some quick questions on track

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Woodyncarlyle, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. Woodyncarlyle

    Woodyncarlyle New Member

    Hi everyone tonight my girls and I scetched out our railroad on paper. We are going to be 36 by 40 inches to start our layout. We measured and figure we will need approx 200 inches of track, we decided to go with atlas code 80 track ( thankyou to all who provided us with some input on this). My question should we use nickel or insulated conectors, or should we soilder them. Our other question is can we use flex track for all our track needs other than switches? One last request, does anyone know of a supplier that builds dam supplies? More specifically the gates for a water dam.

    Thank you all.
  2. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    I can provide some input on part of that:

    Yes. Flex track is ideal in most applications. You don't have to worry about joining so many connections, and you can bend curves in just about any shape you want. However, it does have its drawbacks.

    If you were to grab each end of a section of flex track and bend it in an arc, the rails slide along the ties. You will have to perfectly match this joint with the next section of track on your layout by using a saw and cutting the rails. There must be a gap, about the thickness of a piece of paper, between the sections to allow for expansion/contraction.
  3. Nazgul

    Nazgul Active Member

  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Glad to hear of the progress.

    As stated by 2-8-2 and you surmised, you can use just flex track and turnouts.

    You only need insulated connectors where there is a need to stop electrical continuity of the rails. How many and where these should be located depends on your control scheme. If you are using DCC or just one train and power pack in DC, you don't need any insulated joiners. If you are runnig two trains, or need to "park" a locomotive in DC, you can use insulated joiners to create electrically isolated blocks of track controlled by toggle switches. Many folks have given up on insulated rail joiners - it's hard to get smooth trackwork with them - and just make saw cuts in the rail where the isolation is needed. The saw cuts are filled with a piece of plastic glued in place to maintain the insulation. The plastic is filed to the shape of the rail after the glue has dried. I recommend one of the easier wiring books to get an idea of where to place these "gaps".

    Most folks use the metal rail joiners, and solder the track joints on curves when using Atlas flex track. This is because the natural spring of the Atlas track will create kinks at the rail joints on curves if not soldered. Soldering is not necessary at joints on straight track; leaving an almost imperceptible gap between rails at the straight track joints provides for expansion and contraction. And soldering of joints at turnouts is generally undesirable because of the difficulty in removing the turnout at a later date. However, I have found soldering a joint at a turnout is sometimes necessary to prevent kinks in the track (kinks will cause derailments sooner or later). When laying track, put your eyeball at rail height and sight across the rail joints. You will be able to see any kinks very easily, and adjust before gluing the track down.

    Most would caution against the use of any real water on a model railroad for the following reasons (there may be others too):

    - water has to be treated and cleaned to prevent growth of mold and organisms
    - presence of water raises humidity levels close by and could cause expansion and/or warping of wood
    - any paper-based products do not do well with long term exposure to water.
    - real water seldom looks realistic in a model setting. It's too clear, and the dynamics are not to scale.
    - water has to replaced due to evaporation. Dust has to be removed from it.

    my thoughts, your choices
  5. BNSFtheLeader

    BNSFtheLeader Member

    I'd suggest buying a Dremel tool to cut the Flex track (and the fact that it'll come in handy for many other uses) But that's a luxery at best.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Woody: If you have switches with all rail frogs you will need an insulated rail joiner to prevent shorts. If you have the plastic frogs you shouldn't need one.
    If you want a nice long read covering a lot of basic topics - including water for scenery, look for nazgul's thread where he started out a beginner about a year ago.
  7. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    I try to not solder more then 9 foot lengths myself. But I also put feeder lines on every curve and straight, siding and turnout. But Hey I am weird LOL. Ask Nazgul
    For insulators I use wood glued to the ends. That is a a bit ,ore picky then most people starting out want to get.

    For beginners, I recommend flex traxk, regular rail joiners for now and lots of fun.
    If you plan to go more permanent though. I would solder my joints for up to 9 feet [that is three flextrack pieces].

    Hope that helps.

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