Atlas or Bachmann EZ Track

Discussion in 'HO Scale' started by R. L., Mar 26, 2012.

  1. R. L.

    R. L. TrainBoard Member

    My first of many questions:Should I start with Atlas track or buy more of the EZ track that my first beginner set came with?

    Here are the considerations-I have a Red Rock Santa Fe set, 36" circle, and I purchased an expansion set, two turnouts, 4 curves and 4 straights, so I have a nice oval that fits on our kitchen table.

    At this time I don't see myself going into great detail as far as scenery goes, but I do want to add enough track to have at least a couple, maybe three tracks that are joined with enough sides for me to do some switching.

    So..., should I stay with EZ track, or will I need to go with Atlas or maybe some other brand? I do want to someday run some long locomotives and from what I've learned so far I will need a larger radius than 18". I just don't know if using Bachmann EZ track will allow me to customize a layout like I'm "thinking" I want. I say "thinking" because I am totally new at model railroading so you've got yourself a greenhand of the first degree here, lol.

    One other consideration here is that I do not want to build track from scratch. I want track that I can put together in a short amount of time and run my trains. I know I must sound like the authentic model railroader's worst case scenario...but I just want to run my trains.:)

    Of course money is also a consideration. Should I keep buying EZ track, or stop now, and start buying another brand? Because one of these is going to end up being my grand layout, and I do want to eventually have at least an 8x10 layout.....someday.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    R. L.

    The pic is my new Engine, so now I have two! An F7 and ....I told you guys I was new at this, I'll have to look again to see what kind of engine I just bought.

    Hey don't laugh, you were there once too. :)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2012
  2. jeffrey-wimberly

    jeffrey-wimberly TrainBoard Member

    Your other loco is a GP38-2. I have one too.

    First, if your EZ-Track has black roadbed do yourself a favor and ditch it now. The steel rail will need more and more frequent cleaning. Rather quickly the zinc plating on it will wear through and cause more problems.

    If your EZ-Track has gray roadbed you have nickel silver rail which is no bad thing except for the cost of the EZ-Track. Believe me, I know about the cost of EZ-Track. Every bit of track on my layout is Bachmann EZ-Track, including the turnouts. The turnouts can be a sore point as they frequently don't work well right out of the package. I've learned over the years how to tweak mine to make them reliable. I have EZ-Track turnouts that still operate after nearly fifteen years but they're the exception to the rule. On average these turnouts last five to ten years at the very best providing you can get them to operate reliably in the first place. I have some Proto 2000 and Atlas locos that no matter what I do seem to be allergic to the Bachmann turnouts. They work well with all the other other Bachmann track components, just not the turnouts. My advice if you want to keep using the EZ-Track is to use Atlas turnouts but stay away from the Atlas Snap Switch turnouts and use the Custom Line instead.This will require building up roadbed under the turnouts but that's a small price to pay for better function. The Atlas rail joiners will connect to the Bachmann track with no modification. To make putting in roadbed under the turnouts easier you can remove the EZ-Track clips by simply snapping them off or for a flush appearance cut them off but only where the Atlas track will connect. Examine your EZ-Track closely. Sight down it like you would a board. If the ends rise up don't use those pieces on your layout. They'll cause ther couplers to rise and fall as the cars go over the track and can cause uncouplings. If the curves seem to rise or fall on one side in the middle don't use them. They will cause your curve to tilt in the middle while the ends lay flat. This will cause your cars to seem to bob and weave through the curve and can cause a car or cars to fall over causing other rolling stock to fall over in a 'stringline' derailment. I've seen all of these problems and therefore know to avoid them.
  3. bobwrgt

    bobwrgt TrainBoard Member

    You should be able to mix black and gray roadbed if you need to in EZ track. The gray roadbed track comes in 22in radius curve that should allow you ro run most 6 axel engines. If you get more turnouts also get the larger ones.

  4. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    RL - welcome to Trainboard and model railroading. Do you see yourself looking at doing this more than a couple of months or just at Christmas time then I would go with the Atlas track. Even if you just have a 4 x 8 sheet of ply wood for your layout (and I WOULDN"T but that is a different thread) then I would stay with the Atlas track.

