Atlas Turnouts

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by NH Rails 13, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. NH Rails 13

    NH Rails 13 New Member

    Returned to hobby last summer after 40+ years absence. Have been working at building tables (total area 20' X 20'), laying out Atlas O gauge track, temporary wiring and running the trains to work the bugs out. I am now ready to build elevations, secure and wire track permanently, etc. Question: The little square buttons that go on the control panel to activate the Atlas turnouts seem like they might be troublesome. Should I use them? Are there any other options? I have the impression I can replace them with toggle switches, but I'm not sure of that. Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    If the button sticks or get helds down too long, you can fry the switch machine coil. Switch machines of the twin solenoid type - most O gauge - want a quick shot of fairly high current of 2-3 amps and then nothing. Modelers in smaller scales that don't commonly have high current power supplies often use capacitive discharge (CD) units to fire their switches.

    Any momentary switch works to activate them. Push buttons (normally off), SPDT spring loaded toggle switches, and the Atlas controllers all work. Push buttons and toggle switches can be mounted in a layout diagram so you know which button or toggle controls what switch on the layout. The Atlas controllers have a reputation for sticking in the down position, thereby frying the switch machine. I have never experienced (I had 6 of them) this personally. But I don't like the Atlas controllers because there is no easy way to remember which controller goes with which switch once you get beyond 5-6 switches.

    Another design has screw heads, pin heads, or washers on the layout diagram with a probe. You touch the chosen contact point with the probe to throw the turnout (switch).

    Another feature of the twin coil design is that you can have multiple controls of the same switch in different places.

    The disadvantage of twin coil switch machines is the relative difficulty in having lights that indicate switch position. The switch machines have to have extra contacts built in or you add a relay to accomplish this.

    One modeler gets around the position light problem by using non-momentary DPDT toggles for each switch machine. Upstream of the toggle is a single master push button in the power supply feed. Throwing the switch is a 2 step evolution just like the Atlas controller. The toggle is set for the desired switch position, which also sets the position lights. Then the master push button is mashed and the switch throws.

    My thoughts, your choices.
  3. NH Rails 13

    NH Rails 13 New Member

    Thanks. I may try the spring loaded toggle switch and compare. Where could I purchase one.
  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Radio Shark (I mean Shack) used to carry them at inflated prices - they may still stock them. Best bet is a mail order or on-line source of electronic parts such as Mouser or Digi-Key.

    Hope this helps

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