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First layout (1980s) in N or 2mmfs or a hybrid?


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Thank you all very much for your assistance and information: that is all most useful. There are a number of matters in respect of which I shall reply, and it is probably easier simply to take them in turn.

 

Sleeper material versus track gauge

 

 

 

I don't understand one thing: you're happy to compromise the realism (mixing N gauge tracks and wheels and not fine-scale) but you reject the less obtrusive look of the wood sleepers (wood instead of concrete) and rails (bullhead instead of flat bottom). By any means, I am not a "rivet counter" but I wouldn't compromise to such extent the general look of a layout.

 

The reason for this is that the colour and apparent material of the sleepers are far more noticeable - to me at least - than a relatively small difference in the gauge of the track. The excessive height of Peco code 55 is considerably more noticeable than the fact that it is too narrow.

 

Degree of effort/time involved in building

 

 

 

Then, from my limited experience with R-T-R N gauge tracks, the plan you have for your layout is probably OK to build in a reasonable time-frame but for 2mm, calling it "ambitious" is an understatement. Like others, I would advise to build something much smaller, just to see if fine-scale suits you from all "point of views".

 

I need to have a clear idea of the additional amount of work involved, so that, if I have miscalculated, I can modify the plans to prevent difficulty.

 

My calculation was as follows: people have reported success using modern N gauge stock with Easitrac plain track without any difficulty. I plan to use almost all modern N gauge stock, and the few older carriages that I will need to use can easily have their wheels replaced. Easitrac plain track looks much, much better than Peco Code 55 track, so it is worth giving serious consideration to using this. Easitrac plain track should not (so far as I can tell - do correct me if I am wrong, as this is important) take much more time and/or effort to lay than Peco Code 55 track (especially as Peco Code 55 track is more difficult than it needs to be because of the odd arrangement of burying half the rail inside the webbing).

 

However, the Peco Code 55 points will look very poor compared to the Easitrac track - if there is a way of getting points built from code 40 track that will match the relative refinement of the Easitrac track without having to build them myself, this would significantly enhance the appearance of the layout without significantly adding to the work involved. There appear to be people who will build points to this specification for a cost that is similar to the latest high-end track from Peco in OO gauge (the Bullhead track that I am intending to use on the other OO gauge layout that I am planning), and therefore it seems worthwhile to consider this, as this would improve fidelity significantly without a great deal of extra effort.

 

Further, if I am using Easitrac and finescale points, how much more difficult would it be to adopt the 2FS standard entirely? It would involve replacing wheels, but, as I am using no steam locomotives, these would be straightforward drop-in replacements. However, there are the issues with the curve radii discussed here, which is why I asked these questions.

 

If I have made an error at any point in that chain of reasoning, I should be very grateful if someone could let me know. Indeed, identifying a possible error in this chain of reasoning (and working out at which of the three identified points to stop) was the purpose of posting this thread.

 

Testing

 

Testing is certainly a worthwhile thing to do - I have set up an entire layout (using Peco Code 55 track - as discussed above) for testing automation with JMRI. However, rather than test something that others have already tried, it is often helpful to learn from what others know if they have tested the same things: a great deal of time and effort can be saved if others know the answers to the questions, and I might easily miss something in testing that others know. Thus, whilst testing is always worthwhile, asking others can (if others know the position) be a much more efficient way of getting to the same answer.

 

Curve radii

 

Thank you for the information on this - this is most useful. In terms of stock that I plan to run on the layout, it is as follows:

 

  • Farish class 47s (new type);
  • Dapol class 50s (when released);

  • Farish class 37s;

  • Farish class 31s;

  • Dapol HSTs;

  • Dapol class 58s;

  • Dapol class 56s (possibly);

  • Farish class 101s;

  • Dapol class 121s;

  • Farish class 108;

  • Farish class 150;

  • Farish mk 1s;

  • Farish mk 2As;

  • Farish mk 2Ds (old but with replacement wheels);

  • Farish GUVs;

  • Farish TEA tankers;

  • Farish or Peco HAA wagons;

  • Farish TTA tankers (possibly);

  • Farish PGA wagons (possibly); and

  • Farish FFA/FGA container flats (possibly).

I am not sure whether I might also use a class 08, but this would not use the fiddle yards where the tighter curves would be located.

