I am trying to decide on which track to replace my K-Line Super K with. I have purchased but not yet recieved the Black Diamond videos which use the Scale Trax. I have read many many forums and was leaning toward the Scale Trax  but when I have tried to look at where to purchase have found limited availabilty. All of the Train stores near me (Just south of Pittsburgh) do not carry or offer it and  the atlas is offered but they have to order it. Every store seemed to push me to a differant brand such as lionel fast track or GarGraves. I wouldn't rule out GarGraves and the fast track is certainly available but I don't care for its looks or noise level. I would really like to see the track before I commit such an investment. It would be great to see all the brands side by side as well.

 

Can anyone help with where to purchase or where I could at least see the Scale Trax and Atlas track? As stated above I live about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh just off I 79.

 

Thanks!

Original Post

Hi dpg,

 

Atlas track is a little easier to find in hobby shops than ScaleTrax, but both are easy get mail order and on-line.  If you're interested in seeing all the available track systems in person I would encourage you to attend the TCA meet in York next month.  You need to be either a TCA member or you can attend as a guest.  At the show you could attend one of my seminars on working with ScaleTrax, attend a seminar on Atlas track in their booth, meet Steve Berniessen (owner of Ross Custom Switches), and there may be another layout design and construction round table in the Orange Hall conference room.  It's worth a cross state drive.

Thanks to you both for your prompt replys!

 

I checked the links provided and found that yes in fact you can purchase both easily online. I also found a forum topic here (Good Track Bad Track) where someone laid an Atlas and Scale Trax side by side for comparison. While the ties on the Scale Trax seem to far apart in the picture the brief videos of the Black Diamond show that the Scale Trax looks very realistic on a layout. I also read that the Atlas Flex track is not as flexible as the Scale Trax. I have ordered the Black Diamond DVD's and look forward to seeing how this all works out. The Black Diamond layout uses Scale Trax and I was very inpressed with how realistic it all looked.

 

Dave,

Thanks for the information on the TCA meet in York. I am reviewing the TCA webpage to see what is involved with joining and I am impressed with the benefits that are offered. Is this organization something that a raw novice such as myself should even consider joining or is it meant more for the serious train collectors? My desire is to set up an O gauge layout that is realistic and fun to operate. My wife is interested in the scenic portion of this as she enjoys creating, painting and such. We are looking forward to starting the project!

 

Thanks again for your responses!

 

dpg

Dave Gardner

Originally Posted by dpg:
Is this organization something that a raw novice such as myself should even consider joining or is it meant more for the serious train collectors? My desire is to set up an O gauge layout that is realistic and fun to operate. My wife is interested in the scenic portion of this as she enjoys creating, painting and such. We are looking forward to starting the project!

 

Thanks again for your responses!

 

dpg

Dave Gardner

Hi Dave,

 

The TCA was created as an organization for "collectors" who were as much interested in the history of model trains as running them.  Over time the membership has come to reflect the diversity of the hobby as has the York meet.  There are members with all levels of experience and background in the hobby.  York in particular has become a national event that has sections aimed at different parts of the hobby.  They use several buildings ("halls") at the York Fairgrounds.  Some halls are filled with TCA members selling items from their collections and others are filled with dealers and manufacturers.  There are also a lot of social gatherings around York for folks to meet their fellow hobbyists.  Several of these events are organized by OGR or by OGR Forum members.  In fact, there is an entire separate forum section here dedicated to the York meet.

Hi Dave,

You're on the right  track so to speak with your choices mentioned as I gather you are after realism as a primary factor? You will find that Gargraves is somewhat similar to your K-Line track in that it is 'bulky' and has a high profile along with the black center rail. Even though ScaleTrax has the wider tie spacing I have found it to be unnoticeable almost from the get-go. You get used to it rather quickly and don't see it anymore. Yes, along side Atlas you will see the difference but most of us who favor Scaletrax find that the thin center blade more than compensates by being less obtrusive to the eye than the bulky black center RAIL. It can be argued that items in different scale ratios can still appear 'realistic' even if not completely accurate due to the illusion factor. Atlas track can seem too 'busy' and cluttered although it is very nice looking and well made.

