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    • July 18, 2019 3:44 PM EDT
    • " Rooster " said:

        Clearly no one pays much attention to my posts...



    • July 18, 2019 1:48 PM EDT
    •    Ah ha! I get it. No composites, like Trex. PVC trim board is the way to go!


         I apologize to the previous poster for not remembering his post from 3,842 days ago (or 331,948,800 seconds, or 5,532,480 minutes, or 92,208 hours, or 548 weeks and 6 days) covering this issue.



         edit...and counting.....



    • July 18, 2019 1:13 PM EDT
    •   Clearly no one pays much attention to my posts on different materials used over the years. Kinda a shame as you might learn something if you did.  Yes, Greg you are correct along with others about Trex "COMPOSITE" decking. This is why I posted like I did originally. I'm sure what Gary is using even if it is Trex (which IS a manufacturer name like SINTRA) their fascia board like most other MANUFACTURES  are solid PVC or the like. Not COMPOSITE which is like an M&M hard skin coating on the outside and mushy compressed material on the inside.

      I just made ties out of AZEK TRIM BOARD NOT COMPOSITE DECKING for the electric motor car I built for the museum. Granted those ties will not be outside to the elements but they are the PVC material and NOT composite.






      The pics in the thread are gone but it's been outside for 10yrs now with full ground contact and no issues.


    • July 18, 2019 10:54 AM EDT
    • Sounds like "trex" is not specific enough, clearly Gary has found stuff that works, but he does mention stuff with a skin that did not "work", and he has seen "solid" stuff that is not solid, and I have solid stuff that is really solid with no foamy holes inside and way heavier than real wood.


      So, if I have a takeaway, no skin on your "brand" of "trex" gives you the best chance of success. Avoid the skinned stuff.



    • July 18, 2019 10:07 AM EDT
    • Well then I guess I must be delusional and the ties in this photo which have been out in the elements in south central Ohio for the past five years are disintegrating and I'm just not seeing it

      The green is moss and the black a combination of residual stain and black mold. We had the wettest year on record last year and are ahead of that so far this year so much of what is outside, plastic, wood or otherwise has coat of green or black on it if it doesn't get much direct sun.

      A couple of notes, I don't consider myself an expert on composite decking, I'm only relating my experience to date. If you reread my original post you will notice I did not capitalize "trex" using the term in the same manner as calling facial tissues kleenex or a copy from a copy machine a xerox.

      Also, composite decking (hereafter referred to as "trex") did not always have the outer skinning. I used it on two decks that I built over 15 years ago and at that time it did not have the "skin" found on the current product. The only downside I have seen with it is that it is susceptible to staining from mold and moss, like the photo above and if you want it to look like new must be pressure washed periodically. While some what annoying it has not affected the decking other than to abrade the surface which actually makes it less slippery when went wet than the newer stuff, other than that the decks are still quite sound.

      I'm not quite sure why the product would swell any more than real wood when wet as the only wood exposed to the environment is that on the surface when cut, the rest is encapsulated in plastic. Any expansion would seem to me to be more a result of the normal expansion of the plastic itself due to heat. Perhaps a real eggspurt and fill me in on this.

      One other comment related to "solid vinyl" materials, I am currently using "solid" vinyl trim boards (brand name Trimplank or some such) for my ladder construction and solid is some what of a misnomer. When cut while the outside skin is solid the inside core is more like a foam core similar to foam core drainage pipe. It is fine for what what I'm using it for but if you try ripping it lengthwise into a smaller cross section you are in for a surprise. Once the outer skin has been cut off of one side it's like tension has been relieved and the the pieces take on some unusual shapes, none of which are straight. I tried this early on as it appeared to be less expensive to buy a piece double the width I needed and rip it down. What I ended up with were two pieces that would have made good rockers for a rocking chair but worthless for my purpose.

      Finally it all comes down to what works in your climate and your methods. Back in 2000 when I build my main yard using PT plywood and PT ties the naysayers said it won't last and that I was wasting my time.

      Flash forward 19 years

      And its all still quite sound and has required relatively little in the way of maintenance over the years, the ties have been re stained a couple times and a few ties replaced but otherwise all is good for at least a few more years anyway. Of course back then you could still get reasonably flat pieces of PT plywood and all PT sold was rated for ground contact unlike the green tinted crap the big box stores sell these days thanks to the environmentalists !

      Your experiences may vary but I think trex, as long as it is not used for structural purposes is fine for things like ties.

    • July 17, 2019 3:26 PM EDT
    • What John and Al said


      Trex is a trademarked brand, and is plastic with sawdust with a skin. Like John says, break the skin and you lose weather resistance.


      I've used the solid plastic lumber and it lasts, I think it was solid polypropylene, been 10 years with it sitting on the ground and it looks new.



    • July 17, 2019 7:24 AM EDT
    • do not use trex or its derivatives, they break down , they will expand and contract, swell up with moisture etc.

      a much better solution is to use PVC deck boards. they are very expensive, as they are only sold around hear as 12 or 16' lengths.


      I have used this for turnout ties. they stay flexible, the only way they get a little brittle is if you glue them down with PVC cement, as I have PVC for the turnout base as well. if you use the white cellular PVC like that sold at HD and others, several coats of paint are in order  to provide UV protection.

      personally I support a US manufacture and use MIcro engineering ties for other than turnouts. I use code 250 but code 332 is available as well.


      AL P.

    • July 17, 2019 6:32 AM EDT
    • I didn't do ties, but I did cribbing with Trex. I had to predrill and countersink the holes for the stainless steel screws, that I used to hold the planks together. It will crush or crumble when ripped to a small size if you aren't careful withe the spikes or screws, so predrilling is a must. My cribbing has outlived the bridge it was made for and is now supporting a new bridge. So I would guess its been out there for a decade or so.


