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I am currently rebuilding my railroad and replacing all the ties on the track. We originally laid AMS code 250 narrow gauge flex track and have been happy with its appearance but the ties have not held up well. They snap off the rail easily, which is not a big deal if laid carefully on well-prepared roadbed, but the bigger issue is that after 11 years they have suffered significant UV damage. The tops turned white and chalky and started disintegrating off the rails.

When I rebuild the track, I'd like it to last 20+ years. I will be reusing the 250 rail and the track will be laid on a level concrete roadbed with sifted roadbase ballast. I am considering hand-laid track with redwood ties but am concerned about the massive undertaking that would be. What plastic ties out there have the longest life expectancy?
 

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Our tie strips are UV stabilized but I'm not sure they'd fit on your existing rail unfortunately. Llagas Creek rail has a foot width of about 5mm/0.197" so the tie strips are made for that spec. The 1:20.3 scale narrow gauge tie strips are more durable than the standard, as the spike head details are larger and more substantial than with the smaller 1:32 stuff.

Good luck with your search!
 

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I remember in the early days of Llagas Creek with Gary Broeder, he had a bunch of ties made with nylon.
For live steamers it was great as held up under alcohol fires, not like most plastic ties which just melt away.
Not sure how it would hold up under UV, sun and weather.
From what I recall being told, unfortunately it reduced the life of the injection molds so much, that it was not worth repeating.
A lot of my garden railway has Llagas track from the mid 90's, and the ties show no sign of deterioration, so I think that they have their UV protection done right.
I originally started with wooden ties in the 70's and was so glad when plastic came along, but still use wood for my home made switches and replace the wood when it rots, so is not a long term solution either. Mind you, it does rain here a lot!!!
Cheers,
David Leech, Delta, Canada
 

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I spray my track every 6 months with Armorall, gets rid of the gray/white, and still going strong 11-12 years later.

Greg
 

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As Greg eluded to, there is no tie strip that will be 'set it and forget it'. Like the real railroads, track needs maintenance, and treating the ties, regardless of material is part of that. Different materials, such as good cedar, on hand laid track will last a significant amount of time, but I doubt it will make 20 years with out some treatment.

Good luck on your quest as the choices have dwindled over the last few years.
 

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Sunset Valley ties will take the AMS rail as they are both the same profile. 20 years, I would think Sunset Valley will do that. I have Llagas Creek ties and they have been down about 12 years, there are no signs of sun damage, they look the same as the day they were installed.
 
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I use Sunset Valley narrow and they have been down for about 15 years and still doing well. I have had to replace a few but that was mostly due to mechanical damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I use Sunset Valley narrow and they have been down for about 15 years and still doing well. I have had to replace a few but that was mostly due to mechanical damage.
That's encouraging to hear. I'll probably end up going that route.
 

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I spray my track every 6 months with Armorall, gets rid of the gray/white, and still going strong 11-12 years later.

Greg
I'll be buying Armor-all this Spring. Even though my AMS get two coats of paint, actually one coat of gray primer and a topcoat of black.

Robert
 

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I am currently rebuilding my railroad and replacing all the ties on the track. We originally laid AMS code 250 narrow gauge flex track and have been happy with its appearance but the ties have not held up well. They snap off the rail easily, which is not a big deal if laid carefully on well-prepared roadbed, but the bigger issue is that after 11 years they have suffered significant UV damage. The tops turned white and chalky and started disintegrating off the rails.

When I rebuild the track, I'd like it to last 20+ years. I will be reusing the 250 rail and the track will be laid on a level concrete roadbed with sifted roadbase ballast. I am considering hand-laid track with redwood ties but am concerned about the massive undertaking that would be. What plastic ties out there have the longest life expectancy?
I have track from a friend with Microengineering ties that have been outside since 1994 and are still in good shape.

Dan
 

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Do you do anything to combat UV degradation?

Greg
Like I say. Longevity is yet to be determined. Winter is coming... downunder, so the extreme heat of next summer will be a ways off. I have been experimenting with printed switch machines in PLA, PETG and ABS. PLA lasted a month or two in the sun ... but cheaper for testing purposes. The ABS and PETG "should" last longer and I have treated them with brown spray paint to blend them into the commercial ties. So time will tell. I have code 250 tie plates and switch machines on my Tinkercad site if anyone want to use them.
 

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Painting them helps, just try to get all the areas exposed to UV.... it's tough to get the "spike heads" without getting paint on rails (if painted in situ), or to get the rail in after painting.

Why not buy some replacement tie strips? Surely for most track this is cheaper?

Greg
 

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I am using the ties that came with the Aristo SS track. Been outside for 17 years. They get coated when the decking gets stained. First time in 2014 and again last year. The deck stain also gives the rail sides a nice rusty look, and wiping the top restores the shine. So far I can see no degeneration.
 
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