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Which Flangeway clearance would be preferred?

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Author Topic: 'Gauging' Interest- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?  (Read 153409 times)

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Offline Wayne Kinney

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'Gauging' Interest- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« on: December 27, 2011, 12:56:46 pm »
Hi Guys,

This is my first post here, but I am a keen N Gauge and 2mm Finescale modeller. I am enjoying the process of converting loco's to 2mm finescale, and also track building.

The main reason for converting to 2mm finescale was the quest for better looking trackwork in this scale. After seeing the 'Easitrac' system from the 2mm Association, I was pretty much sold. They have done a fantastic job with this system and the trackwork looks great.

After about a year of building turnouts using this system, I felt that there was a need for a finer looking track system for N Gauge modellers, so I set about looking into this.

I have been in communication with Mick & Nigel and the 2mm Association Committe and they have agreed to get me in contact with the toolmaker of the Easitrac bases so that I can design and produce an N Gauge Track System.

My plan is to produce both N Gauge plain line track bases with code 40 rail and also turnout kits. This would be a fine track system, so would only be compatable with newer wheel sets, not 'pizza cutter' flanges :)

The turnout kits would comprise of the following:

Laser cut sleeper/timbering bases, with pre drilled holes to locate the chairs and frog.
Chemically milled/etched Nickel Silver frog & wing rails (option for this to be pre soldered and ready to go)
Bullhead Rail & Chairs
Pre filed and soldered switch blades
PCB tie bare pre soldered to blades

My aim is to create a turnout kit that is simple to assemble, with the frog/wing rails pre done. For a basic tunrout, I am aiming at a price of between £10 - £15 each. I am hoping that the plain line will work out to about £4.60 per metre :)

So the result, I hope, will be an N gauge track system that looks very fine but simple to build and assemble. There is a high initial investment in tooling for myself to pursue such a project, so I am really seeing how many N gauge modellers would be interested in such a system?

One thing I would like to make clear is that, although inspired by 'Easitrac' from the 2mm Association, Easitrac is their brand and is a 2mm Finescale product. I do not wish to upset the 2mm Association with any of my plans for an N Gauge system, as such I wish to keep the term 'Easitrac' away from anything I am doing here. I believe that is the respectful thing to do.

*****EDIT*****
I am posting the most up to date CAD images here of the progress thus far on 22/01/12:

Below is what I think is the finished CAD design for the plain track bases. I have modelled in chair detail like bolts:


I am fairly happy with these but would like comments.

Attention then 'turns' to turnouts. My original design was a laser cut styrene base, but samples proved that laser cutting is probably not the best way to go due to warping and melting. Notice the holes for locating the chairs & rail.


So I decided that a solid milled base would prove much better and stronger. Below is the current design for the base. It is 1mm thick overall, with 0.3mm webbing:


The holes are location holes for the chairs, the chairs have a pin in the bottom to fit into the holes on the base:


Below are some images of what a completed turnout will look like. This is using 0.77mm flange way clearances:


And once ballasted:


Some milled bases, milled myself on a CNC milling machine bought for this project :)






Here is a video showing the milling of a turnout base:
Milling fiNetrax N Gauge turnout base.mp4

The mould tool for the turnout chairs finally made!




And moulded sprue of chairs :)



And first pics of a prototype, a B6. The Frog/crossing is 3D printed, but will be lost wax cast in Nickel Silver:










Here are the initial pictures of plain line bullhead rail:






« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 10:45:58 am by Wayne Kinney »
Thanks,
Wayne.

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www.britishfinescale.com - Home of fiNetrax Code 40 Track System

Offline MacRat

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2011, 01:53:09 pm »
Hi
I would looking forward to see N (9 mm) track to finer standard and UK sleeper spacing. Though I would prefer wheelsets with 7,54 mm and finer back-to-back would pass. No need to consider coarser settings for me.

