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· Stanier's Love Child
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Hi there, as |I am working on my revamped layout, I am finding it more difficult to cut flexi-track. I have found that sometimes I have a gap between rails of upto 4mm which translates to prototype railways of gaps of 300mm [ie nearly a foot in old money].

Is there a a way of illing gaps or do I have to spend more of my very limited budget on more flexitrack and try to improve my cutting skills with my xuron track cutter. At 70 years of age, any easier solution would be welcomed.

I am sure that several years ago, somebody in a magazine claimed that epoxy resin was the answer!
 

· In depth idiot
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Surely a simple solution is moving the rails along in the track base to correct the gapping, and thus moving the oversize gap(s) to some unobtrusive spot of straight track, and thencutting out a short section which can be 'patched' using an offcut of flexitrack? (I assume that since you are layout building, you will have some offcuts.) That way you can measure the gap for the 'patch', and cut down the rails on the bench, starting from oversize to be sure of getting a good fit.
 

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What I do is offer up the rails together and use a file or pen to mark a cut line across the top of the rail head. I then remove the track from the layout and use a metal saw to cut it. Accurate every time.

I know a lot of people use 'rail cutters' and even a certain retailer (who sells them) is rather opinionated on this, but I personally think that the idea of using what is essentially a pair of scissors to compress and cut a rail is always going to produce tapered/distorted rail ends which require significant filing. Using a metal saw might not be as convenient (you need a vice to hold the rail while sawing), but it results in a much neater job.

Now working on an O Gauge layout, I can't see cutters going through O Gauge rail easily without making a mess. Sawing goes through quite easily and requires very little filing afterwards other than an edge cleanup.

Also be aware that in some climes, it is better to lay track in the summer months so that everything is in its expanded form and shrinks for the winter months. That way, you don't get rails buckling.

Another related issue with cutting rails is that people take short-cuts and don't have continuous sleepering under their joints. This looks really bad. In O Gauge, we have a slightly different issue in that we don't need to cut chairs from sleepers to accomadate fishplates (that would look bad in this scale), but we do have to shorten fishplates because the OO ones that Peco supply for use on O gauge are too long to fit between adjacent sleepers. Once shortened, everything looks fine.
 

· Premium Member
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Depending upon how temperature controlled your layout room is you may need a small gap to deal with expansion and this is more than would be expected,
The best clean cutter is a dremel with a disc cutter but track pliers can do the job but need cleaning up afterwards.
 

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Depending upon how temperature controlled your layout room is you may need a small gap to deal with expansion and this is more than would be expected,
The best clean cutter is a dremel with a disc cutter but track pliers can do the job but need cleaning up afterwards.
The problem with using a Dremel is that due to the physical size of the unit itself, it isn't possible to have the drill close enough to the rail head to be horizontal so as to be able to create a vertical cut. That means you have to tidy up the cut with filing and this in turn, looses further rail length and increases gaps. Even the flexible shaft Dremel attachment doesn't solve the problem.

Track pliers pinch rails and quite frankly, make a mess.

The best clean cut is to place rails in a vice and saw them with a metal saw. On larger rail profiles such as those in O Gauge, this is the only way because the rails are too thick to cut with what are essentially pairs of scissors.
 

· Not-fat-but-certainly-could-lose-a-little-weight
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It may be slow and one needs to be careful, but I use a razor saw like a X-Acto brand or similar, probably with a cutting guide. It is nowhere as easy as a track cutter, but IMHO the results are worth it.
 

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It may be slow and one needs to be careful, but I use a razor saw like a X-Acto brand or similar, probably with a cutting guide. It is nowhere as easy as a track cutter, but IMHO the results are worth it.
This is what I meant, just different terminology!

Life isn't long enough to use some of these methods especially if you have a large and complicated layout, if a shunting plank OK but then you hardly need such precision.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to the level of quality of workmanship that one wants to put into ones' layout.
I come from the school where I was taught that if things are done properly first time, then they won't need doing again. That applies to our hobby and it starts with how we build our boards, followed by how we lay our track and subsequently populate the scenery.

Good layouts aren't necessarily those built to a very high standard. In my opinion, they are usually layouts which are built to a consistent standard.

I would suggest that those of us who cut rails with saws have probably become quite adept at it and by the time you account for the time we take and compare that with the time others take to cut rails with a 'pair of scissors' and then have to file it down to clean it up (to square it off and to enable fishplates to be fitted) and then have to faff around dealing with rails that are no longer the length you want them to be (ie have to redo them), I'd hazard a guess that we 'saw brigade' may well do the job more quickly.

As for size of layouts, well, Ashprington Road is 7M x 4M. I did 'snip' rails for some of it (fiddleyard), but to be honest, it didn't gain me any time once rail cleanup was taken into account.
 

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Just to say that the vertical Xuron cutters do cut clean, the sideways ones need a file to clean up the cut edges whilst the dremel cuts very cleanly, the other issue is getting a vertical cut with the Xurons quite often you cut at an angle the Dremel finds that difficult so you get a vertical cut.
 
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