Discussion in 'FAQs' started by plbab, May 16, 2002.

  1. plbab

    plbab Member

    Can you mix track from different manufactures, such Atlas with Walthers or Model power? Are they all about the same as far as quality I have read that some people have had trouble with Atlas switches.
  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Yes you can mix track from different mfgs. As long as it is the same code size ie: code 100, code 70 & etc. Although I don't model in standard HO ( I model in HOn3) the Atlas flex tracks are probably the best buy for the money, reason being that they are very flexible and easy to use. There are other good brands too such as Peco and Model Engineering & Shinahora but they are rather expensive compared to the Atlas. Stay away from any flex track that does not bend very,very easily. As for turnouts (switches) the Atlas turnouts work well but I prefer a more prototypical turnout such as Shinahora, Peco, Model Engineering and etc. although they are much more expensive.
  3. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    I mix and match my track all the time, there is nothing wrong with atlas flex track, I use it in areas that are a good distance away and not easily seen because of buildings and scenery. Atlas track works great, looks good and is reasonablly priced. I hand lay a lot of my track and I use peco code 100 switches (because I like them and have picked up lots at swap meets and very good prices) I also have shinohara code 70 in my logging area. I go from code 100 peco switches to code 83 on the main line then back again to a code 100 switch. Have had no problems and looks fine. I go from a code 100 peco switch to code 70 on an industrial track. If I require an insulated spot at the end of a switch I use code 100 insulated joiners, then a short piece of code 100 rail then solder the track that I require, be it code 83 or 70. I go to swap meets and buy flex track cheap then take the rail off of the plastic ties and use it that way, very economical, cheaper than buying just rail. Am just getting the nerve up again to start building my own switches. I do agree with what Vic says about checking the flexability of the track you are going to buy, if it don't flex very very easily don't buy it. I find that the peco flex track is a little pricey, you have to drill small holes to put spikes through it and it takes a little bit to bend it. Again it depends on how much you have to buy and your budget, Ron.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Mix & Match

    No problem mixing different Brands of track; just check the tie height as well--you may need a shim at the joints.
    Peco make special rail joiners to go from code 100 to code 70. They're a real nuisance to work with--big plastic joiner with a brass strip you put in the bottom.
    I usually do my transitions by putting a joiner on the code 100 and using pliers to flatten the half that sticks out. Then I solder the code 70 on top of the joiner, making sure that the inside edges and top of the rail match up. Usually the code 100 part doesn't get too soldered up and can be taken apart again.
  5. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    For matching code 70 to 100 I do the same thing as 60103 (Dave)does, to match up the 100 and 83 I use a code 100 metal rail joiner, I find the base of the code 83 rail is the same size as the 100, or so darn close, so I just slide it in. I shim it up, just past the rail joiner, until the tops match in height and the inside rail matches, then soder. The soder will hold the rail up. If you try to do the same as with code 70 and flattened part of the rail joiner it will be too high and the code 83 will stick up. If I have to have a insulated spot I use the code 100 plastic unsulators then a short section of code 100, maybe and inch or two, then soder the different size of rail that you require. Soder this piece away from the plastic insulated joiner or if you are not careful you may melt it. Ron.
  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I usually crush the rail joiner and solder as well, however if I happen to want a gap at that point I just shim below the smaller size track with styrene. Line the rails up and spike or glue in place. I don't worry about a mechanical connection and have had no problems. Good thing too, as the place I needed to do this was to join two tracks into one with a curved turnout on a helix. A problem here would be very difficult to work on. The curved turnout I had to use was only available in code 83, while all my hidden trackage is code 100, while the difference would seem to be .017, the ties may be different as well so check. I used a piece of .015 under the turnout, glued in place and then nailed the approach tracks to line up. I didn't have to ballast mine as it is hidden, but ballast will completely hide the styrene shim. When I handlay and want to go from code 83 to 70, I glue styrene shims cut to the size of a tie to the tie tops, using .005 styrene in layers. Three consecutive ties will bring the rail up to required height, using one shim on first tie, 2 on 2nd, and so on. The styrene is painted to match the ties and drilled for spikes so it won't deform when rail is spiked. I typically do not use rail joiners on my handlaid track except on curves. I simply have all rail joints fall betwen ties and spike the rail down at each end tie, they never have become misaligned. I solder a drop to every piece of rail so do not need the joiner for electrical purposes. More than you wanted to know?

  7. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    Gary, thats great information, keep it comming, one can never have enough information. You gave me a few great ideas that I will be trying. Since you hand lay track, do you build your own switches?? have few spots in a small logging extention that I am going to venture a try and build. I have the jigs and tried with code 100 years ago, ran into problems with the throw rails, being code 100 were too stiff, cut them and they were too loose but with code 83 & 70 am going to give it another try. Again thanks for the great info, that is what makes this forum so much better that others, the willingness to share valuable information. Ron.
  8. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    custom turnouts

    farmer ron, you mentioned some jigs- reckon where they came from??
    what about frogs? are they available or would they be mfg'ed from trackage or??
    it appears that the only way to get certain curved turnouts is to build them yourself, looks like a real challenge.
  9. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Ron, Yes I do lay my turnouts. And yes, code 100 is difficult to work with, particularly with the method I use, with no pivot point for the point rails. The rail needs to bend, and one of the important issues is how many ties back from the throwbar can you start spiking. Spike to close to the throwbar and the rail must bend in a shorter distance. Move further away, and keeping the rails in gauge may become a problem. I had read many articles on handlaying turnouts over the years (I rip out articles of interest and keep them in manilla folders by category such as trackwork, scenery, etc) The article I found most understandable and wound up using was by Tony Koester. I have posted this before somewhere, I apologize for repeating here. The article was many years ago, someone had replied to my previous post with info that the article had been reprinted in one of Kalmbacks books. I recommend trying to find this article. If you have no luck with it, I will attempt to post how I go about it. I only handlay code 83 and 70. The smaller size allows this type turnout construction with no problems. One advantage of handlaying is the ability to achieve smoothly flowing yard ladders and crossovers. I have laid ties for curved turnouts to be built on a superelevatd curve. In the next few weeks I will lay the track, I'll let you know how it works out.

