Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Atlas code 100 turnouts

5300 views
43 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: "Steel, Steam and Thunder"Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • 1,055 posts
Atlas code 100 turnouts
Posted by TheK4Kid on Thursday, March 16, 2017 5:39 PM

Hi everyone,

My layout is 6 feet by 24 feet.I have Atlas code 100 turnouts, some are customline #6 customline #8 and several other Atlas turnouts.

I have a total of 14 turnouts

I wish I had never bought any of them because all I have ever had is problems with them

I have checked my wheel gauges and theyall are in specs.

I have checked my track gauge specs. Everything is zero-zero-on.

Many of my steam enegines ( Ihave 26) will derail, as do many of my passenger and freight cars.

For awhile my rolling stock will go through the tiurnouts just fine whether the turnouts are open or closed, then suddenly derail.

I have bought several pairs of brand new Atlas turnouts and replaced the troublemakers, only to have the same problem with brand new turnouts.

My final conclusion is that Atlas turnouts are defective or junk right out of the package!

I am tired of them and simply won't spend any more time on them!

I have read about them on here, worked on them to improve them, but finally have decided to take them all out and replace them.

I have decided to replace all 14 turnouts with either Peco turnouts or Shinorah turnouts.

They will all be insulfrog  turnouts.

I don't care to deal with electrofrog problems.

I use NCE DCC on my layout which has never given me a problem.

Which turnouts would you guys with experience recommend Shinorah or Peco?

I have looked at Tony's Train exchange which seems to have decent prices on Peco .

 

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • From: Fruita, CO
  • 473 posts
Posted by slammin on Thursday, March 16, 2017 6:58 PM

IIRC the plastic frogs on the Atlas turnouts are the problem, but I can't remember if the flangeways are too deep or too shallow. I'm sure someone with a better memory will chime in. I do know the repair is fairly simple.

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,992 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, March 16, 2017 7:05 PM

 Which Atlas Coe 100 turnouts do you have? The Snap Track ones are 18" radius and it is no wonder most steam locos won't go over them. The Custom-Line #4 has a rather small substitution radius and again a steam loco will probably fail - my 4-8-4 will not reliably negotiate a #4. Going VERY slowly it can mostly make it. The #6 is plenty and I ran many locos over them even at warp speed without problems. And now they have #8's which are bigger still with a more gentle divergence. I've used nothing but Atlas for years with no problems.

 I AM going with Peco. Electrofrog. Mostly because they have a larger variety of turnout sizes including curved. I've tried handlaying and it's just not for me.

                            --Randy

 

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,584 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, March 16, 2017 7:25 PM

Randy, the OP said that he has Atlas Custom Line #6 and #8 turnouts.

Atlas Custom Line turnouts sometimes have slightly raised metal frogs which can be problematic, especially with steam engines with their overly active pilot trucks and rear trucks.

But, I have to say, owning nearly 70 Atlas Custom Line Code 83 and Code 100 turnouts, that these are highly reliable turnouts.

When steam engines derail on Atlas Custom Line turnouts, the problem is usually attributable to the track work leading into the turnout or, in other cases, the lack of a stable base below the turnout.

It is not uncommon for a steam engine to pass over the same turnout multiple times without derailing and, then, suddenly, the steam engine derails on the next pass. Usually, this is because the pilot truck wheels have already left the rails, sometimes one or more driver wheels have done the same thing, and even the wheels on the rear truck.

Make sure that the track work leading into the turnout is straight, not kinked or angled. Make sure that the turnout is stable and secure, not floating above the roadbed. And, make sure that the point rail is tight against the stock rail. Also, make sure that the turnout lies flat, not one rail higher than the other.

Do the steam engines derail at lower speeds or only at higher speeds?

Are the problematic turnouts right after curves?

Do all the turnouts cause problems or just some of them?

How long has the layout been in place?  Any recent modifications?

