Track Question

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Lecithin

New Member
First time poster, long time train enthusiast. I've had trains since the age of 8 but I have never built a detailed model. Now that I've gotten a bit older and have a shop to work in I figure it is about time. My question today is about track. I have a lot of Atlas code 80 track, lots of flex, turnouts, etc but I've been looking through all my books and magazines and have seen different types of track used. My local stores mostly have Atlas code 80 and Atlas code 55. So the question begs, should I stick with the 80 because once all is said and done it will look accurate enough or should I move to code 55 because the brown ties and rail size will always look that much better.

Also with roadbed, is cork roadbed or track-bed (by woodland scenics) better. Am I right to think that you won't be seeing either once its finished?
 

Trucula

Drum Driver
First off: welcome to the page!...The difference in the code of the rail is only noticeable to the serious modeler. Its not that big a deal to most. If you have allot of code 83, I'd stay with that to save some money of buying all new. You can do what we did and use a rust brown primer on the track and rails...and paint a few ties black, clean the top off and its fast that way to do...as far as cork over the foam Woodlands, That totally up to you...I grew up on the cork and even had a friend who cut the cork for the Model Power company in his wood shop. 2 reasons I like the foam better is you put it down in one go..The cork has to be separated and put down in two strips because turns would make it buckle up, and the cork dries out fast making it brittle if you don't soak it in water awhile if you had it stored awhile..The foam can round turns and be placed with adhesive allot quicker. Cork kinda fights you alittle on turns if its not pinned till it dries...some brad nailed it down, but that's a hassle if you were off alittle when you was making your marks of where your tracks go. Another point is what the wheels are on your rolling stock. Code 100 wheels don't like switch points and code 83 switches. But code 55 wheels on code 83 track works well...it's all in the depth of the flanges.
 
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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
First time poster, long time train enthusiast. I've had trains since the age of 8 but I have never built a detailed model. Now that I've gotten a bit older and have a shop to work in I figure it is about time. My question today is about track. I have a lot of Atlas code 80 track, lots of flex, turnouts, etc but I've been looking through all my books and magazines and have seen different types of track used. My local stores mostly have Atlas code 80 and Atlas code 55. So the question begs, should I stick with the 80 because once all is said and done it will look accurate enough or should I move to code 55 because the brown ties and rail size will always look that much better.

Also with roadbed, is cork roadbed or track-bed (by woodland scenics) better. Am I right to think that you won't be seeing either once its finished?
Unless you are going to be showing your layout to a bunch of NMRA judges, the code 80 is fine. I'm assuming you are talking N-scale. The only caveate is that you are talking about Nickel Silver and not brass.

The roadbed issue can be argued one way or the other, but not with much enthusiams as both work well. and you are right. It will be covered.

I'm curious about your name. I'm wondering if you just needed a login anme and the word jumped off your organic ceral box and onto your screen. If that was the case, it could have been much worse.
 

Lecithin

New Member
Well first off, thanks for the help. Gives me a little to consider but I think sticking with the track I already have seems to make the most sense. I like the idea of painting the track ties, never would have thought of that.

Not sure if anyone is reading this but I see a lot of DCC ready and DCC equipped locos. Is it challenging and aggravating to wire the decoder to the loco or should I stick to plug and play?

On a side note I am a wood shop and electronics teacher so I might have a leg up on most but as I'm building this in my lab in my off time I don't normally get more then 30minutes to an hour in time, would that change my locomotive wiring capabilities?
 

Lecithin

New Member
I'm curious about your name. I'm wondering if you just needed a login anme and the word jumped off your organic ceral box and onto your screen. If that was the case, it could have been much worse.
I've actually used the name for a few years now. I think I first stumbled across it while looking in a medicine cabinet. Since then I think I've had to answer that questions more then a few times :)
 

sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
Personally, in a side-by-side comparison, I think the code 55 track looks 100 times better than the code 80 track. It is MUCH closer to scale than code 80, and much finer in appearance. I think code 55 is beginning to take over code 80 as far as new sales go, in that more new products in the code 55 line are available and the majority of N scale cars and locomotives are coming with low profile wheels, so they're ready to go on the finer track.

However, by itself, with the ties painted, there's nothing wrong with code 80. Just make sure, like Chip said, it's nickel silver, not brass or steel. If you didn't already have track and were looking to buy new, I would recommend code 55. But since you already have code 80, you may-as-well use it :)
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Most decoders on new locos are plug and play and may take you all of 10 minutes to install. IF the lights are 1.5 v then you have to put a resistor on the light circuits.

If you are converting an older unit to DCC it is still pretty easy as long as you make sure the motor poles are isolated from the frames. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any decoder installations that have taken more than 30 minutes--well less than an hour for sure. If you understand circuits, this should be a breeze for you.
 

dnhouston

Member
I would also suggest sticking to the Code 80 rail, but for a different reason. If you have older equipment, it probably has the "pizza cutter" style wheels with the deeper flanges. These do not work well on the Atlas Code 55 track, they ride on the plastic spike heads and cause everything to bounce and wobble.

As for cork or foam, I chose the WS foam this time for all the reasons that Bob mentioned. As a side note, the foam has been very easy to pull up, relocate and reuse as I've refined some of the track arrangements. The cork would always end up breaking on me when I tried to pull it up.
 

Lecithin

New Member
Wow I'm amazed at the quick response and overwhelming help! Thanks a lot!

I think I'll stick with the 80 for now because I do have a good deal of it and now that I think of it I have loco's and stock from over the years that I would still love to use with this layout.
 

fortkentdad

New Member
Faced this same dilemna when I decided to build my latest layout. Lots of talk about Code 55. I had some Code 80, but lots of old cars (some upwards of thirty plus years old). I decided the same as you and my layout is Atlas Code 80.

On the upside, I was able to put together my layout for a reasonable cost and reused most of my old switches.

On the downside, knowing what I know now, I would have gone PECO. It costs more, but the switches are amazing, look so much more prototypical. The way PECO builds their Code 80 track embeds much of the rail into the plastic so it looks more prototypical. It is Code 80 so it does connect with old Atlas (I'm using some now). I'm slowly converting my Atlas switches to Peco Switches. As for wheels, the old cars run fine on the Peco.

Life is full of compromises.
 




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