Author Topic: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?  (Read 1751 times)

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trainzluvr

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What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« on: September 20, 2021, 09:15:10 PM »
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I'm contemplating laying track down (ME Code 55) and while previously I've used painter's acrylic caulk for HO track that was ok, that goop seems hard to remove later on.

Now that I got a load of ME Code 55 track and turnouts, which to me look very delicate and fiddly (two wires on a thin plastic sprue) I'm not too enthused about using caulk.

I've seen people use anything from acrylic caulk, white elmer's glue, carpenter's (yellow) glue, matte medium (pricey), matte mod podge (was thinking of giving it a shot), copydex (in UK), to even Liquid Nails.

Considering that I might want to move the track arrangement around wherever needed (nothing is set in stone) and possibly re-use the track, what would be a good choice - something that you've used yourself and had good experience with?

nickelplate759

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2021, 09:27:41 PM »
+2
I did the following on my last layout - but I'm not sure I entirely recommend it.  Described here for your edification.

1.  Fasten down cork roadbed any way you like (I used yellow carpenters glue - I think it was Gorilla brand).  No problems with this part, and I'll likely do it again.

2.  Glue the track down with thin super-glue.  This is the part I'm less sure of repeating.

Advantages -
a. it works quickly (use a setting spray), and you can glue down a lot of track in an evening.
b. it's not easily weakened with water or alcohol
c. it's easy to break the bond with a knife or similar thin tool.

Disadvantages -
a. the stuff wants to creep up onto the ties and/or rail if you apply too much, and then it's obviously shiny and (if on the rail) interferes with electrical contact.
b.  if you have foam sub-roadbed, the superglue eats the foam almost instantly.
c.  if you get it in the wrong place, well, it's superglue....

Next layout (a couple of years away, alas), I think I'll try something else.
George
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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

trainzluvr

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2021, 09:43:24 PM »
0
I didn't think about superglue though I've seen it being used just recently by Boomer Dioramas on YouTube in his latest build (though he's modeling HO).

The issue I have overall is that ME track is not straight, and especially, not flat. I can somewhat straighten it to some acceptable level by holdind the flex half-way and tapping it sideways (on the ties) against a flat surface (such as sub-roadbed)

But to get it to be flat, I have no idea what would it take, because the rail is so thin, the track twists, and bends up and down everywhere. Using the superglue would only tack it here and there and I'd be still left with small humps and valleys.

I've been also thinking that if I used any water soluble adhesive, ballasting the track later might cause the adhesive to let go of the track, though not sure.

In my staging yard I've used 3M double sided tape (clear) which I've seen used, again in HO. Problem with that was the contact tie surface is so small in N scale, track kept lifting after a while. So I still had to strategically apply globs of Aleene's Tacky Glue every 6-8 inches to keep the track down (wanted to avoid using nails). The track is still lifting in some spots so I'll have to revisit with more globs.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 09:44:56 PM by trainzluvr »

jagged ben

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2021, 10:29:59 PM »
+1
Personally I think white or yellow glue is fine.  They have the advantage of being very workable with water of alcohol if you get too much (or too little) under the tracks.  And it is easy to pull stuff up to rework. I think poeple may obsess too much about which adhesive might be best. And not pay enough attention to just developing craft and method.  Probably you caulk also works fine.

My only strong advice s to avoid any sort of more caustic contact cement.  I've seen that stuff eat away sectionsof ties at the club over the years.


wmcbride

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2021, 10:56:04 PM »
+1
I've always used yellow carpenters' glue for roadbed and track in both HO and N.

The advantage of the yellow carpenters' glue for the track was it is easy to pull up or detach from the roadbed -- as long as no ballast has been laid. I have done this multiple times when I needed to shift track or a turnout.
Bill McBride

nickelplate759

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2021, 11:01:13 PM »
+1
I think you are getting more into the area of tracklaying techniques rather than just adhesives.       You may need a way to hold it flat until the adhesive (whichever you use) sets up.  For superglue that's only a few seconds (which is what I liked about it).  For slower adhesives you might consider weights.

As far as "straight" goes, I had good success with a Ribbonrail gauge (curves too!).   Just don't glue the gauge to the track with the superglue... :facepalm:
George
NKPH&TS #3628

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2021, 11:06:14 PM »
+1
Right. I like Weldwood Contact Cement. When applied lightly, it keeps the track in place, yet dries flexible enough to pry off for modifications. Doesn't dissolve when water/alcohol are applied for ballasting. A quart can of it goes along way. My two cents...
Otto K.

jargonlet

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2021, 11:39:48 PM »
+2
I realize that ME track holds it's form when bent unlike Atlas and other brands. Is there a difference other than that that I don't know about? If there's not a difference, I would glue it down the same way I do with Atlas and Peco flex. I glue the roadbed down with wood glue. As for the track I use Loctite Power Grab. This works well when using cork roadbed over foam because I can use thumb tacks like the taller ones that are often found on cork boards.

mmagliaro

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2021, 03:29:41 AM »
+1
I use DAP Alex Plus, slate gray, on ME and Atlas code 55.  No complaints.  Holds fast, and stands up to any water or alcohol mix when ballasting. The gray is also a handy color for hiding any slight missed spots in the ballast.   A sharp thin putty knife can still get under the track to remove it if need be. 
I'm not understanding the "ME code 55 is not flat" problem.  I used ME 55 for my previous layout, and it was excellent stuff.  Definitely put
some weights on it while the track adhesive is drying to keep it flat.
To make a long straight, I used to hold the side of one rail against a long steel straight edge. 

