Custom Trax products

My search of the OGR Forum database revealed that there has been only one brief review, dated 8/26/12, of Custom Trax S-scale track items. Has anybody else used this product on their layout, and if so, what are its pros and cons?

Bob G (WNY)

Original Post

They are listed as a resource on the NASG website. Since they only make code 100 rail S gauge track and turnouts the product is exclusively for S scale modelers. Those of us with high rail wheels cannot use their products. The turnouts look good and are DCC compatible, they offer 3 colors of ballast. Pricing seems very reasonable to me for what they provide.

Tom

Many S gaugers use the MTH STrax product line. It is essentially identical to the S-Helper-Service brand of track that can still be found on auction sites on the web. MTH bought SHS and all it's product lines.

I have a lot of the S-Trax track and find it to be the best looking and operating product line of S scale molded roadbed track. The turnouts for this track are limited to one size #3 (left and right)...

(The SHS turnout is shown). The conductivity of the track is excellent. In testing it I once had a 90 track section loop constructed with one power drop. The operating voltage reading on the track was consistent throughout while a train was running on it.

The new Lionel/American Flyer molded roadbed track (see pgs 215-217 of the 2018 Lionel big book catalog) is essentially identical to the SHS/MTH track with the exception of color and end connections. The roadbed is a uniform gray color with embedded brown ties. The two brands of track can be used together with a bit of "surgery". I prefer the multi-coloring of the ballast of the SHS/MTH track. The AF line now offers many more track selections than the SHS/MTH line so you could achieve layouts with it that you could not with the SHS/MTH brand.

The SHS track had 3 radii of curves...20", 24", 30". 

Long length Flex track is available although you would need to supply the roadbed for it.

Whichever brand you choose you will enjoy it's look and operation. It will run highrail and scale wheeled cars and engines although some scale engines don't play well with SHS/MTH turnouts I've been told.

Hope that helps.

Mark

 EDIT...WELL IT LOOKS LIKE I MISSED THE BOAT ON YOUR QUESTION AFTER SEEING TOM'S REPLY. YOU MUST BE REFERRING TO THIS ITEM. CUSTOMTRAX LOOKS LIKE A WELL MADE PRODUCT WITH A GOOD VARIETY OF TURNOUTS. ALL THE TRACK IS FLEXTRACK AND PREBALLASTED? THAT'S NEAT! a STARTER SET OF 30' OF TRACK AND TWO TURNOUTS FOR $200.00 IS A GOOD DEAL. SCALE OPERATION ONLY AS TOM SAID.

The possibility of using Custom Trax intrigued me because their #8 turnouts would have been ideal for incorporating more closely spaced sidings and yard tracks.  Too bad they don't offer a hi-rail line of products for guys like me [and apparently most S operators]. 

Thanks Tom and Mark for your help and insights.

Bob

 

Bob G (WNY)

Bob, you must have some real space available to make a yard ladder using #8’s. Most of my yard ladder tracks are #5’s giving 3” center to center spacing in the freight yard. I have some #6’s in the passenger yard but that was for track geometry, not spacing. The 3” spacing was chosen so any of my engines could use the yard. The Big Boy, Challenger and the AM Northern have some large overhangs on my 30” minimum radius curves. At 2 3/4” spacing those engines would have been banned from the yard.

I am including some pictures for info. The 3 turnouts are #5, #6 & #8 top to bottom. 

5E09E104-4544-41D0-BA2C-527167D7FA0E8E83DED2-D43A-4772-84D8-474720465EAE7766E246-C61D-4E28-826B-9E41C4AD50FB

Tom

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The premise for my original question was predicated on a preliminary Lionel AF FasTrack layout plan drawn with SCARM software [attached]. It utilizes both turnout types [R20 and R27] currently offered by Lionel. The encircled "yard" area would look more realistic [and probably accommodate an additional track on the right side] if even the lowest-numbered turnout [#5] shown in your third photo could be substituted for the R27s I'm limited to [with FasTrack]. 

What brand of trackage did you use for your layout? Is the company still in business?  

Bob G (WNY)

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Bob, I cannot tell what C to C distance you get from the drawing (looks like about 5"), my sidings are 3" using #5's. You can get #5 turnouts from Fox Valley that use the same profile rail (.138) that is used on the FasTrack system. Be aware these turnouts are not plug and play. They will need roadbed, a relay to power the frog with the correct "polarity" for straight and diverging settings. You also need a turnout motor such as a DZ2500 or a Tortoise.

My turnouts also use .138 rail to match up with the MTH track used on the layout. Since I needed 50 turnouts mixed between the 3 sizes I had them custom made. At the time only .125 rail and smaller turnouts were available commercially in numbered sizes. Those who made mine are not in the business of making S gauge turnouts and will not accept any more commissions.

I see you have either 2 or 4 reverse loops depending upon where you put the rail isolation gaps. What do you plan to use for the automatic reverse loop controllers? Will the layout be AC, DC or DCC? If AC will you use the Legacy system with the LCS? I recommend it, operating a layout as you have designed will be much more enjoyable with the LCS.

Tom

Unfortunately I don't have the time to make Fox Valley #5 turnouts fully compatible with FasTrack's plug-and-play system. Unless Lionel produces a #5 relatively soon [fat chance of that happening!], or if I can find someone willing to modify several Fox Valley turnouts for me, I'll stick with an all FasTrack layout and live with the wider track spacing.    

My motive power roster comprises just one unit, an American Models PRR K-4 Streamlined Pacific loco and tender that was upgraded to DCC operation.

Bob G (WNY)

The closest thing to a plug and play numbered turnout is American Models. Their sectional track system is well made but does not have integral roadbed. Curved turnouts are made because the can directly substitute for straight or curved sectional track pieces where numbered turnouts cannot. MTH and Lionel turnouts are also closed frog designs. As you state, using numbered turnouts in S scale is a lot more work. In O gauge the market is so large that numbered turnouts are available as plug and play plus with three rails the frog polarity does not need to be switched.

Tom

Bob G (WNY) posted:

Unfortunately I don't have the time to make Fox Valley #5 turnouts fully compatible with FasTrack's plug-and-play system. Unless Lionel produces a #5 relatively soon [fat chance of that happening!], or if I can find someone willing to modify several Fox Valley turnouts for me, I'll stick with an all FasTrack layout and live with the wider track spacing.    

My motive power roster comprises just one unit, an American Models PRR K-4 Streamlined Pacific loco and tender that was upgraded to DCC operation.

Bob, there might be a solution to closer spacing with Fastrack turnouts.

But it will require some determination and guts. Lots and lots of guts.

In this post I described a system for modifying Gilbert turnouts to achieve closer yard track spacing.

In your case using brand new expensive Fastrack turnouts would up the ante on requiring "nerves of steel" to cut off the diverging route and reverse it's orientation to achieve a gentler curve and a tighter center to center spacing. ordinary track joiners for the rails and glue for the roadbed could be used to reconfigure the turnout. I haven't seen the underside of one of these turnouts so I don't know if any obstructions like electrical connections would also have to be reconfigured.

Here's a picture of an r27 turnout:

Image result for lionel american flyer 27

and here's a crude image of that turnout "cut and pasted" to show the diverging route "reversed":

It definitely would not be easy what with the molded roadbed but it appears that it could be accomplished. 

Mark

Edit...If the original cut-off section of the diverging route was discarded you could possible use a new r27 1/2 curve section as the "transplant" section. That way the only thing trimmed on the new section would be the roadbed where it joins with the straight track...

 

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Mark,

If I elect to use Lionel AF FasTrack for my planned layout I'll give the "surgical procedure" you outlined serious consideration for at least one R27 turnout...provided the section removed is devoid of any complex electrical components. 

Thanks again to you and Tom for your sage advice and recommendations.

 

Bob G (WNY)

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