Which Model Train Track is Best?


There are many types of train tracks you can choose from, but you need to be prepared to do the work. There are five major types of model train tracks. These include the following:

  • Track codes
  • Rail metals
  • Integrated/Standard track
  • Flex track
  • Switches

You want to choose the track that best suits your experience level and desire to learn. Integrated tracks are great for beginners and children, while flex tracks allow you to expand on your track.

Model train tracks are fun to put together once you learn how to do it. Track the information in this article and discover which model train track is best.

brands of model trains

What Are the Types of Model Train Tracks?

It is up to you to decide what type of outcome you are looking for with your railroad tracks. You may be a beginner and are putting it together for the first time. The following are all the different model railroad tracks you can use.

You will find that companies that make the trains also make the tracks to go with them. The most popular companies are:

  • Lionel™
  • Bachmann™
  • Kato USA Train™
  • Hot Bee™

The best of the best is, of course, Lionel. They are well made and are the best bang for the buck.

Track Codes

The National Model Railroad Association determines track codes. The code number equals the amount of the rails in thousandths of an inch. You can use different codes of tracks for the same model railroad scene.

When you attach rails of different codes, you will require a transition joint. If you plan your railroad scene, you will know how many transition joints you need and where to put them.

model train brands

Rail Metals

Different metals are used for model railroad tracks. The most common material is called nickel silver. It is easy to clean and keep nice because it is highly resistant to oxidation. Some other railroad track types include the following:

  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Brass

However, steel and brass are being phased out because they are highly corrosive and rust easily. For real trains, stainless steel is the preferred choice because it has the elasticity of aluminum but the strength of steel.

Integrated Roadbed or Standard Track

The standard track has metal rails held by their gauge and attached by plastic railroad ties. One brand of traditional track should be compatible with another, but it is not a good idea to combine different codes and metals in your layout.

Model railroad tracks with an integrated roadbed have rails attached to strips of molded plastic that look like a bed of heavy material with ties embedded in it. Integrated roadbed track keeps together better than standard track.

Most sets sold today contain integrated track because it is perfect for beginners and children. However, not all brands of integrated roadbed tracks are compatible. There are many similarities, but each manufacturer’s locking tabs on the roadbed are different.

Often, you can connect integrated roadbed tracks with standard tracks without any issue. Track with intergrading roadbed is typically sold by brand name, as all the tracks in these lines will have the same code rails.

ho scale price

Flex Track

Flex track is usually available in most model scales. Each system looks different. Flex track lives up to its name by providing countless possibilities for the model railroad track designer, as it has no strict geometry.

There are fewer joints in the track over long distances with flex track, and electrical continuity is vastly improved. Flex track is ideal for those model railroad track designers who want a fun challenge. Flex track offers the most advantageous layout and operation.

The only downside of flex track is that it does not offer an integrated roadbed. However, the track can be put on its own sub-roadbed.

Switches

Switches also referred to as turnouts, can be confusing. They are not the best if you are beginning to learn how to put together a model railroad track. They are available in both standard and integrated roadbed track types.

There are all different types of switches. These tracks are the most technical and are suited more for advanced model railroad designers.

ho scale trains

What Are Some of the Most Popular Types of Track?

Model train designing is a terrific hobby. It can be challenging to ascertain which type of train track is right for you. The following chart will give you some examples of some of the most popular kinds of tracks available for purchase.

WHO MAKES IT WHAT TYPE OF TRACK WHERE TO BUY
Lionel™ FasTrack 10″ Straight Track Amazon
Lionel O36 FasTrack Curved Track Amazon
Lionel FasTrack Electric O36 Curve Track Amazon
Bachmann™ Snap-Fit E-Z TRACK Amazon
Bachmann Snap-Fit E-Z Track®  Straight Track Amazon
Bachmann Snap-Fit E-Z REMOTE TURNOUT – RIGHT Amazon
Outland™ Railroad Scenery Signal Gantry Bridge Amazon

As you can see, there are many choices of hobby train track sets. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to buy the track of your dreams and put it together.

How Do You Know Which Track to Buy?

Integrated railroad tracks are best suited for beginners, especially children. It provides the most realistic base, as the roadbed elevates the track above the flooring and provides a more realistic locking mechanism to hold the track together.

popular model train scales

The only issue with the integrated track set is that it is incompatible with other models. If you want to expand your track, you may want to go with a flex track and take the time to learn how to put it together. This process may require some thorough investigation on your part.

Conclusion

The best model track is when you feel confident you can put it together. However, if you want to make a more extensive track, you want to make sure you are up for the challenge.

Josef

Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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