Author Topic: ME Flex  (Read 5526 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Baronjutter

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 499
  • Respect: +8
ME Flex
« on: January 16, 2014, 02:51:08 PM »
0
So with atlas flex being MIA still and the price difference not actually that big,  I'm thinking about pulling the trigger and ordering a load of ME c55 flex.  I understand it is stiffer and harder towork with, but I really don't have a lot of curves so I'm not toooo worried.

Basically before I throw $200 at track I just want some feedback that I'm not making a huge mistake.

Philip H

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7431
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +488
    • Layout Progress Blog
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2014, 02:55:13 PM »
0
It is apparently stiffer, and some guys have had different experiences with it and wheels rubbing (or not) on the tie detail.  But overall it seems to be well made and well used.

And it's the only game in town for the concrete cross tie look.
Philip H.
Chief Everything Officer
Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

VonRyan

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2846
  • Gender: Male
  • Partying like it's still 1944
  • Respect: +218
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2014, 02:59:00 PM »
0
ME isn't too stiff, and the bit of stiffness allows it to retain its shape when curved, and makes forming a radius far easier than with Atlas flex.

I've worked with both, and both have their benefits. If you're looking to get started now, then by all means use ME flex and turnouts.
Cody W Fisher - Modeler of the PRR, PRSL, GWR, SZD, and DRG

WWII Clerk/Administration Historian

Switchboard Technician - 33rd Signal Construction Battalion (reenacted)

Squadron Clerk - Capital Wing, Airmans Preservation Society

Baronjutter

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 499
  • Respect: +8
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 03:03:34 PM »
0
Awesome,  I looked at some videos of people working with it and it doesn't seem that bad,  certainly looks nice!

Well my layout will be peco turnouts and ME flex.  I just want to get started and you know after running the numbers WITH shipping the ME track is only about 15% more expensive, not bad.  And I'm fine spending that bit more for track made over here,  Atlas should have moved their production to the states after their first chinese factory disaster.

Kisatchie

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 4179
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +60
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 03:05:57 PM »
0
I ordered some ME flex to see how it was to work with. It takes some doing to get a curve that's consistent, but there is a thread around here somewhere where LV Lou said putting the flex track in hot water (think bathtub) makes it flex much easier. Ah, here it is:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=28014.msg290452#msg290452

A couple of other notes... Micro Engineering code 55 flex track is cheaper per section than Atlas code 55 flex, and the ME track is 6 inches longer per section to boot. That adds up fast if you have a lot of track to lay.


Hmm... my small layout
only has 2 feet of track...


Two scientists create a teleportation ray, and they try it out on a cricket. They put the cricket on one of the two teleportation pads in the room, and they turn the ray on.
The cricket jumps across the room onto the other pad.
"It works! It works!"

Dave V

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 8925
  • Gender: Male
  • The Route of the Galloping Goose
  • Respect: +3975
    • Dave Vollmer's N Scale Pennsy
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2014, 03:10:04 PM »
0
I got my hands on some ME flex up at Caboose the last time I was in Denver.  It's very stiff compared to Atlas, but not unreasonably so.  That said, it won't form constant radius curves quite as naturally as does Atlas.  For my money if I were using exclusively ME I would invest in those "curve sticks " or whatever they're called.  They go in the gauge and you slide them through the curve to ensure constant curvature.

Atlas 55 sectional still seems widely available.  It's worth considering doing your curved sections with that.  I would solder the joints, but that's just me.
Silver San Juan Scenic Line

Member SlimRail Modular Colorado Narrow Gauge
http://www.slimrail.net/

Baronjutter

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 499
  • Respect: +8
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2014, 03:13:17 PM »
0
I'll just laser cut some curves my self, problem solved :)
Just did it... $200 track order placed.  I can FINALLY start actually laying track in 7-14 days!! 

wmcbride

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 335
  • Respect: +21
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2014, 03:46:29 PM »
0
I have used the metal radii templates by Ribbonrail to form ME flex into a constant radius curve.

Just fit the template between the rail and then work it along to form the curve.
Bill McBride

Ed Kapuscinski

  • Global Moderator
  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 18157
  • Has a degree in American History & Culture.
  • Respect: +2320
    • Conrail 1285
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2014, 03:48:20 PM »
0
Please tell me you made sure not to get the pre-weathered stuff. That stuff is miserable. Otherwise, it's good track.

