Track Suppliers: A - B
American Main Line (AML)
American Model Supply (AMS)
Bachmann Trains Track
Major International Sellers of 32mm and/or 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;
AMERICAN MAINLINE (AML) - subsidiary of Accucraft
ARISTO-CRAFT (USA) - Closed its doors for business on 31st December 2013 but products may still be available from POLKGENERATIONNEXT (abruptly ceased training)
BACHMANN INDUSTRIES - Proprietary Steel Alloy Track and Brass Track
CLIFF BARKER RAIL TRACK (UK) - Code 180 and 200 track
CUMBERLAND MODEL ENGINEERING (USA) 1:20.3 Scale (“F” and “Fn3”) Code 250 flexible track for standard and dual gauge.
GARGRAVES TRACKAGE CORPORATION (USA) - specialising in G Gauge track
GMTS (GERMANY) - GMTS Brinkmieir GmbH retailer specialising in model vehicles but also sells 45mm garden railway track?
H&R TRAINS (USA) - 'the world's best stainless steel track'
LLAGAS CREEK RAILWAYS (USA) - Code 215 and Code 250 components in aluminium or nickel silver in different tie patterns for NG, SG or "G"
LGB (GERMANY) - De facto standard for G Gauge Narrow Gauge 45mm track
MARKLIN - owners of LGB and their own separate ranges of track for standard gauge operations.
MICRO-ENGINEERING (USA) - G-Trak range of sectional and flexi track
PECO (UK) - pronounced 'pee-ko' Code 250 track
PIKO (GERMANY) - I prefer to pronounce the name as 'pie-ko' to differentiate from Peco UK but many others (including the company itself, insist on 'pee-ko' which only adds to the confusion - An ever expanding range of Code 332 profile brass track including straights, curves, points, crossovers and accessories. A strong player in Europe and growing force in the USA especially with the demise of
Aristo-craft and MTH.
TRAINLINE45 (SWITZERLAND): Suppliers of Code 332 (Gauge 1) track
TRAIN-LI (USA) - US distributors for TrainLine45 amongst other brands.
USA TRAINS (USA) A range of Code 332 brass track in several lengths and pre-formed curved sections.
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:
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.)
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).
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.
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 brass. You 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-craft’s many years of 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:
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 on this subject 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:
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.
Wide choice of sizes and styles
The widest radius curves available
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
This is a list of Aristo-craft product Code numbers for straight track:
PRODUCT CODES FOR CURVED TRACK SECTIONS
PRODUCT DETAILS FOR CURVED TRACK SECTIONS
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 necessarily have been available at any one time due to production batch scheduling in the factory.
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. This is extremely tight and it is difficult to see what locomotive might have been able to negotiate such a radius other than an "Egg-Liner".
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:
AML American Main Line Track (USA)
Whilst the name may be unfamiliar to to many newcomers to the hobby this supplier is an operational arm of the more well-known Accucraft Model Trains based in Mountain View, California since 1994. Accucraft appear to concentrate on more sophisticated model trains in scales 1:13.7, 1:19, 1:20.3, 1:24 and 1:48 whereas AML tend to specialise in 1:29 scale and Gauge 1 (45mm) track. They have their own factory in China and a distribution network in Europe, UK and Asia.
AML American Mainline were established in 2001 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Accucraft Trains. Its original aim was to provide a focused and dedicated approach to the large 1:29 scale model train market. Indeed AML claim to be the first to introduce live steam locomotives in 1:29 scale including the Pennsylvania Railroad K-4 Class 4-6-2; the Baltimore & Ohio 0-4-0 Slope-Back Tender and 0-4-0 Dockside Switchers; along with the USRA 0-6-0 Switcher. They have subsequently added a whole range of Electric & Live Steam locomotives and Freight Cars including Box Cars, Reefers, Freight Cars, Stock Cars, and Hoppers.
In this section I will confine myself to AML’s impressive range of track products which reflect the quality standards observed by their parent company Accucraft in it’s other model railroading activities.
The company’s website does not appear to get updated very often as when it was last up and running in 2018 it was still announcing exciting new products for release in 2016!
Somewhat confusingly the name AMS (American Model Supply) also keeps popping up as an Accucraft Division when searching for their track although this organisation seems to concentrate on On30 scale, 1:20.3 Scale; 1:24 scale products other than actual locomotives but also Code 250 track (with the lower rail profile) which otherwise appears similar to AML track. For the time being I will encompass any AMS products under the AML umbrella.
