Problem with joining Atlas HO code 83 flex track

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dmharvey8

New Member
First time model builder. Having difficulty with joining track together on curves, 18 inch radius or so. Joins will not stay together when I move to the next piece because of curves. Should I solder each join before I move to the next one? Wonder if that would hold them, but often the new join requires moving the two track pieces? Tried using pins, weights, etc., to hold them together, but that doesn't work well. Help!!!
 

Rico

BN Modeller
Ok I’m assuming (yeah I know) you’re dealing with sectional curve track.
If the rail joiners are new they should hold fairly well, if not you could gently squeeze them.
Also make sure they’re code 83 joiners and not combination 83/100 joiners.
Now if it’s temporary track I’d use track nails or pins if you’re on a fairly solid base, otherwise solder.
You mentioned you tried pins, what were they pushed into?
Ive seen clips for holding track together but can’t think of what they were called.
Pretty sure there will be other ideas here as well.
 

dennis461

Well-Known Member
I would solder them together, leaving slightly straight/curved. Then bend into place.
Use a clip to keep the heat from melting too much.
 

dave1905

Well-Known Member
If the track sections are coming apart it may be that you are trying to bend them to a curve tighter than 18" radius. On what surface are you putting the track together? Is it on the floor or on a sheet of plywood?
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
If it is not a permanent track plan and you are just planning - you might try some small rubber bands to hold sections together?
 

dmharvey8

New Member
Thanks for the response. I am using 83/100, didn't know 83 only is better. They are brand new. Hard time finding only code 83.
Better to use plastic or metal joiners?
I have Atlas 36 inch flex track, which will be permanent once laid.
I have 1 1/2 inch foam on top of plywood, so I will need to use longer nails to try to fix the joins in place before I solder.
 

dmharvey8

New Member
If the track sections are coming apart it may be that you are trying to bend them to a curve tighter than 18" radius. On what surface are you putting the track together? Is it on the floor or on a sheet of plywood?
Track radius is 18 inch maximum, on 1 1/2 inch foam on top of plywood.
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
Not ever using foam, I have to excuse myself. Most folks here seem to use a caulking product to hold the track in place.
If you are planning to solder the joints - why not solder as you go - one piece at a time?

I would shy away from the "long" nails - but your mileage may be different.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
Thanks for the response. I am using 83/100, didn't know 83 only is better. They are brand new. Hard time finding only code 83.
Better to use plastic or metal joiners?
I have Atlas 36 inch flex track, which will be permanent once laid.
I have 1 1/2 inch foam on top of plywood, so I will need to use longer nails to try to fix the joins in place before I solder.
You should use metal joiners for track joints. Use plastic only when you wish to electrically isolate a section of track, such as a storage siding for locomotives. You will then need to provide feeders for that section of track with a switch to turn the power on and off.
Using flex track, the best way to lay track on a curve is to stagger the joints. This is when you install the sliding rail from section A about 1 to 1-1/2 inches into section B. You then solder the rail joiners together for both rails, the sliding rail and the stationary rail. You do this with the track sections straight. Once the joints are soldered, THEN lay the track. The joints can no longer separate, and there will be no kink in the curve.
There are lots of good videos on YouTube that will show you exactly how to do it.
 

dmharvey8

New Member
Just using Atlas
You should use metal joiners for track joints. Use plastic only when you wish to electrically isolate a section of track, such as a storage siding for locomotives. You will then need to provide feeders for that section of track with a switch to turn the power on and off.
Using flex track, the best way to lay track on a curve is to stagger the joints. This is when you install the sliding rail from section A about 1 to 1-1/2 inches into section B. You then solder the rail joiners together for both rails, the sliding rail and the stationary rail. You do this with the track sections straight. Once the joints are soldered, THEN lay the track. The joints can no longer separate, and there will be no kink in the curve.
There are lots of good videos on YouTube that will show you exactly how to do it.
Code 83 flex track. Joining with Atlas universal metal 100/83 joiners. So to clarify: track joiners are not parallel to each other, but slight apart from each other? Soldering the tracks before laying seems a good idea. Hope the soldered joints don't come apart when laying. Thanks for everyone's suggestions.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
Using flex track, the best way to lay track on a curve is to stagger the joints. This is when you install the sliding rail from section A about 1 to 1-1/2 inches into section B. You then solder the rail joiners together for both rails, the sliding rail and the stationary rail. You do this with the track sections straight. Once the joints are soldered, THEN lay the track. The joints can no longer separate, and there will be no kink in the curve.
There are lots of good videos on YouTube that will show you exactly how to do it.
+1 to this.
 
