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Cost of track


highpeak

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The topic for the BR&W extension drifted off-track a bit into a discussion of the cost of ties for models relative to the real thing. A couple of days ago I got a sales flyer from Walthers with "Biggest track sale of the year" on the cover, and it set me thinking about the relative cost of hand built track vs. ready to lay. This was also a talking point at an NMRA Regional convention I went to in September during a class on basic turnout construction.

 

In the Walthers flyer Peco Streamline code 83 was selling for $6 a yard, Shinohara was going for $10 a metro. Code 83 #8 turnouts were $32.98 for Peco and $27.98 for Shinohara. Micro Engineering wasn't listed in the flyer but on Walthers web site it's going for about $6 a yard with a number 6 turnout going for $23. Do they make a #8? I couldn't find one listed.

 

I am going to compare my costs for hand laid track, there are other methods of doing this which may cost more or less. I am not making any claim that my methods are the best way to make track, they give satisfactory results for me but others will have their own methods. I am more interested in the costs involved.

 

For plain track I use Central Valley tie strips, the branch line pattern. Bought as a bundle of 50 pieces (each piece is 12" long) the cost per yard is about $2.80. The rail is about $3.50, so my cost is about on a par with the sale price of Peco and Micro Engineering but less than the Shinohara. Actually when I've added Details West joint bars and a couple of strategically placed PCB ties for strength the cost is a bit higher, but I would probably add those to RTR track too.

 

When it comes to turnouts the cost difference is a bit clearer. I use the CV turnout strips which cost just under $5 a turnout, and there's probably about 6' of rail in a #8 turnout so that's $3.50. I also replace some of the ties in the CV turnout with PCB ties, so we'll add $1 for that. The CV strips are used as their own jig, a method I copied from Joe Fugate. The total is under $10, which represents a pretty good savings. I add details from the CV detailing kit, but I'd probably have to do that with a bought-in turnout as well.

 

Now, there is the question of tooling costs to be considered. I use a couple of jigs (#6 and #8 frog/point jig) from Fast Tracks to speed up the production of filed rail parts and improve consistency. I am not sure how to spread the cost of those across the turnouts because I haven't finished building track and won't have done for quite a while. The tools would also have residual value at the end of this project and could be resold. But I think even when the cost of these jigs is added in the hand built turnouts still represent a significant savings over bought.

 

In conclusion, there isn't much to be saved in making plain track compared to buying ready made. The choice of ready made is a bit more limited for smaller rail sizes (I am using code 70 as that is a reasonable representation of the rail used on a Maine Central secondary line), but if you are using code 83 there is some decent product available that with weathering and the addition of some details would be satisfactory for most people.

 

There are considerable savings to be made with hand built turnouts, whatever method you use, and you are free to adopt whatever geometry you want as opposed to the standard trade offerings. The work is not as difficult as might be supposed, especially with the filing jig that reduces the fabrication of frogs to a mechanical task, and point blades to almost as straightforward a job (the points still have to be filed to fit against the stock rail rather than filing away the stock rail itself). The CV tie strips form an accurate jig and can be curved if need be. They do limit you to the available sizes (5 through 9 I believe).

 

You could circumvent the whole rail filing process if you chose to and match the CV tie strips with machined points and an etched frog from Andy Reichert. The cost is a bit higher than my/Joe Fugate's approach at from just under $20 to just under $24 depending on turnout size,  but is still less than the RTR products. You could also mix and match to suit your requirements since the components are all available separately.

 

The most time-consuming part of the task is detailing, painting and weathering, most of which would be required if you wanted to lift an off-the-shelf product. But these tasks don't add much to the cost, they just add to the time needed to produce a better result.

 

I understand that for those building large layouts the cost of the RTR product results in a savings of time, but given the number of small layouts that feature on here it might be worth considering one of the DIY methods. If your layout needed ten turnouts and you could save $20 a turnout, that's like getting an engine for free.

 

The Joe Fugate turnout construction method is in the September 2011 edition of Model Railroad Hobbyist http://issuu.com/mr-hobbyist/docs/mrh11-09-sep2011-ol. Central Valley turnout products are at http://www.cvmw.com/turnouts.htm Andy Reichert's alternative approach to using the CV products is at http://www.proto87.com/fast-easy-ho-turnouts.html The Fast Track tools for simplifying the production of frog and point rails is at http://www.handlaidtrack.com/PointForm-Frog-and-Switch-Point-Filing-Tool-for-Turnouts-s/857.htm.

