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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another dumb question.

Can one start a curve with flex in the middle or at some point of a straight? I'm using HO ME flex.

Can I start a 22" curve radius after about 3-5 inches of a straight, or must I start a radiused curve at the beginning of a piece of flex.

Anyrail does not seem to allow it in the design, and I don't have that many scrap pieces to waste on trial and error, so hoping to tap into the voices of experienced wisdom. Thanks
 

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I've only used O-gauge Gargraves flex track, but I started curves wherever I wanted in the piece. There's no restriction on where a curve is in a piece of flex that I'm aware of. FYI, you can "fudge" what you're trying to do in Anyrail if you can't get the curve to work by simply putting a straight piece of flex the length you want the start to be and then connecting the piece you want to curve after that. You can make your flex tracks any length in Anyrail.
 

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Yes, but easier to start at a previously laid track.
 

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Another dumb question.

Can one start a curve with flex in the middle or at some point of a straight? I'm using HO ME flex.

Can I start a 22" curve radius after about 3-5 inches of a straight, or must I start a radiused curve at the beginning of a piece of flex.

Anyrail does not seem to allow it in the design, and I don't have that many scrap pieces to waste on trial and error, so hoping to tap into the voices of experienced wisdom. Thanks
Stejones82;

There are no dumb questions here.
Yes, you can start a curve in the middle of a piece of flex track. The section of flex track is flexible throughout its entire length, so you can start your curve anywhere along a piece of flex track you want to. As you bend flex track, the inner rail of a section with any curve will stick out further than the outer rail. Just cut off the excess rail and trim the end to accept a rail joiner. Rail Nippers or a Dremel tool are good for this task, you will also need some miniature files. Micro Engineering rail joiners are super tight. I have found that I need to taper the rail base and often spread the end of the rail joiner with an X-acto knife holding a #11 blade. Once I get the rail joiner started, I brace the other end of the joiner against the wooden side of my layout, and push the track section into the joiner.

I use Micro Engineering code55 flex track on my N-scale layout. It looks great, but can be a bit troublesome to work with. If you have worked with Micro Engineering flex track at all, you will have found out that it is considerably less flexible than Atlas, or some other brands. You bend one part of a track section and the other parts bend the opposite way. It takes a lot more fussy effort to get it into a smooth curve. Some tools that can help are the fixed aluminum track gauges made by Ribbon Rail. They make them in HO & N scales, and in a wide variety of radii. You could get a couple of their HO-scale, 22" radius gauges and lay them between the rails of the flex track to assure a smooth 22" r. curve. The gauges are a tight fit. I've even had to sand mine down a tiny bit to fit them.

Traction Fan
 

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You can do anything you wish with flex. If you are going to have 2 or 3, 3 foot flex pieces to make a curve, though, first set the flex out straight and, along with rail joiners, solder them together before bending them..This ensures there will be a curve with no kink in it, midway.
Also, main line curves usually have an 'easement' at the two ends; a short length that is a tad wider than the main curvature. But you don't have to do that..
What are you using to cut the flex with ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Stejones82;

There are no dumb questions here.

I dunno - I've asked some whoppers! And reserve the right to field some more!

Yes, you can start a curve in the middle of a piece of flex track. The section of flex track is flexible throughout its entire length, so you can start your curve anywhere along a piece of flex track you want to. As you bend flex track, the inner rail of a section with any curve will stick out further than the outer rail. Just cut off the excess rail and trim the end to accept a rail joiner. Rail Nippers or a Dremel tool are good for this task, you will also need some miniature files. Micro Engineering rail joiners are super tight. I have found that I need to taper the rail base and often spread the end of the rail joiner with an X-acto knife holding a #11 blade. Once I get the rail joiner started, I brace the other end of the joiner against the wooden side of my layout, and push the track section into the joiner.

Thanks for the tips on how to use the ME joiners. In my limited experimenting, I have noticed that the Atlas joiners do not fit ME flex very well, and I have not yet tried the ME joiners. I have a Xuron rail nipper which seems to work well (I use Xuron brand pliers for another hobby of mine - chainmaille jewelry).

I use Micro Engineering code55 flex track on my N-scale layout. It looks great, but can be a bit troublesome to work with. If you have worked with Micro Engineering flex track at all, you will have found out that it is considerably less flexible than Atlas, or some other brands. You bend one part of a track section and the other parts bend the opposite way. It takes a lot more fussy effort to get it into a smooth curve. Some tools that can help are the fixed aluminum track gauges made by Ribbon Rail. They make them in HO & N scales, and in a wide variety of radii. You could get a couple of their HO-scale, 22" radius gauges and lay them between the rails of the flex track to assure a smooth 22" r. curve. The gauges are a tight fit. I've even had to sand mine down a tiny bit to fit them.

