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The Use of 'RibbonRail'

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The Use of 'RibbonRail'
Posted by CPBaden on Friday, March 13, 2015 7:40 PM

Just wondering if anyone has used 'RibbonRail Track Alignment Gauges' in HO Gauge?  Thinking about buying some in various radius for curved areas of track.  Just curious if it's worth it to buy?  Thanks!

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Posted by jrbernier on Friday, March 13, 2015 11:24 PM

  I have several 30" radius and lots of 5" & 10" straight ones.    The curved one are to make sure my curves do not slip under 30" radius, and the straight ones were used to make sure my yard tracks were tangent.

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 14, 2015 5:37 AM

One of the very best tools that I have ever bought for my layout was the Ribbonrail Track Alignment Gauge.

The curved gauges come in 5" and 10" lengths.  Buy the 10" length to make the measuring and forming easier.

I bought several of the curved gauges selecting radii for the 26", 28", 30", 32", 34" 36", 38", and 40".  My curves on my double mainline are 30" and 32" with 28" on some sidings.  So, I wanted a range of radii to confirm my curves.  I use all of the gauges.

Ribbonrail also makes a straight track gauge, and it comes in 5", 10", and 24" lengths.  The 24" length is extremely useful in setting lengths of flex track perfectly straight.

I highly recommend the Ribbonrail Track Alignment Gauges.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, March 14, 2015 9:55 AM

I bought a set of the Ribbonrail radius and tangent alignment tools and used them quite a bit -- it has various radii and various lengths of tangent.  For the stiffer brands of flex track such as Micro Engineering, I just ran the alignment gauge of the radius I sought through the piece of flex track over and over and over -- it took a while for the flex track to "take" the radius.  Similarly when laying track, I used the alignment tool where two curved pieces met, to preserve the radius.

Having said that, don't expect perfection - you still want your radius drawn on the cork or other roadbed material as you lay the track and some "muscle" (gentle muscle) is needed to get a perfect radius curve.  My pencil line also includes the easement curves on the ends of the curve.

I did the same when using stiff flex track for a tangent -- ran the tangent through the piece over and over.

For "whippy" brands of flex track such as Atlas the curved or tangent alignment tool is used during the actual track laying.  Some guys drill holes in the middle so that they can put in the occasional nail in the center of a tie for such track.   I think RBL also makes a plastic alignment tool that has openings in the center for track nails if you use them.

There are now other brands of rather similar products although not in metal as is the case with the Ribbonrail.  There are also similar products for N track.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, March 14, 2015 10:41 AM

Like Jim, I use my RibbonRail gauge to maintain minimum radius when laying flex track.  (Unlike Jim, I don't have the luxury of 30-inch radius, though.)

When I built my carfloat terminal area using Proto87 girder rail, I found the gauge to be the single most useful tool I had.  It wasn't the right size for rail-to-rail spacing, but the edges worked perfectly for aligning the rails section-to-section and maintaining constant curvature.

As for getting the rail-to-rail spacing right on the girder rail, there's that other oh-so-useful tool, the NMRA track gauge.

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

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Posted by HO-Velo on Saturday, March 14, 2015 11:15 AM

I find the HO Ribbonrail gauges very handy, especially useful when forming Microengineering flex track and doing mock-ups.  IMO, well worth the cost.

regards,  Peter

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Posted by CPBaden on Saturday, March 14, 2015 3:34 PM
Thanks everyone for your input! Looks like I'm off to the hobby shop to make some purchases!
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Posted by kelleywpns on Saturday, March 14, 2015 8:14 PM

I've had great luck with their products in N-Scale

Mike

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Posted by ricktrains4824 on Saturday, March 14, 2015 10:26 PM

dknelson

Some guys drill holes in the middle so that they can put in the occasional nail in the center of a tie for such track.  

I never did that, however, because I have hand laid some track, I have spikes and spiking pliers. What I did was slice off a "molded" spike here and there, use a pin vice to drill a tiny pilot hole, and the use said real spike to tack down the track, followed up with the traditional nail through the center of the tie to ensure that it stayed put. Good tip though, especially for those not already equipped with spikes and spiking tools. Just get a drill bit small enough to stay inside the gauge, but big enough to clear the nail head, line it up, and tack it in.

