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Building a new club layout?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Bradford, Ontario
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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, August 17, 2017 5:29 AM

richhotrain
The Atlas Custom Line turnouts, both Code 83 and Code 100, have metal frogs and can be easily powered. Unlike Peco turnouts, Atlas Custom Line turnouts are not power routing. The Atlas turnout has a longer footprint than the Peco turnout. For some, that is a disadvantage since the Peco is 9 inches and the Atlas is 12 inches.

Thanks Rich,

The additional length of the Atlas turnout may not be a problem. I started to re-draw my club layout plan with the Peco Code 83 #8s which are 12.65" long. I haven't got very far but it would seem that the plan can accommodate the longer turnouts.

OK, now I'm going to be really honest. Maxman asked me what was wrong with Atlas turnouts and I lied. I said I didn't know of any problems with them. In fact, I think that Atlas turnouts are not well made. I am speaking of the point rails specifically. The hinges seem to be very sloppy. The Peco point rails seem to me to be better connected to the closure rails. In reality none of that really matters because the club has decided to install jumpers between the closure rails and the point rails on all of our turnouts regardless of the manufacturer. However, I would still really like to hear from those of you who have used Atlas turnouts successfully or otherwise. Please tell me about your Atlas experiences.

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, August 17, 2017 6:01 AM

hon30critter

OK, now I'm going to be really honest. Maxman asked me what was wrong with Atlas turnouts and I lied. I said I didn't know of any problems with them. In fact, I think that Atlas turnouts are not well made. I am speaking of the point rails specifically. The hinges seem to be very sloppy. The Peco point rails seem to me to be better connected to the closure rails. In reality none of that really matters because the club has decided to install jumpers between the closure rails and the point rails on all of our turnouts regardless of the manufacturer. However, I would still really like to hear from those of you who have used Atlas turnouts successfully or otherwise. Please tell me about your Atlas experiences.

Thanks,

Dave

 

LOL. I love your admission about "lying". Too funny.

Dave, I have loads of experience with both Atlas Custom Line turnouts (both Code 83 and Code 100) and Peco Code 83 Insulfrogs.

I first used Atlas Custom Line Code 100 turnouts back in early 2004 when I first got into HO scale. Eventually, I shifted to Atlas Custom Line Code 83 turnouts when I bought my Walthers Cornerstone 130' non-DCC turntable which came with a factory installed Code 83 bridge track. Then I began using "transition tracks" to connect the Code 100 and Code 83 track sections of my layout. Atlas makes very few Code 100 "specialty" track such as bridge track, 3-way turnouts, wyes, and curved turnouts.

Atlas Custom Line turnouts look great and operate quite reliably. I have never had a problem with the operation and dependability of an Atlas Custom Line turnout and that includes the point rails. I have over 70 Atlas turnouts on my layout. The one problem that I have experienced with Atlas turnouts is on the ends of the turnouts where the rails come up out of their plastic spikes. If you are not careful when removing a turnout from the layout for any reason, and I sometimes am not careful, you can pull the rails up out of their plastic spikes. That said, the same problem can occur with the Peco turnouts.

I also have some Peco Insulfrogs on my layout. The reason for this is that I needed to install some crossings from my outer mainline over my inner mainline to reach yards and sidings. The Peco crossing angle matches the Peco turnout perfectly, not so with Atlas.

I highly recommend Atlas Custom Line turnouts.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, August 17, 2017 6:55 AM

 I've always used Atlas, the last two layouts were all Code 83. Never had an issue. I've never even powered the frogs. While I don't have any 2 axle critters (yet), I've never had a stalling issue on the Custom Line #4 or #6, the way some people report with even larger 4 axle power. 

 I am switching to Peco not because of issues with the Atlas, but because Peco's 83 line has a wider variety of turnouts, including curved ones, and I don't want to deal with soldering and filing rails trying to match Atlas rail to Peco rail ESPECIALLY around the places I'd need a Peco turnout like for a specific curved  one. Matching things on tangent track is one thing, but where you already have side forces on the wheels? I've tried hand laying, just not for me, or I could just strip rail from Atlas flex track and make anything I need with matching rail. 

 I do think the Pecos look better. Everything is hidden. The Atlas 4's and 6's, at least, have the attachment for the frog power off to the side of the frog. The pot metal they use for the frogs does not take solder well, what I ended up doing was running a brass screw into the provided hole from underneath and soldering to that. No screw head then shows on the top side, and the screw was turned in so the bottom was flush with the hole, then hit with a dab of black paint to help hide it. Peco already has a wire attached for the frog underneatht he turnout, plus the whole thing is made of rail so you can easily solder on your own. The point hingers are much more solid on Peco but I never had a problem with Atlas. The molded in detail of the Peco looks nicer, and there are none of the annoying 'box' ties at the ends. The end ties on Pecos are totally normal looking ties except the space under the rail is hollowed out slightly to allow a rail joiner to slide under. It's usually a giveaway in model photos if there is any Atlas track and you see those box ties at the ends of turnouts. The point spring in the Peco - it does mean the layout can be operational without any switch motors installed, but it's easiest to remove the spring from the bottom before the turnout is mounted, and for any sort of slow motion machine like servos or a Tortoise, you'll want the spring disengaged.

                               --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, August 18, 2017 2:27 AM

Thanks Randy and Rich for sharing your experiences with Atlas turnouts.

Here is where I'm at regarding the choice of turnouts so far:

- Atlas turnouts work fine, but nobody is raving about any advantages they might have.

- We (the club) have based our decisions on using Peco turnouts so far, and nobody is telling me that there is anything wrong with Peco turnouts. In fact they get pretty high accolades whenever anybody talks about them.

- All turnouts require feeders and gaps to work properly if you want live frogs, so it really doesn't matter which brand we use.

Please allow me to ask a couple more questions:

- What is the actual frog angle on an Atlas #8 turnout? I have the Peco specs and there is a major difference between their Code 100 turnouts (12 degrees) vs their Code 83 #8 turnouts which are 7.15 degrees. The #6s are 9.5 degrees IIRC. What are the Atlas specs?

(And yes Robert, I could look them up myself but this is a much more interactive way of finding the facts).

Thanks

Dave

 

 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, August 18, 2017 5:28 AM

 Peco Code 100 products don't use a numbered frog angle, they are more like Atlas Snap Track in that regards. Peco Code 83 uses actual numbered frogs witht he appropriate angle, like Atlas Custom Line (although an Atlas Custom Line #4 actually has a #4.5 frog). The Atlas #8 should also be about 7.15 degrees. Frog number is how many units away you go to get 1 unit apart. So for a #8, it means you go 8 inches past the frog you are 1 inch apart. Or 8 centimeters to get 1 centimeter, or 8 hoozits to get 1 hoozit apart. The angle that results is arctan(1/frog). Geometry anyone? SOACAOTOA, that ancient tribe of Native Americans? (sowcahtoe-ah) Tangent of an angle is opposite length over adjacent length. Draw out a frog and the oppoosite side is the seperation (1 unit) and the adjacent side is the distance (for a #8, 8 units) So the tangent of the frog angle is 1/8, meaning the angle itself is the inverse tangent (arctangent) of 1/8.

 Similarly this is why prototype curves are laid out in degrees. Unless you know the secret of the Nazca Lines, you can't stand above the Earth and use a giant stick and draw a radius. But you CAN measure an angle and walk out a 100 foot tape measure to the next point and make a whole lot of line segments 100 feet long each diverging from the previous one by a set angle. 

                                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, August 18, 2017 5:41 AM

hon30critter

- Atlas turnouts work fine, but nobody is raving about any advantages they might have.

Well, I suppose it is, in part, how you define "advantages".

For one, Atlas turnouts are less expensive than Peco turnouts, as already discussed.

For another, Atlas turnouts are not power routing and, at least in DCC operation, I consider this an advantage since you are not dependent upon the point rail making certain contact with the stock rail.

One further advantage is the ability to power the metal frog on the Atlas turnout without concern for additional gapping. The Peco Electrofrog requires those two additional gaps on the inner frog rail.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, August 18, 2017 4:22 PM

 Install the jumpers as shown on the back of the Electrofrog package and you are no longer reliant on point to stock rail contact for power.

 No extra gaps in Atlas because, well, the gaps are in the turnout already. Power routing seems to take on a negative connotatioon, but consider this. If you put insulated joiners right ont he frog rails of a Peco Electrofrog, and then have feeders in the connecting track, just what is getting power routed? THe frog and a tiny section of rail past the frog point. The whole rest of the siding beyond the insulated joiners/ Always live no matter what way the turnout is lined. You see, it's either you put the gaps past the frog, OR the turnout routes power to the tracks beyond. Not both. The reason you put the gaps in is so you can have feeders on the frog side of the turnout.

Take 3 pieces of flex track and a Peco Electrofrog. One piece of track oon each leg.

This works: COnnect poower to the piece of flex track that connects tot he point side. No insulated joiners or gaps cut anywhere. The two pieces of track past the frog will be live when the points are lined to go to that track. There will be no shorts. The track NOT lined will be dead.

This does not work: Same track connection but noot add a second set of feeders to one of the diverging tracks. If the points are line for that track, all is fine, but line the points to the other track and there's an instant short.

This DOES work: use insulated joiners on the two frog rails in the middle, metal joiners elsewhere. Feeder to the point side, and feeders on both of the diverging tracks. All tracks will be live no matter the point position, and there will be no shorts.

                                  --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, August 18, 2017 4:53 PM

richhotrain
For another, Atlas turnouts are not power routing and, at least in DCC operation, I consider this an advantage since you are not dependent upon the point rail making certain contact with the stock rail.

Hi Rich:

Putting jumpers on the Peco point rails is a given, as are the insulating rail joiners. The newer Peco turnouts already have the gaps cut into the rails for isolating the frogs. There is a small jumper that has to be removed.

Dave

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Friday, August 18, 2017 5:35 PM

rrinker

This DOES work: use insulated joiners on the two frog rails in the middle, metal joiners elsewhere. Feeder to the point side, and feeders on both of the diverging tracks. All tracks will be live no matter the point position, and there will be no shorts.

Exactly right. Piece of cake. 

His other points appear to be correct as well, but this one just jumped out.

Robert

LINK to SNSR Blog

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, August 18, 2017 7:29 PM

richhotrain
For one, Atlas turnouts are less expensive than Peco turnouts, as already discussed.

Yes, the Atlas turnouts are cheaper for sure. The difference in total would be somewhere around $400 Cdn. incl. tax. (assuming 60 turnouts @ $6.00 less per turnout). Nothing to sneeze at. I will mention that to the committee.

Dave

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, August 19, 2017 3:35 PM

hon30critter

 

 
richhotrain
For another, Atlas turnouts are not power routing and, at least in DCC operation, I consider this an advantage since you are not dependent upon the point rail making certain contact with the stock rail.

 

Hi Rich:

Putting jumpers on the Peco point rails is a given, as are the insulating rail joiners. The newer Peco turnouts already have the gaps cut into the rails for isolating the frogs. There is a small jumper that has to be removed.

Dave

 

 How new do they have to be? The ones I purchased in the last 3 years do not have any gaps on them after the frog.

                                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, August 20, 2017 10:36 PM

rrinker
How new do they have to be? The ones I purchased in the last 3 years do not have any gaps on them after the frog.

Hi Randy:

Sorry for the delay in responding. I have been trying to set up a new photo hosting service but I'm a dinosaur with this stuff.

Anyhow, the newer turnouts come in a clear plastic sleeve instead of the traditional cardboard box. The gaps are located about half way between the point rails and the frog. There is a small jumper on the back that has to be removed to isolate the frog.

Dave

       DSC02226 by Dave Warnica, on Flickr" alt="" />

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, August 20, 2017 10:45 PM

  DSC02224 by Dave Warnica, on Flickr" alt="" />

 

I couldn't seem to get more than one picture to link to the previous post, so I will try again. This is the front (top) of the turnout:

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, August 20, 2017 10:47 PM

This is the package:

  DSC02225 by Dave Warnica, on Flickr" alt="" />

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, August 21, 2017 6:49 AM

 Mine are all in plastic sleeves, no boxes. No gaps, either - not on the diverging side of the frog. The ones on the point side of the frog, with the jumper underneath, have always been there on the Code 83 line ones. That may be a change to the Code 100 and Code 75.

 Gaps are still needed on the diverging frog rails some place before the next feeders come in. The Peco insulated joiners are quite ingenious and much less visible than Atlas ones, but I will probably resort to the Dremel method since going a bit beyond the turnout is not a bad idead for an OS section detection block, and many of my other gaps will be for detection as well, the exact placement more likely to be determined after the track is laid than before. 

                                 --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, August 21, 2017 11:16 PM

Hi Randy:

It would appear that we were talking about gaps on different sides of the frogs. The addition of the gaps in the closure rails is realitively new for Code 100. Only my last few purchases have the gaps.

Please let me ask a question about placing gaps further from the diverging side of the frog. Logic suggests that doing that will require a piece of track being attached to the diverging tracks of the turnout. Do you solder that track to the turnout?

The reason I'm asking is related to the issue. I want to figure out the best way to install curved flex track leading into a turnout so as to avoid kinks. What do you and others suggest?

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 6:45 AM

 Hmm, directly from the turnout into a curve, that may be a touch one. Ordinarily I do not solder turnouts in place (and you can get away with this even with an Electrofrog if you place a feeder to the track section after the turnout - but not froom the main bus, from whatever controls the frog power, so in parallel with the wire to the frog. That way you don't have a section of track relying on rail joiners yet the turnout is not soldered in place). I also don;t like gaps on curves, that asks for kinking. If there's room for any bit of straight track, cut the gap there so the rails aren't bending at the gap. If it just HAS to be a curve, I guess I'd solder the turnout in place so there's only chance of one kink, cut the gap, and if necessary spike along the outside of the rail to keep it in place because the outside rail of a curved piece of flex is going to want to spring back to straight.

                                 --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 11:07 PM

rrinker
 Hmm, directly from the turnout into a curve, that may be a touch one.

I kind of suspected that you would say that.GrumpySighSmile, Wink & Grin I think we can install short pieces of straight track between the turnouts and the curves, and then anchor the short pieces down securely. That requires that the curves be a bit sharper, but I can play with the track spacing to allieviate the problem a bit.

We are going to look at Atlas Custom Line Code 100 switches to try to save some money.

Thanks again,

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 11:12 PM

On the club front, tonight we voted on which of the two possible plans we would build. The vote was 10 to 4 in favour of my plan, so I was a bit humbled. Both plans were good.

Here is my track plan. The layout space is 25' x 20':

    Scan0006 by Dave Warnica, on Flickr" alt="" />

I know it looks like a bit of a spagetti bowl, but it was designed to allow a maximum number of operators at one time. If anyone can spot any major flaws, please speak up.

Thanks

Dave

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 11:24 PM

Here are the key details of the plan:

  Scan0007 by Dave Warnica, on Flickr" alt="" />

Main line is blue

Secondary track is black

A/D track is green

Yard lead is pink

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, September 07, 2017 10:54 PM

We just lucked out! Our previous landlord, Kevin, operates a custom cabinet building business. In fact the old clubhouse was in the back of the shop (the dust was one of the major reasons that we moved out). Kevin has offered to cut 4' x 8' sheets of 3/4" plywood into 3 1/2" strips in return for an associate membership! He will even get the plywood at wholesale prices for us.Big SmileThumbs UpWowYeah For that I think we should give him a lifetime associate membership.

We asked him to quote on a couple of different materials, one being Baltic Birch 11 ply and the other being regular 7 ply plywood with a veneer core and no internal voids, preferably good both sides.

We hope to start building benchwork within the next 3 to 4 weeks.Thumbs UpThumbs UpThumbs UpYeah

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, September 08, 2017 3:28 AM

Gidday Dave, as you’ve already mentioned in the Diner, your clubs long term wish/goal is to possibly become tenants in the Barrie Allandale Station, a fine looking building if I may say so.

Hi Ja Bear:

The city of Barrie has spent several million dollars doing a spectacular job of restoring the Allandale Station. Unfortunately the site requires a couple more million dollars to remove contaminated soil before it will be suitable for public use. The city is reluctant to put up those additional funds, so the station sits in limbo. Lots of potential uses have been proposed but apparently the only solid lease proposal was for a fast food restaurant chain for one small corner. Pathetic!

Now for the really great news! There is a rumour that the whole thing may be sold to developers who will bulldoze the station and build condos! That's not pathetic, that's sickening!

For those of you not familiar with the station, here are some pics:

http://www.eraarch.ca/project/allandale-station/

Dave

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, September 11, 2017 12:59 AM

Back to the layout itself.

Many of you will have seen this on the thread about Atlas #8 turnout size. I now have two possible layout plans. One uses Atlas Code 83 #6s plus four curved turnouts. The other uses Peco Code 83 #6s and #8s plus three curved turnouts. No more #5s in either version.

We have the quote for the Peco version. Hopefully we will have the quote for the Atlas version some time today. The overall track arrangement is essentially the same in both versions and hasn't changed from the plan posted earlier on page 5.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 11:29 PM

Tonight we got approval from the members to go ahead and start spending money! We spent an hour trying to convince the nay sayers to release the whole amount that we were asking for. At one point one member was arguing that I hadn't broken the stages of construction down into small enough segments, as if that mattered in the least. I bit my tongue.Zip it! In the end we got what we wanted.  The vote was 14 for and 2 against. That's club politics for you!Bang HeadSmile, Wink & GrinLaughLaugh

We should be able to start the benchwork in early October. We have a show to do on Sept. 30/Oct 1 so that weekend is taken up. Then it will be full speed ahead.

As far as materials, we were originally going to go with 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood ripped into 3 1/2" strips. Based on our initial research it worked out to be the same price per foot as select 1 x 4 pine. However, thanks to the diligence of one of our members we were able to find select pine 1 x 4 x 16' for about $300.00 less than the Baltic Birch price, so that's what we will go with if it looks like decent lumber.

We had a slight problem to solve because a 16' piece of lumber would not go around the corner to get it into the layout room, and there are security grates on the windows that are welded into place. However, Lady Luck prevailed. We discovered that a dressed 1 x 4 will just slide through the rectangular openings in the security screen!Thumbs UpLaugh

We also found Homasote in stock right in Barrie for about 2/3rds of the special order price.

I'll keep you posted as things progress.

Cheers!!

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, September 21, 2017 1:25 AM

I finished the drawings for all of the benchwork tonight. We now have detailed plans for each section of the benchwork showing the exact placement for all of the L girders and crossmembers so we won't interfere with Tortoise placement should we decide to go that route. One of our members has loaned us a pocket hole drilling jig and a chop saw. I can hardly wait to start building!

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 2:50 AM

BIG progress!

Tonight I placed the order for 60+ Atlas turnouts and 175 pieces of flex track, plus the Tortoise machines and all the other bits that will be needed like cork roadbed, rail joiners ..... etc.

Tomorrow my partner in crime will place the order for all the wood. We decided to go with 1x4 select pine instead of plywood. We found a source that was about $300 cheaper than anybody else.

We are off to the races!!

Cheers everybody!!

Dave

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 3:29 AM

That's excellent news, Dave!

hon30critter
We decided to go with 1x4 select pine instead of plywood.

I believe that is a very wise decision Yes  I wish you, and your group, smooth sailing Empire Building, ahead!

Be sure to document your progress...

Regards, Ed

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