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Author Topic: Tighter track standards for N gauge?  (Read 2032 times)

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Offline belstone

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Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« on: May 26, 2018, 12:36:49 pm »
This is a bee that has been buzzing around in my bonnet for ages - seeing just how far I can tighten up the track standards (flangeways and check rail clearances) before reaching the point where it would be easier to switch to 2mm finescale.  Wheel profiles on modern RTR Farish /Dapol models seem pretty consistent and acceptably fine, certainly happy to run on Finetrax Code 40 without the flanges bumping along the chairs,  so with my existing layout getting close to being "finished" (as much as any layout is ever finished) and the next one in the planning and research stage, I thought I had better have a play around with track so I can decide whether the next layout will be "N" or 2mmFS.



The flangeway and check rail clearances on Finetrax turnouts are 1.0mm wide. 2mm finescale is 0.5mm, and no way will an NEM profile N gauge wheelset cope with that.  So I settled on 0.8mm.  The first problem is that there are no track gauges available for code 40.  I thought about having some turned up in brass, then hit on the idea of assembling them myself out of washers and shims bolted together.  The three roller gauges in the photo are the result.  A mixture of M6 form D washers, shims of various thicknesses from 0.1 to 0.5mm, 6mm barrel washers and a nut and bolt to hold it all together.  It took a lot of experimenting to get the dimensions exactly right, but these give a nice consistent 9mm track gauge.  The form D washers were supposed to be 0.8mm thick, perfect for the flangeways, but turned out to be 0.75mm, so my clearances are fractionally tighter than intended.  The crossing nose gauges in the photo are an M4 washer on the end of a screw, but again I was let down by poor tolerances on the washers, they should have been 9.0mm diameter but are actually 8.85mm which isn't a lot of use given the job they are supposed to do. I'll keep looking.

So I assembled a short test length including a pair of check rails.  My soldering technique is very rusty and I need a new chisel tip for the soldering iron to do this kind of work.  Despite all of which I ended up with something that was accurate enough for testing. Next step was to settle on a back to back dimension.

Gauge 9.0mm, less two flangeways at 0.75mm, gives a B to B of 7.5mm minimum.  I added a bit for luck and made the rather crude brass gauge in the photo, which gives between 7.55 and 7.60mm depending where exactly you measure it.The NEM (European) standard is 7.40mm minimum, NMRA standard (USA) is 7.54. NEM maximum flange width is 0.6mm, add two flanges to the 7.6mm BTB dimension and you end up with 8.8mm which is getting very close to your 9.0mm track gauge.

So I regauged a couple of wagons and they cleared the test track nicely, with a tiny amount of side to side play on the plain track and the wheel backs barely clearing the check rails.  Just like the real thing.  I then popped the bogies off my Dapol Class 26 to see about regauging that, which I was able to do in about thirty seconds without removing the wheelsets from the bogies.  Twist and pull the wheels outwards, but very gently.

I have some track components on order from the 2mm Association, next step will be to construct a turnout and a couple of lengths of Finetrax, then stick them to a piece of board and see if I can run trains through them.

Incidentally, I found a useful link to N gauge wheel and track standards here:

http://www.modelbaneteknik.dk/n-scale/stnd/stnd1-e.htm

Anyone else been playing about with wheel and track standards like this?  I can't find a specification anywhere for "fine scale N gauge" but perhaps there should be one.

Richard

Offline sp1

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2018, 01:30:38 pm »
Have a look here:
http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/100029-burton-on-trent-in-n2/page-12

Partway down the page - dimensions look similar to yours: layout is in an advanced state so presumably this works

Online Bealman

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2018, 01:31:12 pm »
Interesting comments. Looking forward to discussion!  :thumbsup:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline tunneroner61

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2018, 02:29:46 pm »
Look up the Scale 148 society and see what they are upto. Mark Henshaw has a whole set of track standards which he had used on his exhibition layout Aston Magna, so they do work.

Offline belstone

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2018, 06:34:43 pm »
Thanks for the info, interesting.  I came across a reference to "N2" a couple of years ago, looks like they have gone for 8.8mm track gauge presumably to avoid having to adjust back to backs on locos, most of which seem to leave the factory around 7.35mm.  I briefly thought about doing that myself, but decided I don't fancy 8.8mm gauge as you can't then use Finetrax plain track without fudging the joints with your home-built pointwork, and given that 9mm track gauge is under scale width for 1:148 already, narrowing it further seems to be going backwards.  Scale 148 doesn't appear to be very active at the moment, at least on the Interweb, and I'm not sure that having four different track standards for N gauge (as their website suggests) is entirely the right way to go.

