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Which track for OO outdoors?

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Normally on my indoor layouts I tend to use code 75 simply because it looks better but I'm not sure how this would stand up to the ravages of the British outdoors, and wondered if I might be better using code 100 on the outdoor part of it.

 

Given that the outdoor section won't be ballasted or scenicked per se, the 'extra realism' of finescale track would be wasted - but am not sure how it would handle the weather.

 

Obviously whatever I use, it'll need a good clean before use  and all the other extras - but would appreciate thoughts.

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I've known Peco Streamline last 20+ years on an outdoor line, on a hillside about a mile from the sea. My own line, some miles away, had the fumes from a steelworks to contend with, on top of the sea breezes.

Don't rely on rail-joiners for electrical continuity, and run some 1mm or 2.5mm cable as a parallel power supply- I once used some 6mm, which was excellent at reducing voltage drop to the far corners. The Code 100 rail has a larger cross-section, so resistance is reduced proportionally.

If you decide to have points, then don't rely on the point blades for continuity; when Formoway was still available, we used to use them, with a replacement tie-bar.

A Relco-type unit for breaking down surface dirt can be useful; apart from its designed function, it keeps creatures of all sorts off the track.

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I'd be running DCC so a Relco or similar is definitely out of the question!

 

When you say 'streamline' do you mean code 75 or 100?

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I'd be running DCC so a Relco or similar is definitely out of the question!

 

When you say 'streamline' do you mean code 75 or 100?

DCC may be better at cutting through the grot (and keeping cats off the line) than DC anyway. The rail was Code 100; I'm talking about 40 years back.

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Id have said code 100 without a doubt as its bigger and more substatial, thus more likely to put up with falling debris and wildlife. Hopefully I may build a small garden layout myself soon and I will be using code 100 nickel silver.

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Code  100  definately!!

 

My  first  garden  line  in  around  1980  was  code  100 there  was no  C 75 but  in any  case  I dont  think  it  is  robust  enough for  outdoor use

 

You  have  the  advantage  today  of the  PECO  wired  rail joiners  which  would  be a  great  time  saving  aid  to   providing  more  than  one  feed  to  the track  (  Several recommended)

 

Were  you to  use  digital  you  would  also  have  the  advantage  of  constant  full voltage in the  track  which   is  a  great  aid  to power  pick up.

 

Also   the  heavier  you can make  the  motive power  also  helps,  as  does  a  squirt of  WD40  around the  points occasionally

 

My line  lasted  4  years  without  problems,  it  would  have  continued but  I changed  to  a larger  scale!!

 

Good  luck

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DCC concepts stainless rail I would have thought would be purpose made for the job as it's outside?

 

Mike.

 

I wasn't aware of that but wasn't considering building my own track as I might need over 30 metres.  It would, however, seemingly be ideal.

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I've not compared costs, but it shouldn't be too much more expensive, if at all, to combine it with Ratio/C & L etc plastic sleeper bases, over the cost of Peco rtr?

 

Mike.

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A friend of mine has a fairly sizable outdoor layout laid with Code 100 nickel silver Streamline that had already been in use for some years before I got to know him in the late 1980s so it's now well past thirty years old.

 

It's in a fairly sheltered garden but spent several years out of use recently with (I think) just the pointwork covered up. When I revisited it this autumn, he'd got it all up-and-running again and very little seemed to have been replaced. Such a track record (sorry, I just couldn't resist that) would certainly make it my first choice if I were contemplating such a project.

 

Code 75 is clearly less robust and the self-build options must be regarded as experimental unless someone has tried them. UV resistance of the plastic bases would be my worry.

 

John

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DCC concepts stainless rail I would have thought would be purpose made for the job as it's outside?

 

Mike.

 

Just  as  a  matter  of  interest   re  the  cleaning  aspect  of   Peco  Code  100,  when  I  had my  line as   described in my  earlier  post,  I found  that cleaning  the  track  was not really much  of  an  issue.   I simply  used a block of  wood  wrapped in fine   emery paper,   I don't  think  I had  a specific interval  between  cleaning jobs, just  did  it  when  I thought  necessary.