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 17,355 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, March 16, 2017 7:46 PM

I have to agree with the responders.  I have several Atlas #6 turnouts, and the only one that causes problems is the one where I was not careful and I ended up with a vertical kink.  It causes my longest steamer to derail because of the long, inflexible wheel base.  This is entirely due to my tracklaying.  The turnout itself is fine.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,187 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Thursday, March 16, 2017 9:23 PM

TheK4Kid
I have checked my wheel gauges and theyall are in specs.

That's surprising.  Most Atlas code 100 #6 turnouts are very wide in gauge at the points, so much so that code 88 wheelsets can fall off the rail when negotiating the diverging route.  They sometimes have other gauge issues as well.  The flangeways tend to be wide.

My final conclusion is that Atlas turnouts are defective or junk right out of the package!

Turnouts from any brand are not truly plug and play devices.  They all need some degree of tuneup for optimal performance.  My layout has dozens of Atlas code 100 and 83 turnouts that deliver derailment-free operation thanks to a few minutes worth of filing and fitting for each one.

In addition, it takes more than having things in gauge to ensure derailment free running.  Improperly tuned equipment will not stay on the track even if the track and wheels are entirely in gauge.  Wheelset quality, proper truck motion, coupler movement, and other considerations all affect operation.  You need to have smooth rail joints, and track that's free of vertical and horizontal mislaignment.

Given the type and severity of the problems described, I suspect there's a lot more going on than turnout issues.

For awhile my rolling stock will go through the tiurnouts just fine whether the turnouts are open or closed, then suddenly derail.

What are you using to keep the points in place?  Ground throws?  Machines?  Are the points kept all the way against the stock rail when the ground throw or machine is thrown?

Which turnouts would you guys with experience recommend Shinorah or Peco?

I usually do not recommend Shinohara turnouts to modelers who are not experienced with troubleshooting.  They have their own manufacturing issues that render portions of them out of gauge and/or crooked through the closure rails.  Many of them are made with wide gauge through the frogs and/or points, and can require a fair amount of work to get them reliable.  The wide gauge around the frogs isn't readily correctable, so you have to tune with the goal of minimizing wheels bouncing across the guard and wing rails.

Note that Shinohara code 83 have dead frogs and are DCC friendly (they are sold under the Walthers brand).  Their code 70 and 100 turnouts have live frogs that require appropriate gapping.

Peco have a reputation for being easier to use, but will still not be perfect without tuneup.

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: "Steel, Steam and Thunder"Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • 1,055 posts
Posted by TheK4Kid on Friday, March 17, 2017 1:04 AM

I do have some of my steam engines that never derail on these switches, but others do. My BLI T4's all derail on some of my Atlas switches.

I have checked the rails for kinks, etc. My diesels never derail on these switches, just some of my steamers and some of my Bachmann heavyweight passenger cars. I have read of so many "fixes" or "tuneups" on Atlas turnouts, it about drives me nuts! Two local experts told me get rid of your Atlas turnouts , never ever use Atlas switches ( these guys have 30 and 40 years experience). But on here, some guys seem to swear by them and others have the same problems I have.

 

I appreciate the different inputs you guys are giving me.The switches are properly mounted .One problem switch is just after a 22 inch radius curve. I have been told also to add some weight to the tops of the leading trucks on some of my steamers. I also noticed on two Atlas switches, the rivets holding parts of them together are somewhat "loosey goosey". I have a new Bachmann 765 steamer that when it runs with no freight cars or passenger cars it never derails. But put a string of cars behind it,, it derails on one particular switch. This evening one of my "old timer" friends came by and looked at several of my switches, and found no problems on the approach to the switches giving me the worst problems, but told me "just quit using Atlas switches and replace them with Peco switches" He agrees with me that Atlas turnouts are junk, and I got a email from a club member over in Pennsylvania who said Atlas switches are junk and they never use them on their club layout,

 

So there seem to be  wide variety of responses that they can be "tuned uP' to get rid of them!  I have several other Atlas switchs along straight stretches, and my engines and cars will make 60, 70, or 100 passes just fine, then suddenly derail. It is frustrating!

