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Problem with new Atlas Code 83 turnouts. Update - differences between #6 and #8 turnouts explained.

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Problem with new Atlas Code 83 turnouts. Update - differences between #6 and #8 turnouts explained.
Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, October 12, 2017 10:49 PM

Hi gang:

Most of you are aware that my club is building a new layout. Some of you may know that we have chosen to use Atlas Code 83 turnouts, primarily because of the price. Initially I couldn't see any major advantages to the Peco turnouts which we were considering too.

On Tuesday night I decided to have a really close look at the Atlas turnouts to see what was needed to make them work flawlessly, or at least as close to that as possible. The first thing I looked at was how well the point rails fit into the depression in the stock rails. I didn't like what I saw. Neither point rail fit properly into the stock rail. The tips of the point rails protruded noticeably from the stock rails. On one side the problem could be solved by simply filing the tip of the point rail to make it flush with the stock rail. I believe that is a standard turnout tuning procedure. However, the other point rail stuck out so much that filing the tip would not have solved the problem. In fact there were two problems. One was that the point rail was not fitting into the depression in the stock rail, and the other was that the tip of the point rail was slightly twisted.

I decided that I would try to straighten out the twist first. Here is where calamity struck. The point rail would not accept the twist, but what happened is that I managed to bend the tab that holds the point rail in place on the throw bar. When I tried to straighten that out it broke off immediately. The joint where the tab is attached to the throw bar is extremely thin and obviously very delicate. I tried to solder the tab back on to the point rail but the solder wouldn't take. (Please refrain from giving me advice on how to solder - I scratch build my own brass critters). Even if I could solder the tab back on the fact remains that it is a significant weak point in the design of the turnout.

Has anyone else experienced similar problems with the Code 83 Atlas turnouts?

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, October 13, 2017 12:44 AM

The new manufacturer of Atlas track leaves a lot to be desired.  You might try looking for new old stock Atlas turnouts.  I never ran into a sloppy Atlas turnout until they switched manufacturers a few years ago.  I've had to tinker with every new Atlas turnout one way or the other, the plastic tie flashing is pretty bad.  The quality control from Pico is much better than Atlas.
 
Mel
 
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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, October 13, 2017 12:49 AM

I only have a handful of Atlas Mark IV switches, all #8s. One thing I noticed about them is that the points are made out of material that is similar to the frog, and then plated with what looks like chromium. It certainly is not nickel silver.

I don't believe there's any way to repair (or replace) those points. They're held in by pressed-on retainers (like internal-tooth star washers) and trying to remove them would probably further destroy the turnout, certainly snap off the little "pip" on the underside of the point. I imagine you can't simply buy the points, either.

The stock rails are already milled pretty thin so there is only a very little to play with there. My only suggestion would be to lay them as FLAT and as carefully as possible and fine-tune any problem areas after they have been in service for a while.

Not much help, I know... sorry.

Best of Luck,

Ed

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, October 13, 2017 1:02 AM

Thanks Mel and Ed,

I really wish I had asked this question before we spent several hundred dollars on Atlas turnouts. We will discuss our options when the Layout Design Committee meets on Monday night, but I'm pretty sure we will try to return the Atlas turnouts and go with Peco Code 83. If we have to pay a re-stocking fee so be it.

Disappointed Dave

(To be honest, I'm really ticked about the lack of quality of the Atlas turnouts. I was the one who convinced the club to try to save some bucks by going with Atlas vs Peco despite the fact that I was a hard core Peco supporter. The price difference was $800.00. I feel like an idiot. I should have tried to tune the Atlas turnouts before we placed the order).

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, October 13, 2017 5:32 AM

Before you abandon the Atlas Code 83 turnouts, examine a few more of them for flaws. How many are flawed?  All of them, some of them, a few of them?

I have lots of Atlas Code 83 turnouts on my layout but, admittedly, none are new within the last year or two. None of them are flawed.

If Atlas has switched manufacturers and some of the turnouts are flawed, contact Atlas and see if they can work something out.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, October 13, 2017 6:27 AM

richhotrain

Before you abandon the Atlas Code 83 turnouts, examine a few more of them for flaws. How many are flawed?  All of them, some of them, a few of them?

I have lots of Atlas Code 83 turnouts on my layout but, admittedly, none are new within the last year or two. None of them are flawed.

If Atlas has switched manufacturers and some of the turnouts are flawed, contact Atlas and see if they can work something out.

Rich

 

I have to agree with Rich here, first if they are defective, I would think Atlas will make it good. Second, looking for problems before they are installed may or maynot be a good idea.

