Rail Head Profile - new die required

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Paul Townsend
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Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Paul Townsend » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:14 pm

This new thread has branched from Will's " All you need to know about Gauge Widening"

So I copy here relevant bits.

Who said what is not clear in this method of copying so I refer you back to the original thread for clarity.

However lets try and keep the two threads separate so supporters for my request for new rail die please come here.

Postby Paul Townsend » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:11 pm

Philip Hall wrote:

Martin Wynne wrote:

The factor missing from these discussions is the rail profile. Prototype BS-95R bullhead rail has a 1/2" top corner radius. Model rail sections are all over the shop in this regard. Clearly you can't calculate an incidence angle at which the flange will bind against the rail without knowing the exact profile of the flange, AND the exact profile of the rail head.



When the MSRG started all this they recommended the only suitable rail at the time, the Kingsway rail from Model Railway Manufacturing at Kings Cross. This rail had a distinct radius to the head, unlike our present day sections which are much squarer. This also made it look a little lighter. I still have a few odds somewhere. I also have a view that as a little more of the rail is in contact with the tyre, slightly more reliable electrical contact might ensue. One particular railway I have seen (Churston) has this rail and doesn't need to be cleaned too much.

Philip


This reminds me of my attempt a couple of years back to get a new die made for the rail extrusions as sold by all known suppliers.
I suggested to Jeremy Suter, Pete Llewellyn, EMGS then Trade Officer that they get together re this. Perhaps I should remind them at Aylesbury......
I did not get much enthusiasm as I was an apparent lone voice although I know Howard Bolton agrees with me that the current head profile is naff.

Studiolith sold the correct profile and ISTR that S4 and EMGS Stores did for a while.

When EMGS noticed flattening of the rail head...2 or more decades ago they announced it as "worn rail".

I argue the current rail head appearance is inferior as noted above by Phil and always have concerns about its effect on rolling stock track holding.

Can I invite others who would support this initiative to raise their heads? Maybe a case for crowd funding?
If anyone responds, this thread hijack topic needs its own new thread...heads up mods!



Postby Martin Wynne » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:39 pm

Bear in mind that DCC Concepts have a new stainless steel rail section now available, and may consider a production run in nickel-silver. And Peco will shortly be introducing their version of bullhead rail in nickel-silver. It's actually a flat-bottom rail with a narrow foot the same width as the head (as they also do in 0 gauge), but it looks acceptable and will likely have the Peco advantage of being supplied dead straight.

Image

Image

Martin.


Postby Paul Townsend » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:02 pm

grovenor-2685 wrote:
Paul,
You don't need a Mod to start a new thread :)
Regards


Yes, true but if no-one supports the idea there is no point.
Still, as Martin has suggested another way I will do the new thread so more responses here please
Last edited by John McAleely on Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Reason: use [quote] and [img] to possibly improve legibility

Julian Roberts
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Julian Roberts » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:16 pm

I'm surprised to be the first to reply Paul. It seems a good idea. All the blurb from the original MRSG articles in 1966 onwards seems to emphasize the importance of the rail profile. In the Digest it says under the diagram of the wheel and rail

Any deviation from the dimensions marked * will alter the effective flange dimension (EF) from the P4
standard. Deviation from any flange or railhead dimension may adversely affect performance


(and the * is for the rail gauge face radius and flange radius (both the same, 0.17), and the wheeltread and rail 1:20 inclination)

I suppose the question is, how important is the difference to what is obtainable and what will the price difference be. If there was no adverse effect on price it would be a no-brainer surely.

All I am not so sure about is what you are talking about regarding crowd funding. I have no bullhead rail left at all at the moment so am needing to get some, but not proposing to buy enough to make a layout just now, till retirement in two or three years time.

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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Flymo748 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:59 pm

Julian Roberts wrote:I suppose the question is, how important is the difference to what is obtainable and what will the price difference be. If there was no adverse effect on price it would be a no-brainer surely.

All I am not so sure about is what you are talking about regarding crowd funding. I have no bullhead rail left at all at the moment so am needing to get some, but not proposing to buy enough to make a layout just now, till retirement in two or three years time.


There are actually two questions there:

1 - what is obtainable by the Society?

2 - what would it cost to change [1] the profile of the rail ?

