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@Oman posted:

Think twice before buying Atlas flex track. It is really difficult to bend. Any curve smaller than O-100 is almost impossible. It always wants to return to straight.

I've been posting on another thread lately about calculation of easement curves. The photo below shows an example of calculated easements that transition smoothly from tangent tracks to a constant radius curve of O-31 sectional track. To avoid problems with the low flexibility of some types of flex track, I suggest using the longest possible easement, which makes it easier to bend, to join with a constant radius curve. This diagram is an example, but the easement length and curvature can be adjusted for any angle and sectional track radius - say O-72. The plot shows centerlines of the easements and sectional track. Meanwhile, back to discussion of track prices...

MELGAR

MELGAR_2021_0105_EASEMENT_FIGURE_3

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Last edited by MELGAR

Just do a search for invaluable(a web site that lists various auctions) and do a search for what you are looking for. In this case “Ross switches” or MTH or Lionel or Gargraves, Etc.

My personal favorite is Stout auction site. There are numerous auction sites. Some I have used are Gateway gallery, cabin fever, toys, trains and other old stuff and several others. Let me know if you have trouble with the search or other questions.

As an example cabinfever auctions recently auctioned off items left in the MTH warehouse.

@Oman posted:

Think twice before buying Atlas flex track. It is really difficult to bend. Any curve smaller than O-100 is almost impossible. It always wants to return to straight.

I easily bent Atlas flex to O-72.  O-72 is my minimum curve so I didn't try to bend it any further.  The trick is to lay out the curve and then screw the track down as you bend it to the curve.  Cut off the uneven ends.  

People should remember that even O-72 which equals a 36 inch radius curve is very sharp for model railroading.  My HO club uses a minimum radius of 40 inches which is equivalent to O-80.  Most home HO layouts use a minimum radius of between 30 and 40 inches on their mainlines.  Almost no one in HO uses an O-36 (18 inch radius) curve.  NH Joe

When bending Atlas 3 rail flex I stagger the rail joints 1/3 the length  of the 40"  track.  Works out to be in the neighborhood of 13 +/- inches.    This prevents the peaking or slight angle which can occur with the overly stiff Atlas rail joints.  

Where the uncut rail ends come together I use a rotary tool to relieve the plastic tie strip for the rail joiner.

This shot is of my recent valley line addition which is 20" off the floor.  Note how smooth the curvature is.  Where every rail joint is there are two rails smoothly maintaining the radius.

IMG_9872

The Gargraves bends easily to almost any radius.  Cut off the first inch or two and you have a smooth right of way.  Here are two lengths of Gargraves in a consistent 16" radius circle:

IMG_9671

Even old wood tie GG can flex to provide nice "S" curves"

IMG_9034 [2)

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People should remember that even O-72 which equals a 36 inch radius curve is very sharp for model railroading.  My HO club uses a minimum radius of 40 inches which is equivalent to O-80.  Most home HO layouts use a minimum radius of between 30 and 40 inches on their mainlines.  Almost no one in HO uses an O-36 (18 inch radius) curve.  NH Joe

Wellll...  In comparisons between O3R and HO track the ol' 'radius' and 'diameter' sometimes gets lost.

O-72 (diameter) in O3R parlance is actually 18" radius in HO.  (O-72 O diameter=36" HO diameter=18" HO radius)

Ergo, a 40" HO radius standard would end up being O-160...40" HO radius=80" HO diameter= O-160 O diameter.  That's a 14' square table just for a circle of track.  Club layouts, indeed!  I know it's more than my basement would accommodate!  It'd be AWESOME, though, ...indeed!!

Yeah, that ol' O-72 ain't as wide a "wide" radius as is advertised in many O3R publications/catalogs...all things considered.  It's interesting that many HO manufacturers list "24" minimum radius required" on their equipment package...like full-size passenger cars.  That would be O-96 in O3R.  Not many O3R mfrs require that for their full 21" passenger cars....even though they'd look much better running on a minimum curve of that dimension.

Then, there's N scale...

Ah, the constraints we've bought into to play in this 3-rail world!

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd

It seems to me that Atlas made a number of decisions that contribute to the high cost of their track.  First, deciding to use Code 215 for the rails.  I understand they wanted the height to mate with with existing 027 and Gargraves but it really is not that hard to shim track to mate. Same thing with the tie height.  Now plastic may be relatively inexpensive but nickel silver is not.  On top of that, these both contribute to larger and heavier packages for shipping which results in higher shipping costs.  Atlas made a half-hearted run at more economical track with steel rails in their solid steel line.  When I have compared other track lines (mainly HO) using both steel and nickel silver, the steel costs abut 70-80% the price of the nickel silver.  I have the solid steel track and I find it works equally well as the nickel silver. Tin-plated and stainless steel works fine for Gargraves and I suspect the tinplate wears off with use and the steel track still functions fine.  The larger scales do not seem to have the conductivity problems of HO and smaller scales.  One example: G scale uses brass rail even though it was problematic for HO.

