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In an air-conditioned room where the temperature stays within four or five degrees year round a gap is not so important but a friend has a layout in an attic and does not run the air-conditioner unless he is running trains so the temp in the summer is often near a hundred degrees and can be as low as fifty on a cold winter night. He realized early on when he only had one loop around the room that he needed some gaps or the rail heads got wavy when it was hot. He settled on about 1/16" every three sections, nine feet,  and it seems to have cured the problem.          j

Last edited by JohnActon

With me it's 1/16" but I wanted to see what others say. It can be very time consuming to get a nice close fit on all 3 rails at each joint.

My layout has mostly Gargraves flexible track for both the straights and curves. I do recall how difficult it was to use special bending forms to create the various size curves, cutting the track, and the difficulty of joining the tracks. The major challenge was keeping the ends of the three rails in perfect alignment if the curved track's radius slightly changed during handling process. After you posted your message I went to look at the joints of my own layout. In several places I have one outer rail and the center rail with no gap (to the connected track) but the other outer rail may have a gap. Most of my gaps are 1/16" or less.  It has really never caused a problem for me. At the time I built my layout, there were few options for preformed track. If I had to build a layout today, I would primarily use preformed track, even despite the high cost, because it is so much easier to use and to join tracks together. The only exception is when Gargrave flexible track can solve layout problems that even the layout software didn't quite predict.

In lieu of track pins, I used Gargraves track connectors, GG product # 910-4, which are strips of sheet metal/steel the fit tightly between the web of the rails--no gaps or deformed rails. Simply inert and tap the rail ends to eliminate gaps.  (No environmental issues in my walk-out basement layout location.

@Bruce Brown posted:

The major challenge was keeping the ends of the three rails in perfect alignment if the curved track's radius slightly changed during handling process.

Fun fact, in order to close the gaps on the first end, just tap the other end of each rail until you close the gap.  For the second end, it usually takes a bit of trimming with the Dremel to get them aligned for the next piece.  Even then, that's where I sometimes got gaps, I didn't take the extra care to make those perfect.

I just finished my first level of GG.  My goal was no gaps, of course.  I used a 0-27 tubular track steel clamp tool that clamps on the tracks and the lever brings them together tightly (fortunately it also works with GG track because of its smaller rail profile than o gauge).

Unfortunately, like model making, it takes a lot of patience to cut the rails perfectly on curves so they line up perfectly and sometimes you actually tighten the track joint you previously joined but that gap is now transferred to the new piece you just cut perfectly and connected.  You can keep marking them and cutting them but you soon realize how time consuming it is, especially when you are laying a lot of track.  Eventually, in a few cases, I threw in the towel and said, good enough!  I agree that gaps from lift outs must exist and I found with my last layout that track tires do wear out faster with gaps.  Not a big deal.  And IMO the clickety clack is a nice benefit to non-perfection.

I like the idea of using solder or even liquid solder to fill the gaps after the fact.  I may try that later.

Solder actually worked well, I shaped it with a Cratex wheel after applying.  My only concern doing it for the whole layout is if I want to take the track up in a section it'll make it a bigger PITA.  I did a handful of joints to see if it worked well, but I'll reserve wholesale mods for later.   Truthfully, the track on the table with the Homasote base is quiet, even with some gaps.  It's just the stuff on the elevated section that is noiser.  I'm going to add insulation to the bottom of the structure to help that.

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