Jump to content
jhb171achill

21mm gauge track; the pros and cons?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I've been continuing my research on a number of points over the last few days. I've come to my own conclusions - which will work for me, but not all, of course.

I decided that it has to be 21mm - BUT.  21mm looks way, way better, and as David and others mention, why go to the bother of rivet counting on a tender, getting an exact style of bogie side or door handle - or LIVERY - correct to the letter, when something so elementary as the GAUGE is just plain WRONG, and obviously so.

The "BUT" is the cost. I have the choice of making up all the track myself, which I don't relish, or paying beyond the means of a pensioner to get it done professionally, excellent though that job would be. I could live with converting the one J15 and the one B141 that I already own, though last night I ordered some more stuff from some of our illustrious suppliers. Thus, unless some way appears to get the track done cheaply, I am going to have to go for 00 gauge on this one. However, the idea is not dead; in the future, once this thing is finished, I am determined to give 21mm a go, perhaps some sort of shuttle thing with a CIE AEC railcar set. It could be something based on what Fintona might have looked like if it had survived.

So, regrettably, in this case it's code 75 which at least looks better.

We have seen major advances in Irish railway modelling in the last 15 years, starting with rudimentary re-branding of British stuff into garish orange and black (I know these are now in some cases collector's items, but I have to say I always thought they looked awful!) to the outputs of Murphy Models, IRM, Leslie's stuff, and others too. Carriages and locomotives can now be had to suit many prototypes. However, the glaring omission, and in which Irish railway modelling is still 40 years ago, is track.

Nobody would seriously think that it's OK to build a 4mm scale Co. Donegal or Isle of Man layout on standard (scale 4ft gauge!) 00 scale track, but the Irish modeller has no alternative unless he is wealthy or at the upper end of the modelling skill set. Those of us in Dublin or Belfast or a few other places can join clubs and get some help, and indeed I can, but that's only the answer for some of us.

The British have their P4 and EM standards, as 00 isn't even right for 4ft 8.5in gauge - whoever invented 00!! Even in the big market that is the UK, it's a niche market even there. That being the case, it'll necer be mainstream commercial here to have 21mm, but it should be!

At the very least, it is worth emphasising to our intrepid model manufacturers, (some of whom might comment here?) that at the very least they might design their future models in such a way that a simple change of wheelset would facilitate re-gauging. I know that, for example, if I had an enormous layout with dozens of locomotives, and several hundred items of rolling stock, even if cheap 21mm track appeared, I wouldn't even dream of changing as it would mean a humungous queue of things to be converted.

So; food for thought. Meantime, the planned offering should appear in some form in the new year, but it will be, for now and most regrettably, 00 gauge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a shame JB, but understand the reasons why.

 In terms of why 21mm is a virtual non-starter in Ireland, that is hard to quantify when run alongside EM and P4 in Britain. Am guessing most know it all stems from the early days of HO, when the smaller loading gauge of British engines meant it was very difficult to fit the mechanisms of the time.

 Equally though, that was precisely why EM and P4 started (the former in the 1950s), because people were unhappy running scale trains on narrow gauge track. These days, I'm not sure EM and P4 could be described as 'niche'. Minority perhaps, but both have a healthy following, with their own dedicated exhibitions up and down the country.

 One can only wonder why things didn't take off in the same way in Ireland? Maybe the lack of RTR has been a factor, though that is hardly the case today. My only other thought is that, as far as this forum is concerned, the number of layout builders far exceeds the number of loco builders and maybe if there had been more kits available in the past, then more folk might have taken the plunge and learned that such things are not alchemy after all.

 However, it won't stop me continuing to fly the flag!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jonathan that makes a lot of sense and understand your thinking. Code 75 track with fine ballast, weathered and nicely blended into a scene will greatly help.  One day far in the future I might try a small diorama.  Another consideration is the potential running quality of re-gauged locos, the precision of movement after modification, etc, so smooth prototypical running and shunting speeds are still possible.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, David Holman said:

That's a shame JB, but understand the reasons why.

 In terms of why 21mm is a virtual non-starter in Ireland, that is hard to quantify when run alongside EM and P4 in Britain. Am guessing most know it all stems from the early days of HO, when the smaller loading gauge of British engines meant it was very difficult to fit the mechanisms of the time.

 Equally though, that was precisely why EM and P4 started (the former in the 1950s), because people were unhappy running scale trains on narrow gauge track. These days, I'm not sure EM and P4 could be described as 'niche'. Minority perhaps, but both have a healthy following, with their own dedicated exhibitions up and down the country.

 One can only wonder why things didn't take off in the same way in Ireland? Maybe the lack of RTR has been a factor, though that is hardly the case today. My only other thought is that, as far as this forum is concerned, the number of layout builders far exceeds the number of loco builders and maybe if there had been more kits available in the past, then more folk might have taken the plunge and learned that such things are not alchemy after all.

