track and controller recommendations

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Woodyncarlyle, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. Woodyncarlyle

    Woodyncarlyle New Member

    My first thread was not very specific (I will learn) I have learned that flexible track is the way to go. So which track is the best? Should I use cork underlay? Can anyone reccommend what type of controller I should consider. In our plan we will eventually have three or more locomotives running.

    Thank you for your advice
  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    Flex track is pretty much all the same, although some costs more (Peco) than others (Atlas). I use all Atlas flex track but Peco turnouts, so I get the best of both worlds.

    I gthink the Digitrax Zephyr is probably the best entry level system for Direct Command Control (DCC)-which is the simplest way to control one or more locos without the hassle of extensive block wiring. The entry price might seem a little steep ($150 +/-), but it's upgradable & compatible with most other Digitrax equipment.

    Goos luck with your new layout and don't hesitate to ask for advice. Also an update or two on your progress is always welcome.
  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Sorry for the typos...(gthink=think. Goos =Good).
  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    N flex track: Micro Engineering code 40 is probably the best looking but probably the most difficult to lay. Code refers to the height of rail in thousandths. Code 40 rail is the most correct to scale for N, but kinks the easiest. Older equipment with large flanges on the wheels (pizza cutters) will not run on code 40 rail or on any code 55 except Peco.

    Peco code 55 has an extended portion of the rail embedded in the ties so the full height of the rail is available for flanges. Makes it more difficult to mate with other brands of track, though.

    Atlas code 80 track is considered bulletproof by N standards, and is more reasonably priced. Difference in price in track may not be significant on a small layout though.

    For separately controlling 3 locomotives simultaneously, unless you really enjoy wiring and control panels, DCC is the logical way to go. Are you normally going to have 3 operators? Controlling more than 1 locomotive at a time that is doing anything more than running around a loop requires way too much concentration and focus for me. The reason I say this is that running 2 locomotives with 2 operators is pretty feasible without the extra expense of DCC, but 3 operators/3 trains definitely tilts the table towards DCC. Also, with 3 operators, you will probably want at least one wireless throttle.

    my thoughts, your choices
  5. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

    Hi -
    it might not have been made clear that you can mix and match set-track and flexitrack. For example, Atlas (US prototype track) has both flexi-track and matching set-track in both Code 80 (taller rail profile) and Code 55 (closer to prototype). Peco has the same in UK-type track (UK in terms of sleeper placement and the look of the turnouts). The good thing about this is that one can use the set pieces in yard areas (so you don't have to cut and solder lots of flexitrack) leaving the flexitrack for long sweeping curves or straights. Atlas Code 55 set-track in N Scale has lots of different pieces of different lengths, curve diameters, turnouts, crossings etc etc. With set-track you don't have to solder if you're not comfortable with doing that (though connections are usually stronger if you do). It also allows you to re-arrange a first attempt at a track-plan if you're not happy with it. If you've cut flexitrack to a plan, they may not fit in a revised version.
    I'd recommend starting with a set-track that also has flexitrack linked to it (e.g. Atlas or Peco). Bachmann EZTrack and Kato's Unitrack both suffer from the lack of expandability with flexitrack (I <think> Kato doesn't have flexitrack, but you could check that on their website).
    I'd advise doing some price comparisons on the better N Scale sites (often much cheaper than list price). I'd recommend and all of which I have found very helpful.
    As for locos, I've found Kato, Atlas, Intermountain all very good. I'm sure that current Microtrains. Lifelike and Bachmann Spectrum are also okay.
    Look out for couplings. Older items, and some manufacturers (e.g. Lifelike, Modelpower) use the non-prototype rapido couplers; most other current makers use the prototypical knuckle-coupler - look much better! The two types don't mix, so if you get rapidos you'll have to buy replacements if you want them to run with knuckle couplers (easy to get from various makers: Atlas, Microtrains).
    Also - as has been mentioned - if you use Atlas Code 55 track, or Microengineering Code 55 or 40, you'll have trouble with cars/locos with wide flanges. Most makers these days fit, or supply narrow flanged wheels. You can get these easily and switch wheels or trucks without too much trouble.
    Good luck with the project!
  6. Boilerman

    Boilerman Member

    From a cost stand point you can not beat Atlas track for quality, I used Atlas code 55 on my layout but there are considerations with their code 55.
    One must use equipment with low profile wheel flanges but I think that it s the most realistic looking for the money.
    Going DCC on any size layout is a plus as it is easy to hook up and allows one to operate more than one loco on the same track independently of the other without a lot of complicated wiring and switches However the locos must be Decoder equipped and that adds a little to the loco cost.

Share This Page