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Info about Peco switch machines

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Info about Peco switch machines
Posted by hominamad on Monday, March 03, 2014 12:59 PM

Hoping someone can help me with this question: I just ordered a handful of Peco Electrofrog turnouts (HO). I am trying to figure out what I need to buy in terms of switch motors for it. I'm surprised about how little info there is online about this and also how few places seem to cary these products. I would like to mount them hidden under the track. There's a motor called PL-10 I think, which seems to be what I need, but some people were talking about other parts you need as well.

Do I need a special motor for routing the power properly throught the turnout, or can I just do that with wiring? I understand that the newer electrofrogs are more "DCC friendly" in that they provide an easier way to route the power, but even this I'm sort of confused about. If anyone can shed some light on this, it would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

~H

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Monday, March 03, 2014 1:38 PM

hominamad
I just ordered a handful of Peco Electrofrog turnouts (HO). I am trying to figure out what I need to buy in terms of switch motors for it. I'm surprised about how little info there is online about this and also how few places seem to cary these products. I would like to mount them hidden under the track. There's a motor called PL-10 I think, which seems to be what I need, but some people were talking about other parts you need as well.

The Peco switch motors are twin coils.  I don't know what other "needed" parts the people are talking about. Of course one has to have push buttons or momentary contact switches to make them work remotely.   I believe there is an option that adds electrical contacts to them, but I know nothing about them more than that.

Do I need a special motor for routing the power properly throught the turnout, or can I just do that with wiring?

The operative word there is "need".  No, the points themselves will properly route the power.  Pecos have a built in spring that holds the point rail against the outside rail.   In 20 years I have not had one of those fail on their own.  I've had bits of ballast get between the points and the rail but that causes a derailment anyway....     Many people choose to add an addional wire to provide power directly to the frog.  This makes the electrical conductivity through the turnout more bullet proof.   In my opinion this is more important with other brands than it is with PECO.   That wire to the frog would need some sort of electrical switch to work in conjunction with the turnout motor.  That might be the optional part I was thinking of, and that the other folks are mentioning.  If that is something you desire then more research on the PL-10 would be needed.  And I just did a little.  That switch is the PL-13 Accessory Switch.

http://www.peco-uk.com/product.asp?strParents=3309&CAT_ID=3337&P_ID=17646

I understand that the newer electrofrogs are more "DCC friendly" in that they provide an easier way to route the power,

I don't know that electrofrog or insufrog are newer seems to me they have both always been around.   But the hot frogs (electrofrog) and the necessary extra wiring for them has nothing to do with DCC.   Electricity is electricity and a short is a short.    If there are power feeders on the frog side of the turnout, then gaps or insulated rail joiners will be required.  This is regardless of the mechanism for changing the direction of the turnout.

 

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Posted by alco_fan on Monday, March 03, 2014 1:46 PM

The PL-10 is a solenoid-style switch machine that mounts to the turnout itself. Virtually all other switch motors and switch machines will also work with PECO, including the Tortoise which I use. I personally do not want the switch machine mounted to the turnout and I do not like solenoids. The Tortoise also has the contacts built in to switch the frog.

To switch the polarity of the frog with PL-10s, you will need to either use a frog juicer or PECOs own add on switch contact. You can also wire them without external switch contacts, but that depends on the contact of the point rails against the outside rails.

There is lots of information on the PL-10 on the internet, including videos. Try a google search. There are PECO instruction sheets with the turnouts and PL-10 as well.

hominamad
how few places seem to cary these products

They are for sale at all the major internet retailers. Not sure why you are not seeing them.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, March 03, 2014 2:00 PM

The Peco switch machine is designed for use with Peco turnouts, and will not work well with other turnouts.  Likewise, the Peco turnout will not work with other switch machines very well, unless you modify them.

The Peco turnout, as has been mentioned, has a strong spring which holds the points in place against the stock rails.  Overcoming the spring requires a switch machine of above-average strength - i.e., the Peco machine.  And, most likely, it needs something else:  A Capacitive Discharge circuit.  A CD circuit stores power, and then releases a whole bunch when you push the button to throw the turnout.  This gives a lot more kick to the coils, and allows the Peco machine to throw the points easily.  Without one, you may find that the machine will work on your bench, but once it's installed on the layout the long wires cause so much voltage loss that the machine can't throw the points.  Get or build a CD circuit (Circuitron makes one called "The Snapper," or you can build one with a DC power supply, two capacitors and two resistors.)  One CD circuit will generally handle all your twin-coil machines.