Seems that minor tune up stuff is better done in place when the turnout can not flex/move.

Hopefully this is just a random QC issue and not a "whole batch" problem. Again, never had any issues with them, but like Rich have not purchased any recently.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, October 13, 2017 6:30 AM

Hi Rich,

Here is my major concern with the new Atlas turnouts. The plain simple fact is that the tab on the point rails that keeps them in place on the throw bar is extremely delicate. Based on my experience, they will not allow for any adjustments to the point rail shape. That is a fatal flaw. If the tips of the point rails can't be made to fit smoothly into the depression in the stock rails without breaking things then something is seriously wrong.

Peco turnouts use stamped point rails. The tab that attaches the point rail to the throw bar won't fail. Period. I have 39 Peco turnouts which I have purchased for my own layout and none of them have a problem with the point rails not fitting into the stock rails properly.

Regards guys,

Dave

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, October 13, 2017 6:41 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
 
richhotrain

Before you abandon the Atlas Code 83 turnouts, examine a few more of them for flaws. How many are flawed?  All of them, some of them, a few of them?

I have lots of Atlas Code 83 turnouts on my layout but, admittedly, none are new within the last year or two. None of them are flawed.

If Atlas has switched manufacturers and some of the turnouts are flawed, contact Atlas and see if they can work something out.

Rich 

I have to agree with Rich here, first if they are defective, I would think Atlas will make it good. Second, looking for problems before they are installed may or maynot be a good idea.

Seems that minor tune up stuff is better done in place when the turnout can not flex/move.

Hopefully this is just a random QC issue and not a "whole batch" problem. Again, never had any issues with them, but like Rich have not purchased any recently.

Sheldon

 

Dave, you should definitely contact Atlas for resolution of this issue.

I don't doubt you analysis and observations of the Atlas turnouts, but if what you observe is universally true about the newer Atlas turnouts, Atlas has a real problem on its hands.

Rich

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, October 13, 2017 6:52 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Second, looking for problems before they are installed may or maynot be a good idea. Seems that minor tune up stuff is better done in place when the turnout can not flex/move.

Hi Sheldon:

With respect, I'm sorry Sheldon but I have to totally disagree. This was not a minor tune up problem.

I wasn't looking for major problems. I was simply trying to access how much work would be required to make the Atlas turnouts bullet proof or there abouts. What I discovered was that a simple tune up of the Atlas turnout that I had in hand would not address the flaws in the turnout. The plain simple fact is that one of the point rails was nowhere close to fitting into the depression in the stock rail. Filing the tip of the point down would not have solved the problem. The gap was too big. Ignoring that and installing the turnout would have created serious problems.

At our Layout Committee meeting on Monday I'm going to recommend that we return the Atlas turnouts and go back to the Peco turnouts that we wanted in the first place. If we have to pay a re-stocking fee then so be it.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, October 13, 2017 6:59 AM

richhotrain
Dave, you should definitely contact Atlas for resolution of this issue. I don't doubt you analysis and observations of the Atlas turnouts, but if what you observe is universally true about the newer Atlas turnouts, Atlas has a real problem on its hands. Rich

Sorry Rich, but I'm not going to spend my time trying to help Atlas correct their engineering mistakes. The market will do that for them - eventually. To examine all of the Atlas turnouts that we have on hand would require that we take them out of their packages. That would make it impossible to return them to our supplier. The club does not wish to be stuck wuth $400.00 worth of unreliable turnouts.

Right now I have a club layout to build and I am doing all of the specifications. We need reliable turnouts now. Peco supplies reliable turnouts. We are willing to pay the price for reliable turnouts. 

Dave

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, October 13, 2017 7:01 AM

I bought around ten of the newer Atlas Custom Line code 83 #6 turnouts to use on my recent layout and didn't notice any issues with them.  They were purchased mostly in 2015 and 2016 so pretty recent.  The turnouts in the left forground of the photo are some of them - they are the ones with the throw-bar on "one side" of the turnout in the ladders:

I noticed Dave is between either Atlas or Peco.  But I am considering MicroEngineering code 83 #6 turnouts for a future layout.  Those are inbetween the Atlas and Peco in price and many have given good feedback on their quality.  At MBK Atlas code 83 are $14 ea, ME code 83 are $19 ea and Peco are $26 ea.

