficult to read, the prototype thickness of the rail web is 1 & 11/16"...which translates to half a mil less than .0105"...rounded off to .011".

Some measurements aren't on the drawing, such as the thickness of the edge of the rail foot, or the angle of the rail foot as it angles up to meet the rail web.

As opposed to scale-sized spikes for N-scale...near scale sized and proportioned rail could be made and used.  I don't think that web thickness is going to detract from the appearance at all unless you're going to stare at a cut and polished cross section of rail. 

Of particular importance is the profile of the top of the railhead, as opposed to the flat top of current code 40 rail...which makes it appear to be much too wide.  A properly curved railhead will minimize the reflection from that shiny surface and give it the right appearance (since it would be "right").   I know this is a point that aggravates you...the wide appearing railhead on current HO scale code 40 rail that is available because of the lack of a proper curve to that surface.

Truth is, that flex track made with a similar process as Peco's code 55, with a portion of the rail buried in the plastic ties, lends itself to actually molding on scale sized spike heads since they would be purely cosmetic along with mainline style tie plates and spike pattern.  Flex made using conventional rails being held on to the ties by nubs representing spikeheads would be extremely fragile in N-scale and not commercially viable, whereas using Peco's buried rail process, at least the appearance from the top and high side views would look good.  The main problem with appearance is no daylight under the rail foot between ties with shallow ballasting or no ballast.  Maybe I could live with that.

Of course, theoretically, instead of having a protrusion on the bottom of the rail that gets buried in the plastic ties to hold it in place, you could have a shallow wedge-shaped cavity in the metal rail foot which into which the molten plastic would be forced, holding the rails to the ties.  Would have to be a really small cavity, but...it might be possible.  That would get rid of light-obstructing spacers directly under the rails, but might stiffen the rails so much as to make them nearly impossible to bend.  Might be able to cut the injection tool so that a nub intrudes into the cavity of each rail between ties, holding the rails in perfect gauge and also creating a dam between ties so that molten plastic can't flow through the cavity in the rails between ties....hmmmm...interesting.

In any case, all this wedge/dam/registration/injection stuff would have to be incredibly small and precise...but with the current state of CNC machining and other manufacturing processes, it might be possible.

Since new tooling, new rails would have to be made to provide very close to prototype proportioned N-scale track anyway, some original thought might provide solutions to long-held views about how to make the stuff.

There's always 3D printing tie strips and gluing pre-bent rail into the slot in the printed tie plates which Mark @narrowminded  has done a really great job of developing.  Doing this will yield the absolute best-looking N-scale track that's ever been available.  But...it's fussy, and in the samples I was sent, curving track and laying track is totally different than what most model railroaders are used to...since you can't bend both rails and tie strips all at the same time. Since I don't mind "fussy" work,  I would use them for all of my future scenes on my layout if he would offer his tie strips for Code 55 rail as well as for Code 40, but I will be definitely using them for my Code 40 sidings and industrial spurs if he's still offering them for sale (in their latest iteration).

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore

« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 04:44:27 PM by robert3985 »

Mark5

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #63 on: November 12, 2021, 01:04:23 PM »
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If I remember correctly, the last time I did some research, A.R.E.A. 136 lb. rail in N-scale comes in at .046"...Code 46...7 & 5/16" tall. 

Railhead width is 2 & 15/16" wide...that's .018" in N-scale and is rounded.

The Railfoot is 6" wide...or .038"

I'd be up for N-scale rail in Code 46 with a correct railhead width and top contour, with the web being the right height too, and the foot being exactly the correct width.

Photo (1) - A.R.E.A. 136 lb Rail:

Very interesting, and similar to 131lb rail N&W used starting in the 1930s. Here's a 131 lb rail cross section (probably not exactly the same as the rail produced in the 1930s).

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

So, I've always advocated for Code 45.   :trollface: Extremely subtle difference though and I would be happy with 45 or 46.  8)

Let's hope Micro Engineering does not go the way of the non-avian Dinosaurs.

Mark

robert3985

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #64 on: November 12, 2021, 04:36:34 PM »
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Okay...just for the helluvvit, I thought I'd go ahead and measure some ME Code 40 rail to see how it compares to a couple of prototype A.R.E.A. rail weights.  I chose A.R.E.A 136 lb and A.R.E.A. 131 lb rail in three important measurements...(1) Height, (2) Railhead Width, and (3) Railfoot Width.

For the 136 lb rail, the height of ME Code 40 rail that I have is .043" vs .046"...that's 3 mils lower.  The railhead width of ME Code 40 rail is .019" vs .018"...that's 1 mil wider.  The railfoot width of ME Code 40 rail is .03967"...rounded off to .040" vs .038"...that's 2 mils too wide.

