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HO Scale #4 turnouts and 6-axle locomotives

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HO Scale #4 turnouts and 6-axle locomotives
Posted by RJ Dio on Saturday, January 1, 2011 4:49 PM

Will an Athearn six-axle engine (i.e. an SD-40 or U30C) have any trouble navigating #4 switches without derailing?

 

I would like to use #4 switches for things like yards but don't want to build a model railroad that limits where certain engines can go.

 

I am modeling the 1970's so I am not concerned about newer engines such as SD70MAC or GE Dash-8 40CW types.

 

On a related note concerning prototypes, is it correct that #4 switches roughly correlate to yard and industry tracks, #6 correlate to main line tracks, and #8 correlate to high-speed main line track?

 

And, is it correct that code 83 track roughly correlates to 140 lb. rail and code 70 track correlates to roughly 100 lb. rail?  This is useful information to apply when I am modeling heavy-use main lines vs. light duty or older branch lines.

 

Thanks!

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Posted by lone geep on Sunday, January 2, 2011 3:07 PM

I know that bachmann SD40-2s will navigate #4 turnouts.

The Lone Geep

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Posted by jrbernier on Sunday, January 2, 2011 3:13 PM

  It depends on what brand #4 you are talking about.  The Atlas Customline #4 is really a #4.5 turnout.  A Walthers/Shinohara #4 is a true #4 turnout.  I would not want to run a train with 2-3 large/modern 6-axle engines at 'track speed' through either brand.  A # 6 is a much better option(if you can spare the room).  That said, I have Atlas Customline #4 turnouts in my yard and I have had no problems with small/medium steam and GP9/SD7 locomotives.  If you are going to use #4's, use the Atlas ones as they are not as sharp.

  On the prototype, you will be hard pressed to find a yard turnout less that a #9 in most modern installations!

  • A #4 is really sharp - but we are talking about layouts with finite areas - Right?
  • A #6 is pretty much the 'normal' turnout for most layouts bigger than a 4X8.  I use #6 turnouts for ends of sidings and cross-overs.  Our club uses #6's everywhere and has had no problems with all types of modern power/steam engines/long passenger trains.
  • A #8 is a nice large turnout.  If I had the space, all of my cross-overs would be a #8.  The Prototype use #20 or #24 turnouts a lot for ends of sidings or other powered turnouts.  A basic 'rule of thumb' is that you can double the # of the turnout to find out what speed is safe through the diverging leg of a turnout.  Most TT/Rule Books limit trains to 35-40 mph through the diverging leg of such turnouts.

 

  • Code 83 trackage is about 132-136 lb in the prototype.
  • Code 70 trackage is about 100-112 lb in the prototype.

 

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by Doug from Michigan on Sunday, January 2, 2011 5:47 PM

I have an Athearn SD40-2 that takes the Atlas #4's with no problem, even at considerable "greater than scale" speeds.  Don't ask me how I know this......

That being said, as my layout progresses I am still taking the advice learned here and in many books on layout design, and am trying to limit future uses of the #4's (4.5's) to yards only. 

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Posted by RJ Dio on Sunday, January 2, 2011 10:29 PM

Fantastic information and very helpful.  Thank you.  Yes, I am indeed using Atlas Custom Line #4's.

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Posted by ezielinski on Monday, January 3, 2011 2:39 AM

My whole 18x8 layout employs Atlas #4 turnouts - yards and mainlines.  Large Dash 9 and Dash 8 locomotives, SD40's, Geeps, SW's, even a 4-6-2 Spectrum steamer have no problems with them.

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, January 3, 2011 8:16 AM

I don't know how you guys get steam engines and 6 axle diesels to negotiate Atlas Custom Line #4 turnouts, even at crawl speeds.

I just ripped out my two remaining #4s that accessed one track to my coal tower and replaced them with #6s.  I would ban the use of #4 turnouts altogether if I had the power.

I use #6s exclusively throughout my double mainline.

Rich

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Posted by yankee flyer on Monday, January 3, 2011 11:26 AM

Hi Rich

I think it's all in how precise you lay the track. My yard is all #4s and I have a couple curves that gave my Alco PA1s, my heavy weight passenger cars, and the SD7 a fit. All problems were solved by a lot of fine tuning of the track. Some Atlas turn outs sit high in the frog and have to be pined down. #6s and above would be good if theres room. 

Smile, Wink & Grin Good day

Lee

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Posted by dante on Monday, January 3, 2011 4:52 PM

I have a Walthers/Shinohara #4 (DCC friendly with dead frog) on my test tracks being used to confirm criteria for the layout about to be built.  My 6-axle Proto 2000 E-8 and PA-1 and BLI heavy 2-8-2 take the turnout with ease, whether traveling fast or slow.  

The probable significant factor is that the radius of closure rail (RCR) is 26" as measured by Ribbonrail templates.  That is significantly better than the 15" and 22" indicated for a #4 and #4-1/2, respectively, in John Armstrong's book on track planning.  The frog is definitely a measured #4, as stated by Jim above. The track and turnout are spiked into a Homasote panel.

The obvious suggestion is to test your equipment on the turnouts you expect to use.

Dante 

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Posted by Doug from Michigan on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 1:17 PM

I guess I just got lucky with mine, since I'm certainly no expert at laying track or fine tuning layouts.  BTW, I am using code 100.  I can't imagine why, but would the rail height make a difference with code 83?

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Posted by fender777 on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 3:40 PM

I use Atlas #4 all over and all my locos even my new ac6000 'DASH 9' ECT all work fine.Saves room.But if space is not a problem then #6 would be the best I guess .But my Altas #4 work fine.BOB

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 4:33 PM

A good compromise - if you're using a track line that offers it - is the no.5 turnout. I tried no. 4's in a couple places on my old layout but had some problems with a few engines, but no problems when I switched to no.5 or larger.

BTW in the real world, a no. 6 or 8 turnout would be pretty sharp, like yard trackage or industry spurs. Mainline turnouts are more like no. 20-22 range.

Stix
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Posted by rvos1979 on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 4:55 PM

I am currently building a layout with a paper mill theme, and have used several Shinohara code 70 #4 turnouts, there is even a #4 crossover.  I have intended this to be switched by a four-axle locomotive, but took plenty of time fitting the track together.  I have run an Athearn RTR SD45 through the crossover with no problems at slow speed, but it does look funny going through such a sharp turnout.....

Randy Vos

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Posted by Trainguy1988 on Saturday, February 17, 2024 9:49 AM

I have Kato Unitrack #4 turnouts all over my 4 x 10.5' layout, and while I previously did not have issues with my Spectrum K4 navigating these switches, I've noticed that the tender seems to derail more after having the tender-locomotive connections tightened. Additionally, it appears that the frog flangeway on one of the turnouts is a bit too high, as the front of the K4 will bounce upward upon hitting it, causing the lead trucks to derail. I'm thinking the solution is to file down the flangeway a little.

 

ezielinski

My whole 18x8 layout employs Atlas #4 turnouts - yards and mainlines.  Large Dash 9 and Dash 8 locomotives, SD40's, Geeps, SW's, even a 4-6-2 Spectrum steamer have no problems with them.

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, February 17, 2024 10:35 AM

This is a 13 year old thread from 2011, so all of those guys who claimed to run 6-axle locos through #4 turnouts have all left the forum... and probably the hobby.

Rich

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Posted by kasskaboose on Sunday, February 18, 2024 7:22 AM

Why are such threads revisited?  Can we pls make a statute of limitations or something on letting threads of a certain age go?  While the topic is relevant, some of the folks who responded very likely left (I checked and saw only two with recent posts, but I could be wrong.) There's nothing wrong with kicking up older topics, but ones this old?

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 18, 2024 9:37 AM

kasskaboose

Why are such threads revisited?  Can we pls make a statute of limitations or something on letting threads of a certain age go?  While the topic is relevant, some of the folks who responded very likely left (I checked and saw only two with recent posts, but I could be wrong.) There's nothing wrong with kicking up older topics, but ones this old? 

My often stated position on old threads is that they should be locked after a period of time. You could still include a link but not simply reply to an old thread since it would be locked. Just start a new thread.

