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I recently added some tinplate to my empire.  I discovered, to my chagrin, that the MTH tinplate engines require more width clearance than the Railking stuff that usually rolls around my layout.  I suppose I can chalk that up to being too stingy on the clearance dimensions when I built it.  No worries, though.  A few modifications to a portal here and there, and we were back in business.

What really surprised me is how the 263 seems to have difficulty rumbling over my Atlas O turnouts.  The 260 doesTinplate 260 just fine, but it seems the 260 driver flanges are bottoming out on the frog.  Am I the only one who is having this problem, and is there a fix short of changing the drivers.


Images (2)
  • Tinplate 260: MTH 260E
  • Tinplate 263: MTH 263E
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Not sure what the Atlas switches are like, but prewar trains in general do not do well on modern switches (in particular the wheel flanges going through the frogs).  My first layout used Gargraves track with Ross switches, which did not work out with all of my prewar engines due to the thickness of the wheel flanges.  I eventually got rid of all of the switches on my layout and after 25 years, got rid of the Gargraves track and went back to tubular track. 

When designing my layout, my "yardstick" for clearance was a 260E. Those steam chests are very wide!

As for switches, if you're having trouble with Atlas, I'd stay away from every brand except for the old K Line Super snap. I have over 30 of them on my layout and tinplate locos like the 260 and 263 roll right through them. I suppose the other option might be to see if you can find a machine shop to reduce the flange depth.

I tried a pair of "Rossplate" #4 switches and everything--I mean everything--modern and prewar--derailed going through them, so I returned them. It was disappointing as I really wanted #4s to form my crossovers and wanted to buy American and support a forum sponsor, but no such luck.

I ended up trying to modify Supersnap O72 switches to tighten-up the center-rail distance between mainlines when using them for crossovers. It involves cutting and a little soldering, but the end result is worth it as the track distance is almost as tight as it is using #4s, and it didn't affect performance at all. At some point I'll post a thread showing what I did. It has worked really well.

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