On Sun, 14 Feb 1999 16:08:53 -0500, "Guy Saults"
>I have found no ready reference on things like track gauges; i.e., what is
>the difference between "code 83" track and, say, "code 100" track? Are
>these systems incompatible for some reason? Or is it as simple as the
>number of cross-ties per foot?
It's partly simple and partly not-so-simple. Code simply refers the
height of the rail itself in thousandths of an inch. Code 83 is
083", code 100 is .100. In HO, code 100 is bigger than anything yet
on a prototype (Proto rail is measured in pounds per yard, not
height). Code 83 is pretty close to heavily-used mainline rail, both
contemporary and late steam. Code 70 and Code 55 are also used by
modelers for yards and light branch lines.
The two are compatible, i.e., you can have code 83 rail joined to code
100, but the former has to be shimmed up to the height of the code
The more recent trend is to the use of code 83 because it looks better
than 100, and because it is now more widely available than ten years
ago. The drawback is that 83 (and 70, 55, and 40) is more expensive
than code 100.
Many modelers use 100 where it is less obvious or hidden (price).
However, many HO wheels have flanges too deep for code 83, so for
people new to the hobby, code 100 is recommended, because anything
should run on it.
Also a consideration is the material. Brass track should be avoided,
period. Oxidation is difficult to control, and becuase it is an
insulator, causes erratic running. No matter what the code, use only
nickel-silver. Fortunately, brass track is becoming a rarity, and
I've never seen it in codes smaller than 100.
Welcome to the hobby!