Another hand layed track ?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by twilight, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. twilight

    twilight Member

    Where do you guys get your materials for hand-layed track? Do you buy it directly from Walthers or does you local hobby store have the items on hand(particularly the rails)or do they place the order for you? Or do you do mail order from some other vendor?
    Just wondering?:)

  2. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Where to get Hand-laid track supplies...

    The LHS sold used rail cheap. It was pre-weathered and sold by the bundle for ~$20CAD, or ~$1CAD for a single 3' length of rail.

    He got it from model railroaders and/or clubs that were ripping up sections of flextrack and didn't need/want the rail, 'cause the ties were ruined and they didn't want to hand-lay.

    You can always strip damaged ties from the rails of old sectional or flex track yourself...

    I got the spikes from the LHS too... (Micro Engineering - I think...)

    The Ties were ordered from Mt. Albert Scale Lumber Co..

    Mt. Albert Scale Lumber Co. Railroad Tie Products

    Ask your LHS for these, or order directly. Tell Gerry that Ron sent you.
  3. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I've found most LHS don't carry bulk rail. My LHS does have ties and spikes, but no rail! Luckily for me, another one only about 45 minutes away does carry rail, and in all sizes. This store, Model Railroad Post Office, (MRPO) is also a mail order place, with excellent service. They usually have ads in RMC.
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi twilight,

    Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you
    can buy flextrack and strip the rail out for about half the cost
    of single rails, and no availability problem!!!! :) :) :)

    I don't know if there is any difference in the rail itself, should
    work fine.
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    If buying flex track for the rail, I would not use model power, for the rail corrodes. It's also amazingly inflexable as flex track goes, but I dunno if that's the rail or the rail/ties combination.

    As far as I know, Atlas is the cheapest decent quality flextrack here in the US. You can get it for about $2 ea mailorder or used.
  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Yes and no Cid. Atlas flex track is probably cheaper than bulk rail, others certainly aren't. Atlas (I'm talking HO here, don't know about N scale products) makes code 100 and code 83. The code 100 (to me) isn't worth considering for handlaying. Their code 83 is .083 high, but is larger in cross section than other code 83 rail. The visual difference is striking. This is why Atlas can use the same rail joiners for both codes. Those joiners swim on correct code 83 rail.

    So, yes it may be feasible to buy Atlas code 83 flex track and use the rail to handlay, but the appearance won't be as nice as it could've been. Myself, I would just use the Atlas track as is rather than put the effort of stripping the rail off and spiking it on wood ties. If you wanted to lay a turnout and have its rails match the flex track, then that would be a good use for doing so.

    For what its worth, here is my opinion on track options available.

    Atlas code 100, good for hidden staging tracks
    Atlas code 83, acceptable for visable trackage, but rather large spikehead details. Shinohara and another brand I can't recall the name of, code 70 and 83, looks great, sucks to work with. Also very pricey. Handlaid, I love handlaying and its costs, especially turnouts, are as low as you can get. However, I miss the sight of tieplate details.

    It's just a matter of what's most important to you.
  7. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    This seems like a good alternative to me, if the primary concern is cost. Never hand layed track myself, but would like to try turnouts for the cost savings, as well as making special track that is expensive or unavailble from Atlas. To me, hand laying skills should offer as much flexibility to your track plan as flextrack does. I totally admire and respect the finescale efforts of others, but my goals differ.
  8. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    My LHS has been moving more and more into G gauge and tinplate --- I suppose that's where the big money is.

    So I drive 20 miles to the Original Whistle Stop* in Pasadena, where they stock tons of detail parts, kits, AND bulk rail.

    I suspect the real reason Atlas used the wider code 83 is so they would not have to retool their tie strips. IMHO there is so little visual difference between their code 100 and code 83, it was hardly worth the effort. But I'll admit that the difference shows up in their flex track prices being so much better than anyone else's.


  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    That I don't understand. Why are the other brands not competative? I guess they can charge more for their flextrack, because people will pay more to get the higher quality turnouts by peco, shinohara or others. Prices have driven me to alternatives...
  10. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Price is the difference...

    For On30, hand laying the track is way cheaper than RTR. There are only two RTR options for On30.

    Peco or Micro Engineering.

    And the selection of specialty items is very restricted.

    I hand-laid over 30 feet of track and 4 turnouts for less than the price of two On30 Peco turnouts! With materials to spare...

    Otherwise, it is a matter of using regular HO track and hiding the ties is ballast....

    Or replacing the ties on the HO turnouts the way Lighthorseman does....
  11. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    At lunchtime I took a look at MRPO's ad in the January issue of RMC. Here are prices for comparison:
    Atlas code 83 2.75, 10 pc min.
    Atlas code 100 2.30, 10 pc min
    Railcraft code 83 3.80, 6 pc min
    Walthers (Shinohara?) 5.95, 10 pc min.

    Railcraft code 83 rail, 99' 35.25 (.356/' , or 2.13 per 3' of track)

    Based on the above, buying flex track to salvage rail to handlay is more expensive than buying bulk rail. You may get the Atlas track cheaper somewhere else, but I don't think you will get the code 83 for less than the 2.13 for the bulk rail. And as I stated earlier, the Atlas code 83 rail doesn't succeed in giving the appearance of smaller rail than code 100.

