Problem with an Atlas #6 turnout

Stephane Savard Nov 17, 2019

  1. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    I'm having a problem with two turnouts, both of which are Atlas #6 remotes. Basically, whenever a locomotive or a boxcar passes through the points, the rear truck derails.

    IMG_20191117_092526099.jpg

    Using the above photo as reference, If I run a boxcar in the direction of the red arrow, the first truck will go through the points normally and take the diverging track. The first truck runs smoothly, no bumps. But when the second truck goes through, the lead wheel/flange hits the point (indicated by the red arrow) and continues through into the straight track, causing a derailment.

    I have recently ballasted this track, but I can't remember if the cars went through smoothly before (this is my first layout, and I may have made the mistake of not checking properly if the cars ran through this particular turnout before ballasting - oops).

    Out of the four turnouts I've ballasted so far, two run very smoothly without any problems, and two have this problem (though this one is by far the worse). The other problem turnout I've cleaned up and seems "better" now. All are Atlas #6 remotes.

    Looking through a magnifying visor, I've made sure there are absolutely no grains of ballast preventing the closing of the point, but that point is somewhat loose and just does not want to close quite right.

    Should I take out the dremel the grind down the point until smooth with the rail (i.e. a thinner point)? Any other ways to fix this without having to rip out the turnout and start over?
     
  2. Mo-Pac

    Mo-Pac TrainBoard Member

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    There is a sizeable gap where the arrow is pointing to. Maybe you have excess glue lodged in between? Did you check the gauge?
     
  3. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Both real railroads and experienced modelers avoid ballasting right at that spot.

    I suspect the ballast may be interfering with the crosspiece the points are attached to with small rivets. That's what fills the gap between the seventh and eighth ties from the left. It must slide freely or these gaps will result.

    You have mostly truck-mounted couplers, I suspect. The first truck is being pulled snug against the inside rail of the curve. The rear truck doesn't have that advantage.

    I'm not experienced with these exact switches, but I think you can remove that Phillips screw and lift off the switch motor. Then use a knife to remove ballast from the end of that slider. Use eye protection if you use a thin blade like an Xacto. They're springy enough to fling ballast in your face, and breakable too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  4. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Before I start messing around with the installed turnout, I do have a remote turnout that came out of the package damaged (the little slider thing at the points jams constantly), I'll take that one apart first to see what removing those screws does, and can be done once the remote portion is removed.

    I did try putting in less ballast around the points (as suggested in some videos on youtube), and none at the actual slider, but I suppose it's possible that the diluted mod-podge glue might have migrated some ballast into the mechanism. However, you mention not ballasting at all around the turnouts? How do you hide the cork? Any chance you have a picture that shows the recommended way to ballast a turnout?

    So much to learn! :)
     
  5. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I agree with acptulsa. Take the switch motor off. Put your optivosor on and inspect the throwbar. It doesnt look straight between the ties. One little bitty piece of ballast will stop a turnout from working right. :whistle:

    If memory serves me...when you take that switch motor off look at the bottom of it. I believe there is a snall tip coming out the bottom that goes in a hole in the throwbar. make sure the throwbar slides back and forth ok. make sure the point rails contact the stock rails. You shouldnt have to force the throwbar. When reinstalling the switch machine...make sure that tip on the bottom engages the throwbar right. You can manually operate the turnout with that slider on the switch motor to check if its working ok. (y)

    ** Looking at that turnout again. It looks like the switch machine is a manual switch...not electric. That should make fixing it a bit easier IMHO.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  6. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    I see that you didn't ballast between the seventh and eighth ties, but I also see that a little did sneak in there. I doubt it's enough to cause a problem, though it could. That's the 'exact spot' I was talking about, between the seventh and eighth ties. You did right between the rails. It's also completely realistic to lay no ballast between those two ties outside the rails, or even a little distance outside the ends of the ties. The real railroads generally lay no ballast there all the way over to the switch stand.

