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Re: [z_scale] code 40 / code 55 / maerklin track

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  • Bill Hoshiko
    ... The word code in reference to model RR track is the measurement of the height of the rail. I don t know about European practice, but here in NA the most
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 2, 2001
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      d.baechtold@... wrote:
      > Hello Z-heads,
      > excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is the difference of code 40 track to
      > code 55 track, and what is different to normal marklin track?

      The word code in reference to model RR track is the measurement of the
      height of the rail. I don't know about European practice, but here in
      NA the most common rail used for HO scale trains was code 100 which has
      a rail height of 0.10 inches or 2.5 mm.

      This rail height would represent a scale rail that was used only in the
      most highly trafficked rail in the US. I think it was used only by the
      Pennsylvania RR and in only a few locations.

      Since this code 100 rail was so oversized someone (Kemtron?) produced
      code 70 rail which is 1.7 mm high. This rail would cause no problems
      with NA HO equipment but the European wheels with their deep flanges
      would bump along hitting the spike heads. The most popular ready to run
      HO locomotives were the ones imported from Rivarossi and they all had
      the European flanges.

      Someone then made the code 40 rail for narrow gauge models. This rail
      1 mm high and it had to be glued or soldered to the ties instead of
      being spiked because even the NA wheel flanges would strike any spike
      heads. Besides that, the code 40 rail is so frail that spiking rails to
      ties would cause dips in the rail that could lead to derailing trains.

      Marklin and Microtrain rails are code 55 or 1.4 mm high. I've seen code
      50 rail mentioned but I have not seen any or maybe my measurement of Z
      scale rails is faulty.

      > Which one is better to run micro-trains cars?

      Both are comparable for operation. The differences are cosmetic.
      Microtrains does not offer sectional tack nor do they offer turnouts or
      crossings. Peco also offers Z scale flex tract. The Marklin flex tract
      is not so flexible. You must do some surgery on the ties to make them
      flex into a smooth curve. Both the Marklin and Peco track are models of
      European track with wider spacing of the ties. MicroTrain track is
      closer to NA practice.

      > What pieces of track are available in code 40 ?

      Code 40 ready made switches are available from Halwa:


      I don't know about other track selections.

      > Where can I get the code 40 track from?

      Don't know the answer to that. I bought some from The Whistle Stop in
      Pasadena, California. Could not find any other shop that had any.

      The real difference between code 40 and 55 or Marklin track is
      appearance. Most Z scale hobbyist are just happy that their equipment
      is operating smoothly because that is a major accomplishment. Once you
      get beyond running trains smoothly and begin to consider how closely
      your models replicate the actual thing, you will become aware of how
      huge the code 55 rails look in relation to the rest of your equipment.
      According to my measurement they represent rail that would be almost 2
      feet high.

      Get trains running first. Get to know your equipment and how to make
      them operate smoothly. When you find that you have nothing much else to
      do with your model railroad, then start worrying about rail size. There
      are many things that are not really close to scale simply because of the
      laws of physics. If your RR cars were built with scale size side walls
      they would collapse as soon as you try to pick one up.

      I hope that this answers some of your questions.

      El Toro
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