Seriously Atlas?! SERIOUSLY?? :(

TrainzLuvr Mar 21, 2020

  1. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

    So...I figured the time has come to finally start mocking-up a Staging yard.

    I bought over 40 Atlas C80 LH/RH remote turnouts back in 2017, and they've been all sitting in a box and the original packaging until now.

    After making a mock-up ladder I started looking at the geometry because something didn't feel right.


    They are all like this, LH or RH, regardless. I bought into Atlas because I liked the fact that remote turnouts came with motors and I didn't have to mess around with under the table tortoises and what not.

    Does anyone have any experience with this issue and how to resolve it?

    I tried putting the turnout on a flat surface and just pulling it to straighten the rail, but that's not staying in place and I do not want to exceed the tolerance of the plastic bed.

    Honestly, now I regret not going with PECO C80 turnouts and making an effort with tortoise motors. I watched so many videos of people building layouts with Atlas turnouts, that I thought it's all good.
    sams, Kurt Moose and matteo reich like this.
  2. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    I can't help you with the Atlas turnouts but Paul Graf of Atlas is known to read these boards maybe he will help. As for Peco turnouts I would tell you to not get the code 80 turnouts but opt for the code 55 ones. Both will mate with code 80 track but the code 55 is made to NMRA standards while the code 80 is made to NEMO (European) standards. They are not the same. The code 80 clearances around the frog are wider which allows wheel flanges to hit the frog causing derailments.
  3. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    The straight route through many commercial turnouts is curved, not just Atlas. It is an artifact of the manufacturing process. What you do is straighten it while fastening it down. I have done that for over fifty years.

    It's not really a big deal.

    Penner, jpf94, gmorider and 2 others like this.
  4. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    Wow, I use Atlas code 55 turnouts and I have the exact same thing. I thought it was something inherent to code 55 due to the smaller-size rail, but apparently not!
    rschaffter, Dogwood and sams like this.
  5. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

    I noticed the same thing with Peco c55's yesterday when I used a straight edge along the rail to align the turnouts on this yard ladder prior to soldering. The center of the outer straight rail is a bit inboard at the points. Not quite as obvious as your Atlas, I wouldn't have noticed it without the straight edge. Visible on both Unifrog and older Electrofrog.
    sams likes this.
  6. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

    I took a brand new ME C55 out of packaging (I'm using ME C55 everywhere else but Staging), and it looks very straight.


    The apparent slight curvature is where the points meet the stock rail, but the rail is thinner there, otherwise very acceptable. And, these are C55 and much more delicate than Atlas C80.

    Surely if ME can do it with thinner C55 rail and tiny spikes, Atlas must be able to QE their C80 to the spec. on the thicker rail and bigger plastic footprint?!
    gmorider and sams like this.
  7. CedarCreek

    CedarCreek TrainBoard Member

    Uh that's a pretty generalized statement, I have nothing but code 80 peco's and have no derailments....
    sams likes this.
  8. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

    In hindsight, I think PECO might have been a better choice if only there were some switch machines that are small footprint like Atlas ones and don't need mucking around with. Could have probably designed a switch machine, but I don't want a side project to shift my focus from building my railroad.
    gmorider and sams like this.
  9. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    You can go forward, but you can never go straight.
    sams and TrainzLuvr like this.
  10. tonkphilip

    tonkphilip TrainBoard Member

    For Peco turnouts, the Peco solenoid clips on from underneath ensuring perfect alignment. So, no mucking about needed, much easier than a Tortoise! You do need a bigger hole underneath for the switch motor but it is easily covered using transparent scotch tape, then cover with ballast. Like all N-scale turnouts, you need to keep the ballast away from the switch rods. I have been using this system for 25 years. However, for easily accessible Peco switches, I just use them manual with the inbuilt spring. The Code 55s are probably the most robust turnout out there.
    - Tonkphilip
    sams likes this.

    SOO MILW CNW TrainBoard Supporter

    It just takes a steel ruler and some spikes. They do straighten out, it just takes some work is all. I am sure you can handle it.

    sams likes this.
  12. locomcf

    locomcf TrainBoard Member

    As others have said, the turnouts can be straightened out. A bigger problem, in my experience, is that the bulge in the point motor can interfere with locos and cars passing on an adjacent track. Make sure that you check clearances before you fix the track permanently.
    gmorider, sams and TrainzLuvr like this.
  13. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member


    to be honest I did not even think about that. Thank you for bringing it up - I'll add some straight pieces wherever I need to set them apart.

    And, I guess it'll be some spikes and steel ruler to straighten the turnouts.

    I would've gone the manual switching route, but this is in the Staging with tracks being fairly close to each other, so I'd rather have them remotely operated.

    Really itching to start laying the track down, but i don't have the adjacent swing gate built yet. I definitely want to avoid the "cart before the horse" situation.
    sams likes this.
  14. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I hate to be the wet blanket for anything here on TrainBoard. I guess I'm going to be anyway.

    I banned these switches from being on my layout. Choosing instead to use Kato #6 switches or Peco's Large Radius Switches.

    Two reasons why. The switch machine sits high enough that certain passenger cars and engines will drag across them due to the tight radius. What's already been said about their overall performance I agree with.

    I've advised using anything but these switches and would like to see Atlas remake these.

    If you stick around long enough you will more then likely hear me say, "We learn from our own mistakes." You know the school of hard knocks and lessons learned.