For my era and location, UP put new A.R.E.A. 131 lb rail on their mainlines where Big Boy would be running sometime in 1941, so let's see how ME Code 40 compares to THAT prototype rail. 

A.R.E.A. 131 lb rail is 7 &1/8" high or .044" in N-scale, has a railhead width of 3" or .1875" in N-scale, and a railfoot width of 6"...the same as A.R.E.A. 136 lb rail at .038".  This means that the present-day ME code 40 rail is only 1 mil too short for rail height, 1/4 of a mil too wide for railhead width, and 2 mils too wide for railfoot width. 

IMHO, today's ME Code 40 rail is pretty damned close to the A.R.E.A. 131lb rail, which was used at the location I'm modeling between 1947 and the end of 1956. Although present day ME Code 40 is supposed to be HO scale rail, its dimensions are very tolerable for both N-scale A.R.E.A. 131 and 136 lb rail...and for most rail that would fit between these two.

If only its railhead top wasn't flat... 

My conclusion is that there's really little need for the expense and trouble to manufacture any different rail than present-day ME Code 40 rail to represent mainline rail.  Truth is, at an actual .0433" tall, it can represent both mainline track and siding/spur/industrial/branchline trackage just by changing tie spacing.  If the present supply starts to run out, then specify the replacement at an actual .043" high with a rounded railhead, which wouldn't change anything except the curved railhead.

I do love to see the difference in rail height between Code 55 and Code 40 track, but if new rail heights are to be made, I'd say that rail in the .30" to .033" height range would fulfill the needs of those who want an actual difference in rail height in N-scale between heavily trafficked track and lightly trafficked track, and like I've said before, Nn3ers and Z-scalers who want to hand-lay their track and international narrow gauge modelers who lay their own track.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 04:55:38 PM by robert3985 »

ncbqguy

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #65 on: November 12, 2021, 09:15:14 PM »
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I will be away from my computer for a while so won’t support my comments with product designs...but sub-code 55 rail is a winner.
Back in the late 1940’s Midlin had HO slotted fiber tie stock with barbed base rail that pressed in.  It was a viable track system. 
The Peco rail uses a double base Code 83 rail which matches up to regular code 83 on the bottom base and theoretically Code 55 on the top.  Since Code 45 doesn’t match anything the bottom projection doesn’t count...it will have to be milled/filled off to join rail ends just like the Peco if you match it to Code 55.
The barbed rail has an advantage over double base rail as it can still be molded into plastic tie stock but also will press into slots in wood ties for hand laid track.
Might as well go small or go home....Code 55 is still too tall and as long as you concede that spike heads have to be too big to make durable sub Code 70 track you might as well do something that looks good but still works!
Charlie Vlk

Maletrain

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #66 on: November 13, 2021, 09:29:34 AM »
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I am reposting some measurements and thoughts I posted to Narrowminded's thread on printing tie strips:

To me, the "look" of model track has a lot to do with the height of the rails relative to the tops of the ties, with the track gauge providing the best visual scale reference.  I took the opportunity to measure some real rail, on what was once the Reading mainline, now using 132 lb welded rail.  The actual rail height is 7-1/8", which comes out to 0.0445" in N scale.  But, it is sitting on top of tie plates that are 3/4" thick under the rails, so in N scale, that adds another 0.004+" to the height of the rail head above the ties, making the net visual effect more like N scale track made with code 49 rail, if the model rail seat between the visible ends of the tie plates is at the same level as the ties.  My caliper tells me that ME "code 40" rail is really code 43, which is equivalent to prototype rail that is 6-7/8" tall.  But, if the model rail base is sitting at tie top level, then it will make track that looks more like prototype track made with rail that is only 6-1/8" tall, sitting on top of 3/4" thick tie plates.  That is down in the 105-to-110 lb rail range, which is much more like "branch line" track than we have been thinking.  Similar reasoning tells me that N scale code 55 rail, which scales to 8.8" in prototype section height, has about the same appearance as rail that is about 8" high sitting on top of 3/4" tie plates.  So, that looks like a model of heavy mainline rail that is in the 152-to-155 lb range, which was not common except on heavy Pennsy tracks.  However, if the model tie strip for code 55 rail could be made with the seat for the rail 0.006" lower than the tie upper surface level, then N scale model track made with code 55 rail could be made to have roughly the same appearance as prototype track made with 125-to-132 lb rail.  The "depth of base" on the code 55 rail that I just checked with a caliper is about 0.018" thick, so setting that down about a third of its thickness doesn't seem like it would be a visual issue on the finished model.  (For those who are interested in rail section dimensions for different rail weights and designs, look here: https://www.wabtec.com/uploads/outlinedrawings/Track-Components-Section.pdf .)

