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Myself, @jtlan, and @codefox421 bought a full loop of ME Models R56 metal curves way back when we still expected to get an all-metal rail design. As we all now know, the all-metal rail design proved a fantasy, and ME Models delivered Code 100 rail set in plastic holders. This track has proven extremely finicky when we've used it mainly because the Code 100 rail is not pre-bent before it is inserted into the plastic holder. This means that the "curved" track is constantly trying to straighten itself back out and subsequently alters the geometry of the plastic holder such that all the curves are too wide for the nominal radius of the curves. The then incorrect geometry makes assembling the curve very difficult as you have to force the parts into the proper curvature and they are very keen to come apart. The most visible symptom of this issue is the relatively sharp angle between the non-contiguous sections of Code 100. This wasn't too bad when the curves were new, but it has gotten worse over time. A circle of metal R56 when new The same parts almost a year later Straight metal track when removed from the holder So today, myself and jtlan decided to try to rectify the issue by doing exactly what ME Models failed to do: pre-bend the rails such that they aren't messing with the geometry of the plastic holders (or at least not as much). What we ended up doing after some trial and error was building a LEGO roll bender through which you can run the Code 100 rail. It's hard to show the rail in the rollers as someone needs to be pressing down on the assembly for it to not come apart while rolling, but this picture gives you a general idea of what's happening. You feed the rail through two of the rollers (the sides of the 3x3 disks fit somewhat nicely into the side of the Code 100 rail - do note that this will damage the disks if you roll enough track), and then it will deflect upward when it hits the third roller. This causes the rail to deform into a tighter radius than required, but it will spring back a bit due to physics. The way we determined how to space the rollers was simple trial and error. The final spacing we used is shown below. Here is a piece of rolled track next to the plastic holder. You can see that the roller spacing we chose actually makes the curves slightly too small, but we wanted to compensate a little for the fact that we can't bend the ends that well with this method. Either way the the forces distorting the plastic holders are much smaller than before, and it should make the track easier to assemble and less prone to blowing up. Here you can see that the connection between two pieces of rail is much smoother than before: We haven't rolled our whole batch of R56 yet, so there might be more to this saga, but so far this looks promising. Anyone else experienced similar issues with the ME Models metal track and/or have tried to fix it?
So I got the kid the 60052 Cargo Train for his birthday, and looking to extend the possibilities of the layout. His train table is 4' by 6' (122 cm x 183 cm), so there will be room to add a second loop and some switches, etc... I see that ME Models now has R56, R72 and R88 ABS curves for sale on BL. Which do you think is best, or combinations - suggestions greatly appreciated.
Did anyone use all curve tracks included ME Models track? I just designed a loop layout that used all curve tracks! But I am very sad because I can't play it at my home:( My tables are shorter than 3m. Do you have any idea?
So... what's going on? Big Ben's Page is dated from January, 2013: "Please check back for further updates in the coming months." Is 11 of them enough to wait to nag? And then ME Models just ran out and hasn't made any more available. I understand they run up against QC issues, which is understandable... but frankly, those ME Model rails worked great for me, I don't understand what the problems could be. Were there any other alternatives out there? Anybody with any news about Big Ben and ME?