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Mission Briefing: Like many others out there (C'mon, 'fess up'!) I don't actually have a layout -- yet! I've dumped a couple extra tons of dirt in the back yard (which has turned into grass-covered hills [/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sad.gif] ) and I've actually plotted and layed some test track, but there were some issues about fences and trees that have kept the layout in the 'concept' stage for the last mumbly-sumthin years. What I do have is - a garage full of track! Every year, at San-Val's sale, I'd buy a box or two or three of Aristo 5-foot straight sectional track!


In the last year, a few things have changed. San-Val has closed (alas!), but on the up side, the tree and fence issues have been resolved or are on their way to resolution. And, while at the Arizona convention, I saw a layout and trackplan that inspired me to throw out my old drawings and do something quite a bit different and more ambitious. In short, it's time to start laying track!


So if you were in my shoes, with a lot of 5-foot sectional track, what would you go shopping for? If you answered "One of those fancy new double-track benders that don't force you to take the ties off", the bird comes down and you get the prize! My first stop of the morning was at the Train-LI USA booth.


The rail bender was at the back of the table, and I asked Axel Tillman (MLS member and sponsor) if I could look at it. Sure, he said, and motioned me around to the inside of the booth, where I could grab a chair and play with the tool. No sooner did I get around the table, however, than another 'civilian' came up to the table and asked about the rail bender. Carla caught this picture as I was mimicking rolling the bender back and forth along the track, and explaining why this was the best idea since sliced bread.






"Yeah, what he said" says Axel, vaguely alarmed at this enthusiastic non-employee.






Actually, Axel was showing me the differences in manufacturers' tie construction. Turns out that on Aristo track, you need to remove the little screws on the bottom of the ties along the outside of the desired curve. Otherwise, the rail bender will just break the ties. (In contrast, Train-LI makes track that doesn't screw the ties down, but allows them to slide on the rail.)


So Axel mounts the rail bender and slides it back and forth a few times, while I play Ronco kitchen tool salesman (or Vanna White, take your pick). The track curves like it's rubber. Then he turns the tool around and, with a few swipes, straightens the rail out again.





Note the two bubble levels built onto the tool. These aren't necessary to the bending process, but they do allow you to run the tool along your track once you have it laid, and check for straight & level.


Was it Heinlein who said something like "Nobody invented the railroad until it was railroad time. "? (In fact, I think somebody here has used it as a SIG line.) Well, it must be track bender time, because I found two more double track benders being offered at the show.


Massoth, the company that makes a lot of the electronics for LGB engines as well as various accessories, has been advertising their rail bender for a while. I was lucky enough to find Ron Gibson at their booth, and he allowed me to try out the rail bender that he's used to build numerous layouts. It might be a bit larger and heavier than the Train-LI product, and the gauges may be a bit easier to read. I couldn't tell any difference in the way it felt as I was bending track. No bubble levels.





The third rail bender is from somebody called RGSS Hobbies. Like many of the small exhibitors at this years' show, these folks seemed to be retailing a miscellaneous collection of stuff, from custom buildings to AMS rolling stock to -- yes -- rail benders. Here's theirs -





This bender was the lightest of the three, which stands to reason since it's milled from aluminum, with a nicely bezelled finish. Looks simpler from the top than the other two, but I think that's because the various rollers, cam and levers are on the bottom of the chassis. This bender appeared to do just as good a job as the other two in curving sectional track.


I know, more about dual rail benders than you ever wanted to know. I made my decision and bought one, but your mileage may vary. Before we move on though, here's one bit of interesting info that I learned which applies to all of them. If you want to make a curve of a consistent radius through several pieces of track, so that it's as even as a circle of curved sectional track from an LGB or Aristo box, use a jug, or a master drawing, or use one of your pieces as a master for the others, and eyeball it! The gauges on all of these benders can not guarantee a consistent curve through multiple pieces of track. It's not their fault -- it turns out that there's enough variation in ductility from one piece of track to the next so that one will bend just a bit easier, or harder, than another! The gauges will tell you how much tension you're putting on the track, but it's up to you to judge how much is enough.
 

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Yes my Friends it Slices, It diceses, It does Juliean frys. This little tool here takes the drudgery out of bending track.
Just slide it along and it will bend anyting. No rail road should be with out one.
I got one. You can now buy any track and make it fit your layout. Only thing it don't like is ARISTO TRACK JOINTERS.
But if you buy a few Split jaw or Hillman It will slid right over them with ease.
You can join several one foot sections and make any curve you desire.
There was another BRAND X at another booth but was a cheaper virsion. probaly cloned.
 

