HO Code 100 or Code 83

I'm a beginner and starting my HO 5' by 9' layout. I've been doing a lot of research on this, that, and the other. One of the things is
should I use Code 83 or 100? I see all sorts of things about what and why it is but not what is recommended. Does it matter? Thanks in advance for any help.
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On Mon, 14 Jun 2010 08:22:53 -0700 (PDT), None wrote:

Code 83 scales out to modern Class 1 mainline rail. Code 100 is more like N-scale track, way too high, even in HO it's oversize unless you're modeling one of the heaviest parts of the Pennsy; Code 83 or Code 70 for older / branchline layouts are better choices.
e-- Steve
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On 14/06/2010 11:22, None wrote:

Two issues:
a) Scale fidelity/appearance. Code 83 is about right for most mainline rail (code 70 covers most of the rest.) Code 100 is too large. However, with judicious painting of the rail, the ties, and the ballast, even Code 100 will look good. Kalmbach has a book on how to lay realistic track. Buy or borrow it, it will tell you all you need to know under this heading.
b) Strength/durability. Code 83 flex track is weaker than code 100, mostly because the little plastic clips that hold the rail are smaller. Also, the finer rail bends more easily, so unintended kinking is more likely. Thus, code 83 is a tad trickier to lay smoothly.
Related issue: Flex track vs. sectional track. Code 83 and 100 come in both forms. Operationally, flex track is better because it forms a natural easement or spiral between straight and curved track, which not only makes a train look better as it enters the curve, but also reduces side-ways thrust on trucks and couplers, thus making for fewer derailments, other things being equal.
But flex track is trickier to lay. The brands don't vary much in quality or appearance, but do vary in ease of use. Atlas and Peco flex track is easy to bend, Micro-Engineering is much stiffer. Haven't used Walthers or Shinohara lately, so can't comment om those.
Sectional tracks comes plain, or with preformed plastic ballast. All kinds of turnouts are available. Track from different manufacturers is compatible, but you may have to use shims at joints to align rails.
For a beginner, I would recommend code 100 because it is more robust. However, if more realistic appearance matters to you, code 83 is a probably better starting point. The final appearance depends hugely on your skills with paint.
Unasked advice: the trackbed is crucial. Must be sturdy, smooth, and without twists or bumps.
HTH wolf k.
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Thanks guys... the most important issue in track laying is of course derailments. To that end I am using Atlas Tru-track in the tunnels and that is code 83. I expect that to be flawless but the rest of the layout will be a mix of sectional and flex. The local hobbyshop only carries code 100 because "That's what my customers want." I have some adaptors to take track from 83 to 100 and the 100 sounds like just maybe less problems with derailments. But, I do like the looks of the 83 so I'll have to experiment and mull this over before committing.
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On 6/14/2010 12:57 PM None spake thus:

My own preference would be to err on the side of realistic looks, therefore to use code 83 (or even smaller sizes). What Wolf told you about the pitfalls of laying track is true, but that doesn't mean that you can't lay down some really nice-looking scale-size track that you can run on without derailments. You just need to be extra careful.
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Put it this way, if you use code 83, nobody will ever question your decision.
If you use code 100, people will ask why.
It's as simple as that.
Roger Traviss
Home of the late GER http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra/
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I wouldn't use any section al track for the conectivity issues. Each and every joint means another place to lose power between two sections. I'd be using code83 as it is more realistic. Wear on large layouts is a bit higher ut you're not going to be running trains 8 hours a day for many years so that isn't an issue. Realiability of the track in reference to derailments, etc. is the same as the railhead is all that is important to the train wheels. when you lay your track, the important things are that the reail ends matc,h, especially on the inside corner of the railhead. In addition, there should be no kinking in either the vertical or horizontal direction which will, again, promote derailments. Perfect rail laying means that you can't tell any deviation of the rails and they just look like you cut a slot in the top of the rail. Lastly, put a soldered tail on each rail and connect to the block power and you won't have any problems with trains stopping at a distant point.
-- Bob May
rmay at nethere.com http: slash /nav.to slash bobmay http: slash /bobmay dot astronomy.net
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Thanks, I'll have a run of about 9' underground so I want tru-track on the curves but I will take a shot at 36" flextrack on the straight away. As to those terminal rail joiners, where can I buy them at discount... the cheapest I found was GoHobby for about $2.10. I have decided to commit to code 83... it does look better
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Will you be using DCC? If not, you might considering wiring/insulating your track using DCC specs. It'll be a little more work up front ... but would allow easy conversion should you upgrade later.
hth,
/Stetson
On 6/14/10 11:22 , None wrote:

