PECO Code 55: The Compatibility Track.

From: Frank Knight

First a definition would be useful. The code number of rail refers to the height of the rail in thousandths of an inch. Code 55 rail should be .055" tall. PECO code 55 track is not really code 55. Measured with my dial calipers I find it to be .084". The reason for the extra height is that it has an extra flange that is buried in the ties. The visible portion of the rail appears to be code 55 but the rail including the second flange is really code 84. This feature makes it very useful for matching the various rail sizes that are available in N-scale.

The defacto standard in N-scale is Atlas. The oversize rail (code 80) and oversize ties too widely spaced give it a toy-like appearance to my eyes. Since it is the standard in module connections we must at least use it at all module connections. The track I prefer to use is Micro Engineering (ME) code 55. The rail is really code 55 and the tie size and spacing is made to US prototype standards. Due to tie and rail thickness differences it is difficult at best to connect ME code 55 track to Atlas code 80.

This is where PECO code 55 really shines. Since it is really code 55 and code 80 rail in one, with a little judicious filing, it is compatible with both ME code 55 and Atlas code 80. Very simply, filing the bottom flange off of the PECO rail makes it a true code 55. Tie height is still a problem so a .040" shim is needed under the ME track (see diagram below). Code 55 rail joiners complete the connection. The right end of the diagram shows PECO attaching to Atlas. A .015" shim is needed under the PECO track but then using the bottom flange it is only slightly (.004") taller than the Atlas rail. A couple of swipes with a jewelers file and the difference in height is almost undetectable.



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