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Discussion Starter #1
All,

I have been looking at the different types of track out there and I would like everyone's opinion on what brand they use and why. Better yet, if there is a link that describes the differences in track brand names that would help as well.

Here are some areas for discussion:

- General Brand of solid brass Track
- USA Trains
- LGB
- Aristocraft
- Pico
- others?

- General Brand of hollow Track
- Lionel
- Bachmann
- others?

- Material track is made of
- Brass
- Aluminum
- Stainless Steel
- other?

- Construction of track
- Solid
- Hollow

- How they clamp together

- Use
- Indoor
- Outdoor

Just trying to get a good feel for the various track types that I see out and the good, the bad and the ugly of the different types. Thanks everyone that responds!

Rich
(Grandpa again today! #5)
 

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I've had Aristocraft track for 11 years until last spring when I took it all up. It is still in good condition, the ties are strong and still plyable. I used it simply because there wasn't much to choose from and it was available from a lot of dealers and train shows.
 

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Aristo and USA here, have had it down 1 year + so far no problems, I am going to try some ss curves here shortly to compare with. The 250 is less priced but if you are using 332 you then have to buy these track connectors to connect the 250 to 332 adapter type connectors to transition I have been told. They are $5.00 a piece or less. The Regal p.s. I'm stickin to 332 unless the ss outlasts the brass, but when you are battery power, they could be wood planks and still work. hee hee LOL
 

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I'm using Aristo Craft 332 Brass and so far it does a decent job. Brass needs to be cleaned more often than SS.

If I could afford SS I would use it. SS hardly ever needs cleaned.

Aluminum while cheaper bends easy and wild animals not to mention humans can bend it simply by stepping on it.

If you want the rail to be true to the scale you are modeling then the other brands have shorter rail height that look more to scale. Hollow rail track isn't worth buying as it is apt to rust while in the box if you only ran the train around Christmas time. Track with wood ties typically will rot a way in one season unless you're in a very dry location like southern cal.

If you're going to use track power and can afford it, buy SS
 

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I am using Llagas Creek code 215 aluminum rail narrow gauge ties. In my opinion this is the best looking closest to scale and least costly of all the commercial track options.

However, I do use battery and live steam only and as well, all my track is elevated.

I suspect that aluminum track is not the best option for a track powered ground level layout that will see rough use.

Regards ... Doug
 

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In addition to all the excellent comments above:

I'd cross hollow track off your list unless you really want the cheapest indoor track, and tight curves...

For track power, I'd recommend rail clamps, and there's a range of them that are reasonably enough priced that if you cannot afford them, then just use brass track and solder jumpers.


For battery power, the joiners are pretty much no nevermind, most any stock joiner will keep the rails well enough aligned.

I have a web page that goes over a lot of what you asked:


[url]http://www.elmassian.com/trains-mainmenu-27/track-mainmenu-93/track-aamp-rail-material-mainmenu-94[/url]

Regards, Greg
 

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Bachmann Starter (Christmas) set to start with. Not thriiled with how swiftly the track got dirty and with how flimsy it was. I aquired some more on the side in EBAY transactions, but... welll...these days, it is relegated to seldom used yard spurs where the locomotives seldom go. I am more impressed with the Bachmann switches, though.

I picked up an olde Lionel starter set shortly after getting the Bachmann one. Yes it is hollow, but it is a bit more sturdy than the Bachmann track. I've since picked up a fair pile of that stuff, mostly R1 and R2 curves. The switches look to be fairly decent. Mostly, it is for spur lines - the Lionel 5' diameter track is actually a slightly tighter turn than the Aristo or LGB 5' diameter track which could come in handy.

I've also been collecting new and used Aristo brass track, which is what I use for the mainline. The teeny tiny screws are a pain: I've lost oodles of them. But once together...well, its together. I think I have only used Aristo switches, and those were so well used I had to rebuild them. My personal verdict is out on them yet.

Most of my switches and a few other odd bits of track are LGB. I have had some derailment issues here, but by and large have been able to work through them.

Of course, at the moment, I have no trains running because the train room is a even bigger mess than usual (I'm indoors) and will get bigger yet in a week or two when I totally redo the layout, mostly because of the 'reach' thing (but that is a topic for another thread).
 

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I have a mix of LGB and Aristo, was on the back patio for years, now moved to ballast and mud land. No problems with either. I have bought much of it secondhand, especially the LGB, often for $2 a foot or less. Had a few Aristo rail joints break, but that is the only problem. Using SplitJaws now.