Traction Fan
I have already invested in ribbonrail gauges in my likely radii. I am new and naive, but I like the fact that the ME flex holds the curve. I have not tried Atlas flex but its super-flexibility seems likely to be harder to control than ME. No doubt its a preference and YMMV thing. My LHS did warn that ME weathered s a real bear to wrestle. I bought weathered Code 70 for my class yard, but that is mostly straight or gentle curves. I plan to use ME non-weathered Code 83 for the main runs, sidings and spurs.

Thanks again for the tutelage! i need it.

PS - still working on my track plans - hope to soon start installing the yard system. I figure that the turntable and roundhouse ought go in first as that will be the anchor.
 

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Atlas flex is a tad easier to work with as it automatically bears a smooth curve when bent..
It's ME that is tougher to produce a perfectly even curve, simply because it stays which ever way you bent it..
 

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One other strong piece of advice. It is much better NOT TO cut off the extended length of slipping rail...unless you end the curve by then and want to have to joints across from each other as would be the case with transition to tangent (straight) track. If you will be joining the first curved length to another that must continue the curve, which happens often on many track plans, you will find that slipping the slid-out length into the spikehead details of the adjoining (new) length will strengthen the curve there and avoid a kink, which is what happens at the ends of flex track. What I mean is, flex track does flex nicely in the middle 32", but it wants to remain rigid towards the ends. Put two ends together, now you have four inches that want to remain rigid. To get around this, many of us have taken to sliding that extended rail portion into the ties of the new piece, and when you go to fashion the curve, it will be much smoother.

Unfortunately, it's not just that easy. If you use a joiner at that inner joint, you'll need to remove the spikehead details by scrubbing with a needle file or using an XActo blade. The joiner has a minimal thickness, but it won't slide into those spikeheads, meaning you'll have a nasty bump on that one rail. Cars and engines will derail as they pass over and begin to descend the bump on curves.
 

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Another dumb question.

Can one start a curve with flex in the middle or at some point of a straight? I'm using HO ME flex.

Can I start a 22" curve radius after about 3-5 inches of a straight, or must I start a radiused curve at the beginning of a piece of flex.

Anyrail does not seem to allow it in the design, and I don't have that many scrap pieces to waste on trial and error, so hoping to tap into the voices of experienced wisdom. Thanks
You can start a curve anywhere in a piece of flex track that you like. Anyrail certainly allows this. Simply use the handles (the little plus signs at each end of the flex track) to create the curve. If you're trying to use Anyrail's "Curved Flex" tool to get exactly the radius you desire, use the "cut flex here" tool and create a separate curve segment. When you go to lay the track, there is no law that says you must cut flex track at every "joint" location on your layout schematic. That's why the materials list gives you both the lengths of each individual segment AND the total length of flex track.

Mesenteria's advice, in this case, is excellent for "springy" flex track, but not so important with ME flex (and other brands that don't spring). Cut the longer rail at the end of the piece, and remove two ties from the end of each of the pieces to be joined (depending on the brand of joiner, you may be able to get away with removing just one tie from each; just make sure you still have half a dozen ties holding your curve in place after you do this). Use a track template to ensure you have a smooth curve through the joint, and solder your rail joiners in place. Remove the INSIDE spike head detail (only) with a file or hobby knife, and slide the ties back under the joint. The outer spike "nubs" will help hold the track in place (you may need to trim or clip them slightly to fit beside the joiner. I use foam roadbed, and it's spongy enough to easily allow the spike head detail under the completed joint. Don't know how well that works with cork, which is less compressible.
 

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I have already invested in ribbonrail gauges in my likely radii. I am new and naive, but I like the fact that the ME flex holds the curve. I have not tried Atlas flex but its super-flexibility seems likely to be harder to control than ME. No doubt its a preference and YMMV thing. My LHS did warn that ME weathered s a real bear to wrestle. I bought weathered Code 70 for my class yard, but that is mostly straight or gentle curves. I plan to use ME non-weathered Code 83 for the main runs, sidings and spurs.

Thanks again for the tutelage! i need it.

