Blk69

Warped track remedy?

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Have some older track (pf) and its starting to warp a bit.  Kids are always moving the tracks around so cannot balist down to baseplates.  Also my plywood table may not be the straightest, its a bit old too. I was thinking of taking my heat gun, warming up the tracks a bit, and then setting a few books on them to keep them straight while they cool back down.  Anyone try this before to straight them back out?  Don't expect them all to go back to NASA standards.... little less wavy would be nice.

On another note, its was only when I put 2X2 plates to connect the piece of track together that I noticed how warped they were.  Put these plates in as kids bump things a bit and when the curves get jostled, they can get off a bit.  Concerned this might cause derailments.  

 

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Heat gun may be too much heating - I have had good luck placing the parts in boiling water for 5-10 seconds, and then pressing them flat with something heavy - have not tried this with tracks, though - just plates and other bent parts.

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Yep, heat will do it.  Use the heat gun, or even better, put them in hot water.  Believe it or not, you probably got them that way from LEGO.  Adding a bit of heat will relieve the stresses in the plastic, and you should be able to get it to lay flat again.  Like you said though, pile some books on it to keep it flat till it cools. 

EDIT: Seems JGW3000 beat me to it!

Edited by coaster

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You both think water is better than a heat gun?  I would be concerned I would bend the tracks more trying to remove the from the hot water.

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@Blk69 You can indeed use a heatgun to soften the plastic and make it bendable. This video shows how LEGO train track is put into shape with a heatgun for the construcion of a remarkable rollercoaster. I very much recommend the latter video, it is absolutely stunning!

 

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With a heat gun, you will have a much harder time controlling your temperature, and could easily over-soften it.  If you were trying to make the aforementioned roller coaster, then that's perfect, as you only heat the part you want.  Pulling it from the water though, It won't be that soft.  Glass transition temperature is about 220°F (105°C), so as long as you stay just below boiling you'll be fine.  if you're concerned, test it on a something you won't care if it gets ruined, like a 2x8 plate.  You'll have to work fairly quickly, but you won't need to pile the books for vary long either, just a minute or two will do it.

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Ok, so 10 sec in just under boiling water, can do,  Cooling time 2 min.  Will have the kids set up an assembly line.  We have a lot of warped track

6 hours ago, Legopold said:

@Blk69 You can indeed use a heatgun to soften the plastic and make it bendable. This video shows how LEGO train track is put into shape with a heatgun for the construcion of a remarkable rollercoaster. I very much recommend the latter video, it is absolutely stunning!

 

Don't know how I'm going to talk the wife into building a coaster set that large in the basement, but sure going to try.  That is awesome!  Wish my trains ran that well.

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Do you have any of those LEGO flexi-track segments? They might be a good candidate for coaster track, as (from what I have read) they flex well up and down, too. How much, I do not know. I do not have any, so no way I could find out.

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2 hours ago, Blk69 said:

Don't know how I'm going to talk the wife into building a coaster set that large in the basement, but sure going to try.  That is awesome!  Wish my trains ran that well.

Build first, apologize later, and if that doesn't work, buy her a pony. (grin)

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I wonder, if it is feasible to widen the radius of the standard LEGO curves by bending them outwards. You could try to heat the standard curves and bend them to increase their radius from 40 studs to 55 studs, for example. In that case, you end up with a full circle of 22 pieces instead of 16. I suppose, R55 is close enough to R56 to arrange the bent curve track in parallel to the R40 curve.

Of course, the problem is to bend the track in a even and reproducible manner, else the track will look strange and the trains will not run smoothly. I suppose, you'd need some kind of template to make the track take the right shape.

If that worked, it would be a nice method to put all my excess curves to good use.

Edited by Legopold

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6 hours ago, Legopold said:

I wonder, if it is feasible to widen the radius of the standard LEGO curves by bending them outwards. You could try to heat the standard curves and bend them to increase their radius from 40 studs to 55 studs, for example. In that case, you end up with a full circle of 22 pieces instead of 16. I suppose, R55 is close enough to R56 to arrange the bent curve track in parallel to the R40 curve.

Of course, the problem is to bend the track in a even and reproducible manner, else the track will look strange and the trains will not run smoothly. I suppose, you'd need some kind of template to make the track take the right shape.

If that worked, it would be a nice method to put all my excess curves to good use.

The problem is that for creating a larger radius curve you'd be stretching the inner rail and compressing the outer rail. The outer rail may crumple and kink, and the inner rail may grow thin and fragile. If you can get it working, that would be awesome, but it'll take a lot of work to get there!

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So I screwed up.....distroyed a few track sections.  Tried boiling water and dipping tracks for 20 sec, then pressing under some books.  The straight sections came out ok, curves would take.  So I put 4 curves in for 45 sec.  Not good.  The rails actually deformed.  Even the straight tracks I tried to fix really didn't straighten out completely.

Going to try my heat gun next. 

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There is also less risk of scalding yourself from water splashes with a heat gun.   :classic:

 

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For straight tracks, if you have an 8x16 brick, I'd attach it to one right away out of the water and leave it there, possibly overnight.

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On 2/12/2018 at 1:15 AM, fred67 said:

For straight tracks, if you have an 8x16 brick, I'd attach it to one right away out of the water and leave it there, possibly overnight.

And for curves you could build up a framework built on top of a good curve section to serve the same function. Either of these approaches should force the right dimensions but might degrade the clutch of the part being heated.

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I just received a bunch of used, warped switches from ebay. Of course I had no idea I'd be receivng warped switches, but the price was right so I decided to flatten them myself instead of return them. To do so I stuck each one in the oven on a (preheated) flat cookie sheet with the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for TWO minutes. I pulled them out, laid them on my counter and weighted them down with ceramic cereal bowls to cool. It worked like a charm! The slightly warped ones became almost perfectly flat and the really warped ones became only slightly warped ones. I repeated the process a second time for what were the really warped ones (now just slightly warped) and they too became almost perfectly flat. I also experimented with three and four minute times but the tracks began to SHRINK, the rails squeezing closer together, ruining them. So TWO minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit is the longest I'd recommend anyone try. 

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Yes, I messed some of mine up too.  I used the hot water method.

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