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Thread: Tips and Tricks for Laying Flex Track

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    Default Tips and Tricks for Laying Flex Track

    Tips and Tricks for Laying N Scale Flex Track.
    I just finished laying the track for my layout. My build thread is here:My 4X11 Build Thread (nscale.net)

    The computer says I put down just shy of 100 ft. of track. I learned a few things in the process I wish I had known before I started. Below are my lesson’s learned. Please feel free to comment on my tips and add your own.

    1. If you need a short section of straight track, 5” or less, do not use flex track. Instead cut a piece of straight sectional track to fit. This is especially true for those 1.9” straight sections between two parallel turnouts. The sectional track is less flexible and easier to keep straight.
    2. If you have a curve that is bigger than one section of flex track solder two pieces of flex track together on the work bench before you put them into place.
    3. If you need a short piece of flex track to finish out a curve either cut a piece of curved sectional track or cut back the flex track you are working with to get a longer piece to join. Short pieces of flex track, once again less than about 5”, do not work well.
    4. Remember put the flexible part of the flex track on the inside of the curve. This is not a hard and fast rule, you can break it if you need to.
    5. If you are laying straight sections of flex track you can solder the power feeds to the bottom of the track before you put it in place. It is easier and they are not as visible as feeds soldered to the sides of the rail.
    6. If you want a long section of straight flex track, put it against something straight like a piece of 1"X2" lumber, place some wax paper under it, and hold it against the 1X2 with a ruler. Now put a drop on super glue on each rail spike. Move the wax paper so you do not glue it to the paper. When the first side dries turn it around and repeat the process on the other side. Net result, you have a section of flex track that wants to stay straight. Below is a picture of my make straight flex track jig.
    7. Do not glue any of your track down until it has been thoroughly tested. Use track nails to hold it in place until you have tested it.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Mark.S+10; 3rd Dec 2023 at 07:23 PM.

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    Good work on getting the track down. Whose flex track are you using?

    I'm using ME code 55 and do some of that different. It shapes easy and stays in place. Doing a curve I'll get the curve in and leave the last 5-6" straight. Then, like you, solder the next piece on and go back to forming the curve the rest of the way. If the new piece sticks out too far and runs into something I'll curve most of it but again leave 4-6 inches straight and then solder to the piece that is down and then form the rest of the curve.

    I glue the cork down and the caulk the track down to it and that has been working well. I wanted to tear the track up in one area and do it a different way and found I could run a putty knife between the bottom of the track and the cork and separate the track with no harm to it. I could use it again. The cork came up pretty much the same way but was pretty much toast.

    Looking forward to seeing more work on your layout and scenery.

    Sumner
    Modeling UP from late 40's to early 70's very loosely......

    Under$8.00 Servo turnout Control --- 3D Printed Model RR Objects -- MyHome Page
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    I should have been clearer; my tips apply to Atlas code 80 flex track. I have no experience with other brands of flex track. Thanks for the positive comments, Sumner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark.S+10 View Post
    I should have been clearer; my tips apply to Atlas code 80 flex track. I have no experience with other brands of flex track. Thanks for the positive comments, Sumner.
    Your recommendations are spot on and would definitely apply to other brands of flex track too. Probably the only difference is that for non-Atlas flex track like ME or Peco, it doesn't matter whether the flex side is on the inside or outside as those brands hold their shape and don't sproing when you let go.

    The way you do perfectly straight flex track is new to me. I will definitely look to replicate that next time I'm doing straights.
    Serdar

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    That is one of the advantages of using a stiff flex like Micro-Engineering. Regarding your point #5, one can always shape the track and then solder on a feeder to the bottom side, whether straight or not. Coordinating where to drill the holes for the feeder can be a bit tricky, but maybe marking it with a sharpie would be fine, if you intend to paint the track later.

    Hello. My name is Michael, and I am an ALCo - haul - ic.

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    Experience is the best teacher when it comes to laying flex. I have used Atlas flex on a couple of previous layouts, but Micro Engineering track is a whole different animal!

    One of the benefits of Atlas flex is that it will naturally form to a nice smooth curve. Micro Engineering track, with its stiff rail, needs to have the curves formed by the modeler. AND… although it is stiff, it isn’t SO stiff that it won’t spring at least a little… sometimes with unpredictable results. So it’s hard to predict how a curve will turn out.

    Suffice It to say that I’m learning a lot about laying ME flex on my current layout! And I truly appreciate what I learned from your experience above…. for example, the tricks to keeping it straight are GENIUS!

    Sincerely,

    Jim

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    If you are using ME flex or thinking about using it (I love the looks and how easy it is to use) take a couple minutes and check out these two videos to see how easy it is to work with ....





    One can print the track laying tools/aids in the video or they are pretty easy to make out of wood or another material. Check out how Invertlogic made a similar tool out of wood ( HERE ).

    The first two are inspired by a tool that use to be quite available. It is a simple block with two grooves for the track. Sliding it back and forth on the block makes it quick and easy to either straighten out a not-so-straight piece of flex track or by twisting it slightly it is easy to put a curve into a piece of flex track. I saw a YouTube of someone using one and tried to get one. Finally found 'one' in a store's stock in Canada and bought it. Not sure if they are easier to find now or not but the 3D printed one seems to work exactly the same.

    Lots more info and links to the print files here..

    https://1fatgmc.com/RailRoad/Trackwork/page-23.html

    and here.....

    https://1fatgmc.com/RailRoad/Trackwork/page-25.html


    Sumner


    Last edited by Sumner; 5th Dec 2023 at 11:15 AM.
    Modeling UP from late 40's to early 70's very loosely......

    Under$8.00 Servo turnout Control --- 3D Printed Model RR Objects -- MyHome Page
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