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New Microtrack

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  • Ken Armstrong
    As an N-scaler who has recently begun to dabble in Z-scale, I have used MIcrotrack exclusively so far. I have not noticed a problem with voltage drops but have
    Message 1 of 14 , Sep 27, 2008
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      As an N-scaler who has recently begun to dabble in Z-scale, I have used
      MIcrotrack exclusively so far. I have not noticed a problem with voltage
      drops but have very limited running time.

      However in N-scale the same problem occurs and is not generally from
      corrosion but caused by dirt on the track. Regardless of how clean your
      wheels are N-scale track needs cleaning whenever it is used and again
      after 4-6 hours running time. A wipe with paper towel soaked with
      windshield washer fluid - which is mainly isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
      and very cheap - is usually enough. For shows we frequently include a
      track cleaning car in the consist and that helps greatly. This is
      usually a boxcar with small piece of Masonite mounted and weighted so it
      floats and rubs over the rails. Commercially available cleaning cars are
      also excellent but cost more and this works well enough.

      The problem with joints and joiners seems to be dirt that works into the
      spaces and hardens. This is an excellent insulator and limits or blocks
      the flow of current. Soldering solves this problem but prevents the
      track from adjusting to expansion and contraction with temperature
      changes. In N-scale the shift is often enough to pull track off the
      roadbed, shift the rails out of gauge, and/or pull the rails off the
      ties. All these are difficult to repair neatly without replacing the track.

      I would expect MicroTrack and Kato track to be more stable but they are
      more expensive and as mentioned, less flexible.

      Ken A.
    • Garth Hamilton
      I m with Jim on this one. In N-scale I have a 8 x 24 ft layout with Micro Engineering code 55 flex and switches and I have only one power drop per block and
      Message 2 of 14 , Sep 27, 2008
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        I'm with Jim on this one. In N-scale I have a 8 x 24 ft layout with
        Micro Engineering code 55 flex and switches and I have only one power
        drop per block and the longest block is 20 feet. I have no power drop
        problems but the layout is blocked for power but oxidization over
        time has been a problem with this product.

        In Z-scale I have 4 x 16 feet dual main track using Micro Trains
        track, which replaces the Peco and Marklin I used to run, with
        sidings and only a single feed and I have no power problems and
        yesterday I just powered the second main on its own so I could run 2
        trains in opposite directions. I have LED Light signals on the
        control board that tell me if the power is of the same polarity
        between the two lines if I am using a cross over.

        Power drop is a function of voltage and current as related to the
        size of the conductor and the ability of the joint hardware to handle
        that current. In Z these values are so small as to be insignificant
        if your track joiners are of good quality material and in good
        condition. In N-scale they are bit more significant but with good
        track and connectors it is not a problem. Using Micro Engineering
        track which I like the biggest my problem is oxidization on rail and
        switch points and Joiners over time (years in my case). The new Atlas
        track seems to better resist the oxidation and so requires less
        cleaning to keep it operational so far.

        On my traction layout using Tomix roadbed track I do not have the
        oxidization problem and one feed to the trackwork is all it needs
        even for a large T-trak set up. I have seen the same with Kato
        Unitrak. My experience with Micro Trains and RealZJ roadbed track is
        it is all as bullet proof as track gets with minimal care in
        handling. Even used on N-trak modules I found Kato Unitrak to be less
        of a hassle over the life off the module than any other type of
        trackwork. There are some craftsmen who can make anything work and
        work well but I find Unitrak seems to make it easier for those who
        not as blessed to produce trackwork that comes way up in reliability
        over any other track they have laid. I can vouch for Micro Trains and
        RealZJ in Z as well as Kato and Tomix in N, but have no experience
        with other types such as EZ-track.

        Using the roadbed track I have taken to creating custom pieces of
        track to fill in those oddball gaps the require less than a normal
        pieces of track and even those have not been problematic so no excuse
        for not using it. Sure it would be great to have another radii that
        is larger than the 220mm we have currently but do not let that stop
        you from using it as you can get good results with it right now.