 

I have some guys telling me to never fasten an Atlas switch down firmly in place, more or less let it float to others who say make sure they are securely fastened in place.

I can vary the approach speeds and a steamer won't derail, come around a second time at the same speed and it derails.

The same with some of my freight cars..

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,584 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Friday, March 17, 2017 5:12 AM

TheK4Kid

I do have some of my steam engines that never derail on these switches, but others do. My BLI T4's all derail on some of my Atlas switches.

Not sure what a T4 is. Do you mean T1?

TheK4Kid

I have checked the rails for kinks, etc. My diesels never derail on these switches, just some of my steamers and some of my Bachmann heavyweight passenger cars. I have read of so many "fixes" or "tuneups" on Atlas turnouts, it about drives me nuts! Two local experts told me get rid of your Atlas turnouts , never ever use Atlas switches ( these guys have 30 and 40 years experience). But on here, some guys seem to swear by them and others have the same problems I have.

I hate to challenge a model railroader with 30 to 40 years experience, since I have only been in the HO scale side of the hobby 13 years. But, I have to reiterate that I find Atlas Custom Line turnouts to be excellent and nearly 100% trouble free. I have nearly 70 Atlas Custom Line Code 83 and Code 100 #6 turnouts, and I have yet to toss one out. I used to blame the turnouts but, inevitably found flaws in my track work (flex track) leading into the turnouts.

TheK4Kid
 

I appreciate the different inputs you guys are giving me.The switches are properly mounted .One problem switch is just after a 22 inch radius curve.

 

In my experience, when a "faulty" turnout is right at the end of a curve, there can be problems but the problems can be attributed to the track preceding the turnout, not the turnout itself. I finally resolved to remove all of my curves, solder the rail joints, and replace the curves on the layout. Removing the kinks at the rail joints greatly improved performance and greatly reduced derailments. Also, you have to be certain that the track feeding into the turnout is perfectly straight.

TheK4Kid

I have been told also to add some weight to the tops of the leading trucks on some of my steamers. I also noticed on two Atlas switches, the rivets holding parts of them together are somewhat "loosey goosey".

Yeah, I have been told that too. At one time, I went nuts adding weight to the pilot trucks and to the trailing trucks on steam engines. I even wrapped solder around the axles of the trucks. Once I fixed my track problems, I no longer needed those weights which made no real difference in the first place. The sheer weight of most HO scale steam locomotives should be sufficient such that additional weight on the trucks is not necessary.

TheK4Kid

I have a new Bachmann 765 steamer that when it runs with no freight cars or passenger cars it never derails. But put a string of cars behind it,, it derails on one particular switch.

That is not an uncommon problem with steam engines. In my experience, the reason for that occurrence is that there are problems with the rolling stock, not the steam engines. Couplers and wheelsets on rolling stock can exert a pulling effect, causing the steam engine to be tugged at, resulting in the engine trailing truck to derail and sometimes pulling down the rear of the engine causing the pilot truck to lift up off the rails. The solution is to fix the rolling stock.

TheK4Kid

This evening one of my "old timer" friends came by and looked at several of my switches, and found no problems on the approach to the switches giving me the worst problems, but told me "just quit using Atlas switches and replace them with Peco switches" He agrees with me that Atlas turnouts are junk, and I got a email from a club member over in Pennsylvania who said Atlas switches are junk and they never use them on their club layout,

I just simply have to disagree. Atlas Custom Line turnouts are not junk. They may require some maintenance depending upon the nature of the problem, but as I already mentioned, the problems are more likely attributable to the track leading into the turnout as well as the rolling stock.

TheK4Kid
 

I have some guys telling me to never fasten an Atlas switch down firmly in place, more or less let it float to others who say make sure they are securely fastened in place.

