If you're looking for replacement track for an older HO-scale train set, Atlas makes the industry
standard high quality nickel silver section track. Older sets were supplied with either brass or steel rail section track.
Brass oxidizes and most examples of train set track I've examined from '60s-'80s train sets is beyond bothering with trying
to operate. Steel rail section track is a bit better than brass, but it does not conduct electricity as efficiently as nickel
silver. Save yourself the headaches and invest in new nickel silver track. It doesn't cost much to set up a simple oval
layout and you'll be happier with the performance of even older low quality locos.
The straight sections found in train sets are 9" pieces. Above you'll find Atlas Code 100 9"-straight
section packs. Additionally, I've included Atlas' Terminal Section. This is a 9"-straight section that includes a square
block in the center of the piece with two screw terminals. The DC output of your power pack should include two terminals.
Attach a wire to each output terminal on your pack and then hook one wire to each lead on the Terminal Track. Another good
piece to consider is a Rerailer. This 9"-straight section looks like a road crossing, but it serves to keep your train properly
rolling down your rails.
Curve sections are nearly always 18"-radius in older train sets. If you have the room, it is
recommended to move to wider radius curves. Atlas' 22"-radius curves are better for operation and appearance of your model
trains. All these items are featured above. Click on any to order.
If you're not familiar, there are a handful of rail heights available in HO-scale track. The
industry standard and what was found in nearly all train sets of the past was Code 100 rail. Be careful when you purchase
new track sections that you maintain the same code or size on all your rail for good compatibility. The track presented on
this page is all Code 100 that would work with older section track included in '60s-'80s AHM, Bachmann, Like-Life, TYCO and
other manufacturers sets.
What Code Is Your Track?
With few exceptions, train sets are generally packed with Code 100 section track. The name refers
to the height of the rails. Code 100 is the largest and most common rail size in HO-scale. Smaller Code 83 rail
is also very popular and its size provides for a more scale appearance to the rails. More serious prototypical operators
also utilize the even smaller Code 70 and very small Code 55. No size is necessarily absolutely right or wrong.
In general, a Code 100 operation allows for the use of cars and locos with deeper flanges on the wheels. Transition
sections are made that allow one to go from Code 100 rail to Code 83. In general practice, you can not easily go from
one piece of say Code 100 track to a piece of Code 83 track and back again to Code 100. So, if you're starting out and
you want to add to the track you've gotten with a train set you likely are working with Code 100 rail. Any good hobby
shop can show you the different types of rail and help you identify what you currently own.
What Type Of Rail?
In the past, brass track was the most common type of track supplied in train sets. Brass track
means the rails are made from brass. Around 1980, most of the ready-to-run train set makers began switching to steel
track. Additionally, nickel silver rail is available.
Though once popular, brass track is mostly a thing of the past. If you are attempting to build
a new layout, do yourself a favor and skip using any brass track. Brass rail oxidizes and requires frequent cleaning
of the railheads to keep good conductivity between the wheels and the rails. Considering the cost of track, as mentioned
you'll be much happier with your operation if you avoid brass.
More recent train set offerings come with either steel or nickel silver rails. Both are good,
however nickel silver is best. Steel is usually a bit cheaper than nickel silver. Both require similar routine
cleaning, though not nearly as much as brass.
If you're not familar, brass track has a gold or rusty like appearance. Steel is silver,
but usually has a somewhat dull appearance to it. Nickel silver has a silver-gold look and is usually shiny.
A great innovation in train sets, the inclusion of roadbed track makes for much less trouble in simply
setting up a quick circle or oval of track. A piece of roadbed track includes the traditional rails and ties, plus the
gravel or ballasted foundation too. This gives a firm and even base for the track to rest upon and the roadbed sections
connect together and won't easily come apart during operation. A number of companies make roadbed track and sadly no
standard exists in the industry. For example, you might purchase a Bachmann train set and it will be equipped with their
E-Z Track; while a Life-Like train set will be packed with Power-Loc Track. Neither will connect to each other.
Other popular roadbed tracks are Atlas' True-Track and Kato's Uni-Track. Again, none currently will work with any other.
Another factor in your planning should be which type of roadbed track you pick, as you'll likely want to stick with it once
Standard or non-roadbed track sections are not generally incompatible. Meaning, you could
take a piece of TYCO track and connect it to a section of track from Atlas, Micro-Engineering, or any other maker of traditional