    As for why other brands are so much more expensive than Atlas, I don't know. For sure the Atlas track is a joy to work with, and the others , well they're not. In fact calling them flex track isn't quite correct in my view. "kinks easily and never completely straightens out again" would be a good if not overly long name for it. But they sure do look a hell of a lot better. Why anyone would buy the Walthers instead of the Railcraft I don't know either. Both brands seem about equal to me. Go figure.
  12. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    I have come to the conclusion that unless one is independently wealthy AND doesn’t care where their money goes, hand-laid track and turnouts, AND home-made turnout actuation is the only way to go. When you add up a $15 turnout, plus a $15 switch machine for every place you might want to move a train from one track to another, this starts getting pretty expensive.

    I’ve decided that one of the very fortunate things about modeling the 1880's is that my track should not have tie plates, and my turnouts should be stubs. That means my hand laid track will be more accurate, and my turnouts will be easier and faster to build. (Okay, a little more difficult to control perhaps, but much easier to build.)

    Back to costs: A month or two ago, Model Railroader featured an extremely simplistic 4x8 layout, and bragged that it could be built for no more than $500..... If that doesn’t discourage some of the new modelers that they want to recruit, I’d be surprised.

  13. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I agree, Bill. No way am I going to plop down $1000 for track for a medium sized layout. It's a hobby, not an obsession. OK, OK, it's an obsession, but I'm still not spending that much on track. My other fascination with hand layed turn outs is it breaks me free from someone elses idea of how my track should be layed by allowing me to custom make any kind of track I can dream up. As far as I know, there is no dual gauge HO/HOn30 track out there, and I have a nice article on a dual gauge turnout that seperates the NG from standard with no moving parts. What more could a gal ask for?
  14. twilight

    twilight Member

    I just wanted to let you guys know, I purchased my rail today from MRPO(thanks for the tip Gary) and should be getting in the mail next week!:D Hopefully Monday! I'm going to try to follow the directions in the"Trackwork and Lineside Details" by MR for laying it. ;) I'll be sure to let you all know how I made out!

  15. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    At the LHS tday, rumaging through the Cal Scale junk, and looked up on the layout, 6" from my nose, a package of code 83 rail, wethered. An omen? Perhaps. Now I'm curiouse. If one were to handlay all their track, and get pretty good at it speed wise, how long do you think it might take to lay, say 3 ft.? Just the ties and rail, assuming the roadbed is down and ready to go?

    Also, I noticed that rail was weathered on all sides, does one sand off the top? Or is the weathering conductive? Or????
  16. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Well, lets see how close I can come typing while I think. Bear with me. First, gluing down ties. Assuming you use purchased ties rather than make your own, figure 10 to 15 minutes to place them in a jig ( I place them in a home made jig to get tie spacing I desire easily), tape them into strips and get them glued down. Do something else while the glue dries. Paint them, 1 minute. Do something else while the paint dries. Ballast. 3', lets see, 5-10 minutes? Spike rail, 5 minutes. I think this is probably overstated, maybe about 20 minutes over a couple sessions.
  17. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Forgot to answer your other question, you do not have to clean the rail top. You should, however, clean any spot where you wish to solder.
  18. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I'll bet most folks spend that much or more time with flextrack or sectional. But with flextrack, do you have to think and type :D :D :D Thanks for the answer Gary. The more I hear about hand laying the track from people who actually have done it, the more attractive it seems. What kind of roadbed and subroadbed do you use?
  19. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Jon, I'm stuck in my ways and still use plywood for subroadbed. But that doesn't matter, foam will be fine. What is more important is the roadbed. Forget about laying directly on the foam, it won't hold spikes at all. Cork isn't great either. You'd basically be depending on the tie to hold the spikes. My preferred material is homasote, for the past couple years I've been using Homabed, it is easier to get home than 4x8 sheets of homasote, you don't make a mess cutting it and it is applied just like cork. Or, if you're a wood working kind of guy, you could use pine. I've heard people use luan, I tried it, had to drill most holes for the spikes after bending a lot of them. Not fun.

    Back 25 years ago or so when I wanted to try handlaying, I decided to build a diorama, it consisted of a BK turnout kit and a couple feet of mainline with a siding which I put a Campbell freight house on. It gave me something to take photos of equipment on outside, and gave me the confidence to go ahead and plan my layouts without regard to available commercial turnout sizes. Actually, I hadn't thought of it in the many posts I've made here over the years, but anyone interested in handlaying turnouts for the first time may be well advised to buy a BK kit to get started. You get the frog and points filed already, they used to come with three metal strips soldered across the top to keep them in approximate gauge. It's handy to be able to see how its done on the kit prior to scratch building your own.

  20. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Maybe I'll put down the "kinks easily and never completely straightens out again"-track once and for all!:D :D :D

    Thanks for the tips Gary. Great idea on the BK kit!

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