Track laying problem

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by CAS, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. CAS

    CAS Member

    Ok, i am stumped on this one.

    The other day i went to my LHS to buy some 16 radius, 55 code atlas curved track. I got to talking to the salesman at store. He was very helpful with all my questions. Then he had asked me why i was about to purchase all those packages of 16 radius track. I told him about to lay my track on my 1.5 in foam board. Then he told me, that alot of people are using flex track, instead of buying all the curves.

    He then explained about bending the track to the desired radius, removing the ties and snipping the track. He then mentioned that i would have to solder the ties, clean the track from rough edges after i snipped the track. So i figured i had some spare HO track at home, and i could practice snipping and soldering the track. Then something came to mind after i had left the store.

    He explain how to curve the track, snip the track, clean the spurs off the track, and how to solder. Now, here is where i am confused. When i look at plans in different plan books, it seems like they either lay the track down on their base board, ( being foam or wood). I am going with a 1.5'' pink foam. They either spray paint the track, leaving the outline of the track. Or using a marker and marking the center of the track. After that is done, they put the cork roadbed down over the painted outline or marked center line.

    If i was to use the flex track instead of the 16 radius curve track, i do not know how to lay my track down, hold the curved flex track down to the radius i need. Do i lay all my straight track and turnouts first. Then mark or paint the center, then lay my roadbed down, then figure the radius for my flex. Or should i go back tomy LHS and buy the curve track i need, and go that route?

    I hope someone can understand my problem after my long story. Please if you can help, don't hestitate to add your comments and suggestions.

  2. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    You can use those thumbtacks with the plastic tops to hold it down. Push them into the holes that are located in the ties. Another good thing to hold the flex track in place, is putting some tacks on the inside of the curve, and outside the curve. You can also pick up some "T" pins at your LHS(But probably cheaper at a sewing store or hardware).
    I mark the Right of Way, with a black magic marker, tracing around the ties.This will help when placing the cork road bed down.
    Hint for soldering:(Experience is the best teacher) solder the flex track on the straights, leave some space between the un-soldered track to allow for expansion.
    Hope this helps.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Do you have any of the 16" radius track yet? You could use that to mark out track position.
    I don't know anyone who sprays the track. I've marked outside the ties with a pen/pencil/marker. I think a lot of us use a homemade compass to mark the track. A yardstick (or part of one) with a few holes in it. At one end for nail or pin (center) and three holes at the other for centerline and the outside lines of the roadbed. (Could make do with just the centerline, sometimes)
  4. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    You can get track templates, I don't know how much they'll be in the States but their not that expensive in the UK. You use them to mark the track position and to get the right radius, then lay the flexi track. It is a whole lot cheaper than buying sectional track.

    Peco make a product called 'Tracksetta' I have found one website in the US that does them
    There's probably loads more, it's just a case of finding them.
  5. who_dat73

    who_dat73 Member

    Personally I find it best if I happen to have enuf sectional track to lay the sections out and pin down the center holes and mark around the ties when I pull it up to lay the road bed I mark along the pin holes to mark my center lines to line up my road bed I do alot of ebay getting lots of old sectional cheap just for that purpose and when I lay the track I use flex as this makes alot less joints and if you have a dremel or other rotary tool it makes the cutting of the flex much easer and less of a hassel since it cuts it off without the burrs but everyone has differant ways that work for them.
  6. CAS

    CAS Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    yes, i do have a couple of packages of the 16" radius curve track. I was thinking using some of them to mark my centerlines, then lay my roadbed, then subsitute my flex for the 16 " radius curved track when i'm ready to lay the roadboard and track.

    When would i start to solder my flex together? Is it the time i mark my foam for where the track and roadbed are going? Or after evrything is marked?

    I had gotten the track templates, but the are not the same for the 55 code atlas n scale track. II couldn't find any for 55 code either.

