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New Guy
How did you guys go about buying track for the first time?
Did you or were you able to buy in bulk or did you just have to buy each individual piece? I know Atlas for example has track plans you can buy but how do I know what the radius is on the turns? I can't tell just by looking at a picture. One of the Atlas layouts I wouldn't mind getting is HO-10007 but I don't know what the radius is and my Spectrum says to use 22" turns. If I could find a list of each piece of track that's in that layout it would be great. I could just buy the book that the layout is in but I'd rather not just to get that info on it. Or if someone on here can give me a list of what to buy to make that plan that would be great!:D
OK I'm done rambling.

I personally use flex track that I bought in bulk. As for the sectional track that Atlas sells, usually these come in fairly small packages of four to six pieces each. There are also track plan sets you can buy that contain enough track for an entire layout as long as you follow the layout plan suggested. As for radius, with flex track you can adjust the radius to suit your needs. I have used various track plans in the past as a guide, but have layed out my own track to suit what fits on my layout.

That's my .02! Hope it helps.


Saskatoon railfan
I made my own trackplan using RTS 7.0 software (FREE!), if you search there's a link for it on the forum somewhere. As for trackpieces after putting my 8x4 together, the program gave me a list of what I needed (I have a mix of 18" and 15" Radius to simulate industrial and mainline trackage).

I then got the number from the Walthers catalog and bought them from a LHS. Since it was a very large order (20+ turnouts alone!), the dealer gave me a great price, about 10% below Walthers items that were already on sale, and added Free Shipping. I've been rewarding him with business ever since.

Buying in bulk realy does help.



All the above suggestions are good, I used a CAD type program to design my layout, using the flex track for the straights and curves, when I was done, I just printed out the track list I needed. As for which way to go, flex or sectional, that will depend on if you use "regular track" ie, Atlas,, Walthers etc or go with the track/roadbed together type track like Bachmann/LifeLike or Kato tracks, they of course don't come with flex capability. The draw back to flex is you will need to set your radius and also cut/trim the track with a rail cutter tool or a small razor saw, nither is hard, on the flip side, sectional track is not as flexiable (no pun intended) when you have some special track areas. I have always used flex track and seem to get good results, but I do see a lot of people doing the newer track/roadbed way.

Good luck.


New Member
I am working on my first permanent layout as well. I played with the RTS software and it keeps an inventory of what pieces you need for the layout you plan in the software which is nice, but I prefer to have the pieces in hand while I'm designing.

I was using LifeLike's roadbed track but it is quite expensive compared to the flex track and after building my layout in the corner of the room it proved to be too small so I am taking over the entire room and to use the roadbed track is just not an option budget wise. It also doesn't allow the 'flexability' that the flextrack offers in the way of cheating things, there are not as many different configurations of switches and the such so your tracks are pretty much set ~4" apart from each other near the switch and your stuck with the lengths they sell. Since I have a good supply laying around I do use them to get a rough idea of my layout and they are sturdy so there is no need to nail them down or have a subroadbed built up while configuring, and reconfiguring. I am working on several long (15') grades that I don't know how I would test without the roadbed track. I just grab whatever is lying around to support it at the grade I need, if it doesn't work I redo it, if it does I start cutting wood!

I picked up a neat little guage for the radius on the flex track, they have them in different radius sizes, you just lay it in the center of the track and run it along the curve, if it binds you know you off one way or another. Also with the flex track you can ease into the curve which allows better preformance but the biggest benifit of flex for me is the ability to stuff more track into tighter spaces.



Coal Shoveler
I started off with mostly sectional track, but used flex track for the longest straights. I get them at the hobby shop, at first, then buy bulk online when I really get going.



New Member
I always buy flex track and turnouts in bulk as it's just cheapter that way, but I did use sectional track to layout the curves on my subroadbed. Luckily in N scale code 55, Atlas has a lot of different curve radius sections compared to just 18 and 22 for HO. After I get the cork down, which I am just about done with, I will use all flextrack for the actual layout.

As far as the atlas plans go, if you actually buy thier book, all their plans come with complete parts lists for required track. If you use Xtracad, a free layout software program, it comes with almost every brand available in its data base and you can figure out what you need as well.


New Guy
ak-milw said:
You could always e-mail Atlas, I 'm sure they would give you a piece by piece description.
I emailed atlas and they said they would send me the piece list for the layout I might start off with. I just have to wait for it to be mailed to me but that's cool. I've been playing with Atlas' track software but I'm just now beginning to get the hang of it. I think flex track would be a great use for me but I wonder how easy it would be for a beginner like me to use.
Anyway, thanks for all the input!!

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