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wrote:

Yes, I intend to go DCC. I have been studying up on it but still a little over whelmed. This from a guy that studied ohm's law and was a ground radio maintenance tech in my four year hitch with my Uncle Sam.
1. How important are blocks with DCC? 2. How often should there be a connection on my 9x5 twice around? 3. Which brands are considered the best combo of price and function? 4. Are DCC turnouts more trouble then they're worth?
Thx
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DCC is just a system of controlling the locos. it does other things but that is its primary function. Blocks become relatively unimportant as the whole system gets the signalling info for a particular loco. I'd still keep blocks as this will assist in locating shorts in the track when theyhaappen but you don't need to do as many as a DC system. The DCC turnouts are just turnouts that don't have a capability of shorting out the track power (important to DCC as the powergetting shorted kills off everything until the power gets back on and this may destroy the speed setting in a module) while DCC compativle trackwork won' allow the wheels to cause such a short. All of my trackwork is mostly DCC friendly as long as you stayt in the proper areas. Running a adversely thrown turnout will cause a short tho. Brands of turnouts are more the choice rather tahn the reliability of a DCC vs. a DC turnout. I'll note that I haven't seen a turnout that I'd put on my track without doing work on it but then again, I'm handlaying all of my track to the correct standards for the NMRA.
-- Bob May
rmay at nethere.com http: slash /nav.to slash bobmay http: slash /bobmay dot astronomy.net
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In message

You don't have to worry about blocks with DCC. The main thing to remember is that you should have droppers on to your bus bar from every length of track. This will help avoid voltage drop and will give really good electrical contact and control.
The only 'blocks' you may want to put in are for a couple of different bus sections which you can isolate to help find any problems if you get a short circuit

Ideally every 3 feet or so which equates to one dropper for every yard of track.

There are many different answers to that question. Best suggestion I can make is that you try to find a few people near you who can show a few different types. Otherwise find out what the local club is using and use something similar. That way you can get help easily.

No. It's definitely worth the extra trouble when you are laying them. The main problem comes with the frog polarity changeover. If you are using Tortoise motors it is a very simple matter to use the built in switch for this purpose or you can use a slide type switch to move the rail switch (point for use Brits) which will also change the polarity. You will need to electrically bond the stock and switch rails, cut the rails near the frog and make this one electrical connection, but the running quality is just that much better.
It is also possible to put a simple micro switch under the baseboard if you are using a mechanical system to move the (rail) switch blades. Have a look at the system I've used on my portable layout, Lynneton Yard. Here are links to the photos showing the wiring. http://mikehughes627.fotopic.net/p56999867.html http://mikehughes627.fotopic.net/p52539180.html http://mikehughes627.fotopic.net/p52539179.html
Hope this helps.
--
Mike Hughes
A Taxi driver licensed for London and Brighton
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For signaling, power districts, and troubleshooting, they're essential. Double gap the rails, as you'll have to run feeders to both rails anyway. (See below.)
You may even want to use some sort of connector to join the bus wires together near the gaps, so if there is a problem you can quickly and easily disconnect sections of the layout. (A switch will work fine.)

The Wiring for DCC website states that every rail should be soldered to something: Either a feeder or another rail. That's what I do and there's been no problems with it. (Other than breaking a few ties from the drill... Temporarily solved that problem with a couple pieces of cork.)

Digitrax and NCE are the two really popular ones. You'll have to answer the question about price and function yourself, but be sure to give the Digitrax Zephyr a good look.
One thing to look at when you're choosing systems is the throttle. You'll be spending a bunch of time with it in your hand, so you need to make sure you can live with it.