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That's a good and very even handed overview of track in the cost category..

 

I'd probably quibble with the net cost per turnout of using if using jigs, but otherwise very helpful.

 

Where I would  like to raise an issue, is the one always avoided by the US MR magazines.

 

"Is track a model in the same way that a locomotive is?"

 

Some methods of handlaying track will produce the equivalent of a 1960's "Life-like" one colour, moulded one piece boxcar, and some the equivalent of the latest Spot-on, highly detailed, covered hopper from the likes of BLMA and others.

 

Would any of you regard the choice of buying just one of the two types of wagons, only a matter of comparing prices? And where for example do the various methods, including Joe Fugate's effort, fit in the realism scale of things?

 

Andy

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Andy is correct in that if you are buying jigs or other tools specific to building track then that is a cost that you wouldn't have with RTR track. But working out the cost of turnouts including tooling as opposed to just materials becomes a bit tricky because it all depends on how many turnouts you are going to build. If you bought, say, the point tool from Fast Track and only made one turnout you end up with a very expensive turnout.

I looked at the last couple of track plans Dr. Gerbil-Fritters posted, as what strikes me as a pretty typical small home layout. It was also useful for a practical test of cost allocation because I think he standardized on one size turnout. If he built the twelve turnouts using a point tool to make the frogs, he'd be adding about $4.50 to the cost of each turnout. He would of course still have the tool with plenty of life in it that he could sell on. I don't see any of those tools on e-Bay so that doesn't seem to be a common practice. 

In the end I view tools and jigs as a means of saving time and ensuring a degree of consistency. I'm a bit of a tool junkie so I like anything that makes my life easier, but you certainly could get by without them. The various tools and fixtures I bought helped me gain confidence when I started trying to build turnouts, I wouldn't bother with some of them now, but the ones I still use save quite a bit of time in filing rail.

And time was the factor I didn't address much in my original post, but is certainly an important piece of the equation, especially as concerns Andy's questions regarding the fidelity to scale criterion.

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Micro Engineering only do the one point/switch/call it what you will in HO.

 

I've used ME Code 70 plain track and switches on my last 4 US-based layouts and am very happy with it. To be frank, I really can't be bothered to make my own trackwork. :no:

 

steve

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"Is track a model in the same way that a locomotive is?"

 

 

Maybe yes, maybe no.  Its just another thing that is part of the layout and can be modeled as detailed or as non-detailed as you like.  Andy is intensely focused on track.  So for him the answer is an emphatic "Yes!" and he has expressed very little patience with people (me included) who have expressed an opinion that isn't as concerned about track details as he would like.

 

Having conventional handmade track or Atlas code 100 is no worse than running trains in circle or using "mother may I" authority or pulling double stacks with a 4-6-0.  Very few people I know notice much about the track unless its really bad.  Once its all painted a rust color much of the detail fades into the background.  Track is nost noticeable in pictures where there is high magnification and its something that you stare at for a while.  When you are actually operating on a layout its not that important.  I've operated on layouts that it took me an hour or more of operation to realize that part of the track was on fiberboard ties. 

 

On a small layout having a fine level of detail might make sense.  On a large layout, with a 100+ switches, it probably doesn't make sense in dollars or hours of construction to have every tie plate and spike prototypical.  One of my friends is concerned with detail and looked at using some various types of castings for switch frogs and points and realized that with the number of switches he had, that it wasn't economically feasible to put that level of detail into the switches.  So he is handlaying all his switches and incorporating what detail he can create and add himself.

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Track is obviously a model, but there is something to be said for the "plonk 'n play" reliability of off the shelf products, as opposed to risking building your own and finding something wrong once it is laid and ballasted. There is also the time issue, I did intend to handlay the track on my plank but gave up after about four ties as I realised it wasn't as effective as flexi.

 

I did find I get a certain kudos from saying my switches are hand made (fast tracks code 70), which rapidly disappears when I mention they weren't made by me and are sometimes available on eBay. But that's another issue, availability. Postage costs are now horrendous for importing from the US and although Peco code 83 is really too tall for the future project, is fairly easy to get hold of in the UK as opposed to other brands.

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Hardly an advert for perseverance...;)

The NMRA awards programme rewards handbuilt track, which might be fine for some obscure arrangement that isn't available commercially, but try getting it as uniform as commercial flexitrack with spikes in every tie. The results are never greater than the sum of the parts....