AML chose to develop their track offerings in conformance with the prevailing benchmarks followed by their competitors using Code 332 (Gauge 1) brass alloy rail profile attached to the customary brown UV stabilised tie (sleeper) strips which have become universal. The brass version comes in either USA Standard Gauge style (compatible with 1:29 scale) or European Narrow Gauge Style (easily distinguishable by the differing sleeper dimensions and spacing).
The track is also available in stainless steel and aluminium (or aluminum as the American' say) versions.
Where they tend to diverge from their counterparts is only supplying straight track in flexible form (3' and 6' length) - the latter can sometimes prove difficult and rather costly to ship as standard parcels). The Accucraft website also features an intriguing European Narrow Gauge Aluminum flexible track measuring only 12" Product Number G290-03) but I suspect this to be a tie strip. The appearance of both USA and Euro styles is visually attractive and just as rugged and durable as other popular makes although they may take a little longer to acquire that darker patina.
AML also offer a customary selection of curved sectional track in eleven diameters (Euro and USA styles) which is akin to that originally manufactured by Aristo-craft and deserves to be more widely available. I understand that AML have their own production plant and dealer network so this should not pose an insurmountable problem.
All of these track products have an attractive and tough appearance and unlike some other versions maintains an uniform tie spacing, even across the joints, when AML track is used exclusively. Whilst theoretically compatible with other similar brands of Code 332 track such as LGB, Piko & Aristo-craft you may encounter some difficulty when connecting to other makes as the shorter rail joiners employed to achieve this feature may not grip sufficiently or the longer rail joiners on the other brands may need to be adjusted to avoid clashing into the opposing ties.
Close-up of AML Narrow Gauge Ties
US Style Ties for Standard Gauge
European Narrow Gauge style ties
Straight Track – Flexi
Brass - USA Style - Code 332
G201-01 6’ Flex Track, Brass, USA Style, 12 pieces to box
G201-02 6’ Flex Track, Brass, USA Style, 6 pieces to box
G201-03 3’ Flex Track, Brass, USA Style, 12 pieces to box
Brass - European Narrow Gauge Style - Code 332
G202-01 6’ Flex Track, Brass, Euro Narrow Gauge Style, 12 pieces to box
G202-02 6’ Flex Track, Brass, Euro Narrow Gauge Style, 6 pieces to box
G202-03 3’ Flex Track, Brass, Euro Narrow GaugeStyle, 12 pieces to box
Stainless Steel - USA Style - Code332
G241-01 6’ Flex Track, Stainless Steel, USA Style, 12 pieces to box
G241-02 6’ Flex Track, Stainless Steel, USA Style, 6 pieces to box
G241-03 3’ Flex Track, Stainless Steel, USA Style, 12 pieces to box
Stainless Steel – European Narrow Gauge Style - Code332
G242-01 6’ Flex Track, Stainless Steel, Euro Narrow Gauge Style, 12 pieces to box
G242-02 6’ Flex Track, Stainless Steel, Euro Narrow Gauge Style, 6 pieces to box
G242-03 3’ Flex Track, Stainless Steel, Euro Narrow Gauge Style, 12 pieces to box
Aluminium – European Narrow Gauge – Code 332
G291-01 6’ Flex Track, Aluminium, Euro Narrow Gauge Style, 12 pieces to box
G291-03 1’ Flex Track, Aluminium, Euro Narrow Gauge Style, 12 pieces to box
Curved Track (Sections)
Brass, European Narrow Gauge- Code 332
G213-04 4’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 12 pieces per box
G213-05 5’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 12 pieces per box
G213-06 6.5’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 12 pieces per box
G213-08 8’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 16 pieces per box
G213-09 9’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 12 pieces per box
G213-10 10’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 12 pieces per box
G213-11 11.5’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 16 pieces per box
G213-12 12.5’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 16 pieces per box
G213-15 15’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 16 pieces per box
G213-16 16’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 16 pieces per box
G213-20 20’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Brass, Euro Style, 16 pieces per box
Aluminium, European Narrow Gauge- Code 332
G293-04 4’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Aluminium, Euro Style, 12 pieces per box
G293-08 8’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Aluminium, Euro Style, 16 pieces per box
G293-10 10’ Diameter, Curve Track, Code 332, Aluminium, Euro Style, 12 pieces per box
Code 250 Flexible Track
Accucraft also offer a limited range of lower profile Code 250 45mm Narrow Gauge and Standard Gauge flexible track with a choice of solid brass or aluminium rails in 5' lengths. They are all product codd with an AM prefix which is presumably to designate them falling under the American Mainline brand:
AM39-101 Code 250 45mm Gauge 5' Flex Track - Narrow Gauge - Brass (Box of 12)
AM49-101 Code 250 45mm Gauge 5' Flex Track - Standard Gauge - Brass (Box of 12)
AM39-191 Code 250 45mm Gauge 5' Flex Track - Narrow Gauge - Aluminium (Box of 12)
AM49-191 Code 250 45mm Gauge 5' Flex Track - Standard Gauge - Aluminium (Box of 12)
There are also matching large radius points (switches) for manual operation:
AM39-110 Code 250 45mm Gauge #6 Switch - Narrow Gauge - Brass- Manual Left
AM39-111 Code 250 45mm Gauge #6 Switch - Narrow Gauge - Brass- Manual Right
As yet there do not appear to be any corresponding switches in aluminium.
