Atlas o-36 turns and Ross o-31 switches

I'm in the beginning stages of planning my layout.  I have Lionel Hogwarts Express and MTH Union Pacific Dash-8 sets.  I would like to park both on the board, maybe even run both at the same time too.  I also purchased an MTH 20-98106 depressed transformer car.  Info on that car says it will navigate o-31 curves, same with the Dash 8, and so will the Hogwarts Express.  I got the Lionel set first, with Fastrack.  I got the Dash 8 set with Realtrax, and traded them in for o-31 Fastrack at the same time (Thank you Mario's Trains for that), and bought more Fastrack.  I have been running one or the other set daily since Christmas.

You can catch up on my layout planning post here.  But long story short, the layout will be essentially a 4 x 6 table joined by a bridge with a 4 x 5 table in a dog bone shape.  Enough with the foreplay, on to business.

I'm not happy with the Fastrack noise.  It's bearable at 20 mph on an old army blanket, but for a "permanent" layout, I would like quieter track.  Atlas O with Ross switches seems like the go to stuff.  So:

Atlas O comes in o-36 curves.  Ross switches come in o-31/o-54.

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I tried to roll my MTH depressed car (20-98106) on a 31 and 36 curve of Fastrack by hand.  o-36 curve felt nice and easy, o-31 felt like dragging and the car derailed.  

So: 

1.  If I have a problem with a derailing car on o-31 Fastrack, will I have the same problem with the Ross o-31 switch?

Second.  If I put together a Fastrack layout, and build bench work around it, will it be close to the Atlas/Ross layout to within 1/4?"

And D.  I would like to build a "semi-permanent" layout with some 2 x 4 modules and some custom module to connect everything seamlessly.  It'd sure be nice to be able to lift out those sections to transport, then put them back together, plug the wiring sections and roll.  How would you recommend I connect or not connect the Atlas track?  How would you fix the track to the pink foam board?  

Fifthy.  If I could build the layout with Fastrack and run it for a year or so, and replace everything with Atlas later down the railroad, would be great if I didn't have to redo everything else.

And D.  For power I have a Lionel brick with the 10" power Fastrack and MTH DCS Explorer that can also provide power to the track.  I gather Explorer will not control remote switches through the app.  Would you recommend an MTH system to control the 4 planned remote switches or a Lionel system?  Lionel works off the remote, MTH works off the DCS phone app.  I would like to continue to use my phone, or expand it to a tablet.  I would also like to use future track accessories on my phone or the tablet.

Lastly.  Will I have to perform major open bypass surgery when I switch from Fastrack switches to Ross switches?  BTW I don't have any switches yet.

And 7.  I know I will end up with Ross switches, should I just get them now and connect Fastrack to them?  Or should I get Fastrack switches and then get Ross?

So many flavors, so little time...

 

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I can't answer most of your questions, but here are few things that may be worth knowing.

First, Ross does make O-36 track. It is not on their website, but if you ask for it, they will make it for you. I do find that the gauge is a little inconsistent, though. Sometimes I find a tight spot (the trains tell me where those are) and I need to pull out the pliers and work it over.

Second, not all O gauge track is gauged the same. Fastrack and Atlas are both very close to 1.25", but Fastrack has a rounded rail profile which makes it effectively wider at the top, compared to Atlas, which has a much more square profile. Because of that, my experience with Atlas track has been frustrating - I have items which will run fine on O-31 tubular, but will not navigate O-36 Atlas. Ross track and tubular track are both about 1.26". The extra hundredth doesn't sound like much, but it makes a difference. So, it is at least worth trying your long flatcar on O-31 Ross, to see how it behaves there. Gargraves is wider still, about 1.27" (at least the flex is, not sure about the sectional).

Third, have you tried the Hogwarts engine on O-31? I do not have one, but I have been told it does not run on less than O-36.

Fourth, the whole curve does not have to be the same radius. Many people create "easements" by using a wider radius track at the beginning and end of the curve, and a tighter radius in the middle. The trains look much more graceful entering and exiting the turns this way. If you can work O-42 turnouts into your plan, entering and exiting your O-36 curves, you can solve the turn radius problem and get a better-looking layout at the same time.

Mr George,

   IMO you should purchase the sound suppression ceiling tile for under your FasTrack layout, it kills the noise big time.  If you have 072 FasTrack Command Control Switches and the Legacy Cab2 for controlling them, there is no better engineering on the market today.  IMO there are way to many draw backs to Atlas Track, and even with the good Ross Switches you have lots of work to set them up for remote control, where FTCC is plug and play technology, as many as 99 from a single Cab2.  If you decide to ditch the FasTrack, please sell me the FTCC Switches, and some of your FasTrack, especially if it is 1st or 2nd Generation Track.

