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Will Changing My Track Code Reduce Problems?

Mal asks readers:

“I have code 83 and use transition joiners to match code 100 turnouts. I have a couple of older trains which seem more problematic than my newer ones. The problems happen mainly on the code 83. Is this a common problem? Should I replace the code 83?”

4 Responses to Will Changing My Track Code Reduce Problems?

  • geoff says:

    I don’t have any personal experience with this, but I’ve read that older locomotives tend to have slightly larger wheel flanges than newer ones, and since code 83 track is slightly smaller than code 100, the wheel flanges may come in contact with the tops of the moulded “bolts” on the top of the tie plate.

    You would have to really like the older locomotives to want to replace the track though!

  • Frank B says:

    Geoff is correct. Older rolling stock from a few decades ago had deeper flanges, and correspondingly deeper rails. Modern turnouts can be a particular problem, as the frog rails can have shallower clearance beside them.

    More modern and accurate models have more realistic shallower flanges and track rails.
    The code number, such as 83 or 100, is the height of the actual rail in 100ths of an inch.

    Check what track is available in your shops, exhibitions or online, new or secondhand. I would guess that the flange must not be deeper than the rail height. But you may need to use older turnouts with deep enough troughs for the wheels to go through the frog.

    I had this problem and used a small modeller’s lathe with a rotary grinding tool to reduce the flanges on an older locomotive (after removing the wheels and axles completely from it). This process was fiddly and tedious but reasonably successful.

    • Sheldon Clark says:

      Slight typo there – Code 100 track uses rails that are 100/1000 inches high (0.1″ or 1/10″). Code 83 track uses rails that are 83/1000 inches high (0.083″ or 83/1000″). The difference of 0.017″ will be significant if the flange diameters are more than 0.034″ greater than those of a more modern piece of stock with the same diameter across the tread. This is slightly more than 1/30″, so Geoff’s comments would appear to be credible.

  • David Stokes says:

    If ou already have your track down, and you like the design, have scenery etc., to pull it up to relay a courser, heavier track is counter productive. I cheaper option is to purchase replacement wheelsets from your loco manufacturers. For rolling stock, Ebay and others sell suitable wheel/axle sets by the bagful reasonably cheaply..

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