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.
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 switchmotor. ;-()
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 confusing. So:
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 that.
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.
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 Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad:
Bill wrote in news: firstname.lastname@example.org:
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.)
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 pretty quickly.
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.