The good and bad of MTH RealTrax

|
Want to post a reply to this topic?
Login or register for an acount to join our online community today!

The good and bad of MTH RealTrax

  • I've been using MTH RealTrax for my under-the-tree layout for 3 years. This year has been a major headache. Evidently RealTrax can only take so much connecting and disconnecting before it starts to malfunction. I now have a section of curved track that is going to need a piece of wire soldered to the connecting rails to complete the circuit. I spent HOURS last night trying to bend and stretch the copper contacts to work, but no success. I LIKE that the center rail is blackened so that it gives the "2-rail" look. And I LIKE the lighted lockon that gives an instant verification of track power. But 3 years of use and then malfunctions is unacceptable. And my fingers are about numb from trying to connect these track sections.
    I have ordered Lionel Fastrack for my under-tree circle and will be using Fastrack for the big layout. I can see why MTH no longer is pushing RealTrax and is now emphasizing ScaleTrax  

    Virginian Railroad

    Replies to this thread are ordered from "oldest to newest".   To reverse this order, click here.
    To learn about more about sorting options, visit our FAQ page.
  • Sounds like you have mostly 2nd generation track-- The first gen track has apparently held up well, according to most of the reports i've read on the OGR forum. Third gen track(the hollow rail type) is supposed to be built better--the copper tabs are thicker and use 2 spot welds instead of one(2nd gen). I also seem to remember reading that the molds were redone for the 3rd gen stuff, so the fit & finish is much better.

    As for  assembly & disassembly, the  reccomended practice is not to shove them together on the flat-- they fit easier if one piece is at an angle, then rotated to flat.

     

    HTH--

    A Day Without Trains is a Day Wasted

  • I have used Fastrack now for 4 years under my tree and so far it is holding up well, no discernable degradation in security.  The switch from tubular to Fastrack saves me 2-3 hours and increases train performance dramatically.  I have not had a single derailment on my holiday layout since Fastrack and the electrical contacts are rock solid. Some don't like the sound but I love the clickty clack of metal on metal.

  • A little history, for those of you that might have missed the boat and dock................... 

    Buckeye Riveter

    Chief....I hope you are paying attention because you need to see how I solved my problem with the MTH O-72 Realtrax Switches.  Oh!!  What's that?  You say the Chief is off goofing off fishing at the lake?   Anyway, here goes.

    A little history about the MTH Realtrax Switch Problem:

    The Chief and I installed a bunch of MTH Realtrax Switches on our layout.  I have 12 MTH Switches and the Chief has a few more.  When I started my layout, Fastrack by Lionel had not been born.  About half way through the building of the second phase of my layout, I started to notice that the newer track did not fit as well as the old.  The Chief was seeing the same thing as he connected his Realtrax.  (Incidentally, someone in the last month provided a history about the manufacturing changes of Realtrax....THANK YOU!) Bow

    The Chief and I really became upset when the new O-72 Realtrax Switches started not to work.  The Chief had switches that the switch motors were DOA.  I opened a box of a supposedly new switch and discovered it had been reconditioned.  Then I started seeing derailments at two brand new O-72 switches.  Two out of my six O-72s would derail certain types of locomotives including BEEPS, Post-war, and Williams.  After watching a small new Lionel Steamer ride over the frog and derail, I said something has to be wrong with that switch and not the engine.

    Here is the MTH O-72 switch that was derailing random locomotives.  Look at the gap between the back of the wheel flange and the guard rail.  The car is an MTH tank car.

    Needless to say when I measured the gap between the guard rail and the main rail on an O-72 switch, it was the same as on the O-42 switches by MTH.  Logic says that on a straight section of track, the gap between the guard rail and the main rail would be the smallest.  On sharper turns, the gap should be the widest. Confused

    To check to see if the gap width between the guard rail and the main rail was too large and causing the opposite wheel to ride over the frog, I put three (3) layers of  7 mil electrical tape on the guard rail, as shown below:

     
    The tape effectively, reduced the space between the guard rail and the main rail.  After several hours of running various types of locomotives and rolling stock through the switch at different speeds, not one derailment occurred.  I sent the locmotives through the switch in reverse, too, with loads and without loads.
     
