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Track Suppliers

Module: 12A

  Aristo-craft Track  

  Accucraft (AML) Track

AristoFlex Track2.PNG

 Major International Sellers of 32mm and 45mm Gauge Model Railway Track

Good, durable track is a pre-requisite for outdoor model railways and fortunately there are still quite a few reliable sellers in the marketplace (although probably not as many as for smaller scales) but as usual these days most of it is manufactured in China so supplies can occasionally be interrupted.

 

For Garden Railway projects most modellers now tend to opt for 45 mm gauge track which is generally more stable, durable and easy to lay but this is not the only choice. 32 mm Gauge track is popular when modelling a 2' line (especially for Steam Powered locomotives) as it provides the most accurate representation of the prototype and there are devotees of other gauges but on balance, 45 mm remains the gauge of choice for the majority.

 

One of its major advantages is the degree of compatibility between track from different manufacturers. Most brass Code 332  track looks very similar and any difference between brands is usually quite subtle (probably to avoid patent and design infringement suits) enabling enthusiasts to extend their layouts with virtually any make according to whatever brand is available and priced advantageously at the time of purchase. (Bachmann Steel and Code 250 are the notable exceptions having differing profiles).


As mentioned previously the range of pre-formed sectional track sizes available can vary considerably according to the manufacturer. For example, at present Bachmann are unable to offer more than a few straights and curves in brass (small radius points are also now available) whereas Aristo-craft used to pride themselves on the huge range of individual sections in brass, stainless steel and even aluminium (or aluminum as they refer to this metal in the States) which can be ideal for battery operated locomotives.

In this module you will find abridged particulars of each manufacturers range at the time of writing (or at the time of closure in the case of Aristo-craft ).

LIST OF MAJOR INTERNATIONAL TRAIN TRACK SUPPLIERS 

 

The principal manufacturers of quality track listed purely in alphabetical order are;

 

 

   

Aristo-craft (USA)

 

Recent History:

 

Aristo-craft finally closed its doors for business in December 2013 after some 80 years of trading and left a huge legacy of large G scale train products. The company, owned by the Polk Family,  used to market an impressive assortment of pre-formed track sections in no less than 4 materials (brass, stainless steel, nickel-silver and  aluminium); USA Standard Mainline and Narrow Gauge  sleeper  variants  and no less than 15 different radii curves up to a massive 20' diameter. It was possibly the most comprehensive range offered by any manufacturer and a good choice for ambitious layouts where flexible track is not the preferred solution.

 

Whilst the rail height is the same as LGB it is not quite so wide saving on brass content and no doubt contributing to their competitive price. This proved to be an advantage when the world price of brass suddenly escalated by almost 100% overnight during 2007.

 

Although the firm no longer trading there remains a sizeable amount of their track still in circulation and you may still be able to find it available in the UK and USA from a number of retail outlets and on the second user market which is why they merit attention in this module.

 

Alas, you can no longer obtain track direct from Aristo-craft in the States. However, shortly after their closure you were, at least for a short while, able to obtain the identical track via mail order from the family company that arose, phoenix like from the ashes, to continue the business under the new name of PolksGeneratioNext.

 

Polks kept their operation decidedly small scale without endeavouring to recreate the original extensive  dealer network, either in the USA or overseas. Initially they concentrated on selling track-work having received a large container worth from China around the time Aristo-craft went into liquidation.

 

Unfortunately, although beginning to develop a market presence and the possibility that they might release many of the old track varieties originally marketed by Aristo-craft, these hopes and aspirations proved short-lived as Polks too, have now gone out of business rather abruptly for reasons that were never made clear to my knowledge.

 

There were rumours that this was partly due to their Chinese manufacturer (now owned by Bachmann Industries parent company) no longer being prepared to ship product to the USA.

 

It remains to be seen whether Bachmann will be able to resurrect the actual product line in the future although this seems doubtful as they would probably prefer to expand their own  brass track brand which has a slightly different profile and sleeper pattern. However, Bachmann recently launched a new range of "Eggliners" which bear a striking resemblance to the old Aristo-craft ones so watch this space.

 

Here are some of the features claimed by Aristo-craft and I have generally found them to be broadly true although not unique (see my comments in italics). One should always seek corroborating evidence and information from the various Garden Railway Forums and Magazine Reviews:

 

Conductivity 

 

Aristo-Craft's brass rail is said to have a very high percentage of copper ensuring that conductivity of their track is superlative (and claimed to be superior to that of the competition).

 

(This may still be the case but there were reports that following the near doubling of track prices in 2007 subsequent shipments from China in 2008 were reported as incorporating a lower copper composition in an attempt to keep retail prices down.)

 

The brass rail also features a very low percentage of lead which greatly inhibiting oxidation. Oxidation is the main cause or “browning" in brass rail which lowers conductivity, requires constant cleaning, and detracts from the appearance of the rail.

 

(This may well be why Aristo-craft rail appears to weather much more slowly than its counterparts.)

 

Durability 

 

Instead of being hollow, the rail in Aristo-craft track is solid for strength and performance. Aristo-craft track can endure the heaviest of locomotives plus trampling by your neighbours' kids with the greatest of ease and still perform like new!