As for the existing Atlas turnouts, check them over and if you got a bad batch, contact Atlas and they should make good on taking care of it for you.  They've always been resonsive to fixing issues for me.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, October 13, 2017 7:08 AM

 The last ones I have are all from before the switch in supplier, and I never had to do a thing to any of them to make them work reliably, #4's and #6's. I haven't seen any since the supplier switch and I really hope you just had a batch issue and not something that is going to be systemic - although if the point rails are now made of the same material as the frog I would run away. The older ones, this was absolutely not the case, the points are stamped on all of mine, but nickel silver, same as the rails, not the metal used in the frog. I think I had one point rail come loose from the throwbar one one of them, I was able to bent the tab on the point rail just enough so it would stay in place - it didn;t fully come loose, but rather pushed over towards the center of the turnout meaning it would never make contact with the stock rail. I may have also used a thin plastic shim under the throwbar  - on the sides where the throwbar rides on the plastic under the rails, I cemented a piece of .010 or maybe .015 on top of the tie plastic to hold the throwbar up . On ONE out of a dozen or so on that layout.

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, October 13, 2017 7:12 AM

Hi Randy,

The point rails on the new Atlas turnout that I was working with are not stamped, they are cast, and they look like the same material that the frog is made from.

Dave

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, October 13, 2017 7:14 AM

hon30critter
 
richhotrain
Dave, you should definitely contact Atlas for resolution of this issue. I don't doubt you analysis and observations of the Atlas turnouts, but if what you observe is universally true about the newer Atlas turnouts, Atlas has a real problem on its hands. Rich 

Sorry Rich, but I'm not going to spend my time trying to help Atlas correct their engineering mistakes. The market will do that for them - eventually. To examine all of the Atlas turnouts that we have on hand would require that we take them out of their packages. That would make it impossible to return them to our supplier. The club does not wish to be stuck wuth $400.00 worth of unreliable turnouts.

Right now I have a club layout to build and I am doing all of the specifications. We need reliable turnouts now. Peco supplies reliable turnouts. We are willing to pay the price for reliable turnouts. 

Dave 

Dave, that was not my suggestion to help Atlas resolve their QC problem.

What I was suggesting was that you contact Atlas about the problem to hopefully avoid a potential restocking fee with the vendor from whom you purchased the batch of turnouts.

Rich

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, October 13, 2017 8:42 AM

hon30critter

Hi gang:

However, the other point rail stuck out so much that filing the tip would not have solved the problem. In fact there were two problems. One was that the point rail was not fitting into the depression in the stock rail, and the other was that the tip of the point rail was slightly twisted.

 

Thanks,

Dave

Dave,

IIRC, the Atlas code 83 turnouts are designed so the modeler can slide the points out from the tabs in order to reverse the throw bar.  It may be a case where the throwbar is not well seated in the tab so the point protrudes or twists at rest.

It takes some delicate fingers, but normally you can squeeze the points inward and they are supposed to unseat from under the tabs. There may also be some flash in/under one tab keeping the points from seating properly.  I think they should snap into place when reinstalling.

The metal itself is pretty strong stuff so I doubt that it is twisted, rather its a seating problem.

Just a guess.

- Douglas

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, October 13, 2017 9:24 AM

Dave, respectfully, I understand and agree about not opening all of them, but have you found this problem on more than one turnout? Finding one defect does not condemn any product.

I would think you could inspect them in the package at least somewhat?

And Doughless makes a good point, I have reversed a lot of Atlas throw bars, and until the tab on the point is fully seated, the point will not work correctly.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by nealknows on Friday, October 13, 2017 1:45 PM

How about this....

Atlas Model Railroad Company - Phone: 908-687-0880

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Posted by wp8thsub on Friday, October 13, 2017 5:23 PM

I also suspect the issue here was an improperly assembled plastic throwbar.  I have dozens of Atlas code 83 turnouts that operate flawlessly, but a few did have points that weren't seated correctly on the throwbar.  The newer types with cast points have been completely trouble free for me, but given how they're put together, I can see how you could end up with points that needed to be snapped into place.

I have no problem recommending Atlas as a cost savings over Peco, with the caveat that Atlas products tend to require more tuneup.  A properly tuned Atlas 83 turnout should work just as well as Peco.  Since I don't mind a few minutes work to get each one ready, some extra time spent filing frogs, seating points, or straightening tie strips (e.g. using a motor tool to cut the webbing under the closure rails so they'll flex into shape) doesn't bother me.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, October 14, 2017 5:15 AM

Rick:

Sorry, I sounded a bit short in my response.

Sheldon:

The next step will be to examine all the other turnouts through the packaging to see what they look like. That wii happen Monday night. Unfortunately the back of the turnout can't be viewed to see if the Point rails are properly seated.