 

One thing  I did do  was  on  the  initial run  of  the  session  I would run 2 locos coupled  together as  light!!  engines  (Usually Heavy! Wrenn Pacifics or a  couple  of  8fs)  over  the  whole  system a couple of  times,  if  they  found  any parts of the  track which was dirty  the  loco in the  rear  would help  the  front  loco along thus identifying  and partly cleaning  the offending  bit  with  its spinning  wheels!   

Edited by Stevelewis

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I use Peco code 100 Streamline track in the garden. I think it's into its third year at least, and there have been no issues at all. For cleaning I use a large brush to remove larger objects like leaves and then a rub over with a Gaugemaster track cleaning rubber to shine the railhead. For the first few circuits of the first trains I follow them around to make sure any dirty spots that had been initially missed are buffed up, then all runs just fine.

 

I find that the track goes dirty only when it has rained, then subsequently dried out again. Strangely trains run just fine when the track is wet, as long as it was clean before it rained. The single point on the outside section is also a Peco Streamline code 100 item, and all it needs apart from rail cleaning is an occasional drop of oil on the spring to help prevent it from rusting away.

 

I do have one corner affectionately referred to as "bird s**t curve" where there is a holly tree above that birds like to sit in the branches of, leaving a deposit on the tracks below. The Gaugemaster track rubber cleans it off just fine. I did have a bird manage a direct hit on a train once, so I think the little feathered urchins do like to try their luck from time to time.

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I'd be outdoors now, having done it once before, but the wildlife (squirrels, badgers, corvids) damaged the track regularly over the two years I tried it in our present location. Peco streamline code 100, as earlier recommendations, the plastic is the crucial bit, their plain track base lasts, the salvaged lengths after a dozen years outside still in use now over thirty years old. The point bases not so good, so these were replaced after seven years, the new ones overpainted with a dense black paint, no degradation experienced. The railjoiners mostly got split and failed, by frost action in my opinion; fine through the warmer months, 20% ish failed every Nov-March period, which is the frost zone for this part of SE England.

 

 

I'd be running DCC so a Relco or similar is definitely out of the question!...

 The thought of using a Relco, or more suitable yet a farm 'electric fence' supply to keep critters off the rails could be a winner. I would use DCC outdoors, it is ideally suited to this application. Being a bear of simple brain I would make it 'one or the other' by having a single plug socket to power either the electric fence supply or the DCC kit: no way to have both supplying the track at the same time.

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I helped build a friends outdoor extension and sometimes operate it, it is Peco code 100 and has retrofitted droppers and bus bars.  I never bother track cleaning but use Relcos and H&M variable transformers with very heavy 4 wheel pick up locos like a 28XX on a Wrenn Chassis and a Farish 94XX pannier body on a Romford wheeled Triang chassis.   These work where multiple pick up chassis like Bachmann 30XX and 64XX don't.   Rain doesn't stop running but ice does.

 

My own outdoor line has been  down for well over 20 years and is Peco Streamline Code 100 with mainly concrete sleeper track.   Many of the rail joiners are still the originals but many have been replaced several times, some of the point springs have been changed but I don't use track power all the locos are battery powered re-motored Lima Diesels.

 

The reason for this is the track is ballasted with sand and cement, virtually bricklaying mortar which conducts electricity so well there is none left for the locos.     I treat track like the full size railway does, treating sleepers and rail separately.  Quite often I change a section of track where cats, strimmers or wellington boots  have caused damage and recover the sleepers where the rail is damaged and rail where the sleepers are damaged and slip individual undamaged sleepers onto serviceable rail to make re usable track sections. Unserviceable rail makes guard rails to protect some of my 3ft drops to solid concrete.   Maintenance is always an ongoing issue, especially the voracious triffid and Ivy populations engulfing my garden.