 

Thus, the longest wheelbase would be either the six wheel bogies of the CO-CO locomotives of classes 37, 47, 50, 56 and 58 as well as the A1A-A1A of the class 31 or possibly the 4 wheel rigid wheelbase of the HAA/TTA wagons. However, the 305mm curve would need to be able to turn 180 degrees for reversing loop purposes.

 

The couplings will be a mix of the Dapol Easishunt/Easifit and the more basic passive Dapol knuckle couplers (the latter for the interiors of fixed rakes) - these come in different shank lengths, and I should need to test what will work with a 305mm curve. This presumably would apply equally if I were using Peco code 55 as 2FS or anything in between.

 

As to the length and speed of the trains: the intention is to run them at realistic lengths and speeds, including running 8 car HST sets at a scale 125mph, possibly with the powered vehicle at the rear. As to the friction, this is difficult to measure, save that I notice that on the tighter than 305mm curves on my testing layout, the newer stock seems to run freely around the curves, whereas the old Farish mk. 2s on which I have yet to replace the wheels drags noticeably.

 

What I do not know is the extent to which using the 2FS standard would make it harder to achieve good running in these conditions. (Indeed, if using Easitrac on these tight curves in the fiddle yards, might this not make it easier for N gauge vehicles to traverse this without difficulty compared even to Peco track, given its wider gauge?)

 

I am very grateful to Izzy for the useful empirical testing data - that is extremely helpful. (The look of the layout will not of course be affected by the tighter curves, as these will be confined to fiddle yards - the tightest curves on the visible part are all greater than 900mm if I recall correctly).

 

Operation

 

To answer Izzy's question - the intention is to have automatic and semi-automatic computer controlled operation, which would not involve regular manual intervention in the fiddle yard. This is part of the reason for the size of the fiddle yard (which is indeed to be placed against a wall): the idea is that everything that I need to run on the layout would either be in the fiddle yard ready to run onto the scenic part automatically or would be on the scenic part of the layout. It is for this reason also that I have constructed a test layout for automation purposes to determine the extent to which I can sensibly go about automating operations and what software to use for that. Setting up the fiddle yard in the first place will probably be done by placing stock on the scenic part of the layout and driving it manually into the fiddle yard before proper operations commence.

Edited by jamespetts
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However... there are a few caveats to this. Rail joints through such a tight radius are not to be reccomended. Because of their tyre profile with small root radius 2FS wheels will 'find' the slightest kink/mis-aligned joint and de-rail as the flanges can ride right up against the inner rail face. 

I think you mean the outer wheel flanges running against the inner surface of the outer rail.   One way around this is to fit a continuous check rail inside the inner rail.  this will bear on the back of the inner wheel flange and keep the outer wheel flange from catching on the rail joints.  just make sure that any joints in the checkrail are not opposite joints in the outer rail.  If running round the curve is to only be in one direction, you could have the gap at the 'facing' end of the check rail slightly wider to avoid flanges catching on it.

 

On Connerburn I had a short stretch which (accidentally) was about 15" radius and caused dome problems at first.  Fitting a check rail as described solved them.

 

Jim

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Yes, many thanks Jim, you are of course spot on. What I failed to explain (the brain thought it but didn't act), was that I was specifically thinking about plain line Easitrac since that is the main type under consideration. Adding a check rail is of course quite easy with soldered stuff but I haven't worked out a way with BH Easitrac without making a total mess of it. How it could be done with FB Easitrac I wouldn't have a clue, never having used it. Perhaps I'm just not looking at it the right way and missing something really simple and obvious.  It would not be unknown...

 

cheers,

 

Izzy

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You could drive a row of small pins in which were in line with the inside edge of the checkrail (I.e.the edge which is nearest the opposite running rail) you could solder the checkrail to them. It would be a good idea to make a little jig to get the check gap consistent and the pins can be put between the sleepers every 3 or 4 cm and cut with their tops flush with the rail head.

 

Not tried it, just an idea.