By all accounts this range of sizes comes close to matching those that Aristo-craft used to offer and yet Accucraft seem to be hiding their light under the proverbial bushel preferring to let their main distributors in each country promote their product range. This low profile may be down to the fact that their locomotives and rolling stock are extremely popular (and limited runs) thus invariably selling by themselves with customers clamouring to put their orders in.
I do feel that their excellent track would benefit from a wider audience and a slightly different style of promotion to attract potential customers who may be unaware of the brand and the competitive prices. Possibly this is also a question of limited production runs and rationed availability likely to leave customers disappointed.
If you tried to source most of the above products in the UK at the present time, whether from Accucraft UK direct or via their approved dealers, I think you would be hard-pressed to acquire matching straights, curves and points from a single source.
The company also manufacture a selection of well designed Points / Switches / Turnouts in a variety of materials and styles with live frogs.
I very much like the well designed switch stands. The current range of switches is as follows:
G218-8L 4' Radius Switch - Euro Narrow Gauge - Code 332 Brass - Manual Left Hand
G218-8R 4' Radius Switch - Euro Narrow Gauge - Code 332 Brass - Manual Right Hand
G218-0L Switch#6 - Euro Narrow Gauge - Code 332 Brass - Manual Left Hand (with Switch Stand)
G218-0R Switch#6 - Euro Narrow Gauge - Code 332 Brass - Manual Right Hand (with Switch Stand)
G218-NL Switch#6 - Euro Narrow Gauge - Code 332 Brass - Manual Left Hand (No Switch Stand)
G218-NR Switch#6 - Euro Narrow Gauge - Code 332 Brass - Manual Right Hand
AMS (American Model Supply) Track (USA)
There are also listings for the similar track under the AMS brand (also a subsidiary of Accucraft). It may be that the company are restricting their Code 332 profile track to the AML brand and their Code 250 to their AMS distribution channel. I notice that the AMS brand is imprinted on the underside of the rail ties. All a bit confusing so if you cannot locate the track under AML try searching for AMS or Accucraft.
For more track details please click on the button link below:
Availability in the UK is decidedly sparse to say the least and the recent fall in the pound dollar exchange rate has made AML/AMS products a little more expensive (albeit prices still reflect good value for money) and once the financial markets eventually settle down this could improve matters (if only UK outlets could manage carry the complete range most of the time).
o Excellent solid track
o Good appearance
o Very limited availability in the UK
o Early production rail height was variously reported as 0.336" (Code 336) to as much as 0.338" (Code 338) which may have inhibited initial sales but it looks as though Accucraft have already sorted this out now and all their track is now said to be fully compatible with other popular brands such as LGB, Aristo-craft and Piko. On balance this is probably of little consequence, and possibly even within manufacturing tolerances. Relatively easy to remedy by judicious use of a file if you need to match with other makes.
Bachmann Trains (USA)
Until fairly recently Bachmann Trains (reputed to be the largest model train manufacturer in the world) only produced an extremely limited selection of proprietary rolled steel track sections comprising 12" (300 mm) straights, small radius 1 (2' or 600 mm radius) curves, a pair of radius 1 manual points (switches or turnouts) and a 90° crossing.
This proprietary Steel Alloy Track is made from thin strips of hollow tubular steel bent into the shape of a rail and then tin plated.
Bachmann still supply ovals of this track with their popular complete starter train sets but is only really suitable for indoor use and is incompatible with other makes obliging customers to extend their layout with less durable rolled steel.
It is best avoided altogether by serious modellers except for constructing indoor test tracks or running your train around the Christmas tree.
In 2011 the company decided to introduce a completely new range of G Gauge brass sectional track based on North American Narrow Gauge practice in order to compete more effectively in the market-place. Many customers had requested a range of track suitable for outdoor use and which might eventually be included in their train sets without sourcing from their main competitors although as at 2019 this still remains a wishful expectation.
On the face of it this seems a sensible move as the lack of robust all-weather track has always been a glaring omission in their otherwise impressive product range.
They initially released a range of 2 lengths of straight track (2’
and 3’ lengths) and 3 radii (4’,5’ and 8’ diameter) of curved track,
all consistent with the conventional solid brass 332 Code profile,
although this variant has a V-shape bevel indented into the entire
length of the otherwise flat bottom rail . This is claimed by
Bachmann to be an innovative design improvement to actually
make the rail a little bit stronger whilst fortuitously using less
brass thus making the track more economical to produce.
This old YouTube video courtesy of Large Scale Online takes a close look at the brass track when it was first introduced:
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. It's a bit like the sales tactics of carpet and bed companies who are always quoting 50% off special!
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 although you have to undo them before connecting track sections
Hard ( if not virtually impossible) to now find a supplier in the UK
Tends to be a lot more expensive than some competing brands
Joiners need to be 'stretched' a bit to fit with LGB rails.
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 :
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 here:
For details of their full track range click on the button link below:
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.
LGB 600mm Curves
LGB 19902 Extension Pack
LGB LH POINT 12100
LGB 600mm Curves
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.
Some examples of Llagas Creek Railways trackwork:
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.
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 are 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 so be prepared to wait a while.
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 appear 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.
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 check it out for yourself using the button-link provided below.
I have to confess that after selling this make of track on my G Scale Online website for many years with many customers who were repeat buyers I tried it myself and although I also use Aristo-craft, LGB and USA Trains track on my garden layout Piko still predominates - mainly due to the tight fitting on the rail joiners which ensures good electrical continuity.
Describe your image
Describe your image
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.
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 possible 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:
Examples of Piko G-Track Geometry & Track Configurations
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 beapproaching 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. You may also see an occasional reference to a 45 degree crossing but to my knowledge this type was never released.
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).
Extensive range of track sections, wide radius points and flexible track components
Tight rail joiners (+ brass connectors if required)
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.
When ballasted these tracks can look very realistic in both narrow gauge and standard gauge versions. The third image in this sequence shows outdoor track 12 years after it was installed:
No track system would be complete without a matching set of turnouts and Sunset Valley do not disappoint on this score either. In fact they offer no less than 37 different types of Switches manufactured from brass, nickel or stainless steel. There are no aluminium versions as the metal is just to soft to produce finely edged point rails durable enough to stand up to the impact of heavy wheels. Sunset recommend using stainless steel ones in stead.
You can view full details of all the switches including associated switching gear by clicking the button link here:
Four rail types
None really but sourcing may need to be direct from the USA (and 6’ long rails are notoriously difficult -and expensive - to pack, protect and transport).
Train Line 45 are a Swiss supplier of Gauge-1 sectional track and components are are distributed in the USA by Train Li-USA. Their products observe the traditional features of virtually every other European manufacturer of Code 332 sectional track for 1:22.5 scale with brass rail attached to sturdy UV-stable brown plastic ties in a Euro sleeper style. It can also be supplied as nickel-plated.
Straight track comes in lengths of 300mm (c. 1'); 600mm (c.2') and 1200mm (c.4'). Curves are limited to 900mm (c.3') and 1200mm (c.4') radii to match LGB's R2 and R3 but are not identical or indeed Piko's R' designations so watch out if you are intending to "mix and match". The track sections are also connected in such a way as not to leave an unsightly gap in the middle unlike several other manufacturers but this results in slightly shorter rail joiners so one has to make compromises.
They also offer moulded standard and flexible sleeper strip in two forms (both approx. 1' long) together with 5' and 8' lengths of rail in a choice of brass or stainless-steel for those modellers who build their own trackwork. They also supply a somewhat unusual 3-sleeper tie section caled a "Swiss" tie which snap together to form whatever length you have in mind. Sounds a bit complicated but once you get used to them may have some benefit.
To complete the ensemble they have matching switches which have tapered ends to the point where they join the stock rails. All in a all a useful addition to the track family but possibly more expensive coming from Switzerland.
