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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings from a newbie.

Getting back into model trains and recently purchased the Miller High Life set from Bradford Exchange. I plan to set up a display using our pool table as a base using plywood sheets.

From what I have seen, there are a million different styles of HO type tracks out there. I plan to expand the system, but want to use the same style of track instead of mixing and matching. The Bradford Exchange set uses snap together tracks which don't seem that robust to me and look like there might be issues with breaking the connectors.

Any suggestions on which track designs would be best to use would be appreciated.

Thanks for reading.
 

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im currently in this situation, trying to figure it out too.. reading about code 83 vs code 100, altas vs Bachmann and all that.. much info to process!!!!
 

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Greetings from a newbie.

Getting back into model trains and recently purchased the Miller High Life set from Bradford Exchange. I plan to set up a display using our pool table as a base using plywood sheets.
I'll predict that you have bachmann ez-track. There is nothing particularly wrong with the track itself, but the ez-track turnouts leave something to be desired.

If you want to stick with 'snap track', i.e. track with roadbed attached, I understand (have never tried it) that Kato unitrack is good, and the turnouts are also decent.

If you want to go into other track, then the options are endless and I don't have first hand experience with it.
 

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You'll get a wide variety of opinions on
the merits of the various types of HO track.

Your choice depends on a number of factors:

How close to realistic you want...code 100 vs code 83
and others.

The intended size of your layout and it's complexity:
Easily bent and cut flex track, vs sectional track, vs
track on roadbed systems.

If you want the most flexibility in your layout design
you'd want to go with flex track. It is totally compatible
with turnouts and other accessories from various
makers. It allows wide radiii curves to allow large
locos.

If you want ease of construction many of our members
love the track on roadbed. It does limit you to the
curve radii and track accessories the maker offers.
They are not easily compatible with track parts from
other makers.

Don
 

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You'll get a wide variety of opinions on
the merits of the various types of HO track.

Your choice depends on a number of factors:

How close to realistic you want...code 100 vs code 83
and others.

The intended size of your layout and it's complexity:
Easily bent and cut flex track, vs sectional track, vs
track on roadbed systems.

If you want the most flexibility in your layout design
you'd want to go with flex track. It is totally compatible
with turnouts and other accessories from various
makers. It allows wide radiii curves to allow large
locos.

If you want ease of construction many of our members
love the track on roadbed. It does limit you to the
curve radii and track accessories the maker offers.
They are not easily compatible with track parts from
other makers.

Don
That is what I have come up with as well!!!!

to poster...

also if your computer savvy, download Anyrail as you can add 50 items for free. you can play around with various tracks...

big thing I just did was place an atlas curve down then curve of similar of other brands to see...

im leaning towards flextrack as a)cost and b)ease of my angle; albeit, don't go too harsh else train will have issues or derailments!!!! :laugh:
 

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Having used both Bachmann EZ-Track (steel w/black roadbed) and now NS flex track I can say that the track used is very dependent on the size and design of the layout.

When I first started out on a 4x8 sheet of plywood, the EZ Track was perfect. As I expanded to a 2x8 and another 4x8 sheet, I noticed we started having issues with dead spots and after a few years, corrosion. But it was easy to setup and tear down in the case of a move, or in your case, a game of billiards!

Now that I have a more permanent layout, I've switched to NS flex track with soldered connections for reduced electrical problems and longevity.
 

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Before you go further, do you want this to be something that comes apart entirely, stays together but can be taken off in one piece from the pool table, or will permanently stay on the table?
 

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If I was to do it all over again I would use micro engineering flex track. I have a couple old pizza cutter wheel locos that require code 100 so I used atlas code 100 flex track. If you’re planning on having switches then I suggest peco. I haven’t had a single issue with one yet
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This setup will be semi permanent. I plan on keeping it confined to the 4 X 8 plywood sheet however in order to facilitate moving the entire setup if need be.

I also plan on having lots of track with crossings and maybe even a switching yard.
 

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Welcome!

As Eilif said above, the recommendation for track really depends on your planned use of the layout.