PCRR/Dave

DSCN2498

 

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

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nickaix posted:

I can't answer most of your questions, but here are few things that may be worth knowing.

First, Ross does make O-36 track. It is not on their website, but if you ask for it, they will make it for you. I do find that the gauge is a little inconsistent, though. Sometimes I find a tight spot (the trains tell me where those are) and I need to pull out the pliers and work it over.

Second, not all O gauge track is gauged the same. Fastrack and Atlas are both very close to 1.25", but Fastrack has a rounded rail profile which makes it effectively wider at the top, compared to Atlas, which has a much more square profile. Because of that, my experience with Atlas track has been frustrating - I have items which will run fine on O-31 tubular, but will not navigate O-36 Atlas. Ross track and tubular track are both about 1.26". The extra hundredth doesn't sound like much, but it makes a difference. So, it is at least worth trying your long flatcar on O-31 Ross, to see how it behaves there. Gargraves is wider still, about 1.27" (at least the flex is, not sure about the sectional).

Third, have you tried the Hogwarts engine on O-31? I do not have one, but I have been told it does not run on less than O-36.

Fourth, the whole curve does not have to be the same radius. Many people create "easements" by using a wider radius track at the beginning and end of the curve, and a tighter radius in the middle. The trains look much more graceful entering and exiting the turns this way. If you can work O-42 turnouts into your plan, entering and exiting your O-36 curves, you can solve the turn radius problem and get a better-looking layout at the same time.

Thanks for the info nickaix,

So the takeaway is, Ross can create custom switches for my custom layout? 

I played with o-31 over the weekend, and come to the conclusion that o-31 will not work for me.  Hogwarts Express derailed.  I put together a test track with 10" sections between each o-31 turn, and it still derailed.  Flatcar performed better on the test track, but the whole setup is still a no go.  o-36 performed great for both.

Pine Creek Railroad posted:

Mr George,

   IMO you should purchase the sound suppression ceiling tile for under your FasTrack layout, it kills the noise big time.  If you have 072 FasTrack Command Control Switches and the Legacy Cab2 for controlling them, there is no better engineering on the market today.  IMO there are way to many draw backs to Atlas Track, and even with the good Ross Switches you have lots of work to set them up for remote control, where FTCC is plug and play technology, as many as 99 from a single Cab2.  If you decide to ditch the FasTrack, please sell me the FTCC Switches, and some of your FasTrack, especially if it is 1st or 2nd Generation Track.

PCRR/Dave

DSCN2498

 

Good call on the ceiling tile to insulate Fastrack, Pine Creek Railroad,

I do not have any switches for Fastrack or Cab2 yet.  My Hogwarts Express is a Lionchief with Bluetooth, with constant 18v track power and a remote.  Control of the MTH is through the phone app and the DCS Explorer.  All Fastrack I have seems to be brand spanking new.  Is that a GEN4?

Some questions still linger:

1.  How to fix Atlas to the pink board 2 x 4 modules?  

2.  How to create transitions between those 2 x 4 modules to connect fixed track?

3.  What connectors to use for 2 x 4 modules for ease of operation?  Color coded RCA maybe?

4.  I will have one uncoupling section, 4 switches, 7 - 12 operating accessories, what is a better system to use, Lionel LCS with wifi and iCab or DCS wifi with AIU?

5.  Can I get a standalone Lionel LCS with wifi system or do I have to get the whole Legacy system?  With DCS, the answer is "Yes," I have to get the whole system - TIU, AIU, wifi module and the $5 app. 

6.  Which system to use?  Lionel or MTH?

7.  Can I build this layout with the ability to manually control switches, and control the layout on a control board, and control everything with an app?

 

Mr. George posted:

So the takeaway is, Ross can create custom switches for my custom layout? 

Sorry, I wasn't as clear as I could have been. Three takeaways:

1. You can get Ross track (but not switches) in O-36, even though Ross does a bad job of advertising that.

2. Equipment that runs fine on O-36 Fastrack may not work on O-36 Atlas. Be sure to test before committing yourself.

3. To avoid problem #2 you might consider using Ross O-36 instead of Altas, but you will have to use O-42 switches then, since Ross does not make them in O-36.