Bullhead rail for a start should be fine. But I'd really like to see flat bottom rail with wooden and concrete sleeper track and points in due course.

I've tried Easitrack with sample packs from the N Gauge Society shop and was rather disappointed. The samples that I received, contained railes that were kinked without hope to straighten them and some strange dirt covered them that I couldn't remove with any solvent chemicals. However I managed to assemble a short length and that was straight forward enough and looks good.

So, please seriously consider packaging and secure the fine track on heavy card or thin plywood - NOT paper.

Do you have a timescale for when and where this will be available?

Good luck with this project and I think this is overdue.
Mac

Offline MacRat

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2011, 02:03:36 pm »
Re-reading again, will the different type of chairs and sleeper for points be available seperatly? Know with Templot available for free this would be great.

Thanks.

Offline Wayne Kinney

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2011, 02:26:57 pm »
Hi,

Thanks for your reply.

I am currently reviewing flange way gap and tolerances, I believe a 0.85mm flange way gap will be acceptable but this may need increasing.

Flat bottom & concrete sleeper bases are something I would have to consider after (or if) I have broken even with tooling, this alone will be over £6000 :)

I am not entirely sure with time scale; it all depends on which design route I take and which suppliers I finally go with. I could potentially be up and running in 2 months.

We would also offer sleeper strip (in 35cm lengths) for those that which to build turnouts to their own geometry. The chairs would have locating posts on the bottom (these locate into the laser cut bases), these would simply need trimming off with a sharp knife to use on sleeper strip.

We will sell the chairs separately from the kits, but as a sprue of 2 slide chairs, 8 normal chairs and 1 check rail chair.

« Last Edit: December 27, 2011, 02:28:52 pm by Wayne Kinney »
Thanks,
Wayne.

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www.britishfinescale.com - Home of fiNetrax Code 40 Track System

Offline Formerly NtasticShop

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2011, 05:55:11 pm »
Hi do you have a retail partner or are you going to sell direct? Also are you going to produce track gauges, I am in the process of getting some roller and nose gauges turned for Nn3 to code 40 rail. It may also open up the opportunity to build track at 1:148th scale and not standard 9mm.
Well good luck and keep us up to date.
Regards
Richard
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Offline Wayne Kinney

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2011, 06:01:36 pm »
Hi,

Yes, I plan to get some gauges turned from brass.

The plan is to sell direct, at least at first. Due to the cost of materials and manufacture, I can only just about get to a reasonable retail price, it maybe hard to offer a wholesale price to a reseller and make it worth it, I am not sure yet.
Thanks,
Wayne.

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www.britishfinescale.com - Home of fiNetrax Code 40 Track System

Offline Lawrence

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2011, 07:16:39 pm »
Hi Wayne, well it is a huge undertaking introducing such a major new product to the market, I wish you well with it.  I would certainly urge you to seriously consider concrete sleepers, you just have to look round this forum to see how many modern image modellers there are, the other plus is the lack of modern image pointwork.

Up to £15 for a point and £4.60 per metre you are well into the Kato price bracket there, so what ever you come up with it will have to be spot on, I think for the enthusiast it will be an attraction, for the general modeller in the current climate, it may be a bit rich.

Whatever way it goes, the very best of luck  :thumbsup:

Offline Dock Shunter

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2011, 08:29:51 pm »
Firstly Wayne i congratulate you for spotting a niche in the N Gauge market and having the boldness to invest your time and money to persue it.
I am sure there will be many on here who will be watching with great interest how things progress.
I for one certainly will be......... :thumbsup:

I wish you the best of luck with this.... :NGAUGE:

Offline EtchedPixels

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2011, 12:13:00 am »
Plain track no - easitrac works just fine with N stock and looks better for the extra 0.5mm even if it needs a bit of gently nudging inwards for the points. I pondered this long and hard and decided not to do what you are pondering because

a) it'll cost a bomb
b) If you are a success you'll jog Peco into responding at which point while you'll have performed a laudable service you won't sell any more bits. I didn't like the idea of blowing £10,000 of my and the banks money on doing free market research for Peco.

