Author Topic: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...  (Read 15702 times)

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OldEastRR

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2018, 12:19:00 AM »
+2
I was a fan of Micro Engineering but I understand from a friend there are production problems with them.   For the time being its Peco for me.

Joe

O say it ain't so! I need to buy some new ME turnouts. Really I don't understand how this fine line of track has been overlooked by so many N scalers. Low track spikes, spring-set switch points but can be used with any switch machine, weathered rail (or not), wood or concrete ties that aren't giganto thick-- some guys complain about the flex-track being hard to bend but that means they're trying to do it wrong. The flex track STAYS curved once you bend it. These guys should have been very successful with their line, even more so if they'd offered more than just #6 turnouts. I've got a few Atlas Code 55 switches and they're no comparison... yeah I REALLY love having to also buy a switch machine and wire the frog separately for every switch I get ..NOT!  :x
Hope ME gets back on track, so to speak.

mmagliaro

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2018, 12:19:21 AM »
0
Agreed! Now... I need to know how to spread the drivers on the FEF without damage and without messing up the quartering. I had it apart 15 minutes ago and got just far enough to realize I either didn't know the trick and/or have the right tools. It's back on the rails and runs fine, but since I couldn't adjust anything it still dives into the frogs. :|

You really should use a wheel puller like the NWSL "The Puller" tool.  You pull all the crankpins, take all the drivers out,
and then you put each one in the tool and press the wheels just a nudge on each side to get the gauge widened out to where it should be.    You won't mess up the quartering because you're not going to pull any of the wheels completely off their axles.
You just need to put the axles back into the frame in exactly the same positions and keep track of which wheel was on the left and right  (TAKE NOTES or some photos before you pull them out of the frame!)   Now... I don't know if the FEF has multiple geared axles.  If it does, then you do have to be careful to get the drivers in so all the rod holes line up, and it's easy to be just one tooth off on one of the gears and still have the rods fit, but the engine will be out of quarter and will bind like that.

But usually, if that happens, it's pretty obvious as you watch it.  Then you pull the cover, lift out the offending axle, rotate it one gear tooth and drop it back in.  It takes some fiddling and if you are not used to disassembling a steam loco, then you may not want to do this.  But since you said you had it all apart with the drivers out, it sounds to me like you can do this.


mmagliaro

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2018, 12:24:07 AM »
0
O say it ain't so! I need to buy some new ME turnouts. Really I don't understand how this fine line of track has been overlooked by so many N scalers. Low track spikes, spring-set switch points but can be used with any switch machine, weathered rail (or not), wood or concrete ties that aren't giganto thick-- some guys complain about the flex-track being hard to bend but that means they're trying to do it wrong. The flex track STAYS curved once you bend it. These guys should have been very successful with their line, even more so if they'd offered more than just #6 turnouts. I've got a few Atlas Code 55 switches and they're no comparison... yeah I REALLY love having to also buy a switch machine and wire the frog separately for every switch I get ..NOT!  :x
Hope ME gets back on track, so to speak.

ME makes great stuff.  I used it on my PRR layout.  BUT...
I still had to wire all the frogs to micro switches that were activated off the drawbar throw because the point rails were not reliable enough to always make good contact and keep the frog powered.    A little dirt or a point rail that's a little wonky and doesn't close right against its mating rail, and the point rails and/or frog will go dead.   I also had a few that were narrow in the point rails and would make steam locos ride up in them, but to be fair, that was a lot less common on the ME than on the Atlas 55.

I went Atlas 55 this time because I do like the low ties and overall look of them, and the variety of turnout pieces was excellent.  But I'm with everybody else.  If I ever do this again, I'm hand-laying the turnouts.   I have one hand-layed turnout made by a guy who used to sell them all the time on eBay.  And it's a tricky one too, a curved turnout with a 20" outer radius and a 15" inner (custom made to my request).  And it's the best darn working turnout on the whole layout.  Everything goes through it without a hitch, no wheel drop, no nothing.  The tolerances are close, and the "no man's land" in the frog area is at an absolute minimum.


