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Author Topic: Joining code55 flexible track on tight curves  (Read 135 times)

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Offline codepoet

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Joining code55 flexible track on tight curves
« on: June 26, 2020, 01:47:25 PM »
So for several months I have been trying to perfect a method for joining flexible track (Peco code55) on a curve. On my layout my tightest curves are 9inch radius (228mm), and I have one that runs ~270 degrees which is longer than one length of flexible track (1 yard). So I need to find a way of joining on the curve.
Now, many people have already pointed out that I could just use set track, which is true, but I have other curves elsewhere on my layout that might not work with set track, are not set track radius and use easements. I also wanted to challenge myself to develop a technique that works for the 9 inch curves so I can be confident using it on larger radius curves too.
In general, the problem is that the rail want to straighten out, and so create a kink at the join which leads to derailments. There seem to be two standard suggestions to solve these problems:
1) solder the rail joiners on the straight, then bend the track. The problems with this are that:
 a) soldering the joiners does not allow for thermal expansion
 b) on tight curves the movement of the two rails required is so great it can make it hard to line everything up. In particular this can be a problem when combined with the second suggested solution:
2) Stagger the join. This means that the two rails are joined in different positions, so each joint is supported by the other rail that has no join in it. The problems with this are:
 a) because code55 has the rail buried inside the sleepers it is very hard to dig out the part of the sleeper under the end of a rail to slip a rail joiner on. Our 00-gauge friends do not have this problem as they can just cut away the spikes and the rail is free.
 b) to get a rail joiner fitted means removing the support of one or two nearby sleepers, so the support from the other rail is not provided at exactly the position where it is needed.

After remaking the same joint about four times, and even having a good joint pull itself into a kink after a couple of months (because of the flexibility in the latex glue?) I have finally found a method that works. It involved removing the inch and a bit of sleepers from each end of the joint (beyond the overlapping section) and bending each rail, before feeding the sleepers back on and then making the staggered joint. Because the rails are bent, there is no (much less) pressure on the rail joints trying to pull them into a kink.
I am really pleased with the result, and given that I have only done it once, and will get better with practice, I can see that it will be an effective solution to my problem, and will work well on the larger radius joints that I also need to build elsewhere on my layout.
As ever, I tried to document my experimentation in video for the benefit of others. I hope it is of use to some folks. I recognise that there are many other techniques and opinions (including using set track), but I have tried everything, and this is what has worked the best for me.
Documenting my progress on Naive-Gauge Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXpXtVfVnTytUlEFr5raDw/

Online ntpntpntp

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Re: Joining code55 flexible track on tight curves
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2020, 01:59:13 PM »
Yes that is the way to tackle it, pre-bend the rails so you're effectively making sectional track  :)  Personally I wouldn't bother with staggering the joints, after all Setrack doesn't have staggered joints and that works fine  :D

Carry on!
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline Bigmac

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Re: Joining code55 flexible track on tight curves
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2020, 04:32:04 PM »
i solder the rail.joiners on tight bends.  my ruling bend is 12 ''

as regards expansion..ive not had a problem.  just leave a slight rail gap in straight joins.  even yesterday--24 degrees in the room--there were no bent rails.
i used to be indecisive...but now i'm not so sure.


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