I find that "floating" turnout is a myth when it comes to performance. Turnouts are intricate pieces of track work with moving parts. Turnouts require a stable basis and they should be secured to that base. Otherwise, turnouts do not remain level and even across the rails.

TheK4Kid
 

I can vary the approach speeds and a steamer won't derail, come around a second time at the same speed and it derails. 

The reason for this apparent inconsistency is attributable to what goes on before the steam engine reaches the turnout. Trouble shooting can be challenging and time consuming when this inconsistency occurs. What I do is to watch the steam engine before the turnout, not at the turnout. Inevitably, one or more wheels derail somewhere before the turnout, and then I have to find the cause. It could be the pilot truck, the driver wheels, or the trailing truck. The question is, which and why.

You have done a good job so far in evaluating the problem and communicating that problem to us. Don't give up and don't toss your Atlas turnouts.  Find the problems and fix them. Incidentally, you may also notice that similar problems occur with your diesels. Usually, four axle diesels will traverse turnouts where six axle diesels have problems.

Keep us posted.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 4,782 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Friday, March 17, 2017 5:37 AM

Well, may I get on the Atlas train............

I have a good 50 Atlas turnouts on my layout, all customline, with a few #4s, and the rest #6s and #8s.  They all work beautifully and have for years.

That said, older ones could be finicky with DCC (shorting out some locos as they crossed), and some types had frog flangeways too deep (fixed with a tiny strip of styrene.  The new #8s do require (for me anyway) power to the frogs of course.

Turnouts do need TLC.   You don't want a curve immediately on the point end and the gauge needs to be checked.  I also file down the points just a tad to prevent picking by some of the lead trucks of steamers. 

All this addresses the turnouts, but of course the problems could be with the locos and rolling stock as well.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 221 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Friday, March 17, 2017 6:13 AM

In my experience, Atlas turnouts are okay, but not great, and required fiddling with them to get them reliable. My troubles seemed to revolve around those darn rivets that hold the points becoming too loose, the switch machines not holding the points tightly enough (self inflicted by using the atlas machines vs something better), and the points needing filing. I didn't dump them wholesale right away though. I bought a single Peco and replaced my most troublesome Atlas switch. I was sold. When a move presented the opportunity to start fresh, I went with all Peco insulfrog turnouts and have been very happy. To be fair to Atlas though, many of my old switches had been subjected to multiple moves and layout rebuilds, I'm sure incurring some damage along the way. However, I have noticed a marked improvement in a lack of derailments on my new layout that I certainly cannot attribute to better track laying skills! :-D I have several turnouts directly connected to the ends of curves that used to give my Atlas turnouts fits, but the Peco ones handle them flawlessly. Just my experience.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,912 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, March 17, 2017 6:20 AM

My final conclusion is that Atlas turnouts are defective or junk right out of the package!

No, the problem likely lies elsewhere.

wp8thsub
 

Turnouts from any brand are not truly plug and play devices.  They all need some degree of tuneup for optimal performance.  My layout has dozens of Atlas code 100 and 83 turnouts that deliver derailment-free operation thanks to a few minutes worth of filing and fitting for each one.

Same here.  Back in the 1980's and 1990's, MR magazine had some article on tuning turnouts which inluded filing a bevel in to the points to avoid wheels catching the edge of the points and derailing.  Since reading that article, I've taken jewler files and filed the points of my Atlas code 100 turnouts.

In addition, it takes more than having things in gauge to ensure derailment free running.  Improperly tuned equipment will not stay on the track even if the track and wheels are entirely in gauge.  Wheelset quality, proper truck motion, coupler movement, and other considerations all affect operation.  You need to have smooth rail joints, and track that's free of vertical and horizontal mislaignment.

The OP needs to make sure he is following the above as well.