Richard

Online PLD

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2018, 11:42:51 pm »
The big risk with a multiplicity of standards (and especially modellers inventing their own independently) is that you end up with your stock/layout being incompatible with everyone elses...

I think that 'Scale 148' falls down because it tries too hard to appeal to too many by having 4 different standards which are incompatible, and N2 is seen by many as fixing the perceived problem by changing the wrong side of the equation...
(equivalent to fixing the half-empty glass by cutting the glass in half instead of adding more beer)

For me personally, Finetrax is the step-change needed and the way I intend to go with future projects. - Improved, near scale appearance without changing the fundamentals of what we understand as "N Gauge" and maintaining interchangeability of stock with the majority of other N Gauge modellers.

Offline belstone

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2018, 08:26:50 am »
The big risk with a multiplicity of standards (and especially modellers inventing their own independently) is that you end up with your stock/layout being incompatible with everyone elses...

I think that 'Scale 148' falls down because it tries too hard to appeal to too many by having 4 different standards which are incompatible, and N2 is seen by many as fixing the perceived problem by changing the wrong side of the equation...
(equivalent to fixing the half-empty glass by cutting the glass in half instead of adding more beer)

For me personally, Finetrax is the step-change needed and the way I intend to go with future projects. - Improved, near scale appearance without changing the fundamentals of what we understand as "N Gauge" and maintaining interchangeability of stock with the majority of other N Gauge modellers.

Some good points there, and I agree that interchangeability is a good thing, up to a point.  But I am not sure that 100% backward compatibility is desirable if it ends up restricting progress.  I can't run my 1971 Farish Pannier (or my kitbuilt K1, which is perhaps more relevant) on Code 40 track with 0.75mm flangeways, but if I wanted to run ancient relics I would have built the layout in Peco Code 80. Modern wheelsets with a 7.6mm back to back will run happily through Peco turnouts, even Setrack ones, so my stock will run on other people's layouts.  Other people's stock won't run on my layout without tweaking.  I can live with that - the same way that I can live with having my own coupler system which isn't compatible with whatever other people are using.

Finetrax is good, very good, but still looks a bit 1960s with those big wide check rail gaps.  I can understand why Wayne designed them that way, the market for finescale track is small enough already without restricting it to people who are prepared to adjust back-to-backs, but I think it is possible to do a little better.  I have a spare Finetrax turnout kit with a slightly damaged base, and I might see how easy it is to close up the clearances on it.

Richard

Offline tunneroner61

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2018, 12:03:53 pm »
Don't get me wrong I'm not advocating Scale 148 merely pointing out that it exists. Like PLD I don't think it helps and don't think it will survive without product support particularly for the wider gauged versions.

Offline littlegs

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2018, 06:06:31 pm »
Hi Guys
I have just built my 1st set of Finetrax points (B6) and  think they are brilliant as a concept but must agree that the checkrail clearance does detract from the finescale appearance of the rest of the turnout.
I have’t glued the chairs down yet so have ordered some chairs from the 2FS association to try a substitute of the check rail chairs with ones of a tighter clearance. These are not the pegged type as per Finetrax but should be easy enough to glue down.
I have also built some 2FS 16T mineral wagons and fitted them with N gauge wheel sets and reset the B2Bs to 7.40mm. They run through Peco code 80/55 points ok but if I am to go fully down the finescale route I might look at adjusting the B2Bs of the finescale wheel sets.
I will update as and when I have anything to report
Regards Chris

Offline belstone

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2018, 10:40:18 pm »
Hi Guys
I have just built my 1st set of Finetrax points (B6) and  think they are brilliant as a concept but must agree that the checkrail clearance does detract from the finescale appearance of the rest of the turnout.
I have’t glued the chairs down yet so have ordered some chairs from the 2FS association to try a substitute of the check rail chairs with ones of a tighter clearance. These are not the pegged type as per Finetrax but should be easy enough to glue down.
I have also built some 2FS 16T mineral wagons and fitted them with N gauge wheel sets and reset the B2Bs to 7.40mm. They run through Peco code 80/55 points ok but if I am to go fully down the finescale route I might look at adjusting the B2Bs of the finescale wheel sets.
I will update as and when I have anything to report
Regards Chris

I wonder how many of us there are out there, hovering on the fringes of 2mm FS but not quite prepared to take the plunge? Quite a few I suspect.  I don't think that making a few tweaks to the N gauge NEM standard justifies issuing a new standard, and we probably don't need yet another gauge-specific society.  What I think might be useful is for people working on improving N gauge standards to share ideas, pool resources etc rather than all working alone and coming up with twenty very similar but slightly different versions of N gauge that don't even work with each other let alone anything else.

I have spent much of today experimenting with wheels and track on my own layout, will post an update there soon. Short summary: 0.75mm check rail clearances are no problem provided you don't run anything with flanges wider than 0.5mm.  Farish tender drives are 0.6mm. Clatter bang crunch.

Richard

Offline belstone

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2018, 07:51:41 am »
Hmm.  I have just been having a close look at wheel and track standards. I was concentrating on the differences between what I am doing and the European (NEM) standard: it turns out that what I have ended up with is pretty much identical to the American NMRA standards for track (S-3.2) and wheels (S-4.2).  The key dimensions are near enough what I am working to - 7.65mm back to back, 0.51mm flange width, 0.71mm flangeway, 0.76mm check rail. So possibly the solution here is just to work to NMRA standards.  Americans build their own code 40 track, so there should be track and wheel gauges available.

Richard

Offline littlegs

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2018, 09:51:57 am »
Hi Guys
  As has been already posted in this thread, We don't need yet another set of standards for N Gauge as they will conflict with each other if you try to use one set with another set that is different.
  But I doubt whether I will ever need to run my stock on anyone else's layout or vise versa (someone else's stock on mine). so what I am doing is trialling a compromise between N Gauge and 2FS for my own use only.
   I like the look of Finetrax, and when Wayne increases the availability of some more turnout formations, it could turn out as a viable alternative to the standard available from the likes of Peco.
  I also like the look of the 2FS easitrac system, so as Belstone(sorry I don't know your name) says I am not yet fully committed to either system, so trials will continue until I decide which road to follow.
 I also think that the range of wagon kits/components which the 2FS association advertise is really good and I quite enjoy making them.So that may influence my decision also
regards Chris

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2018, 10:35:04 am »
All very interesting stuff.
I really like Richards hand built frogs on his finetrax points. I think they look so much beter than the cast frog. I seem to recall that Wayne from finetrax wasnt keen on producing jigs to allow us to make our own frogs with his points. If this is still true then its doubtful that he would want to change his check rail distances either. I guess his policy is to supply point work which works with rtr kit.
I suspect that this is a 2mm scale halfway between 2mmfs and N - check rails in 2mmfs are 0.5mm, in N are 1.mm and Richard (inadvertently) settled on 0.75mm which is exactly half way between 2mmfs and N! Ultimately though I think we are talking about handbuilt track with NMRA standards - just different sleeper spacing.
Cheers
Kirky
Northallerton is in the August 2018 edition of Raiway Modeller

and in real life at the Normanton and Pontefract exhibition. New College, Park Lane, Pontefract. 26/27th January 2019



Layout: Northallerton: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=1671.msg16930#msg16930

www.northallertonngauge.co.uk

Cleveland Model Railway club website: www.clevelandmrc.club

Offline belstone

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2018, 11:14:34 am »
Ultimately though I think we are talking about handbuilt track with NMRA standards - just different sleeper spacing.
Cheers
Kirky

Yes, it looks like that is what I am blundering towards. The wheel / track standard I am looking for already exists and works well, it's just that not many modellers this side of the pond are even aware of it.   It helps that most recent Farish and Dapol stuff uses a wheel profile which is closer to NMRA than the much coarser NEM standard. The maximum flange depth on the NEM standard is a pizza-cutting 0.9mm.  I just found that DCC Concepts sell a 7.65mm (NMRA standard) back to back gauge so I have ordered one.  I also have some ideas for etched nickel silver track construction jigs - simple fold-up affairs to help with rail spacing especially around the frog crossing.  I probably ought to finish off the coupler instructions though, before getting too deep into a new project.

Richard

Offline Izzy

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Re: Tighter track standards for N gauge?
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2018, 01:27:15 pm »
 
I believe in the recent past someone - Noel Leaver I think - had a batch of NMRA N roller gauges made to suit code 40 BH rail so (mainly) soldered track could be made to those standards. Not around now (I think they sold out quite quickly), but probably not too difficult to make some as per your other 'washer' gauges.

Big problem I think with trying to develop a decent set of N track standards is the wide variation in commercial wheelset profile standards as you have discovered. The NMRA ones are quite good, but when you discover that if you are a UK modeller with British outline stock a lot of the wheels will need altering/changing to adopt them then taking the plunge and going 2FS isn't too much more of a step.

Good luck with your further trials, I hope you have lots of fun with it!

Izzy

 

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