 

I think the code 75 is definitely on the flimsy side, outside, especially the point work. Another post on this site reports corrosion issues with Stainless Steel track and I definitely found the small rail chairs on concrete sleeper code 100 rather prone to fail.  On the plus side code 75 will stay curved better than code 100 making the curves less dog leggy

 

 

Personally I don't think DCC is a realistic option unless you have masses of time for track cleaning, a Relco a Morley and a good solid loco or two is all you need,  But If you are a track cleaning fetishist try DCC, if not consider Radio control.   Nothing like charging snow drifts with a pair of 37s on a wintry winters afternoon......

post-21665-0-94274900-1479857005_thumb.jpg

Edited by DavidCBroad
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Re the  above,, conversley  when I   converted  my G scale  to  digital,  I found  that  running  improved  dramatically!  The  constant  FULL voltage  in  the  track work  enhanced  current  colledtion   greatly,

 

  I know  of  a  couple  of   digital 44mm (00)  outdoor lines  where  track  cleaning  is  never  seen  to  be  a problem  and  running  is  good.

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I used to have a high level outdoor railway. I called it outdoor for it was no where near any garden rather well and truly above it. The highest point was 1.5m off the ground. I used Peco code 100 streamline track as it's more robust and the plastic sleeper base is UV resistant so it doesn't go brittle in the sunlight. I had a nest of bull ants and I teased them with a length of older streamline into a frenzy and then dropped the streamline onto the nest to see what they could do to it. Well they were determined to defeat the track and swarmed over it. But try as they might they couldn't do anything to it so they retreated perhaps to have a cup of tea.

I live in Australia and our weather is vastly different to the weather in the UK. We rarely get frosts and where I live we don't get snow, but we do get very hot days in summer and as the saying goes it never rains it pours and yes that's very true as our rain is often torrential. Through these different types of weather the Peco code 100 came through it all with flying colours.

For me the trouble is finding a track base that is virtually no maintenance. My high level railway was constructed mostly of wood and although a lot it was copper chrome arsenate treated wood the top surface where the track was pinned was exterior pine. It was all painted but the pine still rotted away which is why the railway is no more.

I'd like to have another garden railway in the true sense that is just above the ground but able to blend in with a garden. The high level railway stuck out like a new tooth in an old ladies mouth and I was constantly worried about vandalism, whereas a garden railway that blends in and is not noticeable is a far more attractive railway even if your knees have to suffer for it.

I used DCC or to be exact NCE Pro Cab 5amp Radio. The radio range is excellent and at 50m from the command station two way antenna the control of the trains was the same as if I was 0.5m from the command station antenna.

The bus wire was 2.5mm stranded wire and the droppers from the rails to the bus wire were 1mm solid copper. I also used 1mm solid copper for bonding the track joints which is vital outside. 

When it comes to deciding whether to use code 100 or code 75, code 100 is the only choice. Your viewing distance is so much greater that you won't be able to tell the difference. Your viewing distance inside can be 600mm or less. Outside your viewing distance is often around 10m or more so you won't notice a difference in rail height.       

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One further point if you are thinking of going outdoors with your railway into your garden then set up a test track with your choice of track base just to see if what you have in mind is viable. If it isn't then you haven't wasted a lot of money on something that will be a real pain to maintain. 

If your chosen track base is viable and stands up to the rigors of an outdoor life I also recommend that you have an outdoor building to run the trains into for storage. Make it so that the trains have to climb a slight gradient (1 in 100 is fine) to enter and run down a gradient to exit the out building so that rain water doesn't run into the building via the track base .

When building a garden railway outside in whatever scale you chose just remember that the weather doesn't recognise scale or gauge. Whether you're using OO/HO or 3.5" gauge they're all the same as far as the weather is concerned. So you must build a very solid track base. Even if the railway is only going to be a bit of fun to get away from the absolute scale modeling that you practice inside you must still build a very solid track base.

