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Comparing track

Posted by Mikkel , in The Depot 19 May 2011 · 5,105 views

Track Depot C+L Timbertracks Peco
A follow-up here to the track experiments in the previous entry.

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A batch of Peco Code 75 has arrived, enabling a comparison of the four types of track seen above. Everything is OO, ie 16.5 mm gauge. The Timber Tracks panel is the GWR 44' 6" version for P4/EM, and it's interesting to note theslight narrow gauge look this track has when viewed directly above. This isn't C+L's fault of course, but a result of the slightly incorrect gauge.


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But we don't often view layouts directly from above. As soon as even a slight sideways angle is introduced, the wider sleepers and spacing really starts coming into it's own, I think. The Timber Tracks panel has the later 8' 6" sleepers used after WW1, whereas the 1900s saw use of 9' sleepers on the GWR. But since the gauge is OO, I am hoping that the visual result is right. I have not actually cut the timbers from the panel yet, so the side supports have been edited out in these photos.


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C+L Flexitrack vs Peco Streamline. In both cases the rail is Code 75, but the different sleeper height makes quite a difference. Nevertheless, I've heard from other modellers that the two can be combined with no major problems. Unless anyone knows differently? The plan is for "The depot" to have C+L Timbertracks track on-scene, and Peco track off-scene. The height difference will in this case be accommodated by building the fiddle yard a tad lower than the scenic section.


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Just for good measure, here is Peco Code 100 vs Peco Code 75. I have happily used Code 100 on "The bay" as I had large quantities of it. With attention to weathering and blending in, I think it can be made to look reasonable from a distance (see eg this post), but it doesn't do well on closer scrutiny (see eg fourth picture in this post).


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I hadn't previously noticed that the chairs are different on Peco Code 100 and Code 75. Not sure what prototype the Code 75 chairs represent. Of the two, the generic Code 100 chairs look a bit more GWR'ish.
For close-ups of the C+L chairs, see this post.

Edit: The photos below compare the different sleeper lenghts (and sleeper spacing) of C+L and Peco track. See the dicussion on this issue in the comments below.

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Mikkel, would it not be a fairer comparison to use the OO-sized timber tracks component? It does look a bit odd above.

Edit, should have re-read your previous entry before commenting!
A good comparative follow on article Mikkel. So, what's the 20x11x11 micro layout going to use then :taunt:
Jamie, in fairness I think the lighting in the top photo makes the narrow gauge effect look worse than it is. It's a bit better when looking at it in real life. In any case, I really like how it looks from the side, where I think it gives the right effect of the 9 ft sleepers. Lets hope it still does when it's all stuck down!

Jon, I was thinking of a GWR stable block for the micro challenge - but I learnt last year that the pace of my modelling is too sedate for competitions! I'm fairly sure the stables will materialize at some stage though, just don't hold your breath. :lol:
Good article Mikkel. Always an interesting subject!

I'm tempted to use C&L on my next micro.

Thanks for posting the pics

Roger
A *slight* narrow gauge look? I had to get a ruler on the screen to be sure it wasn't! As you say though, not C&L's fault when the sleeper units aren't really meant for OO and it does look a lot better at normal viewing angles.
I think its a no brainer the C+L wins for me the only problem is you then think it would look better in EM then looking at points you think even better in P4. You have to decide how far you want to go. I have seen some good looking code 75 layouts but trackwork probably wasn't their strongest point. For me when I worked in 4mm I felt happy with ply and rivet EM. If I was doing it now I would opt for C+L and probably EM again if my stock was mostly kit built. However I might stick with 00 looking how good some of the rtr stuff is.
I think your modelling is of a standard that makes the C+L worthwhile.
Don
Hi Mikkel

Nice comparison, I intend going down the C&L chair glued to ply construction method in EM. I made up some short track panels as a tryout some nine months or so ago and they have been subjected to being moved around the house as I have been decorating room after room, their storage places have been far from ideal. Only damage sustained so far was a couple of chairs came unstuck. The damage was probably a short fall in my skills as opposed to the components. A point I don't think raised yet probably as it is a question of construction as opposed to appearance, is it wise to stain the sleepers first or does this give the adhesive problems, I stained mine first with a blend of different coloured water based wood stains which seems to work fine, just wandered if there are any other thoughts on the matter.

Thanks for posting the comparison

All the best
Martin
Agree very much that comparisons like this (and that nice "feel" of finescale track) brings up the question: why not go EM or even P4? In my own case I had better stay with OO for now though, as I am happy with it and also can't quite face converting my existing stock etc.

