Flex Track Secrets

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks' started by Herc Driver, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I've been struggling with laying flex track on 1 inch blue foam board for about an hour, contructing a simple dog bone design that covers almost 16 feet on my new shelf layout. (I'm only test fitting to see if I can make the layout I designed on the computer work on the foam...so nothing is being glued/nailed down yet.) It seemed like to even get the track to connect, I had to cut away the first couple of ties since the track connectors wouldn't go under the rail and join with another section. Then after getting a few feet connected, the rail connectors would widen out and come apart - usually when I was trying to get another section joined. Am I doing something really wrong with this flex track? Is there some secret to using it that I just don't know? Should I have pinned it in place to hold everything still while I joined pieces? It was really frusterating trying to get this simple dog bone up and running. I finally succeded, but it wasn't easy. So all you flex track wizards - what's the secret to using this stuff? I really don't want all the joints from using six inch snap track - I've got to make runs of almost 16 feet - so flex track is the way to go...I'm just really bad at using it effectively.
  2. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    When I am laying track on foam, I use straight pins to hold the track in place.

    To get the connectors on, I simply use a hobby knife and slide it between the rail and the ties, cutting off the tips around the rail, cut it back about 2 ties from the end.

    Then slip the connector on to make sure they slide, then take them off again, slip the conectors on the other piece and then slide it into the section already pinned down.

    Pin the new section in place and repeat.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Herc, it sounds like your having trouble laying curves?
    If so, join the tracks when there straight (making sure you have the rails that slide together) then solder them before you make the curve. You might have to cut off an extra tie to let the rail joiner slide, but you can glue them in place later. This also helps avoid kinks in the curves.
    Hope this makes sense.

  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thanks guys for the tips...actually I was just trying to lay straight runs that connect to curves at each end of a dog bone style layout. I have very limited space and thought I'd try to test fit the basic shape of the layout (minus turnouts) and see if the whole idea will work. But I was really having problems with the connectors and track.

    What tool is recommended to cut flex track down to size? I've got several wire cutting pliers, but it seems they crimp the rail when I've tried to cut the track...so I'm guessing there's a particular style of cutting head needed to cut the rail without changing the shape of the rail?
  5. PWRR-2207

    PWRR-2207 Rogue Islander

    Cutter discussion

    There are few options out there but this thread seemed to go for Xuron or Dremel (Rail Cutters thread).

    Having used both Dremel and Xuron to cut rails, if it is pinned down and easy to get the Dremel cutter in a safe angle/position, I use the Dremel but if it is loose (like prepping flex track for placement), I go with the Xuron. Either way I usually take a small diamond file to the ends after the cut to make sure they are smooth and even.

    I have also used a high tooth count hacksaw at times when neither tool could be safely used to cut rail ties.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you are trying to use the Atlas flex track, then you will need to pin in down, since it stays flexible. Other brands of flex can be bend/curved, and they hold the curve. Atlas always tries to return to straight (more or less).

    You will need to cut off ties to join them, but there is a silver lining - you can't melt ties when soldering if they aren't there...! ;) :D

  8. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Good point Andrew! I hope to solder everything together when I get to that point. Right now, I'm just roughing out the overall outline of the perimeter tracks. I pinned the flex track down and created the basic design, now I'm just waiting for the first of the Peco turnouts I ordered to arrive and I'll start drawing out the interior tracks to the layout. I'm hoping to get some of the longer flex track straight-aways laser straight...but that might be attempting the impossible.

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