 

Jim

Edited by Caley Jim
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From the discussion of check rails, curves and flange clearances in the last three posts, do I correctly surmise that one of the additional challenges of 2FS over and above N gauge that I had not fully appreciated originally was that the tighter tolerances involved leave less room for error in a whole array of miscellaneous and subtle track-laying matters, such as joint alignment on curves (as discussed in the preceding three posts), but possibly also including other things such as height differences at joins, gaps between rails on joins, levelness of the underlay, alignment at even straight rail joins and others? Is therefore the need to be more exacting in track laying standards part of the additional difficulty in working with 2FS compared to N to which Valentin alluded when he wrote,

 

 


From my limited experience with R-T-R N gauge tracks, the plan you have for your layout is probably OK to build in a reasonable time-frame but for 2mm, calling it "ambitious" is an understatement

?

 

If this is so, this lends additional support to the idea of using code 40 track built to N gauge standards - but the difficulty remains finding somebody to build the points; I did have somebody send me a private message to offer to do this, but unfortunately, he has an 18 month waiting list and I do not want to have to wait that long before getting as far as track laying.

 

Does anyone think that I have either (1) overestimated the additional difficulty involved with 2FS over and above N gauge (which would mean that Valentin might also have done so if I have understood him correctly); or (2) missed any additional difficulties (beyond getting somebody to build the pointwork) for code 40/fine N gauge? If so, I should be very grateful for information as to the position so that I can make as informed a judgment as possible about the matter.

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Finescale track in any scale involves tighter tolerances than RTR track and therefore needs care and patience in laying. In my experience 2FS stock will tolerate slight (0.5mm) misalignment in the vertical plane, but is much less tolerant of any misalignment in the horizontal plane.

 

I can't comment on your proposed 'hybrid' version as I have no such experience - I gave up N-gauge as crude and clunky in the early 1970's and have never regretted it.

 

Jim

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Finescale track in any scale involves tighter tolerances than RTR track and therefore needs care and patience in laying. In my experience 2FS stock will tolerate slight (0.5mm) misalignment in the vertical plane, but is much less tolerant of any misalignment in the horizontal plane.

 

I can't comment on your proposed 'hybrid' version as I have no such experience - I gave up N-gauge as crude and clunky in the early 1970's and have never regretted it.

 

Jim

 

That is very helpful - thank you. Those who produce great layouts to such tight tolerances are talented modellers indeed. (I imagine that N gauge was much worse in the early 1970s - and that fine scale modelling was more challenging in those times).

 

Aside from the possible issues as to availability of trackwork builders, the hybrid option does seem quite attractive in many ways. If anyone has any experience of this, I should be most interested.

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TomE and Andy Stroud (of Ropley and Blueball fame) on here are the only people I know of who have actually done what you are talking about. Not sure if either of them will be tuned in to this thread though.

The only other one that I know that my be in the same ballpark is the Leamington and Warwick club's Kineton layout but if I've understood correctly they have devised their own standard which is not the same thing that you are proposing. There was a short discussion on here but nothing specific about standards... http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/103921-kineton-smjr/

 

You'd think there would be a finetrax or finescale N forum someplace but I don't know where.

 

One final thought on the subject of gauge widening... if you use 2FS Easitrack with 'N' wheels then you are getting 0.42mm of gauge widening.

Regards, Andy

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There is a forum for fiNetraX, but it is not much used: discussion regarding development of the product seems to take place mostly on this thread in the N Gauge Forum. The reviews of the product suggest that it is generally well received; however, that thread reveals that the manufacturer has had some serious problems with the castings used for the frogs: the supplier that he previously used, "Just Like the Real Thing" suddenly stopped producing things in that material without explanation. He had sourced an alternative supplier, but they have now refused to continue supplying the product because they are, apparently, too delicate.

 

The cast frogs are an integral part of the product, and there are only limited stocks remaining. The last update on that thread was in April of this year. It is not clear at present what the future of the fiNetraX product is, although the person behind the operation is apparently determined to try to find a solution of some sort. C&L Finescale, which at one point stocked the fiNetraX products, seems no longer to do so, and there is no mention of them on the C&L website.

 

This is all rather a shame, as I had been wondering whether the fiNetraX turnouts were easy enough to build that it would be unnecessary to find an external builder. (I had been - and remain - somewhat confused regarding whether filing the switch blade, which seemed like the most difficult task, is necessary: a post from January 2016 in the British Finescale forum stated that the new "version 2" kits had been released, which have pre-filed/milled switch rails, but all the information on the website still refers to needing to file the switch rails, and the switch rail filing jigs - which the 2016 post had stated would be discontinued - still seem to be available).