For the points - maybe - I've yet to see a convincing etched frog that looks like rail versus the US cast frogs. If I want a nondescript frog Peco will do fine 8) - plus if your point base is designed right the two filed bits of frog will be held firmly together even if not soldered. I don't think an etched frog works for the UK. An etched base with two grooves to solder the frog rails into to get the right angle, and bend down tabs to wire the power and locate it on the other hand might.

Laser cut sleeper bases seem an obvious alternative to the milled ones and ought to work out quite cheaply. 3D print is the other option but those who've tried it seriously reckon it's not yet good enough to print the chairs and thread the rail in.

Thinking on a less grand scale point bases that locate the rails would be good - but that surely is simply a matter of using the 2mmSA design milled bases but milling a small (0.2mm or so) rail wide groove so that the rails can be dropped into position by feel and then the chairs glued.

I suspect your pricing is out ? If your sale price is  not two to three times the price of the bits you'll probably not cover your costs and begin to pay your development off by the time you factor in all the paperwork, insurance, accountant and other overheads.

So points maybe - plain track, no. Easitrac looks better for N, works well for N and the extra 0.42mm is an improvement that is compatible with N wheels,and also  works better with older flanges and code 40. For plain track it just works - no point messing around duplicating it - and in fact it'll be worse for everyone because the more people use easitrac the faster the 2mmSA pay off the tooling and the sooner we all get more track types and other bits.

The last problem is going to be that you won't easily match laser cut point bases and plastic track. That argues either for laser cut sleepers and etched fittings - akin to the  proto-87 trackwork or perhaps milled plastic bases ?

Alan
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Offline Wayne Kinney

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2011, 09:07:05 am »
Hi guys,

Thanks for your replies and interest.

We are probably looking at around £12e for a basic turnout kit. A Peco slip costs upto £31, a kit would be under £20.

A few have said no to plain track. My worry is that I believe this should be marketed as a complete system, I guess I shouldn't expect modellers to purchase my turnouts and then have to pay a joining fee to purchase plain track elsewhere (although joining is a good thing). The Association has made it clear that they wish to keepí Easitrací as a 2mm product, I have already made enquiries about reselling some of their parts (bases, chairs and rail) but understandably they don't want this and I respect that decision. To that end, investing in an N Gauge plain track base is really a must.

Regarding Peco, never say never but I am doubting that they would produce a track system as fine as what I am proposing here. Maybe they will surprise me :)

I am submitting artwork for a prototype etched frog to the etching company today. I am hoping that they can turn this around pretty fast. The etch is designed as such to represent the profile section of bullhead rail, its made from 3 layers that will solder together. I will post pics of it here as soon as I get them . Before that, I will get some CAD images up so you get the idea. Being able to provide a completed frog in a kit would make the kit far simpler to construct.

I am not sure what issues you see with matching laser cut bases with plastic plain track? The material thickness is the same as if using loose sleeper strips. Do you mean the finish of the material?

Regarding costs, I have this in hand ( I believe :) ). I already run a business designing camera & filmmaking accessories (www.shoot35.com) so I would run this through the Ltd Company, combining overheads.
Thanks,
Wayne.

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www.britishfinescale.com - Home of fiNetrax Code 40 Track System

Offline H

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2011, 10:40:55 am »
I'm very keen to see finer point kits especially made for N gauge that will significantly reduce the assembly and soldering element - it's an unfortunate fact the N gauge 'modellers' shun away from difficult kit and scratch building and err towards RTR.