I suppose it may seem like overkill to use Timbertracks for an OO gauge layout, especially since the emphasis is on an "impressionistic" approach. But I wanted to see whether finer scale track contributed enough to the "impression", and so far I think it does (although that narrow gauge look from the birds-eye-view has now lodged in my brain, maybe a different Timbertracks panel is worth considering...).

On the wood stain issue, I was assuming that by staining rather than painting it, reduced adhesion would not be a problem? I seem to remember a thread about that on here, but haven't been able to find it.

Very interested to hear about these other plans/experiences with C+L track. It seems to me that small/micro layouts are a good opportunity for testing things out as it doesn't require too much investment.
Hi Mikkel
Nice comparisons... The only observation I have is - did you stain the 'timbertracks' (I notice comment about finishes in other contributions but you don't say whether you have or not). I've previously used 'Colron' 'Old Oak' with timber (this was using rivets in 'EM' so adhesion of adhesives wasn't an issue!) and it looks about right.

As an aside I've just seen the thread about the 2011 comp, and immediately thought of your dioramas! Go on - give the stable-block a go!

Regs

Ian
Hi Mikkel,

An interesting comparison, it got me thinking about why we might find some combinations look right and others don't. Starting from the prototype measurements, the ratio of sleeper length to gauge is about 1.91 for 9' sleepers and 1.81 for 8'6". Applying these to 16.5mm gauge, we get sleeper lengths of about 31.5mm and 29.8mm respectively. These sizes would give us track that is proportionally correct so hopefully would be more likely to 'look correct', even if it is not to scale.

Interestingly, Peco code 75 track has 29.5mm sleepers which are close, though fractionally undersize, to the 8'6" ratio. This surprised me as, before measuring them, I'd always imagined them to be much shorter in proportion to the gauge.

Whether all of this helps us understand what we percieve, I don't know, but it suggests that trimming the timber sleepers to around 31.5mm might give the best proportional appearance for 9' timbers.

Nick

ps. in my limited experience, staining timber sleepers with a wood dye or dilute acrylic wash before sticking the chairs down does not cause any problems.

- did you stain the 'timbertracks' (I notice comment about finishes in other contributions but you don't say whether you have or not). I've previously used 'Colron' 'Old Oak' with timber (this was using rivets in 'EM' so adhesion of adhesives wasn't an issue!) and it looks about right.

As an aside I've just seen the thread about the 2011 comp, and immediately thought of your dioramas! Go on - give the stable-block a go!

Hi Ian, no I didn't around to staining the sleepers yet, but will post some photos once it's done. I want to try leaving some sleepers soaked in the stain for different periods of time, to see what gives the best effect. The stable-block is tempting, but I'm trying to avoid any further distractions right now (here goes nothing :lol:).

Starting from the prototype measurements, the ratio of sleeper length to gauge is about 1.91 for 9' sleepers and 1.81 for 8'6". Applying these to 16.5mm gauge, we get sleeper lengths of about 31.5mm and 29.8mm respectively. These sizes would give us track that is proportionally correct so hopefully would be more likely to 'look correct', even if it is not to scale.

Interestingly, Peco code 75 track has 29.5mm sleepers which are close, though fractionally undersize, to the 8'6" ratio. This surprised me as, before measuring them, I'd always imagined them to be much shorter in proportion to the gauge.

Whether all of this helps us understand what we percieve, I don't know, but it suggests that trimming the timber sleepers to around 31.5mm might give the best proportional appearance for 9' timbers.

Hi Nick, those are interesting observations, and many thanks for the calculations. I checked the measurements of the C+L track and have posted some additional photos and figures in the main entry above.

The C+L Flexitrack seems to be spot on for the 31,5 mm sleepers that you suggest would give the best proportional appearance of 9ft sleepers with 16,5 mm gauge. Looking at the Flexitrack from above, it certainly looks more "balanced" than the Timbertracks GWR panel for OO purposes... but then there is the issue of the Flexitrack chairs and keys which are wrong for the GWR. I think I'll try shortening the Timbertracks sleepers - although in that case I might as well have bought the timbers loose. Ah well... :huh:.
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Silver Sidelines
Oct 16 2011 21:35
Hello Mikkel, Congratulations on a very useful 'post'. Maybe like yourself I have a 'lot of baggage' in the form of Peco Code 100 so in my case no further decisions to be made - especially now that it is 75% ballasted.

Regards Ray
Hello Ray, yes I know what you mean about having lots of code 100 lying about! But I do think it can work well, with careful attention to the painting and blending in with the surroundings.

And the finescale track offerings can create problems of their own. As others have observed, the sleepers on the Timbertracks panels are very "thin" indeed, and my initial experiments suggest that extra care is needed in a situation like on Farthing where the ground surface has to be more or less level with the sleeper height.

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