I will add to those thoughts that the width of the railhead is also an important factor in the "look" of  model track, because it, too, is visually referenced to the track gauge as we look at it.  Current code 55 rail has head dimensions that are noticeably too wide, while current code 40 is obviously closer to prototype for N scale track (even though the head section is flat, instead of rounded.

So, if somebody decides to start from scratch to make N scale track that is prototypical looking, I hope they will do the following:

1. Use rail that has appropriate rail head width for N scale (0.019")

2. Use double-flange extrusions for rail, shaped so that the upper flange represents proper N scale appearance of the prototype rail foot and the lower flange provides positive attachment of the ties for purposes of setting gauge and height of rail head above top of ties.

3. Provide plastic ties that slide along the rails, with nubs under the rails that limit the distance to which the ties can be pushed together, while not limiting the distance to which they can be pulled apart.

4.  Provide prototypical looking N scale tie plates and spike heads cast into the ties.

It really doesn't seem like this would be a hard thing to do for a company that already has access to the equipment and sales volume of some existing model railroad manufacturers.

The harder thing to do would be to make a consistent appearing line of turnouts in multiple configurations.  That could use this double base rail for stock rails, but would require some single based rail and good design efforts to make the moving parts of the turnouts so that they both appear prototypical and operate smoothly and reliably in N scale.

Chris333

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #67 on: November 21, 2021, 11:52:25 PM »
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At the beginning of this video it shows Peco flextrack being made on a new machine:

nkalanaga

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #68 on: November 22, 2021, 12:53:10 AM »
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Except for the scale (no pun intended!) it's not much different from our injection molding machines at work.  We make filters and manifolds for the auto industry.

"They" keep telling me I ought to take the 6-hour tech course for molding techs, just so that I'll understand how the machines work.  Since that's not a requirement for operators, and I don't want to run the machines anyway, i keep declining.  I already know how to do the operator jobs, I don't WANT to work on  the machines themselves!

Besides, after talking to some of the techs, I probably know more about "how they work", although not "how to fix them", than they do.  All from model magazines and forums!
N Kalanaga
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Chris333

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #69 on: November 22, 2021, 01:05:01 AM »
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If you notice they (Peco) take injection molded tie strips and pull the rail into them. Micro Engineering sat the rails in place and injected plastic around them.

nkalanaga

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #70 on: November 22, 2021, 01:29:43 AM »
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I noticed that.  We have parts with metal inserts ("nuts" for bolts), and we do it both ways.  On some the press puts the insert in the tool, and molds the plastic around it.  On others we mold a hole, then induction heat the insert, and press it in after the part is cast.  On yet others, where it's a straight metal tube that the bolt goes through, to keep from crushing the plastic, they're pressed into place cold, automatically, or by hand with a hammer.

Peco's way would be much harder to do by hand, but with the insertion robot, it saves cutting individual pieces of rail and putting them in the mold.  Faster cycle time, and a smaller mold, which probably saves tooling costs.  It would certainly allow use of a smaller, and somewhat less expensive, press.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2021, 01:31:53 AM by nkalanaga »
N Kalanaga
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Mark5

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #71 on: November 22, 2021, 09:45:05 AM »
+1
My first and foremost concern is that both Code "40" and Code "55" rail continue to be available.

Mark

pedro

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #72 on: November 22, 2021, 02:15:37 PM »
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My first and foremost concern is that both Code "40" and Code "55" rail continue to be available.

Mark

Mentioned up-thread: M-E outsources their rail, so it’s presumably going to be available from the source if M-E disappears. That being said, I placed an order for code 40 flex, rail and joiners soon after this news broke, and it was fulfilled very quickly. (Dealer ordering from M-E directly)

ednadolski

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #73 on: November 22, 2021, 02:43:01 PM »
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Mentioned up-thread: M-E outsources their rail

Has this been definitively confirmed?   The sources I've seen have been second-hand and/or speculative.  Does anyone know who the supplier is?


it’s presumably going to be available from the source if M-E disappears.

Hopefully, but that also presumes ME finds a taker who is willing to acquire the rail (idk what kind of rights or other ownership that might entail) and make it available as a product for consumers to purchase.

Ed

pedro

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Re: Micro Engineering is for sale…
« Reply #74 on: November 22, 2021, 03:48:56 PM »
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Has this been definitively confirmed?   The sources I've seen have been second-hand and/or speculative.  Does anyone know who the supplier is?


Hopefully, but that also presumes ME finds a taker who is willing to acquire the rail (idk what kind of rights or other ownership that might entail) and make it available as a product for consumers to purchase.

Ed

All good points. IDK the answers, hence why I placed an “overstock” order as a hedge against any future unavailability. I imagine they’re also having a good year like Peco mentions in the above video. People building “Covid layouts” coupled with their “for sale” announcement has to have given them a sales bump. Just speculating, of course.