    If only two out of four are acting up, you're batting .500. For a first try, that's actually very good!
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  7. gcav17

    gcav17 TrainBoard Member

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    Well I have the same exact problem with the same exact switch. But mine are not ballasted at all. I have fiddled and fought with atlas switches for years. Why they do this is beyond me. That gap doesn't go away unless you tear apart the switch and file down the inside of the rails to get rid of the gap. At that point the switch is no good. I just rip 'em out and install Peco or something else. I am tired of all the faulty atlas switches.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
     
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  8. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Lots of people do this. If you do, get the Code 55 switches not the code 80. The C55 are made to NMRA standards while the C80 are made to NEMA (European) standards which are more liberal in tolerances.
     
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  9. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    When ALL ELSE fails and you've tried everything, try this last attempt.

    Open up the turnout to be straight through, hold the point piece rock steady and SLIGHTLY bend the tip towards the bottom rail (in your picture).

    This way when you are on divergent, that point will be flush with the bottom rail. I've done this on Atlas #4 turnouts.
     
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  10. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    There's a reason he used that word. Too much and it either becomes blunt, or it turns into a ramp the wheel flanges can climb over.
     
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  11. gcav17

    gcav17 TrainBoard Member

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    Liberal standards in Europe.. lol. No comment...

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
     
  12. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    I ballsted every bloody inch of my track. To avoid future problems, I used the old standby technique of putting a small drop of iol at places where I didn't want ballast to get glued down in the wrong place. Thow were places where the points moved into the pockets in the stock rails. But I didn't use Atlas code 80 track, a regrettable part of our prehistoric past, I'm always surprised when someone uses the code 80 turnout without problems.
     
  13. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    Regarding "How do you hide the cork if you don't ballast near the points?" The easiest way is to just paint the cork the color of the ballast in the areas where the points will be located. If you really want to get picky, you can paint it the proper shade of gray and then use a stippling brush to add lighter gray highlights and darker gray shadows, matching the pattern of the ballast you will use elsewhere.
     
  14. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    Regarding "How do you hide the cork if you don't ballast near the points?" The easiest way is to just paint the cork the color of the ballast in the areas where the points will be located. If you really want to get picky, you can paint it the proper shade of gray and then use a stippling brush to add lighter gray highlights and darker gray shadows, matching the pattern of the ballast you will use elsewhere.
     
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  15. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Or don't hide it. Cork looks enough like bare dirt.

    Or paint it to resemble bare dirt.
     
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  16. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Remember that cork is an organic product. As such it will absorb moisture when wet such as when ballasting. Sealing it with a primer like auto primer will help with the moisture issue as well as color difference between brown cork and grey ballast.
     
  17. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Well, thanks for all the replies, didn't expect so much help all at once!

    The first turnout I managed to fix with a file and cleaning. In that first turnout (the better of the two problem areas), there were some ballast between the stock rail and the "check rail" (didn't know the name of that part, but according to a "parts of a turnout" diagram from google, that's what it should be called :) ). When I cleared the ballast from between the check rail (using a small jeweler's type screwdriver), I was able to successfully run both 4 axle and 6 axle locos and a boxcar through the turnout several times which no problems.

    No such luck with the worst of the two problem turnouts, so I removed the "remote" bit (wires and all). Unfortunately, to pry it out meant I destroyed it. I'll have to buy a new remote motor.

    IMG_20191117_205745497.jpg

    But pinning the slide open, I was now able to run the locos and boxcar through normally. I suppose the remote was gummed up somehow, preventing full movement.

    As for...
    ... I really hope this is said jokingly, because I have so many more turnouts to ballast, and if I can only expect half of them to work right after I'm going to go nuts! :)
     
  18. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    Or you could just ballast the whole bloody thing after you put just a drop of oil at the points and since your turnouts are hinged, at the hinge points and a bit under the throwbar. But with Atlas code 80, i'm afraid your in a bad way.
     
  19. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Well, if you repeat your mistakes, it's a short trip, because you're already nuts.
     
  20. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    There is absolutely nothing wrong with Code 80 so stop spewing misinformation. My entire layout is Code 80 with no issues and I know many in the same boat. And if you're going to say I'm just a single data point, look at all those thousands of N-Trak modules out there using Code 80 having no issues running at many shows for hours on end.

    The key is how meticulous you are around the turnouts when you ballast. It's as simple as that.
     
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