Monday, 17 February 2020

Peco Track Experiments

Having reorganised my library and modelling room, I have gained enough space to model a small segment of Nystrup Gravel's facilities in Nystrup in 1/19 scale. Before I begin cutting wood and building, I'm simply playing trains on my empty shelves with some Peco track panels. This allows me to test ideas and the mechanical properties of track in 1/19 scale.

Warning: This post later develops into what could be considered 'rivet counting'.

Two skips parked on a length of Peco 'SM32' SL-600-track. The height of the rail and the heavy rail fixings are obvious.
In comparison with my scratchbuilt track panel with light (Code 100) rail the Peco SL-600 flex track with its Code 200 rail is of a much more sturdy impression. As the track is designed for outdoor as well as indoor use it's hardly a surprise.

In this close up af a rail joint, the high rail head is visible. The Peco fishplate is only gripping the feet of the rails.

Compared to a real Vignoles rail profile, the Peco Code 200 rail has a rail head far too large and square and a foot lacking in size. It looks a lot more like a Bullhead profile rather than a Vignoles profile.

While sturdiness is probably a fine thing there are a few things about the Peco track that I'm less fond of:
  • First the rail is of a heavy profile not reminiscent of the majority of the rail used at Nystrup Gravel. The rail height is 5 mm matching a 22 kg/m rail in 1/1. It's a bit too substantial for Nystrup Gravel. Painting and weathering may help to disguise that. 
  • Second, the rail is of a weird profile not matching a typical Vignoles profile. While you can't see the profile clearly the way I plan to install the track, the very high head of the profile is obvious also when seen from the side. 
  • In addition the type of rail fixing is different to what was usually used on Danish industrial railways. I could perhaps change that, either by 'sinking' the track in ballast or by exchanging sleepers and fixings.
The Peco track is working like it should. The rail fixings are solid and the rail flexes comparatively easy considering its dimensions. I have been cutting rails with my standard angle grinder and a cutting disc. Cleaning up was done with usual modelling files. The supplied Peco rail joiners fits like a glove and hold the rail segments well. The points work well and the spring loaded mechanism holds the tounge rail in the right position. In other words: There is nothing functionally wrong with the Peco track. It's the looks I'm unsure of.
Peco track panel from above.

Knowing that I run the risk of getting dissatisfied if I install the Peco track without having tried something else, the hunt is now on for some rail profiles of a smaller size and some rail spikes. Having built track in 1:35, in real life in 700 mm gauge and working for a railway contractor, I do tend to like track that's looking good prototypically.


  1. 'evening Claus,
    Cliff Barker in the UK makes a code 180 which is lighter and better looking than the Peco. I've used Code 148 flat bottom spiked to pine sleepers for smaller 16mm operations.

  2. Hi Pete
    Thanks for the comment and mentioning of Cliff Barker's rail. I've seen it used on Paul Lindsey-Scott's 'Drumcudden'. Unfortunately the Barker-rail is Bullhead profile - a profile never used on Danish industrial railways. I have my eyes on the Peco IL-7 Code 143 that corresponds to a 1:1 rail of 10-14 kg/m. That is perfect for Nystrup Gravel. Perhaps I may end up using the Peco points combined with lighter plain track. I think Nystrup Gravel bought some used points from a German military construction site after WW2.

  3. Hi Claus, I definitely would build my own track if I were you. You obviously do not need so many meters so effort should be acceptable... Does Karlin still exist? He used to have a range of rail, I bought my 1:35 rail there. Regards, Ernst

  4. Hi Ernst. Thanks for the hint. I have checked Karlgarin. He is offering a lovely Code 125 rail, but I think the size is a little on the small side for my needs. Perhaps I could use it for steel sleepered track panels if I ever get to do a few of them.

  5. Hi Claus,
    I have also tried to find appropriate rail for a similar project. Peco IL-7FB has the following dimensions - overall rail height is 3.6mm; head is 1.6mm wide x approx. 1mm high; foot is 3.14mm wide and does taper in thickness – mid point thickness of foot is 0.5mm; the web is also 0.5mm. In my opinion it looks much closer to the prototype than their code 200.
    I have photos of the rail with C&LS skips but cannot (or cannot work out how to) paste them into a comment.
    Nick Curtis

  6. Hello Nick
    Thanks a lot for your comment with percise measurements on the Peco IL-7FB rail. I'm definately going to test that type of rail. I'd very much like to see an image of a rail with skips. If you want, you can email me an image on - perhaps I could even post your image on the blog as an example on the helpfulness shown in modelling circles.
    Best regards