Newbie Question About Atlas Snaptrack

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Neophyte

New Member
I’m new to model railroading and would like to build a 8x4 ho layout (now that I’m retired and some time on my hands). I was looking at the atlas snaptrack as a good starting point. Recently I saw another newcomer’s question in this forum regarding atlas turnouts and they seem to be consider not as reliable as pecorino switches. The atlas snaptrack seems to have a click locking piece on the ends so I was wondering if I can mix the atlas snaptrack with peco switches? I’m just in the planning stage of a layout and decided to ask others this question before I buy a handful of switches that I can’t use.
 

Topherisme

Chris wants more hobby time!!!
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Neophyte

New Member
I was thinking of using the snap track. If I remember correctly (which is iffy), the tru-track is difficult to mix with other types of track.
 

Topherisme

Chris wants more hobby time!!!
Never used True track…. Your Snap track will intermingle with other brands, but watch what code you buy (ie 100, 83, 70, etc). Think the biggest difference will be in the tie spacing, size and overall look. I myself have never had any real unsolvable issues with Atlas turnouts, all I have ever used, but read a lot how they don’t look realistic or perform well…
 

MilwRoader_Steve

Well-Known Member
I’m new to model railroading and would like to build a 8x4 ho layout (now that I’m retired and some time on my hands). I was looking at the atlas snaptrack as a good starting point. Recently I saw another newcomer’s question in this forum regarding atlas turnouts and they seem to be consider not as reliable as pecorino switches. The atlas snaptrack seems to have a click locking piece on the ends so I was wondering if I can mix the atlas snaptrack with peco switches? I’m just in the planning stage of a layout and decided to ask others this question before I buy a handful of switches that I can’t use.

Be mindful of the 4x8. I am space constrained so that is what my main table is, but 4 x 8 does restrict you in operations. May I suggest this book:


on page 87, he gives an ingenious way to cut up a 4x8 sheet such that you can include larger radius curves. Lots and lots of other great info for a pretty cheap price. I have read it cover-to-cover twice, and significant sections up to my 5th time!
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
The true-track has molded roadbed base attached, it is much more expensive due to this. This is what has the click locking piece on the ends. That base makes it difficult to match any track other than true-track. Since you are just starting out, I would recommend just using the standard Atlas track. I would also recommend trying to use at least a few pieces of flex-track and reduce track connections. As long as everything is the same code, 100, 83, 70, it will join with any other manufacturers track of the same code. I have over 115 Atlas switches, both #4 and #6's, mostly custom line with just a couple of snap switches. I don't have any issues with them, as things like exact tie spacing and spike details are inconsequential to me. Yes, as Chris posted there are sometimes issues but they are all easily solved, in my case maybe 6-7 of them. Disclaimer: I use ground throws on all of mine so positive tight contact is assured.
A 4' x 8' plywood is how most of us started, but it can be limiting and many eventually go with some form of "around the walls" layout. But get your feet wet with that and go from there. plenty of folks here to assist with any and all questions.
That's my 2¢.
By the way, welcome aboard.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
As was stated, you should try to keep everything in the same "code" size. Code refers to the height of the rails in hundredths of an inch. Code 100 is .100" high; Code 83 is .083" high (the rails themselves, not including the ties), etc. Code 100 used to be the sort of standard for operation in the days when "cookie-cutter" wheels were the most common. The "problem" for purists is that Code 100 corresponds to rails on the actual railroads of about 156 lbs to the yard length, which was seldom used, if at all. Code 83 is more prototypical, and seems to be what most of the manufacturers are going to (Code 100 is still available, however). I would suggest starting with Code 83 for main line trackage. You can also use it in yards and sidings. Some modellers will use Code 70 off main lines, but for your purposes I would stick with Code 83.

As far as Atlas Snaptrack is concerned, the main advantage is on tight curves. With a 4 x 8 layout, about the maximum radius you are going to be able to use is 22-inch, which gives a circle of track of 44-in. center-to-center, plus a couple of inches to the edge of the 4 foot width of the table. Atlas also makes 18-inch and 15-inch Snap Track. If you restrict your rolling stock (engines and cars) to, say four-axle diesels or some steam locomotives that advertise they will handle 18" curves, and 40 or even 50 scale feet freight cars, you should do quite well. Some shorter 72' passenger cars are available. For longer stretches of straight (called tangent by the prototype) track, flex track has some advantages. There is nothing wrong with Atlas straight track, but you will have more joints, which may pose some electrical continuity problems later.

