For a model railroad, the track is clearly the most important component during construction and operations. The trackwork includes:

  1. Track: The rails, ties, and spikes that mechanically connect the rails to the ties.
  2. Switches: These allow trains to change directions.
  3. Crossovers: allow two tracks to cross.
  4. Signals: Control where the trains go and when depending on the occupancy of the track ahead.
  5. Decouplers: embedded track structures that can automatically decouple a set of cards from the rest of the train.
  6. Railroad structures: such as signal boxes, maintenance depots, and structures that help make the railroad run.
  7. Yards: These can be of various types.

The “code” of the track is simply the distance between the top of the rail and the top of the tie in thousandths of an inch. For N scale, the typical codes are 80 and 55, with the latter being closer to prototypical, but providing a higher chance of derailing the train.

See here for more information.

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