Turning to (1), there is basically one supplier of drawn rail in the UK. All the firms and societies supplying rail use it. Jeremy has been doing his usual reliable work behind the scenes and just ordered another 40 kilos of nickel silver rail to ensure we stay in stock. So to the best of our knowledge, there is not an alternative to existing supplies.

On (2), if the Committee felt it made a sufficient difference to the benefits of members of the Society to change the profile of the rail supplied, then no doubt we could commission our own tools to have it specially drawn for us. However we have recently been exploring costs of other industrial grade tools for other purposes, and would not find it surprising if the cost of a new drawing tool for rail would be in the order of several thousands of pounds. It would take a lot of justification to spend that much of the Society's reserves when (a) the difference would scarcely be visible to the naked eye and (b) no one seems to have a real problem with the existing rail.

The counter-argument would be the Society is about "getting it all right" to use the hackneyed phrase. However on a cost/benefit to members basis, there would be a significant number of other projects we could devote funds to rather than this.

If anyone genuinely cares about having a new profile of rail produced, we would certainly not object to them going out and doing the necessary research, preparing a business case, and presenting it to the Committee. For the moment though, this does seem to be a saloon bar discussion.

Cheers
Paul Willis
Deputy Chairman

[1] Note: I don't say improve. For the vast majority of Society members it is just a matter of working with what we have. It is not obviously wrong. Things do not necessarily fall off as a result of it. There are many other ways to stop wheels falling off track, some of which have been discussed in this thread, and many elsewhere on the Forum. It is just a rail profile which is less precise than perfection. There are certain elements of this discussion on gauge widening that resemble prolonged discussions of angels balanced on pins.
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Julian Roberts
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Julian Roberts » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:03 pm

Flymo748 wrote: For the moment though, this does seem to be a saloon bar discussion.


Quite so Paul. I was unaware of the cost implications you mention and have probably been consuming too much whatever it is angels drink on their pinhead.

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Martin Wynne » Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:51 am

Flymo748 wrote:Turning to (1), there is basically one supplier of drawn rail in the UK. All the firms and societies supplying rail use it.

Hi Paul,

Societies maybe, but I'm not sure about firms.The bullhead rail supplied by SMP is under scale width (0.032") compared with C&L rail (scale width 0.036"), DCC Concepts have a new rail section, and Peco are about to introduce one.

How much of that actually comes from within the UK I don't know, but clearly there is more than one source of rail available to UK modellers.

From my own memories of the late 1970s, the best rail section ever was that supplied by Ratio with their "EMTrack" sleeper bases. Where that came from I don't know, but Peco (who now own Ratio) presumably know.

regards,

Martin.
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Philip Hall » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:40 pm

This looks interesting, but as Paul says, costs could and probably will be prohibitive. Somewhere, lost in the mists of time, the head of the rail seems to have changed, people didn't notice much, and that is what we have today. For me it's about appearance. Presently supplied rail always looks to me to be too heavy, and I prefer a lighter appearance like it used to be. I have some SMP rail somewhere and will look at that when I have the chance.

Then we have the problem about what material to go for. Some will want steel, some (like me) will want Hi-Ni nickel silver. Stainless steel doesn't interest me. The new Peco section might be worth a look, let's wait and see. However, it may not fit C&L/Exactoscale chairs...

Philip

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:43 pm

If ... as seems to be the implication ... a more suitable section was available in the past, might the die for this section still be in existence?
Tim Lee

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Paul Townsend » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:55 pm

Flymo748 wrote:
Julian Roberts wrote:I suppose the question is, how important is the difference to what is obtainable and what will the price difference be. If there was no adverse effect on price it would be a no-brainer surely.

All I am not so sure about is what you are talking about regarding crowd funding. I have no bullhead rail left at all at the moment so am needing to get some, but not proposing to buy enough to make a layout just now, till retirement in two or three years time.


There are actually two questions there:

1 - what is obtainable by the Society?

2 - what would it cost to change [1] the profile of the rail ?

Turning to (1), there is basically one supplier of drawn rail in the UK. All the firms and societies supplying rail use it.


I am aware of that which is why I spoke about it to the three bods mentioned at the same time, a couple of years ago.
I understood it would be raised at Scalefour Soc Committee but doubtless got forgotten.

Flymo748 wrote: Jeremy has been doing his usual reliable work behind the scenes and just ordered another 40 kilos of nickel silver rail to ensure we stay in stock.