 

(This marketing statement was no doubt intended to compete with LGB's famous marketing ploy of getting an elephant to stand on their track without damaging it – see LGB track article for the original photo. In fact, most of today's brass rail track for garden railways claim to be manufactured from solid brass.)

 

Every piece of track is strong and durable allowing it to survive outdoors in the harshest of condition. The plastic ties in Aristo-craft track are made from a high grade P.P. plastic for durability and quality.  An ultra-violet protectant stabilizer is supplied by a major U.S. chemical company who also analysed Aristo-craft's tie material to guarantee that the percentage of U.V. additive was correct.

 

(Once again this may have been true most of the time but some customers appear to have experienced UV damage to ties due to poor quality control at the Chinese factory which allowed a few shipments which were not fully UV stabilised. No doubt this was remedied in later shipments)

 

Ease of Use 

 

Track goes together securely and quickly with screw/rail-joiner system so that you'll spend more time enjoying your railroad and less time maintaining it.

 

 (This may be also true and is a practice also adopted by USA Trains and Bachmann but some maintain that the resulting joints are poor from an electrical conductivity standpoint and advocate fitting jumper wires or clamps. In my experience the 2mm hexagonal screws are very small and fiddly and can easily get dropped and lost. It helps to magnetise the special tool that come with each box of track and to place white card or paper under the track whilst you are installing it so that the screws are easier to find should this happen. This solution is not quite as elegant if you need to lift and move any track sections at a later date).

 

Range 

 

Aristo-craft's major selling advantage was the sheer range of track types available. You can opt for USA or European style sleeper spacing and either brass or stainless steel rail (and often aluminium or nickel silver variants). There are at least 13 different sizes of pre-formed curved track; 6 lengths of straight track, 9 types of switches (points) and a whole host of accessories and useful add-ons including a very nifty track gauge, re-railer and rail clamp.

 

(It is difficult to contest the view that Aristo-craft did offer the widest possible range of track groupings – especially on curved track which extended to 20’ diameter and far exceeds that of any other manufacturer, even today.)

 

Brass Track (European & USA Style) 

Perfect for the model railroader who uses track power and wants good all-round every-day use.

 

(As mentioned above the composition of Aristocraft brass rail includes a high percentage of copper and a low percentage of lead which ensures good electrical conductivity whilst inhibiting oxidisation)

 

Stainless Steel Track (USA Style only) 

‘Stainless Steel does not conduct electricity as well as brass (which is mostly pure copper) but is Ideal for those who intend to use battery power and require a high-end track product for their layout. However, this can be overcome by running an extra pair of feeder wires to the furthest point of the layout. The native conductivity is still far greater than on tubular steel track found on many O Gauge trains and Aristo-craft's formula is the most conductive of the international grades to be found.  Best of all, there is less time spent on maintenance and more time running your trains.

      

Aristo-craft USA-style Stainless Steel Track is almost impermeable to tarnishing and most outdoor debris will not stick easily to its surface. The silvery colour is more authentic to the prototype and the sleeper pattern (14 ties per foot) is appropriate to USA style trains.’

(Aristo-craft stainless steel track was reportedly made in China from an alloy of standard ‘18/8’ alloy which refers to the amount of chromium and nickel (respectively) in the product together with a minute portion of carbon.  It can easily worked and drawn to achieve a high tensile strength. The resulting rail  is strongly resistant to corrosion and oxidisation but does not conduct electricity as well as brass. It’s chief advantage was price and very little maintenance.)

Aluminium Track (Euro-Style only)      

 

‘Probably the optimum choice for the cost-conscious modeller who runs exclusively with battery power or live steam.’

      

(This track is a low-cost alternative to Brass and Stainless Steel and was introduced to the Aristo-craft European product line in 2008 (just after the price of brass went through the roof). Whilst Aluminium itself is a relatively good conductor the problem arises in creating effective joints between rails. Aluminium is difficult to solder so track power users may encounter more difficulty in operating their trains on such a layout, especially larger installations. It is also softer than other metals and can be damaged quite easily. For some reason Aluminium rail has never really caught on. However, if you confine your operations to battery power or live steam, this should not prove a problem for you and the financial savings can be put to go use elsewhere on the layout’)

Nickel Silver Track 

 

Not found in Aristo-craft’s Track Portfolio but possibly produced in small batches.    

 

Product Codes 

In preparing a preliminary draft for this section I intended to say that here were simply too many product lines to list here but they can all be found on Aristo-craft's Online Catalogue which can be viewed on their website but regrettably this is no longer the case.

It may, therefore, be helpful if I listed the main categories of track and the original dimensions just in case you are able to locate a supplier.

