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Here's a graphic illustration of the effects of track expansion.

This is an overview of Ken Molchanow's RGS South Jersey Division in (where else?) South Jersey where we were having an operating session last summer. Ken has built this beautiful layout with Llagas Creek code 215 aluminum rail which "floats" on a foam roadbed - IOW, it's not secured to the underlaying base except at the switches. Notice the double passing sidings in the left foreground.

By the end of the day, the temperature had topped 100° F. Since the middle track is "pinned" by switches at both ends, it kinked because there was no place for it to expand in either direction. Believe me, that section was smooth and straight, like the rest of Ken's trackwork, at the beginning of the session.

Moral of the Story: Always leave room for expansion of tangent track. (Curves will take care of themselves by altering their radii.)
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