    I have no knowledge of the other two as which is better so I can not recommend either.


  5. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    Your kitchen table layout reminds of my dining room table switching layout..

    So,I will suggest using Kato UniTrack instead of Bachman or Atlas track.

    IMHO the Kato track is the supperior to either Atlas or Bachman track.
  6. R. L.

    R. L. TrainBoard Member

    Thanks very much for the kind insight.

    I think I need to start with a boxed layout just to keep it simple for me....but now, what is this "non powered and powered stuff"?
    One layout has a turnout that says, "this turnout is required to be set to "non-power routing" even though under the analog DC environment". - and this means???

    Good news is I have enough EZ track to at least run an oval so I can start with what I have.

    The other good news is Kato makes some sets that I can buy without having to start designing from scratch, so I think I will go the Kato Unitrack route, but I also want to know what the difference is between 83 and 100.

    Also, will my Bachmann DC Xfmr/Command Center work with Kato? I'm under the impression that it will/should.

    Anyway, thanks again for the help...I've got a long long long way to go, lol.:)
  7. jeffrey-wimberly

    jeffrey-wimberly TrainBoard Member

    Code 83 and code 100. The number refers to rail height. The difference is 17/1,000's of an inch. Code 100 is the tallest rail you can get in HO. Code 83 is more prototypical. Personally I find that once it's ballasted and the scenery is in it all looks pretty much the same unless you have a rivet counter measuring the rail with a micrometer.

    Every Bachmann EZ-Track turnout I know of is non-power routing so I have to assume you're talking about another company's turnout. A power routing turnout does just what the name implies. It routes power to the track it's switched to. That sounds fine and dandy but if you're operating in DCC or DC and you switch the turnout to another track that track now has power and the track you switched away from no longer has power until you switch it back. If there was a train running on that track it just stopped dead. Switching the turnout to non-power routing prevents this from happening by keeping both tracks powered at all times no matter which way the turnout is pointed. All my turnouts are non-power routing so all tracks are powered all the time. If I want to cut power to a spur or siding I can simply cut a gap in the rail and install a toggle switch to turn that piece of track on and off. Also power routing turnouts can get really fussy about directing power to the rails if the area where the switch points meet the rail gets dirty. In the area where I live the dust and humidity are murder and in my younger days I was having to keep the switch points clean all the time and after a while I was feeling like I was a slave to the turnouts. Since then I've used ONLY non-power routing turnouts.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2012
  8. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Running Bear - Going to respectfully disagree with you if the intent is someday to build a larger layout. I don't consider myself especially "sighted" in the case of code 83 vs. 100, but painted and ballasted the shiny railhead in 83 looks more prototypical and smaller. It is also, more expensive.

    But take heart, I used my code 100 in staging and in hard to sight areas and kept the 83, 70, and 55 where it was right "upfront."
  9. R. L.

    R. L. TrainBoard Member

    So if I'm understanding this correctly, all these tracks can be used together and the differences in height is not enough to negatively affect the trains?

    I was thinking that whatever track you started with, that's the track you had to stay with throughout the layout.....

    I'm learning...and thanks Jeffery for the info on turnouts. I now know something else I did not know before.:thumbs_up:

    Well it's going to be at least a few more weeks before I can order any Kato track so that will give me time to ask more questions here eh?

    Thanks again everyone for your help.

    R. L.
  10. jeffrey-wimberly

    jeffrey-wimberly TrainBoard Member

    The height difference between code 83 and code 100 is slight but will be a very noticeable bump when your train goes over it and can cause a derailment. There are rail joiners to join the track types together. If you fail to find them you can do the following. Put a regular rail joiner on a piece of code 100 rail. Crush the empty end of the joiner. Solder the code 83 rail on to of the crushed joiner. This should have the rail tops at or very close to the same height. Any slight bump can be filed down. Another approach which is a bit more labor intensive is to take a four inch piece of code 100 track and file the rail heads down until it's code 100 at one end and eases down to code 83 at the other end. Walthers sells a transition track that does just that.
  11. jeffrey-wimberly