Mr. George posted:
 

2.  How to create transitions between those 2 x 4 modules to connect fixed track?

3.  What connectors to use for 2 x 4 modules for ease of operation?  Color coded RCA maybe?

These two I can help with some:

First, if you have any idea that you might connect your modules to other people's modules as part of a larger temporary setup, then you need to conform your layout to other people's standards. See if there is a club in your area that does modular layouts. They will give you all the info you need about both track and electrical connections, as well as the size and construction of the module itself. You need to follow it to the 'T', otherwise your modules will not work with theirs.

On the other hand, if you just want the layout to be modular for the sake of making it easier to move, and you don't want to connect your modules to anyone else's, then you can do whatever you want. If your track is firmly anchored, you don't need any transitions at all. Just line everything up carefully, and then drill holes and bolt it together. For electrical connections, do an advanced search on this forum. There are a lot of options. I know many people swear by the connections used for hauling trailers.

I had a 10 by 5 layout.  I used all Atlas track and switches without much problem.  I had pink foam board glued on top of 3/4 hardboard.  I painted the pink foam with ground color latex paint (make sure to remove the clear plastic sheet from the foam before painting).  I then put the Atlas track down on the painted foam board.  I did not screw the track down and never had a problem with it moving around.  Once you have a significant amount of track down, the combined weight holds it down just fine.  Also, if you end up gluing in ballast, that will hold the track down even more.

Also, I tried to introduce a GarGraves Gantry track into my Atlas track layout and found that the large difference in the size of the ties was visually unappealing.  I believe that Ross has similar sized ties to GarGraves.  So, I would suggest that you compare a couple of pieces side-by-side before buying a bunch from one vendor or another.  Ross mixed in with Atlas may not satisfy what you are looking for....

cerbyg posted:

I had a 10 by 5 layout.  I used all Atlas track and switches without much problem.  I had pink foam board glued on top of 3/4 hardboard.  I painted the pink foam with ground color latex paint (make sure to remove the clear plastic sheet from the foam before painting).  I then put the Atlas track down on the painted foam board.  I did not screw the track down and never had a problem with it moving around.  Once you have a significant amount of track down, the combined weight holds it down just fine.  Also, if you end up gluing in ballast, that will hold the track down even more.

Also, I tried to introduce a GarGraves Gantry track into my Atlas track layout and found that the large difference in the size of the ties was visually unappealing.  I believe that Ross has similar sized ties to GarGraves.  So, I would suggest that you compare a couple of pieces side-by-side before buying a bunch from one vendor or another.  Ross mixed in with Atlas may not satisfy what you are looking for....

That's great advice.  Thank you.

Have you found it to be a quiet setup?  Or would gluing the track to the Flexxbed like Eric at Eric's trains did make for a quieter setup? 

 

nickaix posted:
Mr. George posted:

So the takeaway is, Ross can create custom switches for my custom layout? 

Sorry, I wasn't as clear as I could have been. Three takeaways:

1. You can get Ross track (but not switches) in O-36, even though Ross does a bad job of advertising that.

2. Equipment that runs fine on O-36 Fastrack may not work on O-36 Atlas. Be sure to test before committing yourself.

3. To avoid problem #2 you might consider using Ross O-36 instead of Altas, but you will have to use O-42 switches then, since Ross does not make them in O-36.

Mr. George posted:
 

2.  How to create transitions between those 2 x 4 modules to connect fixed track?

3.  What connectors to use for 2 x 4 modules for ease of operation?  Color coded RCA maybe?

These two I can help with some:

First, if you have any idea that you might connect your modules to other people's modules as part of a larger temporary setup, then you need to conform your layout to other people's standards. See if there is a club in your area that does modular layouts. They will give you all the info you need about both track and electrical connections, as well as the size and construction of the module itself. You need to follow it to the 'T', otherwise your modules will not work with theirs.

On the other hand, if you just want the layout to be modular for the sake of making it easier to move, and you don't want to connect your modules to anyone else's, then you can do whatever you want. If your track is firmly anchored, you don't need any transitions at all. Just line everything up carefully, and then drill holes and bolt it together. For electrical connections, do an advanced search on this forum. There are a lot of options. I know many people swear by the connections used for hauling trailers.

Thank you for the heads up about Fastrack and Atlas differences.  Will definitely take a look at that.

My goal for the modular layout is ease of movement.  I'll get in touch with the National Capital Trackers, and see how they do things.

Keep your ideas coming!

 

 

 

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