A Guide to Mamod & MSS track.

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Chris Cairns
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A Guide to Mamod & MSS track.

Post by Chris Cairns » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:55 am

[Mod Note]Files no longer available, topic kept as it still may prove useful without the files.

OK, with information gained from the 'Mamod - The Story of Malins Models' book, plus experiences gained with my varied collection of track, here is a guide to the Mamod & MSS track.

When Malins (Mamod) Ltd. designed the first locomotive, it was decided that these would be marketed as a Railway Set including a locomotive, open wagon, lumber wagon and an oval of track.

As there was only one major source of ‘O’ gauge track available in 1979, which could not produce the quantities Malins required, it was decided to make their own track. This was made from Diecast Mazak (a zinc alloy), and initially was produced in straight and curved panels only. Although points were to be introduced, their tooling was expensive and it took 2 changes of ownership before they were made available in 1983.

Production of the Mamod Railway System finished in 1989. The Railway System was acquired by David Evans of MSS (Mamod Sales & Services, now Model Steam Specialists) and they made the track available from 1996, and is still available from them.

Mamod have introduced a new Railway System and this includes track as well. Although it appears to be the same as the old track, there are 3 differences which I assume was to do with the court case involving Mamod & MSS.

Straight Track

Originally called TS1, these were available in packs of 8 in a window pack.
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4 pieces were included in the Railway sets to make up the oval. The usable length of each panel is 11 ¼”, although each rail joint is slightly staggered. I have 2 boxes of MSS straight track, one is marked TS1 and the other ST1.
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The new Mamod straight track is item no.1353.

Curved Track

Originally called TC1, these were available in packs of 8 in a window pack. 16 pieces were included in the Railway sets to make up the oval. The usable length of each panel is 12” on the outside rail, and they form a curve whose radius is 2’ 6” approx. I do not have any MSS curved track, so do not know what they call them. The new Mamod curved track is item no.1354.
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Points

Originally called TP1L for Left Hand points, and TP1R for Right Hand points. Again I have no MSS points, so do not know what they call them. The new Mamod points come in a box marked LH Points or RH Points as required (no item numbers).
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In Use

As this track is made of Diecast Mazak it can be very brittle and needs to be treated with great care. Over the years the moulds used seemed to have degraded and the quality of track has got worse. (edit) Here are 4 photos to show you the differences in the track produced.
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This is the original track produced by Mamod. Note the smooth joining tab and the wooden effect on the sleepers.

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This is the modified track produced by Mamod probably from 1981. Note the 2 semi-circular bumps on top of the joining tab, presumably an attempt at increasing the strength to reduce the amount of tab failures. The wood effect is not as clear now. This is the style of track sold by MSS, although the paint finish can be very bubbled and uneven.

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This is the latest version of track produced by Mamod. Note that there is now no wood effect, and one sleeper has 1 hole for screwing down whilst the other has 2 holes. Previous styles had 2 holes in both of the screw down sleepers
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And this curved track is embossed with 'Mamod' on the underside, I assume that the straight track is similarly embossed (the new points are not embossed).

With this poor moulding you need to do some filing to make this track usable. I'll cover the straight and curved track first (photo shows a curved track panel, but the instructions apply equally to the straight track as well).

Firstly I check that the panel is flat, if not then 15 mins in the oven at 100°C and then clamping it to a flat surface and letting it cool down seems to work. Do not try to bend it manually as it will probably break, particularly if it is one of the brittle batch.

The areas to file are shown in the next photos (sorry for poor focus but I’ve still not got a camera with a very good macro yet, hopefully soon). The amount of filing will vary, but needs to be enough to allow panels to join together flat with no resistance, otherwise you’ll break those tabs or even more of the rail.  Do not force the panels together but check on your filing progress and adjust as necessary.
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File the edges A & B on the tab, and the corresponding edges C & D in the opposite slot.
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On the underside of the tab file the flat surface E, and angled surface F, and the corresponding angled piece in the opposite slot at point G. Ideally you want to lower the slot at point H, but as that is very tricky to achieve then file the underside of the opposite rail at Point I. This is to get the rail height between adjacent panels level to stop the wheels jumping when crossing panels of untreated Mamod track.

Seems a lot of work there, but this is what Mamod should really explain to you in their very basic warning issued with the new track.
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The points also need a bit of work to make them more usable.
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I sand the blades down in area A so that these rails are the same height all round. I file down the blade faces in area B, and further file a little of the recess on the fixed rail behind the blades. Running my MSS loco (which can get away from you) through the points from point C to  point D presents no problems. However running the train through the points from D to C causes a derailment when running the loco backwards (it is a recommendation that lead weight is added to the rear of a Mamod loco to keep the rear axle in rail contact), and it bumps through facing forward. This is happening at point E. Here there is a large recess for the blades when points are set straight (running A to B) like this.
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But when you have them set to allow running from D to C (1st points photo), the loco wheel flanges hit the corner of the recess at point E and can derail. Nothing can be done about this. So unlike the real world it looks like a facing point is better for Mamod track, and the trailing point will require a speed restriction.

And the point spring is also very weak in operation.
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If you look closely you will see that the triangle shaped part of the blades is not fully in like this (after pushing the blades towards the spring).
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If it is just the small retaining lug that the tab from the other panel breaks off you should be able to glue this back on with superglue, holding the 2 rails together with a clamp or elastic band, etc. Then a little epoxy glue in the recess on the bottom of the sleeper over the cracks should strengthen it up (you need to sand the bottom of the sleeper flat). Note that the new style Mamod track does not have this recess on the bottom of the tab sleepers. If this lug is missing then a piece of hardwood properly shaped and superglued in should make the panel usable. If it is the tab that is missing then I've had some success using scrap plastic which has been superglued in place after the painted surface was removed.
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This is an example of a panel of track that has been forced together, with disastrous results (not by me, it was part of a job lot of track from ebay).
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I paint well used track with gloss Hammerite, but that is quite thick so you need to watch out for those areas highlighted above for filing.

If anyone can confirm what the MSS curved track and points are referred to as, and if the new Mamod straight panels have Mamod embossed on the bottom that would help to complete this guide.

I am sure that other members will have different experiences with using Mamod track, and welcome their postings to this subject.

Thanks for looking at this posting. I hope it was of interest to you.
Last edited by Chris Cairns on Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SillyBilly
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Post by SillyBilly » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:49 pm

That's a very interesting piece, you will have to put all your guides on your website.

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Chris Cairns
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Post by Chris Cairns » Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:20 pm

OK having got a new digital camera that does good macro shots, I've edited the above posting to include better photos to show the differences between the Mamod track.

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Chris Cairns
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Post by Chris Cairns » Wed May 23, 2012 10:44 pm

As this topic has been moderated I cannot upload the new links to my photos in the above posting.

I have however produced an 11 page electronic version (PDF) of this guide which has been updated recently.

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Please PM me if you would like a copy for your reference.

Chris Cairns.

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