Author Topic: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.  (Read 978 times)

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cjp53

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Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« on: December 06, 2019, 06:23:09 PM »
+1
I starting to lay my track and see that with some pieces of track the rails are touching the connecting piece and on some there is maybe a 1/16" gap.Watching some track laying videos from Model Railroader Magazine I saw the same thing.I use the rail joiners that come with the track.Should I be concerned?I do plan on soldering these pieces that are all curved sections.I have flex track for my straights.It's been since the 90's that I have made a layout.Hope this isn't to stupid of a question, I want a trouble free track to run my Kato engines that have outstanding creeping ability.I'm sorry if this is not the proper gallery to post this.It did say general discussion but the Moderator has my permission to move it to the right gallery.Thanks.

MK

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2019, 06:33:59 PM »
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Actually you want some gaps here and there, maybe a touch smaller than a 1/16".  The rails will expand and contract and if everything is touching and soldered you may get buckling.  Don't solder the gaps. Not a stupid question at all.

cjp53

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2019, 06:36:35 PM »
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Thank you I thought I messed up.Will adding feeder wire make sure there is not a drop in power?I really like running my engines slow at times and want equal power through out the entire layout.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2019, 06:43:14 PM by cjp53 »

Angus Shops

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2019, 06:52:15 PM »
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This is a hobby; there is no "messing up". There may be messing about, messing around, and making a mess, but no messing up. I prefer to call it "learning".
G

cjp53

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2019, 06:58:20 PM »
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Great replay.lol Thank you sir. ;)

wm3798

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2019, 07:12:40 PM »
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Rockin' It Old School

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

cjp53

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2019, 07:48:48 PM »
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Thank you for those videos

Doug G.

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2019, 12:59:53 AM »
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I'm curious as to why there is a 1/16" gap in some places. What's keeping the ends apart?

Doug
Atlas First Generation Motive Power and Treble-O-Lectric. Click on the link:
www.irwinsjournal.com/a1g/a1glocos/

cjp53

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2019, 06:43:09 AM »
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I think it happened because it's curved track and after putting the joiners on and placing the track on the cork bed. The track opened up as I was glueing it on the cork.I was trying to keep it as tight as possible but missed seeing some of the gaps.I pinned the track down as the glue was drying and may have push the pins in to hard.It's just being careless on my part.But after watching some videos on track laying I saw gaps in other's too.I went and measured most are 1/32" and a few are around 1/16".It all happened on the same side of my layout and only 6 pieces of curved track.

Doug G.

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2019, 02:18:49 PM »
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OK, thanks for the explanation.

Doug
Atlas First Generation Motive Power and Treble-O-Lectric. Click on the link:
www.irwinsjournal.com/a1g/a1glocos/

robert3985

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2019, 09:13:15 PM »
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I'd encourage you to use flex track EVERYWHERE and not use sectional track at all.  The more joints you have in your rails, every one is a potential problem.

Expansion joints should be about every six or seven feet, and not directly across from each other.  Stagger the joints and don't solder expansion joints.  On the other hand, solder joints that are not expansion joints.

Electrical gaps are best cut into the rails using a Dremel and a fine cut-off disk.  Cut the electrical gap through the rail, not through the plastic underneath, then insert a small piece of black Styrene into the gap, and use either 5 min Epoxy or thick CA to make sure it doesn't move.  Use a stiff wire brush for your Dremel to take off excess plastic on the spacer after the glue has cured.

If you're getting 1/16th inch gaps in your sectional track...that's just Fate telling you to stop using sectional track.  Sectional track is toy track, and for permanent layouts, use flex for everything (said once again for emphasis) :)

Solder a 22AWG solid copper core feeder to each and every piece of rail somewhere near the middle of it.  Do NOT TRUST flimsy little sheet Nickel Silver joiners to carry electrical current or DCC signals, even if soldered.

I keep my 22AWG feeders to a length of 6", being joined with a genuine 3M Insulation Displacement Connector to a 14AWG multi-strand, pure copper sub-bus, which is connected to my 12AWG fine strand, pure copper black/red zip cable which I use for my main power bus with another properly sized genuine 3M IDC.

