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Practical Peco Bullhead Trackwork

Peco Bullhead Streamline OO 4mm




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#1 Harlequin

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 22:12

The new Peco Bullhead track system is a little bit different than the preceding Code 100 and Code 75 systems. Consequently, working with it will be a bit different.

 

This post looks at some of the differences on the workbench. No doubt more differences will arise in real layout construction but unfortunately I'm not at that stage yet.

 

First, here's a quick photo of Bullhead Large points (front) vs. Code 75 Medium (rear) for comparison:

IMG_20180606_202229.jpg

You can see the finer detail, the increased timber spacing, the continuous blades, the less obtrusive over-centre spring, etc.

 

Bullhead track joiners (front) are smaller and again finer in detail than the old Code75 joiners (rear).

IMG_20180606_202538.jpg

 

Code75/100 points have voids inside the outermost chairs, to allow the joiners to slide fully onto the rails, and it was traditional to cut away the chairs on the first sleeper of flexitrack to accommodate the joiners. This is no longer necessary with the smaller Bullhead joiners.

IMG_20180606_173624 b.jpg

(Code 75 Medium points)

 

Fitting joiners is fiddly but just about do-able without magnification (for a middle-aged, glasses wearer like me).

Code 75

Bullhead

(As with the larger joiners, the trick seems to be to offer the joiner up at an angle so that the bottom of the rail engages first, then wiggle and push.)

 

Joining track to points is more difficult because you have to line up two tiny joiners at the same time but I found that by sliding the ends together on a flat surface the joiners engaged surprisingly easily.

(A bit of wiggling to ease the rails into the joiners and then recentre the joiners around the joints. Notice that the joiners don't interfere with the chairs on either side.)

 

After joining flexi-track to points I found there's a definite step in the track surface at the joint, which you can feel by running your finger over it and by rolling a wagon over it.

IMG_20180606_173752.jpg

(Sorry for the bad photo - that was the best my phone could do!)

Measuring with a micrometer I found that the flexitrack rails were 1.95mm high whereas the rails on the bullhead points were 1.90mm high. 1/20th of a mm difference - probably not really a problem, but interesting.

 

Sleepers on Bullhead flexi-track are more prone to become out of line than Code75/Code100 - it can easily look like rickety wild-west railroad! This is because bullhead flexi-track webbing only joins each sleeper to the next one on alternate sides of the track whereas Code 75 and Code 100 join sleepers in staggered groups of 4.

IMG_20180606_173624b.jpg

This will probably mean a lot of adjusting will be needed before fixing track down on a layout...


Edited by Harlequin, Yesterday, 08:41 .

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#2 Methuselah

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 20:39

Apart from the flexi-lengths, is there anything available yet, apart from the large radius points...?



#3 Jeff Smith

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 21:12

This is an unbelievably great improvement over code 75/100 for British 4mm modelling - it almost makes me reconsider 00, almost but not quite...... nevertheless there may be a use for the very neat rail joiners in EM or P4!

Phil, very useful thread.

Edited by Jeff Smith, 07 June 2018 - 21:13 .

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#4 Harlequin

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 08:08

Apart from the flexi-lengths, is there anything available yet, apart from the large radius points...?

As far as I know only the flexitrack, the joiners and the left and right large radius turnouts are available in Bullhead at the moment.

 

I think I read somewhere that the double slip and/or the single slip might be released next and that the small radius points were unlikely to ever be produced in Bullhead form. I might be wrong.


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#5 Harlequin

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 07:09

A popular way to get power and control to the track is by soldering wires to rail joiners so I wondered how easy that would be with the smaller Bullhead joiners.

 

It isn't too difficult. I found the best way to hold the joiner steady was to push it onto a length of track:

(That is not the best joint in the world but it shows it's possible... More practice needed!)

You have to be careful not to use too much solder or else it sticks to the sides of the joiner and hides the detail.

