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Which track?

18601 Views 78 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  stephen freeman
Hello all
New to the forum, I'm planning a 12' by 9' L-shaped 'tail chaser' layout for the garage. I'd like it to be based around about the mid to late 70's, so which track is best?, not just from a prototypical point of view, but ease of use, availability etc. I've heard lots of favourable things about SMP and C&L, but pictures are hard to come by, and is it really that much better than Peco stuff? Any info would be appreciated
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Oh heavens - the track doesn't join up?
And here was I planning to buy some, slot it all together and push my Hornby power thingy in. This gets more and more complicated - I think I'll have to go and haunt the threads on wiring now
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QUOTE jim s-w
My method with Flexi track is to make sure the rail ends half way along a set of sleepers. Give you spot on alignment every time and its dead easy.


thanks - but my aghastness (new word?) was more to do with how the current gets across. Not having seen any of this stuff - experience is Hornby and Peco, and the nearest club is probably somewhere across the channel - I can't imagine how the electrical connection is made - surely not soldering etc? I'm beginning to understand how Martians might feel first day on earth and my poor brain is aching.....

many thanks. Will start searching for more info as it's all bound to be here. I guess it will be all logical but have to admit as a disorientated Martian I'm beginning to appreciate the poetry of Hornby and Peco track.
Sorry about the dumb questions (feel rather stupid, actually)

thanks again. Your comments and help are really appreciated.
It just upsets my original plan - which was to start with a simply connected loop and sidings and then move on as I got more comfortable with things. It's years since I've done any soldering and my old irons are beyond redemption as I did not treat them terribly well at the time. That, plus 'possible extras' is likely to mean that start-up costs are beyond what I have budgeted for unless I don't buy any locos / rolling stock - which are what I'm actually doing it for in the first place! It's think again time.

I guess also that I was surprised that C&L do not even make make provision for the option of joining electrically, but presumably they don't see it as a requirement for the market they are aiming at - I was aware that most serious modellers do use the more complicated (to me) dropper approach (although I'd forgotten the name) but had not appreciated that it was the norm. Beginning to look at C&L a bit more closely too - and wonder if the sleeper lengths and spacings on oo track are the same as for P4, in which case they'll be oversized for the track width. Grave danger here of going Peco after all, but I do like the more realistic look of the C&L.... Ah, decisions!
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many thanks, but where to start?

The truth is that I stumbled on model railways again by accident when looking for 'iron' things to paint and wile I was temporarily house-bound. Also found some fascinating old 'dreadnoughts' and 'pre-dreadnoughts' as well while looking for the Iron Duke.

The pre-occupation with track and wheels is that having some Hornby track, when it came to even a semi-realistic painting it looked so odd to me that I couldn't bring myself to use it even as a guide to where the lines should be. As for the sleepers...

I spent a lot of time researching the locos on the internet (part of pretending to be an artist is that it's a great excuse for 'researching' into interesting things) and, because MRF in particular was such a useful source of information, I ended up looking at (and coveting) the models as well - but actually I also sometimes really struggle with the shiny fat leading (bogie) wheels that some of them have. Back to the track - from that point of view I just wanted to get something that looks as close to the real thing without having to devote myself to hours of soldering, sticking ABS chairs to ABS sleepers using noxious chemicals and so on as possible - but in reality from the point of view of painting I can probably survive without any of it at all, but......

Unfortunately my interest has now been rekindled in railways in general and the locomotives in particular (well, also trams and buses, but that's another story). The technical aspect as well as the looks is fascinating. The main reason for trying to understand what looks reasonable is to be able to get the stuff and have it availabe for use, look at - and get it all running, build scenery but be able to have different layouts and so on - well, to 'play trains' rather than aim for a club-style, super-detailed representation of the real thing.

What really puzzles me (and has sadly led to many of the dumb questions) about it all is that, for track which is such an essential part of the thing, there seems to be such a gap between the realism that is possible and what is available 'off the shelf', and that simple connectivity appears to have not really progressed that beyond what was available 40 years ago. The gap between 'playing trains' and 'serious modelling' appears to have increased rather than the former benefitting from advances in the latter, which is what I had expected to have happened.

So, with all the information so kindly given on MRF (which I'm extremely gratefull for) I guess I need to decide whether or not go ahead.....

Sorry, rather long involved, and the dumb questions are probably irritating and will be stopped!
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Additional comment:

I think there would be less questions about track from us in the wilderness if the likes of C&L, Peco, SMP/Marcway would put some photographs on their sites....

that's rather good. Oddly enough I'd totally dismissed the Tillig as the photos on the site I found selling it showed them as almost black!


absolutely - it was based on that photo that I decided the C&L looked good, rather like dwhite4dcc's photo of Tillig track has re-aroused interest.
But if I hadn't stumbled upon MRF by accident (actually from a French site linked to one of the tests here) etc.

The track-makers mentioned have managed to work out how to sell on the internet but not put a photo up - possibly a question of cost / bandwidth, I don't know, but it is interesting that they don't bother to do so. My own theory is that most people who buy (other than perhaps Peco which is a sort of tradition and is available from suppliers who do have photos on their sites) do so because they have seen the track used by friends, at model exhibitions and so on, or had it recommended as here - and that in general the track-makers are targetting people already keen on modelling and 'in the swim'.....

I was once called 'Mr. Average' - not necessarily complimentary - but I often find that my 'new' interests coincide quite a lot with general public taste and interests of those of my generation. Therefore, if I'm now getting passionately interested in railways again there is a chance that there will be others in the same position - they won't necessarily have access to other modellers, wouldn't even know where to start, but they are likely to have internet access and reasonable ability to find things there - so I think SMP / C&L etc. having decent photos on their sites would really help to attract people.....
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- ugh, and I should have added, more 'basic' information. The technical sheets are really good, but, for example, there was nothing about sleeper sizes on the oo version, just a mention of the 8'6 - 9' difference - which is very useful in itself, but....

many thanks - I'll have a good look through. There is an English option, but most is in German which I know very little of - but fortunately our German friends arrive Friday!
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