ScaleTrax has THE lowest profile (rail height) of all the 3 rail track systems and this is a big factor as well. Your equipment appears larger on it.

If you have trouble finding some ScaleTrax to see, I'll be glad to drop a short piece in the mail for you to keep and check out. Most likely you can locate some Atlas at Mercer Junction or similar. Just let me know.

A ScaleTrax fan

I myself am leaning towards Scaletrax. It's a little cheaper per switch than Ross, takes up somewhat less room than realtrax and provides a closer gap between the center rails near the frog to enable... a track mobile or something to creep across.

 

I am attracted by the way they beveled and shaved the frogs in their switches...

 

I don't know yet which way I am going. However to me that center rail seems awful thin. Wonder if it will damage the rollers or spark a lot on the power.

 

They seem to be a little limited on supply at the moment; but are out there. It would be nice to see a curved switch going from 072 to 080 for example.

 

The other thought I have is I may be using Atlas 3 rail signals and think that scale trax might provide more places to locate these things.

 

My two cents.

A living Steam Engine hauling a train with commerce, reaching across time and space; is a wonderful journey undertaken by Man.

 

A product of our fine College System that has been made redundant by imports of Foreign Workers willing to push a Keyboard for a living.

Originally Posted by Lee 145:

I don't know yet which way I am going. However to me that center rail seems awful thin. Wonder if it will damage the rollers or spark a lot on the power.

 

Hi Lee 145,

 

ScaleTrax isn't perfect, but the center rail is NOT one of it's problems.  Back in the days of Lionel Super O there were issues with roller wear caused by the thin center rail, but this had much more to do with the soft metal Lionel was using for the rollers.  One of the first layouts I built with ScaleTrax is a public display in a grocery store.  The engine and rolling stock on that layout have now logged more than 150,000 scale miles with nothing more than light lubing every few months.  The rollers show no signs of excessive wear, just a good polish.

 

Dave

Originally Posted by dave hikel:
Originally Posted by Lee 145:

I don't know yet which way I am going. However to me that center rail seems awful thin. Wonder if it will damage the rollers or spark a lot on the power.

 

Hi Lee 145,

 

ScaleTrax isn't perfect, but the center rail is NOT one of it's problems.  Back in the days of Lionel Super O there were issues with roller wear caused by the thin center rail, but this had much more to do with the soft metal Lionel was using for the rollers.  One of the first layouts I built with ScaleTrax is a public display in a grocery store.  The engine and rolling stock on that layout have now logged more than 150,000 scale miles with nothing more than light lubing every few months.  The rollers show no signs of excessive wear, just a good polish.

 

Dave

Aha, Metal! Thanks!

A living Steam Engine hauling a train with commerce, reaching across time and space; is a wonderful journey undertaken by Man.

 

A product of our fine College System that has been made redundant by imports of Foreign Workers willing to push a Keyboard for a living.

Hi DGP, There is no comparison visually, AtlasO to ScaleTrax.  I use SuperO, but that's not the point. I did some photos on tracks. I'll post. On the close ups you can see more detail. I have a bit of ScaleTrax & Atlas O. AtlasO is sturdy track, but heavier looking. AtlasO swtich motors are rather flimsy, but seem to work ok. ScaleTrax itself is on the flimsy side, meaning if handled roughly the rails can pop out of the ties. The electrical tabs are a bit flimsy also. Once installed & secured all is good. I don't have any ScaleTrax switches. In my mind, ScaleTrax has never really caught on the way it should have. Retailers seemed reluctant to carry it. Not sure why. I think it's almost as smooth & quiet as SuperO. If noise is a concern do not use FasTrack, it cannot be silenced. It's just what it is, noisy, but works very good.

    Once installed & ballasted, ScaleTrax is possibly the best looking track ever. Ok...SuperO is right there, but only comes in 036 switches. As Dave said, roller wear is not an issue at all, don't let that be a part of your decision.

    I also have some Gargraves, possibly the best track of all time. I does look a bit clunky with the tie & rail size, but works very well. Many world class layouts are Gargraves with Ross switches.