Peco turnouts seem to be better out-of-the box than Atlas but they are nearly twice the cost.  I have been tempted to start collecting them for a future layout but again, the cost is major and many like the MicroEngineering turnouts which are considerably less expensive, so I may go that route.  That said, Atlas turnouts can be made to work very reliably and are not junk.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,584 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Friday, March 17, 2017 6:34 AM

riogrande5761

Peco turnouts seem to be better out-of-the box than Atlas but they are nearly twice the cost.  I have been tempted to start collecting them for a future layout but again, the cost is major and many like the MicroEngineering turnouts which are considerably less expensive, so I may go that route.   

My brief love affair with Peco turnouts has ended.  During the prolonged absence of Atlas turnouts on the market a few years back, I had no choice but to find an alternative, so I went with Peco Insulfrogs.

Yes, they are nearly twice the cost of Atlas, and they are also more fragile. If you are not extremely careful, the rails on the tail end can come loose from the plastic ties that hold the rails in place. That can also happen with Atlas turnouts, but the Atlas turnouts are at least a bit more rugged.

The one thing that I really like about Peco turnouts is the spring on the throwbar. If the Peco turnout is readily accessible, you can throw the points with your finger, no ground throw or machine required.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,912 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, March 17, 2017 6:51 AM

Water Level Route

In my experience, Atlas turnouts are okay, but not great, and required fiddling with them to get them reliable. My troubles seemed to revolve around those darn rivets that hold the points becoming too loose, the switch machines not holding the points tightly enough (self inflicted by using the atlas machines vs something better), and the points needing filing. I didn't dump them wholesale right away though. I bought a single Peco and replaced my most troublesome Atlas switch. I was sold. When a move presented the opportunity to start fresh, I went with all Peco insulfrog turnouts and have been very happy. To be fair to Atlas though, many of my old switches had been subjected to multiple moves and layout rebuilds, I'm sure incurring some damage along the way. However, I have noticed a marked improvement in a lack of derailments on my new layout that I certainly cannot attribute to better track laying skills! :-D I have several turnouts directly connected to the ends of curves that used to give my Atlas turnouts fits, but the Peco ones handle them flawlessly. Just my experience.

Yes, to a degree, you get what you pay for.  If you've got the scratch to buy a lot of Peco - say you needed 40 #6 turnouts for a sizable layout, thats an extra $480 to get Peco code 83 vs Atlas code 83 and an extra $280 over ME turnouts.  As noted by Rob, with little effort, Atlas can be made to run flawlessly too.

Peco code 83 are nearly 2 x the price of Atlas code 83 (#6 turnouts).  MBK price for Peco $25.99, MBK price for Atlas $13.99 and MBK price for ME is $18.99.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,912 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, March 17, 2017 7:00 AM

richhotrain
The one thing that I really like about Peco turnouts is the spring on the throwbar. If the Peco turnout is readily accessible, you can throw the points with your finger, no ground throw or machine required.

Rich

I don't own any, but I've read that ME code 83 turnouts also have the spring on the throwbar so you can flick them manually like you do the Peco, and they are $7 cheaper and reportedly quite good. 

While I will likely re-use a lot of the turnouts from my current layout on a future layout, I plan on trying the ME turnouts in the future.  I re-used a bunch of Atlas code 83 turnouts from a previous layout in my current yard, and have added additional Atlas code 83 using the newer Custom Line which seem to have replaced the old #6 turnouts. 

The old Atlas code 83 #6 turntouts had tie bars sticking out on both sides and the diverging route had a straight tangent on the end; the newer #6 turnouts have a short throw bar on one side only and the diverging route is curved all the way to the end of the rail.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 221 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Friday, March 17, 2017 8:20 AM

riogrande5761
Peco code 83 are nearly 2 x the price of Atlas code 83 (#6 turnouts). MBK price for Peco $25.99, MBK price for Atlas $13.99 and MBK price for ME is $18.99.

