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Thread: Code 83 vs Code 100 track

  1. Default Code 83 vs Code 100 track

    I am re-doing my track layout. I was wondering what people think about Code 83 vs Code 100 track in regard to: ease of installation, lower number of derailments, fewer short circuits, etc. whatever. Thanks.

  2. Default

    The main difference between Codes 83 and 100 is, 100 is thicker (i.e. the railhead is higher-up off the ties). Atlas code 83 ties are more accurately detailed than their code 100. As for derailments, it depends on what what sort of wheel flanges you have on your trains. If you're running old IHC stuff with so-called "pizza-cutter" flanges, code 100 would be more forgiving. Otherwise it won't make a difference. Code 83 and 100 tracks both get wired the same way.

    Lately there seems to be a wider range of turnout angles available for code 83 than there is for code 100.
    - keN in Maryland

  3. Default

    I use Code 100 because I do run some old engines with deeper flanges and the track is a bit nicer on the pocketbook. And switches are cheaper too. I use Walthers(made by Shinohara) with a few Pecos thrown in.

    He who dies with the most trains wins!!!!

  4. Default

    Derailments are more likely to be due to mis-gauged wheelsets, rails out of gauge, bad joints, curves too tight for the trucks or driver base, picked points, guard rails not gauged correctly, and frogs not deep enough for the flanges. You won't get derailments due solely to rails too will be in a combination of at least one of the previous factors.

    I get a strong sense that Code 100 is slowly losing popularity. I don't mean that now only 40% of people in the hobby use's probably closer to 60%, but Codes 83-70 are getting more and more fans all the time. Many are using Code 50 on their industrial tracks and urban transit tracks.

    If you would like a prototypical scale 'look', then Code 83 works out very close to 145 pounds per yard which is near the heaviest ever used. More typical of secondary and spur tracks, including short lines with modest tonnages, would be rail weights between 110 pounds and on down to about 85 pounds, and this gets us down to about Code 70 at the latter weight.


  5. Default

    Crandall, if one has to use code 100 switches to get older engines through the frogs, it only makes sense to use it as your trackage also. ALL of my problems were were at the switches. Currently, I can run a train for weeks, even months without having to rerail it. I run Code 100 out of necessity. And only rivet counters would complain of the rail being non-prototype. Who cares as long as your trains can negotiate the layout. There are very few turns on my layout less than 26"r. The only areas with smaller are a couple of curve that are negotiated by smaller switch engines. No larger engines ever traverse those areas.

    The finer detail track, while looking nice is not meant for those of us that are willing to run older stuff. Wait until some of the "newbs" decide to run an old Mantua steamer through a set of Code 70 switches. Ain't a-gonna happen without a problem. That's a fact. I've even had to deepen the frogs on Code 100 for some engines to pass through them.

    The "new craze" is toward detail and and prototypical layouts. To me, that makes older engines, pre-RP25, obsolete. Great for me as that equipment can be purchased cheaper as it can't be run on just any layout. While fine detail is a nice bit of "eye candy" it does little for those of us that like the older stuff, and at a cheaper price. I doubt that I could have the layout I have, or the stock on my roster, if it weren't for being able to grab stuff up on the cheap. And there is nothing cheap about the new products on the market. I used to buy Athearn BB cars for $3, engines for around $12 new. Now, with the revolution taking place, one can't touch cars(RTR) for under $25 or engines(DCC ready) for under $100.

    Sometimes being"prototypical" just doesn't work out. I'd rather have functionality.

    Last edited by stationmaster; 02-01-2010 at 07:09 PM.
    He who dies with the most trains wins!!!!

  6. Default

    have to agree with stationmaster

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    No argument from me, fellas. The OP didn't specify turnout problems, only that he wanted to know how we felt about using the various codes. I sort of offered a run down of the current trend as I see it from forum to forum.

    Certainly, if you have the older non-RP25 profile on tires and flanges, Code 100 is the rail of choice. I use it myself.


  8. #8


    If you plan on running older steamers, then you would want code 100 track. Depending on the model, there may or may not be replacement drivers with smaller flanges availible.

    For example, I have a Mehano GG1 that runs great, but the pilot trucks had pizza cutter flanges which did not like the code 83 switches on the club layout. I replaced them with semi-scale wheels (the pilot trucks only pick up power, they don't drive). However, the driver wheels cannot be replaced as no one makes a replacement. Thankfully, when the model was made, they made the pizza cutter flanges smaller (they still look like pizza cutters) so that it can run on a minimum of code 83 track.

  9. Default

    My Dad, while he was still alive, took some of my old stuff and turned down the wheels at work. (thank you Lee Iacoacca). Still the majority of my old stuff is still "pizza cutter". I don't mind, they still run on my layout.

    The problem with building a new layout and using smaller web rail, Code 83, 70 or 55 is that you will never be able to run older engines, pre RP25. And, if you are like me, you will, at some point, decide to do so. Build for the future, it comes sooner than you think.

    He who dies with the most trains wins!!!!

  10. Default

    Another semi-related thing to look out for is Walthers RTR and Walthers Gold line cars with metal wheels.

    The wheel tread profile is very wide so that the flanges sometimes catch the retaining rails on switches.

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