I believe the "old standard" (1940s and 50s) of code 172 steel rail would look better and would have kept the Atlas pricing more competitive.  Just about all the flanges we have now are easily accommodated on code 172; in fact, most of them run on code 148 with no problem.  I have some Atlas 2-rail code 148 track and whenever I get new equipment, I roll it over the code 148 track and I have not found anything that won't work with it.  So code 172 should be fine since it has some added insurance of height.

The way Atlas 3-rail track pricing has been going, they are pricing themselves into a very small niche of what is already a relatively small market.     

@dkdkrd posted:

Wellll...  In comparisons between O3R and HO track the ol' 'radius' and 'diameter' sometimes gets lost.

O-72 (diameter) in O3R parlance is actually 18" radius in HO.  (O-72 O diameter=36" HO diameter=18" HO radius)

Ergo, a 40" HO radius standard would end up being O-160...40" HO radius=80" HO diameter= O-160 O diameter.  That's a 14' square table just for a circle of track.  Club layouts, indeed!  I know it's more than my basement would accommodate!  It'd be AWESOME, though, ...indeed!!

Yeah, that ol' O-72 ain't as wide a "wide" radius as is advertised in many O3R publications/catalogs...all things considered.  It's interesting that many HO manufacturers list "24" minimum radius required" on their equipment package...like full-size passenger cars.  That would be O-96 in O3R.  Not many O3R mfrs require that for their full 21" passenger cars....even though they'd look much better running on a minimum curve of that dimension.

Then, there's N scale...

Ah, the constraints we've bought into to play in this 3-rail world!

KD

Since HO is 1:87 and not 1:96 we get a little advantage at 1:48.

A radius of 18” in HO is equivalent to one of about 32.5 in O, or O65.

Going in the other direction, O72 is equivalent to a diameter of 40” in HO or 20” radius.

@dkdkrd posted:

Wellll...  In comparisons between O3R and HO track the ol' 'radius' and 'diameter' sometimes gets lost.

O-72 (diameter) in O3R parlance is actually 18" radius in HO.  (O-72 O diameter=36" HO diameter=18" HO radius)

Ergo, a 40" HO radius standard would end up being O-160...40" HO radius=80" HO diameter= O-160 O diameter.  That's a 14' square table just for a circle of track.  Club layouts, indeed!  I know it's more than my basement would accommodate!  It'd be AWESOME, though, ...indeed!!

Yeah, that ol' O-72 ain't as wide a "wide" radius as is advertised in many O3R publications/catalogs...all things considered.  It's interesting that many HO manufacturers list "24" minimum radius required" on their equipment package...like full-size passenger cars.  That would be O-96 in O3R.  Not many O3R mfrs require that for their full 21" passenger cars....even though they'd look much better running on a minimum curve of that dimension.

Then, there's N scale...

Ah, the constraints we've bought into to play in this 3-rail world!

KD

I don't understand your math.  O-72 is a circle / curve with a 72 inch diameter.  Half of the diameter, the radius, is 36 inches.  It doesn't matter if the circle or curve is HO, O, N or any other gauge.  A 72 inch diameter curve or circle has a 36 inch radius no matter the scale.  Therefore, a O-72 curve does not equal a 18 inch radius in HO.  NH Joe

I don't understand your math.  O-72 is a circle / curve with a 72 inch diameter.  Half of the diameter, the radius, is 36 inches.  It doesn't matter if the circle or curve is HO, O, N or any other gauge.  A 72 inch diameter curve or circle has a 36 inch radius no matter the scale.  Therefore, a O-72 curve does not equal a 18 inch radius in HO.  NH Joe

Adjusted for scale, it's about the same in terms of angularity of the cars on curves.

@rplst8 posted:

Since HO is 1:87 and not 1:96 we get a little advantage at 1:48.

A radius of 18” in HO is equivalent to one of about 32.5 in O, or O65.

Going in the other direction, O72 is equivalent to a diameter of 40” in HO or 20” radius.

Comparing the scale of a model to a curve diameter or radius is not valid.  What matters is the minimum radius curve that a particular model will negotiate.  This is the same in the real 1 to 1 world.  

Diameter or radius are what they are.  They are not scalable.  Yes, you can run some HO trains on 18 radius inch track just as you can run some Lionel trains on O-27 track (13.5 inch radius).  Most scale model HO trains will not go around a 13.5 inch radius curve.  Scale model O gauge trains won't go around a O-27 curve either.  

Some more random thoughts ...

