Help! Where do I start? Fast Tracks

polarMike Jul 9, 2021

  1. polarMike

    polarMike TrainBoard Member

    I currently have MTL track and turnouts and I want to go to making my own with Fast Tracks.
    Where do I start?
    What code do I go with? 40 55 ?
    What should my shopping list include when I put in the order?
  2. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

    Wow, that's a big jump! I haven't built anything with the Fast Tracks, but I have been studying it for a while, so I can make a few suggestions.

    For starters, you should a good CAD program capable of working which flex track and more prototypical turnouts than than the Märklin/MTL/Rokuhan #6 design. From there come up with a good layout design.

    Currently all commercial Z-scale rails are code either code 55 or 65. I was told in 2012 by a modeler I trust, that code 40 is not operationally reliable with current wheel designs. I don't believe that has changed.

    As far as supplies, Obviously rail, rail joiners and ties. Mostly your list will be equipment. If you decide on PCB ties, you'll need soldering equipment and you may want to p ick up to FT tool or cutting electrical isolation. For wooden ties you'll probably want to use spikes, look into tools to hold and drive the spikes. A rail bending tool will give you good curves. You'll of course need the tool to hold the rails in gage while building the track.

    For turnouts, you would want the jig(s) appropriate for building the size turnouts you designed the layout for. FT provides for a number of turnouts not otherwise available in Z. Consider the jig for cutting points.

    I know this seems like a lot, but it seems that without the proper tools, it seems to be a very challenging task.

    For this reason and the cost of entry, I've put off building FT. There are some clubs that may have the turnout fixtures available as well as some modelers who could loan some of the tools.

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  3. rray

    rray Staff Member

    I would buy Atlas code 55, and Fast Tracks code 40. Use code 55 on your mainlines, and make slow speed yards and sidings with code 40 for appearance and reliability. Just my opinion.

    It takes about an hour to an hour and a half to make a Fast Tracks turnout that works. It was cheaper for me to spend 6 hours of overtime on a Saturday and buy 20 turnouts for the time invested than it was to build 4 turnouts in the same time investment.

    Marklin and Rokuhan turnouts are ugly. MTL roadbed turnouts look better, but Fast Tracks and Atlas turnouts look the best. Hands down, a well built and carefully ballast code 40 Fast Tracks turnout looks the best.

    As far as reliability, you need to make sue everything is in proper gauge, then you should have few incidents. If you spend a whole day making turnouts and lying track, just having a few feet of carefully laid track, tested and true before and after ballasting, could be a very reasonable goal.
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  4. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

    queston ? do they make this stuff in code 80 ?
  5. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    WHY ??? Code 55 is already 'to high' in visual perspective, for Z.

    Attached is a Template guide to make the isolation cuts. It is kinda easy to make the turnouts, but really not practical. Gauging, gets variable, solder is not all that strong so sometimes the points come off, the divergent rails from the frog have 2 ties to secure them, cutting the isolation gaps with a jewelers saw (#30 blade is SMALL) requires loosing-passing thru-tightening-sawing-loosing-removing and repeat for other side of frog. Like Rob says (he saw me making N scale ones for a year), use a few up front and live with the Atlas turnouts in the distance. You'll thank us.

    You will either need to Buy or print Laser-cut tie templates.

    And don't put the Switch Rod (connecting the Points) where Fast Tracks does. Move it one tie closer to the Frog. There is more metal to solder to. Note that the points are on a different 'arc' from each other. This makes the PC board soldered tie 'stress' the solder as it tries to bend with the points throw.

    Another CHEAP way is to print the Fast Tracks template and tape the starting PC board ties, visually start and use a 3-point gauge to match the to-scale template.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
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  6. animek

    animek TrainBoard Member

    Here’s what I bought for my first turnout buildup.

    The Z Scale, #6 Turnout kit Assembly Fixture for Micro Engineering 55 Rail

    PointForm Filing Tool: (pretty much essential)
    PointForm filing jig for frog and switch points. Recommended

    StockAid Filing Tool:
    StockAid filing tool for filing the Stock Rail Recommended if you do not already have one -
    I never bought this tool, always thought I would later come back and buy it when I had more money available, but I have a Delta belt sander, and it does a good job for grinding away the siding of the rails.

    QuickSticks Wood Ties:
    QuickSticks laser cut wood ties - Enough to build 5 switches - Recommended - (pretty much essential)

    Micro Engineering Rail:
    9 pieces of 18" long Micro Engineering rail - Enough to build 5 switches Recommended - (pretty much essential)

    CopperHead PCB Ties:
    1 Fret CopperHead PC Board Ties - Enough to build 5 switches Recommended - (pretty much essential)

    Individual Wood Ties:
    1 bag(s) of individual wood ties - Enough for 5 switches - $24.87 CA (I bought this)

    Small Diameter Solder:
    15ft Roll .015" small diameter solder Recommended - $6.42 CA (I bought this)

    Zona Adjustable Jewelers Saw
    Included Items: Zona 5" Jewelers Saw Blades (I bought this) I did not have a similar one, so that you can make a small kerf when cutting the rails (my dexterity is not good enough when using a diamond mini disk with my Dremel)

    For gluing, I’ve used Lepage contact cement, a Canadian brand.

    I already had some small rail cutters. And a really fine tip welder.

    Follow their video, and everything should go fine, my first one took me around 5 hours ☹ (I think I was cutting kits on my laser at the same time back then).

    Ah yes, you will need a good steel file.

    Have fun!
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  7. shortpainter

    shortpainter TrainBoard Member

    Can anyone show pictures of code 40 turnouts they have built and ballasted?
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  8. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

    so no friggin answer about code 80 .?
  9. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

    Code 80 yes i think Atlas makes a code 80 or is it code 83 rail. But i would not use it for Z scale unless your going for the cartoon look
    Code 83 rail is better suited for N or HO scale.
  10. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

    Code 80 for Z? That would make the prototype rail over 17.5 inches high, or more than the radius of a wheel. Code 55 with it's 12" prototype rail is tolerable. At least there were a couple of railroads that actually used something this size.
    bostonjim likes this.
  11. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    Added notes:
    If you buy the Micro Engineering rail (18” or 36”), make sure it is *NOT* the ‘Weathered’ as you will NEVER be able to solder to it (Without completely scraping the coating off the bottom and sides of the rail for each place you want to solder)

    Medium, flat tip (not point contact to rail/tile). PC board ties may look clean, but they are not. Try your soldering before building. Place .032” or smaller .025 or better .020 on the PC and press the Iron tip hard down on it. It should near immediately melt and floe completely flat, not pool (PC board not clean and/or tip temp 10-20 degrees to low)

    In a perfect world the Sauter would be only under the rails and not be a big blob on the outer side of the rail flowing onto the PC board tie. If it does look that way that it likely did not flow under the rail to make a better mechanical contact and of course a better looking joint.

    The Fixtures *Really* help with making repeatable shapes and not over/under filing or grinding. However I’ve made dozens that way, once you learn how to hold the rail while you’re running on a belt sander for the Stock rails. The Point rails should be a fixture no matter what especially the frogs.
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  12. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

    I think the poster asking about Code 80 might be in n-scale, given the footer message in the post.
    CNE1899 likes this.
  13. ZFRANK

    ZFRANK TrainBoard Member

    These are code 40 #8 handlaid according a printed template from fast tracks using fast tracks pc ties and wooden ties. See details on my web site. /Frank pic9.jpg

    Verstuurd vanaf mijn ANE-LX1 met Tapatalk
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  14. ZFRANK

    ZFRANK TrainBoard Member

    I did make this aluminum template with help of the ft printed template. It works not as easy and is less accurate than when using the ft tools, but good enough for me. /Frank switch5.jpg

    Verstuurd vanaf mijn ANE-LX1 met Tapatalk
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  15. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

    Beautiful trackwork Frank, looks awesome!(y)

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