Do you mean accessory decoders for DCC controlled turnouts, or DCC- Friendly turnouts? Accessory decoders are still rather expensive for my tastes, especially when you have to throw in a switch machine as well. However, I'd sure love to have a couple DCC controlled turnouts on the club layout. (Especially when I need to throw something on the other side of the penninsula and then return to the same side.)
DCC-Friendly turnouts are easy. Just install them and you're good to go. What makes them different is how they route power through the turnout. In DC, it was possible for a momentary short to occur and you'd never notice. DCC circuit breakers react quickly to momentary shorts and that's what causes the problem. Generally, however, whatever works on DC works on DCC.

Puckdropper
--
Never teach your apprentice everything you know.

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Mixed. With the exception of reversing sections, you don't really need them, but they can be handy for diagnosing problems, or in setting up "power districts" where a short on one section doesn't shut the whole layout down until it's fixed.
On the other hand, for signaling / occupancy detection you need sense blocks, which is an isolated section of one rail with a single power feed (which you hang the detector on). Designing the layout with blocks in mind is a good idea, even if you end up wiring them all to the same bus anyway.
As a personal rule, I double gap on the two sided end of turnouts, because I might *someday* need to isolate or reverse there, and it's handy to have it built in all along, and I run lots of power feeds anyway. My sense blocks run about 3 feet back from a turnout, unless I'm forced to go shorter because of complicated switching.

It depends on the wire gauge you use. I have a big-ass power bus running below the track and following it more or less exactly, with feeders back to the track every, er, once in a while. I aim for every 3 feet but will get lazy and go as much as double that. At one time I had an entire 25 foot chunk of upper deck that, due to a brain fart, went for a year with a single power feed to the whole thing, and I only discovered it later because I was wiring in a turnout and couldn't figure out where the power was coming from. I've since taken to keeping my wiring schematics in better shape, and know where every break and feed on the layout is.

I'm a big fan of digitrax for the base station, decoders, and handhelds, and team digital for turnout automation and track detection. Others will have drastically different opinions, and not be wrong. I like digitrax because it's inexpensive, easy to set up once you get the basic idea (their manuals are Not So Good), and there's a local store where I can easily get more if I need them NOW.

Not in the least. They are a beautiful thing, especially if you tie it back to a computer running decoderPro (jmri.sourceforge.net; I use a locobuffer II to connect my layout to the computer). With that and some track detection, you can use the computer to throw turnouts for you if you're moving into a switch, for example.
I use peco insulfrog turnouts and their twin coil switch machines, and they're nearly bulletproof, with no modifications required for DCC (powered frogs are more complicated). The team digital SMD8 can control 8 of these turnouts at once. *
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Thanks a lot guys. You've given me a ton of things to think about. Primarily, soldering rails together and wiring the frogs. Almost overwhelming but not insurmountable. Much more work than I had imagined. I hope I live long enough to finish laying and wiring the track.
The Wiring for DCC site will be real helpful. So are Mike's pics. I guess I won't be using wire nuts after all.
Any recommendations for wire guage? I was thinking 18 for the buss and 22 from the bus to the track.
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On 6/15/2010 3:34 PM None spake thus:

It's bus, not buss (that's a kiss), and I'd go much larger, say 12. Wire is relatively cheap so why skimp and cause potential problems down the road?
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When you're being pedantic, it helps to be correct. *
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On 15/06/2010 19:21, David Nebenzahl wrote:

UK spelling. ;-)
wolf k.
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Yes I know, see the second appearance of "bus". I just added an extra "s" to the first to see if you would notice.
Yes the 12 is thicker and therefore more electrons can race down the wire without rubbing against the walls, The resistance caused my the walls makes for friction and if you ever rubbed two sticks together you know friction will cause it to heat up. I shall follow your advice.
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I use stranded house wiring for the buss, because I already had a bunch of it laying around. 12 gauge I think. For the track feeders, I have a spool of solid (not stranded) wire that's used for doorbells. I don't remember the exact gauge, I would guess it's #18. It's a good size because it holds it's shape when bent. I usually simply wrap the feeders around the buss by stripping off 2 inches of wire - makes it easy to yank a feed if there's a problem. If you use thinner wire, it can get annoying to solder to the track, and you may have to solder to the feeder too.
Don't think a low wattage soldering iron will be better for soldering rail. 150 watts is best because it will locally heat up the track section for a quick bond before melting off half the ties. Lower wattage means that the whole rail gets hot, and it takes longer. *
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