        So yes roadbed track is not the answer for everybody but it makes it
        easier for the challenged to achieve a greater result and for the
        talented to hide the fact it is what it is and get truly trouble free
        operating. I visited Jim's CCRR this past summer and there is no
        doubt in my mind what the talented can do with this track. If you do
        not know that the track is roadbed you would not guess by looking at
        it. I had to get my reading classes out and get my nose down to the
        track to discern that it was roadbed track.

        cheers Garth



        At 09:06 AM 9/27/2008, you wrote:
        >5b. Re: New Microtrack
        > Posted by: "Jim O'Connell" jimo.crcmnvgtr@... socalz44
        > Date: Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:08 pm ((PDT))
        >
        >
        >
        >"While the jury is still out on Microtrack"
        >
        >Hello Roy, I was intriqued by your two cents worth. A couple of
        >things: Where do you N scalers hang out and store your layouts? It
        >sounds a bit damp and swamplike to me. I've lived on a boat with my
        >first layout for years and never did I find one hint of corrosion on
        >my nickel silver track or joiners. And that is salt air I'm talking
        >about. If you N scalers are plagued by corrosion maybe a class in
        >soldering and track work is needed. Another thing, I've built two
        >big layouts. One had over 90' of mainline and the current layout 75'.
        >The first was flex and the second is all Micro Track. On each layout
        >I did some testing. The results on a voltmeter from one side of each
        >layout to the other side of the layout, including tests on all spurs
        >and sidings, were the flex track layout current NEVER varied more
        >than .01 DCV with only ONE pair of + and - feeder wires. On my Micro
        >Track layout NO measured current loss. My conclusions are that the
        >size of Z track is more important to current loss than length of
        >track. Is it possible that larger scale track 'uses' up electricity
        >with length? I think this wasteful habit of soldering wires to every
        >track piece is a carry over from the old days when track wasn't as
        >electrically conductive as today's offerings. Now, I am quite happy
        >to say that I did run feeder wires to three different places on my
        >layout. I don't think I needed to, as my tests proved to me, but I
        >did it anyway as a compromise to my betters. .01 DCV is not enough to
        >affect any train operations in any scale. I think wiring every track
        >piece is a waste of modeling time. If one is a frustrated electrical
        >geek, then more power to you, go for it. In my mind wiring each track
        >section is more often a coverup for poor track work, not a necessity,
        >and the putting off of the eventual possible poor scenery job to
        >come. Simply, one can play around all they want in our hobby. One
        >can make their 4'x8' layout last a lifetime. One can procrastinate on
        >every facet. To me I like to get on with the job. As for the jury
        >still being out. I feel there is no vertict to be given. That's my 2
        >cent worth. Cheers, Jim CCRR
      • Roy S.
        Micro-track has been on the market for what, about a year now?  Unitrack has been around for 12 years or so.  You can disregard that kind of experience if
        Message 3 of 14 , Sep 27, 2008
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          Micro-track has been on the market for what, about a year now?  Unitrack has been around for 12 years or so.  You can disregard that kind of experience if you like, but it will be on your head.  Nickel-silver, or more correctly white brass, will oxidize.  Slowly but eventually, whether you  live in the swamp or the desert.  While the beauty of white brass is that its oxides tend to be conductive the corrosion will expand pressure fitted joints.  The slow process of thermal expansion will do the same, and eventually your rail joiners will start to fail to conduct electricity.  And while I'm sure you measured no voltage drop across your rails you didn't do it under load so your readings are useless.  I'm not going to look up ohms per foot of code 60 rail since I don't feel like scientifically defending a flame by someone who doesn't understand basic principals of material science and electrical engineering.
           
          Roy



          "While the jury is still out on Microtrack"

