PRODUCT REVIEW: 45MM GAUGE ONE FLEXTRACK
Manufacturer: Llagas Creek Railways, 2200 Llagas Road, Morgan Hill, CA 95037-9429. Price: Plastic narrow gauge tie strip with code 215 aluminum rail $2.08 per foot, with steel rail $2.92 per foot, or with nickel silver rail $3.80 per foot. Shipping extra. California residents please add 8.25-percent sales tax.
FEAST YOUR EYES on the most realistic and accurate narrow gauge track in our hobby. The combination of Llagas Creek Railways' exquisitely detailed American made tie strip and code 215 rail should be enough to make the most critical small scale modeler envious.
The flat brown polypropylene tie strip is 1:20.3 scale but ties of that scale make 1:22.5 scale trains look better. The ties measure 3.8 actual inches long by 3/8 inch wide by 5/16 inch high or, in 1:20 scale, about 6 feet 6 inches long by 7 1/2 inches wide by 6 1/3 inches high, very common dimensions. The understated wood grain is extremely realistic. When dust settles into the grooves, the illusion is that of weathered, creosoted wood. The ties are staggered. The molded on tieplates are to precise scale. The sturdy spikeheads are almost to scale and appear at random on the tieplates; some tieplates have no spikes, others have one, and others have up to four with a maximum of eight spikes per tie. The spikes are strong enough to provide a stable anchor for the rail.
Code 215 rail represents 65 pound rail in 1:20 scale or 75 pound rail in 1:22.5. That is heavy for turn of the century or branch lines but about right for a D&RGW narrow gauge mainline during the railroad's later years. Our sample had nickel silver rail, our preference for a track powered indoor or outdoor layout because, according to most experts, nickel silver oxidation is electrically conductive. If you run battery power or live steam, the less expensive aluminum or steel alternatives might suit you better.
The track flexes easily. A pair of thin splines runs along the base of the ties directly beneath the rails. Every other spline is separate from the next to allow you to curve the tie strip. Small tabs appear on every fourth spline so you may tack the tie strip to a sub-roadbed. The plastic ties offer maximum resistance to the sun's ultraviolet rays to hold up outdoors.
Code 215 flextrack is less durable than flextrack using larger rail (it might fail to withstand trampling by elephants) but should be more than adequate for most layouts. Llagas Creek expects to have matching plastic tie turnouts by early next year.
The quality and appearance of Llagas Creek's flextrack are superb. When you ballast the track, its appearance will be very close to that of handlaid track. If you are planning a layout or want to rebuild an existing layout, you should have no hesitation about Llagas Creek Railways' products. They have earned our highest rating.-RR