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Thoughts on Atlas Code 83 Track

Wayne posted this question:

“It’s taken me a while, but I’m now at the point of buying track for my first HO layout which will be 9ftx4ft. My cousin uses Atlas code 83 track, but before committing I would like other people’s thoughts on what track would be best? Does it come down to personal preference, or is one track better than another?”

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6 Responses to Thoughts on Atlas Code 83 Track

  • David Stokes says:

    My preference is for Peco Code 83. Atlas is as good, but not available everywhere. Their points (switches) do not appear as well engineered, but Peco’s will connect to Atlas track.

  • Hervey says:

    Wayne,
    I would be hard pressed to say one type of track is better than another but I caution you not to mix different manufacturers on your layout.While they are all code 83 when you look at the actual dimensions of a cross section of the rail they are all different. Every joint between different manufactures is a potential site for problems.
    So before deciding what manufacturer you are going to use make sure they manufacture all the different turnouts you will need.
    Look into a layout design program that will give you a list of turnouts by type and make sure they are all from the same manufacturer. Then use the same manufacturers for your flex track.

  • Frank B says:

    The number indicates the height of the rail in thousandths of an inch. Finer track is more realistic, but needs to be handled a little more carefully.

    You can use different brands, but sticking with one make usually will make life easier. But main line and siding track can be different track in real life.

  • phil johnson says:

    I’ve used Atlas and have no complaints until it comes to laying curves, For curves I’ve switched to Micro-Engineering. Atlas flex is very springy and doesn’t hold our curve radius w/o spikes/nails or pins. Micro doesn’t need them, it holds the radius. Their turnouts have improved 100fold. I, personally, like the new Walthers and Micro-Engineering, better.

  • Morgan Bilbo says:

    This is how I decided. ME is better looking. Atlas is more crude. PECO is preferred. PECO has a better selection of size, # of turnouts, etc. Atlas may be cheaper, but not as much as it used to be. So, for me, I spent a bit more and bought the PECO. And I am happy with my choice. I’ve heard that ME is harder to curve. Atlas is easy to curve, but hard to get straightened later. I found PECO easy to work with. Also, none are very prototypical looking. All track needs tweaking later. Paint, rough up, finessing. If – you want it looking great. I don’t remember, but. Some track has holes in the middle of the ties for tacking down. I think that’s bad. Too easy to nail too hard and dent the tie. I prefer caulking down track and roadbed. Easier and if not a permanent caulk, can be pried up for repair or such. Hope this helps.

  • Don Cheeks says:

    I have read multiple post about not mixing track brands. I have been modeling in HO since 1964 an have all sorts of mixed track. Tyco, Atlas, Peco, a few from Italy I can’t spell. My layout in 13 x 13 with miles of scale track and a 2 x 12 yard. I have virtually NO problems anywhere on my Layout. Its all code 83 Brass. Yes I hear the scowls already, LOL. Just saying if you already have track use what ever brands you have. IF I were just starting out yes I would try to stick yo one brand of Nickel Silver but a 10 year old kid starting out, using his paper route to fund his empire had to use what he could afford. Yes, I am still using that same track. Thanks for reading my 2 cents. Happy Railroading.

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