Code 80 vs Code 55... Why?

Primavw Aug 15, 2013

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  1. JB Stoker

    JB Stoker TrainBoard Member

    That is a thorough and well explained post Bob, and I understand your viewpoint. Something to keep in mind is exactly what I had mentioned in my previous post, and that is that the difference between the rail sizes is hard to tell without magnification. My scale says 33 mm between the rails in that pic you posted showing the different rail heights, or a magnification of about 360%.

    Here is that image resized so that it displays at exactly 9mm between the rails on my monitor.


    Not quite so dramatic without being magnified several times. If you then took a picture of this same set of rails from the side and above as it will be seen on a layout the difference gets pretty hard to tell. And then if they are all ballasted it gets even harder to see the difference. It is good that some folks take the effort to get these tiny details right so that we can all see "museum quality" modeling, even if the difference is only noticeable in highly magnified pictures. I do not however think that being obsessed with absolute accuracy is how most people want to enjoy this hobby, as evidenced in this thread. Good enough really is good enough for most people, especially if it requires magnification to see "better" detailing.
  2. Bendtracker1

    Bendtracker1 TrainBoard Supporter

    That goes to George as well.
    Dave you have a gorgeous layout BTW Regardless of the track.

    Whenever the subject of "Which Track should I use or which is the best" comes up always reminds me of a couple of N scale DRGW layouts that are fairly well know.
    One is Mike Dannamen's and the other was just featured in MRH a few months back [I forget the name at the moment]. Both are absolutely gorgeous layouts. With all the ruckus that is stirred up about "which track" in posts like this, the first thing I noticed about both layouts was that they used PECO or Atlas C80 track!
    The funny thing is, with all the talk, Ooooohs' and Aaaaaah's that came with each post about these layouts..............NOT ONE ever mentioned that the track was C80.

    Did they not notice?
    Did some notice as was just being polite and did not say anything?

    My take is this, Choose what makes you happy, they all work.

    If I didn't have tons of C80 on hand when I started my layout, I probably would have went with C55 just for the fact that it has a wider choice of turnouts. Other than that, I have no problems using what I have.
  3. garethashenden

    garethashenden TrainBoard Member

  4. Carolina Northern

    Carolina Northern TrainBoard Member

    Well Said, George
  5. DrMb

    DrMb TrainBoard Member

    Indeed with the added point that if people have nothing better to do than examine the track on your layout in great detail, then there is something wrong with your layout.
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Yup. So let us all just have fun as we might choose...
  7. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    Well I don't know what the N-TRAK purists in the U.S. would say but I built several modules with Peco code 55 with no problems and anything that anyone brought along would run on them.

    Talking of C80 looking like Lionel, it always amazes me when I visit the U.S.A. how popular Lionel is and how much of it is available in the hobby shops. The U.S. must be the only country in the world where tinplate toy trains are still so popular. Not that that's a bad thing.

    I'm planning on building a layout in a 14'x14' spare room over the next few years and I'm mulling over which track to use, Atlas C55 or Peco C55. I'll probably go with Peco purely on its consistant availablity and variety, I don't want to be one left hand turnout short of finishing my main line only to find I have to wait six months for some factory in China to do another run of them.
  8. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    You totally missed the point. The point was that nobody can see that 2.5% difference in rail height. C80 by itself looks good. Given the fact that there are a host of other things in N scale that are not prototypical, let alone 'scale'. Things like shiny drive rods on steam locomotives, oversized couplers and grab irons/handrails to mention a few. And what about those humongous spike heads on that Atlas C55 track? And really, ". . . 3ft tall pizza cutter flanges"? Come on now, did you know that your low pro flanges are still out of scale? Seems to me we are highly selective in what we want to be scale.

    That is fine, have fun. But apparently you are not too good in history. If you were you would not disparage Ntrak which has been here longer than you have. If it wasn't for Ntrak and the circa 1980 Model Railroader project railroad "The Clinchfield", N scale would not be where it is today and you would not be enjoying the diversity of product that you see in N scale today.
  9. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    It is but Atlas C55 isn't. Peco C55 switches are preferred for Ntrak over Atlas C80 but Atlas C55 switches, like their C55 flex track does not meet Ntrak standards.
  10. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

    It being a 2.5% difference in rail height has nothing to do with NTrak, and as for no one able to see it, some people can tell...not everyone has the same eyes. I was stating why the Atlas code 55 isn't allowed by NTrak, its because NTrak wants to allow any and all N scalers to be able to operate their equipment. Pretty sure ME code 55 can be used on an NTrak module, but don't quote me on that. NTrak wants track that can handle any and all equipment.