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Soooo Gary which one did you buy? and why did you get that one? Nice write up but you left it open. IMWTK!!
 

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I think Gary did that on purpose! ;) Jim Carter (pimanjc) graciously loaned me his Train-li rail bender and I am hooked!! Everything that was said about it is true! This thing is even MORE useful than sliced bread!! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif
 

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This bender works very well with stainless track also. The track is harder to bend, but this tool does a fantastic job. Last summer just as the price went up I bought four boxes of Aristo 5' straight track. This winter I put in a 180 ft extension to a loop, and bent every turn and just as JJ says, to fit your layout. Laying track is kind of fun with this tool.
Paul
 

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I've seen the Train-Li rail bender demonstrated, but have not had a chance to get my paws on one. It is nice to know that someone else thinks it is a good deal.

SteveF
 

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Manfred (Lotsasteam) has the Train-Li. He swears by it and the company. He had an issue last year and they took care of him, no questions. I'll be politely requesting to borrow his shortly.
 

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So, Gary, which one did you buy? I, too, was looking at rail benders and bought one at the show. I bought the Train-Li from Axel after reviewing the other models. I'm sure it will do all that I ask of it, once I start putting a layout down, of course. :)
 

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I have had my Trail-Li for over a year. I loan it out to members in my two train clubs or go over and help them bend the track. I does it all and I didn't think I would have any use for the levels but at my one club layout we have constant erosion and running the bender over the track it is a big help to see just how the track is laying so the road bed can be built up properly to prevent derailments.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
IMWTK = I (M=?) Want to Know?


Gee gang, Steve is right -- I didn't want to unduly influence people with my amateur opinion -- especially since you might think I was being partial to an MLS sponsor! Hint Hint Wink Wink!!


And truthfully, I think any of the three will get the job done! JJ, was the "brand X" that you found a fourth version, or one of the three that I found?


-Gary the Garden Rail Hobo-
 

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Inquiring Minds Want To Know!

Well, with the review you wrote it would have influenced me to buy the Train-Li. Hehehe!!!

I Love my Train-Li Track Bender.
 

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Even though I only have a single rail bender, I fnd that I can fine tune the assembled track by belly bending. This really works.

I have shown this to others and they found they can also fine tune by belly bending.
 

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Its great to buy a rail bender but being an Instrument Maker by trade I wish to build a rail bender . In the Garden Railway magazine issue of June 2002 there was a self build bender . Could one of you whom has that issue scan the article and put it on this site. Thank you for your help and go to my web site: brenthouse.co.uk for a train ride
 

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Hey budrail,

I just went to visit your website and I get a Virus Threat! What goes?
 

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Aristo just announced it's bender, looks like the train-li, but finish is not as nice... but a bit cheaper... no reports on how well it works yet.


Regards, Greg
 

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Haven't tried either in a "production" environment, but I've played with the Aristo at a show. Pretty cool how the track forms as you push it along. It takes a touch, but only a couple passes needed to develop the feel for it. The Euro one is a Mercedes. The Aristo one is the Chevy. Both get you to work.

(My old chevy just turned 150,000 last night on the way home.)
 

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I have the train-li. Aside from the great company service and super fast shipping, the bender is bullet proof. Easily changeable between code 332 and 250 it gets the job done well. Everytime I use it I'm glad I bought it.
 

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Posted By paintjockey on 12/03/2008 9:10 AM
I have the train-li. Aside from the great company service and super fast shipping, the bender is bullet proof. Easily changeable between code 332 and 250 it gets the job done well. Everytime I use it I'm glad I bought it.


Yea Me too
 

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Ditto on the Train-Li!

I hesitated about purchasing one due to the cost and my limited use for it with my small layout. When I decided to rebuild my largest loop last spring I decided to go for it. The Train-Li worked great, letting me make super smooth curves without twisting the track.
I also found it worked well on a section of track that had a downward kink in one rail due to being stepped on. It smoothed the kink out enough to allow trains to run again. Money well spent!
 

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Stupid Question -

Is there such a thing as a rail bender that will bend the track vertically, rather than horizontally?

I want to build a small loop of track featuring my LGB Thunder Mountain Railroad train and I thought it would be cool to have some mild up and down hills in it. Of course, it could be no where near the theme park elevations, but rather kind of give that appearance.

Am I full of you know what, or is this a viable idea?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this -
 
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