Tired of waiting on Atlas

css29 Aug 27, 2013

  1. css29

    css29 TrainBoard Member

    I am in the situation that I need code 55 track and turnouts to continue with my layout. I am considering using and alternative. I have looked at ME track and honestly I can not tell the difference between the two. In fact, I was at the local hobby store and they had a few bundles of track. I accidently picked up a bundle of each and the only difference that I saw was the price. What concerned me more is the turnouts. I have read that ME's turnouts are/were not that good. Has anybody used them recently and what were your results? I really want to continue on, but don't want to waste money.
  2. Seanem44

    Seanem44 TrainBoard Member

    I am building a small layout. I bought used Atlas switches because I only needed a few and they were available. I sold the ME switch I bought. It seemed to be of good qulaity though.

    The flex track is a different story. I have half Atlas and half ME flex. They look similiar, but the ME has a little extra flash around the ties and is rigid. I mean very rigid. Atlas flex is easy to use, easy to bend. Not so much with ME on curves. I bent one out of alignment and had to scrap it. Then I found myself pushing the rail back into the tie spike molds every so often.

    Look anywhere you can for ME Flex. There are still places that have it.
  3. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

    Craig, ME track allows pizza cutters & it is stiffer. As for switches not many with ME, I know a few people that have hand laid their switches. But the initial investment is high but well worth it.
  4. css29

    css29 TrainBoard Member

    I do understand about ME being stiffer, which may or may not be a benefit. I have thought about hand laying switches but my eye sight is not what it use to be. Just not sure I am capable of doing that.
  5. traintodd

    traintodd TrainBoard Member

    I hear your pain on Atlas C55, it took me two years to accumulate enough C55 to start the first phase of my layout. Can't comment on ME flex, I am strictly Atlas, but I like the "flexiness" of it. I think it helps to make smoother curves. As far as ME turnouts, I tried them in some low traffic areas to take the pressure off finding more C55 #5's, but that did not go very well. I had planned to put six in place, bought eight, and had two fall apart on me, one before I it was laid, the other after. I pretty much have given up on them after I had to cut one out of the layout when the spring failed and replace it with one of my precious Atlas #5's. I tell you, Atlas has really screwed the pooch on this C55 production debacle. I wonder how much business they have lost over the past couple of years due to this?
  6. css29

    css29 TrainBoard Member

    @traintodd - sounds like I am either going to need to wait for Atlas or learn how to make my own.
  7. W Neal

    W Neal TrainBoard Member

    I know a place with Atlas code 55 flex. No turnouts, but flex. PM me.
  8. txronharris

    txronharris TrainBoard Member

    I use code 55 Peco turnouts and Atlas flex track. I know that the Peco turnouts don't look as good as the Atlas, but reliability sometimes trumps availability. Peco flex isnt bad either, but its still more exensive. Atlas better wake up. All it takes is someone that can provide consistent, reliable good looking track without delivery issues like them and they'll be out of the game.
  9. SP&S #750

    SP&S #750 TrainBoard Member

    just a bit longer on the track, I had to give up on that Dash 8-32BWH though. I'm a hardcore atlas fan but I'm not gonna lie peco C55 is looking real nice. even atlas code 80 that my LHS has a literal ton of it looking good too.
  10. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    Track is something that should be in stock at all times, you don't go to the store on the way home to buy bread only to be told they are sold out but the bakery will be doing another batch sometime in 2015 if you want to pre-order a loaf.
  11. bbrunell

    bbrunell New Member

    I've used Atlas and ME flex in code 83. I recently redid 1/3 of my layout as a yard area and decided to go with ME weathered, and am very pleased with the result. It does have a learning curve to get the contours correct without kinks. I bought a track gauge to help smooth the curves. ME is readily available, I get mine from MicroMark. I've used Atlas switches and honestly have moved over to Peco. They are a bit more expensive, but very reliable and the positive "click" as it moves is neat.
  12. LOU D

