I haven't seen anything identical to Gargraves track in HO scale. In your
collective opinion, what would be the highest quality HO scale track?
I currently have an oval of Bachmann Easy Track - kind of like HO scale
FasTrack. K-Line also makes a similar track with a somewhat better looking
roadbed, IMO. But what if track without the roadbed. What is the best
Your question assumes facts not in evidence.
What are you trying to accomplish?
The HO equivalent to GarGraves is probably good-old Atlas Flex Track.
Quality might be mutually exclusive based on your criteria.
in article Nu2dnYIyd9WzozvYnZ2dnUVZ email@example.com, trainfan1 at
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote on 1/11/07 5:46 AM:
Many say the best track is obtained by hand laying it. I've had good success
with Atlas flex track and with Pilz Elite flex track (has a more European
look, but is weathered).
As for turnouts, same deal: many like hand laid ones. You can get them made
for you here:
I've used Altas which are DCC friendly, but I don't like the floppy points;
other have had good luck with them. I now use Pilz Elite which I like a lot
and are also DCC friendly.
If I were doing it again, I'd probably go with the newer Peco Code 83 stuff,
but I've not used it personally.
Well, you wouldn't see anything like Gargraves in HO. Gargraves is
three-rail track. Except for Marklin, all HO track is two-rail.
There is no significant difference among brands of standard sectional
track (without the plastic ballast+tie base). So long as the rail size
is the same, they are interchangeable. They differ in tie colour (black,
and various shades of dark brown), and in range of radii, straight track
lengths, turnouts, crossings, and accessories with built-in track. Flex
track to match is available from several makers as well.
In my experience, they are no significant differences among the
ballasted section brands of track. They are of course not interchangeable.
What exactly are you trying to do/build?
You will find most available brands listed on Walthers website. Or buy
one of their catalogs.
Oh, I see, the 5-rail track is a control section. Not exactly what I
would call "5-rail track".... :-)
FWIW, for O scale I prefer Atlas O scale 2-rail track. But GarGraves's
use of wood ties is good. The closest thing in HO was Truscale, which
had a solid milled wood base with ties milled into the top, and the
rails spiked to it. Truscale also offered the base alone, and the base
without the milled ties.
Long gone, though.
Sorry I wasn't clear. I was speaking of the way the track is made. Natural
wood ties. GarGraves, BTW, isn't just three-rail track. They also make
two-rail (O Guage) track, as well as four and five rail track for special
Then your best bet in HO is hand-laid track: you glue down the ties, and
spike the rail to it. It's slightly more complicated in practice, but it
can look good. Almost as good as painted and weathered plastic tie
track, actually. :-)
Seriously, there is no wood-tie based sectional or flex track available
in HO. The main reason is purely mechanical: wood just doesn't have the
strength in such small sizes-- it too easily splits along the grain
lines. (Note that both ties and rail are oversize in GarGraves track.)
You might be able to use resin-impregnated wood, but that would raise
the cost considerably. Also, wood grain doesn't scale down. If you can
see the wood grain effect in a 1:87 scale model, it's too large.
Have a look at MicroEngineering weathered rail flex track in code 70
(0.070" high rail.) It's about as realistic as ready-to-use track can
get. A little judicious air-brushing, suitably coloured ballast, and you
have the most realistic track available in any scale. They also make a
very nice concrete tie track in a light grey plastic. Looks just like
freshly laid track.
I have the gray EZ Track now. The problem I have found with such tracks is
that there are always manufacturing variations in the plastic ballast that
cause the track sections not to line up well. I've never had a Lionel train
car derail on FasTrack. But I have had plenty of derailments on the
Bachmann EZ Track (and random uncouplings, damnit...)
Luckily the last two cars are Army troop carriers filled with guys ready to
help. The last car is a troop carrier/hospital car (Model Power). It was
tragic when a random uncoupling caused it to fall off the back only to be
rear-ended and knocked off the track by the loco on the next pass.
Unfortunately the hospital car had been carrying the only medical personnel
and they were all killed.
Are you sure that the uncoupling was a random act? Maybe terrorists
have populated your railroad! Shudder...
I'm not inclined to go that far to lay the HO track. My layout will be
relatively simple - at least initially, who knows - and I'm not a modeler
(at least I have never done any modeling.)
I'm not aiming towards ultra-realism. Just a layout that is interesting.
That and HO track that isn't prone to derailments...
And here I had them looking in the wrong place. My explanation to visitors
as to my somewhat eclectic choice of cars (including a searchlight car and
two Army troop carriers, along with a Coca-Cola tank car - because Army
guys get thirsty...) was that the train was searching for Osama bin Laden
in the Christmas tree. (Well, they haven't found him yet, so he could be
there. Just think of the layout I could create with the 25 million dollar
It hadn't occurred to me that Al-Qaeda may have had an agent on the train.
Am I the only one who invents stories to go with the trains?
But realistically, the Model Power cars came with the hook couplers. I
installed the Bachmann style couplers on them. But I have run into trouble
based on the order in which the trains are coupled. All other cars
(Bachmann and Athearn) had Bachmann style couplers, but the couplers don't
always line up correctly due to variations in the height of the cars. One
little bump, and the cars can become uncoupled.
I like the Bachmann style couplers. They look more realistic (like the real
ones that guaranteed that most yard men eventually lost a thumb.)
Of course the layout is still on carpeting. About the lowest pile carpeting
there is, but that is the most likely culprit for the bumps.
No. One club railroad had an elaborate history of the railroad,
including mergers and acquisitions, old paint schemes and new paint
schemes. During operations each train had a schedule, a name or number,
and a purpose (express passenger, way freight, coal drag, etc)
For that matter John Armstrong always had a lot of back story for his
Canadeiga Southern railroad.
The knuckle couplers MUST all be at the same height, otherwise you
get random uncoupling. You can see couple height mismatches by eye,
either by placing the eye way down on the carpet, or placing a bit of
test track up on the table. A small washer under the trucks will raise
the low couplers. Athearn cars are often low. Just remove the truck
screw, slip a washer under the truck, and replace the screw. Washers
can be obtained from your local hardware store. Ask for number 6 flat
Coupler height gages are available, but in a burst of economy and
do-it-yourself I made one from a block of pine, with a coupler secured
to the top with a wood screw. The NMRA gage also has a coupler height
hole in it.
The Janney automatic coupler was considered a great safety
improvement over the link and pin couplers it replaced in the 1880's.
Link and pin couplers required the brakeman to step inbetween the cars
to couple and uncouple. One mistake on the engineer's part would ram
the cars together and crush the unlucky brakeman to death. At least the
Janney could be uncoupled from the side, and usually would couple by
just pushing the cars together.
The benefit to carpet running is you get to change the track layout
as often as you like with out doing carpentry or even pulling up track