Ricky W.

HO scale Proto-freelancer.

My Railroad rules:

1: It's my railroad, my rules.

2: It's for having fun and enjoyment.

3: Any objections, consult above rules.

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, March 15, 2015 10:23 AM

I have used them alot. I had only one curve that ended badly but it was my fault due to the s curve I needed, a very tricky area.

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Sunday, March 15, 2015 11:26 AM

I have not used RibbonRail products, but have been well satisified with traditional methods of aligning track.  

For curves, I solder the track joints to prevent kinking, then simply set the flextrack to follow the roadbed centerline, and if I'm off a 16th or even an 8th of an inch, it won't be material even on the smallest of radius curves.  For straights, I just set a straight edge along the edge of the ties to align the track.

I use Atlas Flex, glued to cork with caulk; 26" radius on the main.

Jim

 

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, March 16, 2015 11:44 AM

hardcoalcase
...and if I'm off a 16th or even an 8th of an inch, it won't be material even on the smallest of radius curves.

And so I thought.  But, a few years back I bought 4 Rivarossi passenger cars, which are rated for 18 inch curves.  They meant 18 inches, not a bit less.  I think that's when I bought the RibbonRail gauge to re-lay that section of track.  17 7/8 was not good enough.

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

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Posted by Toddster on Sunday, January 15, 2017 11:36 AM

I have not used the Ribbonrail products, but I have used the Peco Tracksetta products from England.  They are outstanding, and have the advantage of slot cutouts in the middle that allow you to drive your pins into the ties directly below.  Then, lift off the tool.  Recommended.  Ex. Walthers #552-OOT42.  Can also be ordered in England.

https://www.walthers.com/tracksetta-track-laying-template-42-quot-106-7cm-radius-curve

http://www.hattons.co.uk/53255/Peco_Products_OOT42_1067mm_42in_Radius_Tracksetta/StockDetail.aspx

 

 

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Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, January 15, 2017 12:19 PM

I think everything has been said about the Ribbon Rail track gauges. Truly a valuable modeling tool. I have used them for years with flex track and when doing hand layed track. They are well worth the small price. 

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

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Posted by Arto on Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:12 PM

Yes good stuff

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Posted by middleman on Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:24 PM

Ooops!  'Missed the start date on this thread,but I still think the product is worth a mention... I recently tried these:

http://www.handlaidtrack.com/sweepsticks

and found them very easy to use. The pieces interlock,and you can easily mix radius' to transition from gradual to more extreme curves.

I'm not knocking RibbonRail at all,just mentioning an alternative.

Mike

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, January 15, 2017 11:05 PM

I used a homemade trammel and the pencil-on-plywood method to lay out curves on my plywood roadbed (for cutting them out) but you can also include lines for track centres or tie edges if you need such aids.
If you want low-cost guides for laying flextrack, you can make your own using corrugated cardboard from an appliance outlet, where it's usually free for the asking.  The large sheets can yield forms for some pretty wide (and long) curves, and a homemade trammel, a pencil, and a utility knife are the only tools needed.  You can make outside-the-curve versions, inside-the-curve, or even ones for use between the rails.If you're the type who calculates easements, they could be drawn on the cardboard, too, and included on the ends of each template.

Wayne

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, January 16, 2017 5:11 AM

As I mentioned back in my March 2015 reply, the Ribbonrail Track Alignment Gauges cannot be beat. They are metal, fit securely between the rails, and hold true while working with the track.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Monday, January 16, 2017 10:00 AM

Speaking of Ribbon (welded) Rail. This is the transport train for welded rail segments on the subway.

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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Posted by wojosa31 on Monday, January 16, 2017 11:42 AM

middleman

Ooops!  'Missed the start date on this thread,but I still think the product is worth a mention... I recently tried these:

http://www.handlaidtrack.com/sweepsticks

and found them very easy to use. The pieces interlock,and you can easily mix radius' to transition from gradual to more extreme curves.

I'm not knocking RibbonRail at all,just mentioning an alternative.

Mike

 

I have used both. In my experience, Ribbon Rail works better with Micro Engineering Flex, while the Sweep Sticks work better with Atlas, PECO and other brands of flexible flex track.

Another advantage of Ribbon Rail, is that there are no interlocking connectors to break.  

