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Can anyone give me their opinion on the best track to use to lay down on the layout? Since the layout is very large, I'm surely not going to hand lay my own track. I would think that is time consuming. What's better, Code 70, Code 83, Code 100? Who makes the better track, Atlas, Peco, etc....
I would like to start going out and getting some track but unsure which to buy.



Well-Known Member
The most realistic, according to several modellers I know, is the Code 83 from Micro-engineering. It is not the cheapest, so the next best would probably be a toss-up between Atlas and Peco.

Code 100 is readily available, cheap, and robust...not to mention highly forgiving of wheels on older models that have higher profiled flanges.

For turnouts, they all have problems. Walther's-Shinohara are very good, Peco are decent, but so is the Streamline from Atlas. Still, all of them have trouble keeping their tunouts within NMRA specs for some reason. So, by a fair margin, handlaid turnouts are king. Fast Tracks is what I have used, their #8's, and I have been happy.


Diesel Detail Freak
*hehe* Code 81... :p In all seriousness, Micro Engineering's rail is awesome, its stiffer, and holds curves better. Central Valley offers code 81 rail ( ) which can be mixed (carefully) with code 83. If you're picky, use code 70 in the yards for the lighter weight rail usually used in yards.


I haven't thought of NMRA specs. I'm waiting on my membership kit to arrive since I joined.

What do you mean when you say that they are having a hard time meeting the NMRA specs for the turnouts?



Milw Road in SW Wisconsin
Last month in the NMRA 'Scale Rails', the Conformance Chairman did a review of several brands of HO turnouts. None really passed every checkpoint. I see Peco has taken him to task in the current issue, and there seems to be an issue with the measurement tools being used. That said, I have used Peco, Atlas, and Shinohara turnouts and every once in a while I have had a problem turnout that needed to be replaced or adjusted. All in all, they all seem to work fine if laid correctly. My current layout uses Atlas code 100 trackage; and out of 46 turnouts, only 1 has been replaced(I damaged it). The trackage is darn solid. My new branchline will have Atlas code 83 trackage, and I expect it will operate just fine as well.


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