          Hello Roy, I was intriqued by your two cents worth. A couple of
          things: Where do you N scalers hang out and store your layouts? It
          sounds a bit damp and swamplike to me. I've lived on a boat with my
          first layout for years and never did I find one hint of corrosion on
          my nickel silver track or joiners. And that is salt air I'm talking
          about. If you N scalers are plagued by corrosion maybe a class in
          soldering and track work is needed. Another thing, I've built two
          big layouts. One had over 90' of mainline and the current layout 75'.
          The first was flex and the second is all Micro Track. On each layout
          I did some testing. The results on a voltmeter from one side of each
          layout to the other side of the layout, including tests on all spurs
          and sidings, were the flex track layout current NEVER varied more
          than .01 DCV with only ONE pair of + and - feeder wires. On my Micro
          Track layout NO measured current loss. My conclusions are that the
          size of Z track is more important to current loss than length of
          track. Is it possible that larger scale track 'uses' up electricity
          with length? I think this wasteful habit of soldering wires to every
          track piece is a carry over from the old days when track wasn't as
          electrically conductive as today's offerings. Now, I am quite happy
          to say that I did run feeder wires to three different places on my
          layout. I don't think I needed to, as my tests proved to me, but I
          did it anyway as a compromise to my betters. .01 DCV is not enough to
          affect any train operations in any scale. I think wiring every track
          piece is a waste of modeling time. If one is a frustrated electrical
          geek, then more power to you, go for it. In my mind wiring each track
          section is more often a coverup for poor track work, not a necessity,
          and the putting off of the eventual possible poor scenery job to
          come. Simply, one can play around all they want in our hobby. One
          can make their 4'x8' layout last a lifetime. One can procrastinate on
          every facet. To me I like to get on with the job. As for the jury
          still being out. I feel there is no vertict to be given. That's my 2
          cent worth. Cheers, Jim CCRR







          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jim O'Connell
          Hi Roy, It does sort of look like we Z scalers are piling on a bit. Sorry for that. Actually MicroTrack appeared early in 2006 if memory serves. I will
          Message 4 of 14 , Sep 27, 2008
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            Hi Roy, It does sort of look like we Z scalers are piling on a bit.
            Sorry for that. Actually MicroTrack appeared early in 2006 if memory
            serves. I will admit, and have done so before, that my knowledge of
            electricity is very, very, limited. I failed to mention that I had
            posted my findings before and the 'underload' issue was mentioned then.
            I redid my testing back then and while I don't know an ohm or an o mani
            padme om, I could not discern any voltage drop with a loco running
            around the track during the test either. The loco never slowed down or
            sped up. Certainly there had to be some measureable differences but,
            none I saw, or felt I should be concerned with on my equipment. As for
            track corrosion, I'm still using MTL flex track on my bridges that date
            back over ten years. This morning I got down and dirty with a
            magnifying glass and could not find any signs of corrosion. Go figure.
            Thanks for dropping by. Cheers, Jim CCRR
          • David George
            I m jumping into this string w/o reading most of the post,,,except the notes on excessive feeder wires. I have a rather large modular layout (22 x 28 ) in a
            Message 5 of 14 , Sep 27, 2008
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              I'm jumping into this string w/o reading most of the post,,,except the notes on excessive feeder wires.
              I have a rather large modular layout (22' x 28' ) in a "C" configuration . I have 10 modules of various sizes bolted together a few times a year for shows. I've beencircuit for 9 years and ,,,against my crews wishes-Garth Hamilton ,Ed Scullin & Don Avila- I still only use track joiners as my current'current'
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Don A
              To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Saturday, September 27, 2008 8:42 AM
              Subject: [Z_Scale] Re: New Microtrack


              Well said there, "Old Salty"...

              ...don

              --- In z_scale@yahoogroups.com, "Jim O'Connell" <jimo.crcmnvgtr@...>
              wrote:
              >
              >
              >
              > "While the jury is still out on Microtrack"
              >
              > Hello Roy, I was intriqued by your two cents worth. A couple of
              > things: Where do you N scalers hang out and store your layouts? It
              > sounds a bit damp and swamplike to me. I've lived on a boat with my
              > first layout for years and never did I find one hint of corrosion on
              > my nickel silver track or joiners. And that is salt air I'm talking
              > about. If you N scalers are plagued by corrosion maybe a class in
              > soldering and track work is needed. Another thing, I've built two
              > big layouts. One had over 90' of mainline and the current layout 75'.
              > The first was flex and the second is all Micro Track. On each layout
              > I did some testing. The results on a voltmeter from one side of each
              > layout to the other side of the layout, including tests on all spurs
              > and sidings, were the flex track layout current NEVER varied more
              > than .01 DCV with only ONE pair of + and - feeder wires. On my Micro
              > Track layout NO measured current loss. My conclusions are that the
              > size of Z track is more important to current loss than length of
              > track. Is it possible that larger scale track 'uses' up electricity
              > with length? I think this wasteful habit of soldering wires to every
              > track piece is a carry over from the old days when track wasn't as
              > electrically conductive as today's offerings. Now, I am quite happy
              > to say that I did run feeder wires to three different places on my
              > layout. I don't think I needed to, as my tests proved to me, but I
              > did it anyway as a compromise to my betters. .01 DCV is not enough to
              > affect any train operations in any scale. I think wiring every track
              > piece is a waste of modeling time. If one is a frustrated electrical
              > geek, then more power to you, go for it. In my mind wiring each track
              > section is more often a coverup for poor track work, not a necessity,
              > and the putting off of the eventual possible poor scenery job to
              > come. Simply, one can play around all they want in our hobby. One
              > can make their 4'x8' layout last a lifetime. One can procrastinate on
              > every facet. To me I like to get on with the job. As for the jury
              > still being out. I feel there is no vertict to be given. That's my 2
              > cent worth. Cheers, Jim CCRR
              >





