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There are a number of manufacturers of O gauge model railroad track, and some manufacture more than one style of track. However, if you are just getting started, and you only have enough track to make a simple loop, it’s a lot easier to switch track brands now, rather than later, after you have bought hundreds of dollars worth of additional track (see what expanding your layout can cost on our Comparing Prices of O Gauge Track Page). All other track, no matter what other differences it may have, do not have an integrated roadbed. All-in-one track tends to be more expensive than non-integrated track, although at the high end, Atlas track is comparable in price to all-in-one track (see our Track Price Comparison page).
All-in-one track tends to lock together better than non-integrated track, and the integrated plastic roadbed makes it a better choice for a floor railroad, especially one on a carpeted right-of-way.
All-in-one track can be noisy due to the hollow plastic roadbed, although non-integrated track can be noisy as well, if not mounted on a sound-deadening roadbed. At the lower end of the range of non-integrated O gauge track, little has changed in the century it has been available. The plastic or wood ties of Gargraves and Ross track offer an advantage in that the two outside rails are insulated from each other, where the metal ties of Lionel track provide an electrical connection between the outer rails. The joining system of Atlas track makes it more difficult to simply cut pieces to fit as you can with Lionel, Gargraves, or Ross non-integrated track, but to make up for that, they offer a wide array of short straight and curved pieces.
Ross and Gargraves tubular tracks connect to each other easily, and adapter pins make it easy to connect them to Lionel tubular track, so if you have a pile of tubular track, you can expand with Gargraves or Ross without having to junk your Lionel tubular track. When you look at the table at the bottom of the page, you can see that Ross has the greatest selection of switches and crossover tracks of any brand, whether tubular or all-in-one. Gargraves and Atlas both offer a wide selection of switches, as do the all-in-one brands Lionel Fastrack and MTH RealTrax.
The two all-in-one brands are fairly equal, although Lionel Fastrack offers a wider variety of short pieces. Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames.
Laying model railroad track is perhaps the most fun part of the hobby for me a€“ right next to building scenery and running trains.


You may have to use small pieces of wood underneath the railroad ties on the adjoining end of the code 55 track so that the rails of the code 55 track will line up properly with those of the code 83 track. When arranging curves for your model railroad track, make sure your radius is not too small for the size trains you will be running. After you have laid your model railroad track, you may wish to paint it to achieve a more realistic appearance.
If you find something of value here, please "pay it forward" and help us keep the site operating by a secure donation through PayPal (PayPal account is not required), or by shopping with our advertisers. You visit a local hobby store to buy more, and you see a dizzying array of track that looks vastly different, all of it labeled O gauge. Modern O gauge train sets come with easy to use “all-in-one” track (a definition of that below in “styles of track”) that is great for beginners that don’t have a table on which to run their trains. Ask you local hobby shop about their opinions of the various track brands and styles available. Don’t worry about it unless you are buying “old-school” tubular track (see more about tubular track below). This track has an integrated plastic base that is designed to look like a ballasted railroad roadbed. However, Gargraves and Atlas track look more realistic when laid on a cork roadbed and ballasted, but that’s also a lot more laborious than just clicking Lionel FastTrack or MTH RealTrax together.
A lack of a sound-deadening material between either style of track and the plywood surface of the train table results in the amplification of the rumble of all those metal wheels on metal rails into a deafening roar. Lionel’s O gauge and O-27 gauge tubular track is made from tin-plated steel that is subject to rust if exposed to moisture.
They both feature protoypical size closely-spaced wood or plastic ties that look much more realistic than the metal ties on Lionel tubular track. If you need to insulate an outer rail with Lionel tubular track (there are some reasons you might want to do so – we’ll talk about these later), you have to buy and insulated track section, or perform a little track surgery to alter a regular piece of track. It has very realistic ties, and features a solid nickel-silver rail with a very realistic-looking cross section.


You can also mate these tubular tracks to Atlas or the all-in-one style track with an adapter track. There is no single winner among the track types, however, as I said, for beginners, the all-in-one style tracks probably have more pros than cons. Each manufacturer has a method of joining track pieces together, so to use track from different manufacturers often requires a special adapter piece.
They all have pros and cons, so this is a good time to study them and see if you want to change.
Also, the center rail on Gargraves’ “Phantom Line” and Ross track has been chemically blackened to make it more inconspicuous. In fact, if you get any paint on the top, you should wipe it off right away to prevent electrical conduction problems when you run your trains. Q - Which kind of paint should I use to not interrupt the current (with the DCC signal) flowing in the rails? A - You can use any kind of paint you wish as long as you don't get any on the top of the rails. The table at the bottom of the page compares the variety of sizes of curved, straight and switch tracks offered by Lionel FastTrack and MTH RealTrax, as well as non-integrated track brands. Gargraves also offers track made from stainless steel that is not subject to rust if used outdoors. I found it was easy recently to use a paint marker that I bought in a hobby store to paint the ties and the rails. In other words, your track should go into the curve gradually using a greater radius before you get to the lesser (tighter) radius, then back to the greater radius again, before straightening out. Then lift the track off the layout, and glue down one of the A? strips with the inner edge lined up along the dots.



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