Oh well a lost opportunity then .....

Flymo748 wrote: So to the best of our knowledge, there is not an alternative to existing supplies.

That is my understanding too.,

Flymo748 wrote:On (2), if the Committee felt it made a sufficient difference to the benefits of members of the Society to change the profile of the rail supplied, then no doubt we could commission our own tools to have it specially drawn for us. However we have recently been exploring costs of other industrial grade tools for other purposes, and would not find it surprising if the cost of a new drawing tool for rail would be in the order of several thousands of pounds.
It would take a lot of justification to spend that much of the Society's reserves

I understand that which is why I have floated the crowd funding suggestion

Flymo748 wrote: when (a) the difference would scarcely be visible to the naked eye and (b) no one seems to have a real problem with the existing rail.


I disagree with this:
a) Any modeller who has seen the difference in the rail appearance end to end will regard it as significant. Most modellers have not had the chance to spot that for 2 decades or more.

b) I do and several conversations show anecdotally that I am not alone.

May I suggest that you have a chat about this with Howard Bolton who is doubtless coming to Scaleforum and has a reputation as a track guru. I have certainly had that chat with him.

Flymo748 wrote:The counter-argument would be the Society is about "getting it all right" to use the hackneyed phrase. However on a cost/benefit to members basis, there would be a significant number of other projects we could devote funds to rather than this.

If anyone genuinely cares about having a new profile of rail produced, we would certainly not object to them going out and doing the necessary research, preparing a business case, and presenting it to the Committee. For the moment though, this does seem to be a saloon bar discussion.


Ooer, sounds like I have to put my money ( or time in this case) where my mouth is!

I will revisit the previous conversations with rail vendors asap although won't now see Pete Llewellyn this weekend. At least he lives near me so I can catch him before he sells C&L on. I may have pursued this sooner but recent house move has taken a lot of time and energy so my eye went off this ball, and a few others.
I will see Jeremy this weekend and then contact EMGS new Trade Officer, ethical as I am a member there too.

Flymo748 wrote:[1] Note: I don't say improve. For the vast majority of Society members it is just a matter of working with what we have. It is not obviously wrong. Things do not necessarily fall off as a result of it. There are many other ways to stop wheels falling off track, some of which have been discussed in this thread, and many elsewhere on the Forum. It is just a rail profile which is less precise than perfection. There are certain elements of this discussion on gauge widening that resemble prolonged discussions of angels balanced on pins.


I agree some aspects of the gauge widening looks like pinheads I argue that this is more significant.
You need to have been a P4 modeller for yonks to have seen the difference and then you are more likely to agree with me.

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Paul Townsend » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:56 pm

Julian Roberts wrote:
Flymo748 wrote: For the moment though, this does seem to be a saloon bar discussion.


Quite so Paul. I was unaware of the cost implications you mention and have probably been consuming too much whatever it is angels drink on their pinhead.


Cider is the " Wine of angels"

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Paul Townsend » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:58 pm

Le Corbusier wrote:If ... as seems to be the implication ... a more suitable section was available in the past, might the die for this section still be in existence?


It may be the same die but worn?
Research needed.

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Paul Townsend » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:03 pm

Philip Hall wrote:This looks interesting, but as Paul says, costs could and probably will be prohibitive. Somewhere, lost in the mists of time, the head of the rail seems to have changed, people didn't notice much, and that is what we have today. For me it's about appearance. Presently supplied rail always looks to me to be too heavy, and I prefer a lighter appearance like it used to be. I have some SMP rail somewhere and will look at that when I have the chance.

Then we have the problem about what material to go for. Some will want steel, some (like me) will want Hi-Ni nickel silver. Stainless steel doesn't interest me. The new Peco section might be worth a look, let's wait and see. However, it may not fit C&L/Exactoscale chairs...

Philip


Ah, an ally here then so thats 3 of us have noticed ( me, Phil and Mike) and are admitting being unhappy with current products.

My understanding has been that C&L, S4Soc and EMGS all used same supplier and the same die whatever the rail material.
However this is hearsay and work is needed to find the true and whole picture...watch this space.
Thanks to Martin W for pointing up other suppliers.