Peco makes a single-pole, double-throw (SPDT) contact set that mounts beneath the switch machine.  This can be used for powering rails, frogs or signals.

The Peco machine mounts to the underside of the turnout, directly beneath the points.  It requires a sizeable hole in your roadbed and subroadbed to fit it.  I put a thin piece of cardboard, painted ballast-gray, between the turnout and the machine to cover the hole and give me a base for ballasting.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by alco_fan on Monday, March 03, 2014 2:04 PM

MisterBeasley
Likewise, the Peco turnout will not work with other switch machines very well, unless you modify them.

Respectfully disagree. While I usually remove the over center spring from my PECOs with Tortoises, I have left them on in a few places and substituted a thicker acutator wire.

In any case, removing the spring is not much of a "modification". Takes a few seconds.

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Posted by hominamad on Monday, March 03, 2014 2:11 PM

Got it...I think. This is one of the extras I have seen mentioned that people get with the motor:

PL-13 Accessory Switch

I'm not clear what this does exactly. I think I'm starting to understand how everything fits together now. A few more clarifications:

1) Is it correct to say that I can use an electrofrog turnout "out of the box" but that it will only be powered through the rail point? Or would it cause a short without a few wiring changes?

2) If I don't use something like a frog juicer, does this mean the frogs won't be powered, and then is it effectively the same as an insulfrog?

I ordered the turnouts already and have read the instructions online in advance, but still have some questions. Maybe when its there in front of me it will be eaiser to understand. The main thing I'm trying to figure out for right now, is which motors to buy and if I should also buy something like the above piece as well.

Thanks for all the info. I did search online and could only find a small handful of videos about this specific equipment - and those weren't that helpful. If you know of any good resources for this, please let me know that too.

Thanks,

~H

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, March 03, 2014 2:30 PM

"Respectfully disagree. While I usually remove the over center spring from my PECOs with Tortoises, I have left them on in a few places and substituted a thicker acutator wire.

In any case, removing the spring is not much of a "modification". Takes a few seconds."

You're absolutely right, but one of the things most of us like about the Tortoise machine is that "slow motion" traverse of the points from one side to the other, which becomes just another snap-switch if you drive an unmodified Peco with a Tortoise.  On the other hand, the Peco spring is what distinguishes it from the rest, holding the points against the stock rails, and allowing manual operation either with or without a switch machine installed.

Also, the spring can't be removed easily once the turnout is installed.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by fallNflag on Monday, March 03, 2014 9:48 PM

The PL-13 switch you show is not as useful as the PL-15 switch which is a dual switch. It can be used to power the frog, but can also send power to a signal if you like. It could power the LED on your switch panel if you chose to have one. Another option is buy the PL10E with the extended pin. Then you can buy an optional PL-9 mounting plate that allows the switch motor to mount to the table, and only the extended pin goes through the table to the switch above. You won't have to cut a large piece out of the layout to mount the switch that would have a motor mounted directly under it. The Capacitor Dischagre Unit (CDU) is needed in most situations for these switches. One will usually be enough for a layout, unless it is large one. There is a PL-10W which is a normal PL-10 but with a more efficient motor. It usually means you won't need the CDU on the layout. There is also the PL-10WL which is both more efficient and has the extended pin.

When I bought my switches, they were used and came with PL10 motors. They did not have the extended pin and were not the efficient version. I got them cheap enough that I make the concession. I bought the CDU, but I will have to cut into my layout to get the switches mounted to the layout. That makes it a little harder to lay track, and it means that ballasting will be harder as mentioned above. If you buy new, and you have the choice, I would have PL10-WE motors on every switch, and buy the PL-9 mounting plates to mount the motors to the under side of the layout.

I did buy the PL-15 switches after reading too many posts from people with the PL-13s and issues that are corrected with the PL-15. I intend to have it power the frogs (won't rely on the rails being held by the spring as the only method of routing the power.) I am also going to have it power signals at each switch for the engineers.

Yes, they are complicated compared to using the insulfrogs. They also allow a GE44 ton to creep through the turnout and never stall, as well as helping my BLI E8s cruise through and not die. They are tempermental engines due to the sound decoders, but the Peco's greatly improve the problem. Good luck with the purchase. They are indeed worth the trouble.

Stuart

 

Modeling B&O in the early 50's.

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Monday, March 03, 2014 10:42 PM

hominamad
1) Is it correct to say that I can use an electrofrog turnout "out of the box" but that it will only be powered through the rail point?

Yes.

OR would it cause a short without a few wiring changes?