 

I might have to try to experiment with some real 2FS components with a very small layout to see whether building the whole thing in 2FS is really viable and how much extra effort/difficulty would be involved aside from the work in building the points. If anyone who has moved from N gauge to 2FS can share their experiences of how much more effort/difficulty is involved in the basics of track laying, that would be much appreciated.

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I had a large order of Finetrax from British Finescale only a few weeks ago and the gaffer Wayne Kinney is usually very efficient with orders placed via his website. I suggest you contact him directly to check the supply situation and concrete track status.

 

After an experiment with milled switch rails the kits have reverted to the use of filing jigs, but these make the task quite straightforward. 

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Switch filingg jigs are ever so easy to use.

 

It took me about 30 minutes to file up enough switch blades for 8 sets of points last night.

 

I tend to do a batch  at a time, rather than producing 'on demand'. Same with crossing vee and wing rail assemblies. Something good on the wireless, or CD player, and the production seems to take no time at all.

 

Regards

 

Ian

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Easitrac plain track looks much, much better than Peco Code 55 track, so it is worth giving serious consideration to using this. Easitrac plain track should not (so far as I can tell - do correct me if I am wrong, as this is important) take much more time and/or effort to lay than Peco Code 55 track (especially as Peco Code 55 track is more difficult than it needs to be because of the odd arrangement of burying half the rail inside the webbing).

 

...

 

Further, if I am using Easitrac and finescale points, how much more difficult would it be to adopt the 2FS standard entirely? It would involve replacing wheels, but, as I am using no steam locomotives, these would be straightforward drop-in replacements. However, there are the issues with the curve radii discussed here, which is why I asked these questions.

Whilst Easitrac may be just as quick to lay as code 55 (the rail being buried in the sleepers is irrelevant and not a complicating factor at all) you need to actually make it. Someone previously said an hour for 2 metres once they were experienced I recall. Compared to that with code 55 you whip it out of the box and stick it down. Maybe 30 seconds!

 

As for ‘if I’m using Easitrac I may as well go 2FS’ then you need to consider the fact you’ll have to build all your trackwork in the fiddle yard, which adds immense complexity, and whilst drop in wheels are convenient you need to consider the impact on your budget of £1 per axle and the inability to trade stock as easily without changing wheels around.

Edited by njee20
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There is a forum for fiNetraX, but it is not much used: discussion regarding development of the product seems to take place mostly on this thread in the N Gauge Forum. The reviews of the product suggest that it is generally well received; however, that thread reveals that the manufacturer has had some serious problems with the castings used for the frogs: the supplier that he previously used, "Just Like the Real Thing" suddenly stopped producing things in that material without explanation. He had sourced an alternative supplier, but they have now refused to continue supplying the product because they are, apparently, too delicate.

 

The cast frogs are an integral part of the product, and there are only limited stocks remaining. The last update on that thread was in April of this year. It is not clear at present what the future of the fiNetraX product is, although the person behind the operation is apparently determined to try to find a solution of some sort. C&L Finescale, which at one point stocked the fiNetraX products, seems no longer to do so, and there is no mention of them on the C&L website.

 

This is all rather a shame, as I had been wondering whether the fiNetraX turnouts were easy enough to build that it would be unnecessary to find an external builder. (I had been - and remain - somewhat confused regarding whether filing the switch blade, which seemed like the most difficult task, is necessary: a post from January 2016 in the British Finescale forum stated that the new "version 2" kits had been released, which have pre-filed/milled switch rails, but all the information on the website still refers to needing to file the switch rails, and the switch rail filing jigs - which the 2016 post had stated would be discontinued - still seem to be available).

 

I might have to try to experiment with some real 2FS components with a very small layout to see whether building the whole thing in 2FS is really viable and how much extra effort/difficulty would be involved aside from the work in building the points. If anyone who has moved from N gauge to 2FS can share their experiences of how much more effort/difficulty is involved in the basics of track laying, that would be much appreciated.

