Atlas code 55 turnout quality issues

DrObscure Sep 26, 2017

  1. DrObscure

    DrObscure New Member

    Just purchased a couple of Atlas Code 55 #5 turnouts, one each right/left (#2050/2051), to begin laying out my track, etc.. (I'm new to N scale, and getting back into the game after a few decades :)..

    When examining the turnouts after removing them from the packaging, they are both seriously distorted. The main line, which should be dead on straight, is bowed on both iterations. The gauge is fine, but the alignment is out of whack..

    I did contact Atlas and they will replace them once I send them back, at my expense. If this is an ongoing issue for Atlas?, returning all my switches for replacements will get a bit pricey, and is terribly inconvenient.

    Have others experienced this level of poor quality recently, or maybe its just the #5's..
    I did notice I can almost force the turnout back into a proper alignment, but its not gentle, and I really didn't know if I could install them in some way to keep them where they belong, etc..

    Is this the current norm for Atlas/China these days... sigh...

  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky November 18, 2022 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    They should not be that way. I have never seen one deformed as much as these (that wasn't abused in some way).
  3. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    I've read reports of this elsewhere with the first batch that finally made it back to market a few years ago (has it been that long already!?).
    You should be able to persuade it back into shape by hand without issues.

    If you want to take it even further, get some PCB Ties to re-enforce the point rails and throw-bar.
  4. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

    Won't the dealer from whom you bought them do an exchange?

    Also, try sending a PM to "Paul Graf" on this forum asking if he can suggest a way to straighten out the rails, so you can avoid returning them to Atlas.
  5. jdcolombo

    jdcolombo TrainBoard Member

    Nearly all of the Atlas switches I bought six years ago when doing my layout had this issue - both #5's and #7's. None of them were exactly straight. But it is very easy to straighten them - just put a track nail about an inch into the entry end of the turnout where it connects to the rest of your track and another nail just beyond the guardrail on the straight leg of the exit end. Now take your straightedge, put it against the outer stock rail, and push the ties in the center of the turnout toward the straightedge until the outer turnout rail is straight and the bow is gone. Put another track nail in the tie where the bow was worst between the points. Now you have a perfectly straight turnout. Check the gauge, but I never had problems with the gauge changing as a result of this "straightening" routine. I DID have gauge problems with some #5 turnouts, but it wasn't because of the bowing or because of fixing the bowing. It was a separate problem, and only existed with a few #5's.

    The way the Atlas Code 55 turnouts are made, they are just very flexible and tend to bow. I believe you will end up finding that most of them have some bow that will need correction in the track laying process. If you're looking for perfectly straight turnouts out of the packaging, you probably aren't going to get them with Atlas Code 55. But it really is a minor issue that can easily be fixed in the track laying process.

    John C.
  6. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

    I have a bunch are same way, too many to bother returning I just straighten them the best I can. I just assumed that's how they were made since I had zero experience in this early on- Too late now.

    my yard with 5's is drunk looking ....

    Now the 10's are perfect in alignment.
  7. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Imperfect straight route straightness has been an issue since the beginning of ready-made turnouts in the 1950s. It's been there in HO turnouts, code 80 N scale turnouts, and code 55 n scale turnouts.

    You just have to coax the straight route straight as you install them. It's not difficult.

  8. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    I had a couple #7s show up this way, like was mentioned above, a little flexing and I was good to go. It's an easy fix. In the time it took me to type this I could have fixed 3 or 4. I'm not a slow typer either...
  9. Paul Graf

    Paul Graf TrainBoard Member

    Please send me a picture or the numbers of the code on the back of the blister card. If you email, it is pgraf at
    DCESharkman and Jim Reising like this.
  10. DrObscure

    DrObscure New Member

    I can see that as a workable solution in most cases... and the distortion can be removed from these, but it takes quite a bit of force to get the center most portion (near the point hinges to the frog) to lay completely straight. And as I am intending to place these directly on foam board without underlayment in the yard, I'm not convinced I'll be able to fasten them in the foam board successfully without eventual drifting, if at all..
  11. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    Understandable concern, but I assure you you'll be fine. So long as you're not just using track nails in foam that is. (Clear caulking is my preference)

    All that force it takes to re-shape the turnout will then be amount of force it would take to re-re-shape it. Then of course if you add ballast, you'll be golden.

    HemiAdda2d and Metro Red Line like this.
  12. DrObscure

    DrObscure New Member

    Unfortunately the turnouts spring right back to there original distorted shape after letting go, so that significant pressure is required to maintain the positioning... not sure how glue/caulking alone will hold.. don't really have a way to keep them in shape while the glue dries otherwise..

    I'm likely going to exchange these with Atlas (they have already kindly agreed).. realizing that there may always be some need to adjust the turnouts to exact alignment, I'm hoping that the ones I currently have are an extreme case, and that the replacements will be much easier to accommodate on my foam :)
  13. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

    It is trying and while disturbing at first how distorted their code 55 5's and 7's were they can be tweaked.

    I used 1 inch straights in-between a specific area where the 5's are to offset the tweaking the turnouts do. Also a little bit of insistence when laying the turnouts-using white glue with weight on top. I had a couple that the points were not meeting so through trial and error finally finished this section.

    Now I have to add the Atlas code 55 turnout #10's are beautifully straight, I must have at least 20 of those and they are perfect. The only couple I returned were because that retainer washer underside wouldn't hold.

    This was the best I could do. No derails :)
  14. mu26aeh

    mu26aeh TrainBoard Member

    Didn't some turnouts end up in the wrong packaging at some point and that cause the deformation ? As in the plastic form for a left was used on a right switch and vice versa ?
  15. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

    LOL could be, I was so excited on each one I eagerly ripped em open to continue; thinking as Mrs. Winchester was heard to have said- "Keep Building"

    ( I have 57 5's, 7's and 10's) I even have a bunch I had to pull up from railroad #1 and rebuild after soldering connectors and such.

    Don't want to downplay your concern because I agree we should be buying quality and I've learned in the N scale hobby there is lots of stuff to tweak so it helps me be a better modeler.
    DrObscure and mtntrainman like this.
  16. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    If you've ever looked down the straight routes of some prototype ladders, you would see you don't have to have them perfectly straight (although I try to get them as straight as possible).

    WFOJeff and mtntrainman like this.
  17. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    I think WFOJeff's yard looks great. Sure you can see alignment issues with some of the ladder switches, but it looks a whole lot better than many 1:1 yards I've walked through over the past 70+/- years. I think we modelers try for perfection which is rarely reality. :rolleyes:
  18. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    Whether Atlas Code 55 turnouts with bent stock rails at $15.00 Ea or Kato No. 4 turnouts at $26.00 Ea that need a stock rail notched to avoid derailments, manufacturers should be getting these things right. I feel no sense of success in fixing known design and manufacturing defects at home when they should have been addressed at the factory. Just my $0.02.
  19. Atlas 080

    Atlas 080 TrainBoard Member

    Has anyone noticed this to be a continuing problem. I have started to look into Atlas rather than peco because peco does not make a wide variety of straight switches. Also, are Atlas code 55 switches DCC friendly?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
  20. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    The modified turnout on the right needs gaps in the pcb ties or else you will have a dead short.

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