I'm in the beginning stages of planning my layout. I have Lionel Hogwarts Express and MTH Union Pacific Dash-8 sets. I would like to park both on the board, maybe even run both at the same time too. I also purchased an MTH 20-98106 depressed transformer car. Info on that car says it will navigate o-31 curves, same with the Dash 8, and so will the Hogwarts Express. I got the Lionel set first, with Fastrack. I got the Dash 8 set with Realtrax, and traded them in for o-31 Fastrack at the same time (Thank you Mario's Trains for that), and bought more Fastrack. I have been running one or the other set daily since Christmas.
You can catch up on my layout planning post here. But long story short, the layout will be essentially a 4 x 6 table joined by a bridge with a 4 x 5 table in a dog bone shape. Enough with the foreplay, on to business.
I'm not happy with the Fastrack noise. It's bearable at 20 mph on an old army blanket, but for a "permanent" layout, I would like quieter track. Atlas O with Ross switches seems like the go to stuff. So:
Atlas O comes in o-36 curves. Ross switches come in o-31/o-54.
I tried to roll my MTH depressed car (20-98106) on a 31 and 36 curve of Fastrack by hand. o-36 curve felt nice and easy, o-31 felt like dragging and the car derailed.
1. If I have a problem with a derailing car on o-31 Fastrack, will I have the same problem with the Ross o-31 switch?
Second. If I put together a Fastrack layout, and build bench work around it, will it be close to the Atlas/Ross layout to within 1/4?"
And D. I would like to build a "semi-permanent" layout with some 2 x 4 modules and some custom module to connect everything seamlessly. It'd sure be nice to be able to lift out those sections to transport, then put them back together, plug the wiring sections and roll. How would you recommend I connect or not connect the Atlas track? How would you fix the track to the pink foam board?
Fifthy. If I could build the layout with Fastrack and run it for a year or so, and replace everything with Atlas later down the railroad, would be great if I didn't have to redo everything else.
And D. For power I have a Lionel brick with the 10" power Fastrack and MTH DCS Explorer that can also provide power to the track. I gather Explorer will not control remote switches through the app. Would you recommend an MTH system to control the 4 planned remote switches or a Lionel system? Lionel works off the remote, MTH works off the DCS phone app. I would like to continue to use my phone, or expand it to a tablet. I would also like to use future track accessories on my phone or the tablet.
Lastly. Will I have to perform major open bypass surgery when I switch from Fastrack switches to Ross switches? BTW I don't have any switches yet.
And 7. I know I will end up with Ross switches, should I just get them now and connect Fastrack to them? Or should I get Fastrack switches and then get Ross?
So many flavors, so little time...