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Shortly I'll have room for a bigger layout, I'm intending to use code 83 (my present layout is code 100).
My question is....for curves is it best to curve flexi track or use ready made curves?
 

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My preference is to always use flex track wherever possible, including all curves. One trick to make nice smooth curves with flex track is to solder together multiple pieces while they are straight when you know you'll need more than one piece of flex track to complete the curve. That avoids the tendency to get a kink in the curve where the joints are located. The other thing that flex track allows you to do is to do "ease in" and "ease out" of the curves. This gives you a smoother running train on your layout. Some track design software apps will automatically create the ease in and ease out portions of the curves for you. They can be a bit "fiddly" to draw manually. Larger lengths of flex track also means you have less joints which are sometimes problematic when they get old.
 

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Best? No such word in this hobby. There is only the most advantageous choice for your situation.

For MY money, flex track lets me put the track EXACTLY where it needs to be, in exactly the right configuration, so there is no comparison. It's helpful to have a curve radius template, or even a few pieces of sectional track, to ensure you make smooth curves, though.

I use MicroEngineerjng flex, which is harder to curve but stays curved once formed, thus minimizing the risk of introducing kinks at the joints.
 

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If you want handy, but limited choices, little customization possible, use the pre-made stuff. If you want skills, and customizability forever, start learning how to use flex. Flex makes nicer eased curves as well.
 

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My preference is to always use flex track wherever possible, including all curves. One trick to make nice smooth curves with flex track is to solder together multiple pieces while they are straight when you know you'll need more than one piece of flex track to complete the curve. That avoids the tendency to get a kink in the curve where the joints are located.
The only thing I would add to this is to stagger the joints by a couple of inches. Slide the movable rail of one piece back a couple of inches, then slide the movable rail of the other piece into the ties of the first piece. Install a rail joiner and then solder the rails. Most people suggest laying the track so that the sliding rail is on the inside of the curve, but I have also read reports of people having track problems with Atlas flextrack with the sliding rail on the inside, because the solid rail on the outside wanted to curve inward at the top. When they laid the Atlas flextrack with the sliding rail on the outside, they had no issues. On my previous layout (haven't gotten to the track laying stage on this one yet) I laid my curves with the sliding rail on the inside and had no problems. I used Atlas code 100 flextrack.
 

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The only thing I would add to this is to stagger the joints by a couple of inches. Slide the movable rail of one piece back a couple of inches, then slide the movable rail of the other piece into the ties of the first piece. Install a rail joiner and then solder the rails. Most people suggest laying the track so that the sliding rail is on the inside of the curve, but I have also read reports of people having track problems with Atlas flextrack with the sliding rail on the inside, because the solid rail on the outside wanted to curve inward at the top. When they laid the Atlas flextrack with the sliding rail on the outside, they had no issues. On my previous layout (haven't gotten to the track laying stage on this one yet) I laid my curves with the sliding rail on the inside and had no problems. I used Atlas code 100 flextrack.
What joiners do you use, and are joiners different for differnt code heights?
 

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I use Walthers joiners because they fit well on Microengineering flex track. If you're laying all the same code of rail, then it doesn't matter, because the joiner fits around the lower flange on the rail. For different codes, you can get transition joiners to keep the railhead at the same height.
 

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The thing which makes sectional track curves look toyish is not that they make too perfect a curve. It's that the curve starts too abruptly. This is fine in very slow moving industrial areas. But real RRs' perfect curves (Called spirals by RR surveyors) on the main line have easements (wider spirals leading up to them so that the train doesn't hit an abrupt curve at speed..
You could mix the two; perfect curves with easements done with flex track on either end...Or, just do the entire curve with flex, working easements into the plan (but you don't have to)....
I'm planning a small HO switching, shelf layout within a half-mocked-up main line behind and above it..I'm considering this time all sectional for the Indus. at perhaps 16"r in there and all flex above on the main...
Oddly enough, if you look close Atlas sectional track has better looking simulated spike heads than their flex..(a plus for that)...Flex needs the heavier spike heads to withstand the outward pressure on them when the flex is bent..(a minus for that )...
If you go flex you'll need to cut rail at times..Best for this is Xuron Rail Nippers ($7)..When you use them the flat side of the jaws goes against the good rail you're keeping and the concave side is scrap rail...And you cut top to bottom of rail, not side to side...
Good idea going to 83....M 🏭🛤🌄🌵
 
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