I've been following track prices and Micro Engineering track seems to have a better price point vs. Atlas. Are there any problems joining it to Atlas turnouts? I plan on using non-weathered as the weathered rail is "resistant" to being flexed, hence the straight "shooting stand" instead of the initially-planned curved platform.

 

2013-01-26 14.11.20-2

 

Thanks.

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating over 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"
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 I know Norm's Trains in Maine(an OGR feature article soon)extensive all 2 rail layout uses both atlas and micro with great success. The weathered micro is good looking track but does not flex as much as the atlas.

If it ain't broke,break it and make it better

The track gauge (width between the rails) is the most important thing to consider.   If both are 1.25 inches (O Scale), then both will be compatible with your equipment.

 

Joining the two types together may require more work than using only one brand.   When I look at Atlas, the railheads look wider than other brands.    Since I am used to seeing the other brands, in my mind the atlas looks wrong.   But that is not the issue here.

 

If the Atlas rail is indeed wider over all, the same rail joiners may not just snap in place.   However if you follow the recommended guidelines for DCC and put drops on every piece of rail, you can have loose fits on the rail joiners.   

 

Another option is to solder the joints.   Put the rail joiner on and even if it is loose fit, solder it to the loose fitting piece, which would probably be the micro-engineering track.

There is a slight difference in the thickness of the rail at the at the base and web, but not at the rail head.  I've joined both makes without issue.  My preference is for AtlasO as it will naturally form a smooth transition curve, while on fixed radius ones it it can be bent precisely to a radius line drawn on the roadbed.  The other technique I use on curves to eliminate kinks is to stagger the rail joints around 4 inches so that there is at least one continuous rail throughout the curve.  This is easily dome without cutting by sliding the rails in the tie strip.  On tight curves I pull the rail, run it through a bender, and reinserted it in the Atlas tie strip.  

    One thing you can't easily do with AtlasO code 148 rail is use it for stock rail in conjunction with Lou Cross's (Right O Way) point castings.  The "tits" on the outside edge of the point castings won't snuggle into the web of the thicker AtlasO rail without filing.  I buy a supply of Lou's code 148 rail for making turnouts.  It turns out ME uses Lou's rail in their flex track.

 

Ed Rappe

Ed Rappe           PRRT&HS 421

Originally Posted by AGHRMatt:

I've been following track prices and Micro Engineering track seems to have a better price point vs. Atlas. Are there any problems joining it to Atlas turnouts? I plan on using non-weathered as the weathered rail is "resistant" to being flexed, hence the straight "shooting stand" instead of the initially-planned curved platform.

 

2013-01-26 14.11.20-2

 

Thanks.

Matt,

 I saw the same price compairison & like you,did the numbers. The only thing I didn't calculate was that Atlas flex is 40" vs Microengineering is 36" in length. Their,(the Micro),looks really good though. Think I found a really good offer at MicroMark at 1 time.

I think I'm going to be selling out if things keep heading "south" so-to-speak.

I have used Atlas flex that came from another layout that I bought off a modeler on this Forum last year. Being used,you find things such as  a few broken pastic ties or spike heads,which is no problem to me would be great for my layout. He must've had mountain scenes as 10 sections have been sprayed white. They flex ok though. They average 38"-40" in length with some that were bent,having short rails on 1 end & alonger 1 on the other end,but this is the exception not the rule.

I haven't madea final decision,but if I sell,will sell for $7 per section.

 

Great loco & trackwork!! My compliments.

Al Hummel

 "It turns out ME uses Lou's rail in their flex track."

 

  Actually I think it's the other way around. Micro Engineering makes rail for lots of folks. 

  As for Matt's question as long as it's O gauge any rail can be made to work with any other rail. The only thing that has to match is the top of rail at inner gauge point. Everything else can be shimmed or otherwise made to fit. My last O layout had some places where I transitioned from code 148 to code 100 by slitting the end of the 148 rail at the correct height to insert a code 100 joiner then soldering it....DaveB

When I lay curves using a single rail bender I make up a jig using a piece of 3/4" plywood with two tacked in place pieces of flex track.  I use this for reassembling all the curved sections.

 

The boring details:

If you run an individual rail through a rail only bender such as the one Fast Tracks sells you may wish to try this idea upon reinsertion into the strip of flex ties.

 

This step involves the reinserting of both rails after rolling each of them through the single rail roller achieving desires curvature.

 

The first pre-curved rail goes back into the now empty tie strip somewhat easily.  The second rail usually causes a crooked tie hangup as it snags it's way back into place.

 

On flat piece of clean plywood, position one assembled length of the same brand/era flex track curved to the desired finished radius & tack it in place.  

 

Now lay tie strip with one inserted pre-curved rail next to the tacked in place assembled tie strip.  Like working a giant zipper,  slide the single rail tie ends into the space between the tacked in place tie ends.

 

Weight the single rail tie strip so there is a full flat over lapping of the tie ends.

 

Now position another piece of complete flex track on the opposite side of the single rail with it's tie ends also alternately zippered into the single rail tie strip.

 

Now you can more easily reinsert the difficult second rail because the ties can not move to pinch the returning rail.

 

This is a jig which you can use to reassemble most all your curves.  I takes about ten minutes to make one but it ultimately saves a lot of time.

 

As with any roller you need to cut off from each rail end the distance between two rollers.  The last 1 1/2" or so of a rolled rail will not be formed.  Cut unbended rail tips and dress the ends.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

Originally Posted by up148:

Hey Matt, that's a great photo of your loco. Really looks good. Except for the ditch lights and Kadee it could be a real loco. Nice weathering!  I like it! 

 

Butch

Thanks. That shot was actually a combination of "teaching projects". Jack "The Apprentice" Kemph had been helping me with weathering and the C44-9w in the photo is one I did solo. I had been helping him with track work an ballasting and the "shooting stand" is his solo work on a display stand he was working on. We sat them both on the bed cover of my truck with the field in the background as a "borrowed view" and got a better shot than we ever expected with a cell phone.

 

Unfortunately, he's been so busy with school and I'm so busy at work neither of us has had any real time for model building. It's driving both of us nuts.

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating over 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"
E-mail

YouTube Channel

Originally Posted by marker:

I agree with those that say there is no issue.  When I was doing the Code 148 custom 3 rail, I had to use ME straight (because of 3 rail wheels bottoming on the Atlas flex-track spikes) with Atlas turnouts.

 

Howard, so I can run my big-flanged "ex" 3-rail engines (I'm converting all steamers to Battery-Powered Remote-Control, and doing away with the middle rollers) on ME code 148 track?  But you say they'll bottom out on Atlas code 148 switches?

 

If so, does anyone else make 2-rail switches that I could use?

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

The answer to the question about the depth/height of atlas Code 148 track to ME code 148 track is it SHOULD be the same.

 

The "code" number is the height measured in thousandths of an inch.   Hence code 125 is 125 thousandths or 1/8 inch tall regardless of mfg and code 148 should be 148 thousandths tall regardless of mfg.    Now if the mfg just uses the term and does not really do the track that way, it could be a problem.   I have NO knowledge of any mfg calling the track anything wrong.

Originally Posted by Keystoned Ed:

There is a slight difference in the thickness of the rail at the at the base and web, but not at the rail head. 

 

Ed Rappe

 

Originally Posted by prrjim:

The track gauge (width between the rails) is the most important thing to consider.   If both are 1.25 inches (O Scale), then both will be compatible with your equipment.

 

Joining the two types together may require more work than using only one brand.   When I look at Atlas, the railheads look wider than other brands.    Since I am used to seeing the other brands, in my mind the atlas looks wrong.   But that is not the issue here.

 

If the Atlas rail is indeed wider over all, the same rail joiners may not just snap in place.   However if you follow the recommended guidelines for DCC and put drops on every piece of rail, you can have loose fits on the rail joiners.   

 

 

As someone who makes and sells track gauges to people who are hand laying track, I can without a doubt confirm, Atlas code 148 rail DOES have a wider head than ME rail. While it is slight, one of my gauges made for code 148 rail, may NOT on occasion fit on a piece of Atlas rail, as they are machined to fit ME rail. With that said, you should have no problem joining the two or operating across that joint, as the difference in rail head width is only about 0.005".

I measured about 6 different wheel flanges and they were all approx. 3/32" (.093") deep, that should be plenty of clearance for me to run converted (removed the training wheels rollers ) 3-rail engines on 2-rail code 148 track.

 

I looked on Norm's site and he does have good prices on ME flex track.  I take it ME doesn't offer radius sectional track?

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

And now that at least one manufacturer has taken advantage of electronic technology and offers motive power that can run on either type of rail and almost any power source, a turnout that will permit both two rail and also three rail motive power and rolling stock is the one "missing link" that would permit complete and non compromised interoperability.....

So the question is: "Is it easier to offer modified wheels and flanges, or should turnout issues be resolved to permit this interoperability?"

  "there are no 2rail switches made that will work with 3rail wheels"

 

   I doubt many folks would want to run 3 rail wheels on 2 rail track as they are not insulated so fixing them would be harder than swapping them for 2 rail wheels. It is possible though to run big flanges on 2 rail trains, N scale guys do it all the time. I built some turnouts for my TT scale trains that can take both small and large flanges, the secret is to leave off the guard rails (or install them as dummies far from the back of scale wheels) the large flanged wheels have a narrower back to back dimension than the scale wheels. On a properly constructed turnout guard rails are not needed for reliable operation in most locations.....DaveB

Originally Posted by daveb:

   On a properly constructed turnout guard rails are not needed for reliable operation in most locations.....DaveB

This has not been my experience. Maybe it will work on a #4 switch but not on a #6, 8 or 10. Besides, the whole point of this hobby, especially hand laying track, is to follow the prototype as closely as possible.

Originally Posted by Hudson5432:

 is the one "missing link" that would permit complete and non compromised interoperability.....

What you will compromise is authentic looking track. None of the 2rail guys I know would even consider buying a 3rail compatible turnout. They would look completely non prototypical. This is a segmented scale, this needs to be acknowledged. combining the two is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. You need to either trade all your square pegs for round ones or get a square hole.

"Maybe it will work on a #4 switch but not on a #6, 8 or 10. Besides, the whole point of this hobby, especially hand laying track, is to follow the prototype as closely as possible."

 

    It's not ideal but it lets one run mixed size flanges. Here's a TT scale turnout that can take Euro large flanges like on the little steamer or American TT smaller flanges like on the boxcar. It's probably a #6, I can't recall off hand but if the turnout is built with a straight frog and proper gauging they work fine, the wheels want to go straight so don't need the guard rails.....DaveB 

switchtest2

switchtest1

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Thanks guys!

 

My reason for asking is I'm in the process of converting all my 3-rail steamers to Battery-Power Remote Control and have removed the middle "training wheels" on the engines, but kept the big flanges on the drivers and trucks.  I no longer need the middle rail.

 

I can remove the middle rail from my layout, but I was thinking of redoing the 072 and 054 curves with 090 and 072 and #5 switches.  If I can't find switches that will work with the big flanges, I'll just live with them for now.  It'll still be 2-rail (and remind me of the old HO big flanged equipment).

 

Maybe for now I'll leave the track as is and run the BPRC steamers for a while.  I also have 7 diesels (PS2 and TMCC) that can easily run with the steam locos, as long as I keep the middle rail and wiring.  But my goal is to go all BPRC (maybe even sell off my 3-rail diesel roster).

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

Bob,  there are no 2rail switches made that will work with 3rail wheels.

That's not quite true.  Atlas 2 rail Code 148 switches will work with 3 rail wheels, you just have to reposition the guard rails.

  

turn4

 

I've posted pictures and videos in the past.  I also gave a detailed explanation how I came to use Atlas turnouts.  The key to finding a turnout that will work is having one with a cast frog.  3 rail wheels will clear the Atlas frogs with no modifications.  I have modified both #7.5's and #5's.  Unfortunately I'll be tearing down the work shortly.

________________________________________________________________________ 

 

Bob Delbridge - Im sorry I didn't reply to your post of a few days ago.  I'm in the middle of a move to another town and didn't catch your post.  If you have questions, email me and I will reply with all I have learned.  Thanks 

 

My reason for asking is I'm in the process of converting all my 3-rail steamers to Battery-Power Remote Control and have removed the middle "training wheels" on the engines, but kept the big flanges on the drivers and trucks.  I no longer need the middle rail.

 

That would make the conversion of Atlas turnouts much easier.  All you would have to do is reposition the guard rails.

 

Converting them to 3 rail required replacing some of the ties with PC board ties and soldering in the 3rd rail, etc.

Howard

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Howard,

I must have totally forgotten about this topic

When you say "re-position" the guard rails, can you provide a diagram or tell me where to put them (oh-oh, that's leaving myself wide open

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

Hudson5432 posted:

And now that at least one manufacturer has taken advantage of electronic technology and offers motive power that can run on either type of rail and almost any power source, a turnout that will permit both two rail and also three rail motive power and rolling stock is the one "missing link" that would permit complete and non compromised interoperability.....

So the question is: "Is it easier to offer modified wheels and flanges, or should turnout issues be resolved to permit this interoperability?"

Brio?

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

I took a piece of ME weathered track and just tapped the outside of the ties slightly and slowly in one direction, one tie at a time. It formed a curve easily. I went back over it slowly to make a tighter radius.

I had already laid all my curves with Atlas flex so it was just a test. I tapped all the ties ends back and the track went back straight. If I had known this earlier, I would have attempted to use ME track on at least one of my main lines.

 If anyone has a piece laying around, try this. Just tap lightly and very slightly so you don't crack the plastic ties. Keep going over the area until you get the radius you want. Don't do it all at once!

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

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