G Scale Model Train Forum banner

1 - 20 of 38 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'll be putting in about a thousand feet of track and 30+ switches so I want to do it right the first time as this won't be cheap.

The problem I've come into is that Sunset Valley (SSVR) has had a very good reputation for their code 250 aluminum. However they don't offer aluminum switches and I wonder if the stainless ones will just look out of place next to aluminum rail. Second is that SSVR doesn't offer some switches I'd need, mainly 10' and 12' diameter as well as multi-radius and 3 way. Their switches go from a size 6.5' diameter to 15' with nothing in the middle. I have a number of SD45's and -9's and will be getting a big-boy, k-27 and some other locos one day and I worry using either 6.5' would cause problems in the areas I can't fit a 15' diameter switch. Also SSVR doesn't offer multi-radius or three way switches which I'd need in a few places.


Llagas Creek is another option but they seem to be used less often than SSVR and I'm not sure why, is it because of some issues with some 3 truck and bigger locos, if it's the ties that are harder to assemble, if it's mainly used for 1:20.3 and other scales other than 1:29 and 1:32 which SSVR seems to have a bigger market on? I just don't know. For my railway one thing I'm concerned about too is that the switches will probably get changed every minute or less (I'm doing a fully automated railroad with rfid and software I'm writing that will run 3-8 locos on 2 mainless at once so there will be a lot of traffic and switching to sidings) and I worry aluminum won't hold up for 30-50 years that I'll still hopefully be around for. I'm also planning on using pneumatics for switching which could be too much for aluminum over time as well. Though Llagas Creek provides 10', 12', all the multi radius and three way switches I'd ever need and this is a huge plus I think based on my layout design I have right now.


I'd love to just go SS 250 but that doubles the cost, $3k more, ouch. I had thought about even building the Llagas creek switches from their kits to save about half the cost of the switches which is another $3k which is substantial.

I've read posts about people having problems with big-boy on Llagas switches as well and I'd hate to spend this much money and not have it work for me.


Could someone offer advice on all this that could help me figure out which path to go? I'll be buying some track and switches from both but that doesn't help me with figuring out long-term reliability as well as design issues with SSVR with their limited switches.


I really couldn't afford the time or cost to have to redo anything 20 years later because pneumatics ruined aluminum switches or end up having to replace sections of track with ties that failed and then wouldn't match because it's not made anymore (which could annoy me visually)

I've also tought maybe I just give up code 250 but I really like the look of it. I have yet to hear about anyone doing pneumatics with code 250 in any metal.


Thanks so much guys.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,110 Posts
Unfortunately I can't really comment specifically on Llagas creek aluminum track, but we do use Llagas Creek track exclusively on our layout.

We use Llagas Creek code 250 nickel silver rail on their "narrow gauge" ties.


Aluminum rail is definitely more affordable then nickel silver but it is less forgiving if stepped on by animals or if a tree limb falls on it. Since we are literally a few feet from a national forest, we went with nickel silver for the strength against animal (mostly Elk) trampling and falling tree limbs, as well as the electrical conductivity. Although we now run mostly battery powered locos, our track still carries power for switch stand lighting. So the rail has to be a good conductor with little to no rail cleaning.



We've been very happy with our Llagas Creek track. It has been outside at our place in Colorado (elevation of 8200 feet) for almost 12 years now. And it still looks great. I've only had to replace a few sections that an elk decided to stomp on. The ties got popped off but the rail was salvageable in a rail bender. We bring in the switches during the winter months to avoid elk damage and ice damage. SplitJaw rail clamps make it so easy to remove sections of track. We use stainless steel rail clamps.



You can save some money on Llagas track if you buy the build it yourself track. However I'd really only recommended the non assembled track for extra replacement track and for sections that you plan to bend. Although the track is sort of flexible, if you want nice smooth curves you have to use a rail bender. Putting the plastic ties on unassembled track is a little tricky. So if you need straight sections definitely go with factory assembled track to save you some time.


Our track has held up well under heavy locomotives. We have two heavy brass steam engines (a K-28 by Aster/LGB, and a K-36 by KISS). They run fine over our Llagas switches without any problems. I've never run anything larger then the K-36 on the layout so I can't really comment on a Big Boy.


If you would like to see our Llagas Creek track, take a look at the following links:

Youtube cabride video of our layout

Photos of our layout
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
242 Posts
Brandon,
I use Sunset Valley rail on my RR and I like it, I haven't used their tie strips or switches though.
I have heard reports that the Llagas Creek is harder to assemble, as the rail fits tightly against the spikes, you can make a jig to help assembly or buy it ready assembled as Matt says.
Sunset Valley do a range of air operated switch drive equipment.
I have heard lots of people use SVRR and Llagas and are pleased with their quality. I don't know about the Llagas switches having problems with Big-Boys.
Stick with code 250, aluminum should hold up well provided it is well supported. If strength is an issue maybe look into code 250 brass, sold by SVRR and Accucraft.

Alec
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
998 Posts
I have yet to hear about anyone doing pneumatics with code 250 in any metal.