MetroRedLine

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2021, 03:41:10 AM »
+2
I use acrylic caulk (Loctite Power Grab All-Purpose) for the following model railroad uses:

- Track
- Roadbed
- Extruded Styrofoam
- Hydrocal rock castings
- Tunnel portals
- Figures
- Internal weights in rolling stock/containers
Under the streets of Los Angeles

Chris333

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2021, 04:06:45 AM »
+1
I use EZ bond instant glue. I buy it in 16 oz. bottles and keep refilling a smaller bottle with the large one. Keep the big bottle in the fridge.

https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/E-Z-Bond-Instant-Glue-Thin-16-oz/

robert3985

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2021, 07:33:35 AM »
+8
Okay...where to start???  First, I completely disagree that ME Code 55 is especially fragile, or comes from the factory bent...either side-to-side or vertically.  That has NEVER been my experience with it and I've used it since it was called Rail Craft back in the mid 1980's, using Rail Craft Code 70, Rail Craft Code 55, Rail Craft Code 40, Micro Engineering Code 55, Micro Engineering Code 40 and the newer Micro Engineering flex produced from Micro Engineering's new injection tool, which offers less fine details and more uniform (less prototypical) spike head detailing.

I've laid tons of it since the Ntrak club I was associated with decided to go with a different modular standard, which included using ME Code 55 as mainline trackage.  I've laid it on both my own modules/sections/layout and on many friends and customers modules/layouts.

Since the ties on ME Code 55 are not all placed perfectly aligned (their centers vary a bit from side-to-side, just like prototype rail...which is one of ME's selling points...more realistic looking) it is impossible to get straight rail by trying to align the tie ends with a straightedge, since the tie ends will not be aligned with each other when the rails ARE straight.

The very best method for me has been to: (a) Use UNWEATHERED flex.  The weathering makes the flex stiffer and adds an additional operation to soldering feeders and rail joiners (removing the weathering) (b) Lay it to a centerline on your cork roadbed...which must be sanded smooth with a sanding block that is about 8" long with 220 grit paper attached to it, made from a 1X2 straight pine block.  This means your cork roadbed should be laid to a marked centerline on your subroadbed, one half of the cork roadbed closely following your marked centerline on your sublroadbed (c) For straight rail sections, progressively work the kinks out by pressing the rails gently on either side of the flex, working with a thin metal straightedge laid alongside the RAIL...not the tie ends, until you are pretty close to straight (d) Put your head down on the track and sight along its length which will magnify any bends that are there, and while sighting along the flex, extend an arm and put your pointy finger on the middle of the kink you want to correct and keep it there as you raise your head up off the track and use both hands to gently bend the rails as straight as you can...then check again.  Keep doing this until your track is visually straight, then check overall straightness with your metal straightedge and your cork's centerline. This works for curved trackage also and for getting your solder joints perfectly straight.  It's commonly called "The M1A Eyeball Method".

As you're working your track, you're going to find your tie spacing is going to get wonky.  Straighten and space the tight ME ties as you work.  Also, at the ends, get rid of any ties that don't have spikes, and cut away three or four sets of the little under-the-rail tie spacers so you can slide ties away from your future soldered rail joint, then slide them back after the rails have cooled.

Now, on to glues.  I glue my Midwest Cork Products N-scale Cork Roadbed down using yellow carpenter's glue...and I don't try to save a nickel.  I use the best quality and have found that Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue does an excellent job.  Since I'll be bathing my cork roadbed in water/glue ballast cement later, I feel like the waterproof aspect of the Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue is important.  I have an assortment of lead weights from my SCUBA-diving days and I use them with straight pine boards of varying lengths to make the cork lay flat while the glue is curing/drying.  After the glue is cured, I sand it flat.

After I get my ME track bent to exactly the specification I am satisfied with, I start at one end and press down on the track with a straight piece of select pine...about 3" long and run watery Cyanoacrylate along the tips of the ties on either side of the rails so that capillary action sucks it under the ties...then I quickly squirt both sides with Accelerator, to set it off...all while pressing down with my little pine block.  This glued section is only about 1.5" to 2" long.  I then go down the track about 6" and do another short glued section the same way.  I am "tacking" the track down, and checking its alignment as I work.  Checking and rechecking is the only way to ensure you're laying your track to your specifications, just like laying prototype track.  I use the little 3" long pine block to press down on the tops of the rails so that I don't glue my fingers to the rails, and I don't press hard, just hard enough to ensure that little section of track is flat against the sanded cork roadbed. 

During this tacking process you're going to find that you still need to do some adjustments on your track.  Try to make sure these adjustments happen on unglued portions of your track.