 However, it won't stop me continuing to fly the flag!

The model railway community in Ireland, I am guessing, is tiny compared to the UK. ROI has three (?) main active clubs with a few more modellers scattered widely. NI has a few more clubs. UK has a huge MR community with numerous exhibitions on practically every weekend of the year whereas ROI has two (?) main exhibitions with a couple more in NI scattered over the whole year. Junctionmad has shown his work on hand-made points at Wexford MRC recently so it does not seem overly difficult. However, the prospect of making points, lengths of track not to mention resizing every engine, wagon and carriage in a collection is daunting indeed even if the end result is tempting. The fear would be that after all that effort, the running would be poor as can happen even with best efforts with rtr stock. Also many modellers here do model UK outline given frequent visits there and the more ready availability of rtr items.

By the by, South Dublin MRC have done a layout called Belturbet with broad gauge 21mm and narrow gauge 12mm track.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi JHB, I won't give up totally on 21mm gauge the reason I say so is that having seen what has been done in the recent 009 market with a basic 3D print, etch and resin kits, we can't be far off of having a 21mm gauge kit as well. I am not saying 3D prints are the full answer, one of the biggest hassle to get 21mm gauge more established is having those parts which make doing it as easy as RTR 'OO' Gauge.

While I agree it would be great to have compensated loco chassis etc and all the bells and whistles that go along with the fine scale modelling but there has to be a point when you have to say enough is enough, I am taking the view that I want something up and running ASAP,  years ago when I was knee high to a grasshopper the local model club had both EM and 'OO' layouts, one guy from the EM section one day told me a big secret to some of the models he was using they where converted OO gauge body shells and RTR Hornby-Triang rolling stock.

Like so many people at the time I had this idea that if you modeled in EM, it all had to be scratch built and this made a big difference to me. Now to my way of thinking why don't I used this idea today for building in 21mm gauge locos and rolling stock? So I will not apologies if anyone sees a BR mk 1 or a GWR Hornby coach on my Irish based layout as it is for working out just what is or is not possible, my idea is while It is good to have the fine scale standards, I do think that this also puts more people off of having a go than is healthy.

Regards

Colin

 

 

 

 

       

Edited by Colin R

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Noel said:

Another consideration is the potential running quality of re-gauged locos, the precision of movement after modification, etc, so smooth prototypical running and shunting speeds are still possible.

That sounds a bit vague as you are not giving an exact description of which  locos would suffer from poor or erratic  running. Are you referring to kit or rtr steam, kit or rtr diesel. It is a common occurrence that anyone could buy a rtr 00  steam or diesel loco with a wobble in the wheelsets or poor back to back measurements it happens regularly so it is not just something that finescale modellers to have to put up with. If regauged properly there should be no problems and if any problems are encountered you work it out and correct the problem like you would a rtr loco. Strange post.

Rich,

  • Like 4
  • Informative 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can agree with you Rich, a couple of items which I purchased a few years ago had to go back since neither of them worked from day one properly, I have had replacements since and they work OK, but if anyone things that RTR is the only solution to good running, I would have to disagree.

One item was a Hornby SR 4-6-0 tender loco and it ran for about half an hour and then it just packet up, I found out that the gears had split and the teeth broke off inside the chassis itself, I did get a replacement for it, but not a direct swoop from Hornby as they cancelled that model due to the number of problems they had with it.

Besides fettling a model, is all part of the learning curve of getting it to run better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It happens all the time Colin it's a shame but it does happen. One of the main reasons I disagree with posts like above is that we have people that come on here and are lurkers they don't post but they like to learn and become more familiar with the hobby. Posts like that can be taken as gospel by some people even if it is a very tiny amount of people and could turn someone off of delving into that side of the hobby thinking that they are going to experience trouble with running re gauged models. Poor pick ups incorrect back to backs can easily be sorted out and would take a short while to put right. I cannot see how re gauging a diesel model of 141 - 181, 071 - 111, 201 classes  would cause motor problems and lead to a poor running model. Try and fail then try again, practice don't run before you can walk. We all have to overcome things in life how many of us get behind the wheel of a car for the first time and can drive like Steve McQueen in Bullitt. How many folks start a new job and need to be trained in to operate machinery and after an amount of time can do it with their eyes closed. How many people that started working on the railways could drive a loco, be a signal man, a train guard but were all able to do it after training and practice.

Try it lads, well those that are or were contemplating it. As Christy Moore said many years ago it won't do you any harm and it might do you a lot of good.

Rich,

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny you should mention new jobs, I start a new one on Tuesday, but I have two large A4 manuals, a large website to look through, as well as the induction process to undertake before they let me loose.

To be honest most of it is just common sense, but those of us of a certain age then look at the younger generations after they have done something stupid and ask why don't you use the common sense you where born with, it appears from the famous Health and Safety manual, that you now have to try and teach common sense and to add insult to injury they make you take a test on it >:( 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Colin R said:

Funny you should mention new jobs, I start a new one on Tuesday, but I have two large A4 manuals, a large website to look through, as well as the induction process to undertake before they let me loose.

To be honest most of it is just common sense, but those of us of a certain age then look at the younger generations after they have done something stupid and ask why don't you use the common sense you where born with, it appears from the famous Health and Safety manual, that you now have to try and teach common sense and to add insult to injury they make you take a test on it >:( 

This might cheer you up..?

 

 

  • Funny 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just finished doing the trackwork for Courtmacsherry and a quick calculation shows that it cost about 45 quid thats for a 196 foot layout(excluding fiddleyard) with 7 1/2 points (ones a catch point).So 21mm track needn't be expensive,Andy

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy, I'm impressed. I am at a point where I am just completing my baseboards. I have three walls complete and tomorrow I'll cut the last section which will allow me to use a flap to close off the entrance to the operating position. I don't see no reason why I shouldn't consider 21mm though I really need to be sure that locomotives can be converted easily. Any photographs?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tony,The only ready to run conversion i have is a Halling motor bogie under my C Class.For any one who hasn't come across these rather fine beasties,they are made by Leopold Halling in Austria and are mainly used under tram kits,they are however readily regauged as all you have to do is replace the existing axles (1.5mm)with longer ones,for the C i used 14mm coach wheels instead of the 9mm ones.The usuful thing with these bogies are they have a variable wheelbase and flywheel drive infinitely  better than those dreadful Tenshodos.Andy

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Andy Cundick said:

Just finished doing the trackwork for Courtmacsherry and a quick calculation shows that it cost about 45 quid thats for a 196 foot layout(excluding fiddleyard) with 7 1/2 points (ones a catch point).So 21mm track needn't be expensive,Andy

Interesting..... that's not as expensive as I thought.

Edited by jhb171achill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my current costs for hand built  ply sleepered points, with C&L chairs is about 12 euros a point. Nickel slivered rail, This is for 00-SF track, but 21mm would be no different 

The main caution I would advance for 21mm , if done to p4 standards, is the care that must be taken when laying track, thats the issue, I have seen a number of p4 layouts  that struggle to get reliable running 

of course there is no reason why 21mm track cant be built to EM standards , which will then allow rp25/100 wheels to be used ( albeit with extended back to back ) and you get the visuals of 21mm without the precise engineering tolerances required for p4 

I have recently bought A4 sheets if 1,5mm ply and will cut the point timbers using a miniature proxxon table saw, this should save a fair bit of money over the longer run.

 

dave

 

 

Edited by Junctionmad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Junctionmad, I think you've got a point with the sleepers. I could get birch ply pretty easy and save quite a bit. Also, I'd be using EM tolerances because it would probably run much better than fine scale.

 

When all else fails, theres Peco Code 75!

Edited by TonyMcGartland

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TonyMcGartland said:

Junctionmad, I think you've got a point with the sleepers. I could get birch ply pretty easy and save quite a bit. Also, I'd be using EM tolerances because it would probably run much better than fine scale.

 

When all else fails, theres Peco Code 75!

yes I buy the ply in A4 sheets on eBay, 

I think theres big gap in the options between 21mm at whatever flange way gap , and PECO code 75. Once you move away from 00 , theres a lot of work , and especially so in 21mm as many items cant easily be extended to take the wider axles . Building large amounts  of plain track by hand is fairly soul destroying 

Edited by Junctionmad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactoscale (now owned by C&L) do plastic and ply trackbases for bulkhead and flat bottom

Basically you replace the HO sleepers on your trackwork with more realistic OO ones

I wonder if they could be approaches to do these sleepers in 21 mm?

Whatever rail to be used is then just threaded through the new chairs

Might save some destroyed souls?

http://www.finescale.org.uk/index.php?route=product/category&path=346_384_394

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, WRENNEIRE said:

Exactoscale (now owned by C&L) do plastic and ply trackbases for bulkhead and flat bottom

Basically you replace the HO sleepers on your trackwork with more realistic OO ones

I wonder if they could be approaches to do these sleepers in 21 mm?

Whatever rail to be used is then just threaded through the new chairs

Might save some destroyed souls?

http://www.finescale.org.uk/index.php?route=product/category&path=346_384_394

Hi guys I have been down this road, the answer I got was there was not enough demand for it, but I am sure some one once did 21mm gauge plastic track base but it was more expensive that either EM or P4 as I recall. I will ask again to see if I can find out how much 21mm gauge would cost to set up from someone like Peco.

Colin 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have a look at the first page of my Clogger Valley Project and you can see photos of my 21mm track. Ok for 3' narrow gauge in 7mm scale, but to EM standards, to the same in all respects. Each point took about an hour to make, including filing the rails.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For trackwork i use Copperclad sleepers and Code 75 Bullhead which i get from the EM Gauge Society,its all built to EM standards.The useful thing about soldered track construction is that its easy to tweek after being laid,just the touch of a soldering iron.Andy

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I mentioned, I prefer the idea of it but chicken out of the idea of making it all. If something was available from Peco or the like, then despite the task of re-gauging everything, I think that would persuade me to go 21mm - and I'm certain others would too.

Edited by jhb171achill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Colin R said:

Hi guys I have been down this road, the answer I got was there was not enough demand for it, but I am sure some one once did 21mm gauge plastic track base but it was more expensive that either EM or P4 as I recall. I will ask again to see if I can find out how much 21mm gauge would cost to set up from someone like Peco.

Colin 

nowhere near enough demand for someone like PECO to touch it, it took them 20 years to bring out a 00 bullhead rail with more or less correct sleepering 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Building track with copper clad sleepers is probably the quickest and most economic approach in 21mm gauge. The S4 Society /Jeremy Suter produced a 3 point track gauge that's suitable for building trackwork and points to either EM or S4 standards. The 3 point gauge provides gauge widening for curved track, I use a piece of bullhead rail or a sleeper as a spacer for setting up the check rails around the crossing nose.

Code 75 flatbottom rail on copper clad sleepers is a fair representation of the 85-95lb flatbottom track used on a large part of the CIE network and parts of the GNR up to the wide spread introduction of CWR on concrete sleepers from the mid 1990s only. Chaired bullhead track was mainly used by GNR, NCC, BCDR, GSWR & DSER on their main lines.

Both the S4 & EM gauge societies have useful manuals on building trackwork, filing up crossings (frogs) and point blades a lot more economic than buying ready made switches and crossings. I basically enlarged EM point and plain track templates to 21mm gauge on the home printer/scanner.

Both Hollywood Foundry & Steam Era Models in Australia will produce a rtr chassis or  motor bogie in 21mm gauge to EM or S4 Standards. I have an AEC railcar set which runs on Steam Era Models Black Beetle bogies and an E Class on a Hollywood Foundary Bull Ant chassis. 

Edited by Mayner

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are right about Peco, just to do a yard length of flexi track of 21mm gauge we would be looking at tooling cost's of up to £20,000 t o start with,  As Mayner points out, build your own track is more than likely the only way to go at present.

Colin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/18/2017 at 11:01 AM, Junctionmad said:

which will then allow rp25/100 wheels to be used

Current wheelsets on our wagons are RP25-110's, Finescale are RP25-88's, just for anyone buying them. R

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/15/2017 at 2:10 PM, Irishrailwayman said:

The model railway community in Ireland, I am guessing, is tiny compared to the UK. ROI has three (?) main active clubs with a few more modellers scattered widely. NI has a few more clubs. UK has a huge MR community with numerous exhibitions on practically every weekend of the year whereas ROI has two (?) main exhibitions with a couple more in NI scattered over the whole year.

By the by, South Dublin MRC have done a layout called Belturbet with broad gauge 21mm and narrow gauge 12mm track.

Perfectly summarised, its interest and population more than anything else. The MRSI's Loughrea 21mm layout is stored idle given the lack of interest in it. Most members are happy to run their Irish stock on 16.5mm track. Not everyone feels to the need to run to an authentic gauge and this needs to be remembered too. Code 75/82 track and correct sleeper spacing makes a big difference to set-track also

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With respect Ed, the sleeper spacing argument is the greatest load of nonsense I've heard since my daughter chucked her plate of food on the floor and then declared dinner complete with "Gone, Gone". 

Unless yer a crow, or a drone, or an actual per way engineer, who looks straight down at track, it's completely irrelevant. We look at 12" to the foot track from an oblique perspective, usually on platforms, and see the ripple of the stone and concrete and then view it on our layouts from a Bird's Eye perspective. Never the twain shall meet.

Code 75 is another nonsense argument. Code 82 is the closest prototypical rail section to the RP54 that Irish Rail use, but shur what's 7th thousand of an inch between friends? :P

 

 

  • Funny 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well at least I said it in one sentence instead of justifying it over 7 Rich. Then again Im no know it all and never claim to be

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Glenderg said:

but shur what's 7th thousand of an inch between friends? :P

 

 

c. half an inch to scale?   FFS, absolutely nothing.9_9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought before bedtime.......

We’re fans and followers of Irish Railway and we’re laying OO track. This is wrong, a little bit of effort can change this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

Terms of Use