If it's going to be something you're going to set up long enough to run trains for a bit and then tear down, the stick with a fairly simple loop of the roadbed style track. Don't add too many turnouts, because they really are low quality and will give you headaches. Seriously, keep a spare on hand to replace the one in use if it stops working properly.

If you want something more complicated, with many sidings, track that does more than make an oval, scenery, structures, etc., then I would design a track plan as a series of 2x8 modules that you can make permanent track and scenery on, and just set them up when you're not shooting pool. For this, I would use good quality turnouts (Peco, MicroEngineering, or Walthers) and flex track to make the most of the space available. And if you're going to go this route, spring for the full version of Anyrail. It's worth every penny.
 

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Not sure on how much switching you’re planning on a 4x8 but sounds to me it’s going to be complicated. Get a good layout design software if you’re going to do that
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Some great ideas thank you. I will check out that software. Sure are a lot of track designs out there....

Just thought of something else. Should I elevate the platform to allow for electronics, power cords, etc?
 

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If you're going to have wires run through the board, then elevate it. My holiday layout platform sits on a low table, and a few years ago I made a 2x4 frame and sandwiched it between plywood, so I have a 3.5 inch cubby for all the wiring and controllers, etc.

Since you mention this sitting on a pool table that's probably the better option, but if it's going to be it's own table then you wouldn't need the cubby hole.
 

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A 4x8 sheet is going to be a pain to wire sitting on the top of a pool table.

I would build a proper table if you have the room, or, since this was to sit on top of the pool table, it doesn't sound like it's getting much use. I would consider selling it.

For track, I've recently experienced Micro Engineering flex track. While it's realistic appearance is quite good with concrete sleepers, it is a PITA to bend into a SMOOTH curve without some sort of a form or template to curve it around. However, it makes for the straightest straights you'll ever see on a model railroad.

It's very easy to make small accurate curves of a foot or so, less is even easier. The best feature of this track is that it stays where you put it and will not try to straighten itself.

I find Atlas track to be much easier to use forming curves as it will form a smooth curve all on it's own...but it will try to straighten itself and will not hold the shape you form it to. It has to be tacked down as you go around the curve. Still, it forms the smoothest curves I've ever laid.

Guys have good results with both types. It depends on what you like and what you find easier to use. Mine is all code 83 with a mix of Atlas and Peco turnouts. My favorite is my newly installed Peco #8 yard lead. So smooth and gradual. I should have bought a #10 but I don't think they make them.

I've had problems with only one Atlas turnout; one rail was shorted to the frog so it would shut down the entire layout every time a locomotive tried to pass through it. I replaced it pending repair, but expect to return it to service after I've fixed it. This was in the very early stages of building my layout so I'm glad I caught it before scenery was built.
 

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This setup will be semi permanent. I plan on keeping it confined to the 4 X 8 plywood sheet however in order to facilitate moving the entire setup if need be.

I also plan on having lots of track with crossings and maybe even a switching yard.
In that case I'd suggest going with Extruded Insulation Foam (the Pink or Blue stuff) as your base. Less likely hood of damaging your billiards table, and you can probably cut a piece of the appropriate dimensions to fill the pool table and provide a nice even surface to put the 4x8 surface on.

Extruded Insulation Foam is rigid (especially with 2" or thicker) enough to be stable and lightweight enough to move if necessary. With foam, you can always cut grooves, run wires and then plaster over.

I'm going to take a different tack from most and suggest that you go with Atlas code 100 Nickel Silver track (an affordable, durable option) , Atlas Custom Code 100 Line Turnouts (avoid 18" curved switches if possible) and Atlas surface mounted remote switch machines. Surface mounted switches aren't as realistic looking but they don't require under-table wiring.

If you have the inclination, cork roadbed is easy to install (liquid nails or latex caulk) looks good and will help deaden the sound well. Gluing the track down to the raw foam is fine too, but will be a lot noisier.

If you want more realism, then go with code 83 track of some sort and make a foam base thick enough to hide under-track switch machines. However, if your limitation for now is a 4x8 that can be moved in necessary, then I would consider this a "first" layout.

I don't think this is the layout on which you need to invest in high-end track, rather it's a chance to build a fun, reliable layout and learn what you like and don't like about the hobby. If you stick with railroading it won't be your last layout anyway.
 
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