M

MHinLA

Guest
Before joining and bending 2 or more pieces of flex track, lay then out end to end dead straight on the floor. Get the rail ends evened up, add rail joiners and solder the joiners, heating the joiner itself while letting flux solder ooze in from other end using a soldering iron, not a triggered gun type. Now ease the new 6' or 9' sections over to the layout and curve them to where you want. The ends will wind up with staggered lengths, the inner rail longer than the outer rail..Best to purchase Xuron Rail Nippers ($7-ish) for this...When you clip the rails to even them up, the flat side of the jaws faces the good end of the rail; the concave end toward the bad, disposable pieces...After making these cuts, give the edges a quick go by with a tiny file...Then add next joiners/track securing to surface the way you choose...
Tools you buy now will stay with you throughout your time in the hobby. No gettin' round it......
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
Mark, the only problem with doing it that way is that the rail joiner has to try and pass through the molded tie plates on the track, and it won't do it. Best to slide the unsoldered rail through the tie plates and then solder the ends together.
 
M

MHinLA

Guest
fb, Nada... If need be you clip off 1 or 2 ties at each end of each unit.. This is enough room for rail joiners. (the rail gauge isn't affected).
Solder the joiners..As you begin to move the 6' to 9' section onto the sub-roadbed, while bending it slowly you will see if you need to clip off one or two ties to make more room for the joiners. Finally, if you have to, you can free up one or two more ties (not break them away) and slide them up to the rear of the existing joiners to hold the rails in gauge if need be.. Remember there still will be no kinks here, tires or not..
Also, on the underside of Atlas flex you see that there is connective plastic tissue from tie to tie under one rail only...This goes on the inside of the entire curve so as to allow the opposite end of the ties to fan out a smidge as they go around the curve like the 1:1 scale..
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
This is how one can get smooth and strong joints along flex track curves:
Note: you can pre- curve flex by carefully bending it, and this really helps if you partially bend the sliding rail at its protruding end first to somewhat conform to the intended curve radius.

You lay the first curve length and use track nails for a temporary hold. In foam use twice as many, even using a thin drill bit to make some extra holes. The sliding inner rail should now protrude.

Take the next length and slide the protruding inner rail into the spike heads of the new piece. Lay the new piece flat and along the curve, and mark where it abuts up to the inner recessed rail of the new length. Remove the new piece and remove no fewer than two plastic ties under that mark, three is probably better for tighter radii like 18”. Then reinstall the new piece.

As you slide the two together, insert a metal joiner in the tieless gap so that both rail ends meet...BUT...not up tight. You want to leave about one mm gap for rail travel due to any heat or humidity factors that change over seasons.

Later, you use a needle file to file away the spikehead details and the plate details on those removed ties so that when you slide them under the joiner they won’t cause a local bump at the joint.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
This is how one can get smooth and strong joints along flex track curves:
Note: you can pre- curve flex by carefully bending it, and this really helps if you partially bend the sliding rail at its protruding end first to somewhat conform to the intended curve radius.

You lay the first curve length and use track nails for a temporary hold. In foam use twice as many, even using a thin drill bit to make some extra holes. The sliding inner rail should now protrude.

Take the next length and slide the protruding inner rail into the spike heads of the new piece. Lay the new piece flat and along the curve, and mark where it abuts up to the inner recessed rail of the new length. Remove the new piece and remove no fewer than two plastic ties under that mark, three is probably better for tighter radii like 18”. Then reinstall the new piece.

As you slide the two together, insert a metal joiner in the tieless gap so that both rail ends meet...BUT...not up tight. You want to leave about one mm gap for rail travel due to any heat or humidity factors that change over seasons.

Later, you use a needle file to file away the spikehead details and the plate details on those removed ties so that when you slide them under the joiner they won’t cause a local bump at the joint.
+1
 
M

MHinLA

Guest
Crandell. If you bend flex first, before soldering it to next 3' section, you will never have a kink-less curved rail...
Again: Lay the two or three sections out dead straight and solder their 2 or 4 joiners... Ties will make their own demands along the way while bending and securing to layout.. Add missing ties later..

Note: Those who hand lay track do this as well...If they are going to have a 53" circumference curve (inside or outside rail) but rail leading into curve only reaches in say, 19", they will first solder it to the next rail which will project far enough to complete the 53" (plus some for leeway), while the two are straight..
 
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