It will cause a short if there is power applied (a feeder) to the rail somewhere after the frog of the turnout.  The only "wiring" change needed is to put an insulated rail joiner (or cut a gap) in that rail between the frog and the power feeder.  If the turnout just goes to two dead end, unpowered tracks there is no issue at all.  No gaps or insulated joiners required. 

2) If I don't use something like a frog juicer, does this mean the frogs won't be powered, and then is it effectively the same as an insulfrog?

No.  The frogs will always be powered from the points with or without additional wiring.  That is what causes the short circuit.   Buy the way, the PL-13 performs the same function as a "frog juicer".   All these type of devices are is an electrical switch that sends the power from one rail or the other rail to the frog (matching the direction of the points).

if I should also buy something like the above piece as well.

It is totally up to you, but I  contend that Pecos don't need them.   You might consider trying the turnouts without them, and then if there is a stalling problem, then add the extra piece and wire.   It is fairly easy to add this enhancement after the fact.

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, March 04, 2014 4:45 AM

Hominamad,

You should find this useful, should the need arise:

http://railwaybobsmodulebuildingtips.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-peco-electrofrog-circuitry.html

Frank

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Posted by hominamad on Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:56 AM

Thanks everyone. The info here is some of the most helpful I've found.

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Posted by Doc in CT on Thursday, March 06, 2014 3:55 PM

If you are considering using Servo motors, Peco recently announced a set of 4 servos and controller board that will work with un-modified turnouts: http://www.peco-uk.com/page.asp?id=Switch2014

Co-owner of the proposed CT River Valley RR (HO scale) http://home.comcast.net/~docinct/CTRiverValleyRR/

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, May 28, 2018 7:59 PM

BLI E8's Electrical Pickup Problems?

Do BLI E8's really have pickup problems with their multiple wheel configurations??

 

fallNflag

The PL-13 switch you show is not as useful as the PL-15 switch which is a dual switch. It can be used to power the frog, but can also send power to a signal if you like. It could power the LED on your switch panel if you chose to have one. Another option is buy the PL10E with the extended pin. Then you can buy an optional PL-9 mounting plate that allows the switch motor to mount to the table, and only the extended pin goes through the table to the switch above. You won't have to cut a large piece out of the layout to mount the switch that would have a motor mounted directly under it. The Capacitor Dischagre Unit (CDU) is needed in most situations for these switches. One will usually be enough for a layout, unless it is large one. There is a PL-10W which is a normal PL-10 but with a more efficient motor. It usually means you won't need the CDU on the layout. There is also the PL-10WL which is both more efficient and has the extended pin.

When I bought my switches, they were used and came with PL10 motors. They did not have the extended pin and were not the efficient version. I got them cheap enough that I make the concession. I bought the CDU, but I will have to cut into my layout to get the switches mounted to the layout. That makes it a little harder to lay track, and it means that ballasting will be harder as mentioned above. If you buy new, and you have the choice, I would have PL10-WE motors on every switch, and buy the PL-9 mounting plates to mount the motors to the under side of the layout.

I did buy the PL-15 switches after reading too many posts from people with the PL-13s and issues that are corrected with the PL-15. I intend to have it power the frogs (won't rely on the rails being held by the spring as the only method of routing the power.) I am also going to have it power signals at each switch for the engineers.

Yes, they are complicated compared to using the insulfrogs. They also allow a GE44 ton to creep through the turnout and never stall, as well as helping my BLI E8s cruise through and not die. They are tempermental engines due to the sound decoders, but the Peco's greatly improve the problem. Good luck with the purchase. They are indeed worth the trouble.

Stuart

 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, May 28, 2018 8:09 PM

Peco point rail contact realiability

Texas Zepher
The operative word there is "need". No, the points themselves will properly route the power. Pecos have a built in spring that holds the point rail against the outside rail. In 20 years I have not had one of those fail on their own. I've had bits of ballast get between the points and the rail but that causes a derailment anyway.... Many people choose to add an addional wire to provide power directly to the frog. This makes the electrical conductivity through the turnout more bullet proof. In my opinion this is more important with other brands than it is with PECO.

In that same 20 years have you had any problems with the realiabilty of the stock manner that Pecos have with their point rail contacts??

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, May 28, 2018 8:14 PM

MisterBeasley
On the other hand, the Peco spring is what distinguishes it from the rest, holding the points against the stock rails, and allowing manual operation either with or without a switch machine installed.

This is an extremely realiable power contact,...correct?...particularly when combined with that additional metal tab contact they provide in their design.

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 3:41 AM

Here are the Peco turnout "motor" current draws that might help to decide if a capacitor discharge unit is needed.