* pre-drilled chair location holes
* pre-soldered/made frog/crossing
* pre-filed blades (the tapers are a real pig to form accurately)
* pre-bent/formed check rails
* and so on

Plain track would be a waste of time, money and resources IMO. You'd just be duplicating the Easitrac plain track but a fraction narrower (which would actually be less to 1:148 scale) and which people won't notice. And you've got a lot of catch up; wooden and concrete sleepers to develop in to what will basically only be a 'me-too' competitive product.

If you don't bother with a concrete sleepers/flat bottom rail option then I certainly wouldn't choose a 9mm/wooden sleeper and try and mix with 9.42mm. I'd prefer to use both from the 9.42mm stable.

So for me it's points is a definate (they'd be very welcome and I look forward to seeing them), but don't bother with plain track. Or at least start with the points and once you have a decent range then consider whether to add plain track.

H.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 10:44:36 am by H »

Offline Tank

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2011, 10:46:50 am »
I'm the same as some of the above comments.  I'd certainly be looking at the points, as this is what stopped me going for the Easitrac option.  I just don't have the time to create their points.  However, a kit would be a great timesaver (or even completed kits)! :angel: 

Offline brbluewill

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2011, 11:07:37 am »
i have fancied giving this a go but the point construction has always put me off.might give it a bash on a small shelf layout as a practise exercise.keep us informed :thumbsup:
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Offline Roy L S

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2011, 11:57:02 am »
I have to say I agree with Wayne that there is either an entire track sysyem or nothing. Easitrack is only available to 2mmSA members and not everyone by a long way will want to join. nor will people necessarily want to "doctor" track ends of 9.42mm gauge plain track to fit 9mm gauge Code 40 points. The track system needs to fit properly without "bodging" and be easy to use.

For my money it will need it's own USP and for me as a buyer that would be proper sleeper sizes and spacings and prototypical looking fine Bullhead rail. In essence looks wise what "Easitrack" already gives 2mm modellers but tooled specifucally for N.

The importance of it being a complete track system would mean that points would need to be easy to assemble by the "average" modeller and for me that should involve minimal use of a soldering iron, and ideally not having to solder together laminated etched parts. If points are simple to assemble and wire, and work reliably I think that as word spreads it would sell itself. If they are too challenging for the "average" modeller I think there is a risk of excluding too many from the potential market.

Then do not forget a sound reliable system to conect track lengths. It will make alignment easier and also I feel many will be put off if this has to entail soldering dropper-wires between each short length of track, especially on larger layouts (for which N is so suited and yet are comparatively rare in 2mmFS).

With regard to competition from Peco I am not convinced. Consider how long it took to release an assymetric three way point, and even then they did not see it as cost-effective to tool a second as a "mirror image" and that is a "generic" track for a vast international market. No, for me the market for a specifically "British" n gauge track system is way too small to make even a small range viable to a big player like them.

Just my thoughts...

Roy

 


Offline H

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Re: 'Gauging' Interesting- New fiNetrax code 40 N Gauge Track System?
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2011, 12:20:45 pm »
Easitrack is only available to 2mmSA members and not everyone by a long way will want to join. nor will people necessarily want to "doctor" track ends of 9.42mm gauge plain track to fit 9mm gauge Code 40 points. The track system needs to fit properly without "bodging" and be easy to use.

I think you'll find that EasiTrac deosn't have to be exclusively available from the 2mmSA - AFAIA it was developed as a privately funded project (not the 2mmSA) and I believe that the NGS also has the option of stocking and selling it. Most people that would be interested are probably already members of either (or even both) and even if you have to join something then what the heck - no different to needing to join the NGS to buy one of their RTR wagons and as you know there are a whole host of other benefits.

Also I don't know if you've tried it, but it sound like you haven't if you think there is a need to 'doctor' the ends of the rail to fit 9.42mm plain Easitrac to 9mm gauge made Easitrac points. That is not the case. The rails simply flex inwards - in fact they only each have a deflection of a fifth of a mil so it's not even obvious. There's no filing, bending or 'bodging' necessary.

H.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 12:23:25 pm by H »

 

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