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Putting a curve in flex track

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Putting a curve in flex track
Posted by robert sylvester on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 11:23 AM

Cowboy

I have been in this hobby so long it covers six decades. My Atlas track use goes back to when the ties on the flex track section were made of fiber board and stapled to the rails. When you curved the track it stayed in that configuration and did not spring back like it does today. I haven't used Micro Engineering track but I understand their flex track stays in position when curved. I actually like that, it makes it easier when laying the track, you don't have figure out a way to hold the curve in place.

My question is: with todays flex track do you put the sliding rail on the inside of the curve or the outside. I put it on the inside then cut the rail to fit, any thoughts?

Robert Sylvester

Newberry-Columbia, SC

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 11:45 AM

I put it on the inside because it will always be shortest rail, which might make cutting it a little easier.  emphasis on might and little.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by Onewolf on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 11:52 AM

I suggest you test a couple different brands of flex track before committing. I _planned_ to use Micro Engineering code 83 because it has a reputation for being the best looking, but after ordering/receiving 218 pieces of Micro Engineering and testing with it, I ended up hating it because it's so stiff and takes me so long to create somewhat reasonable smooth flowing curves.  I found the Atlas code 83 FAR easier to install with very smooth flowing curves.  So I sold all the ME and bought Atlas code 83.

With the Atlas flex track I always orient the sliding rail on the inside of curves.  ME does not have a 'sliding' rail side (which contributes to it's stiffness). You have to slowly bend the track and move the ties as needed to keep them spaced properly.

I did end up using ME code 70 and #6 turnouts on my industry spurs/sidings. It isn't quite as stiff as their code 83 but the curves are still not as smooth/flowing as the Atlas code 83 mainline (or Atlas code 100 in hidden track areas).

YMMV

Doug

Modeling an HO gauge freelance version of the Union Pacific Oregon Short Line and the Utah Railway around 1957 in a world where Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden, UT.

- Photo album of layout construction -

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Posted by kasskaboose on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 12:34 PM

What I do with ME Code 83 track is just curve the track and cut it to address any gaps.  I Then solder the rail joiner to the track.  Yes, experimenting with different types of tracks works.  ME track is really easier to use (for me) since it stayes once curved.

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 1:00 PM

 I too had some of that old fiber tie flex back in the day. Wish I still had the pictures so I could scan them of how I used it to make a trolley line out into the country on one of my layouts - compelte with crazy tight curves. In town the track was some of the old Mantua street car track - we had the whole set, witht he 4 wheel trolley and an oval of this track which was rail embedded in plastic sections made to look like a conrete street, something like 8" radius, and it even had a batteyr box for  think 4 D cells to run the trolley (but of course you could connect it to a regular power pack if you wanted). 

 And I am GLAD that stuff is now part of the scrap heap of history. It is so easy to form a smooth curve with a nice easement in it using the really flexible stuff. The fact that tehre is a whole video on how to lay ME flex track tells me all I need to know. There's no need for a video to explain how to get smooth curves with Atlas flex. I don;t understand the "hard to hold in position" argument - a few pushbins will easily hold it in place, it's not like a stuff coil spring that forces its way back to straight. That's all I've ever done, while using caulk to attach it tot he roadbed. A few pushbpins and it's going no where. Could also nail it in place if you really feel the need. The trick is - you don;t start at one end and move along to the other end, you fix the start point, and then bend, mark, and cut the end point. Unless prevented from moving, the center of the curve will naturally form a smooth curce, at which point you can fasten that down. Or at least, once you have the far end trimmed and fit, then you cna go back to the start and work your way along.

 If you want something somewhat in between, there's always Peco. I'm going with Peco on my next layout, mostly for their greater options in the turnout category, because hand laying is just not for me. I have always used Atlas, and Atlas flex, but after ordering some ME and Peco, and experimenting with both, I've found the Peco readiy bends to form smooth curves, but it is not nearly as floppy as Atlas. Sort of the best of both worlds, , it's not so stiff that you have to carefully walk along the ties to form a curve, but it also doesn;t bend in half just holding it there. Good enough for me, especially since the tradeoff is the availability of more turnout sizes and curved turnouts, all premade. And soon COde 70 components for sidings.

                                              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Track fiddler on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 1:31 PM

This is the greatest thread ever because it sums up what I'm doing right now.

You would probably have to consider me a very slow Model Railroader. I took two years in the planning of my layout alone. When I look at what I've accomplished so far, it doesn't look like much.

I have been in a hurry all my life with my wxxk for a living. I do not want my model railroading passion to be the same way. I take my time. Sometimes too much time. Again I am in no hurry.

The result of my layout planning was so out of the ordinary with my grades and radius parameters. I have to build all eight of my bridges custom. So far I have four of my eight bridges done, custom made and kitbashed. I promised myself I would not lay any track until I get my bridges done. I am going to break that rule now.  I want to play with my trainsBow

I do believe I took too much time considering and deciding which track to use for my layout as well. Finally I have decided on Micro Engineering code 55 Flex track.

