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Plarail 3-way Automatic Point Rail
#1
In light of recent discussion in another place, I've just put together this little item.

The original 3-way Automatic Point Rail has been around since 1978, when it was released in its own Automatic Point Set along with the 583 series Sleeper Limited Express.

[Image: Eu7-AKev-Vo-As-Jdt-G.jpg]  [Image: i-img600x400-1615718026mjmcb3101375.jpg]  [Image: i-img600x400-1615718026knn62z101375.jpg]

The first catalogue illustration I can find showing it as an individual item is from 1981. You can see the distinct hump-back configuration.

[Image: 1981-cat.png]

It's possibly more familiar to those of us in Europe and the Americas in its 1987 dark blue Tomy Trains form, which had a differently shaped sliding actuator to match the different configuration of the Tomy Train engines, and which had the auto/manual slide knob labelled in English.

[Image: 1337-mine.jpg]

At some stage there was a modification of the old humped J-16 which involved the shape of the slot in which the actuator slides from the simple shape of the first release to the shape required by the Tomy Train actuator. I'm speculating that this change wasn't made to accommodate any change in the Plarail actuator, it must just have been made so that the Tomy Train and Plarail versions used a common mould, and for that reason would have been about 1987. At the same time the notation beside the auto/manual slide knob was changed from Japanese to English.

[Image: m24349998774-1.jpg]

In 1992 when numbering of rail and scene parts was introduced, it became R-16.

[Image: 1992-03.jpg]

At some point between then and now, the configuration of R-16 changed from the hump-backed form to the current flat form. At the same time the slot reverted to a simpler shape and the flanges beneath the male and female connectors were removed.



There are also some minor differences in the internal mechanism:


Finding the date of introduction of the new flat form is made more difficult because online retailers continue to use images of the first old one with the original slot right up to the present day. The first Plarail catalogue to illustrate R-16 with a picture of the new one is the 2012-13 edition.
[Image: 2012-13.jpg]
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#2
Thank you Dr Chris, this is a very fine article.

Because of this Thread I looked a little closer and the remade version (whenever that was) is not flat like I thought. They just lessened the 'Hump' by removing it from the switch and placing it where one has to connect a track rail too. True the bump may be less with this configuration but it is still there.

This is exactly the type of piece that could have used what was only released in the Plarail Advance line and I always wondered why it wasn't added to something like this. The AR-06 had 8.5" sloped Straight Rails that rose 3/4" each (6) and really smoothed out a bump. I found these especially good to use with the vintage character sets that gimmick track pieces like some of the Mickey Sets.

[Image: 102g26684a2.jpg]
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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#3
(10-06-2022, 12:32 AM)Super Wrote: Because of this Thread I looked a little closer and the remade version (whenever that was) is not flat like I thought. They just lessened the 'Hump' by removing it from the switch and placing it where one has to connect a track rail too. True the bump may be less with this configuration but it is still there.

I know exactly what you mean. The piece itself is flat, but because it has to be thicker than normal rail to accommodate the switching mechanism beneath it, the rails on each side of it now have to slope up to connect with it.
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#4
I excavated the ones I have, which are the middle Plarail R-16 and the Tomy Train versions. As expected the only significant difference is in the shape of the actuator. Also note that this particular Plarail one has "TOMY" moulded onto the upper surface beside the fence (which is different from the otherwise identical version shown in the photo in my first post with 16 written on it).  I'd be interested to know what other dates anyone else might find on the reverse of theirs.

[Image: DSC06830.jpg] [Image: DSC06829.jpg] [Image: DSC06831.jpg]
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#5
Here is what my 3 way looks like and something interesting...the date of the 2 way auto switch.
I have heard others talk about the letters and numbers meaning something for Tomy/Plarail parts and trains so the pictures show that number too.

[Image: IMG-2132.jpg]

[Image: IMG-2135.jpg]
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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#6
Investigative-informative threads like this are actually entries in a kind of "Plarail Encyclopedia". I think it would be very useful (especially for future use) to somehow combine them in a separate group of threads, so that they are not scattered in the broad topic "Takara/TOMY/Plarail/Tomica world" or elsewhere in the forum... Just a thought. 😊
My YouTube Channel: Mister No
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#7
Very good idea Me No 👍
[Image: super-smiley-emoticon.gif]
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