Snap Switch VS Turnouts

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Dawg, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. Dawg

    Dawg New Member

    After A few years of collecting a variety of parts, peices and track, I have finally decided to build a small layout with My 5 year old son. :D

    Using a simple plan from Atlas, i am going thru my parts list and existing track to determine what i need to purchase.

    The plan calls for 2 x Code 4 turn out (L) & (R), whereas I have 2 x Snap Switch (L) & (R) Turnouts.

    What is the Difference between these if any?
  2. siderod

    siderod Member

    I don't believe there is any...should be identical.
    However, i would wait for another opinion just to be sure...I model N-scale (not sure what scale you're in...) and i use PECO switches, so i'm only going with what i've heard.

    Hope this helps a bit
  3. Dawg

    Dawg New Member

    Thanx for the reply.

    There seems to be a difference in the lengthof the straight section, but this could probably be fixed using an extension -- what i am most concerend with is the angle of turn from the mainline.

    I'm using HO by the way --
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I believe the snap swith is a #4 turnout, but it is a toy train set quality turnout (i.e. cheap) and the #4 custom line or whatever are layout quality (i.e. reliable). Atlas gets a bad rap for making bad turnouts when they are mearly addressing the toy market. I would use the snap switch for a temporary estup or one to be rarely used. If it's going to be for a long term layout, I would spend a few bucks now and get the better quality #4's. I had brass #4's that still worked from my first layout I had in the 70's. I just tossed them along with a test track. The ties were all ripped up from abuse and they still worked.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I can't find the documentation, but I think a #4 switch is a larger radius than 18"; nore like 24". It also isn't curved past the frog.
    Depending on what the track does past the switch, you could probably use the snap switch.
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi guys,

    The snap switch diverging route is actually 18" radius, and can be substituted wherever there is a curve, as long as you add a short (3" ?) section on the opposite side of the oval/circle.

    A #4 turnout is different, and cannot be directly substituted (or vice versa). The #4 does not enter a curve, it is a straight route diverging 1 foot away from the straight for every 4 feet along the track.

    As David notes above, there is a "nominal" curve for the diverging route, and also that depending on what the track does after the turnout, it may not matter - if it is a siding, it doesn't matter. If it is a run-around, or comes back to the main line again, it may make a difference.

    When all else fails, get a bit of flex track, and a pair of rail-nippers, and fudge it! I have successfully substituted snap switches for #4's, but I had to do some adjusting and cutting along the way.

  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think the Atlas turnouts Snap Switches or Custom Line are actually a #4.5 or 5 rather than a #4. If you are using flex track, you can bend the rack to compensate. My expreience with Atlas is that both Snap Switches and Custom line use stamped sheet metal points. After a while the points tend to "lay over" and go out of gauge. I fixed a couple of them by using epoxy to glue a piece of rail to the back side of the points, after filing it to shape with a file, but the amount of work required was extremely tedious. I would reccomend using either Peco shorts, or Shinohara (Walthers) #4 and use flex track to adjust spacing.

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