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I use the 3-rail O Gauge Fastrack instead of the old tin plate and I like it. It is a little more expensive but the built-in roadbed looks good and is ready to go. Plus it comes in a variety of sizes, at least for O Gauge.

The biggest downside is the cost. Tinplate is much cheaper compared to Fastrack. The other drawback is noise. The hollow underside of Fastrack can magnify the noise level that some folks find undesirable. I cut pieces of sill sealer to use as insulation. Works great.

Your railroad, your choice.

FastTrack works great for post war Flyer. Yes, it's much more expensive, but it looks nice. The biggest advantage is the remote wireless turnouts. They require zero wiring and can be easily actuated from the Legacy remote control. Unfortunately, these turnouts are hit and miss from a quality perspective. 20% of mine have failed.

I would go with FasTrack, particularly since new American Flyer tubular tinplate track isn't being made anymore.

Sure, you might find someone with new old tinplate stock, but otherwise you'd wind up buying used track, which depending on it's condition could be problematic with contact issues.  There is no Magnatraction with American Flyer, everything even from the Gilbert days has traction tires, so there's little to no advantage to tinplated track other than perhaps cost.

Personally, I've found traditional Flyer tinplate track somewhat flimsy, (my opinion.)

Rusty

I don’t know what Gargraves is offering at present, but I have a pile of the older tubular flex track, the type that has the edges of the rail imbedded in the ties. Very simple: stay away from it, don’t use it, avoid at all costs. Also I have some to sell along with a couple of the old turnouts.

My understanding is the Lionel FasTrack is very noisy, so you should place some sort of sound deadening between it and your tabletop. That said, the nickel-silver rail is way better than original Flyer track and there is a wide verity of track lengths available. I don’t know what the radius or number of their turnouts is, but that could be a limit on what you can run. Fox Valley turnouts use the same code of rail is mating them together is not much of a problem. Also mixing in code 137 flex track is an option.

The SHS/MTH S-Trax and flex track is the best, but no longer manufactured and is getting hard to find. Also limited by the tight radius of their turnouts.

Original Flyer works, but I would only use it if you like the looks, other a newer system would be better.

my 2¢

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

@ADCX Rob posted:

You'll have to be more specific than that. GarGraves is a good product, and it mates up well with AF track. If you had challenges with the bending aspect, there are accepted methods for working with GG that  may have been overlooked.

Hi Rob,

I don’t have challenges bending GG flex, however it is more than a pain compared to other brands.  GG is a pain to cut, again compared to other brands.  I believe all tubular rail is more difficult to cut than solid rail, but it can be done.  I don’t personally care for the way GG  rails ‘lean’  on a curve – get down and look at it, on a curve the rails don’t stand up straight – and because of all of that, I would steer someone just starting out away from GG.  All that said, if you like the look and don’t mind working with it, then I would say it’s the track for you.

I have extensive AM flex and turnouts and much prefer working with SHS flex and now I make my own turnouts.  I will keep the AM flex I have, but all newer track is SHS.

Again, my 2¢…

Tom Stoltz

in Maine



Personally, I've found traditional Flyer tinplate track somewhat flimsy, (my opinion.)

I disagree. My dad's AF track is more than 60 years old, and while well cared for, has been well used, too—in temporary carpet layouts assembled and disassembled many, many times—including by children. It all still works just fine. We've acquired a fair amount of used AF track and switches on Ebay and at shows, and the only thing needed has been cleaning.

I'm not a fan of the loudness of O-gauge Fastrack and would avoid S-gauge for that reason. OTH, I would definitely consider Gargraves.

As long as we're on S FasTrack, I guess it would be a good time to remind folks that it's compatible with SHS/MTH S-Trax with a little modification.

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As to noise, I'm going to find out after my R29's come in from Portlines.  I'm going to be using S-Trax and FasTrack temporarily on the new layout until Fox Valley can get their new stock in.

Right now, I only have experience with S-Trax on a carpet.

Rusty

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@Chuck K posted:

People always talk about the noise of AF FastTrack, but I have a layout comprised of it, and I have no issues with sound. Perhaps these folks are screwing it down directly to a wood surface, something I wouldn't recommend doing with any type of track.

Let's not forget, S model trains have less mass than their O gauge cousins.  The S FasTrack and S-Trax systems also have solid rail and smaller "resonant chambers" verses O gauge FasTrack.  All of which will have some effect on noise levels.

