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I'm working on an extension to my layout that is in a space where I know I can do an O48 loop based on the measurements.  Below is a screen shot of the Scarm drawing, Scarm also attached.

I'm using Gargraves track and Ross switches, so I was going to use Gargraves flex track to make the O48 loop since Gargraves doesn't come in O48. 

2 questions:

1. Will using flex track be hard to build this this tight of a loop, does the track flex to that small of a radius easily?

2. Is there a better option using Gargraves O42 / O54 Make Up or Transition Curve track pieces?

The space in the screen shot will be approx 52 inches wide by 65 inches long.


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My layout is pretty much all Gargraves flex. I wouldn’t say it flexes easily but it can be done. My best advice is work with the newest pieces you can find. As Gargraves ages so do the wooden ties. The key is the ties need to slide easily along the rails. Some spray the rails with WD40 to help the cause.

You will have less joints using the flex. I would try to find something round close to the diameter of the radius you want and pre bend the track a bit.  Then make up a compass out of a yardstick and draw a line on you table top. Do your final tweaks of bending following that line and fastening the track down as you go. I’m not sure of the mathematics but it would be good if you could end up with just one set of joints in the middle of the curve.

I know I can’t be the only one that does it this way. I’ve always left the joints somewhat staggered in the middle of a curve. Cut the opposing rails to fit the stagger. As long as the ties move freely on the rails. It’s easy slide them on to the opposing rails and lock everything together. When done. A little massaging with hand pressure pretty much eliminates any kink in the joint.

I have heard of soldering the rails together and instead of working with a 3 ft length a 6 ft. piece. Never tried it. Maybe someone will chime in as to how it works.

My layout was also built with Gargraves flex track.  I have two 180 degree curves in my staging yards that are O44.  It helps to bend the track against a template that is tighter than the curve you want.  If you have some fastened-down O42 curves, bend the Gargraves around the outside of that curve.  It will relax a little as you fasten it down.  Dave C's advice about drawing a line as a track laying guide is solid.

I talked to Mike at Gargraves about bending track.  The link below shows how to bend their track.  For making curved sections this is a fixture they use at the "Factory" to bend the track.  One of the employees that does it "daily" is demonstrating the technique.  Once they get it to the proper dimension, they glue in the strips in the rear that hold it in place.  They also "stake" the rail in a few places so it doesn't slide out.  Of course they also cut the ends to length as required for the piece ordered.

So my suggestion is either make a form out of a piece of plywood similar to that shown.  Or leave it to the pros at Gargraves, the choice is yours.  The downside of having them do it, is it cost more, and they don't make the size you want.

BTW - Dave C gives some good advice.  It is always better to stagger the rail joints.  I learned this when I was in HO.  Real railroads did this back in the days of jointed rail.  Also Lionel Fastrack is essentially made that way.

Last edited by MainLine Steam

Art, if you use FasTrack as a template, I suggest you bend it to follow the outside curve, then bend it to follow the inside curve. My experience bending ScaleTrax flex says it will be easier to install if it’s bent tighter than O-48 because it will fight to return to its more natural state, ie straight.

@Tom Tee bent 3-rail Gargraves into a perfect O31 curve, so it can be done, he used a bucket as a template.  I bent some into nice O54 curves, I can't imagine O48 would be that much more difficult.  Dave is, of course, correct.  You'll have to bent it a bit tighter than the desired curve to allow for springback.  Also, if you're looking for an exact curve, you'll probably be "tweaking" it as you lay it.

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