I've had SV 250 SS track since 2009. I have a dozen of their #6 SS switches and I used a dozen Aristo "wide radius" switches in the yard I added this summer. And I added SV's pneumatics to run them all. The pneumatics work well with all the switches and mount easily on both brands.

I do like the looks of 250 over the larger 320 so I certainly recommend them. I also added one of LLagas Creek's curved turnouts (it's almost a yard long!!), also in SS. The only problem is you need an adapter rail clamp to join SV to LC. I got them from Split Jaw.

I probably won't be around thrity years from now, but I expect my layout will.

JackM

Are you planning to use battery power? Aluminum isn't recommended for track power (DC, DCC, etc.). That might make the decision for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Fully battery. I'm not concerned about track being trampled. it will be on the ground but in flower beds. The yard is fully fenced and there is a 25' dog but I can't imagine him hurting the track. I know some track might get accidentally stepped on a times but as you mentioned, railbenders can often fix the problem and if not I'll keep some spare track around.

Glad to hear you're using pneumatics on LLagas. I wonder how aluminum would work over the years. SVR won't do aluminum switches because they think the software aluminum wouldn't hold up which makes sense, I don't know if SVR did tests in house with aluminum or are just going by common sense. I guess that's why I wonder how Llagas Creek aluminum switches hold up.

Here's a picture of my current railway to show where I'm really stuck on 10' and 12' switches. The main issue is the Y at the dogleg corner and going in/out of the train shed.




Here's a post about Llagas and gauging issues on switches: http://www.mylargescale.com/Community/Forums/tabid/56/aff/17/aft/6955/afv/topic/afpgj/2/Default.aspx#15872
 

·
A Steamed Elder
Joined
·
3,857 Posts
Brandon,

At this moment, I am building a new layout, part of the layout is on about 40 feet of bridges of various types (therefore elevated) and the remainder is on the ground. There is about 250 feet on the ground. My track is exclusively Sunset Valley code 250 aluminum. I chose Sunset Valley because of the ease of installing the ties. Llagas ties were a PITA to install, IMHO. I run all-battery-Airwire/Phoenix sound. I use Sunset Valley stainless steel turnouts.

The two photos below, were taken on Russ Rutalj's (MLS member) as we were laying Sunset Valley track. You can see the slightly different color of the stainless turnout and the aluminum code 250 next to it.





This a #6 NG turnout. I would never purchase any turnouts other SV. They are built on fixtures and I can't tell the difference one from the other. Precision made-a beautiful product, IMHO.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,795 Posts
Brandon,
SVRR nickel silver turnouts would probably work just fine. I'm a little confused about diameter and radius though. You mention 6.5' diameter and then talk about getting a Big Boy. Did you mean radius. Even with that the Big Boy won't work. I use both brass and nickel silver SVRR turnouts with aluminum rail. I paint all my rail before installing. After some time out in the weather it will all blend in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
What matches aluminum closer, NS or SS? The difference in the picture above would bother me I think... I've though about painting though after time the paint will wear off where the wheels rub so does painting help after 5-10 years or do you have to repaint often?


I was thinking the minimum for some big-boys where around 10'-12' which now after checking I realize is wrong (except for the USAT which does 8').

SVR two smallest switches are a #4 (40" radius aka 6.5') and a #6 (90" radius aka 15'). Most of my track is based on minimums of 10' and 12' where switches were involved. I can change some of these to #6 switches but there are some sections where #6 is too wide. I'm worried if I use #4 switches my sd45's, -9's and the 20-50+ car trains I want to run will be problematic with a #4 switch as a 6.5' diameter is tough on a SD-45/-9 motor block as well as it doesn't look as good as a 6' radius curve.

Llagas #4 switch is however based on a 48" radius (rather than 40") and they also have a #5 switch that is a 6' radius. Those two switches would be perfect for many areas and that's a gap in available switches from SVR. I wonder if it it's possible to 'adjust' and of SVR's switches to tighten up a #6 or lossen a #4, but I'm guessing that's a bad path to go down.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,795 Posts
My oldest painted aluminum rail has been down for almost seven years and still looks fine. Personally, I would not put down any track without painting first just becasue it looks so much better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
829 Posts
I sell both Sunset Valley and Llagas Creek; they are both very good products. My own railway is all Llagas Creek NS and #8 NS switches because I bought the rail and ties before SVR was in operation. I run both an Aster live steam Big Boy and Aster Daylight plus other smaller engines with no problems what so ever. If you really are talking about 1000ft of track and 30 plus switches then shop for the price. Llagas Creek can supply any switch configuration you can come up with, curved, 3 way or whatever. The fellow who makes the switches is one of the best in the business, Tom King is his name. You can buy LC assemble or unassembled, it's easy to assemble, all you do is heat up the ties a little with a hair drier or heat gun and the rail slides on the ties.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,002 Posts
I've got both code 250 and 215 aluminum from LC. I can't really comment on the flex track or ties because I've handlayed everything (something to consider as it saves $ but it takes time). I've also have used LC frog and point castings for turnouts and find them to work just fine. Dave Goodson has had his LC aluminum rail outdoors for ~20 years? with weekly operating sessions with no problems that I know of.
If you paint the rail before installing, normal use shouldn't wear the outside web of the rail. The head and inside web will get polished clean with use (much like the real thing).
LC makes both standard gauge and narrow gauge tie strips.
Before deciding order a sample piece of track from SV and LC. Then you can see for your self. And while your at it get a sample of the SS from SV.
Another way to save $ is to have LC send you turnout kits. They spike everything to the correct gauge and all you have to do is put ties on. Or make your own turnouts is even cheaper. LC castings make it really really easy to build your own turnouts. No filing of rail at all.