Baronjutter

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 499
  • Respect: +8
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2014, 04:16:21 PM »
0
Nope,  no pre-weathering,  found that out very quickly when I did my research. 

Thanks for all the advise guys!

robert3985

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2222
  • Respect: +466
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2014, 04:33:03 PM »
0
Congratulations on your decision to go with the most prototypical looking N-scale flex track that is currently being made. 

If you've got the capability to laser cut your own curves, great!  However, the old M1 Eyeball method works well with ME flex too...as well as for other flex tracks.

I've been using ME flex since the early '80's when it was known as Rail Craft, and it's always been more difficult to curve and get straight, but its appearance is exponentially better than either Peco 55 or any code 80 flex.  It's also noticeably better looking than Atlas 55 in the "spikehead" dept, but the "wooden" tied version's ties are not as square as Atlas's ties and are slightly longer, imitating class 1, heavily trafficked tie specifications.  They also have more relief and sometimes rounded ends on a few ties.  If you're going to use any wooden-tied ME, just run a sanding block with 220 grit emery cloth attached over the tie ends for a quick solution to that cosmetic problem.

Since the track is a whole lot stiffer than Atlas floppy flex, the rail joiners are less necessary, and some modelers here are laying their ME concrete-tied flex without any rail joiners by staggering the rails at the joints and just inserting the protruding section of rail into the new flex piece which has had a corresponding length of track removed.  If you insist on rail joiners, I cut my ME railjoiners into thirds so they're slightly less than the length of the space between ties (hafta cut them while they're mounted on a scrap piece of rail so's not to crush 'em).  I also cut off the "tongue" which protrudes on the bottom of the rail joiner on either end and is useless IMO, just making the joiner longer.

I cut the spacers between ties for three ties on either side of where you're going to put the joiner and slide them back, stick the joiner on, solder it, then slide the ties back into place.  The short joiner becomes virtually invisible when you do this, and you double the amount of joiners you've bought too.

Here are some photos of joining up ME flex (actually Rail Craft 55) using the shortened joiners:


Here's photo of a short rail joiner on the top rail and a PCB feeder on the bottom rail.  Hand-laid code 40.  Sorry couldn't find a photo of painted-weathered-ballasted code 55 with a visible short rail joiner.  As you can see, they virtually disappear:


Since both ME rails are tightly clamped into place by their respective "spikeheads" (no loose rail), you gotta get both rails cut just right for the joint to be smoothly contiguous.  If you want the joints to be in a particular spot, like between ties, then you need to have both pieces of flex mostly bent at the time you join 'em up.  You can still do minor flexing to get the kinks out, but have them almost smooth or straight when you join them, either without joiners, or with soldered joiners.

Have fun!  Your track will look fantastic once it's laid, painted, weathered and ballasted!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 04:36:40 PM by robert3985 »

DKS

  • The Pitt
  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 11571
  • Respect: +2064
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2014, 05:59:54 PM »
0
As Robert mentioned, you can skip joiners altogether. There is more discussion of this technique here: https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=24108.240
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 07:13:19 PM by David K. Smith »

Scottl

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 4034
  • Respect: +446
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 06:38:36 PM »
0
After that exchange, I installed the last of my layout without rail joiners and was happy with the result.  It certainly does not affect performance in any way I could discern.

OldEastRR

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2569
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +131
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2014, 04:07:27 AM »
0
I believe rail joiners are not so much for connecting as to act as expansion joints, and keeping track aligned when the rails expand in hot weather.

DKS

  • The Pitt
  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 11571
  • Respect: +2064
Re: ME Flex
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2014, 04:56:58 AM »
0
I believe rail joiners are not so much for connecting as to act as expansion joints, and keeping track aligned when the rails expand in hot weather.

The idea here is to avoid joiners altogether because they're unsightly, and use the tie strips to hold the rails in alignment instead, leaving a gap--you don't need much--to allow for expansion. The only caveat is for tighter curves: one needs to over-bend the rails very slightly at the joints before laying the track to prevent subtle kinking (some careful planning to position joints at the best spots possible helps here, too). So, with just a little bit of extra work, you can achieve a cosmetically superior result.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 04:59:50 AM by David K. Smith »