Track Gaps

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Herc Driver, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I've sanded down all my track gaps between the rails at the track connections to make the wagons run as smoothly as possible...but in some areas there are gaps of 1/16" or so between the rails. What is used to make the gap smaller? Is there a glue? Bonding agent? Espically around the turns and near the turnouts, these gaps are troublesome. Since I used Bachmann E-Z track, I had little ability to move the rails to "even out" the north or south track gaps. So, what's the best method to get rid of the gaps?

    Thanks again guys.
  2. XavierJ123

    XavierJ123 Member

    Gaps bug me too but I have found that they really are not a problem---so far. The problem that I have found with Bachmann EZ track is the improper fit of the rail joiners. If you're having a problem with your train running off the track you might have a rail joiner that is installed wrong. Run your finger over a suspected trouble area to see if it is smooth. If you feel a catch or a bump, take a closer look. Get a bright flashlight like I do and inspect it closely. And then there's that problem boxcar that wants to jump off the track all the time; but that's another story.
  3. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    a dab of 5 min. epoxy then filed to shape will fill gaps.
  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I found the same problem with Bachmann EZ track too. Additionally, I found the turnouts all needed filing down. I closely watched (with a magnifying glass) several engines/cars go over the turnouts and discovered that all the track needed a small amount of filing on the track edges to remove the burrs and extra thickness from the frogs (the track that moves to switch the train - if I used the correct term). I also had to file the metal burrs from all the track ends all over the layout. Running my hand over them clearly pointed out the rough spots...but I found it better to run my most troublesome engine and car both directions (east and west running) over the entire layout to find all the possible problem spots.

    I noticed that the "fixed" portion of the turnouts that re-rail and direct the cars seem to be slightly higher than the rest of the track causing some uncoupling (mostly with the Kato/MicroTrain knuckle couplers). Ironically, the cheaper the engine/car - the better they run over the Bachmann track. IMHO, the Bachmann turnouts don't stay in position strong enough during the switching. Several engines/cars push the frogs around while approaching the turnout and derail. I suppose that means the switch is not continuously powered but instead moves the frog and depowers. (Of course maybe all switches work this way...I'm still learing about all of this.)
  5. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Herc, The rails that move are the points
  6. dwight77

    dwight77 Member

    At our club, we take a piece of .010 (very thin) styrene, cut it into narrow strips and then slip a piece between the gapped rails. Snip it of with a pair of wire snips and then put a drop of crazy glue on it. After it dries, trim it with an exacto knife and file if necessary. Paint the track and you will never see the gap.
  7. dwight77

    dwight77 Member

    Just a correction to the my earlier isnt crazy glue we use, it is super glue that we use to hold the styrene in place in the track gap.
  8. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member

    Yeah, I have had a problem or two with E-Z Track turnouts, but the only problem with "rail gaps" have been misalignment problems like Xavier referred to. All in all, I have had excellent luck with E-Z track... and I think their cross-overs are fantastic.

    Bob :thumb:
  9. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    There are few gaps that I'd actually like to "fix". But where they are located (outside rail of a turn for example) are the most troublesome to some of my more expensive cars. The $2.00 car with big silver wheels run over anything with no problems...the MicroTrains cars derail at a few places almost like clockwork. Now, I understand I'm over simplifying the problem...I have not checked each car out to make sure the trucks are moving as they should, the wheels are correctly aligned, the coupler heights are all the same...and I'm sure there's about 10 other ideas I'm not experienced enough to know about yet. So I shouldn't blame the track entirely. Overall, the track went together really well and solidily. I just wanted to make a continuous rail all around with no gaps to remove one variable to possible derailments.
  10. ausien

    ausien Active Member

    Here in ausie land, we lay our track with gaps on perpose as the weather(heat) makes the track expand, and the cold makes the track constrick, if we didnt leave in the gaps our tracks would warp and buckle, and the gaps give off that clickity click you here on the prototype as the trains run over them....

    Hope this helps a bit....have a good one steve
  11. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    You bring up a good point from "down under"...the natural expansion/contraction is a consideration. Although the temp/relative humidity in my home stays rather stable throughout the year, I'd hate to introduce a problem or "over-engineer" the solution.

    My only concern in removing the gaps between the rails was to minimize the derailments in certain sections of my layout. My main problem areas are on the outside rails (north rail if that is the correct term?) of my turns in a few locations. The gaps are large enough to allow wheels to skip the track and roll "through" the gap instead of following the rail around the turn. I thought by adding material to that area, I could reduce the gap and cause the wheel to follow the rail as it should.

    So far I've appreciated the ideas several of you have posted about reducing the gaps...and will try them soon. Thanks.:thumb:
  12. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    if you have large gaps you might consider using small pieces of rail in the joiners for filler.
  13. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    That's a good idea too. The gaps are small...measuring 1/16th inch (still trying to find a metric ruler in my desk to get a more accurate measurement...please stand by) but that little amount makes all the difference in the world to some cars. The engines all plow through without noticing it...only some of the cars seem bothered. The perfect solution might be a liquid one - using some type of glue...but I'm not sure if that will act as an insulator. If there's a glue out there that conducts electricity, let me know of it. I figured I could shape the glue to match the rails assuming I can place a bead of glue and keep it in place while it dries. Anyone who has already blazed this trail...let me know what you did that worked.
  14. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    you dont have to worry about conductivity as long as your rail joiners are tight the small gap of glue is short . and i have used a thick 5 min epoxy made by devcon but there are several brands out there.
  15. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    1/16" of an inch??? That works out to about 5 3/8" for the real thing. Railroads would shudder at having 5+" gaps in their track!! Do fill them up. wherever they are found (north, south, get the idea). A thick epoxy drop should do the trick. Let it harden (cure) for at least 16-24 hours before attempting to file it to shape, otherwise it's still "rubbery" and will pull out of the gap. Gaps that size will nick your wheels to the point of rendering them useless in short order. Nicks are also a great place for grime to get a foothold and cover your wheel, causing derailments. Good luck!!

  16. Scott Chapin

    Scott Chapin New Member

    It's called solder. Don't know if you can file solder down, but you might be able to fill the joint with solder.
  17. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thank you guys...I really appreciate it. I'm going to get on this gap issue, get the solder gun out and see if that will help (on a few extra scrap pieces of track first of course). If I can get a good result - then on to my layout.
  18. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    If you put a small piece of tinned wire vertically in the gap before you solder it, it will help fill the gap and can be filed smooth afterwards.
  19. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Just be sure you use the right kind of solder. Rosin core, don't use plumber's solder whatever you do. Oh yeah, it wouldn't hurt to lightly sand the rail sides first, and if you can get some flux, coat each piece of rail with it before you solder the joint. Doing both will insure that you get a good connection. The solder is softer than the rail and can be filed eaily.
  20. Scott Chapin

    Scott Chapin New Member

    Don't forget to use acid free flux. That's highly desirable, if not imperative. Otherwise the joints might eventually corrode.

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