Photo (1) - Here's a photo of my friend Nate Goodman's Branchline Yard, laid with Atlas C80 flex and Peco Insulfrog C80 turnouts, then painted, weathered and ballasted:


The trick to getting reliable track, from any manufacturer, is to minimize the joints...each of which can be problematic from both an electrical standpoint, not aligned vertically, not aligned horizontally, spaced too far apart, metal burrs on the insides of the railheads.  In a piece of flextrack's 3' of length, none of those problems exist...only at the joints.

From an appearance standpoint, the biggest problem IMHO for any flextrack is having to scoot oddly transformed ties under where there are rail joiners.  It's not that difficult or time consuming to make sure the ties you're scooting under the rail joint are spaced properly, the same height as the rest of the ties top surfaces, and don't lift the track up.  Make sure these are all done before painting, weathering and of course, ballasting.

Don't forget to paint, weather and ballast your track after you're sure it's running perfectly.  Properly sized ballast stones and "real" rock ballast goes a long ways to making your track look real, as does painting with ultra-flat paints to get rid of any unprototypical plastic shininess and metal sheen which on very tall C80 rails, is easy to see.

Of course there is "messing up" in model railroading.  We all do that, like using Atlas C55 flex when your entire fleet of cars and engines have pizza-cutter flanges, and there are "best ways" of doing many things in model railroading just as there are "worst ways".  It's good to ask for advice.

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: December 07, 2019, 09:14:58 PM by robert3985 »

cjp53

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2019, 10:13:43 PM »
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That's exactly what I did today,bought a few pieces of flex and will use that.Thanks for your suggestion and instructions!!
« Last Edit: December 07, 2019, 10:18:31 PM by cjp53 »

cjp53

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2019, 07:18:59 AM »
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Replaced the curved section with flex and what difference it makes.I have both Kato engines creeping slowly around my layout in both directions.Thanks everyone for your great advice. ;)

randgust

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Re: Laying Atlas Code 80 track.
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2019, 10:24:08 AM »
+1
I've got my own set of experiences and prejudices here.

First, if you're actually going to use C80, take a hard look at Peco C55 instead.  The Atlas flex 'spaghetti' may curve smoothly, but it at a price; it can certainly change gauge on curves with expansion and contraction if the joints are tight.  And painting and ballasting down the road moves the expansion stress right to the rail as the tie strip can't move.

And with all flex track, try to avoid joints on curves if you can, and if you can't, solder up a longer stretch and bend that, with your expansion gaps well off the curve.

I came up with a trick on my portable modules that's worked well for me.   On any table or track joint on a curve, I comp back into a short piece of sectional on both sides of a permanent joint on a curve.   If I have to adjust radius, I'll take a piece of sectional with a slightly smaller radius and cut the tie strip a bit to get it to relax to the proper radius.  Gauge is consistent, rails don't shift, and there's no kinking on the curve joint if I DO have to get it apart for some reason or I absolutely have to have an expansion joint there.    On my layouts, I have one at least every 48" and even in a controlled environment of humidity and temperature, you need them.   I rebuilt every track joint crossing a table joint that way, it's held up for years, and about half the joints are on curves 11-15" radius.

And on any flex track curve tighter than about 12", I'm sorry, I''ll solder up sectional into a curve rather than drop to all flex, and the tighter the curve the more likely I am to do that.   It's just a matter of smooth transitions and avoiding gauge and kinking issues on curves.   

My friends massive N layout several years ago was built with all Atlas flex C80 'spaghetti' and it was kind of a mess over time; spent many hours relaying curves, tearing them out and resoldering them, and on his reverse loops - tearing them entirely out and replacing with sectional as the gauge was running tight in the summer when the benchwork expanded a bit with humidity changes.   Same layout that had the nightmare with the AMI roadbed.

I've still used some Atlas C80 components on my new T-trak modules where I couldn't find any suitable geometry elsewhere - but for flex it's now 100% Peco C55 on new construction and it joins up well enough to Atlas switches, crossings, etc. that it's just not an issue to argue for me.   That stuff stays where you put it and doesn't change gauge - it will tear loose of the roadbed first on temp & humidity change.

All this is, of course, if you're going that way instead of C55.   I've still got enough legacy equipment that pretty much the entire ATSF layout is old Atlas C80 except for industrial track, but all the flex was produced before the 'spaghetti' era where the rail/tie relationship is now just so loose.   The legacy stuff is still OK now 36 years after installation in the oldest part of the layout.   I have a few switches that have been rebuilt with point feeders and under-table machines that date back to about 1973; still going and performance is solid.