The company's product coding convention was as follows:

11XXX Euro-Style Brass Track (11 ties or sleepers to the foot)

12XXX Euro-style Aluminium Track (11 ties to the foot)

13XXX Code 250 Brass Track & Flex-track (more accurate scale than Code 332)

20XXX USA Stainless Steel Track (14 ties / sleepers to the foot)

30XXX USA-Style Brass Track (14 ties/sleepers to the foot)

The company's aluminium track was introduced in 2008 as a low cost alternative to stainless steel and aimed primarily at customers who employed battery powered locomotives as the electrical conductivity was inferior to both stainless steel and brassYou may still be able to obtain an old Aristo-craft Catalogue (eBay are a good source but also private book-sellers) and you can also download the complete Aristo-craft 2008-9 Catalogue from the invaluable Gartenbahn Database from the following web page link:

 

During Aristo-crafts existence they produced pre-formed straight sections in five lengths marketed as ½ Straight, One Foot, Two Foot, 3 Foot, 4 Foot 6 Inches and 5 Foot but the track was manufactured to metric dimensions very similar to those of LGB. See the actual or best estimated measurements in the table below:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curves were available in many different diameters from as little as 31” up to a massive 23’ as summarised in the table below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you might expect Aristo-craft also manufactured an array of switches (points) and crossings although the performance of the former (certainly older versions) did not quite measure up to the rest of the company’s track.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

For more detailed advice I can do no better than point you in the direction of Greg Elmassian insightful comments to be found at the following web page links:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rail Joiners:  

      

Aristo-craft track comes ready supplied with metal rail joiners

(fishplates) incorporating tiny pre-drilled holes in the side for

inserting miniature 2mm diameter stainless steel hexagonal

screws and tightening them with an either a slotted Philips

Pozidrive head screwdriver (early production) or an Allen key

(more recent manufacture)

 

These screws are stuck in pairs waxed to the underside of the sleeper (tie) strip and the relevant tightening tool is usually included when purchasing a complete box of track sections. The screws can be released from the wax by prizing them off the plastic web and placing in the hot sun or in a container of hot water. As they have a low melting point be careful not to leave the actual track in hot sun or you will return to little globules of melted red wax and hard to find screws. If you wish to use this method on other types of rail you will need a 2mm tap and drill set which was in Polk’s catalogue when they were trading but no longer available. However, you are likely to find a suitable drill in the UK from any number of suppliers.

 

When lifting track with this type of rail plate connection always remember to unscrew the rail joiners beforehand (and try not to lose them which is a strong possibility if you are as clumsy as me) or you may damage the rails.  I  eventually discovered that one way to avoid losing the miniscule screws is to place a large piece of white card or paper under the joint but this is not fool proof as they can still roll off into the ballast or soil – perhaps a piece of white material or cardboard tray might be better.

 

Availability in the UK is not as good as it was (supply seems to have been badly interrupted prior to the end of December 2013 due to the impending closure of Aristo-craft ). In the past the company occasionally made special offers via their USA retailers - unfortunately these generous deals (e.g. 3 products for the price of 2) were not usually available to loyal customers in the UK and their extensive dealer network is no more. 

Aristo-craft Track Documentation :

     

Aristo-craft “Insider” Magazine: For many years Aristo-craft published an informative house bulletin called "Insider" which covered company news, new product announcements and introductions, production processes, a current price and availability list and details of their dealer network. These are quite hard to find these days but fortunately Gartenbahn have a section devoted to this periodical on their website where you can also download copies for your own collection.

 

 

 

Aristo-craft Catalogues: Few and far between these days. Best to try and source from a specialist model railroad bookseller.

 

Overall Pros:

  • Wide choice of sizes and styles

  • The widest radius curves available

 

Overall Cons:

  • Still available but Increasingly difficult to find since company ceased trading

  • Sizes are nominal (the track lengths /radii are actually nearer to the slightly shorter metric equivalent i.e. 2’ is equal to 600m

  • Care needed to avoid breaking fragile ties/chairs from rail

  • Switches reported to exhibit some problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the present time the Bachmann Brass Track (Code 332) line-up comprises the following product

 

      

Aristo-craft Straights.PNG
Aristo-craft Points.PNG
Arist Flex Track.PNG

This is a list of Aristo-craft product Code numbers for straight track:

PRE-FORMED CURVED TRACK SECTIONS

Aristo-craft Track Joiners.jpg
Aristo-craft Points 2.PNG

Courtesy of Westnet & Paul Almquist

Note:  As is customary all dimensions are measured to the centre-line of the track. Not all these track products may have been available at any one time due to production batch scheduling in the factory.

Bachmann Track Montage.PNG

As you can see above Aristo-craft also produced a brass curved track measuring a very tight 31.5" diameter in European Style (Code ART11145) designed to fit on top of a wooden barrel which still appears at sales and on eBay from time to time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A common feature of Aristo-craft “all-weather” track is that the 2mm hex locking screws for joining sections securely through pre-drilled hole in the rail are embedded beneath the plastic tie strips under a splodge of wax.  Another attribute of Aristo-craft Track, which I must admit I missed completely (it’s always a good idea to read the instructions), is the ability to connect the track power leads to the bottom of the rail using the screw/washers incorporated to the underside of each section of track! Unfortunately, I had fixed all my track in place before discovering this feature.

Aristo-craft were not content with just having a wide selection of Code 332 track. Their extensive catalogue published in 2008 - 2009 also introduced a range of Code 250 rail and flex-track components designed to attract customers who preferred to build track-work more closer to scale.

