REVIEW - British Finescale 'Finetrax' Code 40 point kits
British Finescale have been producing the Finetrax range of N Gauge Code 40 point kits since 2012, providing N Gauge modellers with a much finer appearing track for their layouts than using PECO code 80 or 55.
Following a similar design to the 2mm Scale Association's Easitrac system, the Finetrax range was initially launched in 2012 with a milled plastic base, individual chairs locating into pre-drilled holes and a cast metal frog unit, however the modeller had to file switch blades to the correct profile, which required a seperate jigs. The entire range of bullhead rail kits have now undergone a complete redesign to make them even easier to assemble, and NGN has take a look at the latest version.
The kits feature a moulded plastic base unit which in a departure from previous versions now features separate sleepers joined by a web rather than a solid base unit. The biggest change here however is the chairs are now moulded as part of the sleeper base, meaning one of the more time consuming and fiddly elements of construction, the threading individual chairs, has now been eliminated.
Before starting construction, the instructions should be downloaded from the British Finescale website and read carefully. A template was provided after purchase which is used for timing sections of rail for the closure, wing and check rails to the correct length. You will need a few basic tools to aid with construction of the kit. A small flat file and track cutters as a mininum, but tweezers and flat nose pliers may also come in handy.
Another useful time saving feature of the revised kits is pre-milled switch blades and frog rails. This removes the previous requirement for the modeller to file these sections of rail to the correct profile themselves using a separate jig. A nice touch is the inclusion of a protective 'box' to prevent damage to the fine ends of the blades.
Pre-soldered tie bar plates and locating pins are fixed to the switch rails and these fit into pre-drilled holes in the plastic tie bar are yet another improvement in these kits over the old version and make construction even easier and quicker than in the old versions of the kits.
The excellent step by step instructions make the assembly of these kits a breeze, with detailed photos also providing guidance. If you stick to the assembly order you shouldn't run into any issues and from opening the packaging to having the completed point shown here assembled took only 20 minutes work. Care must be taken when threading the rail through the chairs, and it's essential to make sure you have filed a small chamfer on the lower section of rail to help it pass through each chair easily.
Some careful soldering will be required to attach wires between switch blades and stock rails and from the frog if the intention is to have a live frog setup. This should be made easier by the gaps in the plastic sleeper base at the relevant points.
The tie bar features a central hole, along with holes at each end which should provide options for most styles of the available point operating mechanisms & motors.
The original Finetrax point kits offered a much needed finescale alternative to PECO track for N Gauge modellers, and the improved kits some significant improvements over the orginal versions to help make construction much easier and faster. The use of rail for the frog area of the kits is gives a huge visual improvement over the old style metal casting and at first glance in a photo you'd struggle to realise this was N Gauge trackwork.
If you are looking for better N Gauge track and are willing to put in a little time and effort, then these kits provide the perfect solution and they come very highly recommended.
The complete range of wooden sleeper bullhead rail kits has been updated to the new style and is now available direct from the British Finescale website. In addition to simple turnouts, diamond crossings, slips and a selection of complete formations are available.
The kit assembled in this review is the A5 turnout kit and was purchased by the reviewer direct from British Finescale for £22.99.