Fixing Atlas Custom Line turnouts

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The Southern & SCL Merger
I noticed some comments by santafewillie on another thread about how he fixes Atlas frogs with .020 pads in the flangeways. I have 26 Custom Line #6 turnouts in my yard that all have this problem. Does he make his pads from styrene sheet? Also, what method could be used to correct poor electrical connections at the rivet that is the pivot point for the switch points? Perhaps solder a jumper, and if so, where? My dilemma is I'm not sure I want to spend the time and money to buy Peco turnouts and replace the Atlas ones because the Peco turnouts are a little shorter than the trimmed Atlas turnouts they will be replacing. If I can leave the Atlas in place and repair them to the operating level of a Peco, I might be better off. But then again, Pecos are nice and might be worth the installation hassle. Comments and experiences, please, I know some of you guys have had this problem before. Hopefully, santafewillie will see this and offer his experience to another Willie. Thanks to all,
William Smith
Southern Coast Line Railroad


Well-Known Member
Willie (William) - I'll get back to you a bit later after the battery in the camera charges up a bit. Took some pictures but I need a couple more. The pads in the flangeways of the frogs are there mainly to eliminate the dipping of the wheels that pass through. While the dipping sometimes causes derailments, mainly when pushing cars through, for me it's more of a cosmetic thing, I just don't like seeing my freight cars "bobbing" through switches. What I can answer right now is yes the pads can be made from styrene sheet. I use scraps that I have accumulated over the last 35 years or so. If you have to purchase something from Evergreen, buy some strips like .020" x .250" instead of the larger sheets unless you want some (a lot) extra for something else. I'll post a picture in a bit. It is also possible to file the frog down, but the fillers are a lot easier.
I have over 110 Atlas Custom Line and a handful of Snap Switches on my layout and all work well. I have become adept at diagnosing and fixing them ahead of time and have never had to remove one after placing it in service on the current (and last) layout.
Again, I'll return in a bit with pictures.


Well-Known Member
Here I am as promised. First a picture of the "frog shim" made from .020" styrene. I sometimes use .015" if that is what I pull out of the box first. Make a perfect one and use it as a template for the rest. I invariably have to do some custom trimming because I tend to make the legs too wide. I use a brand new single edge razor blade and I watch where my fingers are!
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Here's one in place on the layout. It will disappear after I paint the track in this area.
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Not to sure what you are referring to regarding the rivets. They're visible from the top on a snap switch, but a top view of a Custom Line turnout shows two small plates that conduct power.
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The rivets are visible from the underside.
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I have never had a problem with this design, but I power my switches from both ends. I also use Caboose Industries ground throws which provide very positive contact between the point rails and the stock rails. However I have fixed loose rivet washers by pressing down with the tip of a small screwdriver.
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I have not ever tried this, but I imagine that you could tap the rivet itself gently with a small center punch and an 8 oz hammer while upside down on a hardwood surface. Not enough to cause binding, but just enough to tighten things up a bit.
I have however pried up on that small metal plate before, not to make better contact (which it will do), but to tighten up a turnout that has already been laid.
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While much of this can be done after installation, I always take about five minutes apiece and inspect/tune-up all of my switches before installation. This I learned from previous layouts. As I posted earlier, I have over 110 Atlas Custom Line switches, both #6's and #4's and the monetary savings has provided me with many freight cars, locos and other modeling needs.
Hope that this helps and happy modeling.


The Southern & SCL Merger
Thanks so much for the photos and the description. Evidently my Custom Line turnouts are very old, as they don’t look like yours, even though they are #6. Mine have round, hollow rivets, a la Snap Switches, and they are starting to have dead points occasionally. They have what looks like stamped sheet metal point rails. They don’t have the nice looking pivots that are shown in your photos. Makes me wonder how much time I should invest shimming the frogs, if I will have more and more trouble with the points. Anyone else have turnouts like mine, and, if so, how is their longevity? Mine have been installed about 10 years now, although they see only occasional home use, no club operation. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to