    My suggestion sell these to someone else at a Flea Market or Swap Meet. Recoup losses and start over.

    Sorry about that.
    Mo-Pac and sams like this.
  15. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    Having recently relaid my track with Kato Unitrack I could not be happier. The Kato turnouts do not have the space eating bump out for a switch machine and the plus is that they are all electrically thrown but can be manually thrown also. My layout is now 99% unitrack with one Atlas number six in the brewery complex. Kato makes an adapter to join Atlas track to their track and I have several areas with sidings that have the Kato #6 joined to a section of Atlas flex. Both Atlas and Kato offer a selection of short pieces of track in lengths of 3/4 inch to 1.5 inches and that solves the problem for slight bump out need to get around the Atlas side mounted switch machine and both offer half sections of radius track also which solve the issue of of getting the track straight again after the turnout. I gave up after I had problems keeping the points clean with Peco power routing turnouts especially the short rad turnouts and now use Kato short rad turnouts which can be made into power routing by a simple selection on the bottom of the turnout.
    BarstowRick, sams and mtntrainman like this.
  16. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

    Man, So many things popped up about Atlas switches after I got started with my layout. Then again I was just getting back into the hobby lol.

    Ok my experience has been bitter sweet with these things. I to thought about this during the planning stages of my layout. First was cost and second for me was time. (You get what you pay for).

    Atlas Remote Switch:
    ~$30 per switch/Which I have 12 = $360

    Peco Switch with Tortoise Switch:
    x12 ~$25 Peco Turnout = $300
    x12 pack ~$160 Tortoise switch = $160
    Total = $460 + Extra time to install (no big deal)

    I slightly regret not doing this originally but I don't have the usual bench work most of you have so there is also that. I will be doing this on my next layout if I get this chance to do another one again. These switches are convenient though if you're willing to work out the kinks.

    My first issue was that I was just dumb..... meaning that when I glued some of the first track down I didn't think about not putting glue on the bottom of the switches which I soon fixed !! I had to clean those up quite a bit. Then I had pre-soldered pieces of track and when I was laying this track down the side of the turnout with the straight end(the end next to the motor) moved as I bent the flex track to place down. This caused the slit for the points to move up or down and then didn't match up so the turnout would not work. That was very stressful to deal with as I had glue lurking waiting to dry.

    Another point I want to bring up. The throw mechanism that is underneath the turnout needs to be clear. I had to cut out all the roadbed underneath those points in order to keep it from getting caught. The housing for the turnouts will also melt and its not a nice look. I still periodically have some issues with the turnouts but overall after tweaking them, I was able to conquer most of the bugs. It's just sketchy since I have 3 turnouts in a mountain. You never know which track the train will come out on hahaha :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::LOL::LOL:

    My switches are also on grades too which I'm sure doesn't help. You doing a yard should be fine. Just figured I would share my experience.

    Have fun !
    TrainzLuvr and BarstowRick like this.
  17. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    I will agree with one thing. The switch machines could be made a lot smaller. There is no reason for them to have to stick out so far. There was one maker, years ago, who's switches just had a little bump-out just big enough for the slider and I don't believe it stuck out any more than 1/8" or so. An electric one would just require the housing to be longer for the solenoid but not stick out any more.

    The ones Atlas had back in the seventies with the two piece machine assemblies were better for this. Unfortunately, the solenoid housing stuck up too far and low-hanging pilots or valve gear can hit them. I filed down the housing on some of them.

    TrainzLuvr and BarstowRick like this.
  18. TrainzLuvr

    TrainzLuvr TrainBoard Member

    I think it's too late for me to be changing my mind, and use PECO turnouts. As I mentioned, I have 30+ of these, and I've already opened 13. Waiting on the world to acquiesce from COVID-19 will take awhile (6-12 months, maybe longer) so no train shows/markets to sell them. I suppose I could try fleaBay but then I run into a problem of shipping things and possible delays/postal service suspensions, etc

    The benchwork in my Staging here is basically a flat plywood plane on an open grid framework. It wasn't really designed for Tortoise motors, or anything else to be mounted below that surface (except for bus wires and feeders).


    It would be quite a choir to fit 23 Tortoise under the turnouts or near them, sufficiently spacing them apart and avoiding benchwork crosses, etc. Everything is really all tight fit, that's why I though Atlas switch machines on the surface would do better.

    Thinking further and being 2020 when anything can be fabricated, Atlas could probably move to using rectangular profile for the solenoids. This would greatly lower the footprint of the switch machine. I'm guessing they have invested into tools to make bazillion of these "legacy" switch machines, and until those tools run down to a flat plane, they aren't stopping production.
    MP333 likes this.
  19. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    Unitrack .
    BarstowRick likes this.
  20. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    You seem set on using powered turnouts. However, have you considered using electrical slide switches to move the points. Small slide switches are very cheap and in a confined space like a yard are less obtrusive than a double coil switch machine. All you need is a basic on/off switch with a plastic handle. Drill a small hole through the handle and using a piece of piano wire connect the switch to the throw bar on the turnout. Eliminates a lot of wiring under the layout plus no worries of burning out the coils on a switch machine. There are you tube videos available to show how it is done. With Atlas turnouts you don't need to add any wires to power the frog. So the installation is rather simple.
    MP333 and sams like this.

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