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Fitting Different Brands of Track Together

Jim has this question for others in the hobby:

“I just got into HO trains, My late brother’s set is now mine. He has a lot of different track, and trains. I want to put his set back together but some of this track is in bad shape, he had Atlas, Power loc, and Bachmann and it does not fit together. Is there any adapters to make this work? Which brand is best for a beginner? Should I just buy all new track? If so which?”

9 Responses to Fitting Different Brands of Track Together

  • Dale Arendssays:

    Nope, they are not going to be compatible. My recommendation is to replace it all with whichever style you like better. For a beginner, I would probably recommend Bachmann as it is commonly available le and has the roadbed integral to the track. For more flexibility, however, I would go with separate roadbed (cork or homasote) and track like Atlas or Peco.

  • Persays:

    you could buy some older märklin analog M rail it’s fairly cheap

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    No your track types are not compatible. The last track I purchased was Micro Engineering and it works great. I would stay away from Bachmann track, period. I belong to a group of model railroaders and a guy built his layout using Bachmann track and he is having nothing but troubles. I would stick with the major brands, i.e., Atlas, Peco, Shinorah, Micro Engineering. I would not advise getting track already attached to roadbed. That´s for you to do. After planning and drawing out your routes the track will lay, then you first lay down cork or homosote roadbed; then you put your track on top of that and add ballast. I would also suggest that if you are planning diverging routes to allow for switches and turnouts. When I expand my present layout I plan to use under the table switch machines for the turnouts. Easier to hide and wire.

  • Kevin Chingsays:

    I have modeled HO all my life and i stick to Peco flexi Track Its a little harder to get the curves right but once that has been accomplished its plain sailing from there Just take your time and if not sure then watch how to videos on You tube there is a lot of easy to follow instructions on there. Happy modeling Rusty.

    • Sheldon Clarksays:

      There are templates you can buy to set your flexible track to specific radii, e.g. 12″, 18″, 21″. There are also more complicated contraptions that can set the track to radii of your choice, but I haven’t used them yet. Each of these devices is to a specific gauge, e.g. 16.5 m/m or 9 m/m.

  • Billsays:

    Jim,
    They are not compatible and I don’t believe you can buy adapters to make them so. That said any model railroader is loath to throw stuff out so don’t do so right away. Any layout is much better to have nickel silver track. Verify if any of the track you have is such. You don’t want steel or brass rail or you will be spending all your time fighting the oxidation and your trains will not run well. If this is your first venture into model railroading stay small.
    Track attached to roadbed is the quickest way to lay out your model railroad but offers the least flexibility. Any brand will do here just make sure it is nickel silver track. You may be able to use some of your brothers track if it is NS.
    Flex track offers more flexibility in your plans but is more work to install. You need a base (Plywood?) and then a layer of cork. There are a number of manufacturers for this type of track. What is important with flex track is that you stay with one manufacturer and one rail code (rail height). Even if a manufacturer states their rail is code 83 they are not compatible with code 83 of other manufacturers. There may not be a large difference but it may be enough cause a less than perfect rail car to derail every time it goes from one rail to the next.
    The most flexible option is hand laid track. Don’t even think about this until you have built a layout with flex track.
    If you want to design a layout relatively easily I would suggest you use the design program “Simple Computer Aided Railway Modeller” ((SCARM). There is a free ware version and it has most track types included so you can plan based on the track you wish to use. Just Google “SCARM” and you can get it for free. Once your design is complete it will provide a list of all the track parts you require to complete the plan.
    Good luck and have fun.

  • phil johnsonsays:

    suggest you check with your hobby shop. As a beginner I would suggest Atlas or Walthers/Shinohara. I would also several a couple of books on laying track.

  • Rich Matejovicsays:

    There is a Power Lok adapter that will allow connection to Atlas, Peco, and I have used it to connect to Bachmann to Power Lok. It is not great but it works. I have also connected Bachmann to Atlas and Peco. I use cork road bed to raise the Atlas and Peco to the level of the Power Lok and Bachmann. This was all done in N Scale. Some of it is still in use on my layout.

  • William Andersonsays:

    I have had success in cutting a section of Bachman and Power Lock track in half and gluing the two brands to each other, creating two transaction connectors. Of course the resulting rail gap needs to be jumped in some manner. I see no reason this would not work for other brands as well.

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