I posted the photos for adapting track to SuperO, but you can see the different tracks in detail. Anyway hope the photos help.

    Very best, Don Johnson (superotrackdon)

track6superotrackdon

track1superotrackdon

track2superotrackdon

track3superotrackdon

track4superotrackdon

track5superotrackdon

Attachments

Photos (6)

The most difficult 3r track I have had to install is Atlas 3 rail flex.  it is so high and thick there is a lot of metal to bend.  It must be very sturdy.  Much like LGB track but is almost as hard to install.  If you use Atlas use their sectional track for ease of instsllation.

 

As far as realistic "scale" three rail track, yes I know that is an oxymoran, all things considered IMO Scale Trax hits it for me.  Also having Dave Hickel and his brother on board is a great help.  The Scale Trax switch selection may be a minor limiting factor but Ross turnouts can supplement anybody's track system with their adaptor joiners.

 

If you can be over looking a tad on the track, for practical and financial purposes GG track and Ross switches may well be the defacto standard in my world.

 

With any track system, Ross turnouts will be the best performers in the long run IMO.

 

Also, IMO, any track with a hollow plastic base is loud.  Any tubular track system is loud.  It is a nostalgic loud and some folks like that.  But for me loud noise is just loud noise.  tt

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

Tom, contact board member  fatboy, he can explain how to bend Atlas flex, it involves sliding the ties off, bending the rails and then putting the ties back on. Atlas rails are very stiff, a good thing, I know it is a pain but when you have a job that requires Atlas bent tight it works great.

Hello,

Original OP here


First thanks for all the responses!


I had an opportunity to view the following track at a train store about 1/2 hour away from me:


MTH

     Real Trax

     Scale Trax

Atlas

Gargraves


Based on what I saw and discussed with the store owner I am now looking seriously at the Gargraves. I liked the look, availability, and the price. Based on what I have been reading online it is a quality track that obviously has been around awhile. The store had an operating layout with Gargraves and I was impressed with the realism. I know that when I posted this originally I was trying to decide between Atlas and Scale trax but now that I had the opportunity to actually see the various track I am leaning now toward the Gargrave.

 

I have been working on the layout design in Xtrack CAD and my cost for using Gargraves is approximately between 4 and 5 hundred for the track and switches. This is a serious investment for me and I really don't want to screw this up and regret my decision.

Prior to finding this forum and some other websites my knowledge was nil when it came to all of this. I haven't set my train up (other than a loop under the tree several years ago) since I was a kid back in the early 70's. There is so much information to sift through!

 

I still have a little time as the family room where the layout is going is still being cleaned out. Since I didn't ask about Gargraves in my original post can anyone give me serious reasons not to consider it? What are the drawbacks?

 

Thanks again for all your help!

 

Dave

 

 

 

Hi Dave,

 

If the looks of Gargraves is appealing to you then you have a lot of good options.  The Gargraves flex requires different techniques to bend, but it's pretty easy to learn.  OGR produced a very good video on how to work with Gargraves that is well worth buying if you finally decide to go with Gargraves.  Sectional curves are available with either wood or plastic ties from Gargraves and Ross offers sectional curves with wood ties and spikes.  All of the Ross products are made to mate directly to Gargraves track.  You will often see them mentioned together as "Ross/Gargraves" because together they makeup one track system.

 

Originally posted by: dpg


I have been working on the layout design in Xtrack CAD and my cost for using Gargraves is approximately between 4 and 5 hundred for the track and switches. This is a serious investment for me and I really don't want to screw this up and regret my decision.

 

I'm going to guess that you have been designing in Xtrack CAD with all Gargraves products, including switches.  Do yourself a huge favor and go with Ross for the switches.  Ross offers dozens of switch dimensions that Gargraves doesn't that will let you do a lot more with your track design.  Even if you're looking to use mostly O-72 and #5 (aka Regular) switches you'll want to go with Ross.  The Ross switches are much smoother and more reliable than Gargraves.  The Ross switches are built on a base of wood ties with the rails glued and spiked to each tie.  They are well worth the extra expense over Gargraves.  You more than get what you pay for.

 

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