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To me one of the most interesting topics involve tracks to be used for layouts whether permanent or temporary (around the Christmas tree). From my own very long experience, I started out with 027 when I received my first complete set in 1950 and for a number of years afterwards this is what I used for our Christmas layouts. For my first permanent layout when I was 14 or 15 I graduated to 0 gauge tubular including 072 for an 8' by 12' layout. I remember my father building the permanent plywood table. It was ingenious on his part because it kept a teenager home and a number of my friends would congregate at our house for an unofficial train club. We realized the tubular tracks were not that realistic but were easy to assemble.

After college, military service, a career and marriage buying our first house I move all the boxes of trains and continued with 0 gauge in an attic layout. Unfortunately my children never got into the model trains. Decades later and a new house with trains packed away for at least 25 years I started again with a 9' by 12' setup and continued to used tubular 0 gauge. My wife got me a complete set that came with fasttrack that certainly looked better than the tubular and as I began to replace it I noticed that the fasttrack was often harder to join. Not so long ago I had purchased the Lionel Christmas Mickey Mouse set for my 4 year old grand daughter. She could not piece together the fast track it came with but when I substituted the old tubular 0 gauge she actually could join them.

I decided to abandon fasttrack for my permanent layout and I stumbled on to a "fire sale" of K-Line's supersnap which was not only more realistic but came in long lengths at a reasonable price that fit together quite well. I was even able to purchase 0-Line switch tracks to replace my old 022 Lionel and my layout is now all supersnap. Unfortunately the availability for supersnap appears to be drying up. I never looked at Lionel's Super 0, Atlas, or Gargreaves and I would be interested to hear experiences of others in terms of tracks they use, have used and how/why they changed.

John

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My current 5x9’ layout has the O-27 track I’ve used all my life, (I’m 74) but with 0-42 curves and switches. I’m planing on a new 5x10’ expansion using Gargraves track, and Ross switches for several reasons. This seems to have become the high standard for operation and smooth running, in addition to more realistic look. I plan on having slightly larger radius curves and switches. I do have Fastrack on a small display layout, but I’m not totally convinced of it’s appearance. In addition, both Ross and Gargraves are made here in the states, and don’t seem to suffer from shortages.

When I started designing my "bucket list" layout, I was definitely going to use traditional tubular track with O72 curves. For switches, I'm using the supersnap in various forms (RMT, O Line Reproductions and even some K-Line) and they work very well. I'm running everything from prewar tinplate to modern, and these switches accommodate all the trains. With a little bit of work, they can be cut and modified to form a crossover that reduces the distance between tracks down to about 4.5". I like the toy appearance and durability of the tubular track.

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This is a very interesting topic. My brother, being ten years older, had 027 track along which the PRR 2020 pulling  its consist of cars. When I was ten I got my set of trains that came with Super O track. A larger layout was built and we used all Super O. At the time, early 60’s, it was so much more realistic than O27 or O. Fast forward to 2021 and I’m planning a large layout and I’ve decided to go with O. It’s durable, very forgiving, I know how to work with it, and I want the nostalgic look. Also, given what I have read, there is a lot you can do to ballast and weather the O track. I want to be able to have the 072 and 054 curves. Plus, I still have all the Super O track and switches.

My story. Started out with 0-27 as a kid. Subsequently received Super "O" track with two sets from Santa. Combined both. Later (post college, marriage, etc) went to "O" tubular. Then tried Atlas "O" but learned magna-traction does not work on it, BUT Atlas released Atlas "O" with black ties. Was converting over when the black tie production was stopped. Then went to Fastrack, which I use now. Have Atlas "O" brown and black ties track not being used. Any interest? Mark 

Started out with 0-72 tubular in the early fifties.

After I came back into 0 scale in the two rail side in '94 I added some 3 rail with Atlas 3-rail track with  Atlas switches in '01,  then tried some Ross switches in '02.

