Last Updated: 30 January 2023
PIKO’s G scale track has been around for quite some time (2008 to be precise), and their offering has grown over time. They now offer switches in four radii, of which you can find all the details on the G Scale Track Geometry page.
The first switch was an R1 radius, followed by the R5 soon after. Initial reports about quality were good: pretty much all track elements were reported to be on par with LGB’s proven quality.
In 2011, the first experiences of PIKO track in “real life” conditions came in on online forums, and in case of PIKO’s switches, they were not great. Corrosion issues were reported, messing up the internal wiring. I remember having a direct line of contact into PIKO at the time, and they issued a statement confirming they had since then already changed the wiring in their switches.
So, we may conclude the early batches of R1 and R5 have had subpar wiring, which of course will not have been problematic for everyone in all environments. We just don’t know how many people were affected. On the plus side, PIKO was rather quick to react by changing the design where necessary.
I have both an R1 and an R5 switch from around 2010, and they indeed are different from an R1 and R5 I’ve photographed in 2023.
Looking at the used market, how can you recognize these first batches? I’ve made some comparisons below.
Note: Left = Old, Right = New. All images can be enlarged by clicking / tapping.
PIKO R1 Switch Comparison Old and Newer
The old R1 has a convex pentagon shaped plastic frog where the frog rails are cut at an angle <> The newer R1 has a triangular shaped frog where the frog rails are a straight cut.
The old R1 has Torx head screws <> The newer R1 has Phillips head screws.
The old R1 has stock rails without cuts <> The newer R1 has much more aggressively cut stock rails.
PIKO R5 Switch Comparison Old and Newer
The old R5 has Torx head screws <> The newer R5 has Phillips head screws.
The old R5 has stock rails with straight cuts <> The newer R5 has much more aggressive, yet smoother cuts.