    BINGO!!
     
    After a trip to the LHS, where I purchased .020 x .188 styrene strips, I added one to the face of the guard rail as shown below.
     
     
     
    After several hours of hard running, not one locomotive on the Baltimore, Ohio and Wabash Railroad has had any problems negotiating this switch.
     
    Now you know, Chiefie!!!
     

     
    Needless to say, the Chief and I do not recommend REALTRAX, no matter what they published in CTT last month (?) trying to convince you ways to fix it and make it workable.  I was rolling on the floor laughing.
     
    For the fourth or fifth time I set up a Lionel FASTRAC layout under the daughter's Christmas Tree for the Polar Express.  The FASTRAC is still working great, even after I stepped on it.  Oops!!! Dunce

    Buckeye Riveter............. OTTS Charter Member and Roseyville Raider

     

    A date that will live in CTT Forum infamy: July 7  2011, The Chief admits to being a YANKEES FAN.  

    Please visit my website:  Trains-Big and Small                     TCA 09-64284

  • Actually, I was a fan of the MTH RealTrax and was constantly feuding with ChiefEagles about how great it was. I now stand corrected. And my RealTrax is the newest version with the newer contstruction and assembly welds. I ordered Lionel FasTrack off E-Bay and look forward to replacing the MTH stuff. Only downside I see to the Lionel track is the way the wires connect to it and the visible center rail(I can live with that). One of Chief's criticisms of RealTrax was it says on the packaging that it can be assembled by someone very young. That is pure baloney.

    Thanks for that post Buckeye. I remember you guys going round and round with the switch problems.
    It's 100% Fastrack for me from now on.

    Dep 

     

     

    Virginian Railroad

  •  Friend of mine spent a fortune on that crap. He was lucky to sell it for 10 cents on the dollar. Fast track and it's switchs are the way to go.

  • I had some that I setup under my tree a year ago. Or was it 2? Anyways now that the Polar Express is under there, I'm using the Fastrack that came with it.

    I guess the good about Realtrax for me is that I'm selling it and that I don't have that much. The bad is that I haven't sold it yet.

  • Here are some pics of the Christmas Tree sub-division of My Christmas Tree, Carpet & Western (CTC&W), from the last couple of years, even with 4 lock-ons per loop, I would still get some slow spots.




     I don't have any pics of this year's Christmas Tree sub-division, but the platform didn't fit this year, and I wanted some 072 curves, which that platform didn't have. This year, I have 3 loops on the carpet, using Realtrax an 054, with 5.5" straights in the sides and ends, an 072 and an 072 with 10" straights in the sides and ends. Surprisingly, I got away with ONE lock-on for each loop, with no noticeabl slow spots. But I spent HOURS putting those 3 loops togther, connect 2 pieces, turn over, check the contacts, disassemble and adjust when/where needed, install track clipto hold the sections together. Connct another piece of track turn over.......

    I prefer the looks of the Realtrax to the Fastrack, but having used some Fastrack, that I got with some sets, I gave some trains to some Family members for their Trees, and used the Fastrack for them, I have seen the light. Realtrax may LOOK better, but Fastrack WORKS much better. Unfortunately, I have PILES of Realtrax(a Very fitting adjective, BTW), so for now, my temporary layouts will be with Realtrax, I just understand and accept what I have to do whn using Realtrax. If I could say Abracadabra, and magically make it all bcome Fastracks, I would in less than a Heartbeat, well back to reality.

      When I get the Space, Money and Time for a permanent layout, it will be with Atlas O 21st Century track.

