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What Track To Use ... Cheap HO Or Hand Laying ?
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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 12:57 am
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Traingeekboy
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I see discussion forums on all kinds of things, maybe there is a discussion somewhere on hand laying.

I am thinking of simply using some HO scale track and cutting out every other tie to make it look more rickety.

But, I keep seeing hand laying in people's discussions,
and to be honest, I think I may want to try my hand at that, or do a mix of both modified and hand laid.

Ok, so that is the dilemma.
Comments, pointers, digressions?




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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 01:49 am
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W C Greene
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The decision is yours.
Back when I was a young teen and got interested in HOn3, there was no flex track, no RTR turnouts, just code 70 rail, spikes (big uns'), ties, and track gauges.
If you wanted track, you made it yourself!
 
That's what I did, and over the years, I have used flex and RTR turnouts once...
and that was on an On30 module which would connect with others...all of which used commercial track.
Handlaying track ain't hard, it ain't rocket surgery
(ha, one guy "corrected" me for that term, it is not surgery but science!!!LOL).

But all you need is what I used (above) and it is all available from Micro Engineering (as well as flex & turnouts) and some others.
Get a couple of 3 point track gauges (to start, later you will want several more),
rail, either commercial ties or make your own,
cutting equipment-razor saw or better, a Moto Tool with cutoff disc (many of these discs also),
a selection of small needle files, solder and iron, and an NMRA STANDARDS GAUGE for whatever scale you need.

I ain't kidding, it becomes an addiction to make your own track and you can make just about anything you need...
You want a #3 or #7.5 turnout? Try to find one already made.
Want a curved turnout? Get out yer billfold and eat Ramen for a couple of months.
See what I mean?

There are many, many tutorials available, many books, and a bunch of stuff here on Freerails.
Search Herb Kephart's posts here...he's a real master, and there are others here.
What do I think? JUST DO IT!
You won't be sorry and you can sit back and look at your track and think-"I made this myself!"...
and it is cheaper than buying RTR track, especially turnouts.

Can you dig it?
Woodie




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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 02:18 am
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Traingeekboy
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You hit the nail on the head with The RAMEN FACTOR!



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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 04:38 am
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Michael M
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I've been hand laying my own track on my 35n2 layout. 
Even make my own stub switches (I find them easier to make than point switches). 
I cut my own ties, spike down the rail, and go back later with some light stain over the ties.

There's been some discussion about staining ties.  Early on railroads didn't bother with any kind to wood treatment. 
If I recall it wasn't until the 1920s or so that railroads really got into creosote. 
For my ties I want them to look weathered but not preserved.

I don't think there is any cost savings in laying your own rail.  Making your own switches are sure cheaper than buying them. 
And, as Woodie pointed out, you can make any size switch you want.

Give it a try. 
Just take your time and have some patience. 
Remember we're all here to have fun.




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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 05:00 pm
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W C Greene
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"We'll have fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the T Bird away" -Bryan Wilson

Or as another old TV ad proposed-"Try it, you'll like it!"

Yep, maybe the flex vs hand for just track is about the same cost...
unless you cut your own ties from sheet stock and buy stock rail instead of scrounging it from flex track,
but it's them damn switches that will eat your lunch...literally!

Woodie



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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 05:51 pm
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Lee B
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Hand-laying track is something I just never understood.
Sure, there are times when you need something you can't buy, such as an odd type of turnout
(or stub switches, things that aren't made commercially).

But once you get the ballast, weathering and ground cover in place, does anyone really notice the track?

I've always said you never have to ask if someone laid their own track because when you see the layout, he WILL tell you that he did so
(you only have to wait a few minutes).
Several people I know who do so, I think, do so just so they can brag about it.

A few I know who do so, don't do that great a job.
A guy I knew with a HO layout with all hand laid track had derailments all the time and I've known others who had the same problems
(so I guess it isn't as easy as people say).

When I laid track for my own layout, I just didn't have to worry about gauges and such when I used flex track.
Sure, Micro-Engineering turnouts are painfully fragile but once they're in, they're usually okay from then on.

I've never understood the appeal of hand laying track unless it's for something you couldn't get commercially.
But then again, there's always a segment of the hobby who thinks if you didn't make it all yourself, you aren't a REAL model railroader...




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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 06:33 pm
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Michael M
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Lee,

For me it's more of the look that I'm trying to achieve...a broken-down two-foot gauge mining road. 
I've used flex track (On30) and if I bury it in dirt and ballast it looks okay.

Many fine layouts in all scales have been built with commercial track.

Whatever floats your boat.




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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 07:19 pm
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Tom Harbin
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If you have the time and patience, hand lay, hands down.

For many years I just did table-top modeling using sectional track.
It was okay but hardly realistic.

For my first "real" layout I used flex and commercial turnouts (ME On30 Code 83 and their #5 switches).
Much, much better.
Smooth flowing trackwork you just cannot achieve with sectional.
It was also easy to lay and trouble-free. 

Recently, I pulled up part of the track to fix an area and decided to change to a #4 turnout.
No such thing in On30 Code 83 so I hand laid it.
I used a Fast Tracks jig and tools.
After I finished the turnout, I set it next to the flex (which is very good flex by the way).
The result was that I am pulling up all of the track and will hand lay on the same track bed.
Unless you completely bury the ties in ballast/dirt/weeds/what-ever, there is a difference, at least for me.
The smaller the layout, the more obvious a part of the layout the track work becomes.

By the way, as many will tell you, you do not need the fancy jigs to hand lay.
I'm glad I bought them because they gave me the confidence to try it but like Woodie said, try to get a #3.5 from a jig.
I haven't started to hand lay the new track yet but I am quite sure I can do it and will enjoy the process.

Tom


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 Posted: Thu Dec 6th, 2018 11:08 pm
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Lee B
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Tom Harbin wrote: If you have the time and patience, hand lay, hands down.

...and the skill. That's really important.
I've know more than a couple of modelers who were determined to hand lay their track and it looked like the Little rascals laid the stuff. Nothing would stay on the tracks.



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 Posted: Fri Dec 7th, 2018 07:15 pm
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W C Greene
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I never have gloated on my handlaid track, it is just the way I do things.
Starting as young as I did, it is now second nature and I enjoy it.
I think that even if there was commercially available 1:35n2 flex and switches, I'd still spike my own.
There's nothing wrong with using flex and RTR switches, I might could have saved a bunch of time building layouts.

Woodie




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