Craig
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Interesting, and a box of 48 pcs 1' tie strips from Accucraft are less than half the cost of anyone elses tie strips but the problem is accucraft only carries a #6 and #8 RH/LH switches so they don't help a whole lot when it comes to keeping track similar.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,960 Posts
My only gripe with the Llagas Creek ties (at least their 1:20 ties) is that they're a VERY tight fit on the rails. If you're going to go that route, get the pre-assembled track and save yourself a TON of grief. I laid 600' of Llagas track on my railroad back in upstate NY. The aluminum rail held up very well, but I literally had to string the the ties on the track two at a time. Needless to say, I went a different route on my next railroad. (Accucraft's brass code 250.)

As for SV's stainless switches blending in with aluminum rail, I don't think you'll notice the difference after more than a season once things get a coat of dust on them. There's a slight color difference, but not too much. If you paint the rails, then you'll never notice.

Later,

K
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
394 Posts
I have been using SVRR turnouts and rails (mostly SS and a little NS) and Accucraft tie strips. The SVRR tie strips are very good, but I like the appearance of the Accucraft better. The rails assemble into the tie strips quite easily. My friend, Larry Green, uses LC aluminum exclusively and it is an excellent product. I've learned from his experience that inserting the rails into the tie strips is much more difficult because of a tighter fit. Both brands offer great products and it really comes down to personal choice.

Llyn
 

·
A Steamed Elder
Joined
·
3,857 Posts
Posted By East Broad Top on 20 Jan 2012 09:35 AM
My only gripe with the Llagas Creek ties (at least their 1:20 ties) is that they're a VERY tight fit on the rails. If you're going to go that route, get the pre-assembled track and save yourself a TON of grief. I laid 600' of Llagas track on my railroad back in upstate NY. The aluminum rail held up very well, but I literally had to string the ties on the track two at a time. Needless to say, I went a different route on my next railroad. (Accucraft's brass code 250.)

As for SV's stainless switches blending in with aluminum rail, I don't think you'll notice the difference after more than a season once things get a coat of dust on them. There's a slight color difference, but not too much. If you paint the rails, then you'll never notice.

Later,

K When I was first trying to decide on which rail to use (Llagas Creek or Sunset Valley), I bought samples of each with their appropriate ties (BOTH NG ties). The Llagas Creek were definitely tighter and more difficult to "slip" on without either a heat lamp or a ton of WD40! Like Kevin says, "Two at a time". Sunset Valley literally slips on! If you are looking for a wider look in narrow gauge ties, then go for the Accucraft ties and they literally slip on the SV rail as well.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
59 Posts
Brandon,


I'm surprised no one has suggested SwitchCrafters switches ( switchcrafters.com ). They make the widest selection of switches in aluminum and nickel silver I've seen from any manufacture. And they are very reasonably priced as well (i.e. $78 - aluminum #6 and $90 - nickel silver #6 vs Llagas Creek at $110 and $133 respectively).


I have several of their #6 and #4 switches and have found that Llagas Creek narrow gauge code 250 aluminum matches the profile of the SwitchCrafter aluminum switches better than the Sunset Valley aluminum 250 rail. That makes it much easier to attach joiners or clamps to the switches.


The comments above about putting the tie strips on Llagas Creek rail vs. Sunset Valley are correct. The Llagas Creek tie strips are very tight on the rail and very difficult to get on and off. However, when you order Llagas Creek flex track it comes with the tie strips on the rail (Sunset Valley you get two boxes, one with rail and another with tie strips).


Good luck building your Empire.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
434 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Switch crafters does have nice switches and I could always do SVR with LC or Switch Crafter switches but I'd like the ties to all be the same, which is why I'm trying to decide which way to do. Now if everyone used the same ties that would be perfect but it doesn't happen.

I think about 70% of my track is curves, probably 50' or so long sweeping curves in several places so doesn't the rail need to be removed from the ties to bend, even with dual track benders? Also people recommend staggering joints, especially on curves which would require undoing the ties as well?

I have about 200' of code 332 aml aluminum track that I've stepped on over a hundred times now and had no problems and I had a thought. Which would be stronger, code 332 aluminum or code 250 stainless steel? I haven't seen code 332 stainless selling for under $10 a foot and code 250 stainless is about $6. Maybe a good "in between" solution is code 250 SS, although that doubles the cost of track over aluminum (and switches if I weren't to get LC's aluminum switches in kit form) but SVR would be my only choice at that point since they're the only ones who do code 250 SS. I think the only thing SS really offers over aluminum for battery and live steam guys would be less joint expansion. I haven't heard of anyone saying their aluminum rail wore out over the years.
 
1 - 20 of 38 Posts
Top