Also another reason why code 100 streamline is used outside is because of the sheer quantity you will use. Twelve or more boxes of streamline is easy to get through when laying out the track on a garden railway. Forget hand made track with the correct sleeper spacing's. You'll have long gone to the great model railways in the sky before you're even half way through laying track unless of course that's the real reason for doing it. Perhaps you just love to build huge amounts of hand made track.

Also forget dead scale modeling outdoors. The plants in your garden will tower over your models being completely out of scale but they will provide some welcome and pretty shade. Try not to build your garden railway so that the right of way passes beneath deciduous trees otherwise your railway will become submerged beneath masses of leaves in autumn. Also try to keep away from plants which have sharp thorns or spiky growth on them as maintaining the railway near to those types of plants will be difficult and painful.

A little forethought as to the laying out of the permanent way will save a lot of painful experiences later on.

One thing you won't have to worry about is painting the sides of the rails. Mother nature will do that for you as she oxidises the nickel silver rail. It turns a black colour very quickly which is why you need to clean the rails before every running session. Also use an outdoor vacuum cleaner like Vax to suck up debris. Don't use the wife's vacuum because it's not designed for an outdoor use and if you break it you'll never hear the end of it and your better half who was very enthusiastic about the garden railway may have a big change of heart.       

Edited by faulcon1

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I've been thinking of putting a simple OO oval(ish) circuit around the garden pond for the summer on a simple frame/roofing felt topped base using a mix of NS set-track and Code 100 Streamline from the re-use box. To get ideas on construction I've been watching some YouTube videos and everyone seems to pin down track and some people even use a sand/cement mix ballast to stop track movement. How do you cope with the heat expansion of full sun?  Obviously track laying on a hot day is one answer but then perhaps contraction leaves huge gaps? 

 

Reason for asking is in the past I remember I worked on some track work out in the garden on some club layout boards and had serious issues with the fixed down tracks in the fiddle yard bending all over the place in the sun.

Edited by john new

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There's one thing that has to be remembered when building the track base of a garden railway. The indoor board method cannot be followed here. There are many ways to construct a track work base from thermalite blocks which can be cut with a large toothed wood saw to rubber pathway material used in kids playgrounds. As for being worried about expansion in hot weather, that usually only occurs on very hot days when you may not want to operate the garden railway anyway due to the chances of sunburn. But to stop the sun sending the track out of alignment a cover is needed and thick pieces of polystyrene foam provides a good cover. It's cheap and fairly easily cut using an old bread knife. Just use brick to hold them in place so the wind doesn't blow them away. You could even paint the polystyrene with acrylic paint (oil based paint will melt it) in an attractive green so it blends in.

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After seven years of my Code 100 Streamline outdoors, the track is still fine, although my creosoted timber base is starting to show its age.  Nevertheless, I think the appearance of weathered wood is unbeatable for this purpose.  I find Garryflex abrasive blocks are cheaper and better than most things sold as "rail cleaners".

 

Years of photos are here (ignore the first few before the proper track was laid):

 

https://www.oogardenrailway.co.uk/index.php?/topic/354-the-dorking-garden-railway/

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On 28/03/2019 at 13:21, faulcon1 said:

There's one thing that has to be remembered when building the track base of a garden railway. The indoor board method cannot be followed here. There are many ways to construct a track work base from thermalite blocks which can be cut with a large toothed wood saw to rubber pathway material used in kids playgrounds. As for being worried about expansion in hot weather, that usually only occurs on very hot days when you may not want to operate the garden railway anyway due to the chances of sunburn. But to stop the sun sending the track out of alignment a cover is needed and thick pieces of polystyrene foam provides a good cover. It's cheap and fairly easily cut using an old bread knife. Just use brick to hold them in place so the wind doesn't blow them away. You could even paint the polystyrene with acrylic paint (oil based paint will melt it) in an attractive green so it blends in.

Profuse apologies for missing this reply at the time. Thanks for the tips.

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That's ok John. I hope you find them useful.

Edited by faulcon1

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