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Russ Elliott » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:24 pm

I've lost count of the number of rail dies that have been commissioned and produced over the years. I can't remember the name of the firm where Studiolith had their rail made (was it 'Winterbottoms', or something like that?), but I think it went out of business decades ago, so those Studiolith dies have long gone to the scrap bin. I think the Society now owns the dies making the Society rail, but whether those dies are for 'exclusive to the Society' use I do not know.

I agree with Philip Hall that the only significant drawback of our current 'flat top' rail is a cosmetic one. The shoulder is the important thing, and some shadowgraph tests undertaken in the early 1980s indicated the rail (in that era) was reasonably conformant on shoulder radius, but it too was also a bit flat-topped, despite the best efforts of the die-makers. And dies do wear out in time of course.

Wire-drawing firms like being commissioned to make new dies, and if 'round top' rail is desired, I would imagine the number of the dies needed (it is a sequential process) would need to increase. That could get very expensive, and the end result on the crown radius could still be a bit pot-luck.

Btw, a good head width is important for TG and CG conformance purposes.

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Martin Wynne » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:23 pm

Russ Elliott wrote:was it 'Winterbottoms', or something like that?

Winterbottom Wire Ltd., still going strong:

http://www.wintwire.co.uk/

We want "Profile Wire", see: http://www.wintwire.co.uk/profile-wire- ... turers.htm

Watch what comes up in their animation: Image

Image

Martin.
Last edited by Martin Wynne on Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby grovenor-2685 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:29 pm

if 'round top' rail is desired, I would imagine the number of the dies needed (it is a sequential process) would need to increase.

I don't really see that, assuming that the starting point is round wire a round top rail would need less reduction than a flat top rail. In any case most of the reduction has to be in the web area. Even if starting with a rectangular strip most of the effort has to be in the web area. Hence I would expect the specified thickness of web to govern the number of passes required.
Regards.
And yes, I did prefer the Studiolith product, especially the tinned steel version.

PS. I do vaguely remember some sort of dispute over custody of the dies some years ago, I expect Jeremy will know far more about it.

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Russ Elliott » Wed Sep 21, 2016 3:14 pm

Martin Wynne wrote:Winterbottom Wire Ltd., still going strong:

Oooo, thanks Martin. Maybe they should be raided to see if they've still got those old Studiolith dies! (Although a tad rusty now, probably...)

grovenor-2685 wrote:I don't really see that, assuming that the starting point is round wire a round top rail would need less reduction than a flat top rail. In any case most of the reduction has to be in the web area. Even if starting with a rectangular strip most of the effort has to be in the web area. Hence I would expect the specified thickness of web to govern the number of passes required.

I accept that the number of dies/passes (=cost) is a significant factor, but I don't know what kind of shape they start off with, all I know is that getting a crown radius has proved to be consistently difficult or impossible. Overdoing a crown radius would be worst or all, because that would lead to an impairment of the shoulder/flangeroot interaction, and I don't think we would want to risk that.

And if the web thickness was made conformant, all the current functional chairs would become, err, 'not quite so functional'.

Frying pan, fire.

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Paul Townsend » Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:15 pm

Russ Elliott wrote:
Martin Wynne wrote:Winterbottom Wire Ltd., still going strong:

Oooo, thanks Martin. Maybe they should be raided to see if they've still got those old Studiolith dies! (Although a tad rusty now, probably...)

grovenor-2685 wrote:I don't really see that, assuming that the starting point is round wire a round top rail would need less reduction than a flat top rail. In any case most of the reduction has to be in the web area. Even if starting with a rectangular strip most of the effort has to be in the web area. Hence I would expect the specified thickness of web to govern the number of passes required.

I accept that the number of dies/passes (=cost) is a significant factor, but I don't know what kind of shape they start off with, all I know is that getting a crown radius has proved to be consistently difficult or impossible. Overdoing a crown radius would be worst or all, because that would lead to an impairment of the shoulder/flangeroot interaction, and I don't think we would want to risk that.

And if the web thickness was made conformant, all the current functional chairs would become, err, 'not quite so functional'.

Frying pan, fire.

As so often, fools rush in where angels fear to tread!
I must be the fool and Russ must be Archangel.

I get the impression that the risks ( financial and dimensional) may outweigh the advantages.
Lets await Jeremy's input.

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MarkS
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby MarkS » Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:58 pm

Just out of curiosity, how quickly does the rail-head change/wear down when using the common abrasive rubber to clean the track?
Is it significant?
Cheers,

Mark.
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby martinm » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:49 pm

Hi there,

Should we need this discussion?