Code 250 rail (at .25" high) is much more accurate than Code 332.

Details of Code 250 and Flex Track product options are detailed below:

Cumberland Model Engineering (USA)

Another  company that you may not necessarily have heard of is Cumberland Model Engineering based in Knoxville, Tennessee. They specialise in the production of standard gauge (and dual gauge) flexible track for the small group of modellers in 1:20.3 scale (F Scale), who would otherwise have to scratch-build  their track, in comparison to those who prefer to model in Narrow Gauge (Fn3) and enjoy a wider choice of commercially available prefabricated track.

CMELogo(155).JPG

When it comes to sourcing any Bachmann products I would urge you ignore their Recommended Retail Prices which are way in excess of the prices you can expect from a reputable retail source.

Pros:

 

  • Attractive track profile (USA pattern) ideal for US themed layouts

  • Code 320 rail produced in the same factory as Aristo-craft and USA Trains.

  • Rail joiners have extra 2mm screws for reliable connections.

Cons:

  • Hard to find a supplier in the UK

  • Tends to be more expensive than some competing brands

  • Joiners need to be 'stretched' a bit to fit with LGB

F Scale Chart 2.JPG

Prototype Standard gauge (4’81/2”) converts to 70.64mm in 1:20.3 scale which is the precise gauge to which Cumberland have set their own to accord with NMRA standards.

The lightweight track uses conventional UV-stabilised narrow moulded hollow plastic tie (sleeper) strips (but to a wider specification to accommodate the wider gauge) with miniature representations of spikes to grip the nickel silver or aluminium rail supplied by Llagas Creek which comes in a choice of Code 250 or Code 215 rail heights.

In addition to the standard gauge offering the firm also manufacture a flexible dual gauge version which incorporates a third rail inset at 45mm gauge (Gauge #1) to permit the running of narrow gauge models (Fn3). This practice was often observed on prototype railways.

Both types of track are sold in either as individual 6’ sections or boxes of 10 and you can purchase the tie strips separately and assemble your own.

Flex track comes in either standard gauge (below left) or dual gauge (below right). The images use Code 250 rail. Flex track is not actually offered ballasted or weathered as shown in the pictures but you can do it yourself..

 

Rusty rail evidenton the left is aluminum painted with Krylon rust primer. Nickel Silver does not require painting when used out-of-doors and weathers to a prototypical grey-brown. Ballast is sand and gravel with Portland cement mixed in to help ‘fix’ the mix.

See typical product list below but always check up on the company’s website for latest local availability and other F and Fn3 Scale products in their range.

You can visit their website by clicking this button link :

SG Tie Strip 005a.jpg
Three-Point Gages 006(350).jpg
SG Track (300color) 002.jpg
DG Track (400) 015.jpg

This video presentation by the smartly dressed owner, Dave Queener himself, shows some of the engineering capabilities in his workshop. His website contains useful information on modelling in F and Fn3 Scales and even British Gauge 3.

Cliff Barker (UK)  

 

Cliff Barker is a well-established UK firm based in Southend-on-Sea offering a range of Gauge 1 (Code 180 Stainless Steel or Brass), Gauge 3 (Code 250 Stainless Steel) and 16 mm track (32mm Gauge) in Standard and Finescale. The rail chairs are particularly well moulded.

 

Cliff’s website (click the button link - Talk Talk have announced that they are closing their platform so you may need to search in your browser) provides a useful guide to the development of large scale railway track together with useful tips and advice before you ‘embark on the journey’ to find the best track solution for your own railway.

 

 

 

The track is slightly unusual in that it uses Code 180 and Code 250 rail set in polypropolene sleeper strips. This combination of materials is explained on the website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GarGraves Trackage Corp. (USA) 

 

GarGraves have been around in the track business since 1940 originally supplying O gauge three rail track with tin-plated rail. Their tubular range has expanded to include two rail and outside third rail versions followed by S gauge, Standard gauge, and Gauge 1 (2 and 3 rail versions) in both tinplate and stainless steel Code 215 rail.

 

Click the accompanying button link to view full details on their website:

 

 

 

GarGraves also have their own channel on YouTube called "GarGraves Trackage": (Click button link below)

 

 

H&R Trains (USA) 

 

H&R Trains are reputed to be the largest model railway store in Florida (if anyone would care to sponsor my trip I would be happy to verify this in person!). Although they stock some other brands of Code 332 brass track (now mainly LGB) their most interesting product is less easy to find and was secreted away on a completely different website. 

This nugget is a range of stainless steel track understood to have been originally imported from TdV factory in France who specialise in wire-drawn products although production is now understood to be undertaken by Revalda AG, a Swiss company specialising in large scale model railways (see separate listing below).

 

This product formed part of H&R’s “Heritage Railroad Collection” and was described as the world’s best all-weather track. Unfortunately the bad news is that they no longer feature this track on their new store website (which is tortuous to negotiate). Fortunately for modellers this side of the pond Revalda still appear to be in full-scale production and their website can be found by clicking this button-link:

                                                          

The advantages and disadvantages of stainless steel track are explored elsewhere in this manual and Revalda cite:

 

  • Its weather resistance with only slight change of colour

       and no oxidisation

  • Virtually maintenance free

  • Compatibity with other Code 332 profiles

  • Conductivity only slightly less than brass.