    LOU D TrainBoard Member

    I use nothing but ME anymore.You guys may have missed this,I posted it on several forums,but if you soak ME flex in hot water,it loosens it right up.I put mine right in the tub,and soak the track with hot water straight out of the tap.I also like it that if you do have a problem with ME switches,you can carefully pull the moveable points right out of an installed switch,and put them back in.Also,ME may cost more,but the track sections are a full three feet,Atlas and most others are only 30 inches.Five pieces are as long as six Atlas sections..Less rail joints,and not as expensive as it seems..
  13. css29

    css29 TrainBoard Member

    Thank Lou .. good to know that ME switches are worth a look. I know the best solution is to just bite the bullet and learn how to make my own, but that initial step just seems to get me. Too much of a perfectionist is guess. Maybe that is why it takes me so long to get things done. The fear of screwing up associated with the cost.
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Does it retain this effect when cooled and dry?
  15. LOU D

    LOU D TrainBoard Member

    It's a little better warm,but it does retain quit a bit of the effect when it cools,especially if you work it a little while it's hot.I had some track I pulled up at one time,it had glue on it from being installed.Whatever glue I use,I mix Elmers School Glue with it,since it's water washable.It makes almost any glue water washable,but isn't very good by itself for track work...I had the track in hot water cleaning it,I noticed it had turned into a wet noodle,LOL!!! I E-mailed ME about it,never heard from them..If they had half a brain,they'd make a hot water soak part of the process,they'd sell a lot more track..
  16. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

    Someday I hope to read a thread on Code 55 track that has more ME fans than nonfans on it. Maybe that would motivate ME to make more kinds of switches -- please, #4s!!.
    I like that somebody pointed out the "quick-change" feature of the ME points assembly. If a solder joint on the rail-throwbar comes apart, you can take it out and fix it at the workbench instead of trying to do it in place. No other N switch has this capability.
    Never heard of the hot water thing, tho. I wonder if the metal expands faster than the plastic and breaks the tension set up when the plastic ties were cast onto the rails. And ME flex track does get loose if it's worked a bit. But not so loose it won't still hold a curve and not try to straighten out.
  17. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I know two distinct advantages for me to use ME code 55, it's made in America and it's available. My re-do of my 6X3 has been on hold waiting for Atlas Code 55, but at my not so local hobby shop, he has a big box of ME track and a good selection of ME turn outs. I have some ME code 55 turn outs I purchased many years ago and bought them because they looked like real turn outs. I can't comment on operations. Those of you with Code 55 Micro Engineering track on your layouts, please chime in and add pictures, I'm very close to switching (no pun intended) to ME track.
  18. oldrk

    oldrk TrainBoard Supporter

  19. W Neal

    W Neal TrainBoard Member

    A good friend of mine started a layout with ME track many years ago. At that time, he was not at all impressed with their turnouts. That was enough for me. I'm sure their product has improved since. I have used their bridge flextrack with Atlas code 55. I was fortunate to have stocked up on Atlas 55 flextrack & turnouts back "before the war". My local shop has plenty of their flextrack still on the shelf. I am just waiting on turnouts. I think the real solution is to build your own turnouts. I am just too lazy for that. I want to put my energies into other areas.
  20. jdcolombo

    jdcolombo TrainBoard Member

    For those wanting to use ME track and are worried about the turnouts, you might consider making your own.

    I know it sounds intimidating, but it's really not that hard. About a month ago, I decided that I wanted to add some additional switching to my layout, which is built entirely with Atlas Code 55. Not wanting to postpone this until November (or later), I decided to try to "roll my own." I bought a #6 turnout "kit" from Fast Tracks, and on my second try I had an excellent #6 turnout. After making four of them, I decided to try my hand at doing a #4 with just a paper template. That worked just dandy as well, having learned the basic techniques with the Fast Tracks tools.

    Yes, the Fast Tracks tools are expensive. But you can buy what you need, use them to build an inventory, and then resell the tools if you no longer need them. As for time, a complete turnout (from sitting down at my bench to a finished, painted turnout ready to install on the layout) takes about 2 1/2 hours. And once you learn the techniques, you are no longer limited to what is available commercially. Want to use a pair of #12's on a crossover? No problem.

    Here's a photo of a completed #6, still unpainted (paint will hide the "notches" in the PC board ties and the solder "pads"), built with a Fast Tracks jig and tools in about 2 hours:


    If I can do this, anyone can.


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