Can't argue that one at all.  However, the OP and I are both using code 100 with price points that are much closer.  Seems when I started my new layout (about 2-1/2 years ago) to go with Atlas code 100 and a reliable device for operating them like caboose ground throws vs Peco code 100 with their built in over center spring, it was basically a wash price wise.  If I build my next layout in code 83, I would give the ME a serious look over Peco based on the price differences you brought up.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,912 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, March 17, 2017 2:00 PM

Water Level Route
 
riogrande5761
Peco code 83 are nearly 2 x the price of Atlas code 83 (#6 turnouts). MBK price for Peco $25.99, MBK price for Atlas $13.99 and MBK price for ME is $18.99.

 

Can't argue that one at all.  However, the OP and I are both using code 100 with price points that are much closer.  Seems when I started my new layout (about 2-1/2 years ago) to go with Atlas code 100 and a reliable device for operating them like caboose ground throws vs Peco code 100 with their built in over center spring, it was basically a wash price wise.  If I build my next layout in code 83, I would give the ME a serious look over Peco based on the price differences you brought up.

You didn't specify which code but I guess talking about "darn rivets" could have been a clue.  My Atlas code 100 #6 turnouts are all late 1980's manufactured and some of them have rather loose rivets which make the points a bit floppy, but they still seem to work well enough.  Code 100 Peco turnouts are a good deal cheaper than Peco code 83 yes.

There is another factor about code 100 Peco that may matter to some and not others - it is English style track, not north American.  In my case I used code 100 in storage/staging so appearance isn't very important.  In the visible parts of my layout I use code 83 and so far mostly Atlas code 83 #6 turnouts - no issues with them really.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 221 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Friday, March 17, 2017 9:41 PM

riogrande5761
My Atlas code 100 #6 turnouts are all late 1980's manufactured and some of them have rather loose rivets which make the points a bit floppy, but they still seem to work well enough.

Most of mine were of a similar vintage.  I actually had some begin to roll under the weight of a locomotive far enough that the engine would climb the rail and drop on the ties.  I'm guessing if the Atlas switch machines held the points tight enough against the stock rails that wouldn't have happened, but the thin plastic throw mechanism gave every time.  Glad to hear yours are still going strong. 

  • Member since
    January, 2015
  • From: Southern California
  • 933 posts
Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Saturday, March 18, 2017 1:37 PM

The OP never stated what he uses to move the turnout. If you don’t use anything and throw Atlas turnouts by hand the switch points can dance around and cause derailments. The solution is to use Caboose ground throws or stick a shim under the throw bar to keep pressure on the points so they don’t move to easily.
Peco turnouts don’t have this problem because their points snap into place.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,584 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 18, 2017 3:25 PM

Lone Wolf and Santa Fe

Peco turnouts don’t have this problem because their points snap into place. 

And that is because of the spring.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    December, 2015
  • 2,125 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, March 18, 2017 3:38 PM

The OP cites a failure rate of over 100% because the replacements have also failed. 

If they were that bad it seems everyone would have at least some bad experiences with their Atlas turnouts.  I recall a recent thread about a 6 axle derailment and when we saw pics of the trackwork, it was the kink at the diverging rail that was the problem. 

It's no surprise that some people don't like some brands, both the friends of the OP and in this thread.  Same with Fords, Chevys, BMWs and Mercedes.  Still it's a different situation to MTH's DCS, for example, where everyone hates it or their support.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: US
  • 2,187 posts
Posted by wp8thsub on Sunday, March 19, 2017 6:03 PM

Lone Wolf and Santa Fe

The OP never stated what he uses to move the turnout. If you don’t use anything and throw Atlas turnouts by hand the switch points can dance around and cause derailments. The solution is to use Caboose ground throws or stick a shim under the throw bar to keep pressure on the points so they don’t move to easily.
Peco turnouts don’t have this problem because their points snap into place.

I've encountered more than one modeler who has complained that a non-Peco turnout was terrible, subject to dead point rails, derailments, etc., only to find the guy wasn't using any type of throw to keep the points in place (and then being surprised the point move as wheels roll over them).  