I presume that there is some kind of contractual agreement regarding the supply of rail.

I expect there is and that this include some sort of 'quality control' regarding what is an acceptable profile.

So how often do we check/complain/return etc. to keep suppliers on their toes?

Surely we are reliant on getting the same quality as we had from Studiolith for both the rail and the wheels? The Scalefour Society was, after all, established to broaden the range of products of comparable quality.

If not, then there has been a lot of effort spent discussing matters that are way out of our control?

regards,

martin

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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby junctionmad » Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:53 am

martinm wrote:Hi there,

Should we need this discussion?

I presume that there is some kind of contractual agreement regarding the supply of rail.

I expect there is and that this include some sort of 'quality control' regarding what is an acceptable profile.

So how often do we check/complain/return etc. to keep suppliers on their toes?

Surely we are reliant on getting the same quality as we had from Studiolith for both the rail and the wheels? The Scalefour Society was, after all, established to broaden the range of products of comparable quality.

If not, then there has been a lot of effort spent discussing matters that are way out of our control?

regards,

martin


I've yet to see a published rail profile specification from any supplier

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Paul Townsend » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:23 am

MarkS wrote:Just out of curiosity, how quickly does the rail-head change/wear down when using the common abrasive rubber to clean the track?
Is it significant?

Most finescale modellers advise not using these rubbers due to the wear you have identified.
If you must abrade, use fibreglass brush, but you need to vacuum up afterwards.
I recommend Pendon style hardboard device.
Many commercial cleaner vehicles are out there which apply solvent to some sort of soft skid.

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Martin Wynne » Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:27 am

Quite apart from the wear, don't use rubber-based abrasives on copper alloys such as nickel-silver. They leave a film of rubber on the rail which actually promotes rapid tarnishing. Once you start using those track rubbers, you will be endlessly using them.

Try the window-cill test with a foot of track. Clean one rail with a track rubber. Clean the other rail with a glassfibre stick. Leave on kitchen window cill for a week, and observe the results.

Martin.
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Philip Hall » Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:43 am

I've just spotted something when looking again at the Peco rail in their new track. It's code 75, so is our current rail from various suppliers, but it's just occurred to me that the Kingsway rail was code 65, if I remember correctly. So somewhere along the line it got bigger?

Philip

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Martin Wynne » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:24 am

Philip Hall wrote:I've just spotted something when looking again at the Peco rail in their new track. It's code 75, so is our current rail from various suppliers, but it's just occurred to me that the Kingsway rail was code 65, if I remember correctly. So somewhere along the line it got bigger?

Hi Philip,

Scale height of 95lb/yd BS-95R bullhead rail (5.23/32") is 0.075" = code 75.

Scale height of 85lb/yd BS-85R bullhead rail (5.15/32") is 0.072" = code 72.

85lb bullhead rail was sometimes used new for sidings and branch lines, but the general practice was to use serviceable second-hand rail for such locations. So the vast majority of bullhead rail is the 95lb size.

Code 65 bullhead would be about 70lb bullhead rail. Almost all light rail is flat-bottom, so I very much doubt that there is much of that anywhere. Maybe on the Festiniog.

This is a special fishplate for connecting worn bullhead rail (on the left) to new or unworn rail (on the right). It's unusual to see this within pointwork. It means the chairs supporting the worn rail need a thicker base than the others, if they share the same timbers. Special chairs were made with thicker than the standard 1.3/4" base thickness for this type of situation.

Image

It may possibly be 85lb rail on the left, rather than worn 95lb rail. The radiused top corner on the rail does suggest original rail rather than worn. The fishplate is clearly marked for 95R BH WORN / NEW.

regards,

Martin.
Last edited by Martin Wynne on Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby grovenor-2685 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:26 am

From the MRSG, MRN Aug '66
Correct section rail is obtainable from the Model Railway (Mfg.) Co. Ltd. of Kings Cross. This has finally made authentic modelling possible in 4mm. scale, and is one of the most important developments in the British market in many years.

I assume that the MRSG did measure it before making that statement!
I'm not sure now if I have any or if my oldest section was from Studiolith but I'm pretty sure that both were code 75.
regards

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Rail Head Profile - new die required

Postby Russ Elliott » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:21 am

Correct, Keith.


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