    Thanks again,
  7. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    If you solder your lengths of track together, you are heading for big trouble. When the layout gets warm your track will expand and lift. Just use regular rail joiners to allow for expansion & contraction.
  8. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Most folks using flex track solder the joints on curves. The expansion and contraction of the metal rail due totemperature change is almost negligible - your wooden benchwork expands and contracts due to moisture content changes far more than the rail due to temperature.

    Since you are using foam, you have a very stable base and should have no need for expansion gaps. Nevertheless, recommended practice is to solder track joints on curves and don't solder on straights - provides enough for expansion and avoids kinks on curves.

    To solder your flex track clean the rail and rail joiner with emery cloth or very fine sandpaper. Put a touch of rosin flux in the rail joiner and join the 2 pieces of flex track (both pieces are still straight at this point). Put your soldering iron (I find 40 watt is good) on the rail joiner side and after a second or two touch your rosin core solder to the rail joint. Remove solder and iron, and you now have a double-length piece of flex track to go around your curve. With practice, you'll become great at soldering the joints. You can add feed wires at the same time.

    yours in solid track
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The templates should give you the curves (various radii - 16", etc). A 16" radius is a 16" radius, no matter what the track Code (i.e. rail height) is.

  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Radius is measured to the centerline of the track.
    Lay out the centerline of the curve, and glue the cork, a half at a time, with the vertical edge on the centerline.
    Glue the second half of the cork against the first half.
    Spike the flex track to the cork, with the track nails on the joint between the two halves of the cork. Run trains to be sure that the track works, and there's no problems. Then, Ballast the track in place.

    You will notice that when you bend flex track, in one direction you will have "ties left over", in the other direction, "rail left over". The "rail left over" is the correct way to bend. Use a rail nipper to trim the ends even.

    As you lay down the curve, you will reach a point where there's just a little flex track left to spike down. At this point, even the track ends, and attach the next section of flex track with rail joiners. Solder the rail joiners at this time, and continue laying the curve. This will insure there is no kink in the rail joint.
  11. sputnik

    sputnik Member

    Whether you solder everything, or just the curves, you do it as you are laying the track. I didn't see it mentioned yet, but normally, when you lay out the trackplan on your foam (or whatever surface), you start by locating the turnouts. The same goes for when you actually lay the track.

    For curved sections, you generally want the side of the track where all of the ties are connected (you can tell which side is which by looking at the bottom, one side has all of the ties connected, the other has a gap under the rail every two rails or so) to be on the inside. Sometimes you can't avoid this, and that's okay. It's not a big deal, especially since where you have generous curves like 16" radius.

    For the curved track, connect it to the already installed track with rail joiners, and solder those connections BEFORE you bend the track. Once that is done, gently bend your curve around. If you find that you will have a connection in the middle of a curve, then lay the track up to where you have some four inches of track left. Leave the remaining four inches straight for now, cut the excess rail from the inside rail, and cut the excess ties off. At this point, connect the next piece of flex-track with rail joiners, and solder the connections. When that cools, then bend the two pieces of track to the appropriate radius.

    And I haven't seen it mentioned yet either, but using flextrack instead of ready made curves also allows you the ability to transition your curve. Instead of having a 16" radius curve start right off of a straight piece, you can gradually transition from straight to the 16" radius. There are calculations in this or that publication/web page that you can use, and some of us do it by eye (I can explain that in length if desired). A transition will make it easier on couplers and trucks to make a smoother transition into the curve (especially in tighter curves), and a train will look better entering the curve, and the curve will even visually appear broader than it is.

    And you also might want to consider super-elevating the longer curves. This means tilting the track towards the inside slightly. Again, it helps to smooth the trains run through the curve, as on the prototype. The trick is to be very subtle. I've seen some people go too far, and made it look like a NASCAR race track. It only takes a little, and the way you do it is by shimming the outside ties with .010 or .020 styrene strips. Personally, I prefer .010" thick. Of course, this is completely optional.


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