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atlas track vs peco track vs other ho (code 83)

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 7:31 PM

Lastspikemike

 

Just BTW, it is physically impossible to bend one section of unconnected flextrack to the same radius for its entire length. You cannot exert the same leverage on the end as you can on the middle of a section of flextrack, a major drawback. It is true the sections are self easing in that way but only in less than 3' sections of curve (you lose a bit of length with every curve).

 

If the curve is limited to one three foot section of track, then the less curved ends act as a natural easement.  Forming a curve longer that three feet would be best to solder the two sections together as straight tracks first , then work the curve and shorten to fit, ....even so there is a little less curve along the joiner (but who cares).

- Douglas

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 9:47 PM

Bayfield Transfer Railway

Well, I don't use caulk, I use spikes into Homasote.  And I start at the switch and move on, adjusting as I go.

Bingo.  No issue with kinks.  If a joint may be prone to it, a ME spike or two holds things firmly in place.  

I have no issues with curving Atlas flex at the end with the rest straight.  I can provide a few photos in my staging yard where I am laying track presently after work tomorrow.   As Bayfield noted, these things are possible with good old Homasote and spikes.  Perhaps a distinct advage over adhesives on foam.  After building 3 previous layouts this way I'm a believer.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 9:55 PM

riogrande5761

 

 
Bayfield Transfer Railway

Well, I don't use caulk, I use spikes into Homasote.  And I start at the switch and move on, adjusting as I go.

 

Bingo.  No issue with kinks.  If a joint may be prone to it, a ME spike or two holds things firmly in place.  

I have no issues with curving Atlas flex at the end with the rest straight.  I can provide a few photos in my staging yard where I am laying track presently after work tomorrow.   As Bayfield noted, these things are possible with good old Homasote and spikes.  Perhaps a distinct advage over adhesives on foam.  After building 3 previous layouts this way I'm a believer.

 

I use adhesives, I don't use foam...............

Sheldon

    

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 10:08 PM

 Layout before the last one, I used foam roadbed. I drew the outside lines for the foam. But also caulked down the track, no kink here either, just a smooth curve off the turnout (and the curves to the right)

With adhesive, instead of nails, there is something holding the track over the entire length, not just every so many ties where you have a nail driven in. So yet another advantage to caulk over nails, the track is fully supported. Temprarily just use pushpins to keep it from moving until the caulk sets:

As you can see, not many pins needed, when you spread the caulk thin like you are supposed to, it sticks very well from the get go. Takes maybe an hour to dry enough to remove the pushbins and not have it move on its own, maybe less. But I just keep on working if I have more to go.

                                 --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 doctorwayne on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 10:28 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I have been making perfect curves, perfect easements and lazer perfect straight track with Atlas flex track for the last five decades, it's easy. I have no kinks at my rail joints. Of course I don't waste my time with track nails or cork roadbed. Sheldon

Well, I get similar results, but do use cork roadbed and track nails for most (but not all) track.

However, I don't quite get this....

Lastspikemike
If you just bend Atlas flextrack as you nail it down to hold it in place it will always exert a sideways force and will spring back to some extent if the nails are pulled or work loose....

as it conflicts with this...

Lastspikemike
...I prefer to pre bend the flextrack to the exact required alignment before fixing it down, especially when making connections to turnouts...

If the nailed-down stuff springs back if the nails are removed, why wouldn't your pre-bent track simply do the same thing, as, at the beginning, it wouldn't be fastened down at all.

If you wish to make long curves, simply curve and fasten most of the first piece in place, trim the excess rail and ties as necessary, then solder another length of track to the not-yet-curved portion of the previously laid piece, then carry on with your curve, repeating the same process every time.

When I was ready to end a curve, I simply let the Atlas track form its own suitable easement, then fastened it in place.

All of my mainline curves are superelevated, and all have self-created vertical easements

I was, though, surprised to learn that what I thought to be some of the fairly long curves on my layout, weren't really all that long.  Most of the "bigger" ones were between only 10' and 15' long.

Most of the lower level of my layout is on cut-out 3/4" plywood, with the majority of it on risers of various heights.  I drew centrelines on the sections before cutting them out, which made easy work of adding the cork roadbed, and the split cork strips served as a centreline for the laying of track.
When most of the curves were in place, I used free-form to connect them as needed.  Where straight track was needed, I occasionally used an 8' straightedge, but more often, simply sighted it "by-eye".

Generally, I found tracklaying to be pretty easy and enjoyable, too.

Wayne

 

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 12:04 AM

The discussion has drifted from the OP's question a bit. If we are talking best flex track for a beginner I would say Atlas because it is easy to use. I would then suggest picking up a stick of each of the major brands and comparing them. That might be over the top for a 4 X 8 but it does give you first hand experience with all of the major brands so that you can figure out what you prefer in terms of looks, workability and price point.