With my recent 3 rail addition on my new 2 rail pike  I am exclusively using Ross switches and GG track.

My GG track consists of two new cases of plastic ties, one N.O.S. case of wood tie and a eclectic assortment of left overs from other jobs.

Inside a tunnel I knitted in an early display module that has Atlas track pre-installed from 2002 into my recent GG addition.  I used a rotary tool to remove the GG bottom fins and connected the Ross/GG with Atlas rail joiners.

IMG_9936Guess I need a better camera...

I am extremely pleased with the trouble free operation of the Ross switches.  Having two long runs with reverse loops at each end I depend on my naked Ross switches which have no hand throws or motors.  They are thrown with the leading wheels of what ever happens along the right of way.

My three rail runs at 55" and 21" are like fish tanks, I leave them run continuously as back ground sound and flavor while my two rail action serve their designate branch line runs at 36", 42" & 48" high between those two 3 rail levels.  Never need to be concerned about the flip flop action of the dependable floating Ross switch points.

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Over my many years in the hobby, I have used, at one time or another, virtually all O track brands and types.  I really can't think of any that I haven't tried. Started in the 1950s with Lionel O27 and subsequently O tubular, and used O tubular when I got back into the O gauge segment of the hobby in my adult years. Also have worked with Marx, Atlas, K-Line, MTH, GarGraves, and a few others (and variations) that don't immediately come to mind.

Currently using GarGraves track and Ross Custom Switches on my main layout, and Lionel FasTrack on my all-tinplate layout. A "true/purist" all-tinplate layout would likely have Lionel tubular track, but I have a ton of FasTrack available and figured I had better make use of some of it.

I'm currently building a layout with Atlas 3 rail, but I started with MTH Real Trax. It was a good product when the rails were solid. Most of my Real Trax have solid rails. I changed to Atlas for the variety of crossovers and turnouts, in particular # turnouts. Ironically, in the end my layout won't incorporate any crossovers after buying a 90, a 30 and a 22.5  I was also intending to implement a double slip switch, but decided simplicity was a better option.

We could not afford trains when I was a kid, so I have no nostalgia for Lionel O-27/O track.  I did use some helping my father-in-law with his 50s style layout, but did not think too much about it at the time.

When Lionel came out with command control and better sound, I started looking at building my own layout.  I wanted something more realistic looking, so I went with MTH's RealTrax for my first layout.  This was the first iteration of the track, and after several years cursing it I tore it up and built my smaller second layout with the new FasTrack.  It was better than RealTrax, and served me well for a couple more years.  Still don't know why so many people say they have problems with FasTrack, and say that it is hard to assemble.  I had no issues in either areas.

I bought RR-Track software to design my next layout and soon realized FasTrack was way too limiting for what I wanted, an operating/switching layout.  I did a test layout with all Gargraves track and switches and that convinced me that was a much better way to go since it was easy to cut the track.  After buying a used Ross switch and some Ross track, I decided a combination of Ross switches and Gargraves/Ross track was what I wanted and that is my primary track setup.

The problem with Ross/Gargraves track at the time I bought it was the 4" center to center spacing, and that turned out to be too close even for my O-88/O-96 parallel curves for some of my engines and 21" passenger cars.  For those curves I went with Atlas O-90/O-99 curves which gave me 4.5" and that worked.

So, I now use Ross switches, Gargraves and Ross track, and some Atlas curves where I want nice parallel curves.

Last edited by CAPPilot

Fastrack since 2005 when I started my layout.  Mounted on 1/2" foam to help reduce the noise ( adding scenery has reduced it even further)

I made sure the pins all make good contact as it went together, and soldered 14ga feeders every 10' directly to the tabs underneath. I sighted down the railhead to check for any dips or rises ( especially on turnouts) and snugged down, or shimmed accordingly with index cards. Its" gently" secured with #4 screws.

I've never had a voltage drop issue.



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Last edited by RickO

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