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How to Prevent Kinks in Attaching Curved Flextrack to Turnouts with Insulated Rail Joiners

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How to Prevent Kinks in Attaching Curved Flextrack to Turnouts with Insulated Rail Joiners
Posted by Big Daddy Dean on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 3:58 PM

I have several places on my layout where a curved section of flextrack attaches to an Electrofrog turnout. When this is on the point end of the turnout, I can use a normal metal track joiner and solder the connection to prevent any kinks from forming. I solder all connections on curves anyway for this reason. However on the frog end of the turnout, for proper DCC operation I have to use Insulating Rail Joiners on the frog rails. How do I prevent a kink there since I can't solder the rail connection? Plastic IRJs aren't strong enough to prevent this type of problem. Is soldering the stock rail of each path enough to prevent kinks?

FYI, I'm not worried about replacing turnouts since if needed I can cut them out with a Dremel tool and flick off the cut metal rail joiners with a soldering iron. I haven't done it yet but I assume I can then put the turnout back by adding new IRJs at the frog end, sliding that end in first, then slipping new metal rail joiners on the other (point) end fully onto the rails, dropping in that end of the switch, sliding the rail joiners back into place and soldering them in. Comments?

I'm using Peco Code 83 track and Electrofrog turnouts mounted on cork. I am leaving expansion joints in other places on sections of straight track, but I have a relatively stable location regarding temperature and humidity so am not that worried about expansion / contraction.

 

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Posted by sschnabl on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 12:32 PM

I don't know how much room you have, but if you can have the flex track go straight for a bit past the frog, then curve, that little bit might be enough to hold the rails in alignment with the turnout. 

Scott

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 1:01 PM

Solder a metal rail joiner on the frog end of the Electrofrog to avoid a kink. Then, use your Dremel to cut a gap on the inner frog rail on the Electrofrog turnout.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Big Daddy Dean on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 2:18 PM

Ah!!! Perfect. I KNEW there was a good solution to this.  Thanks.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 5:25 PM

To avoid kinks, pre-bend the flex track to the desired radius.  Even super-flexible Atlas flex can be brought down to the desired radius by tightening it up to a smaller radius and letting it relax.  It may be necessary to use a pair of pliers in persuader mode to get the last few inches of the rail to curve to spec.

The problem you cite is one of my reasons for going all hand-laid.  Those six rail joints are ideally sited to cause problems, so I simply avoid having them there.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 5:44 PM

I have 2in foam, I make long spicks from a large paper clip. Spike the track well. the first 2/3 in. then curve as needed. When all is good, raise track just enough to slip a little caulk under, add weigh, won't go anywhere after that

works for me

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 8:06 PM

Hey Big Daddy Dean!

Welcome to the forums!!    Welcome

Do what both Rich and Chuck said. Put a bend in the flex track, then solder it to the turnout, then cut a gap between the frog and the flex track. It wouldn't hurt to fill the gap with epoxy or styrene.

The reason for pre-bending the flex track is so it doesn't exert sideways force on the short piece of track that is left between the flex track and the gap before the frog. There will only be a few tie plates holding that piece in place so putting a lot of force on it is asking for trouble.

Dave

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Posted by SouthPenn on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 8:11 PM

There are short pieces of curved snap track that might help you out.

I usually attach the flex to the switch leaving the flex straight. I drill a small hole in the first few tie, every other one. Then nail this first short section and start curving the rest.

South Penn
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Posted by BMMECNYC on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 9:31 PM

richhotrain

Solder a metal rail joiner on the frog end of the Electrofrog to avoid a kink. Then, use your Dremel to cut a gap on the inner frog rail on the Electrofrog turnout.

Rich

 

This is what my model railroad club does.  It seems to work for us.  If you have a flexible attachment for your dremel that makes it easier.  Fill the gap with a piece of styrene.

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Posted by dante on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 10:10 PM

My layout has many such conditions except that I use Walthers/Shinohara Code 83 flex and turnouts. Where curved flex connects to the frog end of an older power-routing turnout, I do put the insulating joiner on the frog rail but a W/S metal joiner on the other rail. The W/S metal joiners are a very tight fit and seem to prevent kinking. I don't know how they would work with Peco rail.

Dante

P.S. My layout room does have a controlled environment. 

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Posted by zstripe on Thursday, April 14, 2016 3:37 AM

I have always had at least 3'' minimum straight piece on all ends of a turnout....especially, in a curve preceded by the frog/points,done that way, a kink will not develope...also, any six axle equipment will track better..........Geometry 101.. A lot of Modelers on this site, have been wondering why they have derailments at turnouts and that has been one of the number one causes......but they say..but My 2-8-2 makes it, that's becaues the center drivers are blind, (flangeless). ME makes longer spikes, up to a 1/2''. One of the main reason's I use Homasote for roadbed....easier to lay track that stays put..