    • July 16, 2019 11:36 PM EDT
    • I started using trex ties about five years ago and won't go back. Biggest selling point for me was I no longer have spike popping problems. I have used them on solid trex bases for switches and on ladder made with vinyl trim boards. I do predrill spike holes and have always used stainless steel spikes. (I originally used PT ties, the old type with arsenic and they would completely dissolve steel spikes in a year or two) I have found that stain really doesn't last on them as it really only stains the the wood content, not the plastic but they look like aged gray ties to begin with so I don't consider that a real issue.

      You didn't mention the size you would be milling them to and that could be an issue. Anything I mill is 1/2" wide and for everything except bridge ties I leave them in the 3/4" thick dimension that the stock I use comes in. This saves cutting both dimensions and provides more depth for ballast. 1/2" x 1/2" bridge ties have not been an issue but it you are going to do a scale size in say 1/29 there might be some strength issues depending on what you are using for a base to mount them on.

    • July 16, 2019 9:15 PM EDT
    • All of my hand built turnouts sit on ties of trex like material. which I cut on a table saw.


      The ties will easily break if you try bending them,  but after staining  and placed under turnouts on gravel they tend to wear well.


      Some of the turnouts that use these ties have been outdoors for 10 years or more.



    • July 16, 2019 8:56 PM EDT
    • John Caughey said:

      Don't do it!

      All depends on the "TREX" material chosen John .

    • July 16, 2019 8:14 PM EDT
    • Don't do it!

      Without it's thin candy shell it will melt,

      no that's not it,

      without it's thin membrane shell it will deteriorate and crumble.

      Ties and cribbing too.


      Worse was trying to bend some in the ladder system ...I had to use washers like this;

      to prevent screws from pulling through...

      My $20 boards all made it into the trash.

    • July 16, 2019 8:11 PM EDT
    • Yes and no but not exactly John. I'll let the experts chime in here.

    • July 16, 2019 7:29 PM EDT
    •    As in, you cut it up into scale ties and spike your track into it? Can you even cut up Trex that small?



    • July 18, 2019 8:05 AM EDT
    • I agree in that the bridge came out great,  and the one question I have is did you learn more or did the kids learn more ? 

    • July 18, 2019 2:44 AM EDT
    • @Colin and Bill:  I could wax eloquent about kids, parents, and electronic devices, but I shall spare you! I will say, though, that while I have "failed" to make garden railroading any of the kids' primary hobby, we have at least exposed them to the joy of creating, which is a goal CINCHOUSE and I were after.



    • July 18, 2019 12:47 AM EDT
    • Thanks Noel, yes many people have complained that the stock USAT power routing stinks, just like the Aristo microswitch on the #6.


      Interesting about the throw distance on the LGB SW not enough for that switch.


      I do the same as you, I put hard jumpers "around" each switch so there is no power routing through the points to the stub rails, in my case that is often a 10 amp load... I jumper with 14 gauge solid wire.



    • July 17, 2019 10:56 PM EDT
    • Greg Elmassian said:

      Noel, I would be curious of the fixes you had to apply. The USAT switches have a nice looking frog, but I have heard a few things about them, mostly on the electric switch motor and the power routing.




      Greg  . We dump the points micro sw. It's crappy set up... that only operates off and on to power to the frog.. To us.. it a headache. We add a LGB power routing unit that has two assessor switches for the points and frog power routing. Goes on end of a LGB Sw. motor.. This will add track power to the frog in direction points are set.   With the second Routing Sw. we usually use it to operate a ground Signal.

      Other thing is the LGB motors has a short tie bar movement.  By drill and tap a new screw hole in the Sw. tie bar and move one point out a little, its makes the point a little wider.  Our  LGB Sw motor work fine with a little adjustment. Just have to check for good clearance for wheel flanges.  Like Bachmann's has some wide ones..


      Photos to follow.

      Original small screw hole showing and now re-drilled so one points moved out a little.



      Showing the LGB routing unit added to the LGB Sw. motor, and where the other 10 R. ( Aristo ) is coming out.

      We mounter this on a metal plate,  now easy to adj. or remover as one pc.


      Bottom side of plate to show frog wiring back to LGB routing unit. No more Mirco Sw problems. Very easy fix.

      A good idea if doing this,  you should power up tracks on both side of your tracks Sw. Don't depend on using your Sw as a thru long distance track power supply.  The small Gage wire as jumper on the Sw has to be small enough to move freely and can't take a lot of amperage to power up any added distance with out tied into your power buss sys.

      Guess a R.R.never really get finish   All things to do. I have two more long Switches to work on yet and maybe use in another area for longer trains.

    • July 17, 2019 8:56 PM EDT
    • Noel, I would be curious of the fixes you had to apply. The USAT switches have a nice looking frog, but I have heard a few things about them, mostly on the electric switch motor and the power routing.



    • July 17, 2019 8:49 PM EDT
    • Repairing another problem that is at Backers Acers Yard.  We have this darn "S" Curve to get rid of.  Taking this Aristo SW out and install a Nbr 6 long switch. It looks bad withlong trains coming out of the yard.



      A better view of the area that leads to the main line.



      This is the Nbr 6 long Track Switch ( I think its a USA Switch)  that took me all day just to rebuilding the points and adding a LGB sw.motor w/ routing frog switch added.

      Had to make the point little wider that what it came with to be able to use the LGB Sw motor for its throw.


      Tomorrow I will cut it in.