Doughless and Rob.

Yes, the point rails can be removed to flip the throwbar.

As far as the possibility that the point rail was not seated properly on the throwbar, I don't think that would have caused the problem with the point rail not fitting into the stock rail. If the point rail was out of place on the throwbar, the only direction that it can move is towards the stock rail, not away from it. The throwbar moldings prevent the point rail from moving away from the stock rail unless the throwbar itself is moved.

Also, there was no flash. Both the point rail and the stock rail are smooth where they make contact, and there was no plastic flash on the ties.

No matter what caused the point rail to be out of place, there is still the fact that the locating tabs on the point rails are extremely fragile IMHO.

Nealknows: Thanks for the phone #.

I'll let you know what we decide on Monday.

Dave

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, October 14, 2017 6:24 AM

Dave, I don't want to beat a dead horse here, so to speak, but I believe that an email or call to Atlas would be appropriate in this instance.

If, indeed, there is a problem with the entire batch, then Atlas would likely want to assist you and prevent you and the club from suffering any economic loss.

At the same time, if there is a larger problem, Atlas may offer a solution or workaround to remedy the problem.

I do think that it is worth an email or call to Atlas on Monday.

Rich

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, October 14, 2017 6:42 AM

richhotrain
I believe that an email or call to Atlas would be appropriate in this instance.

Will do.

EDIT: I'll call on Tuesday after I have had a look at the other turnouts. I don't have them here, they are at the clubhouse.

Dave

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, October 16, 2017 10:22 PM

Dave, I will be interested to hear how you make out inspecting the other turnouts.

As it happens, I am rebuilding my layout at present and had the opportunity today to stop in the retail store of "modeltrainstuff.com" and pick up some more turnouts for my layout. About a half dozen of each, Atlas #6 and #8.

I can only assume they are recent production, as "modeltrainstuff.com" is one of the biggest, busiest retailers in North America.

So I compared them carefully to the ones I already have, and while I could find some very minor differences, I found no flaws or defects, and they are basically identical to the 15 year old ones on my layout now.

I found the following differences:

The plastic ties are slightly different color and somewhat shinny compared to the old ones.

The tip of the points is angled off at a slighly greater angle on the new ones.

The plastic guard rails have a "softer" edge at the top, the old ones where very square, the new ones more like a railhead.

The rail is a slightly different color.....very slightly, compared to an uninstalled spare I had laying around.

Everything else seemed identical. 

I hooked one to several pieces of snap track and ran a truck thru it in all directions to check its smoothness, it was flawless, even without anything holding the points closed.

I inspected all I purchased, no defects like you described.

So, I surely hope you simply found the one "bad guy" in the batch.

A few other observations:

The points on the #4 and #6 are stamped metal, like they have always been. The points on the #8 are solid rail.

While in the store, they had PECO code 83 hanging nearby. I carefully compared the two. As per my earlier comments in the previous thread comparing these turnouts, the PECO is shorter from point to frog and CLEARLY has a slighly sharper closure radius than the Atlas. I'm sure they work fine, but again I feel PECO leaned toward their UK/EU thinking in designing those.

So I did some more checking.

And I found an old Shinohara code 100 #6 I had laying around.

So I measured all three, and checked the results against NMRA RP12, and information in Paul Mallery's Trackwork Handbook.

The results - point lead to frog measurements:

PECO code 83 #6 - 6.25"

Shinohara code 100 #6 - 6.5"

Atlas Custom Line code 83 #6 - 7"

NMRA RP12 for HO turnouts - 6.511"

Mallery's conversion from prototype info - 6.6"

So, while all have 9.5 degree frogs, the PECO has the sharpest closure radius, followed by the Shinohara, with Atlas being the broadest.

The PECO and the Shinohara also have shorter points, meaning they likely have a sharper angle of diversion at the points

I realize these are very small differences, but considering how we compress our trackage in the first place, I am happy to go with the larger....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, October 16, 2017 11:48 PM

Hi Sheldon:

Thanks for the detailed comparisons.

Well, tonight we had a chance to compare the Atlas Code 83 #8 turnout that I wasn't pleased with to the Atlas Code 83 #6 turnouts, and we found exactly the same thing as you did. They are not the same beast:

- The Atlas Code 83 #8 turnout has solid (cast) point rails whereas the Atlas Code 83 #6 turnouts have stamped NS point rails. Obviously the stamped point rails will withstand some adjusting if necessary (none of the #6s seemed to require it) whereas the cast point rails will not.

