Author Topic: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts  (Read 3171 times)

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Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« on: June 29, 2012, 06:41:11 PM »
Does anyone have any experience with Micro Engineering #6 turnouts?  They seem to eliminate the cons of Atlas' code 55 turnouts.  For one, they're available in good supply.  Also, the points are supposed to be sprung (no floppy points until a ground throw or switch machine is installed) and they are DCC compatible.

My main question is how well do they match the look of Atlas flextrack?  For me, I find it much easier to work with Atlas' flextrack than with Micro Engineering's flextrack.  I'm not concerned about the rail profiles, because I have mixed Atlas flextrack and ME bridge track with minimal fuss.


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Re: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2012, 02:04:14 AM »
On my previous layout, I used all ME code 55 and the ME #6 turnouts.
I chose them because ME track has just a few thousandths more clearance above
their molded spikehead details, and this allowed virtually all my older steam
to run without flange grinding.

Now, new layout, I'm using all Atlas code 55. 

1. The ME turnouts look great, and they work well IF you tweak and file and you
    wire the frog and points with an auxiliary switch (like a microswitch or slide switch
    attached to the throwbar, or if you use the aux contacts on something like a Tortoise machine.

    The points were even more unreliable than points usually are, at carrying current.
    This was not a BIG issue, as you should always bypass the points and frog with a
    mechanical switch anyway, or sooner or later, you will have intermittent electrical problems.
    But it seemed worse than the behavior with old Peco turnouts.

2.   When I started in on this new layout, I saw the new ME turnouts, and they look to be
      made exactly the same way as the old ones, meaning that while they are DCC friendly,
      they still required filing or grinding to open up more clearance through the point rails
      in order to get them out to NMRA width, so that longer wheelbase steam won't climb
      up and out of the rails.  I was annoyed that they still hadn't corrected this, and annoyed
      that I should have to do this on a turnout that cost 14 or 15 bucks.

      *** Ironically enough, Atlas turnouts suffer from exactly the same problem, so this was not
             a good criteria to distinguish the two brands.  But at the time, I ASSUMED that Atlas
             turnouts, being much newer tooling, would be in gauge.  I was wrong.

As for looks...  I considered using ME track and Atlas turnouts, but to me, they look different enough
that the turnouts stand out from the track like sore thumbs, so I had to go with one brand or
the other.

The final nail in the coffin was that ME still only makes #6 turnouts, and you have to use FastTracks
or a custom builder (like the guy on eBay) to get anything else.
If you are hand-laying your turnouts, this is a non-issue, obviously.

It's really a shame.  ME track looks awesome.  But the turnout reliability is no better
than Atlas, and the variety of turnouts is so limiting, that I gave up on it.

Oh... and ME flex is very stiff and holds its shape, unlike Atlas.  Some people love this.
Some people hate it.  Me, I could take it either way.  Doesn't bother me.


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Re: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2012, 03:44:16 PM »

Thank you so much for your detailed and informative response.  I've decided to go with Atlas Code 55 for a few reasons.  First and foremost, I drove to MBK today and found that they did actually have a handful of #5 turnouts in stock that were not reflected in the online inventory.  Teir inventory showed zero #5s in stock, and I need twelve lefts and five rights.  I was able to get four lefts and five rights.  I also picked up the last four #7 lefts which I should be able to substitute in a few places.  This means that I should only need four more left #5s, which I can probably find online or I can wait a while until more become available.

Second, your description of the pros and cons helped me choose to stay with Atlas, even though MBK had all of the ME track I would have needed.  Since I would have to install a ground throw or switch machine anyway (to power the frog), there is only a minimal advantage of ME (with its sprung points) over Atlas (non-sprung).  I'll just use my temporary "push-pin" ground throw method until I choose what ground throw I'll use.  Like you, I also think the Atlas beats ME on looks slightly, and I do actually prefer Atlas flextrack over ME flextrack.

I was totally willing to go with ME today, because my layout plan would be fine with just all #6 turnouts.  But, I'm glad that I was able to get my hands on a few Atlas turnouts.  As you pointed out, there's more options.  Also, the poor supply of Atlas track won't last forever.

Thanks again,
Dave Foxx

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL and Conrail Historical Societies


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Re: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2012, 08:39:46 PM »

A little late since you've made your choice (a good one) and Max covered the pros and cons of ME turnouts well.  I will add the ME turnouts I used for the Spencer section have performed very well despite moving the section numerous times and subjecting it to some pretty tough environmental conditions during storage.  They're a good choice too as long as you're willing to tweak them.  I've not had the problems with the Atlas products others describe.  Actually the only turnouts I have problems with are the ones I made.   :facepalm:

I also agree with Max about mixing the two brands from an appearance standpoint.

Happy track laying!



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Re: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 05:43:07 PM »

Hi Dave, regarding your PM to me - apparently I don't have enough posts to even reply to a PM. Please send you email address to <removed my email address>.

At least this gets me one step closer!
« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 01:58:12 AM by elnscale »
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Re: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2012, 01:40:20 AM »
My experience with ME turnouts was that the over-centre spring is extremely delicate and can be easily damaged during installation.  The turnouts as a whole are quite delicate and I have a few that are falling to pieces even though they are now installed.   I found i had to shim underneath the throwbar with styrene to get a positive lock anyway (the spring is not as strong as in Peco c55s).  The point blades do not recess into the stock rail at all and, even with lots of filing, wheels would regularly pick the blades and derail.  I found the frog to often sit higher than the surrounding rails causing an amusing clunk clunk on passing trains and a not so amusing loss of pickup on the locos.

I actually found availability to be somewhat limited when I was looking so I pre-emptively switched to Atlas code 55 which I can pick up in the local hobby shop.  Performance is much smoother over the Atlas turnouts and ... if you shim underneath the the throwbar with strip styrene, there is no need to use oversized caboose ground throws.  Just push the blades with your finger and they stay put.    Cant comment re DCC.  I am currently testing under DC but I get no stalls on the unpowered Atlas frogs with Atlas or Kato diesels.   I am hoping i will not even need to power the frogs when i go to DCC.     

You might consider Peco code 55 track and turnouts also.   They are bullet proof but also rather expensive in North America as they are imported from the UK.   The track geometry (tie spacing and tie dimensions) is odd...neither American or British.  When ballasted and weathered though it is not that noticable.

For me.. Atlas code 55 turnouts and Micro Engineering code 55 flex is the perfect combo.   My two (Canadian) cents

David K. Smith

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Re: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2012, 05:28:24 AM »
My last White River and Northern was all ME Code 55s. Actually, I was a beta-tester for them before their release. I convinced them to move the snap spring from above the ties, which looked really awkward, to under the ties (my tiny contribution to the hobby industry!). I did like using them on the WR&N and would still consider using them. Their only shortcoming is the limited range of sizes, that being exactly one...
« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 06:20:48 PM by David K. Smith »

Philip H

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Re: Micro Engineering Code 55 Turnouts
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2012, 10:08:28 AM »
You have made way more then one tiny contribution to the hobby industry - I have several of your tiny contributions on my layout!
Philip H.
Chief Everything Officer
Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt