My view is that if you have a lot of it from your starter sets (for example) or someone is gifting it to you, you should go right ahead and use it.  If you are buying to start with, most people, including myself would recommend Fastrack, Atlas or Ross/Gargraves over Realtrax for all of the qualities you mention, whether bought new or used.  

Sounds like you are looking for a quick, easy and cheap way to start a layout. When I started in O gauge about 6 or 7 years ago, I bought a bunch of Realtrax and about 12 switches months before I started my layout. I struggled working with it and from day one knew I made a mistake. 

I have since removed all of the Realtrax and replaced it with Gargraves track and Ross switches. Over the past years I have worked with Lionel Fastrack and found that to be a very reliable, an easy "ready made track" that looks very nice. It's more expensive than Realtrax, but you get what you pay for most times than not. They have lots of different options for their track as well.

RAY

 

Realtrax is challenging to work with.  The copper tangs that make contact when snapping the pieces together are frail and get bent very easily.  Extreme caution is needed to assemble that stuff.  I have a bunch of it and the price is what makes it attractive but it sure can be frustrating at times.  I don't have any of the switches and am not familiar with how they behave.    Someone else will have to speak to that.

Lots of good opinions here I did use it for around the Christmas tree and agree the copper tabs suck but if it's not being taken apart all the time I thought it might be ok. I have used LIONEL TUBE, GARGRAVES, K-LINE SUPER SNAP ROSS, ATLAS O & FASTRACK on layouts over the years I had problems with rust on FASTRACK & detest ballesting that's why I was thinking about giving the MTH brand a try.

Dave Ripp

 

On some temporary layouts, I have used Realtrax from starter sets and have had very few problems with it. As you say, putting it together and taking it apart frequently could be problematic over time, I think, but could be done with a little experience, finesse and patience. 

Personally, I think all track systems are basically good, but they all have some quirks. Good news is the quirks can be worked around with a little patience and the good tips from others here that are using the same track type. I have always liked the looks of Realtrax and Fastrack because of the built in roadbed. As you say, no ballasting!

CHOO-CHOO MIKE posted:

Using Realtrax for around 20 years !  

Perhaps the original stuff?  With all solid rails?  Hopefully the quality was spot-on at that time.

The new stuff, while not bad, ain't always the greatest either, IMHO.

Paul  

Ship Rock Island ROCKET FREIGHT

 

2 Rails?  3 Rails?  Doesn't matter, I can't count that high in either case.

I love the smell of fresh-brewed creosote first thing in the morning.

If the government knew how much fun O-gauge railroading was, they'd outlaw it!

Common sense is my second best trait.  Nonsense is my first, of course. 

Dave Ripp. posted:

Lots of good opinions here I did use it for around the Christmas tree and agree the copper tabs suck but if it's not being taken apart all the time I thought it might be ok. I have used LIONEL TUBE, GARGRAVES, K-LINE SUPER SNAP ROSS, ATLAS O & FASTRACK on layouts over the years I had problems with rust on FASTRACK & detest ballesting that's why I was thinking about giving the MTH brand a try.

In my neck of the woods, it's pretty easy to find used Real Trax at train shows for really good prices.  I put together a 6' x 16' layout using both used and new stuff.  It was somewhat of a pain in the posterior getting everything to run properly, but I finally got it figured out.  Basically, I like the looks of it and I like the price of it.  My next layout will most likely be GarGraves/Ross, but for right now my MTH track is serving me just fine.

If you want to go ahead and give it a try, by all means go for it.  Me and several others could give you some good pointers on what to look for and how to prepare the track and switches for painless track laying the first time around. 

Paul  

Ship Rock Island ROCKET FREIGHT

 

2 Rails?  3 Rails?  Doesn't matter, I can't count that high in either case.

I love the smell of fresh-brewed creosote first thing in the morning.

If the government knew how much fun O-gauge railroading was, they'd outlaw it!

Common sense is my second best trait.  Nonsense is my first, of course. 

Hey....pls listen to Ray of Sunshine...I've had far too many problems with Real Trax, and it with the new and old versions. I have about 90% of old 1st generation solid rail...but it is the tangs at the ends that are the problem....even after just a few assembly/disassemblies  Just use good old tubular...and Menards sells a good replica from what I hear.

 

 

Realtrax is great. My father and I have built two separate layouts with it. I prefer the solid rail track instead of the hollow rail. The track fits VERY tight. The connections allow for good continuity. It’s easy to solder to. The turnouts work fantastically. I prefer to use separate power (not track power) of 14 volts. If you overpower the turnouts they can pop off an internal spring. It’s fixable after you remove the turnout and take the bottom cover off. The roadbed is narrower than Fastrack. That can be a positive aspect. Flat top rail improves traction when climbing a grade. It won’t rust. If you are trying to fit the largest radius curve possible on a 4’ wide sheet of plywood, 0-42 fits perfectly. Black center rails are nice. The cross ties are closer to prototypical than Fastrack. Some of the O SCALE purists may look down their nose at plastic roadbed, but it’s convenient. The roadbed can be stained and the sides of the rails can be painted to look rusty in order to give it a more realistic look. It’s less expensive than Fastrack. It looks better than Fastrack. It fits together tighter than Fastrack. It makes better electrical contact than Fastrack. Enough said. 

American by birth. Southern by the grace of God.  

I've moved onto Atlas for better appearance, larger curves and # turnouts. The original solid rail stuff is good. Yes the connecting tangs are fussy, but if you straighten any deformed tangs before assembly, it works quite well. I don't like the new hollow rail. Sometimes the rails are misaligned. And without any pins, like conventional hollow rail, one has to use pliers to coax the rails into alignment. I never had any problem with switches.

Keith

CoolHand posted:

Realtrax is great...The cross ties are closer to prototypical than Fastrack...Enough said. 

I knew this to be wrong so I got out a piece of Realtrax and a piece of Fastrack.

Realtrax:

        IMG_3801

Looks like 35 inches center-to-center.

Fastrack:

       IMG_3804

Looks very close to 18 inches center-to-center.

Now to consult the Wiki-thingy:

"The crosstie spacing of mainline railroad is approximately 19 to 19.5 inches for wood ties or 24 inches for concrete ties. (The spacing means the distance of the center of one tie to the center of the next tie, and equals to the width of one tie plus the width of one crib.)"

 

So Realtrax is waaay off and Fastrack is quite close wrt tie spacing. WRT tie width, real ties are 9-10 inches wide. From the pics Fastrack looks like about 8 inches and Realtrax is almost 14 inches so again, Fastrack is much closer to the prototype.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

Attachments

Photos (2)

Speakina' opinion, I chose Fastrack because (1)tie size and spacing is very close to prototypical and looks it and (2) Fastrack rail height is closer to prototype than Realtrax. Fastrack rail height is 0.190" (code 190) while Realtrax is 0.250 (code 250).

From an old discussion here (in which Bob gives his OK to use this image):

                      Fastrack & Real Trax Comparison

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...ack-andamp-real-trax

From another old discussion here, quoting member "CHUCK":

"PRR used 155# rail on their main line.  This would scale out to code 172.  For reference purposes, Atlas O two rail is code 148 meant to represent more typical and lighter weight mainline track in the 130# range.  Branch line track could be even lighter while specialty tracks (like at a steel mill) could be even heavier."

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...-rail-certainly-fits

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

My layout has over 300 feet of MTH Real Trax, and it is 10 years old. There are 14 Real Trax 042 switches in my layout, and to date only two have required replacement for continuity failures. For a permanent layout, Real Trax is competitive with other sectional track systems. However, Real Trax does not do well when taken apart several times as for a seasonal layout.

Track Joint TechniquesSwitch Guard Rail ModReal Trax Switch Sparking LocationsReal Trax Switch Open Circuit Fix 2.7mbFastrack & Real Trax Comparison

Bobby Ogage

"I hear that train a coming,

it's Long Island No. 39 rolling

around the bend"

 

Attachments

Photos (5)

As long as I remember  to hold the two Realtrax track pieces being joined at a 45 degree angle to one-another while pushing together they snap right together without any damage to the copper contacts.

I never had the sparking issue but was using O72 track switches so maybe the geometry is slightly different?

I did have to grind back the inside rails to prevent contact with the adjacent track pieces  to prevent the points-chattering issue. Other than that Realtrax track switches were bullet-proof.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

Oh, and one other point about Realtrax: Magnetraction does NOT work (obviously-brass rail). To some this matters and to others it is no problem (think Post War vs traction tires).

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

Of course then, on the subject of prototypical appearance there is that third rail, be it T rail, U rail, blade rail, black rail or whatever. 

While there are practical differences between the various track systems, as well as factual differences which affect appearance, (tie spacing, rail height, rail appearance) the aesthetics issues really are a case of different strokes for different folks.

 

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

Have several hundred feet of Atlas. When I first started again in hobby back in 2014 I could not get enough Atlas as it was always BACK ORDERED! So I bought a couple hundred feet of Realtrax, 14 switches ( not using track power to power them), bumpers and uncoupling sections. NO COMPLAINTS. I wanted Atlas for the realistic look. (actually wanted Scaletrax but could not find enough of it). I even Ballasted the MTX and it even looks great I must say. Blended in well with Atlas. Also matched Atlas to the Realtrax so I could run trains  from one loop to different loops. Have 3 loops of MTH Realtrax and no complaints!

Curtis

The problem with Realtrack that I’ve experienced first hand is the fact that power is connected through bronze “fingers” that like to get bent if taken apart a lot, say for a temporary layout. I also think the lock-ons cause a lot of trouble with connection.

Modeling Enola PA in miniature

——————————————————

https://www.instagram.com/ns6770fan_productions/

“It’s a good thing to let another generation know what a steam locomotive is.” — Southern Railway Vice President-Law W. Graham Claytor Jr.

I never bothered with Realtrax lock-ons and still don't with Fastrack. I just provide power drops to every "Aux Gnd" and "Track Jumper" terminal on every track switch. Those terminals are also available on Realtrax (remote) track switches.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

I used RealTrax for a small holiday(s) layout that was setup and taken down a couple of times a year.

I found the track not to hold well over time (staying together & electrical)

As others have said ... if you have it, use it.  but I wouldn't use it for anything other than a permanent-type layout.

IMO, RealTrax is by far the least attractive and least useful of the four other major track systems:  Atlas, Ross, Gargraves, Fastrack.

 

 

RT   

I really wanted to like RealTrax. Around 2007 I built a version of the well-known Lionel 1957 Super-O catalog layout with RealTrax. I never had any problem with the track, but the switches were trouble. The turnout path was so far out of gauge that post-war wheel sets ran through them with the flange on the ties. Modern wheel sets with wheels fixed to the axles were OK, but derailments were frequent with PW rolling stock with free-spinning wheels. I did have a number of the famous "red wire" failures, but that didn't bother me because it is easy to work around. At some point I picked up a Lionel R-T-R set with Fastrack and I bought a few more pieces and a switch to try it out. After that I sold the RealTrax and went with Fastrack.

I would have stayed with RealTrax if the switches had been more accurately built, but I had mostly PW rolling stock and that didn't work too well at all.

My RealTrax installation was strictly textbook; nothing soldered to the rails and powered through lockons. There were a couple places on the layout where I needed an extra lockon to provide a connection to the other outside rail where it was isolated by switches, but I that is the nature of the product.

I find it amusing when a discussion of "prototypical" breaks out when talking about 3 rail track with plastic roadbed.

I had the solid rail Realtrax and did not like it for sound and connection.  I ended up migrating to scaletrax which I also do not like for various reasons.

Find a track that you like the look of and has reliable connections.  IMHO track with joiners or pins would be best.

If you detest ballast, there are several clean "no ballast" options.  

(1) Ballast your roadbed prior to laying your track.

(2) Spray your roadbed with Flexstone paint prior to laying your track.

(3) Just paint your roadbed the color of your choosing prior to lying track.

(4) Just sprinkle some ballast on the outside of the rails.

Have Fun!

Ron

"I'd rather be lucky than good"

Based on my experience, MTH Realtrax is not be my first choice of a track system.  I have a permanent layout in which I use Realtrax for my elevated trolly line.  It has electrical connectivity issues.  Very frustrating!  I've checked and re-checked and then re-checked the track connections and copper connecters , had other folks over who have  permanent layouts to get their input, and we call agree that the Realtax has it's own set of issues.  I don't mean to sound like I'm bashing MTH, for I like ( and own lots of MTH ) all their other products very much so, but just relaying my own experience with this line of track.   I use Gargraves as the track system for  the rest of my layout and have no issues.   I see in this thread that others use Realtrax and have no issues with it.  Again just relaying my own experience with Realtrax.  At some point I will replace the Realtrax and use another track system for the elevated trolly line. 

If you want to use track with a plastic base I'd recommend Lionel Fastrack.  This is what I use for my Christmas tree layout and I've had no problems.  Just make sure you put this track ( or any track with a plastic base ) on a base of sound deadening material.  Without this kind of base this track produces  excessive noise IMHO

There are several track systems out there.  I recommend you check all of them out to see what may work best for you.  Best of luck! 

Cheers and Happy Railroading,

Patrick W  

CEO - The Free State Junction Railway 

" Where the music is sweet and the trains always run on time"

Home Office - Patsburg, Maryland 

Oman posted:

While we are on the subject of prototypical, T rail vs. inverted U rail. 

Some of the very early rails were an inverted "U" shape.

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

The first layout I made started with 0-27 tubular rail on top of foam roadbed. The roadbed had been painted with Fleckstone. I really like the look of the Fleckstone paint. To save some money I recommend painting a base coat on the foam before the more expensive Fleckstone paint. I quickly learned the limitations of cheap track. It may HAVE been quieter, but that wasn’t my concern. Whichever track you choose, remember that they all have their pros and cons. It’s even likely that difficulties that others expressed may have been due to their limitations and NOT the limitations of the track. In other words, your experience may vary. 

Just build the layout. If you don’t love your choices, change them. People buy and sell used track everyday. 

American by birth. Southern by the grace of God.  

No. But it’s close. Having exact dimensions of all available track on one chart would be a mighty useful tool. If we had center rail diameters of circles, lengths of available straight sections and height to top of rail, it would remove much guess work. 

0-31 RealTrax is 28.625” (on my layout)

0-31 Lionel is 28.58” according to fredswain (member CTT since Aug.2006)

American by birth. Southern by the grace of God.  

I've been running Realtrax on my basement layout for 5 years now without any problems.

I had to replace the Fastrack (with Realtrax) on one of my portable layouts, after just two years of use... It didn't hold up, see below:

The Realtrax on that portable layout has been working flawlessly after 7 years an still going strong.

FasTack works better with older magnatraction locomotives (Realtrax is non-magnetic). FasTrack also handles frequent assembly and disassembly better. The metal used can rust so be sure not to use (or store) in environments that are not controlled, the humidity will eventually take its toll. I like to use Fastrack on my tree layout, temporary floor, and quick setup layouts. The pins can work loose sometimes and cause a poor connection but that can be addressed with a quick pinch of the needle nose pliers.

Realtrax is my preference for more permanent layouts where you won't constantly be taking the track apart. The connection on the bottom creates good permanent connections that never need the influence of the needle nose pliers one a good connection has been made (check them carefully if you have used track). The track is made of nickel silver which resists corrosion and rust very well. Connecting pieces together is bit of an art but still simple once you get the hang of it. I do prefer how much easier it is to power FasTrak vs the RealTrax lockons. Realtrax does offer rubber feet to prevent sliding on hardwood floors and locking clips to keep track from separating when not screwed down.

H1000

Add Reply

Likes (1)
Post
This forum is sponsored by MTH Electric Trains
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
×