Filling gaps in tracks. What do you do?

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KB02

Well-Known Member
#1
Despite my best efforts, when laying tracks, I tend to end up with small gap between sections of track. Does anyone have any good way of filling them? I've tried solder before without much success. I could drop in a small bit of styrene, but then I risk losing a bit of connectivity (granted, if my locos are up to snuff, that shouldn't be a problem, but still...).

What do you do?
 
#2
Personally, I don't worry about it. As long as there's adequate power on both sides of the gap and the rails are properly aligned, it shouldn't be an issue.

Modular layouts generally have a small gap between the tracks on adjacent modules and you have to have a relatively large gap before it causes derailments. I tried a couple years ago, and you'd be surprised how large the gap has to be before it causes problems. Some layouts using sectional track cannot be created without gaps.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#3
KB02: Several questions to better answer your question concerning rail gaps.

- Are you soldering the rail joiners?

- How wide are the gaps?

Greg
 
#4
The only gaps I ended up filling in were the gaps in one leg of the wye track which had to be isolated because of polarity. The gaps are 3/16 of an inch wide, 1/8 inch would have probably worked, but I used ,080 black styrene to fill the gaps to keep the wheels from shorting across the rail ends, as I'm using metal wheel sets.
 
#5
If because of cutting flex track too short by say, 1/8" or even larger gap, do this: With a piece spare rail laying around, hoping you have a Xuron rail nipper (if you don't do get one), clip off a tiny piece the length of the gap (cut rail top to bottom, not to side). Then, assuming you're employing Atlas rail joiners, take a joiner and slide the little piece into it (making sure piece is right side up). Then lift the 2 tracks opposing one another just enough to get the filled joiner in place, connecting the 2 opposing rails that formed the gap..Lower tracks down and, voila, no more gap ! M
 
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Selector

Well-Known Member
#6
I don't mind gaps as much as 1/4". The trains won't mind very much either, especially if you slightly champher/bevel the two bearing surfaces on either end of the gap. You want the flanges to move across the gap smoothly, without snagging either end depending on which direction you're moving, so beveling the inner flange face of the rail head will serve you well.

If the gap is somewhat broad, or merely unsightly and disappointing, and the rails are otherwise nicely aligned and you'd rather leave them, cut a rail joiner in half, or slightly more than a half, and try to get it onto one end of either of the two rails' ends. As MH above suggests, nip off a small bit of rail, making sure the Xuron or side cutter of choice has its beveled edges facing the longer part of the rail, and its flat face facing the wee bit you're nipping and going to use. Clean up any burrs or deformation using a needle file, and then slip that into the open end of the shortened joiner. Solder it all into place, and Bob's yer uncle.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
#7
KB02: Several questions to better answer your question concerning rail gaps.
- Are you soldering the rail joiners?
- How wide are the gaps?
Greg
So, yes, I am soldering the rail joiners, and the gaps are not very wide, just wide enough to make me obsess over them. About 0.080", or 2/25". Even my pickiest of cars (which will soon be destined for extreme aging and abandonment on a forgotten spur - that car really ticks me off some times) doesn't have any trouble going over the gaps, they're just loud and big enough to bug me.

I have been using flex track for the part of my layout that I am working on right now, and I thought I was very careful with my cuts. When I test fit everything together, it all looked good and tight. After soldering, I noticed several gaps in the rails. Fortunately the sections are straight. It just so happens that the are right after a turn out and just before a lift out section, so there are several gaps within a 4 inch section of track.

One of the rail joiners shifted on me as I soldered it, so I might have to re-do that one, but with gaps of about 0.080", you think it will be fine? (just loud.)
 
#8
So, yes, I am soldering the rail joiners, and the gaps are not very wide, just wide enough to make me obsess over them. About 0.080", or 2/25". Even my pickiest of cars (which will soon be destined for extreme aging and abandonment on a forgotten spur - that car really ticks me off some times) doesn't have any trouble going over the gaps, they're just loud and big enough to bug me.

I have been using flex track for the part of my layout that I am working on right now, and I thought I was very careful with my cuts. When I test fit everything together, it all looked good and tight. After soldering, I noticed several gaps in the rails. Fortunately the sections are straight. It just so happens that the are right after a turn out and just before a lift out section, so there are several gaps within a 4 inch section of track.

One of the rail joiners shifted on me as I soldered it, so I might have to re-do that one, but with gaps of about 0.080", you think it will be fine? (just loud.)
If you're planning on weathering them and you've got conduction, you can probably put styrene or putty in there and just paint them to match the rest of the tracks.

If you really have to get them 100% right, then you'd probably cut them approximately right and then slowing grind them away little by little until they match completely. But, that takes time and probably isn't worth it. You also have to be careful that heat build up doesn't ruin the ties.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
#10
HA, HA, HA! That actually makes me feel better about my trackwork! :D:D:D

Alright. Styrene it is... if the clickity-clack gets to me. ;)
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
#11
Keep in mind that the experiments were conducted on straight-and-level track, with engine and cars that have considerably more density than our models usually have, especially in the trucks. Therefore, the wheels and trucks on our models are more likely to twist when they hit a large gap, which will cause them to derail. For argument's sake, let us assume that an HO scale wheel possibly can handle a gap one-half the diameter of the wheel. A scale 33" diameter wheel (33"/2/87.5 = .188"), which is 3/16". Now, I'm not certain that the truck won't twist with that size gap, but that's a possibility...on straight track. On a curve, with the gap on the inside of the curve, you might make it. With the gap on the outside of the curve, more than likely, the flange will "pick" the gap and derail. I think I would prefer a gap MUCH smaller-to-none. Just saying...
 

Sirfoldalot

Plucked Tailfeathers
Staff member
#12
If your joints are soldered -- Fill the gap with Water Putty or JB Weld and file them down -- then paint/weather to your hearts content!
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
#13
There may be some places where you may need to have a few gaps! o_O If your layout is subject to dramatic changes in temperature, you may need expansion gaps to keep the rails from buckling. Mostly, though, a few thousandths of an inch will suffice. And, if possible, keep such gaps on tangent (straight) track.
 



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