Tracks with Roadbed or not

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by myhku211, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. myhku211

    myhku211 New Member

    Hi all,

    Would anyony can share some experience on making roadbed? Some manufacturer have tracks with built-in roadbed like EZ, PROFI-TRACK ...
    What's the pros and cons of using built-in roadbed, or making myself?

    Thanks your advice.
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Most people here on The Gauge use flex track with cork. The advantages to the flex track are numerous.
    1. Every electrical connection is a place for a potential bad connection. Typically ho track with built in road bed is 9 inches long. The flex track comes in 3 foot long sections, so you make a lot less connections.
    2. Track with builtin roadbed has a fixed radius of either 18 inches or 22 inches. Flex track gives you the option of making whatever radius fits your space. If you want to run scale length passenger cars or big articulated steam engines, you will need a bigger radius than 22 inches, especially if you try to run double track around a corner.
    3. Flex track and a case of cork roadbed is much cheaper than a like amount of sectional track with builtin roadbed.
    4. Ballast glued down to cork roadbed looks much more realistic that the shiny cast plastic ballast.

    I've listed a few advantages of the flex track off the top of my head, there are probably other advantages that I haven't thought of. Now for the disadvantages of using the sectional track with plastic roadbed.
    1. None of it is interchangeable with another brand of track. Whatever brand you start with, you are committed to. If you are using Bachmann, and see something from Kato that you like, forget it. They won't hook together.
    2. If you need special trackage anywhere, say a nonstandard crossing angle, or a switch that isn't available from your brand of track, you are out of luck.
    3. You are stuck with whatever length of track (usually multiples of 9" in ho) that is standard in your scale from your chosen manufacturer. If you need a siding that is 15 inches long, you are out of luck. You can have 9 inches which may be too short or 18 inches which may be too long to fit.
    4. With the standard lengths and radius, you are more limited to the size of a layout you must build. The track may fit a 4'x8' table, but it may not be able to fill a 5'x10' or be able to be reduced to fit a 3' x 6'.
  3. gjxj

    gjxj New Member

    The one "pro" to the prefab stuff is that its easy to set up. If you are starting out and don't know how serious you are going to get It wouldnt be a bad plan to buy an ez-track starter set. As soon as you find yourself planning a layout with more than one turnout you'll find out all of the above to be true.
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    :wave: welcome to the gauge :wave: as said if this is your first venture into model RR then i would stay with ready track then move up to flex or if you find track work your fancy you could go with building your own track work.
  5. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    As a user of the Bachmann EZ track, I wholeheartedly agree with all of the above posts (both pro and con towards the pre-fab track). I started using the EZ track because I originally had no intention of keeping a layout up and running, only putting it together for the kids once in a while. But our desires changed and the layout has stayed up for over a year now. That being said, I wanted to try as best I could to replicate some of the quality work I saw pictured on this web site on my layout. I've found that when dealing with the track, it is a bit more challanging to get the EZ track to look like "traditional" track. It is slightly harder to ballast and slightly "noisier" than cork roadbed/track. It is more expensive, harder to interchange between brands (you can use an adaptor from LifeLike to attach Bachmann to LifeLike for more track options), and limited in what type of turnouts you can have, which again - limits your track plan. You can still cut and modify the pieces just like regular track. But right now, you don't have all the makers and choices of track and turnouts to create elaborate or more complex layouts. So really, the choice is yours and may I suggest, based on what you'd like the finished layout to operate and look like. If you want to be able to utilize almost any track planning book, software, supplies, and various makers - go with traditional track. If you like the "look" and ease of the "plastic tracks" then make the investment in whatever brand you like and a good trackplanning software package that has your plastic track as an add-on. You can still get the "look" of traditional track (see picture below) but it takes some effort, and you can still create some pretty elaborate and complex layouts with plastic tracks. Good luck deciding which way to go. As for me, I'm glad I used the EZ track for this first layout attempt, but when I'm ready to completely redo/enlarge/improve, my next will be flex track...but here's a picture of the ballasting job I was able to do on the Bachmann EZ track before it was cleaned up prior to (scheduled to be done) track weathering. Also, you can see more pictures of my layout progress on this forum. Mine is certainly not the "best" example of EZ track usage, but might give you some ideas of what could be done or improved upon. Mine is still very much a "work in progress" and I keep learning from others right here on this forum.

    As a side note...I sincerely appreciate the other members/posters here on the-gauge for not making disparaging comments about the use of EZ track. I have read other comments on other model rr websites that have been quite negative about the use of any type of plastic track, saying in essence, that those who use it should not post to or be included on any model rr forum, or be considered a model train enthusiast. I must applaud the politeness found on this web board and have appreciated the kind and instructive comments made about my layout. :thumb:

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