Which track

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ClarkW, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. ClarkW

    ClarkW New Member

    Apr 25, 2005
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    Atlas, MLR, Micro Engineering, Walthers (Shinahara), Peco - is one better than the others? I am going to use code 83 track and swithces for my HO layout, but don't know if there is something that I should look for in track. I do NOT plan to hand lay track, so that removes one option.

    Switches are another question mark. I have a Digitrax DCC system so I plan to use DCC friendly swithces, but again, which one? Peco, Walthers, someone else?

    I am planning on using a block layout, if that will make any difference in the recommendations.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  2. PWRR-2207

    PWRR-2207 Rogue Islander

    Oct 3, 2007
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    Track, Layouts and DCC...

    Greetings! Check out this link for DCC friendly switches (turnouts):


    Allan Gartner also has some other great info on his website.

    Be warned that when mixing and matching track/switches from diferent companies, you may find yourself sanding off 0.010 inches or more from the last four ties to get them to the same height.

    I had a few of the old Walthers turnouts and tried his DCC conversion technique so I could use them on my Digitrax Chief controlled layout. One burn and several hours later, I had one done, got pretty good with my old soldering iron but it did not look so pretty wall1

    After that episode, I decide it would be cheaper in the long run to replace the other two switches. I was very glad that Allan Gartner updated his info after testing the new Walthers Code 83 Turnouts since the replacement work includes some of the 20 brand new, still in the box Code 83 Walthers Flex pieces.
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Oct 13, 2005
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    Clark, I only have experience with Atlas Code 83 flex track and Atlas Customline turn-outs. I am very happy with the flex track, only so-so on the turnouts.

    Because I am modeling a shortline with less than perfect track, I took a hobby knife, turned the flex track over, and cut out about 6 ties, spaced evenly along the track. Then I cut through about half of the plastic "tie connections" so I could move the ties around, just to get some varied spacing, and a few of the ties can be put at a slight angle. This technique could be used to differentiate a mainline run from sidings also. Cut out more ties on the siding and give a little more space between the ties as compared to the mainline.

    I did look at ME flex track, and it seemed pretty good too. It is more expensive. AS far as I know, Atlas is the least expensive.

    As for turnouts, as I mentioned, I only have experience with Atlas Custonline Code 83. My concern is the point pivots and point "throw bar". Both of these items look to be somewhat fragile and prone to failure over the long haul, plus they are not exactly realistic either.

    I did take the time to power the insulated frogs and to solder jumpers from the stock rails to the points. If you decide on Atlas, I can give more indepth advice on the mods. If I had it to do over, I would do more research and would probably choose a different turnout, although Atlas is about the cheapest, and with 30-something turnouts, extra cost adds up quickly.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Mar 25, 2002
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    Clark: I've used mostly Peco over the years, code 100 originally with code 75 added when that came out. The only problem I've had is plastic frogs wearing out after only 20 years.
    I can't use the code 83 because it's even more American looking than the other track.
    I did have to do the additional frog isolation/wiring because some of my old British trains had substandard wheel gauge and flanges.