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It's about time and talent really, I'm in short supply of both! I Peco code 83 is readily available, my non US local model shop will order plain track by the box and any points I want at very reasonable cost I also can't be bothered with live frogs and have never had any problems with even a 45tonner on dead frog points. One thing I notice about shortlines and a lot of secondary trackage is it's relative scruffyness, here is exactly what I want  

post-13564-0-26274600-1420237155_thumb.jpg 

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Also code 70 rail slides straight onto code 83 sleeper bases, I have a lot off cuts of code 83, use the rail for loads or trackside stacks and slide code 70 (odd lengths picked up from friends) rail onto the base for sidings. P&P from the US is probably the deal breaker for the components and PCB route sort of defeats the object of better looking track.

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The point of PCB ties in the Fugate method is to add strength to the turnout. The offset to that is the challenge of disguising the PCB ties among the detailed plastic ones.

With the CV bases alone you are relying on an adhesive (the recommended product is Barge, thinned with MEK) to keep the track in gauge. Clearly that's not an issue with RTR products, but it's a price you pay for the scale tie plate/spike moldings on the CV tie strips. They are purely cosmetic and do not retain the rail.

Joe Fugate replaces some ties with PCB ties to avoid relying on the adhesive to keep things in gauge. The idea is to build a skeleton turnout from PCB ties (a #8 would have half a dozen such ties or thereabouts) so that the CV tie strip becomes purely cosmetic. The tie strip still gets glued to the rails to assist in laying the turnout, but if the glue joint fails in service it doesn't affect the functioning of the turnout. I am sure people like Joe and me probably fret too much over this, but I subscribe to O'Toole's Rule ("Murphy was a hopeless optimist.")

Now, I agree that left alone the PCB ties are not going to look that great. A bit of work though can go a long way to blending them in, at least at reasonable viewing distances and angles.

The two PCB ties in this turnout that I am weathering can be identified fairly easily from this worst of all angles, but I don't think they stick out that much, and less so from a normal viewing distance/angle with ballast and so on. It's a fairly easy process to harvest tie plates from the CV ties that are being replaced, though replicating the wood grain is beyond my ability.

What you end up with is a turnout that, according to Joe Fugate, can survive being laid and subsequently lifted. I'm not sure the CV tie strip on its own would fare so well.

post-277-0-63985400-1420238915_thumb.jpg

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How do you know, if you gave up after 4 ties?

 

I have no issue with someone using ready to play track, if it looks good and has been attended to, to improve it, but to casually dismiss handbuilt track on the basis of so little personal effort and experience is going a bit far, especially when you look at such massive layouts as the Allegheny Midland which were handlaid. And yes, I am aware that Tony Koester has used flex track on his NKP layout to save time, but he is building a large operationally focused layout during his retirement years, and has different priorities. For something like Wiley City, where there is little track, then hand built is an option, and worth considering not just for "some obscure arrangement" but for replicating beaten up, lightweight track. I know: I have done this, on a (UK themed) layout of pretty much the same size as your layouts tend to be. I also started building track (SMP point "kits" - a drawing, rail and pub strip!) in my early teens, and it is only a matter of practice and perseverance. As a side-product, it is easier to adopt slightly finer track and wheel standards, with improved appearance and running.

 

It strikes me as slightly ironic that the one thing that really makes rail transport different from other forms - the track - is so easily overlooked by the majority of modellers, but we all make our choices and hopefully make the right ones for ourselves - and hopefully respect those who have a different perspective.

 

I'm afraid the NMRA regards Fast Tacks turnout jig outputs, as realistic as is required hand laid track. And somewhat more dubiously, anything more realistic does not necessarily qualify for competitions and merit awards. The NMRA has a quite different hidden agenda than they publicize for supporting improving modelling.  That's one of two reasons why I recently resigned after volunteering in the Tech Dept for around 15 years.

 

Andy

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How do you know, if you gave up after 4 ties?

I have no issue with someone using ready to play track, if it looks good and has been attended to, to improve it, but to casually dismiss handbuilt track on the basis of so little personal effort and experience is going a bit far, especially when you look at such massive layouts as the Allegheny Midland which were handlaid.

...

For something like Wiley City, where there is little track, then hand built is an option, and worth considering not just for "some obscure arrangement" but for replicating beaten up, lightweight track. I know: I have done this, on a (UK themed) layout of pretty much the same size as your layouts tend to be. I also started building track (SMP point "kits" - a drawing, rail and pub strip!) in my early teens, and it is only a matter of practice and perseverance. As a side-product, it is easier to adopt slightly finer track and wheel standards, with improved appearance and running.

It strikes me as slightly ironic that the one thing that really makes rail transport different from other forms - the track - is so easily overlooked by the majority of modellers, but we all make our choices and hopefully make the right ones for ourselves - and hopefully respect those who have a different perspective.

I was up against a deadline when laying the track as the layout had been promised for a show a few months later, and although the prototype is of light construction, certainly didn't have the random, higgledy-piggledy decrepid appearance of some shortlines. Plus I had some Shinohara code 70 to hand, it a not like Wiley was laid using Peco Setrack...

 

But I have seen enough handlaid track to realise the result I wanted wouldn't be possible through using it, this includes many US outline layouts where the first thing you notice is the curious look of spikes in every eighth tie, or P4 ones that don't run properly or have shiny solder spots where the rails were hastily adjusted that morning. Nothing that isn't insurmountable and all done with the best of intentions, but hardly a good advert for the hobby or doing something for the sake of it. At some point the "art" takes over from the science and this goes as far as seeing quite a few nice layouts where you don't realise the track is Peco OO, I could have gone as far as building the layout in P87 but having been warned off that from an actual modeller of that scale, but was glad I didn't.

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It's about time and talent really, I'm in short supply of both! I Peco code 83 is readily available, my non US local model shop will order plain track by the box and any points I want at very reasonable cost I also can't be bothered with live frogs and have never had any problems with even a 45tonner on dead frog points. One thing I notice about shortlines and a lot of secondary trackage is it's relative scruffyness, here is exactly what I want attachicon.gif605 at Cambridge NY.jpg

 

In HO, I wouldn't bother handlaying track. I'm only doing it in O because the "rickety Short Line" look is about all I'm capable of!! Possibly that's because I also have a perennial inability to do things properly, so my ties are cut from coffee stirrers, my tie plates from brown card, & I'm using Peco spikes which aren't as refined as Micromark ones, but they're available at my local hobby shop. I had to jump through several metephorical hoops to get turnout parts from Right-O-Way in the US, as he has no Internet presence at all.
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It's about time and talent really, I'm in short supply of both! I Peco code 83 is readily available, my non US local model shop will order plain track by the box and any points I want at very reasonable cost I also can't be bothered with live frogs and have never had any problems with even a 45tonner on dead frog points. One thing I notice about shortlines and a lot of secondary trackage is it's relative scruffyness, here is exactly what I want  

attachicon.gif605 at Cambridge NY.jpg

 

 

Something about that picture "grabs" me - I can't say what it is - perhaps the lighting or the colours - but I like it a lot

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I think the reason why most overlook the track aspect of the hobby is because we are coming at it from the perspective of English narrow gauge 00, we drift into modelling the US scene knowing that at least track is  scale/gauge accurate (same issue re couplings). I think hand track laying is one of those talents which is limited to those that can and the rest of us, add to that the time element and most of us will take the easy route and develope our layouts towards our own individual favourite areas. Weathering is a case in point, where mistakes can be easily rectified, tools required are minimal(I never use airbrushes) and supplies to hand at any good model shop(Humbrol even in Smiffs!). Peco did us a huge favour introducing code 83, add switch stands and clutter/weeds and it really is difficult to tell that from homemade. Anyone know a source for scale spikes to add to my clutter?, tieplates from here http://monstermodelworks.com/HO-Scale/HO-Tie-Plates/ another "this is what I want" photos. Port Stanley Terminal RR circa 1989.

post-13564-0-20688500-1420287779.jpg

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However, it can be done, and done well: look at Mike Cougill's work in P48, or Trevor Marshall's . Plus, Andy's latest offerings go a long way to making things simpler and quicker, but the best idea I have seen was developed by Simon Parent for his own use. Ties were laser cut, with a narrow web between ties on one side only, placed on alternate sides. The clever bit was that the tops of the ties were cut to provide a a degree of relief, for the tie plates and also for a representation of the spikes. The rail fit between the spikes, and the bases were self-gauging for the rails. Masking of the ties followed by airbrushing the rails, "spikes" and tie plates a rust colour completed the initial laying. He is moving house, hence the layout is now dismantled, but hopefully you can see how effective the solution is by looking at his gallery on Google.

 

 

It is very nice, but none of the ready-made webs or jigs give the subtle effect of the real thing, where ties are not exactly the same spacing and the ends don't all line up. Nor are ties all uniform, as they get replaced on an as-required basis. I already showed this photo here: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/74702-cp-crane-and-trackwork/

post-206-0-29557800-1420294958.jpg

 

Adrian

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In the Port Stanley railroad picture, are you sure every tie has a spike or are there some missing?

 

In the double main picture, can you really see the spikes and tie plates more than 100 feet away?  Quick, what's the anchor pattern in the curve?  Do the inside and outside rails have the same anchor and spike pattern?

 

If your nose is a foot from the track, yes the details are visible.  Once you get a yard or two away, the details aren't as visible.

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I was up against a deadline when laying the track as the layout had been promised for a show a few months later, and although the prototype is of light construction, certainly didn't have the random, higgledy-piggledy decrepid appearance of some shortlines. Plus I had some Shinohara code 70 to hand, it a not like Wiley was laid using Peco Setrack...

 

But I have seen enough handlaid track to realise the result I wanted wouldn't be possible through using it, this includes many US outline layouts where the first thing you notice is the curious look of spikes in every eighth tie, or P4 ones that don't run properly or have shiny solder spots where the rails were hastily adjusted that morning. Nothing that isn't insurmountable and all done with the best of intentions, but hardly a good advert for the hobby or doing something for the sake of it. At some point the "art" takes over from the science and this goes as far as seeing quite a few nice layouts where you don't realise the track is Peco OO, I could have gone as far as building the layout in P87 but having been warned off that from an actual modeller of that scale, but was glad I didn't.

 

The idea of traditional US handlaid track being the most realistic dates from the early 60's, when only crude code 100 RTR track was the only alternative for large club and home layouts.  They used rough wood ties, and huge overscale spikes, added every 4-6 th ties. That was regarded as an acceptable improvement and matched the detail standards of the model locos and cars of the time.

 

Clearly in the 50 years since, the RTR model Locomotives and cars have advanced incredibly to almost exact scale and fully detailed models, while the only optional change to traditional US hand laid track has been to substitute a gapped PCB strip and soldering for the 4-6th ties.

 

hand-splayed-track.jpg

 

For example, Joe Fugate proudly displayed this photo in his MRH magazine only about a year back, in his  WOW!  "Yes it's a model" category.  -  Sure it's possibly "Art", but it isn't close to a credible "modern standard" model of any kind of US track. A similar environment example of which is below.

 

sandy-track-800.jpg

 

 

Andy

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It is very nice, but none of the ready-made webs or jigs give the subtle effect of the real thing, where ties are not exactly the same spacing and the ends don't all line up. Nor are ties all uniform, as they get replaced on an as-required basis. I already showed this photo here: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/74702-cp-crane-and-trackwork/

attachicon.gifDSCN1522s.jpg

 

Adrian

 

You can instantly tell that's welded track because of the extra width of the tie plates. . . . . .If the tie plates weren't there, what would a "subtle" model of that track look like?

 

BTW, I respectfully disagree with the "none" remark. I think the model below meets all those same subtle "realism" requirements.

 

track1.jpg

 

Those "light standard" and "heavy welded" track sections were constructed using the "Switch-works" jig.  It has built in features that include the typical slight tie spacing, tie end shifting and even tie twisting variations of real track.  - It does not produce the "same-old" traditional US hand-laid track.  And you certainly can't get that effect with soldered pcb for ties.

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In the Port Stanley railroad picture, are you sure every tie has a spike or are there some missing?

 

In the double main picture, can you really see the spikes and tie plates more than 100 feet away?  Quick, what's the anchor pattern in the curve?  Do the inside and outside rails have the same anchor and spike pattern?

 

If your nose is a foot from the track, yes the details are visible.  Once you get a yard or two away, the details aren't as visible.

 

Then why is this forum (and every Model Railroading magazine product review and every other on-line forum)  so full of postings of praise for the much tinier, much less visible, better represented, details on 2014 model locomotives, over the only slightly worse detailing of say the 2012 models, then the 2010 models, the 2000 models, the 1990 models, ans so on? . . . . . . . . . . .  