 

The problem is that all the Easitrac/Finetrax pointwork building parts are for Bullhead formations whereas as I understand it you want FB on concrete. This also applies to filing jigs, cast/milled frogs/crossings etc, ( the Finetrax are cast, the Easitrac are milled). Making FB pointwork is slightly different to BH in that the stock rails inner foot needs filing back to accomodate the blades which can't be filed up using the BH jigs and also need more work to do. Not impossible by any means - I made my first handbuilt FB track in N back in 1973 so simple tools are all you need - but it does all take time.

 

During your timescale I have read that on the Western Region FB on timber and also BH on both concrete and timber were still much in evidence, with the latter often found on secondary lines and in sidings so there is plently of scope to mix and match the various combinations.

 

Izzy

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You could drive a row of small pins in which were in line with the inside edge of the checkrail (I.e.the edge which is nearest the opposite running rail) you could solder the checkrail to them. It would be a good idea to make a little jig to get the check gap consistent and the pins can be put between the sleepers every 3 or 4 cm and cut with their tops flush with the rail head.

 

Not tried it, just an idea.

 

Jim

 

Many thanks. That's an idea I will experiment with. It has made me think of whether T shaped pins could be used, pushed in and then rotated under both rail bottoms so they could be soldered onto them. Keeping heat/soldering iron well away from the plastic easitrac base has been my concern/problems and doing this between the sleepers while not being visible would be a neat solution.

 

Izzy

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Someone previously said an hour for 2 metres once they were experienced I recall

 

 

Surely not for Easitrac/Finetrax. You are simply sliding rails into pre-formed sleeper/chair mouldings using a jig. 10 minutes per metre tops.

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Fair enough, I’m sure someone said 2 hours for 4 sections, but perhaps that was copper clad. Or my recollection on numbers was wrong, either way, that’s 9.9 minutes per metre longer than removing Peco from a box!

 

Edit: post number 3, 2m per hour, not 1m in 2 hours, my bad!

Edited by njee20
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I wasn't born until 1983 so I'll admit my knowledge of the 1980's Thames Valley scene is limited. I've tried looking for photographs online, but I'm currently limited by work internett access (can't get Flickr etc.), however my gut feeling was that concrete bearer turnouts would have been incredibly rare in 1989. All the junctions on the Thames Valley would have been re-modelled in the 1960's when the panel box schemes (Slough 1963, Reading 1965 and Old Oak 1967) were done. Concrete bearers for turnouts, as far as I'm aware, didn't become prevalent until the 1990's so probably featured in the Slough IECC resignalling and closure of Old Oak Panel in the mid 1990's at the earliest.

 

Based on what I've read about your project so far. If I were you I'd go for PECO timber points and concrete plain track and stick to N gauge. As others have said it would be an ambitious project in 2mm Finescale and I think if PECO track is well laid, painted and the layout presented at a suitable height you'll find it suitable for the intense operation recreation of a Western mainline you desire.

 

Cheers,

 

Alex

Edited by Stumpytrain
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Thank you all for your thoughts. One clarification: when I referred to concrete sleepers/bearers, I was referring to plain line, not to points: I understand that points were wooden sleepered in the 1980s even though plain line had concrete sleepers.

 

What I was not aware of was that some of the points/switches/crossings/turnouts might also have been on bullhead rail even though the surrounding was flatbottomed rail. It is difficult to make out the rail profile on most pictures of trackwork, which is unfortunate, but I shall have to look closely.

 

For reference, here is a picture that my father took at Didcot in 1985, which I scanned and uploaded to Flickr yesterday:

 

41594866855_a3e9300980_b.jpgDidcot station by James Petts, on Flickr

 

We can clearly see that the plain track is of concrete sleeper construction whereas the pointwork is of wooden sleeper construction; what is less clear is whether the points are of bullhead rail construction. (It is apparent that the yard in the background uses bullhead rail as the track here still uses wooden chocks).

 

One thing that I had not appreciated earlier which it now seems may well be the case is that the fiNetraX points may be easier to construct than the 2FS points, especially as the Easitrac points are not available in flat bottomed rail in any event, and so the points that Mr. Armes makes with flatbottomed rail are of soldered construction.

 

A combination of these factors may well suggest that, if the fiNetraX supply problems can be overcome, using fiNetraX points and track together with Easitrac plain track where concrete sleepers are required might well be a workable solution, especially since I do not need slips in the visible portion of this layout. That would then allow use of unaltered N gauge stock and Peco track in the fiddle yards.

