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Hi Guy's

 

I am getting back into model trains after 30 years (had a basic Hornby HO Scale train set as a kid). I bought a Fleischmann DCC N Scale starter kit using a Black Z21 controller a few months back and am getting familiar with the technology.

 

I am starting to design a layout (2.5m x 1m) and have a question.

 

Should I use flex for straight sections wherever I can or should I stick to standard lengths?

 

Cheers

Ralph

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If you can use both.  I think Peco N flexi and set track are compatible as are the OO code 100 versions.  

Flexi is notoriously difficult to lay  in sharp curves, they "Dog leg" and cause derailments at radii which set track stays geometrically spot on.  However most railways have gentle curves for which flexi is ideal and it comes n decent lengths so you can use less rail joiners and less droppers .  The track to avoid is "Set Track" sharply curved points.  I use streamline points flexi track in the longest lengths I can for anything but sharp curves and Set track for sharp curves and straights on small layouts where anything but dead straight looks odd.

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6 hours ago, SydneyN said:

...I am starting to design a layout (2.5m x 1m) ... Should I use flex for straight sections wherever I can or should I stick to standard lengths?...

Welcome Ralph, to the world of multifarious opinions!

 

I use OO, and for an equivalent  5m x 2m layout in that scale would suggest that flexitrack is the way to go, especially for scenic areas of the layout.


That's enough space to have larger radius curves than set track systems provide, and to use larger radius points from the flexitrack system choices too; both of which will make for a better looking layout. This doesn't prevent use of set track exactly as already suggested, to make space saving curves and more compact storage areas in particular.

 

But this needs further comment from those actually modelling in N, who can share experience of what works best.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, 34theletterbetweenB&D said:

That's enough space to have larger radius curves than set track systems provide, and to use larger radius points from the flexitrack system choices too; both of which will make for a better looking layout. This doesn't prevent use of set track exactly as already suggested, to make space saving curves and more compact storage areas in particular.

 

The OP is actually asking about using flexible track for straight sections, not curves.

 

11 hours ago, SydneyN said:

Should I use flex for straight sections wherever I can or should I stick to standard lengths?

 

There's nothing to stop you cutting setrack straights to different lengths.  It's what I do with Code 100 in OO.

 

If you want to use a different rail code to that offered by setrack then it would probably be simplest to stick to flexi all round.  AIUI the Peco N scale setrack is code 80 whereas in flexi you have a choice of code 80 or code 55.  (IMO the rail height of code 80 for N looks even more "train set like" than code 100 does for OO.)

Edited by ejstubbs

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Code 55 not only looks better but it is actually more robust than Code 80 because about a third of the rail is buried in the plastic sleeper webbing.

 

It certainly looks better than SetTrack for straights or curves.

 

Regards,

 

John P

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There is no reason not to use setrack or flexi for straight sections, and both have advantages and disadvantages.  Setrack needs more rail joiners or soldered joints, and each joint must of course be precisely laid straight and smooth to it's neighbour or you'll get a zigzag.  OTOH, flexi needs just as much work to keep it dead straight, and needs to be carefully laid against a straight edge and handled carefully out of the pack or box; in fact you will find some lengths have already taken on a curve and have to be straightened out.  You can in fact use setrack as flexi by cutting the sleeper web out on alternative sides of the track.

 

My recommendation in 00 is to use setrack for curvature of less than 36" radius, with would translate to an 18" ball park in N.  The reason for this is that bending the flexi to radii smaller than this puts a strain on the track and increases the possibility of it pulling out of gauge or even ripping out of the plastic chairs.  This is further increased if the track is a finer code, so is perhaps even more relevant in N gauge.  Setrack curves and turnouts are my advice for any radius less than 18" on your layout. 

 

Even at larger radii, it is difficult to lay flexible track accurately to a preset curve unless you use the curved tracksetta templates to hold the track until the pva sets.  Without this, the track will take on a transition curve from the straight, which is fine if you have planned this for appearance and running; it's what the real railway does, but not so good if it is unplanned and the centre portion of the curve is significantly sharper than planned.

 

I would not advise mixing the codes on the visible, scenic, part of the layout; as well as the issue of underpacking the 55 to match the railhead height of the 80, the appearance of the 80 is much 'chunkier' with the chairs and the boundaries will look very odd.  So, if you're using setrack at all on the scenic part, perhaps for space reasons, you are pretty much committed to code 80 throughout5 even if you use flexi in conjunction with it.  If you use code 55 turnouts on the scenic part, you may have running problems with older RTR N gauge models designed for setrack and code 80.  Re-wheeling will solve this for stock, but locos may be more difficult, especially those with drive gear integrally moulded with the driving wheels.

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1 hour ago, The Johnster said:

If you use code 55 turnouts on the scenic part, you may have running problems with older RTR N gauge models designed for setrack and code 80.  Re-wheeling will solve this for stock, but locos may be more difficult, especially those with drive gear integrally moulded with the driving wheels.

 

You should be fine with any N gauge stock of the last thirty years pretty much, and there's not much older than that I'd give layout space to, though even then you're really just down to Lima stock being the issue with its godawful pizza cutters for wheels.  Loco-wise, of that era everything that was good has modern counterparts that are way better in every regard. Beyond the Minitrix Class 47 I'm hard pressed to think of anything outside of Farish worth hanging on to.  Apart from the grossly inaccurate Minitrix Warship that will haul ANYTHING you put on the back of it.

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