My choice was based on what I thought looked best after buying a stick of each and ballasting and painting them. Overly fussy? maybe... but my layout has 500-600 feet of track on it so it is a big commitment in terms of track.

The photo below says it all: Micro Engineering looked best and had the most realistic rail profile, so I went with that. Never regretted the choice. I looked at it this way: ME looks better than what I could handlay so if it is a little more difficult to install than Atlas at least it is still way quicker and better looking than handlaid.

riogrande5761

as far as Atlas not curving at the ends - never had a problem with that and I have 300 feet of it in hidden staging...

 

Your mileage may vary,

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 5:02 AM

trainnut1250

The discussion has drifted from the OP's question a bit. If we are talking best flex track for a beginner I would say Atlas because it is easy to use. I would then suggest picking up a stick of each of the major brands and comparing them. 

Since he first posted the question, the OP has edited his initial post to say that he has found some Peco flextrack and intends to use it. So, that pretty much settles the matter.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 6:09 AM

Well, from this discussion, we have found a method that works well for each of us.  We tend to repeat ourselves on this - ad nauseum - and it's obvious no one is going to change.  Put a fork in it.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 7:48 AM

Just to recap, one of the major differences between Atlas and Peco is that Atlas track wont bend unless its anchored on one end and won't stay bent unless its anchored well along the way.  That reality could conflict with the way many build their layouts.

Personally, I don't build layouts like books tell us to. 

I lay the track on the subroadbed, wire it up and run trains to be sure that I'm satisfied that I like the appearence of the curve and approaching angles.  To do this, curves must stay anchored temporarily or have their bend hold on their own by prebending.

I wire feeders only to joiners and not to the rails.  That way I can take apart the track after I draw a line on the inside edge to guide the placement of the roadbed.  Caulking (or nailing) is way down the road in the process of actually building the layout since I've already built it once without the roadbed.  Laying roadbed is closer to the scenicking process than the planning/track laying process

For me, it beats paralysis by analysis in that I spend minimal time drawing the plan on paper.  I like to work the track rather than the CAD.  My layouts have no grades and minimal verticle scenery so I can plan angles by arranging track on the table top as to see the results before I apply permanent anchors.  Its one reason I build layouts slowly, sort of planning and building at the same time....but I like seeing the choices and results as I go, rather than envisioning them on paper or computer screen.

My new layout is single garaged size, U shaped.  Already completed one big curve and am setting up for the other.  I will bend the track in different radii to see if I like how it lines up at one end and exits onto the long shelf at the proper spot.  Will run trains to see if I like how the long locos and long cars look.  Can't really see how that looks if I start by laying roadbed or commit to a radius before I start building.  

When building this way, track that bends easily and stays bent has a big advantage over track that is hard to bend, then rebend, or wants to snap back straight. 

- Douglas

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 8:38 AM

Lastspikemike

That's exactiy  how we ended up building (still building) our new layout.

I recommend starting out that way. We rediscovered  these points by trying stuff and eliminating techniques that didn't work so well. We ended up with the above.

Atlas flex track  can be made to take a set but you have to over-bend it aggressively to get it to stay at the desired radius when you let go. If you go too far it can be a bit tricky to bend it back. It will take a set though. 

Peco should not be over-bent in this fashion as it takes a set fairly easily and is a rpita to straighten out. Often we just straightened it back out with a ribbon rail tool and started again. Peco stays bent easily. 

I have not yet bent my pieces of Code 70 ME but I really like the look of that track.

 

Like RioGrande said, we all find what works for us, glad you found what works for you.

Personally I don't like laying track by trial and error, never had a need to.

I also don't like soft base materials like cork or foam.

I like the smooth easy flexing of Atlas track.

The pictures I have posted elsewhere on this forum show my results.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 10:19 AM

Lastspikemike

 

Peco should not be over-bent in this fashion as it takes a set fairly easily and is a rpita to straighten out. Often we just straightened it back out with a ribbon rail tool and started again.  

 

Mike, agree with your post but this part I find confusing.  I've been straightening the Peco by just lying it on its edge on the table top and pressing down.  It forms to the shape of the table, IOW, straight.  And the rails go back to normal alignment, meaning there isn't one hanging over the ties and another falling way short of the end. 

I think Peco is pretty easy to restraighten, but I've only been doing 36 inch radius and above.  Started with 36 inch radius since I thought it would be fine, then didn't like the look and went to about 42 inch.

- Douglas

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 11:06 AM

Radius has a fair amount to do with how any of this stuff is to work with.

