Track recommendations

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Edgar, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. Edgar

    Edgar New Member

    Folks, I've been in the hobby since last August and I'm already feeling confident to move to a different level. My first HO set was from Bachmann with the E-Z track system (steel with black roadbed.) I now feel like changing my track altogether and I'm thinking of switching to Bachmann's HO nickel silver rail with gray roadbed or Atlas' HO Code 83 (Brown Ties/Nickel Silver Rail.) Is there anybody out there who could give me some feedback and/or their personal experience with these two track systems? I'm all ears (and happy new year, by the way!):wave:
  2. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    Atlas Flextrack is pretty much the industry standard, whether you go with Code 100 or Code 83. Flexible track is more effort to lay, but it opens the door to all sorts of possibilities, and is ultimately cheaper. I would avoid sectional track altogether, apart from switches and crossovers.

    You could also lay your own track. There's no cost savings as far as straight rins go, but you can save a lot of money if you can build your own switches.

    Scott Fraser
    Calgary, Alberta
  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    For best electrical flow through the rails and smoother operation of your trains it would be best to use flex track instead of sectional track.The reason being with flex track you have less track joints and thus less potential trouble spots for electric current interruption and derailments.
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would also suggest flex track. The flex allows much more freedom to make curves of varrious radii. More importantly, rail joiners should only be used for a mechanical connection to keep rails in alignment, electrical connections should always be soldered. You could solder drops to rail joiners and then solder the rail joiners to the track, but the pounding of trains through the joints especially on curves may crack the solder and creat electrical problems. I would suggest using buss wires of fairly heavy gauge wire under the layout. I like to use #12 Romex for the buss wires. It is heavier than needed, but it is cheap, may be free if you know an electrician who could pass on a few scraps; and it is easy to color code your positive and negative wires under the layout to avoid shorts. I solder a drop to every rail before I put the track down. If you accidently melt a tie or two, don't worry about it. I stain some wood ties to match the plastic ties in color, and cut out any melted ties. Then when I put the track down, I slide the wooden ties into gaps left by the removed melted plastic ties. After you add ballast to the track, the difference in the ties disappears. For your drops, you can use very fine wire, 22 gauge or even smaller, just make the drops short, no more than 6 inches long or so. Solder to the outside or bottom of the rail. If you solder to the outside of the rail, bend the drop wire tight underneath the rail and drop it through a small hole drilled in the road bed between the rails. Again when you add ballast, the drop wire will disappear. Solder a drop to every piece of rail, You may want to hold off on sodering drops to turnouts until after you have had practice on the flex track. On turnouts, you need to make sure that your drops don't interfere with turnout operation.
  5. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    You could actually use both types of flex track.
    The code 83, has a more protypical tie spacing, and looks pretty cool weathered and ballasted. You could use the code 100 in staging yards and hidden areas of your layout.
    There is also another flex track that has the modern concrete ties that are used on todays high speed commuter lines. I think Micro Engineering makes that.
    Also, Atlas does make connectors with the drops already soldered to them. I've used these quite extensively and they are a time saver, or...If your soldering skills leave little to be desired, like mine.
  6. witeagle

    witeagle New Member

    Track and bus wire

    I like the idea of using a BUS system to wire the rails.

    So when you put the track in, you put in drop at each rail connection and tie it all to the same romax cable running under the table? Is there any reason why you couldn't go to every other connection since a single connector will touch two tracks?

    Should the track also be soildered together at each connection or would this cause additional problems?
  7. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Might of been over kill, but I placed mine every two sections of flex track. I left these un-soldered, and soldered the two sections between the drops. This is good if you have tempature variations(experience is the best teacher) in your train room.
    What I also do, is run two colors of insulation(Red for right rail-Green for left rail), this way I won't get confused hooking up the drops, and causing shorts(Again-Experience is the best teacher).

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