 

The company produce pre-formed track straight sections track in 15cm, 16cm, 30cm, 31cm and 60cm lengths and curves of radius 60cm,75.6cm, 117.5cm upwards to 250cm although even larger radii can be 

The bigger pieces and curves from radius 117.5cm are used outside and allow the real model rail fan to construct any installation without curving any track. Giant curves, however, can be formed out of the 300 cm long  rail section using a bending machine. 

Their website does not seem to have been updated for quite a while but this is my understanding of what is currently available to order direct:

 

SP1_G1track_10pack.jpg
track_pic2 Finescale Track.jpg
bufferstopG!.jpg
H&R Curved Track.PNG
Revalda Logo.JPG
GarGraves Phantom Line.PNG
H&R Curved Track 2.PNG
Stainless Steel Table.PNG

The rail joiners are also made of stainless steel and incorporate a hole to allow any water to evaporate thus avoiding icing forming in wintertime. They also have a spring to guarantee excellent electrical contact so, in theory, you do not need any conductive paste for good contact. 

As an aside Revalda suggest that if you consider building curves like the “BRUSIO VIADUCT”  in Switzerland, you progressively install fixed radius curved track sections Radius 4 to Radius 10 in sequence avoiding the need to bend any curves at all.

 

This video should help you visualise the process. It is a most spectacular spiral loop over a viaduct and a tribute to the engineers that built it. Incidentally, the accompanying squealing sound you hear is not, apparently the brakes, but the flanges of the train wheels pressing tight against the high side of the rail. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For feeding power to the track they also recommend at least 0.75mm2 diameter cable at home and for up to 2.5mm2 for outdoor connections.

Revalda also used to produce a version with concrete ties (sleepers) but this has been discontinued.

2' Re-railer.jpg
1' Re-Railer.jpg

2' Re-railer                                                                1' Re-Railer

Straight track sections, small radius curves, points and feeder and isolating track sections.

Straight Track.jpg
Curved Track.jpg
Points.jpg
Feeder and Isolating Track with terminal

LGB (Germany)                                                                           

 

LGB’s robust Code 332 45mm gauge track has become a de facto standard against which all other tracks are measured and although it has added few new track products to its range in recent years it still offers a fairly wide choice in terms of straights, curves, points, crossovers and accessories in addition to its 1.5m flexible track (in fact more than 36 track sections and four different radii). The company aim to offer a complete track system for easy and creative track planning offering every geometry to the large scale enthusiast. 

 

If h had an observation to make it would be that their widest radius curve is still only 1800mm when many enthusiasts are still looking for a reliable source of 10' and possibly 15' radius curves for greater realism without resorting to flexible track. I suspect that after taking a bath with their stainless steel track they prefer to avoid any risk of another failure in this department.

LGB's track geometry has remained much the same since its original introduction :

lgb-tracksystem-160_large LGB TRACK GEOM

 

Unfortunately one of the most comprehensive books on the subject  “LGB Track Planning and Technical Guide Hardcover – January 1, 1987 by Robert Munzing translated by  Vincent P. Morgan  has been out of print for many years although you do occasionally see the volume listed on Ebay, Amazon and specialist book suppliers at eye-watering sums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The company's  product range is far to extensive to do justice to here and you are recommended to visit the Marklin LGB website to see this for yourself. One of LGB's strengths is it's range of short "filler" track pieces to help you connect your track when there is a little gap to be filled. These short sections include the following straights:

  • Product No: 10040  41mm / 1 5/8"

  • Product No: 10050  52mm / 2 1/16"

  • Product No: 10070  75mm / 2 15/16"

  • Product No: 10080  82mm / 3 1/14"

  • Product No; 10090  Adjustable 88-120mm 31/2" - 4 3/4"

  • Product No: 10150 150mm 5 7/8"

 

Click the button-link to find their track overview can be found here:

 

 

Due to it’s popularity a number of UK and overseas retailers stock LGB track and will usually order it in for you if not in stock. You are advised to shop around as prices can vary. It is also readily available on the second-hand market in various conditions from mint to poor. Most of it can be salvaged with a bit of elbow grease.

0028e Track Planning & technical Guide.j

Llagas Creek Railways (USA)  

 

 

Llagas Creek Railways (based in Pennsylvania) was established as long ago as 1987 with the aim of creating the most complete, realistic and reasonably priced track system for Gauge 1 railway modellers. They specialise in flexible track designed to closely resemble the US prototype with a choice of lower profile Code 250 and 215 rail in aluminium, brass or nickel silver with tie (sleeper) strips in two style to suit 1:20.3 Narrow Gauge and 1:32 Standard Gauge.

 

Their particular strong point is their ability to custom make virtually any type of switch (point/turnout) to order. In addition to track and switches, also have an extensive line of accessory and detail parts. 

 

Llagas Creek has rogressed from just aluminum, to add a very attractivee line of Nickel Silver track. Nickel Silver, also called "German silver" and "coin silver," is actually a brass alloy that looks like sterling silver; it has been used to make everything from costume jewelry to professional flutes. 

