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Discussion Starter #1
After about a year I am ready to start laying track on my 6' by 9' layout. I have atlas flex track (code 100), some atlas #6 switches ,and cork roadbed. I plan to have a 31" outer track and 28" inner track connected with the previously mentioned turnouts. I have marked the 31" outer radius and before I start laying tracks I want to know some final tips.
Other information:
-I do have foam on the train table
-I am running dcc
Thanks in advance.
(and excuse my horrific grammar ;))
 

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• Code 100 track will allow you to use older manufactured locomotives (mainly steamers) with larger oversize driver flanges.

• Most will recommend acrylic caulk for roadbed and track... not too thick!
Allow sufficient time to cure.

• Most will recommend soldered rail joiners and wire connections over simple crimping.

• Use extra care when ballasting turnouts.

• Clean rail flanges of white glue, etc, thoroughly, during and after ballasting.

• Murphy's Law says, "Problem turnouts will always be the hardest to reach."
 

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After about a year I am ready to start laying track on my 6' by 9' layout. I have atlas flex track (code 100), some atlas #6 switches ,and cork roadbed. I plan to have a 31" outer track and 28" inner track connected with the previously mentioned turnouts. I have marked the 31" outer radius and before I start laying tracks I want to know some final tips.
Other information:
-I do have foam on the train table
-I am running dcc
Thanks in advance.
(and excuse my horrific grammar ;))
An important tip that will require you to practice at least once is the idea of staggering the joint between the sliding rails from where the non-sliding rails must meet (between the end ties). The idea is to slide one rail inward, leaving 'bare' tie ends, maybe six of them. Slide the other rail length's sliding rail into the open spikehead details until it meets the other rail. Now, the trick is to figure out how to join those two. Some remove a tie there...rip it off, or cut the spike heads and remove it. Place the joiner there, and solder the joiner in place. That makes the joint very much stronger than placing both joiners where the rails seem that they should meet, between the two pieces with the rails both extended beyond the end ties. You can file off the spikehead details on that tie and slide it under the joint. The idea is to thin the tie enough that there isn't a bit of a bump there at the joint.

The other joint is soldered normally.

Why do this? Because when you go to bend both rails with the joint partway around a curve, there is a tendency for non-soldered joints to kink...the joiners aren't very strong. If you lay both lengths of track out tangentially, and then solder both joints, but with the sliding rail staggered, when you go to bend them both to form the curve, it'll bend nicely and with strength.
 

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Mesenteria is right on. Using the staggered joint makes
it easy to have a smooth curve using flex track. The stagger
avoids the kink that a butt joint can cause. Save the loose
ties. You'll want to use them to fill in where some had to
be removed. After you get the rails aligned you may want
to solder the staggerd joiners.

Don
 

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I just used track nails to hold track in place for a few months before I did anything permanent. I had zero problems, and i was able to make changes before I glued things down.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I just used track nails to hold track in place for a few months before I did anything permanent. I had zero problems, and i was able to make changes before I glued things down.
That's actually how I started. I did glue down the curve on the loop that I knew I wouldn't change however.
 

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Kinks in flex track is what drove me to central Valley ties and ME rail, glued to the ties with philo bond. caulk for the ties. Easy to handle offset joints. even started me making my own turnouts!
 

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I don't understand the appeal of gluing the track down. I have always found track nails to be simple and easy. Maybe I am too old school.
 

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When ya nail your track down, you get a bit of deformation of the rail gauge. If the nail is pounded down hard enough, the tie will pull the rails toward each other. In addition to that, you will have sections of the track that can lift off the benchwork or cork road bed causing an unsightly appearance.
Using caulk to hold the cork road bed down then the track will give you an even track surface. Also, caulking the track down will allow you to make minor adjustments to the track as the caulk dries. Ya can't do that with nailing unless you pull the nails up and try again.
 

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When ya nail your track down, you get a bit of deformation of the rail gauge. If the nail is pounded down hard enough, the tie will pull the rails toward each other. In addition to that, you will have sections of the track that can lift off the benchwork or cork road bed causing an unsightly appearance.
Using caulk to hold the cork road bed down then the track will give you an even track surface. Also, caulking the track down will allow you to make minor adjustments to the track as the caulk dries. Ya can't do that with nailing unless you pull the nails up and try again.
Odd, I've never encountered those problems. Maybe I install the nails differently. I do not drive them; I plunge them, holding the head in needle-nose pliers. Since I am pressing the nail in, I control how far down it goes, and I stop before deforming the ties. I also stagger the nails appropriately to prevent sections from lifting.

Obviously, there are many ways to skin a cat and what works for me does not negate anyone else's preferences.
 

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I think the principal objection to spikes is that the heads can be obvious nested tight to the midpoint of the ties in photos, and they look out of place. I have heard of the gauge-change problem, but a person would have to have bad eyesight, a very heavy and unskilled hand, and poor recall to do that...my opinion. I could see driving the tip of the pliers almost right through the tie before the gauge would suffer unduly, or leaving the tie in a V and indenting the roadbed thereby. Plausible, but also noticeable and avoidable.

Spikes can't be adequately inserted into some choices of roadbed without bending them or damaging the tracks. The DAP Alex Plus with Silicone is cheap and a thin skiff of it under the ties, once set up, does a great job of retaining the rails as one wants them to lie. To take up the tracks, soften the ballast, and slide an old bread knife or butcher knife under the ties in a sawing action. DAP Alex Plus will separate nicely.
 

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Just a point on the kinking of flex track. It is one of the reasons I prefer MicroEngineering flex. It stays where you bend it, so it doesn't apply pressure on your track joints, because it's the stiffness of the track holding things in place.

Yes, it's tougher to form the curve in the first place with the ME track, but personally I think it's worth the effort.
 

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Spikes can't be adequately inserted into some choices of roadbed without bending them or damaging the tracks.
Ethan1526: This is an important point. What kind of surface does your track sit on?

I had no problems using track nails on 1/4" cork roadbed glued to Homosote. But inserting track nails directly into plywood would be difficult. And they will not hold well on foam board.
 
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