What is it about laying track that causes us to pull out every tool we own to get the job done? I have no doubt that the visual carnage currently present on top of my layout has been repeated in countless basements time and time again. Despite the feeling that a small bomb has been set off underneath my workbench, scattering hand tools far and wide, tracklaying is continuing on The Hills Line.
The biggest comment, or complaint, about Micro Engineering flex track is that it doesn’t flex. The stiffness is both a positive and a detriment to laying smooth ribbons of rail simply. I use a combination of tools to ensure that my track is a straight as possible on the tangents, including a 36-inch metal straight edge and a 10-inch Ribbonrail guide. Sliding the Ribbonrail guide back and forth between the rails usually smooths out any kinks.
Curves are more involved. I start by gently forming a piece into a broad arc by hand, then use an old MLR Manufacturing track tool to blend the track into one continuous radius. I’ll check the curve with another Ribbonrail guide to ensure I’m not dropping below my 24-inch minimum radius.
Each section of rail gets an electrical feeder. 22-gauge stranded wire is soldered underneath each piece, then connected to the bus with 3M Scotchlok Connectors.
For alignment, I use Atlas N-Scale Code 80 rail joiners. They perfectly fit onto the Code 70 track and, once painted and ballasted, will nearly disappear.
To secure the track to the foam roadbed, I use full strength Elmer’s white glue. Despite appearances, white glue holds flex track without issue. Plus it has the advantage of being easily removable if (and when) I need to make changes. Any concerns about holding power will be negated once the track is ballasted. Until then, I want the flexibility that more powerful adhesives don’t give me.