In addition, Llagas Creek is making some very good turnouts (switches) that aren't available anywhere else. They're actually handmade, but very reasonable in price compared to what else is out there.

 

I often recommend preformed curves and heavy-duty track for beginners or small railroads. But Llagas Creek stuff is quite useful and can be quite cost-effective on large railroads built by people who know what they're doing. If you've ever used "flex-track" indoors, this is closer to that sort of thing than any of the other brands, by the way.

To check out Llagas Creek's line of products, please click here. If you do get in contact with them for any reason, please tell them I send you. :-)

 

Llagas Creek Railways offers the finest Gauge 1 (45mm) G scale track in Code 215 and Code 250 rail sizes. Both rail sizes are available in Brass, Aluminum or Nickel Silver with your choice of ties - Narrow Gauge or 1:32 Standard Gauge.  All track comes assembled in 6 foot lengths.

Llagas Creek flex - track is designed to represent US prototype track. All tie strips are complete with cast in place tie plates, cast spike heads, and very realistic wood grain. Their track is clos to scale in that they offer realistically sized code 250 or 215 rail.

 

In actual use for 20 years, the company claim that they have found  this "scale sized" rail to be just as reliable on garden railways as the larger rail of other manufacturers. Code 250 rail is only 0.082 (82 thousandths of an inch) smaller than code 332 and looked at from that perspective it is understandable that perfromance is much the same.

 

The company's tie strips have also been designed to afford adequate flange clearance for reliable operation with all principle Gauge 1 trains; from suppliers such as Aristo Craft, Aster, Bachmann, LGB, USA Trains etc. Like most of their competitors they mould their tie strips from modern UV resistant plastic that is weatherproof in blazing Florida sun or freezing Alaska cold! 

The following chart shows the relation of code 215 and code 250 to prototype rail. The "code" of model rail is the height in thousands of an inch. Code 250 = 0.250 or 1/4 inch. Note of interest: the size of prototype rail is measured in pounds per yard.   

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Some examples of Llagas Creek Railways trackwork: 

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Llagas Creek 1:20.3 scale "narrow gauge look" ties measure 3.8" long x 0.3" high x 0.4" wide. Ties are spaced at 10 to the foot and slightly offset side to side for that real "narrow gauge" look. Although the tie strip is designed for 1:20.3 scale, many of their customers think it looks great with the company's 1:22.5 (G) scale trains as well. These ties accept Llagas Creek code 215 and 250 narrow base rail in cast on prototype looking tie plates with random spike heads.

Llagas Creek 1:32 scale "standard gauge" ties measure 3.18" (8.5 Ft. scale) in length. Height and width are correctly scaled at .22" x .28" ( 7" x 9" ) Tie spacing is 20 to the foot. These ties accept Llagas Creek code 215 and 250 narrow base rail. Tie plate detail is scaled from the prototype. This is the only accurately scaled U.S. prototype track available for 1:32 scale.

Below is a comparison of Llagas Creek's most popular tie styles.  The Narrow Gauge ties are on the left and our 1:32 ties(Standard Gauge) ties are on the right.

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Llagas Creek Railways also claims to offer the most accurately scaled rail profiles in the industry. All of their rail is formed in the United States.  Both Code 215 and Code 250 rail profiles have a 5.0mm base width and are interchangeable with all of their tie strips.  All rail is sold in 6 foot lengths. 

Llagas Creek Railways Code 215 and 250 narrow base aluminum rails are both made of super strong 6061-T6 alloy. This alloy is close to mild steel in tensile strength. Aluminum rail has been successfully used for many years on both indoor and outdoor track powered railways. To supply power to aluminum rail, feeder wires may be soldered to the stainless steel or nickel-silver rail joiners. Most of our customers who run live steam or battery powered radio control locos are choosing aluminum rail due to it's low cost.

Their Code 215 and 250 narrow base nickel silver rails are said to be of the finest quality and also made here in the U.S. with an 18 % nickel content. Nickel silver rail is very popular with  customers who run track power because of its low maintenance.  The biggest benefit of our Nickel Silver rail is that it naturally forms an electrically conductive oxide that does not require regular track cleaning.   When placed outdoors, the Nickel Silver will weather to a pleasing, realistic gray-brown color. After the rail weathers, you can polish the rail head back to a realistic shiny silver color for a very prototypical look.

New to Llagas, the company are now offering Brass rail in our popular Code 250 profile.  Brass rail has long been the favourite rail for beginners all the way to seasoned hobbyists. Llagas Creek Railways use one of the highest quality brass alloys available.  It has many advantages including its strength, ability to conduct electricity and ease of soldering.  Outdoors, the brass rail will weather to a very pleasing brown color.  It  is also compatible with any of the company's three tie strips. 

Turnouts (Switches or Points) - Code 215 and Code 250

On the prototype, the "switch" is the part of a turnout that actually moves the points and the tie bar.  Llagas Creek Railways turnouts are all custom made to order. All of the 1:32 turnouts are now built with plastic ties instead of stained white cedar wooden ties.  The 1:20.3 turnout ties are all made from the same plastic our tie strips are made from.   #3, #4, #5, #6, #8 and #10 frogs in Code 215 and Code 250 are white bronze castings.  Custom frogs will be made from machined Nickel Silver rail.  

