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Central Phoenix Railroad
Ok, so after reading my thread about an outside HO layout, I have decided to dump that idea and go ahead an do an N scale layout inside my bedroom.

I would like to know first, what type of flex track by what company and what code # (like code 55) would be best for a N scale short line running through a large city. All track will be weathered.


Entrepreneurial Teen
If you do a quick search I'm sure you will find numerous threads on this exact subject.

Code 55 has better detail (closer to scale, more prototypical).

Code 80 is easier to work with, more forgiving during operations, and usually less expensive.


Code 80 is easier to work with, more forgiving during operations, and usually less expensive.

Not to mention that it looks pretty good once its weathered.:D


Just a guy
Track selection is a very personal choice. If you ask that question of 5 people you're likely to get 5 different answers. Personally, I like the Atlas code 55 track, though Peco, Micro Engineering, and Kato are very nice too. They have different good and bad points really.

The Atlas code 80 is tough track, but it's not pretty. It tends to look a little oversize to me and the tie spacing is pretty far apart. It's DCC friendly right out of the box though, and it'll take a beating.

Atlas code 55 is a bit more fragile, but not bad. Tie spacing is much better and it is DCC friendly. There are also new track pieces being released from time to time. They came out with a #10 turnout just a short while ago that is a work of art IMHO. A word of caution though.....if you run older equipment or stuff with oversize flanges, it won't work right on this track. The flanges hit the spikes on the ties. As long as your equipment is RP25 compliant, and most everything these days is, and run low profile wheelsets on your rolling stock you should have no problem. Since you're just starting out, this shouldn't be much of an issue for you.

Peco code 80 is another tough track. Thing is, it has that european tie spacing that places the ties pretty far apart if you're trying to replicate US track. The turnouts are nice in that they have a spring built in that holds the points closed.

Peco code 55 is really just code 80 track thats buried further into the ties. It doesn't have the flange issues that Atlas code 55 sometimes does with older equipment.

Micro Engineering also makes track in various codes. It's the best looking, but it's pricey and kind of fragile. Also, they only make #6 turnouts, and they are not DCC friendly without modification. They make bridge track too!

Kato Unitrack is easy to use and works well, but you're very limited because the roadbed is included as part of the track. This means that as far as curve radius goes, what they make is what you get....and thats it. There is no flex track. Thougn the track looks pricy at first, you have to consider that the turnout motors are included as part of the turnout, so that offsets the price somewhat.

Model Power track is only worth mentioning so that you stay away from it. It falls out of gauge if you breathe on it.

Myself, I chose Atlas code 80 for my staging areas and Atlas code 55 for the modeled portion of the layout. On all of my bridges I use Micro Engineering code 55 bridge track.
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J Long

New Member
In my opinion, Atlas code 55 is the best looking of them all. It has been featured in some centerspread layouts in NSR magazine weathered and ballasted. Appearance wise, it wins hands down and makes anything else look toyish no matter how well done it is. The ties are profiled and spaced right. It is economical compared to Peco code 55 and the flex pieces have more spring to them, which is a Godsend to tracklaying. It is easier to make transition curves and to avoid kinks. As another fellow posted, older equipment with large flanges will interfere with the molded in spikes.

Peco code 55 is a good choice but it is bulkier and more expensive than Atlas. Larger wheel flanges work with Peco because the ties are inset between the rails. Peco switches work flawlessly.The flex pieces don't spring as well as Atlas and are prone to kinking. Especially when reshaping. Atlas practically springs back to straight on its own.

Atlas code 80 looks OK, but once your eyes see code 55, it looks oversized. It is the cheapest and available practically everywhere.

I admit I am biased about Atlas code 55. I think your best bet is to buy a few samplings of each. A piece of flex, a swith, and some sectional pieces. Make comparisons and try all your equipment on it. It's an added expense but worth it. Experimenting can save a lot of regret down the road.
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I have used Peco code 80 for most of my layouts and have had no problems. The are also easy to lay and not so expensive. Though the ties are not like the US prototype it is passable with good ballasting and weathering. I used Peco because I like their turnouts and all my older rolling stock and engines don't have the flange problems and I haven't had any derailments too.

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