  10. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    The jigs that I have were made for me by someone who had a metal milling machine, with using the NMRA standards I have two jigs, one for #6 and one for #4's. You cut and file down all the trackage that you require then make the frogs in the jig. You then file and make the outer rails and throw rails.
    I have several articles that I re read every so often, I'll have to check to see if I already have that one, if not I will try via the magazine index site, I have kept most of all my rr mags (since 1974) so if I can find it in the index, I should be able to locate it, thanks. I am going to start making mine using code 83 & 70. I aquired some photocopies of the ones that the NMRA standards use to put out, I glue them down first, lay the ties on top then the rail, this way it gives me something to work with. Let me know how the curved one turns out as I have to build one, not sure if code 83 or 70, in a logging area. Thanks Ron..
  11. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Ron and Cid, A word about frogs, Cid asked about availability of frogs, they are (or were) available from BK Enterprises. They have complete turnouts ready to lay as well as frogs and switch points available seperately. The first several turnouts I laid were these kits. Then I copied their dimensions to build my own from rail. After a few of those, I realized that there ws no reason to restrict myself to #6 or #4 turnouts. I stopped even thinking about what # frog was in a turnout. Ron, you won't really need those jigs but they could help if you want an exact #6. Since prototype railroads never use a turnout that tight there's no reason other than adhering to a track plan to worry about the actual size you build. Here's what I do, I won't go into great detail but will answer any questions you come up with. I lay out my track centerlines and install homabed roadbed (similar to cork). These centerlines are drawn using a flexible strip of wood to connect tangents, it provides nice easements. For constant radius curves I use templates made by Arbour models a long time ago. For curved turnouts, I mark where the points should be and use the flexible wood to ease into the radius of each diverging route. Smoothly flowing lines are important here. With roadbed in place, I use a tie jig I made (details if asked) and glue down the ties. Now to actual laying: I start with the stock rails. The first length of rail is held in place and marked where the points will be, filed to accomodate the points. The other stock rail is done same way, both are spiked in place. The inside rails of the diverging routes which form the frog are next. File the side of each of these rails so they can be put together and form a point. The angle is not critical. Use three point gauges to hold these rails in gauge with the stock rails. Use an NMRA gauge to determine where the point of the frog will be by checking the gauge from the point of the frog to the stock rails, when both stock rails check at the minimum gauge, that is where the frog will be. Mark the location, file as required for fit (don't worry about perfection here, but round the top of the frog point so it won't catch track cleaners.) At this point you also file the railhead off the inside of the frog rails. construction of the points follows. After that, the frog is filled with solder and flangeways cleared with a piece of hacksaw blade. I have left out info a first timer would need but will answer any questions. Ron, I figure you know the rest.

  12. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    Gary, many thanks for the freat information, I will be printing this off for my records. I unfortunatley have not had much time with my regular job and the farm to get on the gauge nor work on my layout or build switches. Will get bak to you later, maybe through the gauge private mail and this can be discussed further. Many thanks again, talk with you later Ron..
  13. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    Gary, got a wet rainy night so managed to sit down and do some catch up reading on the gauge, you mentioned that you have a jig for doing switches. I have one that I use for just track, mainline and spur. What is yours like for the switches?? Ron.
  14. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Ron, Taint nothing elaborate. It is just a jig to place ties evenly spaced. I use it for regular track as well as turnouts. Made it by gluing strip wood to a 12" length of pine 1x3. First glued a strip length wise near one edge, then glued tie spacers at a right angle to it. These are thinner than the ties, and the width chosen for the desired tie spacing. I just place ties in it and apply 1/4" masking tape, rub it down and remove the tie strip ready to apply to roadbed. For turnout construction I need to figure tie lengths. Remember I said I layout my tracklines using flex track pinned down? Well I use those lines to place the roadbed then use the edge of the roadbed to determine tie length. I have precut switch ties to 9 1/2, 10 1/2, 11 1/2', and so on. A couple of ties beyond the points, where the ties start becoming longer, I place a 9 1/2' tie on the roadbed and see how far from the 81/2' ties it is. I put that many 9 1/2' tie in the jig then check the 10 1/2' ties in the same manner, and so on. If you are building straight #6 turnouts, for instance, you could use a commercially available guide for tie lengths. Since my turnouts are built to flow naturally in a given setting, I just figure the lengths as above. Hope this helps.

  15. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    This thread is so old I had forgotten about it, I had built the curved superelevated turnout I mentioned in it. Everything seemed to run well thru it, then a SD7 derailed. Upon checking, I found the SD7's 3 axle truck was having difficulty negotiating the difference in elevation as the routes diverged beyond the frog. I removed one rail, slightly sanded a couple ties and all was well. This was important to me as in a couple years I will upgrade the four track main of the NYC portion of my layout to use superelevated curves and I want (need) to install crossovers there. It will be an interesting project and now I know it is possible. I do agree with Tyson and Catt and others who state that flex track looks better than handlaid and have reached the point where I only handlay turnouts because I can have them conform to my requirements. The ballasting in the photo is not finished, I do that after scenicking the rest of the area.

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