I brought two pieces home to test it out. I like how it holds its shape as stated here. I have read a lot of controversy on it and the difficulty shaping it to the desired radius needed.

I do not find any difficulty shaping it whatsoever. When I first brought it home I easily curved it around the outside of this foam curve in about 10 seconds and it stayed. I like this stuff.

It stayed. This piece of flex is just sitting on the cork. It has no glue or fasteners. It was so fast and easy to form this way I am going to make a jig to form all my curve radius.

These are the railroad board radius I used on my layout. It is my thoughts I will Trace them on to quarter inch MDF, cut them with a band saw or jigsaw and mount them to a sheet of quarter inch MDF. Then I can curve my ME flex easily.  It works so well.

Happy modelingWink          TF.

The sliding rail goes on the inside of the curve so you can nip it.

 

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 2:03 PM

I lay my curves with the two lengths of flex tacked along the centerline.  The inner rail protrudes as the curve is fashioned.  I slide that protruding length into the spikehead details of the mated length, necessarily also displacing its inner sliding rail.  

The idea here is to locate the best place to remove about two ties.  This is where you will use the joiner.  The process makes the joiner extra stiff with close-by spikehead details retaining the curve, and prevents the dreaded kink.  File down the spikehead and tie plate details on the removed ties, and slide them under the joiner once you have your flex track lined up again and adhered or spiked into place.  Now is when I would solder the joiner and feeder wire.  Some solder with the flex track lined up on a bench, but straight.  Seems better, to me, to fashion the curve first and find out where the joiner would be slid well into the other piece of track.

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Posted by carl425 on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 2:54 PM

robert sylvester
My question is: with todays flex track do you put the sliding rail on the inside of the curve or the outside.

You put the sliding rail on the inside so the inside tie ends squeeze together.  If you put it on the outside, the tie ends spread out beyond what is protypical.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 4:43 PM

I put the sliding rail on the inside of the curve, too.  I think it makes the track better behaved as I am laying it.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 5:30 PM

It's not that ME track is hard to curve, it's hard to curve symmetrically.  Still newbies shouldn't be so frightened about flex track.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 7:39 PM

Onewolf
after ordering/receiving 218 pieces of Micro Engineering and testing with it, I ended up hating it because it's so stiff and takes me so long to create somewhat reasonable smooth flowing curves.  I found the Atlas code 83 FAR easier to install with very smooth flowing curves.

I'm of the same mind as Doug/onewolf.  Stiff flex track takes me too long to create smooth, even flowing curves.  Atlas has been for me also FAR easier to install.

I don't need the track to hold a shape by itself.  It's not like I need to throw it like a boomerang through the air,  and hold its shape independantly.  Spikes or track nails hold the track perfectly well in the smooth flowing curves laid on a centerline I draw until ballasted and secured.

...Atlas flex track I always orient the sliding rail on the inside of curves. ...

YMMV

Doug

I do same as above.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 2:34 AM

Track fiddler
I brought two pieces home to test it out. I like how it holds its shape as stated here. I have read a lot of controversy on it and the difficulty shaping it to the desired radius needed. I do not find any difficulty shaping it whatsoever. When I first brought it home I easily curved it around the outside of this foam curve in about 10 seconds and it stayed. I like this stuff.

Yep, me, too. The main trick is to put it on a flat surface, like a table top, if you don't have such a surface on the layout itself, then gently shove it into place - especially if you use code 55. Wink

I understand the attraction of letting Atlas figure out the curves on its own. It's all the rest where it offers no particualr advanatge and you have to start fixing it down somehow that I found irritating. ME doesn't require that for the most part until you want to. It's a little like giant custom snap-track once you get it shaped. This makes it easy to go back and tweak things to your satisfaction. Makes getting gaps and insulating joiners right. There's a whole host of advanatges, like generally better detail and rail cross section.

And ME is, despite the rumors, generally not at all hard to get to behave like putty in your hands. Can you imagine needing to nail down putty to keep it in place? Neither can I.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 6:40 AM

Basically each person has to decide what works for them.  From this topic it's clear there are strong opinions for and against stiff track.  Same for springy track.

The only stiff track I have so far is Shinohara code 70 and it's like wrestling a snake that is getting rigor mortis.  If you bend it, the bend propagates down the track like a wave.  The ties have to be evened out over and over.  If ME is anything like Shinohara, well, maybe I wasn't born with the right skills that those who find it easy to work with have.

Bottom line, use what works for you.  I'm glad we have choice.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

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Posted by steemtrayn on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 12:25 AM

I use Peco flex because BOTH rails slide. I remove the rail, run it through a FastTracks roller and replace, so now the track has a curve built in. i cut the rail anywhere in the curve and there is no kink at the joint.

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Posted by Redvdub1 on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 6:50 AM

my two cents worth.  I like all the ideas posted here.  At my club we have guys who can lay nice curves by hand and guys that can't.  But one little trick is to use a Micromark track gauge (the little block with slots machined out for the track) to sort of comb the track as you go through the curves.  It seems to really help the "guys who can't".  I saw this trick on the net and would reference it if I could find it again..maybe later.

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