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Posted - 2009 September 25 :  6:13:49 PM  Show Profile
When I first got into N scale about 6 years ago I was pretty excited with the newer introduction of Atlas Code 55 track.

I built up a small shelf layout with flex track and #5 turnouts. I laid all my track with caulk and tried to keep the turnouts free in order to perform service (should it be needed). After a few weeks I was having all kinds of problems with the turnouts maintaining continuity. I solved this by dropping feeders everywhere there were issues and this solved the problem.

I then had issues with Atlas locomotives jumping the track at the frogs (seems pretty common) and decided to take a file to them. This sort of solved those issues. Then I had issues with locomotives stalling at the frogs and my 4 axle locomotives stalling on the turnout all together. I got pretty frustrated and called it quits. I unsuccessfully tried to rework the layout and eventually lost interest.

Fast forward to 2009. I now have suitable space for a nice N scale layout and decided to go with Atlas code 55 turnouts once again since nothing compares to them in the looks department. I started laying track a few weeks ago. I employed many of the lessons learned a few years back. I also used brand new turnouts. The problem is that I have a few #7's positioned near a 22" radius that the locomotive always takes the normal "straight" route through regardless which way the points are aligned. I have tried everything to correct the problem and the only solution seems to be not to place a #7 turnout within about 2-3 inches of a curve. This is especially frustrating since my layout is prototype based and not exactly huge. I understand Atlas is releasing curved turnouts in N scale but they were due a long time ago and to be honest I'm quite leery about using them since I can't seem to get an Atlas #7 to work properly on a curve with sufficient easements.

If anyone has any suggestions or tips it would be appreciated.

I've had nothing but problems with these turnouts since I started using them years ago. They have caused me to lose interest in the hobby and untold amounts of frustration. I have thought about using a different brand but since these are the best looking on the market I would like to make use of them.

Sorry for the long rant, I'm still just really frustrated and I haven't touched the layout in a week

Country: Canada | Posts: 50


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  6:21:33 PM  Show Profile
I suggest the following

1. Make sure the loco wheels are in guage - best to use an NMRA guage
2. Make sure there is some sort of tension on the throwbar to keep the point rails tight against the regular rails
3. Take a small file, and just swipe the points a couple of times to make sure they are clean.
4. I also make sure that there are now upward bow's in the turnout. To fix that, you have to glue it down. Use just a little bit of Liquid Nails for Projects - right under the frog

Hope this helps


Country: USA | Posts: 623 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  6:40:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit bdennis's Homepage
Per above response.. The primary problem is wheel guage. I had exactly the same issue. When I first layed 14 of my 54 brand new Atlas Turn outs on my layout.. The first loco I tried was a Kato U30C.. It would not run through the frogs and seemed to walk over them. I could not understand why as my previous layout used Peco Code 80 and I did not have any issues. Then by talking to others and reading this forum I found that I needed to reguage the wheels on my fleet of locos. I have upwards of 70 locos both old and new and they ALL needed a tweek here and there to put them in guage.
I use a Microtrains coupler height checker for this. It has a wheel guage on the side. Once I reguaged all my loco wheels they ran perfectly.. I also have a turn out that it next to the end of a tight radius. Loco's that are even slightly out of guage (too tight) will pic the point and continue straight. Once the loco wheels are guaged correctly there are no issues.

To guage the wheels, I use a "large" jewllers flat blade screw driver (note this is still quite a small screw driver) between the inside of wheel and the plastic housing of the gear box on the bogie. I give it a very slight twist. This needs to be done on one side of each axle. Most loco wheels move (just a fraction) quite easily. Great care needs to be taken in order not to damage the bogie.
Once this is done, your faith in Atlas code 55 turnouts will be restore and your frustration will vanish!.. I know mine did..

Country: Australia | Posts: 179 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  6:42:54 PM  Show Profile
Originally posted by bdennis

Per above response.. The primary problem is wheel guage.

Dollars to donuts... That's the problem.

It's not the turnouts.

Country: USA | Posts: 1773 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  8:11:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit mmagliaro's Homepage
Wheel gauge wheel gauge wheel gauge....
The other suggestions are good things to check if you keep having troubles
after you check and correct the wheels.

"Real turnouts" require that all your wheels truly be on the mark. Use
an NMRA gauge. Lots of commercial equipment is set narrow.
That makes for havoc going through turnouts and crossings.

-- Max

N Scale steam for the masses

Country: USA | Posts: 3890 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  8:34:35 PM  Show Profile
It's not the turnouts.

Early #5 turnouts have a problem with the gauge through the frog. They have to be filed to work properly.

AFAIK, the #7 and others don't have this problem, and I believe newer #5s are ok as well.


Check out the new forum and website!

Country: USA | Posts: 1391 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  9:01:10 PM  Show Profile
I do not see where you mentioned the type or mfgr.
of rolling stock you are trying to run through these
I have used them for several years without any problems
at all. But you cannot run junk through these high
quality turnouts.
I have found that by running quality wheelsets (FVM)
and Micro Trains trucks derailments have stopped.
Model Railroading is like anything else- You get what
you pay for. If you are going to spend the extra money
on quality track, spend the same on quality engines and cars.

Country: USA | Posts: 761 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  10:26:49 PM  Show Profile
I used Atlas code 55 flex track on my current layout with 40 plus turnouts.
I too had to go through the learning curve.
One has to make sure all is in spec. with an NMRA gage including the turn outs, wheels of all locos and rolling stock, after completion of those tasks all ran flawlessly for 2 years and the only derailments that I had were due to my not having a turn out thrown correctly when a train entered it.
All ran great until I had to disassemble my layout and put it into storage until I get another home.

I found that this track will work great but all must be in gage to make it work correctly.
Wheel flanges must be of the low profile type on all locos and rolling stock and flange ways on crossings and turn outs also must be of the minimum depth as indicated by the NMRA gage.


Country: USA | Posts: 248 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 25 :  10:36:30 PM  Show Profile
Number 1 - the Atlas #5 & #7 are built for wheels that are in guage with NMRA spec flanges. If the gauge is too narrow the wheels will ride up on the frog an derail. If the gauge is too wide they will push up aginst guard rail and either bind or derail. There are so many ways to derail at the switch that it will drive you nuts if you are not methodical (maybe even a little Obsessive Compulsive) about wheels.

Stalling - Are you using some sort of power routing to the frog? There is a contact to the frog, wire it up to a SPDT switch to supply power. This is a must for short wheelbase locos.

The switch does not have to be flat - But you can not have any humps or dips in the switch. Use a straight edge or a piece of 3/4" bar stock to make sure there are no dips or bumps.

Switches may be a pain in the ______, but they are vital to making a model railroad. Don't forget you will need to go back from time to time to correct flaws that develop over time.

Do your part buy stuff!

Country: USA | Posts: 2536 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 26 :  8:27:36 PM  Show Profile
I appreciate everyone's responses. I fixed the locomotives quite quickly thanks the bdennis's response. The main issue im having now is Micro Trains cars with low profile flanges not negotiating the turnout properly. I have a hundred of these wheels that all seem to be the same guage and are much tighter then comparative Atlas wheels. Am I to assume that these are NFG? I always figured that the NMRA had standards regarding this yet am quite surprised that they are so different among brands.

I am going to relay my track anyways and try to keep the turnouts a good distance from the curves. I have lost alot of faith in my current set up. I had it working flawlessly yesterday night and without changing anything have had nothing but issues today.


Country: Canada | Posts: 50 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 26 :  8:43:03 PM  Show Profile
Buy custom curved turnout listed on ebay....they are very nice.

Country: | Posts: 276 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 26 :  10:35:42 PM  Show Profile
Ok just getting back into modelling. So what everyone is saying is that the atlas powered frogs will not have any power without a relay switch or the like, is that correct?

Other than looks, what advantages to the atlass 55 have over peco?

Country: | Posts: 25 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 27 :  12:12:44 AM  Show Profile
There are two types of MT lo-pro wheels. The older ones have a rounded flange, and I've never had any problem with them being out of gauge. The newer ones have a very sharp flange and pick the points on most of my turnouts. You can feel the difference. Run your finger across the flange and the new ones fell like they're going to cut you.

The main problem I've had with lo-pro wheels on turnouts is that the turnout is warped. Even if it's in gauge it can have high or low spots in the rails, which can cause a wheel to lift from the rail. With pizza cutters this isn't a problem. With lo-pro wheels the flange can be lifted high enough to go over the rail.

My first suggestion would be to take one of the MT trucks that won't go through, remove it from the car, and push it through by hand, If it catches on the points, or the point of the frog, you can try filing the corner a little bit. If it rolls through smoothly, but derails whem it's on the car, the turnout is probably warped, most likely due to the roadbed not being smooth.

N. Kalanaga
Be well.

Country: USA | Posts: 4452 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 27 :  01:18:38 AM  Show Profile
Boy, these problems sound familar! The last couple of months I was building a new module for our club and this one Atlas code 55 #7 right hand turnout was giving me fits. The track was coming out of a gentle left hand curve into the switch, and several locomotives would want to take the diverging route, when the switch was set for straight through. At first I thought it was engines with 6-wheel trucks that was causing the problem, and that the truck didn't have enough space to line itself up, before it reached the points. So I relayed the curve, giving it about 3 to 4 inches of straight track, before the points. That helped a little but didn't solve the problem.

I then was filing down the points to make it as seemless as possible for the flanges...still not much help.

Finally, I took out my NMRA gauge and started checking clearances at the frog, points, guard rains...etc...every thing seem to check out. Then just for the heck of it...I check the wheel gauge on one of the was way narrow on the rear truck...the one that kept derailing...I regauged it...put it back on the track...and no more problems.

I check my other engines...just about everyone of them, had a least one wheel out of gauge...always set too narrow. So from now on..I check the wheel gauge first, before stressing over the turnout.

Country: USA | Posts: 334 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 27 :  01:29:38 AM  Show Profile
I don't think I've ever bought a loco whose wheels weren't narrow. The only thing I can figure out is that the factories build them that way so that they won't bind on very tight curves. That's also why many turnouts, such as Peco's, have overly wide flangeways. The narrow wheels need more space!

N. Kalanaga
Be well.

Country: USA | Posts: 4452 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 September 27 :  12:23:38 PM  Show Profile
Originally posted by CLMtrains

Ok just getting back into modelling. So what everyone is saying is that the atlas powered frogs will not have any power without a relay switch or the like, is that correct?

Other than looks, what advantages to the atlass 55 have over peco?

They need a relay or a SPDT switch slaved to the points of the switch for power.

They can operate reliably, it just takes a little fussing to get them just right.

Do your part buy stuff!

Country: USA | Posts: 2536 Go to Top of Page
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