MetroRedLine

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2018, 12:40:17 AM »
0
O say it ain't so! I need to buy some new ME turnouts. Really I don't understand how this fine line of track has been overlooked by so many N scalers. Low track spikes, spring-set switch points but can be used with any switch machine, weathered rail (or not), wood or concrete ties that aren't giganto thick-- some guys complain about the flex-track being hard to bend but that means they're trying to do it wrong. The flex track STAYS curved once you bend it. These guys should have been very successful with their line, even more so if they'd offered more than just #6 turnouts. I've got a few Atlas Code 55 switches and they're no comparison... yeah I REALLY love having to also buy a switch machine and wire the frog separately for every switch I get ..NOT!  :x
Hope ME gets back on track, so to speak.

I love Micro Engineering track. I use their Code 55 flex (wooden and concrete ties) all over my layout. Why they only make #6 turnouts is so lamebrained it's ridiculous. They TOTALLY missed an opportunity to take over the Code 55 market during The Great Atlas Code 55 Turnout Famine of 2012-2015.
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C855B

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2018, 01:07:11 AM »
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You really should use a wheel puller like the NWSL "The Puller" tool.  You pull all the crankpins, take all the drivers out, ...

I was trying desperately to avoid that. As soon as I had the axle cover off it was fairly clear there was no easy way. I didn't assess what it would take to get the crankpins out, so I'll look again.

Quote
... I don't know if the FEF has multiple geared axles. ...

It doesn't - one driven axle.

peteski

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #35 on: March 07, 2018, 02:03:34 AM »
0
I was trying desperately to avoid that. As soon as I had the axle cover off it was fairly clear there was no easy way. I didn't assess what it would take to get the crankpins out, so I'll look again.




You should be able to pull the drivers with the connecting rods still connected and use this type of a gear puller to adjust the gauge.  But the "ram" is 1.5mm diameter so you have to grind it down to about 0.8mm to be able to press the axle without damaging the wheel face.
. . . 42 . . .

C855B

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #36 on: March 07, 2018, 02:15:51 AM »
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Thanks. Turning the pin down will not be an issue. Where do I get this? It's worth it to me since I have two FEFs to fix plus a couple of Athearn Challengers that are, shall we say, "challenging" to keep in running order.

I may have to further modify the puller to be sure the fingers grip the bushing and not the wheel. There are plastic bushings on both wheels, and yanking on the wheels will likely pull them off the bushings rather than move them on the axle.

C855B

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2018, 09:35:36 AM »
0


Found it. Mascot Precision Tools Adjustable Gear/Wheel Puller.

peteski

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2018, 09:46:13 AM »
0
Thanks. Turning the pin down will not be an issue. Where do I get this? It's worth it to me since I have two FEFs to fix plus a couple of Athearn Challengers that are, shall we say, "challenging" to keep in running order.

I may have to further modify the puller to be sure the fingers grip the bushing and not the wheel. There are plastic bushings on both wheels, and yanking on the wheels will likely pull them off the bushings rather than move them on the axle.

It is a Mascot brand miniature wheel puller - I got it from the tool vendor at the Springfield show.  No need  to modify it.  The bushing is part of the wheel face, so I doubt it will separate from it when you are pushing on the axle.  I just re-gauged my "improved" GS4 wheel set and the bushings stayed in place.  That wheelset is identical in design to the FEF.  Funny, the geared wheelset was gauged correctly while the other 3 were a bit tight.
. . . 42 . . .

C855B

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2018, 09:58:23 AM »
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I ordered it online since the next train show locally is in August. Mascot has two gear pullers, the adjustable like you have and a fixed-jaw version that's more of a pinion puller.

OK, given your experience with the design I'll not worry the bushing too much. All four on both FEFs I have are narrow enough to be tight in the NMRA gauge.

jdcolombo

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2018, 10:25:28 AM »
+2

I went Atlas 55 this time because I do like the low ties and overall look of them, and the variety of turnout pieces was excellent.  But I'm with everybody else.  If I ever do this again, I'm hand-laying the turnouts.   I have one hand-layed turnout made by a guy who used to sell them all the time on eBay.  And it's a tricky one too, a curved turnout with a 20" outer radius and a 15" inner (custom made to my request).  And it's the best darn working turnout on the whole layout.  Everything goes through it without a hitch, no wheel drop, no nothing.  The tolerances are close, and the "no man's land" in the frog area is at an absolute minimum.

Amen to hand-laying.  I've got about 80 Atlas Code 55 turnouts on my layout, and four hand-laid ones (two made using a Fast Tracks #6 jig and their point-forming tool; the other two made with paper templates after I had made a few of the #6's and learned the basic techniques).  My hand-laid turnouts just work.  Smooth as silk.  I have a #4 in a switching area, and just for fun I decided to see what would happen if I tried to run my Big Boy or a Berk across it.  No problem whatsoever.  Not a single bump, hiccup, etc.  I attribute this to the fact that when you hand-lay, you use the NMRA gauge to make sure everything is spot on - guardrails, track gauge, etc.  and the points are nice and sharp and made from actual rail, not stamped.  Ditto for the frog.  And while you're making them, it's really easy to add a 28-gauge wire to the frog that then can be completely hidden and used to power it.

The problem, of course, is time.  It takes me about an hour to do a #6 with the Fast Tracks jig.  But say you do two a week; in a year, you have over 100 turnouts.  So I've been making a couple, not every week, but every couple of weeks and stockpiling them for the inevitable day when I get tired of messing with the Atlas ones, tear them out, and replace them.

John C.

Mark W

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2018, 11:15:13 AM »
+3
I seem to recall @Mark W replacing the point rails all the way back to the frog in his Atlas C55 TO's and having some success.

Yes, great success.  Just get rid of those point and closure rails all together and replace them with solid rails using PCB Ties and you'll have the perfect turnout, both in looks and operation, at 1/10th the time it takes to hand-lay a full turnout from scratch.


http://i.imgur.com/joGJUft.jpg

Of course it's easiest to do this on the workbench, but it is possible to do this in place on an installed turnout as well. 
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DKS

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2018, 11:47:21 AM »
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O say it ain't so! I need to buy some new ME turnouts. Really I don't understand how this fine line of track has been overlooked by so many N scalers.

For one thing, they only make a #6 turnout. This is quite limiting. I bought over a dozen for my last home layout, and found that the Peco-style spring-loaded throw bar arrangement (which I must confess I helped ME design) were troublesome on occasion; I wound up modifying most of them. And the frogs are lost-wax cast brass, IIRC, which have their own issues. And then there have been supply problems as well, since production (as noted) is challenging. ME is a small business that lacks the resources to build up their product line and address production and QC as easily as an Atlas-sized company.

I'm not bashing ME, far from it; I applaud them for what they've been able to accomplish. I love their flex, especially their bridge track. But it is what it is.

C855B

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #43 on: March 07, 2018, 12:14:31 PM »
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Yes, great success.  Just get rid of those point and closure rails all together and replace them with solid rails using PCB Ties and you'll have the perfect turnout, both in looks and operation, at 1/10th the time it takes to hand-lay a full turnout from scratch. ...

We have talked about your method before and I think it is a fabulous idea. The vast majority of the operational problems with the Atlas are the points. Get the good operation while still taking advantage of Atlas' stuff that mostly works and looks good.

I guess you arrived at this technique after some trial and error. Did you, for instance, try another technique I'm aware of - simply removing the hinged portion of the point rails and using a rail joiner as a hinge for new points? If so, what about it led you to go solid all the way to the frog? In my experience the largest issue with the Atlas design is the slop in and around the throwbar. By luck it happens that my particular switch machine approach helps firm up the slop, but it could be bunches better. Like yours. :)

...ME... For one thing, they only make a #6 turnout. ... ME is a small business that lacks the resources to build up their product line and address production and QC as easily as an Atlas-sized company.

I'm a big fan of ME. For one thing, they're local to me... not that I can buy direct, but supporting a neighbor is always good. Doesn't hurt that they offer a fine flex-track product, too. They had a #8 years ago which I would be all over, but a major bit of tooling broke and they couldn't cost-justify remaking it.

nickelplate759

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Re: Atlas Code 55 Turnouts...
« Reply #44 on: March 07, 2018, 12:16:22 PM »
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I split the difference on my NKP-ish layout.  Hidden track is ME, visible is Atlas code 55.   Neither is perfect, but I'm not particularly interested in laying my own track.     A few observations:

1. Flex-track laying is REALLY different on these two brands.   Both have their frustrations.   
2. They have different tie thicknesses, so mixing them requires some shimming.  Tie lengths are also different.
3. the plastic that ME uses for their ties seems to have a higher melting point than Atlas code 55.  That's nice when soldering feeders
4.  The DCC-friendly ME turnouts (current ones) require power to be fed not only to the frog (as does Atlas) but also to the rail stubs that come off of the frog (not the point end, the other end)
5.  Neither one is reliably straight or in gauge through the point area.  Check each one!
6.  some of my ME turnouts are vertically bowed in the middle.   
George
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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.