Track

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by shelbys_dad, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. shelbys_dad

    shelbys_dad Member

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    While trying to come up with a track plain I started to ponder whether or to use flex track or sectional. My plain is a 1850-1890 Romanian logging community through mountains and forest terrain. I'm going to use that era steam engine if can acquire one.
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

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    With sectional track, it is easier to get smooth curves in the smaller radii. But the big limitations of sectional track are limited geometry - you are limited to the curves available - and the multitude of track joints.

    The Achilles heel of most track systems is the joint between sections. Rail joiners do not do a great job of holding mechanical alignment or electrical connectivity over time. Flex track minimizes the number of joints, and gives you freedom to to achieve any curvature you want.

    To use Atlas flex track in particular, you need to learn to solder the rail joints on curves. Otherwise, the natural springiness of the track creates horizontal kinks in the curve at the joints. MicroEngineering flex track, OTOH, has little to no spring and holds a curve once it is bent, but you really need a form or template to pre-bend it to to get a smooth curve. In either case, you will also need a set of rail nippers to trim the rail ends of flex track.

    Hope this helps
  3. shelbys_dad

    shelbys_dad Member

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    Sure does help.
    I'm extremely confident in my soldering abilities, so that will not be a problem.
    I agree, less joints is better.
  4. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

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    The other benefit of flex track, which is even more important with tight radius curves, is that you can form easments easily. A big part of the problem with curves is the 'instantaneous' change from tangent to curve. The easement makes this change gradually, and reduces the 'shock' going into the curve.

    If you are creating a trackplan, you should get John Armstrong's book "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" if you haven't already. It's the first and best reference on many track planning topics.

    Jeff
  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

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    Great prototype era! I've had cheap flextrack survive for 15yrs without soldering and not impair operation...so I definitely to not believe in the need to solder the joints. But, I do think that soldering does improve it (unless the layout is in an unheated room and every joint is soldered...expansion/contraction).

    I wouldn't really consider sectional track...flex is cheaper and looks slightly better.
  6. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

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    Whether you need to solder flex track joints depends on a lot of things. The type of track would be the first. Some hold a bend, and might not need to be soldered, some spring back almost totally, and will almost always need to be soldered on curves, at least. How you fasten the track can also make a difference.

    It is true that you don't want to solder every joint. Generally, you want to leave a little gap where straight sections join, to allow for movement.

    Jeff
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    If you go for flex track, you should look for a track curve gauge. This is a piece of metal (usually) that fits between the rails and is formed to the curve desired. Drop it in and the curve is forced to size and to be smooth.
    If you don't take it all the way to the end, you get a natural easement.
    There is no reason you can't mix sectional and flex track especially if the sectional is about the size you're looking for. (They should be the same size - called "code" which is .001".)
  8. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

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    I can see the usefulness of the gauge, to a degree. But the beauty of flex track to me is NOT having a particlular radius. Draw a centerline, and follow it. The only trick is at joints, but the eyes are pretty good at seeing smooth, once you do it a bit.

    Jeff