Rusty

As long as we're on S FasTrack, I guess it would be a good time to remind folks that it's compatible with SHS/MTH S-Trax with a little modification.

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As to noise, I'm going to find out after my R29's come in from Portlines.  I'm going to be using S-Trax and FasTrack temporarily on the new layout until Fox Valley can get their new stock in.

Right now, I only have experience with S-Trax on a carpet.

Rusty

Rusty , I didn’t know about Fox Valley until you mentioned it here. Do you know if they will be offering a full line of SHS track anytime soon?

Last edited by cwp_ogr
@cwp_ogr posted:

Rusty , I didn’t know about Fox Valley until you mentioned it here. Do you know if they will be offering a full line of SHS track anytime soon?

Scale Trains bought the SHS/MTH track tooling, not Fox Valley.

Fox Valley offers their own line of flex track and #5 turnouts, (which uses the same code 138 rail as SHS and Lionel)  which currently is pretty much all out of stock.  New stock is not expected until mid 2022, subject to supply chain conditions.

Fox Valley Track:

S Fest 110416 004S Fest 110416 005

Rusty

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Scale Trains bought the SHS/MTH track tooling, not Fox Valley.

Fox Valley offers their own line of flex track and #5 turnouts, (which uses the same code 138 rail as SHS and Lionel)  which currently is pretty much all out of stock.  New stock is not expected until mid 2022, subject to supply chain conditions.

Rusty

Unfortunately, they have been promising product since November 2020.  I have lost hope that they will ever produce more turnouts.  I have sent 7 messages this year inquiring about them, and have yet to receive a response.

There is a lot of great information in the posts above. Technically, there is no such thing as "tinplate" track in S gauge. Gilbert track uses unplated, heavy gauge steel alloy rail. As mentioned above S gauge Lionel FasTrack is a completely different product than the O gauge version. The design of the plastic elements is different and the rail is solid .138 profile made with a NS alloy. The S gauge trains run quietly on it, partly because there are no center rail roller pickups. I find no difference in sound level between FasTrack and SHS/MTH sectional track.

If one wants quiet operation then Gilbert track in rubber roadbed works. Next would be SHS/MTH/FVM flex on cork roadbed. Ballasting the flex track increases the noise level slightly. Running Legacy engines on my ballasted MTH flextrack there is no track noise audible over the engine produced sounds.

GarGraves has the same rail height as Gilbert track but the thickness of the metal is much less and the rail head is not as flat as the Gilbert track. There are no longer any wide radius turnouts made with the GarGraves rail. However there is a FasTrack adapter piece that allows direct connection of FasTrack turnouts to Gilbert/GarGraves track. The old GarGraves #5 turnouts needed work to allow trains to operate reliably, I have not seen any for sale in a long time. The #4, #6 and #8 turnouts made by ROW Industries using GarGraves rail are fantastic pieces but I have not seen any for sale in decades. The new GarGraves turnouts are basically 20"R but without the power routing feature in the Gilbert turnouts.

The last I looked the American Models track was still available. It has #5 turnouts, they are not a direct drop in for their 27"R curves. AM is a quality track system.

@AmFlyer posted:

I have not seen any for sale in a long time. The #4, #6 and #8 turnouts made by ROW Industries using GarGraves rail are fantastic pieces but I have not seen any for sale in decades.

The last I looked the American Models track was still available. It has #5 turnouts, they are not a direct drop in for their 27"R curves. AM is a quality track system.

Tom, that sums it up really well, thank you. A small note though is the AM turnouts are true #4s and the 27” radius I believe is call the substitute radius, the overall equivalent radius.

I have a couple of #6 Gargraves turnouts still in their boxes, never used and about 48 pieces of 3 ft flex I’d be glad to sell.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

My experience has been primarily with SHS S-Trax modular track and AC Gilbert track.  S-Trax looks nice and works well, but Flyer track is a lot easier to make custom sections from.   There were several releases of S-Trax turnouts, so be sure to get the most recently released or factory upgraded earlier units -- that is of course while Don and Robin were producing it.  MTH's is a copy as they purchased the tools and is compatible with SHS's, but also no longer made by MTH.  I've used S-Trax and Flyer on a layout comprised of 3/4" plywood, 3/4" foam board, and cloth I/O carpet atop that and in both cases virtually no wheel to rail white noise.  Then again neither ever nailed or screwed to the plywood substrate.

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OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
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