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Feasibility to reuse flex track that has been painted?

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  • Member since
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  • From: East Central Florida
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Feasibility to reuse flex track that has been painted?
Posted by Onewolf on Monday, May 3, 2021 4:41 PM

I am getting ready to disassemble my layout.  I plan to reuse as much of the track as possible in the 'next' layout.  None of the 115 turnouts were soldered/glued so they should be fairly easy to 'reclaim'.  I have about 600 feet of flex track that is in staging or helix which should also be reasonably easy to reclaim.  I have about 400 feet of straight flex track that has been painted and about 1000 feet of flex track that is curved/soldered and painted (mostly Atlas code 83 and a couple hundred feet of ME code 70). 

Has anyone successfully rehabilitated flex track that has been painted?

Thanks.

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 BATMAN on Monday, May 3, 2021 4:48 PM

Take it out to the driveway lay it down and while wearing a rubber boot gently put one foot on the end of the flex and hit it with the pressure washer. Paint, Glue, caulk, and ballast tend to have an aversion to pressure washers. The track seems to get through the process just fine.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 


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Posted by cowman on Monday, May 3, 2021 4:53 PM

Though I haven't done it, I see no reason not to reuse it.  The only thing you should have to do is to repaint places where the little clips hold the rail were, if you are bending it to a different redius.  If it was painted when straight and the new use is straight, it should be good to go, unless it was flexed while not on the layout and rubbed some of the paint off.  

Sounds like a fairly easy job.

Good luck,

Richard

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Posted by rrebell on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 9:24 AM

When I took down my layout I was able to salvage most of the turnouts but not the flex but mine was ballasted, if just painted you may luck out but is it worth it and then you have storage to your nerxt layout.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 10:40 AM

If the paint ain't real thick, you may be able to lay it again and the silver spots showing through where the rail was covered by spike detail can be shot over again as it will like show when relaid.

As for pressure washer, my wife and I got a powerful one (3200 psi) and if we use it on the most focused nozzle, it will score cement.  So if you try it, try one piece and see how much abuse the track can take if you feel you must take adhesives and paint off.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by BATMAN on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 10:45 AM

riogrande5761
As for pressure washer, my wife and I got a powerful one (3200 psi) and if we use it on the most focused nozzle, it will score cement.  So if you try it, try one piece and see how much abuse the track can take if you feel you must take adhesives and paint off.

I use the 40% spread and one pass up and down gets good results. I would say I have had an 80% success rate. It all boils down to what kind of paint and/or glue we are talking about.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 


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Posted by Onewolf on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 10:46 AM

I think my plan will be to save all the flex track as I disassemble the layout and figure out how to reuse it when it gets closer to building the new layout. Big Smile

Thanks for all the comments/advice.

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 -

  • Member since
    June 2007
  • 8,527 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 10:59 AM

BATMAN

 

riogrande5761
As for pressure washer, my wife and I got a powerful one (3200 psi) and if we use it on the most focused nozzle, it will score cement.  So if you try it, try one piece and see how much abuse the track can take if you feel you must take adhesives and paint off.

 

I use the 40% spread and one pass up and down gets good results. I would say I have had an 80% success rate. It all boils down to what kind of paint and/or glue we are talking about. 

How close to you hold the nozzle; that is a factor too.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
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Posted by BATMAN on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 11:02 AM

riogrande5761
How close to you hold the nozzle; that is a factor too.

Agreed.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 


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Posted by selector on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 11:02 AM

It is definitely worth the extra hour or so to salvage intact pieces, even if they have to be trimmed at the ends due to solder or bending.  They can be reused in helixes, staging (including ingress/egress), and even in yards or industries where unusual configurations can be found.  You probably won't even have to clean them up much if you bury most of the rails, say in a muddy yard.

The paint does present an impediment, but if you work the rails back and forth gently just one or four flexes, you might be able to free them up just enough to suit your needs.

I think Brent's idea is worth a shot...of pressurized water flow.  How those tiny spikeheads will react is anyone's guess, but it might free up two or three lengths of flex even.

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 11:08 AM

Agree with Selector.  Use them as cruddy yard, industrial, or staging tracks.

When you break lose the paint from the ties/track if you reflex it to a different shape, yes, you'll have to repaint since the shiny will show through were the paint didn't originally cover (spike heads).  

Other than that extra step, its well worth it to recycle the track.

Hopefully, they are mostly straight and can be used in the new yard or similar applications.

- Douglas

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Posted by EMDSD40 on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 7:07 PM

Absolutely possible. Reclaimed hundreds of feet of soldered painted Model Power brass flex track. That track has been in service between two layouts for forty years . I cut the soldered joint out with rail nippers leaving a length perhaps an inch short. When it was to be reinstalled.....I squared the ends with a file and cleaned the railbrown paint off with lacquer thinner. Install new rail joiners and solder it all together.....touch up the paint with airbrush. I use kitty litter for ballast and nothing is glued down. That makes changes, repairs, or teardowns easy. Kitty litter comes in  many sizes and colors. Find a type pleasing to you and buy a number of those big jugs of the same lot . Even that can be reused when changes or repairs are made. The above has served me well through the decades and will take me to the end. Also works well with Gargraves O-scale not so flexible flex track.....same process but I did not solder the track pins. Good luck!

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Posted by wp8thsub on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 12:07 AM

I've recycled hundreds of feet of painted flextrack and plenty of turnouts.  I just re-use with no concern for the paint, and paint it all again when it's done.  The only extra step (provided the track wasn't ballasted, in which case you have to soak the ballast off) is to clean paint from rail joints so it doesn't interfere with making a good connection to the new joiners.

Mill Spots 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

Most of the above track was recycled, and much of it was previously painted and ballasted.  It's shown here prior to receiving its new paint.  The variations in color are from the old layout.

Pillsbury 1

by wp8thsub, on Flickr

Here's another locale with a mixture of new and previously painted track.  Most of the unpainted track visible was also recycled - but wasn't painted on the old layout.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by Onewolf on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 4:59 AM

I started removing the track this morning.  I pulled up 34 full 3ft pieces and about 10 partial pieces along with 5 turnouts.  The Atlas code 83 flex is still remarkably flexible even though it's painted.  The track installed on the rigid foam board came up fairly clean.  The track installed on the WS foam roadbed pulled up a lot of foam with it. Hopefully the pressure washer 'treatment' will be effective at removing the foam from the track. 

The main division yard was installed on homasote so I'm _hoping_ that painted track should come up fairly clean.  The lower and upper return loops/staging were installed on homasote or bare plywood and it's unpainted so it should come up very clean.

Most of the mainline was installed on WS foam roadbed so it looks like that track will require additional cleaning.

I have not decided on a strategy for the helix.  It's Peco code 100 affixed with a strong adhesive so it may not come up without a battle. It was also recycled from my first layout.

Thanks for all the advice/comments. 

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 -

  • Member since
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Posted by NorthBrit on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 5:05 AM

Onewolf

I have not decided on a strategy for the helix.  It's Peco code 100 affixed with a strong adhesive so it may not come up without a battle. It was also recycled from my first layout.

Thanks for all the advice/comments. 

 

 
 
Just a thought  --
 
 
Could the helix remain as one piece for your next layout?
 
 
David

To the world you are someone.    To someone you are the world

I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought

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