 

Standard short and long points are cast in the same white bronze as the frogs.  All turnouts are assembled using stainless steel spikes.  All turnouts with cast frogs will be insulated using On the prototype, the "switch" is the part of a turnout that actually moves the points and the tie bar.  Llagas Creek Railways turnouts are all custom made to order.  

 

Code 215 & Code 250 Turnouts

Llagas Creek Code 215 and Code 250 Aluminum turnouts with solid plastic ties and stainless-steel spikes are available in brown tie 1:20.3 scale narrow gauge line. The 1:32 standard gauge line now uses plastic ties.

All Llagas Creek Code 215 and Code 250 Aluminum turnouts:

  • use a solid cast white bronze or nickel silver frog to ensure short wheel base locomotives will not stall, as they may do on plastic frogs.

  • utilise all metal frogs to provide years of smooth, trouble free performance.

  • come standard with an isolated frog, but turnouts with non-insulated frogs can be constructed using stainless steel or nickel silver rail joiners upon request.

  • and guard rails are positioned to accept wheel sets made to the "recommended practice" of 40 mm (1.575") back-to-back measurement.​ 

  • feature the Tenmille Ground Throw mounted on the curved side as standard equipment.

  • do not come 

 

Every Llagas Creek turnout comes standard with a Tenmille Ground Throw installed.  Turnouts do not come with rail joiners and turnout kits are no longer offered.  Due to the custom nature of these turnouts customers should allow up to 8 weeks for their turnout to be shipped.

 

Note: All of the dealers appointed by Llagas Creek apprear to be situated in the USA and Canada so mail order may be the only route to purchase this track.

As you might expect the vast majority of their dealers are in the USA but also in Australia and Germany. One UK outlet is listed as an authorised dealer - EDM based in York - so I have included a direct link although there is no mention of G Gauge on their website.

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Peco UK  

 

Peco (‘pee-ko') - not to be confused with PIKO (also widely pronounced 'pee-ko' ) produce their SM32 and 45mm Gauge Track in the UK.  Peco SM32 garden railway track is ideal for 16 mm 1:19 scale narrow gauge models using 32mm gauge. It is also suitable for use as a coarse O Gauge track.  With its slightly irregular 'weathered' finish sleepers, Peco SM32 track captures the narrow gauge character to produce a strong, yet readily flexible track, ideal for 32mm gauge garden railways.

 

Peco G - 45 tracks, with their moulded wooden type sleepers and code 250 Nickel Silver rail, creates a more prototypical appearance than the heavier Code 332 rails of other types. Peco G-45 track can be joined to AMS Code 332 track using special Peco rail joiners. This track is aimed at narrow gauge enthusiasts.

I have included a gallery of some of their limited range of G-45 and SM32 products. Unfortunately their full catalogue can only be downloaded to Apple IoS tablets and i-pads. Their online web presence is also a little disappointing but sheck it out for yourself using the button-link provided below.

Piko (Germany) 

 

There is certainly no shortage of large scale railway track producers in Germany and Piko (based in Sonneberg) is one of the largest and best-known model train brands in Europe and exports to the United States and other parts of the world. They market an extensive range of 45mm Gauge track similar to that supplied by LGB but as they say in their advertising “not all track is created equal –ours is better”. I tend to agree with that claim as I have been very impressed with the engineering and durability of their sectional track and the same components are employed in their flexible track kits.

 

I tend to refer to this German supplier as “Pi-ko” simply  to avoid confusion with  the UK firm of Peco but I am aware that they are both often called “Pee-ko”.

Unlike some large-scale producers, who seem a little reticent to advertise or promote their trackage systems, as if it was an afterthought, Piko seem to positively relish giving their track a high prominence and are proud to feature it as so they should be.  

Track Geometry 

 

Although similar to LGB’s and other well-known European and U.S. 45mm Gauge brass track the Piko G-Track System goes back to basics using a unique proprietary geometry that makes layout easier to plan and install. This is especially helpful when incorporating turnouts on curves or creating parallel tracks.

The design is essentially based on a 600mm (23.62”) x 160mm (6.33”) grid arrived at after extensive computer aided engineering work searching for a track that would satisfy both beginners and advanced hoobyists alike and enable virtually all track designs rto be realised without the need for short adapter pieces.. This means that whilst Piko Code 332 brass track is compatible with most other makes the design can vary and you cannot always directly replace one section with another make (or vice versa) as the footprint and angles can slightly differ.

The strong, durable track uses conventional UV-stabilised high-density polyethylene narrow gauge plastic tie (sleeper) strips with imitation wood grain and plastic chairs to retain the flat-bottomed solid brass rails. these sleepers (or ties) are more appropriate to narrow gauge  but should be alright for standard gauge operation. The brass rail joiners are already fitted and are reassuringly tight ensuring minimal voltage loss across the gaps.

This track stands up to rough treatment indoors and out and I confess to being a satisfied user (and previously an online retailer) of their products.

For straight track the grid's base length of 600mm (23.62" is partitioned into two sections of 320mm (12.66") and 280mm (10.96") in length. This makes it pssible to have parallel tracks connected by two turnout (points) without using any extra customised adapter pieces and also maintain the minimum clearances - see illustration below:

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Piko Track geometry (Straights and Curve

Examples of Piko G-Track Geometry & Track Configurations

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All Piko G-Trak is designed for indoor or outdoor use and features:

  • Code 332 (0.332" high) solid rails of pure, virgin brass for excellent electrical conductivity

  • Ties of ultra-violet stabilized HDPE (high-density polyethylene) for decades of outdoor use

  • Unique track geometry makes even complex track plans simple to build with only a few types of track sections

  • Compatible with most other brands of G-Scale track, such as LGB, USA Trains and Aristo-craft for unlimited trackwork combinations.

Piko Straight Track  

 

Straights come in a variety of lengths including several shorter lengths for particularly installing complex layouts. The only real difference compared to other Code 332 track suppliers is the substitution of 1 x G320 and 1 x G280 mm as optional replacements for the more ubiquitous 300mm standard length. The longer lengths are available in conventional 600mm and 1200mm sections as shown below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piko Curved Track Sections  

 

Following the demise of Aristo-craft, Piko have one of the largest election of pre-formed curved track sections from the omnipresent 600mm minimum radius right up to a sizeable 1,565mm (over 5' radius in old money). Do not make direct comparisons with the Radius Numbers used by LGB as they do not line up - more on this later. A full listing of curved track available at present is tabled below:

 

 

 

 

PRE-FORMED CURVED TRACK SECTIONS

Piko Turnouts / Switches / Points  

 

Piko's growing product catalogue also features left-hand and right-hand turnouts (points) corresponding to the same radii as their curved track selection. The construction of these turnouts is very solid and follows the same geometric grid devised for the complete range of G-Track products. Altogether, there are  four sizes of manual switch including an impressive curved switch which facilitates very smooth transitions on any layout. All of these points can be easily be converted for remote operation by the addition of a waterproof electric switch machine (35271). The larger turnouts also include additional 7.5 degree sections of curved track so that they can easily drop into place instead of standard curves and are fitted with a light spring mechanism which allows even a light-weight car to push the switch blade over if it should be approaching in the 'wrong direction' thus avoiding a derailment.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following YouTube Videos describe the points in detail:

To complete our survey of Piko G Gauge track I should also mention their G-K-30 Crossing (Item Code No: 35240) incorporating two interconnecting straights set at 30 degrees as the name suggests.  This is rarely needed but can look impressive in a yard or where a number of parallel tracks are involved.

There are also a number of accessories available and also components to make your own track, namely:

Flexible Tie Strip (35230 and 35231), Brass Rail in 3000 mm (35250) and 1500 mm (35251) lengths, Track Bumper (35280), Track Clips (35285), Metal Rail Joiners (35292), Insulated Rail Joiners (35292), Metal Tie Joiners (35291), an Electric Switch Machine (35271), Lighted Switch Lantern (35266), Relay Contacts (35265), Power Clamp (35270).

To summarise:

Pros:

  • Extensive range of track sections, wide radius points and flexible track components

  • Solid construction 

  • Tight rail joiners (+ brass connectors if required)

 

Cons:

  • None that I am aware of but the track geometry is quite different to LGB so if you are trying to mix and  match take care to check footprint and dimensions.

Sunset Valley Railroad (USA) 

 

Sunset Valley Railroad is another track supplier that enjoys a large following in there home country but may not be quite so familiar to large-scale modellers here in the UK. They concentrate on producing a comprehensive model railroad track system for 45mm ( commonly called G gauge), 32mm (O gauge) and dual gauge using code 250 rail (1/4" inch high), used primarily for garden layouts.

    

Not only do they make track but also complementary mechanical and pneumatic switch operating systems.

 

I have deliberately stressed the description ‘system’ as this track is a self-assembly job for those garden railroaders who prefer to make their own but like to rely on well engineered professionally manufactured parts ideally suited for the task.

 

With this in mind Sunset Valley Railroad (SSVR) supply packs of components sufficient to assemble into 6’ lengths of either Code 250  or Code 332 45mm gauge in mainline (1:29; 1:32), narrow gauge (1:20.3) and even dual 3-rail 32mm / 45 mm gauge.

 

Each pack comes with enough components to assemble discrete 6ft sections, and comprises 2 lengths of rail (looks as if it might be ‘pre-weathered’  from the photos), 6 tiestrips of 1 ft each and 2 railjoiners. As well as track, “packs” you can also purchase rail and ties separately. The website also list a selection of joiners  joiners and clamps to connect various pieces of track. They also supply special clamps (RJ CL LGB) to connect their code 250 track to code 332 track, such as AristoCraft, LGB, USA Trains, Bachmann, etc.

 

When ordering you need to specify the particular track configuration thet you require with the suffix, AL for aluminum, BR for brass, NS for Nickel Silver and SS for Stainless, for example TR BR is mainline brass track.