I don't tack down the last 6" or so of track since I will be working with it to join another piece of flex to it, and I want to be able to both bend it, and slide ties back and forth.

At some point, the smell of Accelerator may get fairly overpowering, so I use an old hair dryer/blower to quickly evaporate the Accelerator, which also deactivates it and allows the odor to quickly dissipate.

After I've got about a 3' long section of track tacked down, I run my fingers along the top of the rails to feel if there's any hardened CA there, and chip it off using a #11 X-acto knife.  You can do this to get it off the tops of your ties and sides of your rails too.  The trick to minimize this problem is to cut your CA's pointy applicator nozzle so the hole is as small as it can be.  You don't need a LOT of CA to tack your track down.

At his point, I attach feeders to the rails if they're not connected to previous powered rails, and power up a smooth running test engine pulling a car or two on your freshly tacked-down track.  See if it wiggles, then mark the spot it has wiggled with your pointy finger again, check the rails at that point and adjust if you need to.  Sighting down the track with your eye magnifies any wiggling that may occur.

Once you've got it "perfect" it's time to glue the rest of your track down using the same method as above, except doing it in lengths that are the same length as your little pine block.  This time, make sure you dry each glued portion with the hair dryer before proceeding on down the track with your next glued section.  This keeps the CA from setting up prematurely and possibly setting off your entire bottle of it you're using.

Although this does a pretty good job of gluing down your track, CA really doesn't stick all that well to engineering plastic.  It will be your track ballasting cement that really "socks it down".

However, I've had unballasted sections of track laid for decades that have not come up on my portable layout, so....the CA really does a pretty good job of gluing it down.

If you make a big mistake, you can pop the track up using an artist's pallet knife, soften the CA on the cork roadbed by using CA solvent and scrape it off.  I've also recycled my Rail Craft and old ME Code 55 track by carefully prying them off using my trusty artist's pallet knife, then wire brushing the bottoms of the ties to remove CA remnants.  This sometimes leads to vertical bending, but if you're careful you won't get any big kinks, and the small vertical curvatures can be easily corrected using the M1A Eyeball Method again.

Photo (1) - Finished superelevated Rail Craft Code 55 mainline trackage at Echo Curve, painted, ballasted and weathered: 


Photo (2) - Same trackage at Echo Curve with trains on it:



Here's something that maybe you haven't considered...BIG ugly rail joiners.  It's a real shame to put full-sized rail joiners on ME Code 55 track, which means when you sight along your rails, you're going to see gaps in the spike heads where there are rail joiners, and the ties you use will either be lower than adjacent ties, or have the "tieplates" ground away so they fit under the extra depth of your stock rail joiners.

Here's my solution to the problem, which I'll illustrate with photos.  If you're interested in exactly how to do this, I'll write up a more detailed explanation and post it here.

Photo (3) - Cut rails at future solder joint so that both sets of rails meet in the middle the space between the same two ties.  Cut away the spacers between a few ties and slide them back away from the future solder joint.  This is new ME Code 55 track:


Photo (4) - Shortened rail joiners soldered in place with ties slid back in place after rail has cooled on new ME Code 55 track:



Photo (5) - Shortened rail joiners after a single coat of Krylon Camo Ultra Flat Spray Paint:



Shortened rail joiners are made from tight ME Code 55 rail joiners, slid on to a scrap piece of rail and both rail and joiner are cut at the same time to prevent the rail joiner from crushing.  You can get two or three short joiners from a single normal length rail joiner if you have sharp flush cutters.

One more thing.  Although it is generally accepted as a sign of meticulous craftsmanship, getting perfectly straight trackage is more common on model railroads than on the real deal.  While documenting the mainline UP trackage I am modeling on my layout, when looking at the photos, it was pretty obvious that prototype trackage is full of kinks, bumps, rotten ties, different odd lengths of ties and other imperfections.  Because of this, I purposely made my Branchline Park City Yard at Echo with crooked track...just like the prototype.

Photo (6) - UP Trackage at Baskin Siding in Echo Canyon showing uneven track in the siding and (if you look closely) uneven track on the mainline too:


Although there may be other methods that fit your needs better than what I'm recommending, my methods have worked well for me for many years.

Have fun!!  :D

Cheerio!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: September 21, 2021, 02:43:09 PM by robert3985 »

chuck geiger

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2021, 09:32:38 AM »
+1


Chuck Geiger
provencountrypd@gmail.com

wmcbride

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2021, 01:34:47 PM »
+2
WHen I used yellow carpenters' glue, I found the easiest way to hold the track down while the glue set was to use full soda cans on their sides. Fit bewteen the rails and worked like a champ.
Bill McBride

sschnabl

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Re: What adhesive do you use for ME Code 55 track?
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2021, 01:44:20 PM »
+3
The OP mentioned that the track may not necessarily be flat.  One thing I have noticed lately is that underneath the ties, there are nubs on some of the ties.  I'm assuming this is from the injection molding process.  I take a file and file those off so the track will sit flat on the roadbed.

Scott