If you use flexible track but don’t have Tracksetta templates this tip will save lots of frustration.
Flexible track is a great innovation for railway modellers.
Free from the limitations of fixed radius curves, track paths where you want are at your back and call with flexible track and without problematic rail joints every few inches.
But with this freedom comes a problem. How to ensure the bends and curves you make aren’t too tight for the locos to handle.
Tracksetta templates are the best solution but here’s another hack-it-yourself version.
I was in a craft shop the other day looking for a cake decorating pattern. (I wanted a way to make the undulating pattern in tinfoil for some scratch-built corrugated steel roofing on my experimental OO gauge £35 model railway project and but that’s a different story). Anyway, while wandering around the aisles I spotted some flexible rulers.
I had these as a kid when they provided hours of entertainment (simpler days 😀) and didn’t realise they were still made.
If you haven’t come across them before they’re flexible curves. You’d bend them into shape and the steel core and rubber outer wrap holds the shape which you can then draw around. Great fun and useful drawing aids.
And they’re just as useful for OO or equivalent and larger model railways (this won’t work on N gauge smaller as the flexible curve is too large to fit between the rails for these smaller gauges).
Take a standard radius 3 or 4 curve piece of Hornby track, bend the flexible curve so it matches the curve of the outside rail and you now have a template to which you can adjust flexible track.
Bend a piece of the track so it aligned to the flexible curve, secure it in place and slide the rubber up the track bending as you go.
I’ve already used this to make the curve on a long run of track and spotted a section of the bend that was fractionally out of place and would otherwise have been too tight.
As it stands, its a quick, simple alternative to buying Tracksetta templates but there are a couple of easy improvements that can be made.
Firstly, the version I bought isn’t square but has a lip at the base. This undoubtedly aids drawing but gets in the when lining up to rails so this can be cut off.
Secondly, marking distances in your chosen measurement system, inches, centimetres etc along the top will allow lengths of flexible track to he positioned and curved.
Lastly, cutting the ends so they have a bevel will make it easier to push along track with the ends catching on the chairs where the sleepers and rails meet.
So there you go, a hacked OO gauge flexible track template.
It works okay but as with all hacks it should be regarded as a temporary fix to get you started or perhaps to lay a test track for trying out ideas ahead of the final build when I’d recommend proper planning or the curves or using Tracksetta templates.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.