    Doug

    May your flanges always stay BETWEEN the rails

  • Deputy

    Actually, I was a fan of the MTH RealTrax and was constantly feuding with ChiefEagles about how great it was. I now stand corrected. And my RealTrax is the newest version with the newer contstruction and assembly welds. I ordered Lionel FasTrack off E-Bay and look forward to replacing the MTH stuff. Only downside I see to the Lionel track is the way the wires connect to it and the visible center rail(I can live with that). One of Chief's criticisms of RealTrax was it says on the packaging that it can be assembled by someone very young. That is pure baloney.

    Thanks for that post Buckeye. I remember you guys going round and round with the switch problems.
    It's 100% Fastrack for me from now on.

    Dep 

    Have you seen the new RealTrax with the hollow rail?  Thumbs Down  Fastrack, Gargraves, Ross, Atlas, Used Lionel and Williams all are a better choices. 

    I believe you can buy electrical connectors in bulk such that you can make your own track connecting wires for Fastrack. 

    Buckeye Riveter............. OTTS Charter Member and Roseyville Raider

     

    A date that will live in CTT Forum infamy: July 7  2011, The Chief admits to being a YANKEES FAN.  

    Please visit my website:  Trains-Big and Small                     TCA 09-64284

  • Haven't seen the new RealTrax. I guess mine is 2nd gen. But I am truly done with RealTrax. I've already bought a goodly amount of wire and bulk connectors to make my own connection wire.

    Virginian Railroad

  • Dep, no problem with me.  I got started with some good and then all the new needed to do the layout was the "tuff" stuff.  All works out in the end.

     God bless TCA 05-58541   Benefactor Member of the NRA,  Member of the American Legion,   Boss Hog of Roseyville Laugh,   KC&D QualifiedCowboy       

                  

  • I got lucky in that when I got back into the hobby, I had bought a Lionel "Hobo Set".  It came with Fastrack and I liked the look and sturdy nature of it.  When it came to actually making a layout, I decided that the incorporated roadbed was a plus as was the solid connection that the track made to each other.  Having cut my hands on old Lionel tubular track as well as having track separations on temporary floor layouts made Fastrack that much more appealing.

    Since building the trackwork of my layout as well as looking into the Fastrack group, I have found that it is a very good, sound system.  Drawbacks are few, but noteworthy.  Sound is a bit loud, but with using foam base and sill seal, I have found it very tolerable.  The operating track controllers sometimes have a tendency to stick, causing continuous activation of the track...to the point of melting and failure of the track.  You need to watch it and make sure it is not happening.  Also, some of the LEDs have failed on my lighted bumper tracks and a switch.  Beyond that, no problems and the switches take special note:  They are great!  I have had not encountered any operating problems with them!

    Dennis

    TCA#09-63805

     

    Charter BTTs.jpg

  • Doofus

     Friend of mine spent a fortune on that crap. He was lucky to sell it for 10 cents on the dollar. Fast track and it's switchs are the way to go.

    Must of gone to a pawn shop as it sells every day on ebay a lot better than that. Myself I prefer gargraves not fawn of the plastic road bed but I did like the look of realtrax over fastrack but never really used either so can't say. I do have some fastrack but use it on my shelves to display my trains it came in sets I got.

      Charter member of Tardis Train Crew (TTC)

    http://rtssite.shutterfly.com/

  • I’m glad this came up because I was going to order MTH RealTrax for next year.  I’ve been using Fastrack since it 1st came out and never had any problems except for rust.

    This year I changed my layout around a little and replaced one of my Fastracks with tubular track only because I needed a 42”dia circle and it was not available in Fastrack. The tubular is kind of a pain to keep aligned and fastened down. That’s when I discovered MTH RealTrax which had 42” track and it doesn’t RUST. I really hate the rust and I don’t think it’s going to last much longer because of it.

    Next year I think I going with Atlas if I can figure out how to go with a larger diameter layout.

     

    Thanks, JohnnyB
  •  Rust with Fast Track? I have had Fast track for years and never have had a rust problem. If I may ask where do you live that your track rusts.

    Atlas is great but very expensive.