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Alan Cox
              ... And once every five-ten years I ll need to tweak a fishplate with the pliers momentarily. That beats having the track distort, particularly in small
              Message 6 of 14 , Sep 27, 2008
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                > While the beauty of white brass is that its oxides tend to be conductive the corrosion will expand pressure
                > fitted joints. 

                And once every five-ten years I'll need to tweak a fishplate with the
                pliers momentarily. That beats having the track distort, particularly in
                small scales.

                To be honest the only time I've ever seen a real problem with nickel
                silver track was the layout in the locoshed at Barry Island. There's a lot
                of sulphur in loco coal and the smoke suprisingly rapidly turns the track
                black and non-conductive needing quite a bit of elbow grease to get it
                back.

                Alan
              • de Champeaux Dominique
                ... You re certainly right, but in my opinion the Microtrack will be a real option when there s intermediate curve radii available. Currently, only are
                Message 7 of 14 , Sep 28, 2008
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                  >--- En date de : Sam 27.9.08, Garth Hamilton <garthah@...> a >écrit :
                  >
                  >So yes roadbed track is not the answer for everybody but it makes it
                  >easier for the challenged to achieve a greater result and for the
                  >talented to hide the fact it is what it is and get truly trouble free
                  >operating.

                  You're certainly right, but in my opinion the Microtrack will be a real option when there's intermediate curve radii available. Currently, only are available R=195mm, R=220mm and R=490mm (same radii than Marklin's).

                  So I think to be complete this brand should add some radii in the 300-400mm range. Myself I'm currently working on a layout that uses R=350mm (14") curve radii, that's why I'm using MTL flextrack.

                  Dom
                • Uwe Liermann
                  Hello Dominique, ... I also think that the roadbed track is a good way to start layouts. Unfortunately besides the missing radii and angles (the 220 still is
                  Message 8 of 14 , Sep 28, 2008
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                    Hello Dominique,

                    you wrote:

                    > ...in my opinion the Microtrack will be a real option when there's
                    > intermediate curve radii available...

                    > So I think to be complete this brand should add some radii in the
                    > 300-400mm range. Myself I'm currently working on a layout that uses
                    > R=350mm (14") curve radii, that's why I'm using MTL flextrack.

                    I also think that the roadbed track is a good way to start layouts.
                    Unfortunately besides the missing radii and angles (the 220 still is
                    only available in 45°) also some of the straights in short length are
                    missing.

                    Those that are a little more experienced can overcome this by
                    customizing the existing sections, but for starters it would be better
                    to have a complete range of track sections available.

                    About the wider radii, if you follow the 25mm steps that Maerklin have
                    started with, and which are also fixed in the turn out radii, the
                    345mm or 370mm would be the choice to make. I'm still wondering why
                    Maerklin didn't fixed the turn out radii to get a turn out curve
                    section that follows into this steps. 470mm or 495mm instead of 490mm
                    would have been great. Besides the 13° angle don't make a full circle.
                    15° would have been perfect. By the way, is there anyone who could say
                    if those numbers: 470mm or 495mm and 15° would match to a correct turn
                    out geometry?

                    The real icing on the cake for those who wants to go to flex combined
                    with Microtrack would be a piece of track to go from roadbed to
                    nonroadbed track. In H0 Maerklin does have those. If they look good I
                    would use them also in a layout when I come from a roadbed section of
                    the layout into a yard area, where there often isn't a high roadbed.

                    It would be interesting if we could get to know how the schedule of
                    releasing other Microtrack sectional pieces is planned. And which
                    parts are planned anyway.


                    --
                    GreetingZ
                    Uwe
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