Describe your image
Märklin Gauge 1 Track - Spur 1 - ( Germany )
Whereas it is generally well known that the German firm of Märklin now own LGB it may not be so widely known they also have a separate line of Gauge 1 (1:32 scale) model railways products under their own badge including a range of track items.
Not being too familiar with the Märklin product range when I came to review their current production I was somewhat taken aback by the sheer variety of sectional curved track available but equally perplexed by the somewhat bizarre item code designations in use. Once I had created a track schematic for the 9 different radii (represented by 12 coded curved track items) it all became a little clearer but the justification for a 4 number code as opposed to a 5 number code defeats me.
It suspect it may be something to do with the acquisition of track tooling, moulds and residual stocks that Märklin acquired from a supplier Hübner Feinwerktechnik GmbH (a company based in Tuttlingen - Southern Germany) when the founder, Wolfgang Huber was forced to give up his business in 2005 due to ill-health.
Hübner had produced Gauge 1 (1/32nd scale) model trains and accessories for Märklin from 1982 until 1992 when Hübner decided to sell its products under the company's own name. In 1998 the collaboration with Märklin and all tools and the remaining stocks of the company were taken over by Märklin in August 2007.
It it rumoured that the quality of the Hübner products was somewhat superior to even Märklin’s “unsurpassed” reputation for high quality but these ‘legacy’ items might account for the proliferation of track types now available.
It is also not entirely clear which items originated from which company but it would seem that Item Codes 59051 to 59080 may reflect Hübner involvement as they have a subsidiary ‘H’ number in parenthesis. If any reader can throw any light on the matter I would much appreciate it.
Somewhat unusually for railway track manufacturers Märklin seem a little reticent to specify the materials actually used in their track production but stainless steel rail seems to be the most likely constituent. Although this type of track is eminently suited for outdoor applications there can be problems with loss of conductivity at section rail joints. Märklin may be overcoming this by incorporating a small quantity of nickel but again it is not entirely clear from their website.
The track itself seems primarily intended for 1:32 scale (standard gauge) and the sleeper patterns would seem to reflect this although there is no real reason to prevent one form using it for other purposes.
Märklin Gauge 1 Curves
The Marklin range of Spur 1 curved tracked sections is quite impressive and covers 12 (twelve) different radii making it relatively easy to construct parallel tracks or easements:
In addition to the curved track section collection Märklin also market a large assortment of straight track sections from a miniscule 59.5mm (Item Codes 5916 and 59051) up to a full 900mm (Item Codes 59033 and 59061 – both with 45 sleepers by my count).
Märklin Curve 59075 Märklin Straight 59055 Märklin Curve 59071
Märklin Curves 5922 Märklin Straight 59057
The following Company Data Sheets may help to gain a better understanding of the track geometry:
You can also construct your own straight or curved track in lengths up to 900mm and with a radius of 1020mm or greater using an innovative kit of parts (Item Code 5998). In lieu of conventional pre-cut sleeper/tie strips you are supplied with individual asymmetrical plastic sleepers (the snap connectors are of two different sizes set 1mm apart) which may be connected in a particular sequence to create either straight or curved track with a 20mm distance between ties – ingenious! In this way larger radii can be produced up to 3000 mm which is quite impressive. See Diagram.
Apparently the matching rail can be bent by hand which would suggest that it is not brass which is notoriously difficult to curve accurately without bends and subsequent wastage of what is a very expensive component.
I don't believe that I have come across quite this approach adopted before but there seems no reason why it should not prove a satisfactory solution to most modellers needs for authentic sweeping curves. Being all “fingers and thumbs” myself (these days I expect the phrase would be “manual dexterity challenged” ) I just don’t envy the large scale modeller the job of feeding the rails through hundreds of chairs.
Naturally the choice does not end there as Märklin also market matching points/turnouts/switches ranging from the common Radius 1 600mm Left Hand (5965) and Right Hand (5966) pair through the wider radius 1020mm Left Hand (5976) and Right Hand (5977) and 1394mm Left Hand (59088) and Right Hand (59087) forms up to an imposing 2321mm extra wide radii Left Hand (59084) and Right Hand (58083). There is even a set of useful Curved Points in a 1394mm / 1550mm combination in Left Hand (59805) and Right Hand (59086) styles.
For those who enjoy complex track formations you can even obtain a 1394mm Double Slip (59093); a 1394mm Three Way Turnout (59091) and even a” Hosentrager Mittelteil (Centre Section of a Double Crossover - I had to look that up) which can be combined with Item Codes 59087-59088 or 59093+59092 to produce a fine piece of model railway engineering.
Märklin also produce a range of accessories for Gauge 1 including intricate switch stands and old-time ‘buffers’ as illustrated below (but make sure you get the right version) for your track installation:
Märklin G1 RH Point Switch Stand Märklin G1 LH Point Switch Stand
Given the impressive credentials of the Märklin Group, the quality of their products, and the impressive selection of track available I am a little nonplussed as why they should wish to hide their light under the proverbial bushel as far as the UK is concerned.
Surely there must be a sizeable market for Gauge 1 Standard Gauge track to complement their existing Narrow-Gauge range represented by LGB (now also owned by Märklin)? Perhaps it is a case of ineffective representation in the UK marketplace rather then the company’s lack of interest but if they wish to compete with Piko they surely need to establish a more visible presence and retail outlets other than the omni-present eBay.
Incidentally Märklin use Alternating Current (A/C) to power their Gauge1 (Spur 1) trains unlike LGB who use Direct Current (D/C).
Link to Marklin / Hübner track:
Märklin Spur 1 Website:
· Long established who have invested heavily in Gauge 1 in recent years.
· Excellent range of sectional track
· Innovative “flexible track” offering
· Availability somewhat limited
· Suffers from lack of promotion and retail outlets in the UK market
And last, but certainly not least, in our quick world tour of major G Gauge track manufacturers is USA Trains who may not be as visible as some others this side of the pond still have a devoted following - mainly due to the incredible range of products they supply but also the quality of what they manage to produce.
I have incorporated USA Trains Code 332 track on my own layout and it mixes well with Aristo-craft, Piko, LGB and the like.
USA Trains is based in Malden, Massachusetts and is one of the major players in the large-scale model railway marketplace. It is owned by Charles Ro, one of, if not the largest model train stores in the States. The company started manufacturing large-scale models railways in 1982 when their supply from Lionel was interrupted.
USA Trains’ brass track is very similar to that produced by Aristo-craft but does not appear to be as widely available in the UK or come in quite the same variety of types and materials. Nevertheless there is a choice of 4 straight sections (6", 12", 24" and 60") and no less than 5 curved sections up to 20' Diameter (4', 5', 8', 10', 16' and 20' Diameter). Their range also includes wide radius and standard 4’ diameter remote controlled switches (points/turnouts).
USA Trains track is all made from solid brass with a traditional Code 332 flat-bottomed profile firmly fixed into UV protected simulated American pattern ties (sleepers) using a combination of strong chair “spikes” strengthened by screws from below to hold everything in alignment. It also employs much the same slide-on screw-in brass rail joiners apprach used by Aristo-craft and now Bachmann with the same tiny hex screws to improve electrical conductivity.
The latter prove troublesome and you are advised to magnetise your hex driver or apply a small blob of grease to the end to hold the screw in place whilst you insert same. A magnet is also useful to retrieve any un-co-operative screws that inevitably drop into the ballast – see my earlier suggestion to place a sheet of white card underneath the track whilst carrying out this type of operation.
The track tie strip also has small holes drilled at regular intervals along the centre of each tie strip to provide for fixing to the roadbed.
It is possibly worth mentioning that USA Train track also has an angled ‘lug’ in the bottom of each rail joiner to retain it in position on the tie strip. This practice is also followed by LGB. USA Trains track is compatible with most other Code 332 types although you may have to use a bit of gentle persuasion when initially joining different makes.
The pre-formed Straight and Curved track sections are
complemented by three sizes of turnout (switch/point) –
a No.6 large diameter switch in right and left-hand
configuration, an 8’ diameter turnout (image left) and a
10’ diameter point for a more realistic appearance.
Unusually, they all incorporate all-metal frogs and also
come equipped for remote control electrical operation
using simple A,B,C, D connections and red/green
indicator lights so you can’t go wrong when installing
them. The switches also feature Lighted Lanterns
showing the direction of travel the switch is set for – a
nother useful visual check and further enhancing their
value for money.
All in all, track selection is very workmanlike and should serve you well if you are able to source it at a reasonable price. Depending on the exchange rates and shipping costs prevailing at the time you may get a reasonable deal from a USA stockist (especially direct from Charle Ro although several other dealers seem to stock the track).
For more detailed information on USA Trains track watch this Large Scale Online Video:
Solid durable construction
Useful additional switch features
Hard to find in the UK
No flexible version