Average life of the Atlas code 80 turnouts ?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Biased turkey, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    My original idea was to solder 2 jumpers to increase their electrical reliability. But after a trial I realised that my 58 years old eyesight won't let me do it because it's a very delicate task.
    So I have no other way than to use those switches without the jumpers.
    For how long will the switches work before deteriorate ? after a couple of months or 3 or 4 years ?
    Any estimate or some real data ?
  2. Catt

    Catt Guest

    We have some on our old NTRAK (now 2TRAK) modules that were installed in 1993 and they still work just fine.
  3. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    I have some at least that old also. The older versions of these weren't as reliable. I got my first Atlas turnout in 1970, for example, and I don't think it stayed intact for more than a couple of years. If the points didn't go, the manual "throw" did or the plastic around it broke. It also wasn't good for more than a couple of "tear up and change layout" iterations either.

    And then there was the "fun" aroma of a melting switch machine on a remote turnout...
  4. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    First, thanks to both of you who took some of their time to reply.
    My 1st layout is very small ( 25" by 36" ) and uses code 80 Atlas sectional track + 3 turnouts.
    I start ( very ) small because I want to completet that layout with scenery, buildings etc.. and with a layout that size I won't have any reason to let it unfinished ( I'm the biggest procrastinator north of the St. Lawrence river ).
    At the same time I want to make all the mistakes before tackling a bigger layout .
    So my 1st layout will last just 2 or 3 years before I go for the big one and according to your experiences it's not worth to solder the 2 jumpers for a layout with such a short life
    The most interesting part is that a few weeks ago I purchased 1 N scale Peco code 80 turnout and was able to solder the 2 jumpers without melting any tie. It looks like the Peco plastic is more heat resistant that tha Atlas one.

    If I was modeling in HO scale I wouldn't hesitate 1 second before soldering the 2 jumpers ( either with Atlas or Peco ) but N scale jumpers soldering is really a very delicate work.
    At least I tried.
  5. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    Have you tried a magnifying visor? My eyes are also not what they used to be (quite annoying, actually), but I find that the visor makes many impossible things possible.

  6. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I have some 1.75 magnifying glasses that I clip on my regular eyeglasses. Imho the problem is not eyesight related, but the distance between 2 N scale ties is so small than even the smallest soldering iron tip will melt them when soldering the jumper.

    I really would like real pictures from someone who was able to solder perfectly the 2 jumpers on an Atlas code 80 turnout .
  7. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    I can see that. But your original post said it was the eyes, so I thought I'd throw that in. I haven't tried this, I have been handlaying my turnouts, so I've had a different set of challenges. If the iron will fit in the space, you might try a little bit of flux, and maybe either wet paper towels or alligator clips as heat sinks to control the heat. Some advocate more power for less time, I'm not in that camp, but it is an option. Also, make sure your tip is clean and well tinned. Oh, and clean the track as well as you can, too.

    Good luck. I have some of these turnouts from a previous exercise, if I get a chance I'll play with one and see what I really think after seeing it.

  8. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Jeff, I understand your confusion because it looks like I didn't make myself very clear when I started the thread.
    The eyesight is not the cause of my problem but it doesn't help either :)
    I just purchased a brand new Weller SOLDERING STATION,50W,120V,ETA TIP
    Part #: WES51, with adjustable temperature. I set the temperature to 40 % of the maximum. I use flux. I agree with you, a higher temperature for a shorter time doesn't look like the best solution ( at least in this case ) .
    I have no problem at all when soldering rail joiners, but there is plenty more room.
    I'm familiar with the soldering technique because i'm an electronic technician by trade.
    I would really appreciate if you can give it as wirl using the turnouts of a previous exercise.
    Aaah the sweet smell of the burning ties in the morning.
    The space is so tight that there is no room for any heat heat dissipator such as alligator clips or wet towel.
    Thanks for the reply
  9. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    If you are having trouble with your background, I may create a puddle of melted ties! But it will be fun, anyway! I'll let you know if I get a chance. It does sound like you've done about all you can do, but some manage it. Maybe there's a trick.......


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