PS - still working on my track plans - hope to soon start installing the yard system. I figure that the turntable and roundhouse ought go in first as that will be the anchor.
Stejones82;

Well the saying goes, "The only dumb questions are the unasked ones." I've found that to be true, so don't worry, about whether a question might be considered "dumb" just ask. We here are pretty good about not picking on newbies asking questions. I've heard that some other forums are not that tolerant, to put it mildly.
I like Micro Engineering track too. Both for it's super-realistic appearance, and for holding a curve. You're right. Some folks love it, and others hate it.
I don't use weathered rail, since I paint my track. I make my own turnouts using M-E code 55, bare, non-weathered rail, since the weathering coating interferes with soldering. If you like the look of Micro Engineering's weathering, you can buy their weathering solution separately (see photo & click on it to enlarge) and apply it after the track is laid.
For your yard, I strongly recommend laying out all the components on the benchwork and making sure everything fits. Take your time, and make sure the yard ladder is dead straight. Yes the turntable and roundhouse are complex trackwork, and need careful attention. So does the yard ladder, but that presents a possible problem. It is best to work from one end to the other, rather than from both ends toward the middle, and the turntable and ladder are at opposite ends of the yard. If you want to start at the turntable end, that's fine, but check frequently to make sure that the yard ladder still lines up as you go along.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Another dumb question.

Can one start a curve with flex in the middle or at some point of a straight? I'm using HO ME flex.

Can I start a 22" curve radius after about 3-5 inches of a straight, or must I start a radiused curve at the beginning of a piece of flex.

Anyrail does not seem to allow it in the design, and I don't have that many scrap pieces to waste on trial and error, so hoping to tap into the voices of experienced wisdom. Thanks
As others have said, you can start at the join, but it's easier to have straight, then flex. My flex track experience is with Atlas which is easier to flex than ME and I had a bear of a time getting a smooth 24" curve at the point of the mid-curve join. I have a feeling that 22" will be tough to get with ME.

Have you considered sectional track for 22" curves?
 

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It's much smoother if you solder the two joints first and then curve it and attach it.
 

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A kink in a curve where two sections of
flex track are joined can be avoided by
offsetting the joiners...say, left rail joiner is
an inch or two behind the right rail. As mentioned
above, you run the loose rail thru the 'spikes'
of the adjoining section. Then solder it.

Don
 

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There is a trick to shaping ME flextrack. I use a couple of hard rubber tools that came with a (nearly useless otherwise) set of track tools, but you can make your own tool by putting 2 parallel saw kerfs aligned with the track gauge in a piece of hard wood or acrylic about 1.5-2" long. Fit the grooves over the rails and run it back and forth along the flex track, applying firm pressure in the direction of the desired curvature. You can make very smooth curves this way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
There is a trick to shaping ME flextrack. I use a couple of hard rubber tools that came with a (nearly useless otherwise) set of track tools, but you can make your own tool by putting 2 parallel saw kerfs aligned with the track gauge in a piece of hard wood or acrylic about 1.5-2" long. Fit the grooves over the rails and run it back and forth along the flex track, applying firm pressure in the direction of the desired curvature. You can make very smooth curves this way.
Post a video link or post some pictures, please?

I have gotten ribbon rail gauges for the radii I intend to use, but always eager to learn new techniques.
 

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I certainly don't make videos of myself laying track. Here is the place I learned it: Charlie Comstock in Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine:

 
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I've bent, well flexed a fair bit of that ME now...

So here's a thought on making a tighter curve with it. May not work, it's just an idea.

If you flip a piece of it over you see the ties are connected every few or maybe it's every other one...

first one side then the other ...

So maybe if you nip a few of those connections you could bend --i mean flex it more.

Unfortunately the only way to know would be to experiment. And that may mean failure and a ruined length of track if it doesn't work.

It's worth noting that I've found the track relatively fragile at its connecting points to the rail also.

It's easy to it out especially at the ends. After which the best thing to do is cut it off. I have glued one or two to fix it up with ok results.

A new piece is better though if you got it...
 

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I did that, Severn, with a Walthers/Shinohara curved #7 turnout because the advertised inner radius was about 2" less than was claimed. What I found was that nipping the webbing isn't sufficient. You must double-nip and actually remove some, or all, of the webbing. If you don't, it will quickly butt up against itself again as the ends close up and you haven't achieved much. In my case, I had to nip the outer AND inner webs to achieve my aims. In the case of wanting tighter radii, it may prove to require that both sides' webbing needs some 'dressing'. But, wherever you do decide to nip, you'll want to actually remove at least 1 full mm of the material each time.
 

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You know that's a lot of delicate work there, my experience is i'd end up pulling a lot tied off the rails and ruins some pieces. If you managed to do it, it's good to know it can be done!
 
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