    jeffrey-wimberly TrainBoard Member

    Yes, it is more expensive. Another reason I avoid it. Plus EZ-Track is code 100 only. But as to the price difference of Atlas code 100 and code 83 track just click the following links: Code 100. Code 83.
  12. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I also like Kato Unitrak. For me this was a carry over from N-Scale where I pretty much used only Kato Track (I did have some Atlas track but the layout was built using Kato). In HO scale the same pattern has happened where I had some Atlas Code 83 track and ended up using Kato track for the layout. It is high quality track, looks decent (roadbed needs to be dressed up with ballast) and I like the turnouts with internal switch machines. It is however not cheap but from a perm layout perspective, once a person adds up the cost of roadbed, time in labor, switch machines and other materials, Kato track is almost on par with Atlas track.

    It is pretty much the same as EZ-track in that it can be setup and tore down quickly but IMO is higher in quality.
  13. Tuna

    Tuna TrainBoard Member

    My vote is for Kato. It's code 83. Kato has ballast that matches the road bed. The switches work much better than EZ Track. The track joiners are the road bed couplers and can be replaced if broken or bad - if you break the EZ Track road bed coupler, it's toast as far as snap together again. The Kato joiners can be insulted or power coupling and can be used to provide power to the track.
  14. R. L.

    R. L. TrainBoard Member

    Thanks very much for the, next question.

    Will my Bachmann DC power pak work with the Kato rerailer? Specifically, are the plugs identical, or will I be skinning wire?
  15. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I believe that you will have to skin the wire as the plugs on the Bachmann power pack are designed for Bachmann Track.
  16. jeffrey-wimberly

    jeffrey-wimberly TrainBoard Member

    If you have the wire with the Bachmann track connector you'll have to snip off the connector and strip the wire ends.
  17. sloedown

    sloedown New Member


    I just ditched my old steel track for Kato...If you can afford it then you will not regret it,,jmo
  18. R. L.

    R. L. TrainBoard Member

    I went ahead and ordered a Kato track set.

    I bought the Kato 3-0640. This will be a good start to fill out my 4x8 table I'm thinking. I have my table, just waiting to get a good 4x8 sheet of 3/4" core board at McCoys.

    I will be attempting to model two towns, Sweeny and Brazoria. Moving along slowly but I'm on my way. KAT-3-0640-2.jpg

    I'll gladly take any suggestions as to where to locate the towns. I'm thinking Sweeny will be the North side and Brazoria the South side...and the track set leaves me room to expand to Angleton when I get to that stage.

    So far it looks as though it's going to be a long haul, but it's gonna be a fun one. This is all completely new to me but I've been bitten by the bug and the slow moving does not concern least not at this juncture.
  19. R. L.

    R. L. TrainBoard Member

    Well I guess you don't model "towns"'s railroads that you're supposed to model.
    I've not done any research on the railroads that come thru these two towns. I only know what I see, and that is BNSF and UP locos. I like the color schemes of both but I really like the UP "Building America" with the American flag waving on the side of the locomotive. But for now I will do with my SF FP7 and UP GP 38-2.
    The track comes in this Wednesday so I'm hoping to have the table set up by then....but really I don't want to set it up and then have to tear it down to re-do the table.
    But that's probably exactly what I'll do. So now I've got to get some 1" foam board...a 4'x8' sheet with some adhesive on one side.
    Until then I'm thinking about putting some borders around the 4x8 sheet of plywood just to keep small items from rolling off.
    All ideas here are greatly appreciated so if any of you have had this experience, I will listen intently to all that you say.

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Sunday.
  20. R. L.

    R. L. TrainBoard Member

    Decisions I must decide whether or not to spend the extra money on DCC friendly turnout machines or just get the layout up and running using the DC turnout machines.

    Think I will give it a few more days then decide...I need 10 turnout machines so the DCC friendly ones are going to add up quick.

    Meanwhile I guess I could just set it up all manual and at least run my train...:dont-know:

Share This Page