Rob Spangler

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 2,257 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Sunday, March 19, 2017 7:52 PM

I’ve been using Atlas turnouts for 50 years without any problems.  I did have a problem with one turnout but it was caused by poor track design on my part.  By design I had a turnout at the transition at the bottom of a 3% 30” radius curve.  I tried many fixes over the years even replacing it with a Pico that didn’t make any difference.
 
All my two axle truck diesel fleet would negotiate the turnout easily, Proto three axle diesels would not.  None of my large steam locomotives would negotiate said turnout without derailing. 
 
The fix was to remove the original design problem which was a major task involving mountains, tunnel portals, buildings and a lot of track.  Once I eliminated the bad original design and engineering by moving the Atlas turnout 10” it has been faultless.  Since I fixed the track leading into the turnout I haven’t had any problems with any turnouts.
 
I would check your track on all ends of your turnouts before investing big $ replacing them and still have problems.
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Gateway City
  • 1,538 posts
Posted by yankee flyer on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 8:16 AM

K4Kid

I'm not sure if someone has already mention this, but I also had some problems with the Atlas switches and found that if you lay a straight edge across the frog and rails you may find that on some the frogs sit high. I drove a nail just behind the frog to bring it down level.

It worked for me.Smile, Wink & Grin

Cheers

Lee

 

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,912 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 12:47 PM

wp8thsub

I've encountered more than one modeler who has complained that a non-Peco turnout was terrible, subject to dead point rails, derailments, etc., only to find the guy wasn't using any type of throw to keep the points in place (and then being surprised the point move as wheels roll over them). 

That must have been a "beam me up Scotty, you know the rest" moment.

Jim Fitch

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: "Steel, Steam and Thunder"Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • 1,055 posts
Posted by TheK4Kid on Saturday, March 25, 2017 2:15 PM

Problem solved!

Yes all of the frogs were higher than the outside rails.

I replaced all of the older Atlas #6 turnouts with new  Atlas Customline #8 turnouts

In my opinion a much better turnout.

I do use ground throws.

I noticed that even some of my freight and passenger cars were "bumping up" when the flanges hit most of the #6 turnouts.

Basically the grooves were not deep enough.

A manufacturing flaw? Plus most of the frogs were higher than the outside rails.

I also found three of the #6 turnouts the grooves were not wide enough, they were narrower than several other #6 turnouts.

I attribute this to poor quality control.

I took the replaced #6 turnouts over to a fellow hobbyists agricultural lab.

He found something interesting! The plastic used in some of the turnouts varied, three of the turnouts had a different plastic than three other turnouts.They also used different rivets! The slot where the turnout bar slides back and forth was wider in three of them allowing for more "slop" than in the other three.

We figure Atlas may have several suppliers that make turnouts and most likely other track pieces for them.

We looked closely at the spikes on about ten different pieces of 36 inch flex track and several standard straight tracks and curved track pieces found spikes of three different heights!

We also found that two pieces of code 100 36 inch flex track had slightly wider ties!

All measurements were made with very accurate micrometers!

Why is that? Most likely different suppliers!

All was code 100 track ad two pieces of code 83 track had two different spike heights

They should all be the same

This could easily account for many different problems.

So what I say , is look very closely before you buy something!

I laid a small bubble level across the frogs.

There was gap under both sides of it on most of the frogs.

I bought all of my track at one time from Atlas when I started construction, except for some Atlas flex track from the LHS.

Don't have this problem with the #8 turnouts.

I do have plenty of room for them.

My track is straight as an arrow, no kinks in it.

I took time to lay all my track very accurately.

 

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,584 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 25, 2017 2:25 PM

TheK4Kid

My track is straight as an arrow, no kinks in it.

I took time to lay all my track 

Tell us more about how you did that.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 1,035 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, March 25, 2017 6:16 PM

WAY back when I was in High school and modelled in N scale I built a 3 by 7 foot layout with about 20 Atlas tunouts on it. These were all remote with those horribly ugly magnetic motors above the ties.