My mainline minimum is 36", but most curves are more in the 40" range.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 12:57 PM

 The pieces of Peco I have been playing around with ALWAYS seem to end up with one rail hanging over more than the other - just liek Atlas. It's no big deal to work it back so both ends are even, but none of the Code 83 pieces I have just automatically return to nice even ends if I flex them then unbend it. But neither does any other flex track I tried.

                                         --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 IC_Tom on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 9:59 AM

trainnut1250

The discussion has drifted from the OP's question a bit. If we are talking best flex track for a beginner I would say Atlas because it is easy to use. I would then suggest picking up a stick of each of the major brands and comparing them. That might be over the top for a 4 X 8 but it does give you first hand experience with all of the major brands so that you can figure out what you prefer in terms of looks, workability and price point.

My choice was based on what I thought looked best after buying a stick of each and ballasting and painting them. Overly fussy? maybe... but my layout has 500-600 feet of track on it so it is a big commitment in terms of track.

The photo below says it all: Micro Engineering looked best and had the most realistic rail profile, so I went with that. Never regretted the choice. I looked at it this way: ME looks better than what I could handlay so if it is a little more difficult to install than Atlas at least it is still way quicker and better looking than handlaid.

 

 
riogrande5761

 

 

as far as Atlas not curving at the ends - never had a problem with that and I have 300 feet of it in hidden staging...

 

Your mileage may vary,

 

Guy

 

Love that photo of the four brands of flex!

I've decided on the new Walthers turnouts.  They're just far and away better made.  Has anyone mated them up with Atlas flex, yet?

I'm certain the Walthers flex would work best, but it doesn't appear to be sold in bulk - only 5-piece boxes.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 7:35 PM

RR_Mel
You dated your self Wayne with the stapled brass rails to fiber tie strip. Remember the fiber tie strip before brass rails?

I wasn't aware of the fiber tie strips without rails, but I do recall the Atlas brass rails on fiber tie strips...as best I can recall, that was 1956.  That 4'x8'  layout  was sold sometime in the mid-to-late '60s.

I did have a somewhat larger layout in the early-to-mid '80s, but started my current one in 1988, shortly after finishing building the house in which we're still living.

Wayne

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Posted by DerryMaine on Saturday, March 11, 2023 11:12 PM

Today I was making some minor changes to my layout, and picked up a piece of track from my track drawer that was the length I needed. 99% of my track is Atlas 100 but this piece was Peco 100, and it fit in no problem, other than I find the joiners can be a challenge with Atlas if you are not using Atlas joiners, and with Peco, Atlas joiners are too loose, so need a squeeze one end if you are joining Peco to Atlas, as I was.

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 6:57 AM

IC_Tom
 
trainnut1250

The discussion has drifted from the OP's question a bit. If we are talking best flex track for a beginner I would say Atlas because it is easy to use. I would then suggest picking up a stick of each of the major brands and comparing them. That might be over the top for a 4 X 8 but it does give you first hand experience with all of the major brands so that you can figure out what you prefer in terms of looks, workability and price point.

My choice was based on what I thought looked best after buying a stick of each and ballasting and painting them. Overly fussy? maybe... but my layout has 500-600 feet of track on it so it is a big commitment in terms of track.

The photo below says it all: Micro Engineering looked best and had the most realistic rail profile, so I went with that. Never regretted the choice. I looked at it this way: ME looks better than what I could handlay so if it is a little more difficult to install than Atlas at least it is still way quicker and better looking than handlaid.

 

 
riogrande5761

 

 

as far as Atlas not curving at the ends - never had a problem with that and I have 300 feet of it in hidden staging...

 

Your mileage may vary,

 

Guy

 

 

 

Love that photo of the four brands of flex!

I've decided on the new Walthers turnouts.  They're just far and away better made.  Has anyone mated them up with Atlas flex, yet?

I'm certain the Walthers flex would work best, but it doesn't appear to be sold in bulk - only 5-piece boxes.

 

 
Note that the Atlas rail profile in the above photo doesn't compare well at all to real rail profile.  I got some Atlas code 100 a year ago and noticed some major improvements.  I would guess the code 83 is upgraded too, but I haven't bought any for about 6 years.  I'm using Peco code 83 on my currently layout, mostly.  Staging I'm using code 100 Atlas.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 2:54 PM

I intermix Micro Engineering (ME) code 83 with Atlas turnouts.  WHile more expensive, ME is more user friendly.  It also is easier to curve. You just need to cut some ties from underneath to get rid of the "V" shape made from curved track.  Super easy effort though.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 6:12 PM

kasskaboose

I intermix Micro Engineering (ME) code 83 with Atlas turnouts.  WHile more expensive, ME is more user friendly.  It also is easier to curve. You just need to cut some ties from underneath to get rid of the "V" shape made from curved track.  Super easy effort though.

 

Please explain what makes ME more "user friendly"?

Sheldon

    

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