 

That logic implies y'all might as well save a bundle and run all1960 Athearn Blue Box models, as y'all can't see any difference from even a yard away. . . . . . . . :scratchhead:

 

Andy

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Then why is this forum (and every Model Railroading magazine product review and every other on-line forum) so full of postings of praise for the much tinier, much less visible, better represented, details on 2014 model locomotives, over the only slightly worse detailing of say the 2012 models, then the 2010 models, the 2000 models, the 1990 models, ans so on? . . . . . . . . . . .

 

That logic implies y'all might as well save a bundle and run all1960 Athearn Blue Box models, as y'all can't see any difference from even a yard away. . . . . . . . :scratchhead:

 

Andy

As like the OP's comments- cost, and its closely related cousin, time. My Intermountain 57' Reefers might be fine for switching on the small layout, but it's a 7:1 cost ratio to replace the three dozen Athearn BB Reefers with the newer product that'll only see occasional use.
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Where I would  like to raise an issue, is the one always avoided by the US MR magazines.

 

"Is track a model in the same way that a locomotive is?"

 

Andy

As you wanted to raise the issue, speaking generally for I have no connection with US modelling, I'd just say surely it is, how could it be otherwise? It's as much part of the overall model as anything else, inaccurate track is surely as inaccurate as the wrong chimney or the wrong livery.

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Highpeak

 

To a certain extent I would disagree with your comments/results, but that's coming from a UK 4mm point of view

 

You can buy in the UK 4mm scale plain track as opposed to the likes of Peco which is really H0 gauge. The main problem with plain track is firstly sleeper spacings, secondly type of rail (flatbottom or bullhead) and thirdly rail fixings(chairs etc).

 

Most UK 00 gauge modellers pay little regard to trackwork, whilst being most discerning about their stock and scenery. To have truly authentic trackwork in the UK then the track normally has to be hand built. The likes of C&L and Scaleway do produce 4 mm scale plain track, if you can put up with having chairs without keys then flexi track by the yard/meter is far cheaper than making your own, even at £5.50 per meter, as at 90 sleepers per yard the chairs alone would be £7.68, £2.40 for 2 yards of rail and not priced the cost of sleepers.

 

Turnouts are completely different, the cost of parts for a standard chaired turnout is about £12. This includes the additional special chairs and laser cut timbers. You will end up with a very detailed turnout which looks nothing like the items produced by the trade (bull head rail not only chairs but all the correct ones), older bullhead rail chairs to match code 73 is catered for the most, but also parts are available for code 82 flatbottom rail. You will have sleepers the correct width at the correct spacings with proper rail fixings (chairs for bullhead rail and base plates for flatbottom rail)

 

I would also suggest that a few simple home made jigs is all you need rather than the expensive commercial jigs or ready made parts. All the tools that are needed is a soldering iron, a few files and a set of wire cutters, a metal straight edge. Most of which will be in most modellers tool boxes. Granted a ready to build turnout kits will set you back over £40, but there is no need to spend that much if you are prepared to do a little work yourself. Copperclad turnouts cost under £5 to make. You will have to buy some track gauges, but they are not to expensive and should last a life time

 

Back in the old days when funds for modelling were scarce, modellers would build track as it was much cheaper than buying commercial products

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You can buy in the UK 4mm scale plain track as opposed to the likes of Peco which is really H0 gauge. The main problem with plain track is firstly sleeper spacings, secondly type of rail (flatbottom or bullhead) and thirdly rail fixings(chairs etc).

 

Most UK 00 gauge modellers pay little regard to trackwork, whilst being most discerning about their stock and scenery.

 

I would also suggest that a few simple home made jigs is all you need rather than the expensive commercial jigs or ready made parts. All the tools that are needed is a soldering iron, a few files and a set of wire cutters, a metal straight edge. Most of which will be in most modellers tool boxes. Granted a ready to build turnout kits will set you back over £40, but there is no need to spend that much if you are prepared to do a little work yourself. Copperclad turnouts cost under £5 to make. You will have to buy some track gauges, but they are not to expensive and should last a life time

 

Back in the old days when funds for modelling were scarce, modellers would build track as it was much cheaper than buying commercial products

Not just in 4mm standard gauge, one sees nicely made kit- or scratch-built locomotives and stock in 00n3 on Peco H0M track, despite HO sleepering,and hefty (for narrow gauge) code 80 rail. So it's not a skill thing, there does seem to be a different attitude to trackwork than to other models sometimes.

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