[Good to Know] Atlas O #6059 Uncoupling Track Guide
Here is a really good guide on the OGR forums on how to use the Atlas Product #6059 Uncoupling Track written by Chessiefan72.
Original thread found here: posted on 7/17/2015 (please follow the forums rules before posting)
The AtlasO #6059 Uncoupling Track will come packaged on a card. Contents of the card include the uncoupling track, a momentary push button switch, and 20 gauge wire. The length of the uncoupling track is 1 3/4".
Card Back with wiring instructions
Let's take a look at the uncoupling track out of the package. Here is a photo of the top of the uncoupling track. The center rail and magnet housing of the uncoupling track is constructed of plastic, creating a 1 3/4" Dead Zone. This is important to note when planning the location of the uncoupling track and will be discussed later. I recommend putting a power drop on both sides of the uncoupling track in case a solder connection should become broken. Power for the uncoupling track is supplied to the screw terminal.
Here is a photo of the bottom of the uncoupling track. The center rail joiners are connected electrically by a copper jumper. The copper jumper is not required for operation of the uncoupling track. We can see the path of the electrical current flows from the screw terminal, through the magnet, and is connected to neutral via the outside rail. This outside rail must be connected to neutral. The opposite outside rail is not connected to the path of current.
Wiring the Uncoupling Track
The following schematic depicts power supplied by a transformer. The power may come from a fixed or variable output. (A couple of notes on my personal wiring practice that may be useful. First, I attach a #6 ring terminal to each end of wire. This provides a more secure connection than bare stranded wire wrapped around a post. Second, it is useful to have a colored wire scheme for your layout. In my scheme, red sheathed wire denotes power, and I substitute it for the black sheathed wire that comes with the uncoupling track.)
Install the uncoupling track using rail joiners compatible with the track system you are using.
I cannot stress how important it is to plan the position of the uncoupling track and to take into account dead zones. Below is a picture of an AtlasO O-36 turnout connected to an uncoupling track. A locomotive with pickups spaced between 4 3/8" and 8 1/4" would lose power and stall. On my current layout, I use the magnet of the uncoupling tracks to indicate safe parking zones. If a train is covering the magnet, then it must be moved in order to allow another train safely pass on the turnout.*
In my initial draft of this layout, I placed uncoupling tracks next the turnouts and highlighted them as a reminder to check for dead zones and clearance between routes. I then temporarily laid track and took measurements until I was satisfied with the spacing. In the revision below, the interchange track at the bottom of the track plan has been corrected for a dead zone and passing clearance.
*The magnets in the uncoupling track make a big bull's-eye and can be seen from a distance. If a train is spotted between two uncoupling tracks, then it won't foul any passing trains. If any part of a train is covering the magnet, it's a visual cue that it needs to be moved. Below is a graphic which should help clear things up.
- Jeff Nelson