 

The other big difference between the Bullhead points and Code75/100 is that they use the "Unifrog" electrical design. This has been extensively covered elsewhere but for the sake of completeness there are two important electrical changes:

  1. Unifrog points are supplied with the frog having no electrical connection to any other rails - it's effectively insulated but it is metal, and does have a dropper wire to allow it to be connected through a separate switch.
  2. The points perform no electrical switching themselves - all rails, including the points blades, are permanently connected in the same way.

  • This design is good for DCC because power and control is not removed from one of the trailing tracks when the points are changed and so loco lights and sounds will not turn off, for example.
  • The point blades don't rely on making a good connection with the stock rail to get their power so running should be more reliable.
  • Switching power to the frog can be done in many ways and should be more reliable because it will be performed by a properly designed electrical component, which is encapsulated and away from the layout surface where it will be unaffected by dust, paint, grease, humidity, etc.

Edited by Harlequin, 12 June 2018 - 08:26 .

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#6 Jeff Smith

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 11:37

Reference soldering wires to joiners. The reason pre-soldered code 75/100 joiners are available is to serve those who cannot solder. If you can solder to a joiner then you can solder a thin dropper wire directly to the rail which is a much more reliable way to get power to rails. Nevertheless I see your point in demonstrating this and it does serve as a minimalist approach for simple wiring.

Can these points be modified to isolate the siding for DC systems that rely on this feature?

#7 Harlequin

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 12:36

Can these points be modified to isolate the siding for DC systems that rely on this feature?

Yes, I think so...

 

I think you could cut the bonding wires that connect the blades to the stock rails, cut the bonding wires that connect the inner trailing rails to the stock rails and re-connect them all together and to the frog.

 

Then the point blades would provide the electrical switching to the frog and the inner trailing rails and I think that would then be equivalent to an electrofrog.

 

However, that would be fiddly and tedious to do on a lot of points and so it would probably be simpler to just isolate the sidings from the points and switch them in parallel with the frog or switch them separately like any other isolated section.


Edited by Harlequin, 12 June 2018 - 13:22 .

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#8 Jeff Smith

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 13:53

Yes, I think you are right, I would not want to mess with the stock rail to blade connections. An isolating joiner on the frog rail with the siding rail switched with the frog would do the trick.

#9 The Stationmaster

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 15:26

Reference soldering wires to joiners. The reason pre-soldered code 75/100 joiners are available is to serve those who cannot solder. If you can solder to a joiner then you can solder a thin dropper wire directly to the rail which is a much more reliable way to get power to rails. Nevertheless I see your point in demonstrating this and it does serve as a minimalist approach for simple wiring.

Can these points be modified to isolate the siding for DC systems that rely on this feature?

 

It should be fairly simple having had a good look at the points with exactly that in mind - a couple of existing bonds need to be cut and rewired to the crossing nose wire and are thus connected to whatever is switching the current for the crossing (frog) thereby creating a full 'live frog' (crossing) point.  ideal for dead end sidings as no isolating switch will be required.



#10 E3109

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 15:37

What's the suggested method for connecting bullhead to (code 75) flat bottom rail, does anyone know?
Or is it just assumed that you should use one or the other.
I need both on my layout, bullhead, and code 75 with the sleepers spaced out appropriately.

Cheers
E3109

#11 Junctionmad

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 17:23

I don’t personally recommend using rail joiners at all, least of to solder droppers to , solder directly to each section of rail as required
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#12 Harlequin

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 18:12

What's the suggested method for connecting bullhead to (code 75) flat bottom rail, does anyone know?
Or is it just assumed that you should use one or the other.
I need both on my layout, bullhead, and code 75 with the sleepers spaced out appropriately.

Cheers
E3109

 

The code 75 joiners connect nice and tightly to bullhead rails.


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#13 Harlequin

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 07:41

I don’t personally recommend using rail joiners at all, least of to solder droppers to , solder directly to each section of rail as required

Agreed, soldering to the rail makes a more direct and more reliable electrical connection but since that's no different with bullhead rail than Code75 or Code100 flat bottom I didn't think it was worth covering.

