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Just getting into the planning stage of a 36" x 80" N scale layout. Is code 80 or 55 the way to go? May expand another 30" x 80" at a later date once the first table gets further along. Will be using Atlas track because of availability 10 minutes from my house.
 

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Track size and brand

Just getting into the planning stage of a 36" x 80" N scale layout. Is code 80 or 55 the way to go? May expand another 30" x 80" at a later date once the first table gets further along. Will be using Atlas track because of availability 10 minutes from my house.
bumcbmk1;

Code 55 is my recommendation. Either code 55, or code 80, will work mechanically. Both are easy to lay. The code 80 has holes in some of the ties to drive Atlas track nails through. These look quite bad, as real track does not have one foot diameter nail heads sticking out of the tops of it's ties. The code 55 track does not have nail holes. You glue it down with a thin layer of latex caulk.

Trains will run equally well on either, unless you have really old wheels with deep flanges (nicknamed "Pizza cutters) These wheels date back to the 1990s or before. They will hit the over-sized spike detail on Atlas code 55 track. More recent, shallow flange, wheels will not hit the spikes. My recommendation is primarily based on appearance. The rails of the code 80 track would scale up to a ridiculous one foot high in real life. No real railroad ever used rail even close to that giant size. The ties of the code 80 are too short, and spaced too far apart.The Atlas code 80 simply does not look like real track. Atlas did a better job on their code 55 track. It looks a lot better than the old code 80 stuff. However the best, most realistic looking, track by far, is Micro Engineering code 55 flex track. It also has closer to scale spikes that will handle either deep. or shallow flanged wheels. It is stiffer than the Atlas track, and holds whatever curve you bend it into. The Atlas track springs back to straight as soon as you let go of it. Some people like one, other folks prefer the other. I use, and like, the Micro Engineering flex track. If your local hobby shop doesn't have it, they should be able to order it for you. Or you could order it online, and have it delivered right to your front door. www.modeltrainstuff.com is a good online dealer.

If you decide you still want to use Atlas flex track, definitely use the code 55 if only for the much better "turnouts." (track switches) Atlas code 80 turnouts are the worst N-scale turnouts available. The Atlas code 55 turnouts, like the code 55 track, are better than the code 80 junk ones. Like the track, only more so, there are far better turnouts available than Atlas.
Peco, and Micro Engineering both make turnouts that are way better than any Atlas has ever produced. They cost more, but are worth every penny in terms of reliability and not causing derailments.

The files below have more information about track, turnouts, and many other model railroad subjects. Look through them if you choose.

Good luck & have fun;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment WHERE DO I START 3.pdf

View attachment All AboutTurnouts.pdf

View attachment 1 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 2 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 5 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 6 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 2.2.pdf
 

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OP:

If you decide to use sectional track, check out the Kato Unitrack line as well.
It goes together easily and looks remarkably good when all set up.
 
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