I have some Accucraft coming via UPS and the need for at least one Train Li point, so in a while I will be able to share that info too.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone that has responded so far! This has been a great help.

As a side note, has anyone had experience with Kalamazoo track?

RJR
 

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I managed to acquire a significant quantitiy of TDV/A1/H&R Trains SS track and have decided that for the most part my track will be stainless although I've got a little of everything. So far none of my stuff has ever been set up permannetly or for any longer than a holiday display or to steam up for the Boy Scouts. I've been buying Aristo SS 332 when I cna find it at a good deal. I've got a bunch of LGB 332 brass and some Aristo Brass as well. I've got Bachman starter sets and Lionel starter sets as well. I also recently bought some code 250 brass from AML I believe for a portable track for the live steamer. None of this has been extensively used though and most never used. I own no aluminum rails so far. I think I do have some steel rusting away someplace though?

Greg's website and George Schreyer's website have the best references on track. GR did a review a year or two ago on track available then. Track is the start of a very personal set of choices about YOUR railroad. As has already been shown some folks run battery and have no need for rails some commit to other forms of control that rely on power of some sort thru the rails. Type's of trains and fidelity to scale are also considerations. Good luck with what ever you decide.

Chas
 

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My track is mix of Aristo/USA and LGB code 332 brass track, but I use LGB switches exclusively, too many derailment issues with Aristo switches. I use the standard joiners as much as I can, with a dab of conductive grease in between, but I also use Hillman (mostly) and Split-Jaw clamps where needed, like at all the turnouts so they can be removed if needed. I'm also Indoors, so oxidation is not as big an issue for me. All I do is run a track cleaner around every now and then and I can run quite fine.
 

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I just stick with the Aristo 332 SS for get about all that scale looking junk. Been there done that. Later RJD
 

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I have Aristo brass track. It has been outside since 2001 and I have had no major problems with it. I have used Hillman rail clamps in those areas that I have continuity problems, especially in my tunnels which are about 7 feet long. I clean my track with an LGB track cleaning loco which is battery powered. I use the LGB track cleaning block on all turnouts which are also Aristo. They have been "tweaked" using tips published by George Schreyer, and operate with Sunset Valley switch stands.

Stainless was not available when I built my layout, but would be in consideration if I was starting again.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all of the feedback to date. This has been great.

Some general observations so far:
- It appear that code 332 is probably easier to manage and performs better (with most available cars) than code 250 especially for the novice, however if you are going for realism then the 250 is a better choice. Is this a fair statement?
- It also seems that stainless would be the best but cost is a real consideration here. After stainless, brass appears to be the best compromise between cost and maintenance.

Has anybody seen any real difference between the USA track, Aristocraft and LGB in the same venue (brass in all for example)?

Thanks again,
Rich (new grandson is doing great!)
 

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Rich,
My first layout was Aristo and USA code 332 brass. My current layout is AMS code 250 brass. From MY point of view, I had more problems with the code 332. I was sold on the AMS 250 because it was flex track, thus allowing me to make ANY curve I wanted, including nice easements into each curve. One caveat is that I've always used batteries outside. You can see some pictures of it being built over here:

J&B Construction Log
 

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I have been very happy with my Aristo SS track for track power. I have used Aristo brass and AMS 332 brass for battery layouts with good results. The AMS is nice flex track but I'd be pretty sure the new Aristo flex track is similar.

-Brian
 

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Rich,

I have Aristo 332 brass track. As I don't have miles of it cleaning is no problem. I might well consider s/steel if I was just starting out in the hobby but I don't think I knew of it when I first started laying track.


Code 332 suits me - animals and clumsy humans are less likely to damage 332 than the smaller Codes in my view.
 

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I have predominantly Aristo brass track given that I am 100% battery power on my railroad. I have a little LGB track, and several LGB switches. One thing I like about the Aristo track is that the plastic ties come with a lifetime guarantee. I have some old used LGB track that I purchased used, and some of those ties have seriously deteriorated. In addition, between the Aristo and LGB, I like the connectors with the "little screws" better than the pressure fitting on the LGB. I know many with track power use clamps, but being battery I don't, and I like the firm connection of the screw as opposed to the slide on clips. Other than that, I don't see much difference between these two particular manufacturers.

Ed
 
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