What type of track is best to use?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Pentastar, Nov 3, 2004.

  1. Pentastar

    Pentastar New Member


    I have another beginners question. I will be buying track for my grandfather's old HO scale train (his old track is the old brass type, which I've been told isn't worth using anymore). I see now they have track available that is flexible. Is it better or easier to use the flexible track, or will I have better luck with the standard snap-together track? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    Snap track is nearly fool-proof if you stick to its precise geometry. This same precise geometry is also its greatest drawback. You are limited to the radius of the curved sections and the combined pieces must close the loop precisely. I don't believe there is room to "fudge" it.

    Flex track has quite the advantage of being, well, flexible. A single piece can form an infinite number of radii, spurs can branch off at an infinte number of angles, it can be cut into an infinite number of lengths. The only minor drawback I see is that, except in long, straight runs, one rail of the track needs to be carefully trimmed to align with the next section. You have far fewer joints to worry about, which I consider an advantage. I don't believe I have ever personally purchased sectional track but I believe that constructing a layout is less expensive using flex track than sectional.

  3. DeaconF

    DeaconF Member

    Flex Track

    Only one further coment regarding flex track. You can buy 2 types. Brass and Nickel Silver. I have found the Nickel Silver the best. don't through out all the brass stuff - It can be used in sidings and other areas of less traffic. You will find less track maintenance with NickSilver. Frank
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Pentastar,I suggest using flex track.The reason being you will have less rail joints that*could* be a source for derailments plus with flex track you will have better electrical flow to you locomotive(s) since you will have less rail joints.
    Now on my industrial switching layout I use both flex and snap track.I used the snap track to finish out a industrial siding (if needed) instead of cutting a piece of flex track.
  5. CharlesH.

    CharlesH. Member

    I fully agree with these gents on using nickel silver flextrack. Now, these are my recommendations:
    Atlas code 100 is good for beginners because it flexes effortlessly, and it's very sturdy. The only disadvantage is that both rail and ties are too big for HO scale. However Atlas makes code 83 track that has a more realistic appearance. And before I forget - code means the rail height in thousandths of an inch, ergo, code 83 means that the rail is 83 thousandths of an inch high. (am I right fellows?)
    Now if you want some uber-realistic track without going throught the pain of handlaying it, I recommend Micro Engineering flextrack. It has fine detail and once it's flexed, it stays in shape.
  6. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    A lot of the older HO scale locos and rolling stock have extra deep flanges on the wheels whick will bottom out on code 83. So to be safe use code 100. The rolling stock wheels could be swapped out to new wheels to run on code 83 or smaller, but the locos would need disasembly and the wheels replaced if they are made, or machined. That's not a beginers job, tearing apart locos and turning the wheels. Stick to code 100, yes Charles, the code number is thousandths of an inch high, so 100 is .100 inches high. As to flex v snap track. Find a thread or website telling how to cut it to size if you use flextrack. Flextrack needs cut to size after it is flexed. The second piece you cut will not be hard, but the first can be fun if you have never done it before. Fred
  7. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    Also, cutting and soldering flextrack (though we haven't mentioned soldering here yet) isn't rocket science, practicing on some scrap before getting down to the main event was a big help for me to get back in the groove after 12 years. Actually, it was after messing up the first piece that I stumbled on the idea of some warm-up practice.

    Having some good tools on hand helps. I used an razer saw only on my previous layouts which as I recalled worked ok, and on my current one I'm blessed to have a new Dremel tool. I've never used rail cutters or snips but I've only read positive things.

    Lastly, avoid the problem that has shut down my current track-laying project dead in its tracks, so to speak. Have plenty of rail joiners on hand. With no hobby shop anywhere nearby, I'm stalled until I put together a mail order large enough to justify the typically big shipping costs.

  8. DeaconF

    DeaconF Member


    Just one further note on cutting flex track. If you use a dremmel (which has been a great tool to have) be careful about cutting on an angle. This is hard to explain but I have trouble cutting straight down at right angles to the track. This will cause a gap either at the top of the rail or at the bottom. This is no big deal, but now I shave off the angle to ensure a good join. Frank
  9. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    I do know what you mean, Frank, about getting the rail cut straight. The problem is the bulk of the Moto-tool makes it hard to get the cutter perpendicular to the rail.

    I got a flexible shaft attachment for the Dremel. This makes it easier to get the shaft parallel to the track, making for a straighter cut.

  10. DeaconF

    DeaconF Member


    OK another tool for my collection - thanks alot Muddy

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