What brand of track and why?

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I am working on my plan for a new layout and wanted to see what brand of track every one liked and why. I have some Atlas code 83 stuff I bought a few years ago. I was looking at these turnouts and I think they look cheap. My main consern is how the points fit up to the stock rails. Looks like it will take a bit of work to make them reliable. So, what is everyone using and why? Also what are you using for turn out control? Thanks for the imput.


Stay off the tracks!
I use Atlas Code 83 and I also have a couple of Walthers Code 83 turnouts.

One of these days I'll try out the Peco stuff.


Wyoming native
Atlas code 100 track - cheapest and works fine for hidden track.

Atlas code 83 track for visible mainlines - cheap and looks pretty good.

Shinohara code 70 track for sidings and secondary track - because Atlas doesn't make code 70 HO track.

Walthers/Shinohara turnouts to this point (I also have a few Pecos, and like them), but I just bought a Fasttracks jig and will be building my own from now on (anybody wanna buy some Walthers code 83 and code 73 turnouts - mostly #6?).


Coal Shoveler
Atlas Code 83. I can find it in the LHS if I need some, without having to wait to mail order. Inexpensive, but reliable, in my view.

Haven't bought any Walthers/Shinny ones yet; there's a couple that I'm interested in, but have no need right now for them. The latest ones appear to be more DCC-friendly.



Stay off the tracks!
Not I - the most issues I have with Atlas Code 83 seems to be with the plastic frogs on the snap-switches (I know, I know....) being just a bit taller than the surrounding track.


Master Mechanic
joem5127 said:
My main consern is how the points fit up to the stock rails. Looks like it will take a bit of work to make them reliable. So, what is everyone using and why? Also what are you using for turn out control? Thanks for the imput.

This is my experience, both personal and in clubs, and if it helps great! If you are concerned about the points fitting into the stock rail, take a "knife" file, (slightly tapered), and champfer the end of the points on the running side of the points to ensure a smoothe transtion from the stock rails to the points. Here is an example;


Atlas code 100:
PROS; High quality, super reliable, relatively inexpensive. Mainstay of hobby for years and years. Easy to curve
CONS; Limited choice of turnouts,crossings. Appearance. No "special" trackwork. (single-double slip switches, curved turnouts,etc). Electrical conductivity can become an issue.

Shinohara code 100/83/70:
PROS; Well detailed, "prototype" sized spike heads on ties, great variety in trackwork choices. Reliable
CONS; Expensive, fragile, hard to adjust, ie because of its fragility spikeheads breakoff easy and can ruin the turnout. Not as easy to curve as Atlas

Peco Code 100/70:
PROS; High quality, well detailed, rugged. Good choice in trackwork. Has a built in mechanism to allow for a "no machine use".
CONS; Expensive, Has European appearance, Designation is not to "American" standards. Internal contacts eventually wear and electrical conductivity becomes an issue.

I have no comments on their code 83. I haven't had experience with it.

Model Power Code 100 Flex:
PROS; High quality, cheap, well detailed, cheap, comparable to Atlas Code 100 in reliablity. Did I say it was cheap?
CONS; On every piece I've ever used, there are burrs on the end of the rails that either have to be removed in some fashion. Not always available. Doesn't curve as easy as Atlas. No turnouts made above a "snap switch" variety.

Handlaid Code 100/83/70/55/40:
PROS; Easy to lay, Not limited to any trackwork available commercially. You can build to fit the situation. Track is attached to roadbed the way the prototype is with spikes or by soldering to PCB ties. If done well looks most realistic of all types. Electrical wiring is easy, reliable. Jigs are available to ease construction.
CONS; Can be very time intensive, depending on what trackwork you want. Quality depends on experience. STEEP learning curve. Materials, (ties, spikes, rail) not available at times. As code gets smaller, PCB ties, or gluing rail to ties becomes necessary.

Specific brands of rail are not mentioned due to virtually no difference between them. Plus I believe that ME is now the only maker,I could be wrong on this.
Tracklaying jigs are now available to make turnout building easier. I have just been given a complete set of jigs and laser cut ties from Fasttraks to review. I'll let everyone know what I think after the review.

My personal choice is to handlay. I do use MP flex on lowest level of my layout that except for 12" or so is completely hidden staging yards. The turnouts are Atlas code 100 #6's.
The hidden turnouts are activated by SPDT slide switches/rods to edges of layout for electrical reliablity. All visible turnouts will be thrown with Caboose Ind. ground throws.


I make my own stub switches so I don't have problems with points LOL.
As for rail, I am currently using code 83 because it was on sale from $1.80 per rail to 20 cents per rail if I took the last 150 rails off of this stores hands. They hadn't sold any for a loooong time.

I lay my own track and so I make my own ties. I don't have a 'brand' I follow either.

On my site I have finished the track laying section for now. I will add individual links to the pictures later, it is over 35 celcius here. Anyhow, you can view still view them in the photobucket section the other pics are in.
Also as soon as it is cooler I will be adding pics for making stub switches four different ways.
joem5127 said:
I am working on my plan for a new layout and wanted to see what brand of track every one liked and why.
If I had the time I would hand lay it all with code 83 for main, code 70 for sidings & yards, and code 55 for some industries. But I presume the question is about pre-made track. If I were going out to buy track today I would get Atlas code 83 flex track and Peco turnouts. Unfortunately the Peco selection doesn't have a lot of exotic pieces so I would suppliment with Walthers. For variation I would use Peco code 75 for the sidings, yards and industries.

P.S. For modular units that get moved around from show to show every weekend I still use good old Atlas code 100 everything.

Also what are you using for turn out control?
Manual turnout throws. Except on the "automated loops" where I would take the springs out of the Pecos and use slow motion stall motors. The Circuitron Tortoise seem to work just fine, but I wish they had a few more electric switch connections in them.
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Carey pop over to my site, I have some pics of them. If you think that is cheating, try some LOL. :D
I am willing to bet a few others would like to 'cheat' like that LOL :)


Over the years I have tried several brands of track from C55 to C100..I have always returned to Atlas track due to its availability and and the bullet proof results.:D I am using Atlas C83.


New Member
I use Atlas 83 #4 and #6 turnouts (About 30). I also use NCE SwitchIt's in conjunction with Tortise machines for throwing the turnouts.

Why SwitchIt's? They allow me to place momentary push button switches at locations close to the turnouts and also permit using the CAB/Controller to throw the turnouts via DCC. I use a GREEN and RED pushbutton switch for each turnout along with a bipolar LED. This makes switching operations very efficient and fool proof.

I also intend to setup DCC routing in the near future and the SwitchIt's will make this quite easy. Each Tortise has a unique address via the SwitchIt.

Since the SwitchIt's attach to the DCC buss and then to the Tortise the amount of wiring is kept to a minimum.

Each SwitchIt is capable of controlling two separate Tortise machines.

NWR #200

Irish Expatriate
I use Atlas code 83 flex on the main and sidings that need it. My smaller sidings use code 70 and in the extreme, code 55. The 70 and 55 is Micro Engineering trackage. I use ME switches in code 83 and 70. I think the gap between the points and the stock rail is more prototypical than Atlas or Shinohara, and look alot nicer. They come with a detail kit as well. The only thing I want now are scale, but operating switch stands...

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