Any special considerations for Atlas code 55?

SteamDonkey74 Feb 2, 2011

  1. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    As I am winding up to install some Atlas code 55 flex track, I am wondering if there are any special considerations I should take into account. I will be using special pieces like a 22.5 deg crossing and wye switches, but everything else will be flex save for a couple of c80 "adapter" pieces (filed from code 80 height) for meeting up with my other modules.

    I understand the arguments for and against putting the flex rail on the inside of the curve. I have also laid Atlas code 80 flex, so I know a lot of the basics, and I know that code 55 is easier to kink if you handle it too roughly. My curves will be in the neighborhood of 18" radius and larger, so we're not talking super tight.

    Thanks in advance for your help,
  2. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

    I've found that the ties pop off the rails easier than I thought, so careful applying pressure.
    The rail joiners sometime have a little kink at the ends, especially if cut from a line of 4, so check / file those: a little kink goes a long way.

    I used laytex caulk and it worked fine: just make sure there's an even layer on the roadbed, especially around ends.
    When connecting a section of flex to one already installed, I put the caulk down, slid the track onto the rail joiners to connect the two sections, soldered the connectors making sure it was FLAT, and then swung the new piece into position.
    T-pins in foam worked fine for me, though some place full soup cans lengthwise between the rails to provide more wieght.
    I'd give it a day before taking the pins out / weight off.
    Code55 follows the contours of your roadbed pretty close, so make sure it's sanded / smoothed / level before you caulk! (I've had to stick slim shims in afterwards on stuff that I thought was "level enough" ;)

    I've also found it easier to solder the feeder wires to under the rails (or rail joiners) while the track is on the workbench, but I'm sure you have your method.
    Other than that, I've found Atlas C55 a very groovy product: smooth rolling and looks fine. I know I can never go back to C80!

    Good luck, and looking forward to seeing some pictures!
  3. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

    Try Woodland Scenics Foam Tack glue to hold the roadbed down. Foam Tack sets up hard in about 5 minutes, and will melt in hot water. If you smooth it out very thin, you won't have any bumps under the Code 55 track. Used sparingly, a single tube will do your entire layout. I guarantee you'll be very happy with this glue.

    Trick #2 is to sand off the sharp shoulders of your roadbed, and paint it your ballast color. This will allow you to use very small amounts of ballast, also a major cost saving if you use rock ballast, like that from Arizona Rock & Minerals...
  4. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

  5. upstate gator

    upstate gator TrainBoard Member

    I suggest attaching a rail joiner to the code 80 track. Then flatten the end of the joiner and solder the code 55 to the top of the flattened joiner so that the surfaces of the rail match. In my opinion (and experience), shimming the code 55 to match the code 80 will be better than filing the code 80 down.
  6. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    I think I am going to try your method, UG. I really don't like the idea of filing down track and opening up all the surface to possible accelerated corrosion, and yours I could accomplish with a lot shorter length of code 80 than if I have a slope to account for.
  7. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    A few things that works for me:
    Lay your roadbed on the most level surface possible. Ensure your subroadbed is dead flat before laying your roadbed. Minor imperfections in the subroadbed manifest themselves much uglier in your track.
    Once the subroadbed is flattened an leveled, install roadbed. I use cork. I glued it with latex liquid nails (since I used a blue foam subroadbed). Once it dried, I used a 8" sanding block with 150 grit sandpaper, and sanded it all flat. In the low spots, I spackled it, and re-sanded when it was dry. The high spots were sanded down. I spent 4 days to level the subroadbed on my HCD layout. Once the subroadbed was as perfect as possible, I laid cork. That took another 3 days to level and flatten. Only after the roadbed was to my satisfaction did I lay track.

    My HCD layout curves are in the neighborhood of 14-16" radius. I pre-solder curves on the workbench, then curve the track to dry-fit, trim with Xuron nippers, check fit, trim some more, and recheck. After the fit is good, (allow for expansion joints, since the curves are soldered), I attach the joiners. If the result is good, I pull it, and spread glue.
    I used thinly-spread liquid nails (I used the construction type) for my roadbed glue, and laid the track on it. It sets overnight, and never lets go.
    Pin the track in place with safety pins or tracknails. Use glass paint bottles to weigh it down in place. After the glue cures, test run your most picky locos to check for defects. Kato PA-1's and SD90MACs are notoriously picky machines. There are others, too. Debug your track to get rid of solder blobs, rough spots, etc.
    Now my rialroad runs reliably. Take your time with the subroadbed and roadbed preparation phase. Your patience will be rewarded.
    wwublee likes this.
  8. wwublee

    wwublee New Member

    Wish I read this before I did my track!
  9. bman

    bman TrainBoard Member

    I did the same. Other than that I pretty much have put down code 55 the same way I do code 80. I lay a small bead of wood glue and brush it then and pin the track in place. I got lazy on my 2 return though and used sectional track with the next largest radius for easements. Getting ready to make a couple more modules for my home layout and going to use flex in the curves this time since I am a little more practiced using it. I've always put the sliding rail on the inside of a curve. It seems to work better for me that way. Not really sure it matters though from reading the interweb. I would just be consistent no matter which way you choose.
  10. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

    Atlas code 55 turnouts have more hideous connectivity problems then they should. The #1 problem I have is the point rails are pretty loose at the rivet connection and tend to sit high in the turnout and cause wheels/trucks to jump.

    Second problem is some of my #10's the outer point rail (south point rail for my layout)for some bizarre reason only have power half way through the point Testing with a digital meter power is lost half way up the point rail).

    This is a solid 1 piece but even testing on the side of the point power is lost at the half way point which cause some locos to stall.

    Also check the keeper washer on bottom side of points before installing Atlas turnouts, I've had three lately that finally fell off after track was laid and ballasted in place-now that's a pain to repair.

    point rail (right) has half power- no idea how to fix this already ballasted in place.
    turnout rail partial conductivity south point rail 3.jpg
    wwublee likes this.
  11. rschaffter

    rschaffter TrainBoard Member

    I've had issues with powering the frog; the connection to the frog can gain resistance when soldering to the lug. To prevent this, I solder the connection to the frog lug at the bench and put a clamp on the frog when I solder it, removing it after it cools.

    Also, make sure your wheels are in gauge, as tight gauge will cause derailments at the frog....
  12. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    My entire layout is not code 55 but, using the same pre installation inspection/techniques as with any other ready-made switch, I love Atlas code 55. It's beautiful track. Soldering a wire to the frog tab precautions and point area NMRA specification checks/corrections noted.


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