Note: These are my comments alone. Other comments are welcome and will
be placed here. No matter what track is used, thorough
inspection of all aspects of track and turnouts with a Mark IV NMRA
gauge is essential.
No matter what track is used, thorough inspection of all aspects of track and turnouts with a Mark IV NMRA gauge is essential.
Track I recommend avoiding:
· Precision Scale: Out of gauge, does not work with semi-find scale (0.088”) wheels. I would also add that the track is also poorly made and unattractive.
Track that I'm not familiar with:
· Peco: There are many that consider Peco track to be the best available. I'm unable to comment because I haven't ever seen it in person.
I am concerned by the temptation this track offers to have unpowered
I am concerned by the temptation this track offers to have unpowered turnout frogs.
Flex track that has been acceptable on modules I’ve observed:
· Walthers/Shinohara: Flex
track, code 83 and code 70 . Preferred by some for durability, the
rail cross section is not as fine as Micro Engineering
. Preferred by some for durability, the rail cross section is not as fine as Micro Engineering
· Micro Engineering: Flex track, code 83, code 70 and code 55. Preferred by some for appearance, the rail cross section is more delicate than Walthers.
· Atlas: Flex track, code 83.
Track that requires care with installation:
· Central Valley track is a craftsman
product that requires careful assembly. The rail is glued to well detailed tie strips. Since the glue bond can weaken at high temperatures, keep
Also, the rail to tie glue joint can be fragile and subject to damage
Also, the rail to tie glue joint can be fragile and subject to damage with handling.
· Central Valley turnouts (#5, 6, 7, 8,
9) are craftsman kits that require very careful assembly.
When used with Details West frog castings, the appearance of the cautions
about Central Valley track apply here as well.
the cautions about Central Valley track apply here as well.
· Fast Tracks turnouts (#4, 4.5, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and many others) are also craftsman kits that require very careful assembly. They are economical only if a number of the same size turnout are required. When well made and installed, they are extremely smooth running and reliable.
· Atlas produces DCC friendly turnouts (Wye, #4, 6, 8) that are better looking than earlier versions.
· Micro Engineering turnouts are good looking but limited to #6 only. In a few instances they have proved to be a bit fragile.
· Old Walthers and all Shinohara turnouts require modification to make them DCC friendly. Unfortunately, the newer DCC friendly Walthers turnouts (#5, 6, 8, 10) are not as good looking as they could have been. While I use these turnouts because I appreciate their robustness, I replace the throwbar with a PCB throwbar and spread the switch rails a bit to reduce the "shark jaw" appearance. I also fill the frogs so that dropping of semi-scale wheels is minimized. The very small jumpers on the bottom of the turnout are fragile and should not be depended upon. Careful inspection with a NMRA Mark IV gauge is required to insure that all aspects of the turnout are correct.
· Details West rail bars can be used to improve the appearance of track. I advise against using code 83 rail bars with code 83 track since the railbars fill the flangeway and result in bouncing of rolling stock. On code 83 track, use code 70 railbars instead. They nestle nicely against the web of code 83 rail.
· Careful attention to right of way details and a good ballast job help to “make” a module. I use Walthers and Shinohara flex track, Arizona Rock and Mineral ballast. After ballasting, I weather and blend colors with an airbrush to adjust the overall appearance. I have often been asked at shows if my Walthers and Shinohara flex track is hand laid. I think this indicates that a good job of installing, ballasting and painting/weathering the track makes it very hard to determine what brand of track is used.