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4mm scale rail size

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Colin R

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Depends on the prototype, location and period, Colin. Could be anything from lightweight, flatbottomed rail (say Code 60), through Code 75 bull head, for general purposes, to maybe Code 83, which Peco sell as conductor rail, for modern flatbottomed track. Pretty much anything but Code 100 in fact!

 Indeed, having just looked at the latest Ballyrecall photos, track work there is an object lesson on how Peco 75, when well ballasted and weathered, can look very effective, even when masquerading as five foot three.

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Thanks David, I am thinking around post war 1945 to 1960 period while it is very complex I am thinking in terms of something like the DownPatrick Junction as a starter layout, it should give me a roundy roundy bit and a branch line to a fiddle yard via a triangle for now, So code 60 sounds like the size to go for.  

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I found this short off-cut at Ballybrophy, at a time and in a location which would suggest that it may be from the branch, rather than the main line.

The grid is 10mm squares.



So it is 160mm high  - that is 6¼ inches - a very small touch over 2mm in 00 scale - around 0.079 inches - giving a code 80 rail in the system in use, if that exists. Code 75 should look quite plausible.

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I used a mixture of Peco Code 60 and Code 82 rail on a 21mm gauge layout I started about 10 years ago.

I had the Code 60 in stock for a long term project, the Code 62 was salvaged from Atlas HO flexible track that was surplus after I sold my collection of O-16.5 American narrow gauge locos and stock.



Resolution is not great. 

The loco and train are on a section of track laid with Code 60 rail to represent the lighter weight of rail often used in sidings and secondary running lines

The trackwork on the left was laid in Code 82 rail to represent the heavier rail used on main running lines and sections of line carrying heavy traffic. 

I made the mistake of spacing the line on the left too close to the running line which lead to problems with coaches side swiping on curves, the double slip was a bit to ambitious for my tracklaying skills and I scrapped the layout.




Looking the other way the difference in rail section between the track on the left and the other lines is more noticeable. The crossover is supposed to be part of the connection between a main running line and a small marshalling yard.


Track was laid on foam rubber underlay copperclad sleepers, track was pre-fabricated on a bench, wire droppers fitted, painted with auto aerosol before laying in a bed of white glue on underlay, adjusting alignment and ballasting with Woodlands Scenics loose ballast before glue sets, vacuuming off surplus ballast.

Some Irish companies principally DSER, GSWR, GNR, NCC and BCDR used chaired bullhead rail for main line trackage and running loops while using lighter flatbottom rail in sidings, branchlines and secondary main lines. 

Bull head track was retained on some lines until replaced with flatbottom CWR on concrete sleepers from the 1970s onwards, to confuse things slightly CIE, UTA and GNR used concrete sleepers with bullhead track from the 1950s onwards, concrete sleepered bull head track recovered from NIR is used on the Downpatrick Steam Railway.

C&L finescale supply 4mm bullhead track components in including rail, chairs, sleepers. Flatbottom is more variable Peco Code 70 or Code 75 are probably the best options for general use possibly reserving Code 60 for sidings or narrow gauge.

CIE tended to use a mixture of 84, 90 and 95lb yard flatbottom rail, 84lb rail installed during the 1920s was in use on the Mullingar-Sligo line until relaid with CWR track with a metric rail section about 20 years ago, the Mayo and Athlone Galway sections mainly 90lb. 

There is little visual difference between 84 & 90 lb FB rail just a slightly heavier section. 95lb FB has a wider foot 5 ½" which seems to correspond with Broithe's   section possibly installed when 95lb FB.

Possibly Code 70 for 84-90lb rails and Code 75 for 95lb rails Peco Code 60 for narrow gauge or lighter rail sections for little used sidings.





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Speaking of rail code sizes for the narrow gauge, I have found a supplier of code 40 which looks right for the 3ft gauge I will try a bit later to put a photo of it on here.

As for code 60 that's funny as I also have some of that from years ago some one was going to build a large 009 layout and at the time that was the smallest size rail available, sadly he died and through a good friend of mine I was able to purchase about 30 meters of the stuff about ten years ago from his estate, when I get a change to start track laying again, i will try some of it out for 21mm gauge, I would think that as my concept is based on the Belfast and County Down, I would think the rail profile would be reasonably small code 60 or 70 perhaps.  

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My 7mm scale, 21mm gauge layout Fintonagh, uses code 83 rail - as opposed to the code 100 generally used in 7mmNG. Not much, but visually, it does make a difference in portraying lightweight track. Likewise using code 100 rail on 7mm broad gauge.

 Indeed, originally used code 100 on a standard gauge 7mm scale light railway project and was once asked at a show if it was broad gauge! The moral of the story has to be that you use finer section rail where appropriate and those folk not able to go proper broad gauge can make 4mm scale track look much better by using Peco code 75 or equivalent, as exemplified by Ballyercal and others recently.

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