 

I shall have to scour pictures online to see whether main line points used bullhead rail in the Thames valley in the 1980s. Edit: Initial results seem to suggest that main line points were flat bottomed rail with timber sleepers:

 

6151044410_0c8e92b452_b.jpg50033 'Glorious' by grahamwalker007, on Flickr

 

15236545042_d6845f8078_b.jpg50036 'Victorious' Large Logo Blue - Oxford by Paul Smith, on Flickr

 

33454957774_a176663c5a_b.jpg50038 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

 

33795957212_7afb75e313_b.jpg47509 by Redhill Bull, on Flickr

 

See also here and here.

Edited by jamespetts
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Hi James,

 

Except perhaps some old siding it would all be flat bottom.

 

Maybe I missed it but what was your objection to using PECO? I’d have thought their Code 55 concrete plain track ( https://www.peco-uk.com/product.asp?strParents=3309,3310&CAT_ID=3315&P_ID=17117 ) and Code 55 turnouts ( e.g. https://www.peco-uk.com/product.asp?strParents=3309,3310&CAT_ID=3315&P_ID=17103 ) would suit your needs admirably.

 

If prototype fidelity is essential then FiNetrax is probably the way to go. But with those curves and ambitious staging yard I’d certainly rule out 2mm Finescale.

 

Alex

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Alex - as I wrote in the original post, the appearance of Peco track, and especially its height, seems excessively crude, and pictures that I have seen of either fiNetraX or 2FS track actually look like a real railway, whereas pictures of Peco track look specifically like an N gauge model so excessive is the rail height.

 

I suspect that you may well be right that 2FS is perhaps not feasible for this layout. One possibility that has recently occurred to me is to redesign the layout using fiNetraX geometry, see whether Mr. Armes can build the mainline points with flat bottom rail to N gauge specifications, and if not build the visible area points using fiNetraX (as these are still likely to look better than Peco track). To do this, however, I should first need: (1) to attempt building a fiNetraX point to see whether I can actually do this within a reasonable amount of effort; and (2) be assured that such supply problems as there are at fiNetraX can be overcome so that I will be able to build the whole layout with the points.

 

I wonder why the milled switch rails were abandoned...?

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Alex - as I wrote in the original post, the appearance of Peco track, and especially its height, seems excessively crude, and pictures that I have seen of either fiNetraX or 2FS track actually look like a real railway, whereas pictures of Peco track look specifically like an N gauge model so excessive is the rail height.

 

I suspect that you may well be right that 2FS is perhaps not feasible for this layout. One possibility that has recently occurred to me is to redesign the layout using fiNetraX geometry, see whether Mr. Armes can build the mainline points with flat bottom rail to N gauge specifications, and if not build the visible area points using fiNetraX (as these are still likely to look better than Peco track). To do this, however, I should first need: (1) to attempt building a fiNetraX point to see whether I can actually do this within a reasonable amount of effort; and (2) be assured that such supply problems as there are at fiNetraX can be overcome so that I will be able to build the whole layout with the points.

 

I wonder why the milled switch rails were abandoned...?

 

Why no longer milled switch rails ?   My guess would be price to get the quality required.  Its an awkward thing to machine from solid. 

 

If you can build your own crossing (frog) area from filed up rail, to an acceptable quality, then the rest of a turnout is a quick. 

Making your own flat-bottomed soldered turnouts (PCB long sleepers) is only marginally slower than assembling a FiNetrax or Easitrack turnout, and has the advantage of making turnouts to any geometry to match your track requirements (templot drawn flowing curved turnouts, rather than rectangular regular everything the same size).   The 2mm solder assembly jig to hold PCB sleepers parallel can be used for N, just requires different track gauges to set the rails at the appropriate distances for N. 

 

I think a copy of the Track book mentioned earlier, a lot of bedtime reading of it (it is a big book), and then some experimenting with building to several methods - solder, finetrax plastic and so on, to get the hang of things.  The techniques for N or 2mm (or that matter 4mm) are not substantially different, just the dimensions between components.   Don't skimp on the quick-gauges and tools discussed in the Track book, they really are worth the small amount of time needed to construct them.     If that is rejected as unsuitable, then its either Peco, or what Mr Armes (et al) can offer. 