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 10:14 PM

MisterBeasley

Like Jim, I use my RibbonRail gauge to maintain minimum radius when laying flex track.  (Unlike Jim, I don't have the luxury of 30-inch radius, though.)

When I built my carfloat terminal area using Proto87 girder rail, I found the gauge to be the single most useful tool I had.  It wasn't the right size for rail-to-rail spacing, but the edges worked perfectly for aligning the rails section-to-section and maintaining constant curvature.

As for getting the rail-to-rail spacing right on the girder rail, there's that other oh-so-useful tool, the NMRA track gauge.

 

So the ribbon-rail tool does NOT fit down between the rails like the FastTracks's Sweepsticks?

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 10:25 PM

Yes it does, as I just posted in another thread you replied to.  Ribbon Rail is metal, and they fit between the rails.

Mike.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, April 05, 2018 4:50 AM

Back in a 2017 reply to this thread, someone mentioned that the Ribbonrail gauges do not fit well with Atlas flex track. I have not found that to be the case. I am using my Ribbonrail Metal Track Alignment Gauges right now on my new layout. They fit Atlas flec track very well.

The gauges are made in both 5" and 10" lengths. Get the 10" lengths.

I recently bought more of the 32" curve radius gauges, so I now have six of them to complete some curves - - - three per 36" section of flex track. I also have six 10" straight track gauges.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by mobilman44 on Thursday, April 05, 2018 5:09 AM

In the early 1990s, before I built my previous HO layout, I made my own curved templates. 

Taking a piece of good 1/4 inch ply, I drew quarter (1/4th) circles using a yardstick as a compass.  I started at 18 inches and worked up inch by inch to 36 inch.  Then, using a bandsaw with a fine blade, I cut out the curved strips.

They served me well on the previous and current layout, cost about $10 and a couple hours time, and worked like a charm.

They are cut so they are 1 inch wide, and marked with inside and outside diameters.  Unlike Ribbonrail, they will not fit inside the rails, but will work outside the rails and they are especially good at making curved centerlines.

Ha, when money was a bit tight, we do learn to improvise.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, April 05, 2018 7:11 AM

 I used Ribbonrail sections just fine with Atlas track on my previoous layout. Especially the 10" straight one, carefully slide that along some freshly caulked flex where I want it to be straight and it all ends up quite nicely straight, with hardly a wiggle.

                                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, April 05, 2018 10:12 AM

Since this thread has been revived - again - it might be useful to point out that the similar track alignment template tools made by JMD Plastics, a very extensive line, are likely unavailable since JMD rather abruptly closed shop this winter.  See this thread: 

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/268954.aspx

The JMD templates were useful for flextrack curves because they were longer than the Ribbonrail curves.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, April 05, 2018 11:55 AM

railandsail
So the ribbon-rail tool does NOT fit down between the rails like the FastTracks's Sweepsticks?

For normal trackwork, yes, it does fit between the rails.  My picture shows an alternate use, for girder rail (street-running or trolley track) where the wheels run in a channel in the middle of the rail rather than on top of the rail head.

I used a thin plastic brick sheet for cobblestones around the girder rail.  Once again, the Ribbon Rail tool proved its worth when measuring and cutting the correct curves in the sheet to fit around the rail.

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

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, April 05, 2018 3:27 PM

I just laid a 32" radius curve using the Ribbonrail Metal Track Alignment gauges.

You can even insert eaements.

After soldering two sections of flex track together, I laid out the soldered flex track and inserted a few 32" radius Ribbonrail gauges between the rails. As I neared the adjacent straight section of track, I inserted a 34" radius gauge followed by a 36" radius gauge.

This made the joint between the curved track and the straight track less abrupt.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, April 06, 2018 7:07 AM

Wonder if someone that has completed their layout has some of these Ribbonrail gauges as surplus?

The alum construction is appealing. Do the ends join together if using multiple 10" sections,....or is this even necessary??

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, April 06, 2018 8:20 AM

railandsail

The alum construction is appealing. Do the ends join together if using multiple 10" sections,....or is this even necessary??

The ends do not join together, but you can butt them up against each other. But I don't do that. I pretty much evenly space three 10" guides inside a 36" section of flex track.

Rich

Alton Junction

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