For other model train enthusiast desiring to build an "O" gage layout and pondering over which track to use, I suggest they go no further then Atlas Track.
From the beginning, I knew the 24 X 32 foot layout would require a fairly large investment in track and I wanted to make sure I achieved a quality track system without breaking the bank.
But, most of all I didn't want to get the track half laid and find myself wishing I had chosen a different track system.
I therefore ordered one set of O gage track switches and a few section of track from each of the 3 manufactures I was considering which was Gargraves, K-Line, and Atlas.
I had previously eliminated any track system that did not have railroad ties running the full length of each section and any type track that would not allow me to use flexible track sections or to cut the track lengths to size.
After a careful evaluation of each track type, I choose Atlas, first off because it looks just like real track right down to the bolts in the track plate connectors and the availability of those pieces which provide you the greatest flexibility in laying track such as the "Y" section, curved switches, etc.
From the Oil Fields of Texas to Kennedy Space Center, I've spent most of my life having to make things work in the field that some engineer sitting in an office designed but, didn't know squat about how things worked.
I am therefore very critical of how things are designed and how well a product does the job intended.
I can pleasing report that I was dumbfounded to discover there was just not much of anything I could improve on relative to the Atlas track.
I hold the opinion that Atlas makes the finest model train track in the world. However, I also say that Atlas makes some pretty lousy screws for fastening it down.
The Atlas track laying screws could be improved on by making them out of a harder steel as they are very prone to stripping out the slots for the phillip head screw driver.
Reducing the striping to something manageable requires pre-drilling all screw holes and a standby ease out is a must.
With that said, I still recommend using the Atlas Screws because they are black in color and sized special for the track.
What ever the task at hand, I also detest coming up short while in the process of accomplishing a task.
Therefore my initial order of Atlas track included several pieces of every O gage track piece Atlas manufactures.
Of course, I had given considerable thought and had certain personal desires of what I wanted the layout to encompass.
I mostly design things in my head and sort of by guess and by god as I go. However, I did use the computer and RR-Track laying software to test my ideas. But, the final decision was made by placing the track on the table and moving it around.
As I sorted through the different pieces and started laying track I was amazed at the ease of which the Atlas track went together and the flexibility it provided.
I have stated Atlas Track will lay itself and I make that statement because one day as I was putting together a curve next to the engine maintenance yard, I told myself. "If I used one of the curve switches in the curve, I could have a siding in the yard area". but, as I was positing the curved switch I noticed the 054 side of the switch was lining up with another track coming down the side of the table and I therefore said "if that is how you want it Mr. Atlas we will just run what was going to be a siding on down and tie into the other track".
As of September 2007, there are 6 different train tracks operating with 4 additional tracks plus a subway under the table planned for.
Within the current 6 track system there are 47 Atlas track switches of most every type and size made. Four of the tracks are all tied together in more then one location and the trains can be switched between the different tracks with ease and no derailing problems have been encountered.
I discovered cutting the track to make an exact fit was done with ease with no hanging up of the dremal cutting tool as it does with tubular track.
Probably the greatest thing Atlas has done for model train track is the sizing of curves.
I did not understand in the beginning and only learned in discussion with Atlas's engineer, Steve Holvath that the geometry had all been planned for in the design of the Atlas O-Gage Track. (This is all explained by Atlas in one of their catalogs which is on the first image of the catalog provided by the link at the bottom of this page)
Atlas has determined that 4-1/2 inch clearance on the curves is required to clear most all the different engines, cars, cabooses, etc.
Therefore starting with the long established 027 diameter circle, the Atlas O-Gage Track jumps to a 036 diameter circle and then to 045 - 054 - 063 - 072 - 081 - 090 and 099 which is increments of 9 inches and one half of 9 inches is 4-1/2 inches and bingo all the track geometrical sizes provide for circles or curves of track to maintain the 4-1/2 inch width between tracks.
This is mentioned here because a fellow train buddy building a very large layout also used Atlas track and purchased a large quantity of curved track in the 054 and 072 size not realizing he should have used the 063 as the next track size down.
In otherwords, It matters not which track size the equipment or a layout requires but, when purchasing different size curves in Atlas Track the sizes purchased should be in increments of the 9 inches difference if the User intends to parallel two or more tracks together around curves.
As stated, it is mentioned here because I had given no thought to the ins and outs of the different curve sizes nor had my other train friend.
All parallel tracks on my layout maintains the 4-1/2 inch distance except on the straight run of the track in front of the train station and those 4 tracks were laid 3-1/2 inches apart.
However, when doing this the tracks had to be swung out to make them 4-1/2 inches apart to go around the curves as the 3-1/2 inches would not provide adequate clearance on the curves nor would it maintain the geometrical of the curves established by Atlas.
When my layout was started the 090 and 099 track was not as yet being manufactured by Atlas and therefore, the outside track or what we call Track #1 which goes completely around the outside on the layout is 081 size and then Track #2 is 072 and Track #3 is 063.
Other then the trains my other hobby is doing web sites for fun and relaxation. However, where it not for the fact I have been so overly impressed by the Atlas O-Gage Track System and provided valuable assistance with out hesitation from their engineer Steven Holvath I would not have expended my time putting together this section of the web site. It is here to make my fellow model train hobbyist aware and their railroading days more enjoyable ones.
Although their track is the best, The Atlas O-Gage Web Site is somewhat like their track screws and leaves a lot to be desired relative to showing the different track pieces and therefore images scanned in from an Atlas Track Catalog are provided on my web site and may be viewed by Clicking:.. HERE
To view Atlas track on The Old Chief's Layout, Click:.. HERE
To visit the Atlas O Web Site, Click:.. HERE
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