Should I Use Track Bed?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by PeteMorich, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. PeteMorich

    PeteMorich New Member

    Mar 22, 2006
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    Hello All,

    New to the forum, and model railroading -- thanks to my "train-crazy" 5-year old. We (more like I) built a pretty cool landscaped layout, which I was surprised to find I really enjoyed. Here's my problem. I used Power-loc track. Now that the layout is (almost) completed, I've decided to change track. Reason: It's a little tight in places (don't ask) however it did fit and works well (so not a total rookie disaster...a few tense moments though). But....I don't like the black "plasticy" look. Also it just seems to stick out too much -- high profile.

    Because Power-loc has basically its own base, I just laid it over the plasered areas. Now that I am looking to move to Atlas flex-track. Here are my questions:

    Can/Should I just glue/tack down the Atlas or should I buy some track-bed? When I was screwing around last night, it seems like that would be sort of difficult. How do I join the track? After gluing or before?

    How high is the profile of track bed? Will the profile be similar to Power-loc? Or are there different heights.
    If I do need bed, I just glue to down and the attach the track and add ballast?

    Advanced thanks to everyone! Just think one day I might be answering question on this forum....scarry!
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Oct 31, 2002
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    Welcome Pete!

    The simplest solution to your "appearance" dilemma is simply to ballast the roadbed track you already have. Painting is another option.

    If you do want to replace it, you have three options for roadbed - cork (traditional), foam (newer option), or none ;). The cork and foam are both approximately 1/4" thick. You can use Nscale roadbed for a lower profile if you want.

    As for joining the track, there are several line of though on this. Solder the curves, but not the straight track, and leave a small gap to allow for expansion. Some people solder two sections of flex together, and then install it on the layout. Others advocate partly fixing one piece, joining the next, and "installing as you go". In either case, you will need to remove at least one or two end ties on each piece of track to allow the rail joiners to slide in place. This is a mechanical joint to keep the track aligned, but don't rely on it to conduct electricity, which brings me to the next point...

    Most advocate feeding power to at least every other section of track via a buss wire that runs under the layout.

    Good luck! There is a lot of information here at The Gauge - try the search tool to find past discussions on this - I know there have been a few ;)

  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Feb 3, 2003
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    Welcome to the Gauge Pete. Andrew is right, there have been many discussion regarding roadbed, flextrack, balasting and working with plastic beds. Go to the top of any page here and select "search" and use the search engine to find posts on any subject you're looking for.:)

    Good luck and keep us posted. :wave: :wave: