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FLEXIBLE Track

– How to make it the easy way -

 

For more information contact garrylefevre@hotmail.com

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Flexible track 5

 

For some time I have wanted to have flexible track on which to run my TTR.  The problem as we all know is the large coarse wheels which modern track does not allow for.  Although back in the 1950’s Wrenn had 3 rail flexible track for Trix Twin.  This was rather crude and with the centre rail being just another rail, looking large and out of place.   These days one occasionally finds a few pieces at a swap meet but far too seldom and often in poor condition to seriously plan building a railway layout based on it.  My search to find something else started.

 

After some research I found the solution was far simpler and easier than I realised.

 

 

 

PECO ( the English company) makes a wide range of track including two types of 2 rail flexible track for HO,  code 100 and code 75.  The code 100 has a rail profile which is far too low for the coarse Trix wheels and code 75 is even lower.  But they also make fine scale track for “O” gauge, this rail is code 124 in nickel silver with the same height as the crude Trix Express super track !!!

 

PECO sell the code 124 rail – known as Bullhead- separately from the base in packs of 6.  Each rail is one yard long or 914 mm.  All one needs to do is to combine the HO flexible track with the Bullhead rail.

 

Flexible track 1

On the left code 75 HO track from PECO, on the right Trix Express super track

 

As one bends flexible track the rail slides through the sleepers.  Hence all one needs to do is slide the low rail out and slide in the higher code 124 rail

 

Flexible track 2

 

Now on the left PECO code 75 track with the replaced code 124 bullhead rail

All we now need to do is solve the problem of the centre rail.

 

The centre rail on the Trix Express super track is half round being bent tinplate with a diameter of 1.2mm.  My solution is to use a wire 1.2mm in diameter supported on small black track pins made by PECO

 

Since all flexible track needs to be permanently fixed to the layout to prevent it moving, the logical solution was to use the same track pins as the basis for the support for the centre rail.  The pins are situated roughly every 7th sleeper, but this is not critical in the centre of the sleeper.  The height is about 1.5mm above the sleeper base, again not too critical but the combined height with the wire on top must be below the running rails to prevent shorting on low loco bodies.   One extra long pin is used per section which passes through the base board onto which the electrical connecting wire is soldered.  In this way the current is passed to the centre rail.  This one pin must be soldered to the wire acting as the centre rail.  The other pins can be soldered or super glued in place.  I found the latter easier but not as permanent and I recommend soldering the pins to the wire.  Since  the heat from the soldering iron can melt the plastic sleepers it is better to do this before putting the wire in place. It is essential to thoroughly clean the wire first where it is to be solder.

 

Flexible track 7

 

Above is the finished new flexible track on a gradual bend.  Below is the Trix Express super track Radius 2, the largest one they made.

 

The appearance is remarkably nearly the same as Trix Express track.  PECO nickel silver track can be joined to the Trix Express track using the same fishplates as the rail profile is so similar.  The centre rail can be soldered or the wire mentioned above under the base board linked to the other centre rail.

 

Important note

 

Since writing the above, I am grateful to a friend for pointing out to me a problem with some Trix trains made after about 1960 due to the scale wheels being used. These have a wider outer flange to outer flange measurement than the coarse earlier Trix wheels. The earlier wheels have a greater tolerance but the later models are more precise and being wider, require the gap between the rails to be closer to the original 16.5mm.  The Peco code 124 (suggested above) has a rail thickness of 1.55mm compared to the Peco code 75 rail thickness of 0.8mm. As the centre line on the Peco HO sleeper bases for both rails is the same the wider code 124 rail reduces the gap between the rails from 16.5mm to 15.6mm. This affects fine scale models particularly, leading to some stock derailing but does not seem to affect the earlier coarse wheeled Trix items.  I recommend you first try one yard of track, partly on a curve and test the train stock you plan to run before making too much of the flexi track described above.

 

Here are some other tips if you want to do this and a list of what you need:-

 

·       In choosing PECO HO track I first started with code 100, but found sometimes the bullhead replacement rail is a bit loose. Hence I now use code 75. This is a very tight fit. To slide in the code 124 rail I file the end to a point and put a tiny amount of oil on the underneath. Yet still it can be tough and one can take the easier route of using code 100 track

 

·       For the centre rail I am using piano wire, (an alternative is welder’s wire – easier and cheaper to use).  Piano wire is a sprung wire which one can get from many model shops. It has the advantage that it will spring back into shape after a locos collecting shoe has pressed it down.  But the disadvantage is that it is difficult to solder.  Here I found the best way was to create a jig made of a long strip of wood.  Holes are drilled at intervals just slightly larger than the pin’s body but less than the pin head. Thus the pin rests on top of the wood.  The wire is then clamped to the wood and each pin soldered.  In this way the pins are all hanging down from the wire on the same side and the wire can then be used directly to fix the track to the base board. Remember to solder one longer pin, to use for the electrical connection.  A hole is drilled through the middle of the sleeper through which the pin is pressed.  The other pins are set at roughly every 7th sleeper but this is not critical.

 

 

·       To affect a smooth transfer of the locos centre collector shoe I bend the end of the wire down at each joint – see photo below.

 

Flexible track 8

 

Here is a list of parts I use:-

 

Part

PECO code

UK price

Wooden sleeper nickel silver 914 mm long

C25 SL-100

Code 100

£2-25

Or

Wooden sleeper nickel silver 914 mm long

SL-100F

Code 75

£2-30

Bullhead rail 6 pieces

Enough to make 3 x 914mm track

1L-7BH

Nickel silver

£7-85

Rail Joiners

SL 10

25 for £1-45

Spikes or fixing pins

Chemically blackened

1L -13

Not listed

Sold by weight

Piano wire

From model shops

Varies

 

NOW the EXTRA Surprise !!

 

PECO also make a range of other products to enable you to make your own points in any design that copies prototype railway practice.   I have seen these on exhibition layouts but not yet attempted it myself   --- perhaps my next project !

 

And finally here is a list of main PECO contacts  who will tell you where the nearest shop to you is stocking the items you need! !

 

In the UK

Peco Railway Models,

Beer, Seaton, Devon EX12  3NA

 

Telephone 01297 21542                   Fax  01297 20229

In Canada

Academy products Inc

9 Bradwick Drive

Concord Ontario L4K 2T4

Tel 0019056699120

 

In Germany

Weinart Modelbau

Mittlewendung 7, 28844 Weyhe/Dreye

Tel 004942039464

In Holland

Model Engineering BV

Bangert23-1689

CJ Zwaag

Tel 0031229261577

In Switzerland

Marcel Csuka

8117 Fallanden

Industriestrasse 7

Tel 004118252929

In USA

Euro rail Model Importers Ltd

1000 South Main Street

Newark New York

Tel 0013153314090

 

 

 

For more information contact garrylefevre@hotmail.com

 

 

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