Atlas O Track vs MTH Scaletrax

Greetings! Theres gears turning in my mind on what I should get. I plan on having a lather large layout, 22x 48 and i already have Atlas O track- sticks, 072 curves and switches. What I am after is the more realistic look, flexability, and power connection between the track plan. I like to keep one of the two, as in a snario where if i get a 2 rail converted locomotive, i can still run it on my layout (with the small flanges). I know both Atlas and MTH has limited switches, I do plan on using a few ross switches for better variety (i know it defeats the purpose). I see MTH has power tabs underneath, does it help for track power? I am looking on imput on what is better of the two, MTH? Or Atlas?

Pricewise, durability, flexibility (making curves) less power loss, will one corrode more than the other? Etc. thanks! 

Original Post

ALAN LOCZY,

IMO the realistic look is nice if you only want to run Post War and modern Trains.  On our Iron Horse layout the members voted for GG because of how it looked instead of opting for track, that ran all the different kinds of O Gauge Trains perfectly, including Tin Plate.  I was against that engineering Plan from the beginning.  It's still my Engineering opinion even today, so my new Train Room is a child like wonderland, that is based O Gauge running function, not reality looks.  I use FasTrack with wireless FTCC Switches or old Lionel Conventional with 711/072 switches with LED's.

Trying to keep your cost over head down and have reality looks, is why most men who want reality looks go with Atlas or GG track and Ross Switches.  Today if I was doing that kind layout, I would bite the bullet, save and go with Ross Track & Switches.  Simply great looking reality based engineering that really works well, costly as it is.

The problem with MTH ScaleTrax is the switches are not any kind of reliable, my opinion of Atlas & GG Switches is no better, especially for trouble free Train running.

In a decent environment power loss and corrosion are really not a problem with most all the newer manufacturers Track.  

Good luck with your new layout!

PCRR/Dave

Construction continues on the new PCRR Train Room.

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Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

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SD40-2 posted:

I've used both. If it's not too late for you to change, I switched to Gargraves track and Ross Custom Switches for the same reason.

More realistic than Atlas O and MTH.

The OP is asking for our opinions on TWO track types - Atlas & MTH.  It's highly likely that he is aware of Gargraves and Ross but he's not asking about them. In fact. he specifically said he was going to use the occasional Ross switch.

GG more realistic?    Come on now, it's not even close with the oversized ties and tall hollow rails...

I recommend that you do a search for Rich Batista's Black Diamond Lines on this forum and his website:  toytrainsontracks   Rich uses MTH Scaletrax and says it works well with scale wheels.  His Black Diamond Lines is one of the best 3 rail scale layouts in the country.  He runs engines and cars with a mix of scale and 3 rail wheels on the layout.  He sells videos of his layout that tell how to lay Scaletrax and give it a realistic look.  The videos are worth the money.

I use Atlas track on my layout for two reasons.  First, it is readily available on the West Coast.  (I have not seen any Scaletrax in any West Coast train store.)  Second, Atlas is very strong and is realistic looking.  The switches, however, don't work well with scale wheels in my experience.  Overall, I am very satisfied with Atlas track.  

I suggest that you check the availability of Scaletrax before you start building.  Atlas track has better availability and more selection in curve sizes, crossovers, switches types and sizes, etc.  Scaletrax has a smaller center rail than Atlas and may look more like real rail.  

NH Joe

 

Both are good track systems which can produce beautiful results.   Look online and on YouTube for examples.

I have used Atlas-O, and have some Scaletrax not used.

I agree that historically, Atlas-O has had better availability, but that that is not a prediction about future availability.   Check some online vendors for their stock and price just to see.

Scaletrax has thinner better looking rails (and thinner center rail) than Atlas-O.   Atlas-O has accurate tie spacing and size.   To my eye, the better tie spacing of Atlas-O is my preference, but is "in the eye of the beholder".   Atlas-O has improved their rail-joiners with a small indent to increase friction and hold against the rails.  Scaletrax uses small metal springy contacts to carry power between track sections.   Both have flextrack which can be used for curve-fitting and easements.   Atlas-O has a much wider variety of curves and partial curves, and a wider variety of turnouts:   this makes track planning easier with Atlas-O.

-Ken

Wishful thinking:  Perhaps my ideal would combine features of both:  use the rail of Scaletrax with the tie-spacing of Atlas-O with rail-joiners to join sections of track.  With blackened center-rail.  With the wide variety of Atlas-O sections and turnouts.  Most of my actual layouts and layout plans have used Fastrack because of the wide variety of curves, decent selection of turnouts, and the built-in roadbed - which saves me time and hassles - though on my current layout build, I am ballasting the roadbed sides of my Fastrack for better appearance.   More daydreaming:  I love Kato's HO and N Unitrack, with their clever uni-joiners which both keep sections together tightly and make electrical connections reliable, and better-looking integrated roadbed.   If Kato made 3-rail O scale track with a good variety of turnouts and curves, I would switch over to Kato-O in a heartbeat.

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

I'm with Ken above about combining Atlas ties with Scaletrax rails and I actually created a 'hybrid' section like this some years ago. Can't find the photos but it looked GREAT!

As far as reliability of MTH switches - We had a reasonably large layout using Scaletrax for several years and my (numerous) switches were virtually problem free. These were the old ones too. 

A huge advantage of Scaletrax is the flexibility of the aptly named 'Flex' track - It does and returns to neutral when released like HO flex track. VERY easy to work with to create virtually any curve you will need.

The low profile helps give the illusion of 'massiveness' to our equipment too.

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I have a pretty large layout of all atlas track and mostly atlas switches - over 35 (I think three specialty Ross switches) and I have had very good reliability. For power connection, I drill a small hole thru the rail, insert the power drops and solder the connection, very secure.  The current version of rail joiners have also proven to be reliable.  I really like the look of the tie spacing and the rail height.  GG is ok, but just looks off for me, a bit toyish - really a personal choice. 

When I made my choice a few years ago, I looked at the scale track as I liked the thinner center rail, but both availability, and the fact I couldn't find anyone in the area that used it, I moved forward with Atlas.  In the end I am very happy with the choice.  The fact you can integrate the Ross switches with the atlas track when needed was another bonus.

Will Ebbert posted:

If you are wanting to do flex track, DO NOT buy Atlas. The sectional track is great, but I wasted a lot of time and money trying to get the flex track to bend below ~O-100.

I agree, I seen a friend of mine (in person) try to bend the trackage and it was a nightmare. He got it to the right curve, but you needed alot of force and leverage to bend the suckers

I have been very pleased with Atlas.

First, though, I suggest you check the availability of the turnouts (switch tracks) you anticipate you will need, as this is critical. No sense in selecting one brand over the other if you cannot buy what you need, and obtain it in a  reasonable amount of (wait) time.

Good Luck!

Alex

Happy O-Gauge Railroading!

  Alexander Müller

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In my opinion the flextrack issue is a bit of a red herring.  The atlas does indeed have more sprint to it that the math or defiantly GG, it is not intended to bend to   0-36 section.  I have used it, and in broad curves it is not an issue, the key is to bend and install it at the same time.  Trying to bend to a certain radius in the workshop and then place on the layout thinking it will hold its radius is an issue, in order to ensure you don't kink the track, something you can do with other flex track, the atlas has a lot of flex.

The other key point is that Atlas has significant variation of pre made curves, so using flex track is not really required.

Rich883 posted:

In my opinion the flextrack issue is a bit of a red herring.  The atlas does indeed have more sprint to it that the math or defiantly GG, it is not intended to bend to   0-36 section.  I have used it, and in broad curves it is not an issue, the key is to bend and install it at the same time.  Trying to bend to a certain radius in the workshop and then place on the layout thinking it will hold its radius is an issue, in order to ensure you don't kink the track, something you can do with other flex track, the atlas has a lot of flex.

The other key point is that Atlas has significant variation of pre made curves, so using flex track is not really required.

I agree with the above. Concerning the Atlas so-called "Flex Track", I found a method to ease the pain of bending the Atlas product into curves (nothing close to 072, though). I simply soldered 3 or 4 sections of the Atlas "Flex Track" together, and then 4 or 5 of us guys, simply curved it into position, glued it down onto the vinyl Flexxbed, screwed it down. A day or two later after the glue dried (TightBond Professional Wood Glue), the screws were removed, and then the excess at the ends was cut off with a Dremel cut-off disc.

TEXASSP,

   If the ScaleTrax Switches now work correctly with Tin Plate Trains, I am very willing to take another look at them.  I have always liked both RealTrax and ScaleTrax except for the constant problems I had with the Switches, I actually sold all my Switches long ago.  Have you run any Tin Plate thru your switches, does it work on a constant running basis?  I still have a nice loop of Scale and RealTrax that I use without switches, on my inner most loop, the track does run my Tin Plate well, if the switches have been upgraded to handle my Tin Plate Engines and 12 wheel Tenders, I definitely would like to know it.  I would love to add them into my new Train Room layout.   If the switches have been upgraded and now work correctly, in that case my opinion is that Allan L should definitely plan his layout with the ScaleTrax.  He already owns the Track.

PCRR/Dave

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

"If someone made track with ties like Atlas and rails like Scaletrax, all others would go out of business. "

I'm guessing Lionel Fastrack and MTH Realtrax outsell Atlas by 100 to 1 and Scaletrax by 1000 to 1 .  Some of us are toy train guys, and that's what comes in sets.

"I was referring to Atlas, Scaletrax, Ross,  Gargraves."

Figured as much

That said, Gargraves track has been around about a half century longer than Atlas and Scaletrax, and is very favorably priced. Looks pretty darn good to most of us.  Ross, likewise, has been around a very long time compared with Atlas and Scaletrax,  and has a reputation for being bullet-proof, and has the widest array of turnouts and custom sections.  Both companies have a reputation for superior availability to the other products, which is a big plus for many people.  I'm guessing both Gargraves and Ross may well be around when Scaletrax and Atlas O are no longer made, but only time will tell.  Never underestimate reliability, value and long standing reputation as factors.

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