The world of model train track decoders has changed a lot over the years. This blog will provide you with valuable information about the modern JMRI decoders and model train decoders in general.

Do you know what code your train track uses? In this post Ill show you how to read model train track codes and explain what they mean so you can use them to make your layout more enjoyable and realistic.

Track layouts for small to large model train layouts can be very complex, and the model train hobbyists make it worse by the way they use their layout design software. The rules and conventions can be quite confusing, so it is essential to understand them first. These articles try to explain some of the basics of model train track coding to give you a good starting point for your new layouts.

Almost every train set comes with a basic loop of track when you initially purchase it. But then the box starts talking about model train track codes, gauges, and sizes, and it all becomes a little confusing!

So, let’s go a bit further into model train track codes and what they imply for you.

What are the track codes for model trains?

The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) provides model railroad track codes – The rail height of a railway track is measured in thousandths of an inch, thus a Track 55 (code 55) is 0.055 inches tall. It’s as simple as that!

Companies may occasionally provide a variety of code choices in scales, so keep an eye on what the code is while you’re making a purchase!

The following is a list of scales and the corresponding model train track codes:

125, 100, 125, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 100

100, 83, 70, 55, 100, 83, 70, 55, 100, 83, 70, 55, 100, 83, 70, 55

80, 55, and 40 are the N scale track codes.

55, 40, 55, 40, 55, 40, 55, 40, 55, 40, 55, 40

You may use various track codes on the same layout as long as they’re the same scale. Railways in the actual world utilize a variety of rail diameters on mainlines and certain sections, depending on the terrain they pass through.

A transition joint, which is typically a kind of straight joint bar, is required when connecting rails of different codes.

It’s a good idea to plan your railroad before purchasing any of them since you’ll need to know where the transition joints will go. Alternatively, if at all feasible, make certain that all of your track has the same model train track code!

83 Ho Model track code vs. 100 Ho Model track code

The first thing you should learn is what the codes mean: code 83 rail indicates a track with a rail height of.083′′, while code 100 rail indicates a track with a rail height of.1′′.

Both of these codes are very popular for a variety of reasons:

Because HO is 1/87 scale, Code 83 is 0.83′′ tall in the actual world, which implies it would be 7.2′′ in the real world, which is within.2 of an inch of real track — most typical US track is 7′′ tall.

Code 100, on the other hand, is much taller in real life, scaling up to almost 9′′! In the actual world, this would be a huge issue, and it would be apparent.

Code 83 will seem more realistic if you’re accustomed to gazing at the real thing.

Some enthusiasts, however, have trouble differentiating between the two after installing and ballasting the rail track since, when shrunk down, the difference is smaller than.2 of an inch.

Is it possible to utilize codes 83 and 100 at the same time?

Various rail codes may be used on different layouts. For example, you could utilize code 83 rail on your main lines and then code 70 rail for sidings and spurs.

Furthermore, not all rail types are compatible with all kinds of rolling stock. Larger wheel flanges on older rolling stock hinder the wheel from sitting properly on the rail.

On code 83 track, the bulk of modern rolling stock operates well.

But, you may wonder, what about code 100 model train track. The benefit of Code 100 is that it is available nearly everywhere that sells HO model trains.

Code 100 is more commonly accessible and less costly, and if you’re a model train enthusiast, you’re likely to have some on hand. Unfortunately, code 83 isn’t as popular these days, so your local model train shop may not have it.

Certain trains, particularly older and less costly trains, may run better on Code 100 track than on Code 83 track due to the size of their wheel flanges.

So, what does this imply for the track codes for your model trains?

Some fans may use Code 83 in conspicuous areas of the setup, right up front, to get the benefits of Code 83 at a lower cost, such as appearing somewhat more accurate.

They will, however, use Code 100 in tunnels and other areas that are hidden from view, as well as on inaccessible sections of the plan. When the code is visible, it has the benefit of Code 83, but when it isn’t, it has the affordability of Code 100.

Some model railroaders may choose for a higher-grade code 100 track, which has a realistic rail profile as well as superb ties and spikes, so it’s all up to you.

Code 55 track

Depending on the scale you’re using, Code 55 has a lower rail height, with the code indicating the rail height in thousands of an inch. So, if you use HO scale @.55′′ tall, it may seem too short, but if you shrink it all the way down to Z scale at 1:220, it may appear too large.

In comparison to Code 80, Code 55 has a major advantage in that it offers uniform point geometry as well as single and double slips.

In general, we believe that code 55 is just simpler to use and deal with.

Model train tracks in brass, nickel, or silver

A number of metals are used to construct model railway tracks. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to select whether to use brass, nickel-silver, or steel rail.

Brass rail used to be utilized in almost all HO track, but it isn’t used nearly as much these days.

The golden tint, on the other hand, isn’t a natural color, and brass has to be kept highly polished for proper electrical contact, so it requires a lot more maintenance. The steel rails have a beautiful color, but they are difficult to cut and file.

The most popular track today is called as “nickel silver,” since it is an alloy of the two metals. Nickel silver is chosen because it does not corrode as fast as other metals used in model railways, requiring less regular cleaning, while yet conducting an electrical current better or as well as all of the aforementioned.

If you’re going to buy new rail, make sure it’s Nickel Silver and then choose a model train track code that works for your layout.

The main distinction is between cost and realism. Because Code 100 is more widely available and less costly, you either pay a higher price for Code 83’s better realism, or you decide the difference isn’t big enough.


For as long as he can remember, Peter has been constructing model trains. This site is a creative avenue for him to go further into various sizes and elements of the model train community and hobby. He is an ardent lover of HO and O scale.

I have been using my Model Railroading microsite for over a year now – it is a great place to find all kinds of track code information. It is a huge page, but I wanted more people to see it so I have broken it into smaller pages.. Read more about 22 inch radius ho track and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which track is better code 83 or code 100?

Code 83 is a great song, but Code 100 is even better. The track Code 100 by Pegboard Nerds and Jauz is better than Code 83 by Pegboard Nerds and Ghastly. Code 100 is the best song by Pegboard Nerds and J

What are track codes?

Track codes are a series of numbers that you can enter into Beat Saber. These numbers correspond to custom songs that you download from the internet. They are used in place of the .osar files that the official Beat Saber songs use. The track codes are used to identify the song you want to play.

What do the numbers mean on model trains?

There are four main numbers on a model train. The first is the scale. If this is not specified, it is usually a 1:43 or 1:48 scale. The next is the brand of the train. The third is the series. And the last is the name of the specific train.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • model train tracks
  • model train track types
  • model train track sizes
  • n scale track codes
  • model railroad track
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