Friday 29 March 2024

Steel Sleepered Track Panels

With the package containing the 'Planet' motorised skip I also received an assortment of track panels with steel sleepers. I have aquired the track parts to be able to quickly get a train running when I'm away from home. A few straight lengths of heavy Peco SM32 flextrack isn't exactly light or handy - nor does it allow for easy continous running.

Two straight track segments from Loco Remote. 

The track panels are designed by Loco Remote on basis of the lightweight track system made by British company Robert Hudson from Leeds. The track system known as 'Jubilee' consisted of light rail profile attached to pressed steel sleepers to make up a track panel that could easily be carried and connected to other panels. Curved panels in several radii were offered by Hudson and with points also in the catalogue you could basically order a complete narrow gauge railway from a single supplier. The concept, pioneered by French producer Decauville, were offered by a range of German producers as well. Now Loco Remote allows me to order a similar designed rail system in 1/19 scale. If I had a 3D printer myself I could even have downloaded the printing files free of charge and printed out my own track system.

In my old scale of 1/35 I previously worked with steel sleepered track panels. I used two different designs made in resin and 3D printing with Code 100 and 83 track

Close up of a straight track panel. Small imitations of bolts or rivet heads are visible. Both types of fastenings could be found on prototype panels.

A sharp radius turnout. The tongue assembly isn't exactly true to prototype, but it works and once painted it will be far less noticable.

With close inspection (and a bit a luck) a dedicated expert can probably identify the maker of a full scale track panel, but in model form I don't think the very small differences are worth much attention. It was without any worries that I ordered 10 straight and 10 curved panels as well as 2 points. In the set were also two buffer stops, but they were so ugly that I binned them immidiately.

The Loco Remoto track panels have a sleeper profile corresponding to the original Jubilee track. Some 'lining' traces from the printing proces can be seen on the sleeper surface. Small imitations of bolts or rivet heads are visible. Both types of fastenings could be found on prototype panels, but I'm unaware if Jubilee track was bolted or riveted. The rail profile on the 3D printed track isn't qiute matching a vignoles profile, but very few will notice that. The track handles all my rolling stock and locos, even those with high (and unprototypically) flanges. The track panel 'couples' by the means of a Lego inspired stud system that connects one half sleeper to another half sleeper on the neighbouring track panel - a simple and clever solution.

Painted and unpainted track panels connected. The lines from the printing proces are visible on the top of the sleepers. The studs connecting the two track segments are clearly visible.

The track system works fine on a level tabletop, floor or as built into a layout, but I doubt it will work on an uneven surface due to its light construction and method of connecting the individual panels. For running trains in the garden the track system isn't a good choise. But then again: I ordered the track to be able to play trains on a table to show some simple modelling in a large scale on narrow gauge. For that purpose the track is close to perfect!

600 mm track panels on steel sleepers from the German Army 'Brigade' railways used to supply frontline units with ammunition, food and building materials during WWI. Here seen at Besucherbergwerk 'Volle Rose', Ilmenau, 2019.

Random stack of track panels at the heritage line Hedelands Veteranbane in Denmark showing US/French army track (rounded sleeper ends) German Brigade track and lightweight track with sleepers looking like 'Jubilee'/Loco Remote track. Never walk past a stack of track panels without taking a closer look!

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