SCARM Video Tutorials – Part 8 – Use Flex Tracks to Create Large Layouts

This is the tutorial movie #8 of a series of videos about working with SCARM, created and narrated by Ruud Boer.

You can switch to full-screen mode by clicking on bottom right icon in the embedded player.

Once again, thanks to Ruud, for creating these SCARM video tutorial series :)

See also
SCARM Video Tutorial #7 – Use Flex Rail to Close a Gap
SCARM Video Tutorial #9 – Create a Ramp (Slope)

28 thoughts on “SCARM Video Tutorials – Part 8 – Use Flex Tracks to Create Large Layouts

  1. Hi,
    I am unable to get the flextrack to go straight again after a loop? I have tried the tool box and it still comes out the same. Only a degree or 2 out but makes a huge difference on a large layout. I have viewed all the tutorials. Hope you can help and thank you for the top free software.

  2. Hello Gino,

    When shaping the flex-track manually, you can help yourself by increasing the setting which keeps the track straight at small bend angles. The default bend angle below which the track is kept as straight is 2 degree. You can increase it to lets say 5 degree. To do that, go to Tools > Settings > Edit > Flex-tracks > Minimum angle for Curve and set the new value.

    When you shape your flex-track using the Toolbox, all that matter are the values that you enter in the corresponding fields. To make a straight section, just enter the length and press [+Straight] button.

    If you want to finish your flex with end point at a given fixed angle (i.e 0 or 180 degree), you can do that by zoom in and watch the data in the status bar while modelling the shape manually. When using the Toolbox, you will need to calculate the angles and set the curved section with the correct angle, equalizing to i.e. 0 or 180 degree.

    Hope this helps :)

  3. Thanks for that Milen. However I am still having problems with joining Peco-N-80 flex track. When attempting to join them on a large layout I have the green arrow display and when I connect them the track is cut to length but unjoined. I am happy to email you a copy of the layout if you supply me with an email address.


  4. Mixy, when I try to use the toolbox with flextrack selected in ver 0.9.24, I can not see the command line. It is replaced with a phrase something like (To stop using flextrack, press ESC). If I press ESC, the selected flextrack disappears from the layout, but the command line reappears. Am I doing something wrong, or is this just a flextrack bug?


  5. Hello Chuck,

    You are seeing this because the menu bar commands are not available while modelling flex tracks. You need either to finish the flex-track or to cancel it (by hitting ESC) in order to see the menu again. The same is valid when shaping the baseboard.

  6. OK, I understand that, but your documentation says you can control the flex-track placement either by mouse command or by using the toolbox. I was having trouble understanding the mouse commands, so I thought I’d try the toolbox method, and as you said, it’s not available. The documentation needs to be corrected.


  7. Mixy,
    The language in question is found under “How to use the Toolbox?”

    Flex-tracks modelling: Intended for precise shaping of flex-tracks by entering the parameters of each section. The modelling of the sections can be performed both with mouse and from the Toolbox. Start with choice and placement of the desired flex-track from the tracks selection panel. The flex-track will follow the cursor, while you are moving the mouse on the drawing plot – don’t worry about this. To add a straight section, enter desired length in L field and press “+ Straight” button. To add a curved section, enter desired radius in R field and curvature angle in A field, then press “+ Curve” button. If the radius you entered is smaller than minimal for the given flex-track, the section will be added with the minimal possible radius. Positive angle gives right curve, while negative is used for left curve from the current direction. If the last added section is not suitable, you can delete it by pressing of the small red [-] button. When flex-track shape is ready, press “Fix” button. If the last added section is longer than remaining flex-track length, the track will be fixed automatically.

  8. Mixy,

    Of course, you are correct. I just opened one of my plans, then started the Toolbox and clicked on a piece of flex-track. Voila, the Toolbox changes to what the documentation suggests. Hope I can remember this until tomorrow.

    Thanks a lot,

  9. Milen,

    How do I edit a flex track once it has been placed and is in the middle of a section?

    Thanks for such a great program! I’m learning it now and would like to become very proficient with it.