You can use either Atlas Snap Switches or Custom Line, with their other track, just match the height code. Peco also makes excellent turnouts, including some dual curvature ones that can come in handy on some layout designs. The advantage of the Peco switches is you can manually actuate them if desired, or attach their switch machines. Atlas turnouts have switch machines that connect to the side, which don't look as nice, but I've found them very reliable. I use both, depending on the application/location.

Above all, do not hesitate to asks questions on the forum. I'm sure you will get a hundred ideas for every question. Welcome to the hobby!
 

timlange3

Member
How much space do you have for your railroad? Do a Google search on "Heart of Georgia model railroad" to see what can be done with a 4'x8'.
 

Neophyte

New Member
The true-track has molded roadbed base attached, it is much more expensive due to this. This is what has the click locking piece on the ends. That base makes it difficult to match any track other than true-track. Since you are just starting out, I would recommend just using the standard Atlas track. I would also recommend trying to use at least a few pieces of flex-track and reduce track connections. As long as everything is the same code, 100, 83, 70, it will join with any other manufacturers track of the same code. I have over 115 Atlas switches, both #4 and #6's, mostly custom line with just a couple of snap switches. I don't have any issues with them, as things like exact tie spacing and spike details are inconsequential to me. Yes, as Chris posted there are sometimes issues but they are all easily solved, in my case maybe 6-7 of them. Disclaimer: I use ground throws on all of mine so positive tight contact is assured.
A 4' x 8' plywood is how most of us started, but it can be limiting and many eventually go with some form of "around the walls" layout. But get your feet wet with that and go from there. plenty of folks here to assist with any and all questions.
That's my 2¢.
By the way, welcome aboard.
Thanks for the advice. Maybe I’ll go back to my original thought of using all atlas snap track including switches. I like the idea of starting out and not mixing and matching brands.
 

Neophyte

New Member
Be mindful of the 4x8. I am space constrained so that is what my main table is, but 4 x 8 does restrict you in operations. May I suggest this book:


on page 87, he gives an ingenious way to cut up a 4x8 sheet such that you can include larger radius curves. Lots and lots of other great info for a pretty cheap price. I have read it cover-to-cover twice, and significant sections up to my 5th time!
Thanks for the tip on the book - it looks like it has a good discussion of how a railroad operates and how to design the layout to accommodate it.
 

PowrCab

Member
trailrider
The term is 'pizza cutter' (for wheel flanges overly deep/out of scale), not 'cookie cutter'..'Cookie cutter' refers to a style of cutting (usually) plywood sub-roadbed so as to be able to create grades up or down...You're mixing up MRRing nomenclature in post #8 ..
 

PowrCab

Member
Neophyte, I'd stay clear of anything 'SnapTrack'...It's a 1950s design, is usually code 100, has black, out of scale crossties (too thick/too close together to look right), the switches have plastic frogs which cause potential stall outs, and worst of all has brass rail which oxidizes green which also causes stall-outs and thus requires cleaning too often....
If you can, go with modern code 83 track of nickel silver rail...Atlas Customline and Peco switches and track are fine to go into it with....
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
Neophyte, I'd stay clear of anything 'SnapTrack'...It's a 1950s design, is usually code 100, has black, out of scale crossties (too thick/too close together to look right), the switches have plastic frogs which cause potential stall outs, and worst of all has brass rail which oxidizes green which also causes stall-outs and thus requires cleaning too often....
If you can, go with modern code 83 track of nickel silver rail...Atlas Customline and Peco switches and track are fine to go into it with....
Respectfully disagree regarding the brass aspect of your comment. All 1300' of my layout is code 100 nickel-silver, however it is also mostly flex track. Whether to use code 100 or 83 is a personal choice, .017" isn't exactly noticeable except side by side. It's the thickness of four sheets of printer paper. I also don't believe (I may be wrong here) that Atlas has sold brass track in about 20 years. There is plenty on the secondary market which could be used in display cases. After years of code 83 costing more, they are now equal in cost.
 




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