Layout O Gauge - Two loops with all Atlas track & switches powered by MTH Z4000, TIU, etc.

Currently working a corner of the layout and have encountered a problem with the subject switch located on the outer loop.  Situation has become critical as recent surgery will not allow me to climb up on the board to do the simple repair on the switch itself.  My knowledge of the various track manufacturers is very limited and factors such as track compatibility, connectors for different track types, and overall running ability in mixed track layouts has prompted me to seek OGR member help.

Problem - a few months ago the right-hand switch rail broke and Atlas was kind enough to send a new part.  I installed it and switch worked fine until three days ago when my Premier MTH Santa Fe 4-8-4 Mountain popped (did not break) the rail loose from the switch body.  

The first time the problem (broken switch rail) occurred I tore up the nearby track and ballast, removed the switch, installed the replacement rail from Atlas, placed the switch back on the layout, and recreated the scenery/ballast.  A lot of work, but with physical mobility was able to do it by myself.  This time I plan to have someone help in removing the switch, and prior to placing it or a substitute back on the layout I need to make a decision:

1.  Re-insert the right-hand switch rail again and sparingly use a strong glue at the appropriate spots.  However, I would still like to run the heavy steamers such as the Premier Santa Fe, Premier Berkshire, and the Premier C&O Greenbrier, and am worried that they will loosen the rail again after a matter of time.

2.  Replace the Atlas with:

          A. an Lionel tubular track switch (have an old  O-72 (?) in my track box)

         B.  a used MTH RealTrax switch.  My son has stored his MTH track at my place and there may be a similar (in size) in his track box

         C.  purchase a Ross Switch and install it in place of the Atlas

         D.  purchase a new Lionel Fast Track switch of similar size

I would appreciate member comments suggestions, particularly in the compatibility of different track company products, conceivability, and problems that may arise with using a shtik other than Atlas.

Thanks, wbrian1





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Original Post

Your only choices are Ross or Atlas.   Lionel tubular and Fastrack switches do not come in O72/O54 configurations. The Atlas and Ross track is the same height and rail is about the same profile.  You can even use the Atlas rail joiners (but you will need to pry the rail up a little and possibly remove the staple (nail) holding the rail to the end tie to get full use of i/2 of rail joiner on the Ross rail).  Based on the fact you are not as agile as you used to be it may be best to go with a Ross switch in this instance.


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1. I agree with Greg on Ross

2. I could not see on the photo where the rail came from however I have had success gluing rails back down with Loctite Super Glue gel. Like Gorilla glue it contains elastomers that make it less brittle. There are small knobs on the bottom of the rail - just be sure be sure to line them up with the depressions on the track ties. This is a good stop gap if you plan on replacing the turnout.
My guess is that the plastic rail pins broke off so for added security maybe ask Ross if they would sell some extra rail pins or just buy a straight track and take the pins off. You can drill holes and install the pins with super glue.


Joe Fauty

From the picture it looks like one of the moving rails came loose. Is that correct? These have a pin that goes through the tie and a small black metal "keeper" press fits over the pin to keep the rail in place and to allow it to move. You need the "keeper" or the rail will come loose again. Also, you have to access the bottom of the switch to fix it.

I have 36 Atlas switches on my layout and never had one of the moveable rails come loose and I run a lot of large locos, however anything is possible.

I also had a Ross O72/O54 switch installed which I removed because my articulated engines tended to bounce through it and I wanted something that those engines operated smoother through, so I reconfigured the track and installed a conventional O54 switch. The Ross switch does not have the same exact geometry as the Atlas. It would require some adjustment to all the tracks connected to it but it does work fine with Atlas track.

If you're interested in trying one, the Ross switch is for sale.



In my opinion, your trackwork will look best if you replace it with an Atlas O72/O54 switch. I would purchase a new switch and have someone you trust install it on the layout for you. I would volunteer to do it but I don't think you live nearby. I would then repair the old switch and keep it as a spare. How long has the original switch been on the layout? A new replacement could be expected to last as long. Would that be satisfactory? I have Atlas O track and switches that have been in operation for twenty years to which I've made some repairs. Picture below shows how I’ve used thin pieces of basswood (stained brown – fastened with epoxy) to hold down Atlas O rails that have become loosened from the ties due to track cleaning. No apparent problem with wheel flanges on any of my locomotives, although the same solution might not be possible in your case. Your layout looks very nice.

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I would replace with Atlas.

I have three of those switches and I've trouble with the center rail (the one about 2.5 inches at the singular entry to the switch) coming loose on one of them.  I replaced the switch with like and all has been well.

Pretty much the only issue I've had in 17 years with Atlas track.  




Thanks to all the members for the input.  I decided to go with a new Atlas switch, but to repair the existing one for now.  Have a relative coming to town this weekend and he will remove and replace the switch once I have made the repairs suggested.

I did an internet search (Charles Ro, Mr. Muffin, etc) and found the the O-72/O-54 switches are available on back order - a replay of the situation that I seem to remember existed when I purchased the first one in question five years ago.  I will be at the York meet in a few weeks and will try for a the switch there unless I come across a new one on the internet.

Thanks again for the help.

Martin - one other thought.  I would recommend checking to make sure your layout (and switch) are level.   While I recommended a Ross switch based on your specific circumstances, I myself, use Atlas switches.  I had one instance where I was having issues with a switch not throwing all the way in one direction.   It seems that over time my layout was no longer level (thanks basement and the weight of trains going over the switch in conjunction with it being no longer level caused the issue.  Once I added a shim to level it out, it worked properly.  Your issue may have been caused by stresses such as this if not level.  You may find it worthwhile to check when you replace the switch.


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Associate Member of the NJ Hi-Railers

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