What track to use?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by trebro, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. trebro

    trebro New Member

    Hi There,

    I used to be a model railroader when I was a kid/teen, getting back into things with a totally fresh start in N scale, to meet space needs of apartment life and a desire to do something totally different.

    I don't think we ever bought a single piece of new track when I was a kid--it was all from old layouts of my father and was HO, to boot.

    I've been looking at possibly using the tracks with roadbed (EZ Track, Unitrack), but I'm a bit worried about the amount of limitations raised by using only sectional track.

    Can I get some suggestions on what track to purchase?


  2. Casey Jones

    Casey Jones New Member

    Forget ez track as it is JUNK.....
    Kato Unitrack is nice as you don't have to ballast it and is pretty much bullet-proof. But it kind of expensive. But remember, You get what you pay for.
    I've just sold my layout that had Unitrack on the main and turnouts. I used Micro Engineering Code 70 track for the industry tracks and siding. Everything worked great.
    I'm now ready to start a new 2'x 7' switching module and I'm going to use Atlas Code-55 flex track and #7 turnouts. It's cheaper, looks more to scale, and I can go back to using Caboose Industry for ground throws.
    The only drawback is you can't run over-size flanged wheels like the pizza cutter wheels that Micro Trains use to put on their cars. No problem for me as I use nothing but either Atlas or IM metal wheels on all my cars. And you have to make sure all your wheels are in gauge as the Atlas turnouts are made very precise.
    Good Luck,
  3. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    This is a bit of an enormous topic for one question, but here's my view of the five main track options...

    First, sectional track is great for easy-to-set-up-and-put-away, but you're stuck with the shapes they make. If your track plan can be done without flextrack, and you don't mind the uniformity that you get with sectional curves, you're ok. If you choose sectional track, use Kato Unitrak and none of the cheap ones.

    Second, code 80 track is comparatively bomb-proof, easyish to lay, but doesn't look too good. You can mix sectional 'toy-like' track with flextrack to make the curves look much better.

    Third, Atlas code 55 is cheap and widely available, looks the most like the US prototype, but requires fiddling with -- you can't use old large-flanged wheels, everything has to be bang in gauge, and the turnouts have reliability issues.

    Fourth, Peco code 55, which is modelled after the UK prototype (so doesn't look quite right for US modelling), but is much stronger and has a much wider range of better-quality turnouts. It's more expensive (particularly in the US, as a result of the current weak US dollar). Some modellers mix Peco turnouts with Atlas flextrack, for a cheaper best-of-both-worlds.

    Fifth, hand-lay the track if you want the best possible result. Downsides are that it takes a long time (you have to consider tracklaying as a big part of the hobby), and it is unlikely to save you money once you've got all the kit you'll need. Upsides are you can make just about anything you feel like...

    For more information, just keep reading through this forum... there's tons of it about track...

  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Another point on the roadbed track: How do you replace it when a switch goes bad? I remember a long thread where someone had a dead switch in a finished layout (of EZ track?) and ended up having to saw through the rail joiners and plastic fittings to get it out.
  5. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    Welcome to The Gauge, Rob! I've used Kato Unitrack for the last 3 years and never looked back. For me, the reliability and ease of setup were what sold me on it. You don't have as much freedom in track planning as you do with flextrack, but Kato does make a wide variety of curve radii. By using different curve radii, you can get a "flowing" effect like you do with flextrack.

    It does cost more at first to go with Unitrack, but I look at it like this: I tore down 2 layouts because of poor trackwork before I switched to Unitrack. I would have saved a lot of money and frustration if I had bought Unitrack from the start.

    John Sing built an excellent N-scale layout with Unitrack. You can see it here:

    He also posted a thread on why he chose Unitrack.

    Here's a link to my current layout

    Hope that helps.

    David, was that track glued down? Seems like if it's not glued, they should have been able to get the tracks apart without sawing them.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    John: I don't recall now, but it might just have been in the middle of a lot of track that was tacked down.

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