- PL-10 (black insulation): 2.0 - 2.4 A
- PL-10W (green insulation): 1.0 - 1.4 A
Regards, Volker

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 9:09 AM

railandsail
This is an extremely realiable power contact,...correct?...particularly when combined with that additional metal tab contact they provide in their design.

I've never had a problem with either physical or electrical contact from a Peco turnout.  I like them because of the solid physical contact.   Locos and rolling stock do not "pick the points" and derail when approaching from the point ends, as sometimes happens with Atlas turnouts, particularly on the diverging routes.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 9:14 AM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
Here are the Peco turnout "motor" current draws that might help to decide if a capacitor discharge unit is needed.

Don't bother with calculations.  Just get a capacitive discharge unit and use it for any and all twin-coil machines on your layout.  You won't have to worry about voltage loss from long wire runs, or trying to run two or more machines at the same time.  More important, perhaps, is that you will be protected from burning out switch machines thanks to sticking control panel toggles.  The CD circuit guards against that.

If you use twin-coil machines, you should have a CD circuit.  You only need one of them for all the machines on a typical layout.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 12:39 PM

If I'd use Peco PL-10 switch machines I'd calculate. Otherwise I might end up with a CDU with not enough power.

While working with German track material I never needed or used CDUs. But most of the German solenoid turnout units contain limit switches. After I switched to American prototypes I didn't think about this kind of switch motor again. 
Regards, Volker

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Posted by bagal on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 5:06 AM

railandsail

 This is an extremely realiable power contact,...correct?...particularly when combined with that additional metal tab contact they provide in their design.

 

 
I might be wrong here, but I don't think code 83 has that additional tab?
 
Our club layout has all code 83 Insulfrog and we don't have any pickup problems. Insulfrog has simple wiring, no gaps needed. I wouldn't see much point in using Electrofog unless the frog is to be powered. Motors are mostly Peco with the long shaft and the under table mounting plates. Some Tortoises in use, these either require the spring to be removed, or a larger gauge of wire, 0.032" I think.
 
Bill
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:12 AM

bagal

I wouldn't see much point in using Electrofog unless the frog is to be powered. 

 
Bill 

He who should not be mentioned here reports another reason for Electrofrog is that because the frog is metal, it stands up to wear over time, whereas the plastic frog can eventually wear down under a lot of prolonged traffic.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:22 AM

riogrande5761

He who should not be mentioned here reports another reason for Electrofrog is that because the frog is metal, it stands up to wear over time, whereas the plastic frog can eventually wear down under a lot of prolonged traffic.

 

I've seen this mentioned several times on various forums, BUT I have yet to find a single person who has actually experienced it in person.
And if it did occur over a long time, perhaps the traffic would experience a little bit more of a bump than they now experience with the deeper flangeways in some turnouts.
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:47 AM

railandsail
 
I've seen this mentioned several times on various forums, BUT I have yet to find a single person who has actually experienced it in person.
And if it did occur over a long time, perhaps the traffic would experience a little bit more of a bump than they now experience with the deeper flangeways in some turnouts.

I'll pm you the name of someone.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 8:03 AM

I might be wrong here, but I don't think code 83 has that additional tab?
Bill

I don't utilize this code track, but I would be interested to know the answer to this?

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:23 AM

 Got one right here in my hands. There is no tab for contact on the moveable points, it's just contact between the point and the stock rail.

                                        --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, May 31, 2018 10:44 PM

rrinker

 Got one right here in my hands. There is no tab for contact on the moveable points, it's just contact between the point and the stock rail.

                                        --Randy

 

 

 

Interesting, that might make utilizing them in their 'stock form' more questionable from a wiring standpoint.

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Posted by bagal on Friday, June 01, 2018 12:43 AM

Bria, the tab is not that great. Good new but if they ever get bumped say during cleaning, they are very difficult to get back into the correct place. Too high and it lifts the point rail, too low and it doesn't help.

Don't stress over Peco. They are the go too track system in the UK, Australia, New Zealand etc. My own layout pre-dates Peco code 83 so I used Walthers Shinohara but I will be using Peco for the rebuild I have just started.

Bill

 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 01, 2018 6:19 AM

 As compensation, the Code 83 ones have cutouts in the ties underneath where the jumpers are and where the alternate jumpers/feeders get soldered to the rail, so they are easy to modify as shown on Wiring for DCC without melting ties or having to attempt cutting into the structure of the turnout.

 I have no doubt these turnouts will be as solid as any others I've used. And with Peco coming out with a Code 70 North American style track, it will be even better, easy to make sidings using a lower profile rail.

                           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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