Rich

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Posted by PennCentral99 on Sunday, February 18, 2024 10:06 AM

richhotrain
kasskaboose

Why are such threads revisited?  Can we pls make a statute of limitations or something on letting threads of a certain age go?  While the topic is relevant, some of the folks who responded very likely left (I checked and saw only two with recent posts, but I could be wrong.) There's nothing wrong with kicking up older topics, but ones this old? 

 

 

My often stated position on old threads is that they should be locked after a period of time. You could still include a link but not simply reply to an old thread since it would be locked. Just start a new thread.

 

Rich

Usually, this occurs when someone comes across the response while conducting an internet search on a topic/discussion/question. Sometimes the person searching misses/doesn't see the age of the thread. I agree with Rich, while internet data and discussion are somewhat useful, especially from a historical library, if a thread is inactive for a period of time, it should be locked for replies, but viewing it should be OK

Terry

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, February 18, 2024 10:24 AM

PennCentral99
 
 
richhotrain
kasskaboose

Why are such threads revisited?  Can we pls make a statute of limitations or something on letting threads of a certain age go?  While the topic is relevant, some of the folks who responded very likely left (I checked and saw only two with recent posts, but I could be wrong.) There's nothing wrong with kicking up older topics, but ones this old?  

My often stated position on old threads is that they should be locked after a period of time. You could still include a link but not simply reply to an old thread since it would be locked. Just start a new thread. 

Rich 

Usually, this occurs when someone comes across the response while conducting an internet search on a topic/discussion/question. Sometimes the person searching misses/doesn't see the age of the thread. I agree with Rich, while internet data and discussion are somewhat useful, especially from a historical library, if a thread is inactive for a period of time, it should be locked for replies, but viewing it should be OK

Terry 

One of the real problems with reviving old threads is that other members often don't realize that this is an old thread and, quite fequently, the guy who revived the old thread doesn't realize it either. This leads to confusion and frustration.

I don't object to old threads being retained in the forum. I often re-discover some of these old threads when Googling for information. But, if I feel a need to respond to an old thread, a rare occurrence, I will note that it is an older thread.

Rich

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, February 18, 2024 5:18 PM

When reading old threads, I sometimes see the names of old posters who've left us or even worse, arrived on the RIP track at the diner.  So I don’t mind old threads.

I've got an SD9, probably Athearn, that I picked up for cheap at a train show.  It runs OK but won't even take my 18 inch curves, so i never got it to even try turnouts.  Someday, maybe.

I do have a P2K RSC-3, a version of the RS-3 that has 6 axles.  It handles my track and my turnouts just fine.

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

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Posted by Water Level Route on Sunday, February 18, 2024 6:49 PM

 I got my  first 6 axle locomotive, an Athearn SDP-40 and ran it on my first layout as a kid in the late 80's. That layout was built with 18" radius curves and snap switches from Life-Like bought at Toys-R-Us. Worked fine for me. I think it depends very much on the particular model of locomotive. 

As I built other layouts  between then and graduating college, those same switches got reused. Still worked okay With my then 2 Athearn SDP-40's. 

Mike

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 1:32 PM

Depends on which Kato No.4 turnout you used. For many years, the Kato manual No.4 was designed to match their 19-1/4" curves, while the electric No.4 matched their 21-5/8" radius curved track. (Now they make electric and manual versions of both.)

p.s. all Kato HO equipment - engines, passenger cars, freight cars - are designed to run on their 21-5/8"R track. Some of their larger cars and engines may not be able to run on sharper curves / turnouts.

Stix
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Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 4:28 PM

Does speed of the loco or what it's hauling matter whether it can handle a #4 turnout? 

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 6:44 PM

kasskaboose

Does speed of the loco or what it's hauling matter whether it can handle a #4 turnout?  

Speed is always a factor and somewhat critical when passing over the divergent side of a #4 turnout.

Rich

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Posted by Bigjim7 on Sunday, February 25, 2024 7:37 AM

I use #4 Atlas custom line with no problem. But I do like using #5 and 6 for mains. It all depends on how good you lay your track. Also sometimes that rail that moves needs to be filed down a bit on any switch.

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