    As for the low profile flanges, yes I know they are out of scale, but they are much closer to scale than any pizza cutter flange. And the huge spike heads...a few passes with an exacto knife cuts them down. Couplers, one day I'll redo all of mine to body mounts, hopefully David K Smith has his new ones out when I decide I want to start that I'll have scale size couplers. Until then, I can always use Z scale MTs or Full Throttles.

    As for NTrak being around longer than me...big whoop...I'm modelling today, not in 1980. And when did I ever bad mouth NTrak? I have been in NTrak clubs, I run on NTrak modules...but on my home layout I'd like closer to scale track than code 80 or European looking track from Peco. Now if Peco would tool up some code 55 to US specs, like they did in code 83 in HO...Maybe I'd use Peco. Its my home layout that I'd use Atlas code 55, on NTrak modules, I use Atlas code 80. In the club I'm in, I'm the only one that has 100% of my fleet able to run on Atlas code 55, most of the guys don't care, I do...its what I choose to "worry" about. I have no idea why my choice of track for my home layout has anything to do with history of N scale or NTrak. However the rolling stock coming out from manufacturers today are pushing for more and more scale fidelity. So these oversized handrails and couplers and such are being pushed away infavor of closer to scale replacements.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2013
  11. Primavw

    Primavw TrainBoard Member

    Wow, this thread escalated quickly. To sort of "re-rail" this thread, the one thing I seem to have not seen posted yet is difference in cost. Is there any? Also, can anyone shed some light on the powered frog idea? I have never needed to do this. How does this affect DCC?
  12. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

    With MSRP, code 55 is a bit more, around 75 cents a section, Atlas 55 vs 80.

    As for powered frogs, I haven't, yet...but with a live frog, you won't have a dead spot, and a frog is pretty large, in the overall scheme of things.

    As for DCC, just like with DC, you have to ensure polarity, otherwise its gonna short.
  13. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

    Thanks Dave! That means a lot coming from you. I really enjoy your photos of your layout and your obvious dedication to modeling a real place.

    Hahaha...I'm not so sure about code 100! But, the code 70 looks okay, even in close-ups. I think it's the itty-bitty spikeheads on that old Railcraft track that makes it look so good.

    Bob Gilmore
  14. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Wow, I'm gone for a few days and come back to this lol. Ya'll need to chill, run trains and enjoy YOUR hobby. I've seen some great model railroads out there built with code 80 and even shudder Unitrak. It would be impossible to accurately model N scale 100% scale for various reasons. Sure oversized hand rails in N bother me but I'm just after the flavor of mid 1970's B&M in NH.

    And lets not bash each other, there is a lot of talent in this thread.
  15. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    They will only get my Atlas code 80 away from me when they pry it from my cold dead hands that is if I can find any to firmly hold onto. Now if you excuse me I have to go out and part the waters of Hog Waller Pond over here in Falls Gulch.
  16. LOU D

    LOU D TrainBoard Member

    No idea on DCC,I don't use it.You do need to insulate the the inner legs of the track with ME,probably Atlas,also.The points alone will power the frog,then,or course,you need a switch to power the track.The difference is amazing.Running over a switch is a non issue,it's no different than running on the rest of the track...
    I used C80 for decades,the look of it doesn't bother me that much,but Atlas 55 and ANY ME track just looks so much better.The C80 switches are just stone age..I mean,really,would you put 2" long pieces of plastic rail in you trackwork randomly? Sounds crazy,doesn't it? If you run your trains now,and you just dread it when your train runs over a switch because it may stall,imagine how it would be if it didn't do that..You know those locomotives you have that you don't run because they stall on the switches? Well,those days are over.I can switch my railroad all day with a Bachmann Dockside,and never touch it if the track is clean.I have a pile of heritage stuff,locos I built over the last 40 years,so,Atlas 55 was out of the question...Not about to start cutting flanges on 100 locomotives,so I used ME track..I don't really like the Atlas C55 switches,anyway,that chrome frog just irks me.If ME went out of business,before I'd use Atlas C80 switches,I'd use ANYTHING else.Bachmann,Model Power,even Atlas Tru-Track,ALL have powered frogs,same money..I'm working on a separate 2-1/2' X 5' logging/ice railroad besides my room layout,I'm thinking of using ME c55 with Tru-Track switches to keep cost down,and keep the wiring simple..I'm using nothing but,small,custom built steam on this railroad,if it wasn't for powered frogs,I wouldn't even bother building it,or the locomotives.Would just be a waste of time,cool looking,but might as well not power the thing,I'd just end up pushing the locomotives around it.I always like small steam,but never bothered with it,since it just didn't run on Atlas 80,the only track that was really available at the time,now,I'm doing a lot of it.....REALLY,you guys that never tried powered frogs,you're missing a LOT...
  17. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    That is correct and you will notice it is all inclusive and not divisionary.

    So then we care all look forward to the time when you diss truck mounted couplers and MT couplers in general? We can hardly wait.

    Yes it is a big whoop. Ntrak is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. I realize that you have no appreciation for the past but possibly that will change as you get older. But don't get the idea that I am stuck in the past. I welcome any needed improvements but that rolling stock coming out from manufacturers today comes at a price and a high one indeed. All those little details are fine for collectors and those who do not have to remove a car from a layout. But as an Ntrakker yourself, you know Ntrak layouts are temporary and are set up and taken down in the course of one weekend. That means rolling stock gets handled more frequently and that means more exposure to damage. Yes, I know, one should be careful. That goes without saying but stuff still happens. So I shy away from the super-duper detailed stuff with its incumbent high price. But that's okay, my Atlas 90 ton hoppers that I bought for $2.00 each back before you were concieved are now selling for $17.00.

    In short, if you want C55 then fine but don't disparage those who are content with C80 because whether you realize it or not, you need them. Yeah, you need them or else the N scale market would be drastically reduced in size and that would result in an affordability/availability problem for you. Not only would you have to pay higher prices for what product there would be but a lot less product available.
  18. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

    Most of my Japanese equipment has Rapido couplers. I may or may not swap to MTs. And, I love my Unitrack because I can creep a small Japanese loco through them. They have metal frogs. Some of us don't have the skills yet to either deal with very small, delicate rail or handlay N scale track. Unitrack gets my stuff out of the box and rolling. That's what matters to me!
  19. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    I hear ya. Isn't it a good thing that we have choices to make? I too use Unitrack. It is quick to set up and take down, locks together and stays that way until you disassemble it. I use it for a test track and also for that obligatory train under the Christmas tree. But it is not my preference for a permanent layout. I will stillgo with flex track for that primarily for. . . well, its flexibility.
  20. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Golly gee whiz! I love getting in on discussions like this and no one bothered to give me a heads up...grrrr!

    Ok, here's my two cents.

    The choice of track is personal. It's your layout and you make the rules. You decide. Not my place or anyone else's to TELL YOU WHAT TO DO! Get it!

    I would like to have code 55 down on my main lines but will not likely see that happen in what time I have left on mother earth. Hey, I get older ever day and my set income gets less every day. Hate retirement! But that's another issue for another day and time. I hadn't said that in a while and thought some of you might miss my saying such. LOL But, hey, I'm usually on ignore when I sound off. Sigh! I wonder why? As if I don't know.

    Ok, it's a choice thing and not worth arguing over. My layout has code 80 and it's not likely to get changed out anytime soon. However, if a newbie walked up to me and asked the same question as asked here I'd say, "Start with the best you can find". What would that be? Code 55. As far as the frog on the track switch.... being hard wired in you can most likely get by without doing so. Stubby a resident model railroader in the Big Bear Valley. He has a number of the Atlas Code 55 "SWITCHES", and todays locomotives move through them without stalling. No problems.

    Personally, I like Peco's Electrofrog switches. Power routed and no heavy hard wiring to a reversing DPDT, needed. Kato does the hard wiring for you and their switches I believe are code 70. Someone will jump in here to correct me. I guarantee it.

    Ok Bozo's, you can continue this exciting discussion without me. I got's to get out and install a CCTV system in my hidden staging yard. One shout out of thanks to John Acosta, for putting me on to this system. I will be able to see what my trains are doing in the hidden staging yard. Not to forget to mention, where the points are set on my automated Kato switches. Going to be nice!

    Hey, I even ordered some DPDT Toggles, Spring Loaded to Center Off. To align the switch, throw the switch points, bend the iron, switch the switch. You won't hear (Turnout) used here. I wouldn't make that mistake. I said beating my war drums.

    Never mind a recent purchase of Joel Bragdon's, Geodesic Scenic System. Things are starting to look up. Finally some canyon walls.

    Later gator's.
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