Techniques for laying perfectly straight Flex-Track…

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by josh0351, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. josh0351

    josh0351 New Member

    I’m working on an N-scale shelf switcher, built from a number of old turnouts that I salvaged from a previous layout. My motif’ for this switcher is a classification yard, built on an 8’ by 12” piece of finished pine. (*I will have to post some pictures.) I have one main line, and several branch classification spurs.

    Just last night I measured, marked and began laying my foam roadbed. I then laid the first length of flex-track straight on the main line, however aside of my best effort to line up the flex-track and get as straight a run as possible, from a distance and upon a closer look it doesn’t appear to be completely (100%) straight. I am spiking the flex track using all perforated tie holes at the standard increment FYI.

    My question is, is there any way to get completely straight runs with flex-track and if so, what are the techniques? (*I assume measuring and marking the roadbed as I have done, as well as making the painful and slightest adjustments to each length of flex-track as it is laid.) Or, is a perfectly straight run unrealistic? Since this is a very long layout with no curves with the exception of the turnouts, I want as straight and realistic lines as (humanly) possible.


  2. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    I'd employ a large straight edge, like a board or something, to push the track up to the edge of, if you're looking for "perfect straightness".

    But honestly, if you just string a line on two nails and 'get close' it should look pretty good.
  3. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    I use a combination of 2 things. First, I use silican caulk to "glue" the track in place. Use a straight edge to butt the track against. Pins in the track holes is great, but sometimes the track wants to wander. The caulk holds it straight, and sets up in an hour or so. A putty knife or equivalent will pop it loose if needs be.

  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I try to space out the nails as far as possible. Before laying the track, make it straight -- put it up on one edge on a flat table and gentle bash out any little bends in it. Then spike the ends down and het a yardstick or similar along either the sides of the ties or the rail and keep it there as you add a few spikes in the middle. Look along the track as you lay it; your eye picks up the bends at this point. Then gently push the nails over to where they should be. Don't force the nails down as far as they'll go.
    I have a set of metal gauges that fit inside the rails and force it straight.
  5. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    I feel your pain. hamr I have made up a test track with HO & N scale and I nailed down the HO with a straight edge and it looked almost flawless. Then I nailed the N the same way and it looks straightish The only way I've found to get N scale track to come out completely straight is contact cement and a roller to press it down. Just be careful with the non-water based cement because once its down its realll hard to get back up. I tried the water based stuff and it works pretty good but its kinda rubbery for a while so you'll have to put a bunch of books or some sort of weight on the track. Hope this helps
  6. josh0351

    josh0351 New Member

    Yea, I laid some more lengths last night and think I have this figured out. Even when I get the track TOTALLY aligned and straight, when actually nailing down the track the spikes have a tendency to slightly offset the alignment of the track run. (*I suppose if were gluing down the track I would not have this issue, but since I am opting for spikes, I’ve had to adapt.)

    What I did last night was initially line everything up and drive a few stakes just into the roadbed at each end of the run of track. I then took a few steps back and spied the track for proper alignment. Next, I'd drive each stake in and just before fully-seated, using a punch tap the steak just slightly in the direction that would ensure near-perfect alignment.

    After perfecting this on a few runs, it does get the track pretty darn close to perfectly aligned, aside of the time taken on each stake.

    Thanks for the feedback and hope this helps anyone with the same predicament…
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    GLue your track down with adhesive caulking. You can use as many map pins as you want to hold in place. When it is dry, pull all the pins. It stays straight because the force of keeping it in line is applied at every point, rather than just at the nail holes.

  8. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I use an four foot, aluminum straight edge. The type that you can buy at the hardware store. Index the Straight edge to the center line of your cork roadbed and apply adhesive to one half of the roadbed, press the roadbed down onto the table surface then pick it up again and allow the adhesive to air dry for a couple of minutes. Reinstall the roadbed and align it with the straight edge. The roadbed wil adhere to the table but the adhesive is still tacky enough to be moved around. (Assuming that you didn't wait too long) Use pins to temporarily hold the one half of the road bed in alignment and weight the road bed down until the adhesive drys. Butt the other half of the roadbed up to the first half and glue it down. You should have a straight piece of road bed . Add track using the roadbed centerline as your index. Depending on the type of track, there are holes in the center of the ties that can be used for nails or temporary pins to keep the track in alignment.
    As an afterthought, us logging types don't like rails that are too straight. Gotta have a few kinks and dips to make things interesting.

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