Following is my initial review of the new Accucraft Code 332 flex track, ordered in 6' lengths, euro / narrow gauge style:
What's in the box:
(Qty 12) 6' lengths of flex track,
(Qty 27) (odd?) rail joiners,
2 extra sets of 11 ties (approx 1 foot each).
Each section of track arrived straight and unkinked, already assembled with 6 sections of 11 plastic ties. The length of each rail is EXACTLY 6 feet - no metric lengths here. This makes it approx 1 1/8" longer than a 6 foot equivalent length (1800 mm) of Aristo track. The way it comes assembled leaves about 2 inches of bare rail (no ties) at each end, which I think will come in useful if the rail is bent - no ties at the end to get in the way. If left straight, the extra ties included would be easy to slide on. The track is in gauge with the other brands of track I own (Aristo and USAT).
The ties (see photo below) are brown, similar to the LGB tie color, and have square ends, most similar to USA Trains ties. Just like other track it has a nail hole every few ties. The ties are not secured to the rail in any way other than friction - this is true flex track - and I found that bending the track was actually rather simple, just by using two hands. The track would try to return to its natural position, of course, but if someone did not own a rail bender, this track could very easily be bent and secured to some sort of foundation. (I model indoors, so for me, plywood would work just fine.) Although the ties are not physically secured, I found them to be on the rail tight enough for normal use. While the ties arrive fairly uniform, I found that by squeezing a few of them together, a "backwoods" look can be achieved. Also, each tie is held to the next on alternative sides (similar to Atlas HO flex track), making the rail easy to bend to an 8' diameter equivalent or tighter, just by using two hands.
The rail is brass, and appears to be very close to identical to other brands. BUT - the rail base and tops are approx 1/64" wider than Aristocraft track (and I would assume LGB and USAT as well). So joining the rails to Aristo track is quite easy using the included AML rail joiners, but I found it impossible to slide an Aristo rail joiner on without doing some slight filing. Also, when joining the two types, some slight filing might be needed on the inside of the rail joint to ensure a smooth transition. Don't let that scare you - it is an extremely
small amount of filing that would be needed - perhaps only one or two passes with a good file. It is a minimal difference, but one that needs to be pointed out.
The rail joiners are similar to LGB - i.e. no screws - and held in place by friction. I found them easy to slide on and off, but for permanent use, I would either drill and tap an Aristo screw, or at the very least use a pliers to make the joiner a little tighter.
Overall, I found this track to meet my expectations. The only flaw would be the very slightly wider rail - but it is a minor complaint. The only time it would be an issue is when joining this track to another brand, and then would only take 15 seconds of maintenance to get them to mate. This is my first attempt at using flex track, so I cannot compare it to, say, LGB flex. But I am pleased with this purchase and hope my review helps others. Feel free to fire away with questions - I will try to answer them whenever I get a chance!
- Inexpensive compared to similar brands
- Bends very easily using just two hands
- Extra tie strips included
- Will not accept Aristocraft rail joiners without filing rail
- Rail top very slightly wider (1/64") than other brands
- Included rail joiners not as tight as desired
What's in the box - Track, Rail joiners, extra tie sections:
Accucraft flex on the left, Aristo straight section on the right:
Closeup of the ties and spike detail:
An EXTREME closeup of the difference in rail widths. Aristo on the top, Accucraft on the bottom. Although very slight, it is enough that an Aristo rail joiner will not slide on. (At the base is an AML rail joiner)