I have about 200 feet of the narrow gauge stuff down for 2-3 years- used no bender. It is code 250 so is easy to bend. Profile is the same as Sunset Valley, with a slightly larger rail web for strength. Without a bender you will always end up with a straight piece a few inches long on each end, that you must sacrifice if you want smooth continuous curves.
I've been interested in this stuff myself, in code 332 brass. From what I have been able to gather, it's hand bendable but you'll get better results with a railbender. What I'm curious to know is.. once bent, does it retain it's shape or does it want to straighten out? If I bend a nice custom curve will I need to secure it to the roadbed to hold it's shape or can I allow it to float on the roadbed and retain the curvature ????
I have been using AMS code 250 brass for about 3 years now.
I have used it on nothing smaller than 8" radius. It is all hand bent.
As Jonathan said you have a little straight at the ends you have to deal with.
When bending to 8' radius I over bend and let it spring back, but it will not
hold a true radius you have to fasten it down.
I use the narrow gauge tie pattern and it works very well for me. I'm using
Sunset Valley and Llagas Creek switches so have to do a little creative connecting
because of the different foot sizes, but not a big deal. One thing I have noticed
is that the AMS brass is a very brittle mixture compared to some other brass mixtures.
It hasen't been a problem but it is a fact.
Just my opinion.
I used some AMS 250 brass track with the narrow gauge ties to build a test figure 8 track with 4.5' radius'. I fastened it down because it would spring back, but not quite straight.
However, these 5' track section were difficult to bend to radius but I figured out a way to make them bend about as easy as Atlas HO 3' flextrack (which is very easy to work with.) Hold or set the 5' track piece level and spray it at about a 30 degree angle with silicone lube, first down one side and then the other (one pass on each side gets both rails and their ties,) then hold the track piece in the center with the ties vertical and gently shake it up and down four or five times (as the rails slide in their tieplates this works the silicone lube under the clamping/holding tieplates.) Now the piece is very easy to bend.
As info I did not paint the rails.
Also, as I went around I sporadically temporarily secured the track sections to the roadbed as I put them together, but when I completed a loop (to the 30 degree crossing) I took the screws out, lifted the connected track sections up about 3" every 5' or so and let them drop back. Then I gave them the final fastening because the lift & drop exercise let the rails form their own loop into a perfectly beautiful smooth curve all the way around (no "kinks." And yes, it didn't settle back onto the roadbed perfectly centered, but it was fully supported and besides that's what ballast is for right? (To hide imperfections?)
Rick, when you say brittle, would you say it is not a good idea to use it where it freezes in the winter and 100 degrees in the summer? I do recall now that there was someone that tore up a bunch of track, not sure if it was AMS or another brand?
Doug, that is a great tip on "priming" the track before bending Funny, your 9' diameter is exactly what I would need. Also, thanks for the tip on securing the track. How long have you had your track and is it outside?
I have been promoting flex track for some time, and had a hard time believing any of it could be bent without a bender. However I finally got the Accucraft product in stock, and found it to be much easier to bend than other brands like LGB, Piko, Aristo without a mechnical bender. The brass must be a softer alloy. But it does retain its shape after bending.
When I say brittle I mean it is harder and more brittle than common yellow brass.
That is just an observation not a condemnation.
Like I said I have used it for about 3 years now and really like it. We have just barely freezing
weather in the winter and into the 110 range in the summer. No noticeable effect besides the
Well, you're not going to like this. I had the track down outside for about 4 months only (about May into Sept.) I was using it as a figure 8 test track for locos, and it worked perfectly (and I used Hillman rail clamps.) However - during the summer the wife and I negotiated a shed that we fixed up as a separate room for her, and at the time I thought it would be placed "over there." Well, the best place turned out to be, and I'll admit it, right where my figure 8 was.
Since the track was on concrete roadbed (with pieces of plastic lumber inserted at 15" intervals for securing the track,) I had to break the roadbed up. After removing the track I tried pulling the roadbed in one piece first with the tractor but it busted (as expected but hoped it wouldn't).
So I'm currently "trackless" but can obviously reuse my AMS track pieces.
Couple of questions on flex track in this scale. I have a lot of experience with HO NS flex track, and as mentioned previously, very flexable and easy to work with. I am using battery power and have ordered LLagas creek code 250 Al "flex track" I will be doing a ladder roadbed to secure the track to and it seems like bending without a rail bender should be dooable. My question is with regard to curves. You all mention the ends will be straight when bending by hand. In HO I used to solder one section to the next and then bend the curve--effectively giving one long piece of track and a vey smooth curve. Any ideas how to do this with Al track? I don't think Al can be soldered, but somewhere I heard you could braze(?) Al. How do you do this? Would a mini torch do and what kind of solder do you use? Rail clamps might be useful, but without the need for electircal continuity it seems like an uneeded expense.
I have used AMS Narrow Gauge track with brass rail on my garden line here in New Zealand. The first batch of 150' laid last during the spring was very nice to work with extremly flexible "springy" rail no railbenders, however the rail in the second batch which arrived in March is less flexible tending to hold its shape when bent.
The other odd thing is that the rail section is very slightly heavier than that in the first batch, I suspect a different die may have been used as the rail joiners have been made to suit.
I run DCC without any problems & use ordinary rail joiners with graphite lubrication, though I have soldered jumpers across most of the joints bonded at the moment with a single feed at one end of the line, I will add some extra feeds once tracklaying is complete.
Picked up a box of track from Mike at Kidmans tree farm and can say i will be buying more. I needed to put in a very large curve and after rebending several large radius curves i decided to hook 3 six ft. sections of the AMS togather and i was able to make the curve quite easily. I just clamped one end to my existing track and layed out my curve where it needed to be. I will be switching over all my track as money permits.