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Ground Throws

by Dan Crowley

The Atlas line of Code 55 track is controversial as it is not perfect and requires some fine tuning to make it equipment friendly. For those that are unaware the molded in rail spikes can interfere with the deep flanges on older rolling stock.  Although the Atlas line of track meets NMRA standards, the truth is older N scale equipment will experience this flange/tie spike interference.

I inadvertently discovered an easy fix for this. As I use tile grout paste to ballast my track, I need to clean out flange ways once the paste has hardened.  To do this I take a small jewelers screw driver, place the blade on the inside edge of the track, and run it back on forth a few times to clean out the flange ways.   Doing this also trims the tops of the spike heads, giving you the required clearance to run deeper flanged equipment.

Another common complaint is the lack of an adequate ground throw to hold the points in place.  I was using tiny SPST micro switches, but wasn't totally happy with the appearance.  So I went on the hunt for an alternative and came up with following.


Using pierced earring backs, clasps and a sequin resulted in a decent looking manual ground throw.  Pictures speak a thousand words, so here it goes.

From the picture above you can see how the throw bar is flexed slightly.  This generates downward force on the earring post base.  This friction is adequate to hold the points in place. 

The sequin is glued to the post, and one side painted red and the other green.  As the clasp rotates freely on the post the target can actually be used as an indicator.  Red indicating the converging route is open, green for straight through.


I hope this tutorial helps you in some way enjoy your modeling activies.