- The angled tips of the point rails on the #6s fit into the depression in the stock rails perfectly whereas one of the #8's cast point rails was nowhere near close.

- As an added benefit, the frogs on the #6s are tinted a dark gray whereas the frog on the #8 was bright silver. That is a minor issue, but the #8 frog really didn't look very good at all.

So, please forgive me for getting my shorts in a knot, but what I saw with the Atlas #8 scared me.

Thanks again for everyones' time.

Dave

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 5:44 AM

hon30critter

Hi Sheldon:

Thanks for the detailed comparisons.

Well, tonight we had a chance to compare the Atlas Code 83 #8 turnout that I wasn't pleased with to the Atlas Code 83 #6 turnouts, and we found exactly the same thing as you did. They are not the same beast:

- The Atlas Code 83 #8 turnout has solid (cast) point rails whereas the Atlas Code 83 #6 turnouts have stamped NS point rails. Obviously the stamped point rails will withstand some adjusting if necessary (none of the #6s seemed to require it) whereas the cast point rails will not.

- The angled tips of the point rails on the #6s fit into the depression in the stock rails perfectly whereas one of the #8's cast point rails was nowhere near close.

- As an added benefit, the frogs on the #6s are tinted a dark gray whereas the frog on the #8 was bright silver. That is a minor issue, but the #8 frog really didn't look very good at all.

So, please forgive me for getting my shorts in a knot, but what I saw with the Atlas #8 scared me.

Thanks again for everyones' time.

Dave

 

 

Well, I'm glad it's worked out. I will look closer at my #8's but I have yet to have any trouble there either?

I agree that out the package the #8 frog is less than attactive, but easy to paint the "V" inside the center and then they look fine.

I sand the black off the top of the #6's........

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 6:52 AM

 The black on the 4's and 6's quickly wears off in use anyway. And ends up deposited on your wheel treads.

 Peco claims they've made the 83 Line to ARA standards.

                                  --Randy


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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 7:26 AM

rrinker

 The black on the 4's and 6's quickly wears off in use anyway. And ends up deposited on your wheel treads.

 Peco claims they've made the 83 Line to ARA standards.

                                  --Randy

 

Well Mallery has the AAR standards in his book, and converted them to the popular scales, the PECO is smaller/sharper.

As for pre 1934 ARA standards, I can't comment, but I model 1953.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 2:20 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
the PECO is smaller/sharper.

I don't believe that is true for PECO Code 83, which is what the Original Poster is considering. 

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Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 3:13 PM

hon30critter
The angled tips of the point rails on the #6s fit into the depression in the stock rails perfectly whereas one of the #8's cast point rails was nowhere near close.

I know you stated earlier that you didn't believe an incorrectly assembled throwbar could cause the issue described, but the top of the point leaning out from the stock rail is exactly how the issue tends to manifest itself on Atlas #8 turnouts with cast points.  Now that it's clear the affected turnout was a #8, I can describe the fix should you encounter another problematic example.

The point has an extension that fits into a plastic peg cast into the underside of the throwbar.  If the point casting isn't seated on the peg, the bottom of the point will hit the stock rail, while the top leans out.  Flip the turnout over and carefully push the point casting around the peg until it seats (remove any casting flash from either part if needed first).  This should rotate the top edge of the point into alignment with the stock rail.  Since the point is pot metal, it won't withstand bending without snapping, and you can't solder to it without applying plating that's compatible with solder.

As an added benefit, the frogs on the #6s are tinted a dark gray whereas the frog on the #8 was bright silver. That is a minor issue, but the #8 frog really didn't look very good at all.

Once the track is painted this visual issue mostly disappears, although the Atlas frog is very long compared to other brands, and still doesn't look quite as good to me even after painting.

cuyama
 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
the PECO is smaller/sharper.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 3:24 PM

rrinker

 The black on the 4's and 6's quickly wears off in use anyway. And ends up deposited on your wheel treads.

Say what? Is that where all that black gunk on the wheels comes from?

Rich

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 3:43 PM

Hello all,

hon30critter
...I'm not going to spend my time trying to help Atlas correct their engineering mistakes. The market will do that for them - eventually.

First of all thank you for your time and effort to highlight this problem!

I would also like to add that you and your club ARE the market!

Without your observations and feedback to the manufacturers, corrections might never be made. 

My father-in-law; who was a research scientist, always said, "A failed experiment can teach you more than a success."

I understand the frustration and embarrassment over your recomendation(s) to your peers.

Hopefull your time and effort will have positive ripple effects across all of Atlas's products.

Again, thank you for your time and effort!

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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