I am new to model railroading and am putting together an n scale
layout, I have read that atlas switches are very unreliable as to
making electrical contact. My question is would it be adviseable to
use a double pole double throw switch to activate or deactivate the
switch and the portion of track you needed at the same time? I
understand it would entail a bit of wiring but it seems that it would
illiminate the contact problem... Thanks, RB
The only real problem with this thought (and it's a real stinker), is
finding the "Ganged" SPDT & SPDT(momentary) switch that you will need to
do this. Using one pole of a 'normal' DPDT switch to control the Atlas
turnout motor, will burn out those "motors/ actuators/ solenoids". You
solve that little problem and it's a great idea.
Thanks so much for your help as I did not know that the 'turnouts'
required momentary voltage, I think I will just power the blocks of
track with on/off switched for now as suggested. I am going to build a
little 'test' track to gain some knowledge, I'm sure I will have some
more questions at some point. I would like to thank everyone who
responded to my question, do I need to respond to everyone
individually or can respond to everyone at once? You guys are just
great and helped immeasurably... All the best, Robert Bell
I would like to thank everyone who replied to my question
There are (at least) three general types of point motor:
- Solenoid type requiring momentary switches. eg Atlas.
- Solenoid type with 'end off' switching requiring DPDT switches. eg
Roco. Peco with added switch.
- Motor driven type. eg Fulgurex and Tortoise.
A pointmotor powering system popular in Britain is to use studs on a
track diagram with an electrical probe to connect each solenoid coil.
Cheap and effective.
In addition, many brands of turnouts have a 'switching function' whereby
the track not selected does not receive traction current (and vice
versa) which with some thought can eliminate most track toggle switches.
With Peco one can add on switches to the point motor. This opens up all
sorts of possibilities for sequencing turnouts in route control and
powering complex trackwork.
The switch must be activated momentarily, just long enough for it to be
energised and do its work. Any longer, and it will fry. What you have in
mind will not work (well, it will - once. Then you'll have a fried
Do not rely on the switch to pass current beyond it. It's simplest to
place insulated railjoiners in the appropriate places, and switch power
to the insulate tracks as needed. There are ways of doing what you want,
but they are fairly complicated, so for now I advise the simpler method.
I suggest that you buy one of the basic wiring books.
Sorry, my answer was obscure - too many meanings of "switch" tend to be
a) Atlas turnouts are wired to pass current through, but for several
reasons this can be a bad idea. It's better to install insulated
railjoiners, thus creating isolated sections of track (called "blocks").
Use electrical switches to control the current to the blocks. Certain
blocks are required for electrical reasons, but otherwise blocks may be
setup to suit your operational needs. One of the basic wiring books will
show what's what. -- Other brands of turnout switch current from one
route to the other through the point-blades, but this is unreliable.
b) Turnouts must be controlled by momentary-contact switches, since
otherwise the turnout motor will fry. Your proposed method will do just
c) There are ways of combining block control(s) with turnout control,
but they are fairly complex, and so I suggest you use the simpler method
for now: a momentary contact switches to control the turnouts, and
on-off switches to control block power.
BTW, the Atlas switches are quite reliable, they just take up a lot of
room, which is why many people prefer small toggle or slide switches and
pushbuttons (available from various sources.)
Actually, the track itself does not make a good electrical conductor.
A couple of loose rail joiners and the train will loose power. Atlas
turnouts (or anyone else's turnouts) are no worse than plain sectional
track in this respect. The solution is to run wires under the table to
bring power to all parts of the layout. In principle each piece of
track wants it's own power feed wires. Few of us go that far, usually a
feeder every 5 - 10 feet will give reliable operation.
On Oct 23, 8:03 am, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Over the years, I found that loose rail joiners can be a culprit. When
I did my present layout I used new joiners on each section of track.
If the joiner didn't fit tightly, I replaced It. I found that I did
not need extra feeders and the power to the rails was consistant
throughout. When I removed any sections for modifications, I used new
joiners for the affected sections. Even when I painted the track with
a brush a few years ago, I experienced no problems. When you paint the
turnouts (switches), use extra care so the paint doesn'f foul the
turnouts and make sure no paint is on the points. That's one advantage
to brushing the paint.
Good luck with your railroad. I hope you derive as much pleasure from
it as I have had from mine over the years.
Bill's Railroad Empire
N Scale Model Railroad:
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I've found that I can usually "save" a rail joiner by gently pressing it
tighter (closed) with a pair of pliers. I only rely on rail joiners for
power between modules, though, so your mileage may vary.
Why save a rail joiner? I usually lose the extra ones between track
laying sessions (months or even years apart). I'm getting better about
it, but I think I need to make a "track laying kit." (Everything
required for laying track including needle nose pliers, spikes, ties, and
maybe even super glue.)
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
I only relied on railjoiners to align the rails, and they were soldered
together as much as possible. I gave up on the giant insulated joiners
and started soldering a regular joiner in, and using a cut off wheel to
cut the rail, then stick a small piece of nylon coated in cyan glue in
between to insulate it. A little filing and it was nice and smooth. I
used to run huge trains without any problems.
All the power went through a 10 gauge wire that went under the benchwork
and I used relays controlled from the switch panel to switch power to
the blocks as I wanted. It worked great, and once I got good at doing
it, I could add a block in a few minutes, and it looked great and I
actually had a couple of working signals with fiber optic used to pipe
the light from LEDs under the track. It was easy with the relays, but
soldering the tiny signals together was too much work to get them just
right, and I always seemed to burn myself, so I abandoned that project
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