    Chuck C.

  10. Hello Chuck,

    You need to select the flex track first and then right-click over one of its ends. Select “Reshape” from the context menu and SCARM will place the track in edit mode. Make the necessary change and fix the track. Then you will probably need to reshape also the other tracks, connected to the edited one in order to join the route after editing.

  11. Hello Millen,
    how can I set two exactly parallel flex tracks?

    Many thanks in advance for answer


  12. Hello Jurgen,

    Make the first track, then use “Edit” > “Parallel start point” point feature and make the second track. If the first track has curved sections, each curve should be on separate track section. To make parallel start points to the joining places of the first track, use the Height markers (toggle Heights on from “View” > “Show Track Heights”). And you can always use the Flex-track modelling feature from the Toolbox (“Tools” > “Toolbox”).

  13. Hi,

    I like your program. I am trying to create a Tram/Trolley layout in HO that uses very tight curves, 6.25 inch minimum radius. I tried to input this in to the Flex Track Modeling Toolbox but, it won’t go smaller than a 12.8 inch radius. Is there another setting I need to change to allow me to make the tighter curves?



  14. Hi

    I’m also working with tight radius curves. I want 10 inch radius for my narrow gauge plan. As far as I can tell, the minimum radius for flex track is still just over 12 inches?

    (Apart from this one little irritation, I like the program a lot. Rudd’s tutorial series really helps.)


  15. Hello Geoff,

    If you want to override the minimum flex-track radius, go to “Tools” > “Settings” > “Edit” > “Flex-tracks” and in “Minimum radius for curve” drop-down list, select “User defined (global)”. Enter the new value for the minimal radius, place a check-mark in the field “The global value always takes precedence” and finally press OK button.

  16. Hello! I’m trying to use the flex-track modelling feature in the toolbox but am confused as to what to input for the radius and curvature angle measurements. I’m using Atlas O 3-rail (Atlas-O-3) with the 40″ Flex/Wood sections. I’d like to make curves of radii between 68″ and about 100″.

    There’s a great option to convert sectional pieces to flex track, but it keeps the number of sections. Is there a way for, say, an eight piece curve to be turned into a two piece flex track curve?


  17. Hello David,
    If you want to use the Toolbox for modeling of flex-tracks, read how to do that here: How to use the Toolbox.
    It is true, that the option which converts sectional tracks to flexes keeps the sections, but that should not be a problem. When you select “Tools” > “Parts list”, you will see the count of all flex sections and in the “Note” field of the list you will see the total number of full-length flexes that will be needed to cover all flex sections.

  18. Is there a way to define a specific radius when using flex track?

  19. Hello Milen, I am still working my way through tutorials and the SCARM documentation. One parameter that is confusing me is the angle when you use the toolbox for shaping flex track. Does this parameter simply give direction i.e. 0, 90, 180 etc or am I completely missing the point?
    Another problem I run into is trying to create a simple curve track with say a 30 degree radius. If i select the section of flex track and enter a radius and angle then enter curve, I get a error that says I must use the shaping mode. I did not see this in the documentation or in the video on using flex track.

  20. Hello Dominick,
    The angle for the flex track shows at which angle the track is bend. And yes, it can be considered as direction, based on the initial angle of the start point.
    However, “30 degree radius” has no sense. The radius is the distance from the center and is measured in millimeters or inches – it sets how “wide” is the circle (or curve arc). The angle is for the bending – it sets how much the curve is bend and is measured in degrees.
    In order to reshape already placed flex, you need to select it AND to enter in the shaping mode by right-click over it and select “Reshape” from the context menu. Then you will be able to set the parameters in the Toolbox.

  21. Milen thanks for the information it does help. My reference to a “30 degree radius” comes from the fixed length tracks you can purchase from a multitude of vendors. You would just specify in Atlas code 100 curved track that you want a 15, 18 or 22 degree radius tracks that when put together give you the radius you selected. I need to work with this a while to get the hang of it. Great program, by the way, I would recommend it to anyone trying to put together a layout.
    Thanks Dom

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