Put Your insulated joiners on the turnout spike/glue Your flex track with at least 3'' minimum straight, let glue set up, then start Your curve.

Good Luck! Big Smile

Frank

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Posted by "JaBear" on Thursday, April 14, 2016 5:04 AM

I’m with South Penn and Frank on this, a short straight (2 inch) then start the curve.
My 2 Cents Cheers, the Bear.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, April 14, 2016 5:28 AM

Adding short straight pieces of track on the ends of turnouts is certainly an effective solution when laying track, but it may not be all that workable if the track work is already secured in place.

Adding a 2 or 3 inch section of straight track is also going to require re-laying the curved section of track and that is going to change the geometry at the other end of the curve.

In that situation, the more practical solution is to solder a metal rail joiner to the track connection at the turnout and then cut a gap in the turnout itself.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Thursday, April 14, 2016 6:36 AM

Welcome

I am a LION. All answers above are good, but sometimes the LION will just use some nails directly against the offending rail, and secure it in place.

It is always a good practice not to try to curve track right out of the turnout, that said, LION probably has some just like that on the layoiut of him.

LIONS do not use plastic rail joiners. Them cost money, and as seen are not always reliable. Him uses regular railjoiners soldered into place. Gaps are made with dremel tools exactly where I want them. LION has foound it unnecessary to put lastic shims inside of these gaps.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, April 14, 2016 11:18 AM

If you are attaching curved flex track to turnouts with insulated rail joiners, just use some spikes or Atlas track nails in strategic places to put enough bend in the rail to keep it flowing smooth.  Thats all I find is necessary.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Thursday, April 14, 2016 1:21 PM

For commercial products, I favor the soldered rail joiners.  Then cut your gap - not between the joint and the frog, but in the flex track beyond the joint, somewhat short of the clearance point between the diverging tracks.  That way there are a dozen or more flex track ties holding things in place.

In  my own work, that frog rail is one solid piece.  If no gap is required (spur track ending at a bumper) it might be a full yard of stick rail, slid into the loose side of Atlas flex.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by mobilman44 on Thursday, April 14, 2016 2:00 PM

Hi!

Attaching a curve section (or curved flextrack) directly to a turnout is asking for trouble.  I'm not saying it can't be done or it will never work out - rather I'm saying that there is a definite increase in the propensity for problems. 

IMO, a 6 inch (HO) straight track before entering a curve (hopefully one with an easement) will typically negate potential problems. 

Of course I'm being conservative, likely the result of past experience.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by Big Daddy Dean on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 5:20 PM
Thanks for all the comments. As a result, I've been able to lay my track without problems. My observations: - Peco Code 83 flextrack curves both directions and (except for the ends which want to go back straight) stays pretty much where you put it so pre-bending it works reasonably well. I hold the ends in place with push pins if needed. Most of my curves are free-flowing and not that tight so it doesn't take much. And I want the curve to start gradually anyway so having the first part of the flextrack be relatively straight after the switch isn't a problem. - Code 83 rail joiners fit nice and tight so are good to prevent a kink where the rails join, especially if you then solder them in place (I was using code 83/100 joiners and they are just too loose fitting) - Cutting the flextrack with a Dremel cutoff wheel works much better than the special rail nippers I bought. With the Dremel, the joiners are tight but slip right on. Using the rail nippers cutting top to bottom works OK also (I still prefer the Dremel) but cutting the rail side to side doesn't work - it is impossible to get the joiner on the end of the rail (maybe the reason some people complain about their fingers being all cut up after putting on rail joiners?) It's not obvious why this is even with magnification, but obviously there is some rail deforming happening. - What I'm doing now instead of using IRJs is just prepping the turnouts for DCC (cutting the jumpers underneath to isolate the closure rails and adding the stock-rail to closure-rail jumpers) then assembling everything using metal rail joiners, gluing down the track and switches (using latex "sealer" caulk), adjusting everything to make sure there are no side forces on the joints, then soldering the connections after things have cured a bit. After everything has fully cured I go back with a Dremel and cut a gap on the frog end to isolate the frog, then add some styrene in the gap if I'm concerned about the gap closing up on me with temperature variations.
JXC
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Posted by JXC on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 1:40 PM

I have situations where turnouts connect to tight curves and with no alternatives that were better than locating gaps at the end of the turnout.  I had good luck by soldering a sliver of printed circuit board under each rail and then sawing through the railgap and copper cladding on the PC board. The result is a very rigid and strong insulated gap. To hold the rails in alignment for soldering, a metal railjoiner can be installed upside down on the top flange and then cut away or pried off when soldering is complete.

For the PC board slivers, I use Copperhead PC Ties from Fast Tracks http://www.handlaidtrack.com/copperhead. I also learned to solder from their website

http://help.fast-tracks.net/customer/portal/articles/2480164

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Friday, September 30, 2016 11:41 AM

I like that idea,  I will try it for continous welded rail on my next module set.

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