Can you help me select some turnouts?

GM Dec 5, 2006

  1. GM

    GM TrainBoard Member

    For the last year, I have been gathering information, making plans and purchasing lots of model railroad building supplies. About 4 weeks from today, construction of the Santa Fe & Cajon Pass in ā€œNā€ scale will commence in earnest.

    The first order of business will be the acquisition of 86 N Scale Code 55 turnouts. I need your help in selecting those turnouts. You see I have been wavering back and forth between the products manufactured by the Micro Engineering Company and those made by the Atlas Model Railroad Company. Both companies make fine products and in a pinch, either would work fine. The pros on the Micro Engineering side include the exceptional visual aspect of the frog and guardrails. For Atlas, the best feature is that the product is actually available for purchase. A third choice that has entered the contest for my purchase order is to make the turnouts myself. Fast Tracks have an assembly fixture to facilitate construction of some rather attractive turnouts. An option of the Fast Track turnout is
    a continuous closure rail on both the straight and curved side of the frog. While not typically of the prototype, this feature should help with the prevention of de-railed rolling stock in the turnouts.

    So what do you think, should I purchase either of the readymade products, or should I roll my own?

    Thanks in advance for any help or encouragement you may offer.
  2. BillN

    BillN TrainBoard Member

    Seems the fast-trak would give you the confidence to build some custom turnouts later on, if that`s what you might want.
    Maybe commercial on the main just to get trains rolling (the hardest part for me....still) and fast-trak for the other turnouts, so you won`t feel rushed.

    Best of luck!!
  3. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    I don't think you should let other people pick these for you. This is one of those items that is a very personal issue. If you are building a large layout and aren't sure what one to use, I'd get a couple of each and build a small layout and then test run it for a while to see how things work out.

    BALOU LINE TrainBoard Member

    I agree that this is a personal preference kind of choice. Fortunately Atlas and ME are more inter changable than unitrack or Peco C55. You may find that mixing them based on their advantage in specific locations could be beneficial. ​
  5. GM

    GM TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for your help guys! I think I will put the start of construction on hold until I gather some more information.

    Of the 75 people who looked at this thread so far, I suspect not many have decided to build there own turnouts.

  6. mdrzycimski

    mdrzycimski TrainBoard Supporter

    I tried rolling my own turnouts for my layout currently under construction. I did not purchase a FastTracks jig because I only needed about 20 turnouts. I just used a paper template, PCB ties, and solder. I built about 5 turnouts and my quality was all over the board. Maybe 2 of them would have been useable on a layout and not cause problems. I got impatient and wanted to get on with track laying so I just purchased Atlas Code 55 turnouts.

    I think your decision comes down to 2 things: cost and time. You already stated that the ME turnouts are hard to find so to me, that rules those out. So, with the number of turnouts you need, a FastTracks jig would be worth the money and would allow you to build your turnouts for a few dollars each. But, this would take a considerable amount of time. The Atlas, on the other hand, would cost more but you could start tracklaying right away. To me, the performance of the Atlas compared to handlaid is very close (others may disagree with me on this one) so that doesn't factor in on the decision to me.

    Good luck and I can't wait to see your layout get off of the drawing board and get into reality. I look forward to pictures of your progress.
  7. GM

    GM TrainBoard Member


    Thanks for sharing your experience! I concur with your reasoning about using the fast track jig. I do have a considerable amount of time to spend building this model, so time will not be a consideration. Having watched the video on using the Fast Tracks jig several times, I am convinced that I can build better than average turnouts.

    Next week, I think I wll spend some time examining the track plan to determine if it will be feasable to incorporate #8 turnouts on the main lines. That would really make the passage of trains through the yard area look prototypical.

  8. Rob de Rebel

    Rob de Rebel Permanently dispatched

    Hello Jerry,
    You didn't mention dc/dcc. I'll assume dcc. Atlas's code 55 are very dcc friendly, I would use them (and I have a bunch as well as Micro engineering #6's) as Micro engineering are not as dcc friendly as Atlas. The points contact the stock rail and transfer power to the frog via the rails, hence a power routing type, wheels that are not in gauge and contact both stock an points at the same time you will have a momentary short. On dc this usually isn't a problem, with dcc that short will shut the system down.

    I build turnouts for folks and charge outragous prices, (hey labor in the US isn't cheap)
    but I build in super quality levels. Not alot of folks have that kind of discretionary income)

    You need 86 turnouts probably in different sizes so I would go with the Atlas which has number 5 7 and 10, a number of crossings and wyes. Most of those should do you fine.

    On my Micro Eng turnouts I mod them to isolate the frog, and isolate the points (with a new throwbar) to make them dcc super friendly.


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