Sunday 1 April 2012

 Finally some good news for modellers…
Track forms a major part of a model railway, without it we don’t run. When I started with model railways many moons ago I began with Hornby clockwork trains. It was O gauge and comprised of sectional track. Each section of track had a grand total of three sleepers per length. The mob at Hornby must have worked out that it was sufficient to have one sleeper at each end and one in the middle. It didn’t matter if it was straight or curved three per length was your lot.
I think my interest in the clockwork vanished when the key was lost and the new kid on the block Tri-ang trains originated. Now they started off with a track which had a grey moulded base but I went straight to I think it was Series 3 track. Triang were a bit more generous with their sleepers and you got a lot more than three per section. Its funny looking back now but that issue never worried me, I was more interested in what ran on the tracks than what was under the train.
Eventually the Tri-ang system was abandoned and I progressed over to Peco track. Like the proverbial Model T ford, Peco track came in one size – code 100. Again this was the best track going at the time and became the benchmark for model railways. And you certainly got a lot more sleepers per length.
It didn’t seem to matter if the code 100 rail when converted to real life would have supported an iron ore railway. We were running Lima 44’s on the track and although they were the ants pants at the time later more to scale models would have us questioning what was under the train wasn’t as good as it could be. If you followed the logic of Hornby to save on materials and only give you three sleepers, then Peco could have reduced the rail profile and saved on metal.
We also had the issue of the pizza cutter wheel flanges which probably explains the high rail profile.
I think I will credit the American NMRA who introduced new finer standards in all aspects of model railways. The introduction of RP25 code wheels made the flanges so much smaller that we started to question why finer track couldn’t be introduced.
Shinohara introduced code 70 track and was readily picked up by modellers wanting finer track. Today we have Railcraft ,Micro Engineering Company and others introducing finer rail. The code 55 track certainly looks better on a branch than does code 100.
Peco to their credit eventually in HO introduced code 75 track and a complete range of points to match. Although priced similar anyone starting out should see the benefits of the finer rail and start with code 75. Peco also recognised the big American market and introduced code 83 track and points specifically for them. This track was built to the American standards and has readily been taken up and used there.
They have also made track in many other scales from Z scale up to 1 gauge.
As mentioned earlier the code 100 track is suitable for iron ore railways, code 75 is getting closer for main line trackage, but there is a hole in their products as they don’t produce suitable ‘branch’ line streamline track.
But fear not, Peco I believe will soon embark on an exciting new product that being OO/HO code 55  flexible track.
To give you the background on this product and my involvement, last year while looking at their web site I saw a mention re the Code 55 track. Basically it was a survey to see if there was a market for it. I immediately filled it in and thought no more about it until I later received a package from Peco. Strange as I hadn’t ordered anything but inside the package was a pre sample of their new code 55 flex track. I was lucky enough to have been picked amongst others around the world I believe to test it out.
Now if you have only ever used code 100 and had nothing to compare it with its OK. Compare it with code 75 and it’s a giant. Now putting this sample of code 55 next to the code 75 and it also seems big. I’m not sure if the branch lines in Britain were laid with a much finer rail, like here in Australia. I have had this sample for around two months and have till the end of March to respond back with comments. I suppose Peco will then measure the world wide response to see if this commercial venture is worth while.
There is no problem with flanges on my existing rolling stock so even though I would have like spikes holding down the rail this is s great step forward for Peco. Another great move by them is also to have the rail already weathered saving you the time. When did you last see a rail side in gleaming silver??
The survey said that anyone can respond by email and let them know if they are interested in the new track. The email address is
I’m sure as soon as all the info re interest in the product is gathered then it should be advertised on their web site. I sure hope I haven’t let the cat out of the bag by revealing this exciting new product.
Get behind it and we will finally have branch line track available. Let them know we want it! Great news.