 

 

Peco appearance depends a lot on viewing angle.   I've seen several layouts at exhibitions where the viewing angle and scenery mean that the track is not obvious.  There are others, with different viewing angles, where the high rail (even Peco 55) and the "wrong" sleeper spacing shout loudly "this is N gauge".   So, a certain amount of design work could deal with the Peco appearance issue. 

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Why no longer milled switch rails ?   My guess would be price to get the quality required.  Its an awkward thing to machine from solid. 

 

If you can build your own crossing (frog) area from filed up rail, to an acceptable quality, then the rest of a turnout is a quick. 

Making your own flat-bottomed soldered turnouts (PCB long sleepers) is only marginally slower than assembling a FiNetrax or Easitrack turnout, and has the advantage of making turnouts to any geometry to match your track requirements (templot drawn flowing curved turnouts, rather than rectangular regular everything the same size).   The 2mm solder assembly jig to hold PCB sleepers parallel can be used for N, just requires different track gauges to set the rails at the appropriate distances for N. 

 

I think a copy of the Track book mentioned earlier, a lot of bedtime reading of it (it is a big book), and then some experimenting with building to several methods - solder, finetrax plastic and so on, to get the hang of things.  The techniques for N or 2mm (or that matter 4mm) are not substantially different, just the dimensions between components.   Don't skimp on the quick-gauges and tools discussed in the Track book, they really are worth the small amount of time needed to construct them.     If that is rejected as unsuitable, then its either Peco, or what Mr Armes (et al) can offer. 

 

 

Peco appearance depends a lot on viewing angle.   I've seen several layouts at exhibitions where the viewing angle and scenery mean that the track is not obvious.  There are others, with different viewing angles, where the high rail (even Peco 55) and the "wrong" sleeper spacing shout loudly "this is N gauge".   So, a certain amount of design work could deal with the Peco appearance issue. 

 

I think another factor with Peco track is how well you ballast it. Getting a nice flat ballast surface level with the sleepers is challenging when they are so deep. And frankly most (although not all) N Gauge layouts don't manage it. But if you do and get the rails painted Peco Code 55 track can look quite OK, at least the plain stuff.

 

Chris 

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Thank you both for your thoughts. I will have to look into that book: it looks interesting. I will also have to consider purchasing a fiNetraX point kit to attempt making it to see whether this would be feasible.

 

To check the design, I have produced a revised version of the track plan, which I have posted in the layout's original topic. For reference, it is thus:

 

Oxcott%2020C-FT.png

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One layout to look at for inspiration, which I don't think anyone has mentioned, is RBE's Burton on Trent. Set in exactly your era, it mixes Easitrack flat-bottomed concrete sleepered mainlines with wooden sleepered sidings, and uses PCB soldered turnouts, which are as close as you're going to get to flat-bottomed turnouts (remember Easitrack turnouts are also only wooden bullhead): http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/100029-burton-on-trent-in-n2/page-10?hl=%20burton%20%20on%20%20trent

 

I'd certainly agree with the conclusion you seem to have come to: Easitrack plain concrete track and Finetrax timber turnouts are the best combination. Indeed, if your prototype had wooden sleepered turnouts, I don't know why you were resistant to Finetrax to begin with?

 

But, given the scale of your plans, I'd have thought you'd definitely want PECO track in your hidden sections. And don't discount the possibility of using it throughout - with very careful painting and weathering it CAN look good. Look for layouts like Acton Mainline (now Dragonby) and Graeme Hedges' layouts for inspiration of what can be done.

 

I've come to the personal conclusion that I'll model steam in 2mmFS - where the appearance of the wheels makes much more difference - but diesels in N, using Finetrax and PECO "off stage".

 

Justin

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One thing regarding your plan which is unrelated to the 2mmFS vs N debate. Is this layout expected to be movable? If so, give some thought to where you will have the baseboard joints. I have a very similar fiddle yard arrangement on a P4 layout I own, and those long ladders of points make it very difficult to find a place to put baseboard joints such that there are no points stradling the join. It will not be so difficult in 2mm, but still worth thinking about ahead of time

 

Chris 

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