 

Do you really mean you recommend not using joiners at all? Could you explain further?



#14 hayfield

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 08:31

Harlequin

 

I for one would always recommend not to use rail joiners, simply because they look awful

 

Exactoscale make functional fishplates both in plastic and metal which are far superior visually, or the use of etched fishplate sides 

http://www.finescale...product_id=4184

 

As for the Peco turnouts, they are a step forward, but could have been so much better. The equalised timbering looks fine in crossovers but is out of place in most other instances, they still incorrectly represent the final timber in the heal of the turnout and some of the chairs could with a little thought could have been a little more prototypical



#15 Junctionmad

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 12:31

Agreed, soldering to the rail makes a more direct and more reliable electrical connection but since that's no different with bullhead rail than Code75 or Code100 flat bottom I didn't think it was worth covering.
 
Do you really mean you recommend not using joiners at all? Could you explain further?


I use cosmetic fishplates , but the track doesn’t need rail joiners , it’s pined then glued and the pins pulled out , I’ve seen no need to physically hold the rail ends in line

#16 Harlequin

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 13:18

Harlequin

 

I for one would always recommend not to use rail joiners, simply because they look awful

 

Exactoscale make functional fishplates both in plastic and metal which are far superior visually, or the use of etched fishplate sides 

http://www.finescale...product_id=4184

 

As for the Peco turnouts, they are a step forward, but could have been so much better. The equalised timbering looks fine in crossovers but is out of place in most other instances, they still incorrectly represent the final timber in the heal of the turnout and some of the chairs could with a little thought could have been a little more prototypical

 

 

I use cosmetic fishplates , but the track doesn’t need rail joiners , it’s pined then glued and the pins pulled out , I’ve seen no need to physically hold the rail ends in line

 

The new bullhead joiners look like fishplates, they create an electrical joint between rails and they ensure alignment of the rails. I can't really see a reason not to use them, on the belt-and-braces principle, even if your track is fixed by other means and powered by droppers soldered directly to the rails.

 

See Post #1 above.


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#17 mdvle

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 13:34

Apart from the flexi-lengths, is there anything available yet, apart from the large radius points...?

 

Double slip, single slip, and long crossing coming likely by end of year.

 

Plans for medium radius and curved turnouts in the future.

 

http://www.rmweb.co....31#entry3021045


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#18 hayfield

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 19:25

The new bullhead joiners look like fishplates, they create an electrical joint between rails and they ensure alignment of the rails. I can't really see a reason not to use them, on the belt-and-braces principle, even if your track is fixed by other means and powered by droppers soldered directly to the rails.

 

See Post #1 above.

 

 

Phil

 

I am fully aware what they look like, and they are a vast improvement on previous products. Agreed parts of the rail joiner has rivet impressions, is far smaller than previous incarnations, and does have the ability of transferring electrical current from one rail to another, but when compared to the Exactoscale product there is no disguising its a rail joiner.

 

A fishplate does not curve around the foot of the rail. Admittedly a fishplate should be in two parts, but is so much easier to use joined up as an H section. The bonus is the plastic versions act as rail insulators    


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#19 Junctionmad

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 19:19

The new bullhead joiners look like fishplates, they create an electrical joint between rails and they ensure alignment of the rails. I can't really see a reason not to use them, on the belt-and-braces principle, even if your track is fixed by other means and powered by droppers soldered directly to the rails.

 

See Post #1 above.

 

extra work for no extra gain 



#20 Dave John

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Posted Yesterday, 08:03

Interesting thread, the whole system is a great improvement .

 

Actually some companies prior to the grouping did use fishplates that curved round the bottom web of the rail. 

 

Here is  drawing of the Caledonian version. 

 

CR fishplate.jpg

 

 

Had these been available when I was tracklaying I would have used them for EM. 

 

 


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#21 Trog

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Posted Yesterday, 08:18

Also BR used deep skirted fishplates on bullhead to give added support for heavier axle loads where the lower edge of the plates was level with the bottom of the rail foot.


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