#1 guy at an old job showed me you could put denatured alcohol on wires to get them to slip thru rubber fittings, maybe you could use some of that to get GarGraves to slip again. Might need a VOC mask if using some sort of spray bottle.

#2 - I have used various AutoCad knock offs to lay out my track since I used AutoCad off and on since 1986, and things just wouldn't come out right. Come to find out the O-72 track I have does not make a 72" circle center-to-center, and then using different years and manfs does not help. The curved section of a K-Line O-72 switch is not a 360°/16 = 22.5 either, took either a machinists ruler or a long caliper and it just did not measure up.

Comparing the scale of a model to a curve diameter or radius is not valid.  What matters is the minimum radius curve that a particular model will negotiate.  This is the same in the real 1 to 1 world.  

Diameter or radius are what they are.  They are not scalable.  Yes, you can run some HO trains on 18 radius inch track just as you can run some Lionel trains on O-27 track (13.5 inch radius).  Most scale model HO trains will not go around a 13.5 inch radius curve.  Scale model O gauge trains won't go around a O-27 curve either.  

It is totally valid. They're dimensions in different scales.  If I want to craft the same building in HO or O you take the HO dimensions, multiply by 87.5 then divide by 48.  Same goes for building the same track plan.

@rplst8 posted:

It is totally valid. They're dimensions in different scales.  If I want to craft the same building in HO or O you take the HO dimensions, multiply by 87.5 then divide by 48.  Same goes for building the same track plan.

I disagree.  Look at this way.  If you lay two 48 inch straight sections of HO and O gauge track side by side, both are 48 inches long and both occupy the same space except for the width of the ties.  Both sections have zero radius.  The radius and the length are the same.  The same goes for equal radius curves of any size in any scale.

Take a 36 inch radius circle of HO and O gauge track.  You can lay the HO circle on the top of the O gauge circle.  Again, both occupy the same actual space except for width of the ties.

It is a different matter if you want to compare how many scale passenger cars that the two 48 sections will hold.  Forty eight inches of straight O gauge track will hold two O scale passenger cars and the same 48 inches will hold about 4 HO scale passenger cars.  In other words, a 48 inch section represents a longer prototype length in HO scale than it does in O scale.   The same goes for curves.  A curve of any radius in HO represents a gentler prototype curve than an O scale curve of the same radius.  

My HO club has a minimum radius curve of 40 inches which is exactly the same curve as an O-80 curve.  I would be thrilled if I had enough space on my home layout to use O-81 curves as a minimum on my O gauge layout.  I could run anything that Lionel and MTH makes including Big Boys and scale O gauge passenger cars.  In a like manner, I couldn't build a HO layout in the same space using a minimum radius curve of 40 inches either.  Some of the HO Big Boys at the club have trouble getting around 40 inch radius curves because all drivers are flanged.  NH Joe

Returning to discussing the increasing price of track, I remember a one-page article in a 2020 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman--maybe August or so--by the guy that owns Rapido, a Canadian importer of HO and N scale trains, in which he discussed how the hourly wages in Chinese factories had quadrupled over the past few years. I suspect that this situation is responsible for more and more products of all kinds being manufactured in other foreign countries, among them Vietnam and Malaysia. Some of the recently manufactured O gauge steam engines are coming from South Korea again. If you check the labels on clothing you've bought recently, you'll see that much of it is now coming from all sorts of countries: Nicaragua, India, Hungary... the list goes on and on. It's the ongoing search by companies for the cheapest places to have their products made.

Stay well.

Chris

This is an interesting thread, yes, just one thing, after the prices we pay for our Locomotives, $1500, 2K., and you worry about the price you pay for Track? I chose Atlas O, Ross Custom, some pre-curved Gargraves so the trains would run smoothly over the rails. Atlas O solid rail was my first choice, durability, in 1999, 10 inch straits were $2, 072 curves under $3, and 36 inch ridgid track $11. 072 switches, $29.95, (still work today). I agree Atlas O flex track is not very flexible, however the variety of pieces of sectional offerings by Atlas are plenty. I do not think tubular trackage goes with the scale look of our fun to run toys. I have found that Atlas O and Gargraves has less resistance to rolling stock than tubular rail. It’s easier for a diesel or steamer to pull heavyweight passenger cars on Atlas O or Gargraves flat rail than on 072 tubular trackage. Buying track is a one time experience and is the foundation for operating your trains effectively. It’s an important decision. Happy Railroading Everyone

I don't understand your math.  O-72 is a circle / curve with a 72 inch diameter.  Half of the diameter, the radius, is 36 inches.  It doesn't matter if the circle or curve is HO, O, N or any other gauge.  A 72 inch diameter curve or circle has a 36 inch radius no matter the scale.  Therefore, a O-72 curve does not equal a 18 inch radius in HO.  NH Joe

And likewise.

We'll agree to disagree.

KD

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