.

However, this was the ONLY layout I have ever built that had ZERO track problems. I have never achieved anything near this level of reliability in anything since then. Of coarse all the track was code 80 (or whatever standard N scale track was back then), and all the wheels had super-deep flanges. Maybe that made everything more reliable.

.

All my Atlas HO scale switches have been disappointing, as have all other brands of HO track. I cannot believe that my trackwork skills were better when I was 14 than they are now. No way. I really think there is a problem with HO scale track manufacturing that we have all just come to accept.

.

Is there a manufacturer willing to do better?

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: "Steel, Steam and Thunder"Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • 1,055 posts
Posted by TheK4Kid on Saturday, March 25, 2017 7:19 PM

Hi Rich,

When I laid out all my straight sections, i used small nails nailed down along  a straight  line. I did the same thing with my road bed. As long as I had a line to follow it was easy.

I then cut a very slim piece of hardwood that I kept perfectly straightand pinned it along one edge of where I wanted te edge of my roadbed to touch.

Then I moved it up and repinned it in place so my ties would just touch it.

I used this as straight edge against which my ties just touched.

It takes a bit of work, but is actually quite easy.

I also build and fly large scale RC airplanes and I always use jigs to keep things straight.

This is where I got the idea.

My curved roadbed I simply made a simple radius compass. Pin it down at the center point and use a piece of string with a pencil on the far end.

Draw my radius, then lay my roadbed edge against that line.

Now centering the radiused track is easy. I used a piece of thin piece of spruce like I use when making rounded wingtips.

I cut it so it was the distance I  wanted the outer edge of my ties to lay along, or just touch.

As long as the edge of the ties touch it, they are all an equal distance from the center of the roadbed and center of the track.

Making a useful jig like this takes a little extra work but pays off !

I also have a laser line level.

Before I put in my curves, I put a small block of wood at the end of the straight track with a center line drawn on it.

Then I took the laser line and centered it one one end and shined it down just above the track and it centered directly on the centerline of the block of wood at the far end of the track.

 

It was easy to pin things in place as I laid roadbeed and track since I used as my base, two inch thick foam board insise of bed slat type frame.

I made three 6 by 8 foot frames.

If i ever move, the layout cam be easily dismanled, picked up and hauled up the basement stairway and set back up anywhere new.

A little work involved, but after seeing friends layouts made of plywood and plaster, etc, and seeing them destroyed if they moved, etc.

OKay, now after I got all my wiring in, I bought rolls of fiberglass insualtion and simply stapled them in place under the layoutagainst the cross pieces and it significantly quiets the layout done.

I could put indoor outdoor carpet under it yet also.

The legs that supportthe layout bolt into place.and have adjustable leveling screws on the bottom of them

 

If I need to get at any of the under layout wiring, I can easily loosen the insulation and staple it back in place.

Call it a check double check!

Such a tool comes in real handy when hanging picture frames on a wall. You can get the bottoms lined up perfectly!

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 16,584 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 25, 2017 7:46 PM

Thanks for that explanation. Very interesting.

On my double mainline, my biggest problem is crossovers which tend to make straight track through the crossovers difficult to achieve.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: "Steel, Steam and Thunder"Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • 1,055 posts
Posted by TheK4Kid on Monday, March 27, 2017 11:58 PM

On my double line main, I have quite a lot of spacealmost 20 feet of straight track side by side.

This is where four of my new #8 turnouts come in.

I don't have an "X" type crossover, just two sets of of #8 turnouts spaced apart so I can go from one track to the other. Both trains can change tracks .

I don't like ":X" type crossovers.

It means I'll have to cut an lay some track ovwer again, but I'll get rid of my troublesome #6 turnouts.

On my layout on the back side of my layout  I am using two #8 right hand turnouts and two #8 left hand  turnouts.

Hope this helps you think out your problem.

 

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

Users Online

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook