Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

insulfrog vs electrofrog

10489 views
78 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    October, 2017
  • 92 posts
insulfrog vs electrofrog
Posted by Andy110675 on Monday, November 20, 2017 9:24 AM

Ive just purchased 10 peco points have i made the right decision by going with electrofrog or should i have purchased insulfrog Confused

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 21,497 posts
Posted by selector on Monday, November 20, 2017 9:59 AM

They are different for people with different needs.  What are your needs that would make either one a problem for you?

IOW, we can't really address your concerns without understanding your needs or limitations.

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: belgium
  • 806 posts
Posted by Marc_Magnus on Monday, November 20, 2017 10:44 AM

Electrofrog is far better for no sure footed electrical locomotives like small engine with two or three axles (small steam).

They allow to have constant electrical continuity in all the turnout track.

Even with sure footed locomotives it's better to use them, as far I'm concerned; we never have enough "good contacts" for our locomotives.

A live frog is the best we can do with a frog.

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 5,853 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Monday, November 20, 2017 10:58 AM

Since I'm a big believer in (electrically) powered frogs, I think you made the right choice.  But they ARE harder to install.  So you need to decide if you're up for the more difficult installation or not.

I suggest you do a search for "wiring peco electrofrogs" and see what you think.

There's no point in people here repeating what's readily available already online.  Unless they want to.

 

 

Ed

  • Member since
    October, 2017
  • 92 posts
Posted by Andy110675 on Monday, November 20, 2017 11:57 AM

Sorry for the lack off information my appologies,im attempting to build my first layout as an industrial switching layout,from what i have read electrofrog may be better suited to slow moving loco's, now that may be a matter off opinion or a proven fact,but my first port off call is always this forum so any feedback is greatlly appreciatedBow

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 5,853 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Monday, November 20, 2017 12:50 PM

Andy110675

Sorry for the lack off information my appologies,im attempting to build my first layout as an industrial switching layout,from what i have read electrofrog may be better suited to slow moving loco's, now that may be a matter off opinion or a proven fact,but my first port off call is always this forum so any feedback is greatlly appreciatedBow

 

 

More info is always better.  Well, almost always.

Oh, it's a proven fact, all right.

Some might argue that it is not SIGNIFICANTLY better.  For their purposes.  Can't argue with that.  On the other hand, it's awfully difficult to argue that a blob of plastic or dead rail is going to deliver electricity to a driving wheel.

All of my track switches are live (electro-) frog.  All of the track switches I will ever own will be live frog.  The ONLY reason I can think of for using insulfrog is to make wiring easier.  Once you figure out how to wire a frog, THAT reason is gone.

 

Ed

 

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: Clinton, MO, US
  • 3,892 posts
Posted by Medina1128 on Monday, November 20, 2017 1:20 PM

It's been a while since I've bought any PECO turnouts, but their wiring diagram instructions are pretty straightforward.

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 602 posts
Posted by NP01 on Monday, November 20, 2017 2:49 PM

As someone with 40+ Atlas insulated turnouts and (if you see the other thread) figuring out ways to get the point rail to have good electrical contact, I would say I am definitely in the electrofrog camp now. Whatever switch machine (even manual ones) you use can be bought with capability to switch frog polarity.

NP

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 2,164 posts
Posted by peahrens on Monday, November 20, 2017 4:22 PM

I don't have Pecos, rather Walthers-Shinohara code 83, so I can't help much.  I was going DCC and did not want to have to modify later, so I wired my metal frogs, in this case the correct frog polarity provided by contacts on my Tortoise switch machines.  I wonder if it makes a difference if you will be strictly DC or (now or eventually) DCC with the different Pecos, not just in performance but also in how they might be wired for best performance.  If that makes a difference regarding how to wire the two types, I'd do some more reading or inquiry (maybe folks here can clarify concisely) before opening the packages and eliminating return possibilities.

A google or two on prior threads may help.  Example:

https://www.google.com/search?ei=FlQTWtuXB8rjjwTHnZyQDA&q=site%3A+cs.trains+insulfrog+vs+electrofrog&oq=site%3A+cs.trains+insulfrog+vs+electrofrog&gs_l=psy-ab.3..35i39k1.10008.12373.0.14010.6.6.0.0.0.0.113.615.3j3.6.0..2..0...1.1.64.psy-ab..0.4.414....0.i2iaAaLnJl0

And there are detailed sites that get into the nitty gritty also.  I've not digested it enough to guide your interests.  I would not plow ahead until understanding what I would want to achieve and what it takes to do that, but that's just me.  I wouldn't want hindsight on this after it was all installed...time, effort, $$.

https://www.peco-uk.com/page.asp?id=instruct

http://www.wiringfordcc.com/switches_peco.htm

http://www.dccwiki.com/PECO_Electrofrog

 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 21,497 posts
Posted by selector on Monday, November 20, 2017 4:32 PM

I only have electrically isolated frogs on my layouts.  I use hand-laid ones, Walthers/Shinohara, and Peco Streamline Code 83 Insulfrogs.  I don't have any stalls on mine unless we're talking about a small SWX switcher or something like a tank 0-4-0. Steamers with tenders and longer diesels just don't give me any problems.

I don't think a person can make a mistake these days except with the wiring if they are electro-frog. If the frog is ever energized, it needs to reliably conform with the polarity or phase of the rest of the tires on that side of the loco's phase or polarity.  Failure to switch it when needed means you'll get a stall due to a short, and possibly some real damage.  So, no need to regret your choice...not yet. Just heed those who caution you about making sure you have it firmly in your head how your'e going to feed the frog the right phase/polarity at the right time.

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 25,093 posts
Posted by rrinker on Monday, November 20, 2017 4:33 PM

 Reliable turnout wiring is the same for DCC or DC. Peco Electrofrogs are easy to make bulletproof - the newer ones have gaps in the ties underneath where you need to cut existing jumpers and add new ones for absolute bulletproof reliability.

Older Walthers/Shinohara turnouts, the ones NOT marked "DCC Friendly" have the same problem in DC as they do in DCC, if you use a Tortoise machine to control the frog polarity, you better have it pretty darn near dead on centered, because of the contacts change before the points have moved off the stock rails, you get a short. The gap in the Tortoise contacts is very small - this issue spawned a number of "how to modify a Tortoise" articles on cutting some of the copper off the board to make the gap bigger.

                                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 1,096 posts
Posted by railandsail on Monday, November 20, 2017 5:04 PM

I thought I recall reading that one would NOT want to have the electro-frog turnouts if they planned to use DCC. I think it was a question of shorting, and that can be damaging with big currents utilized by DCC. ??

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 1,096 posts
Posted by railandsail on Monday, November 20, 2017 5:12 PM

What size are the turnouts you purchased,...small, med, or large?

I was just going thru a number of turnouts I have collected for doing a layout, and discovered that the small Pecos are smaller than the Atlas #4's I wassurprised! It appears as though the 'medium Peco's' are equivalant to the Atlas #4's, and the large Peco's are equivalant to the Atlas #6's.

If thats so. then how useful are the 'small Pecos' if the common knowledge is not to use turnouts less than #4's ??

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 25,093 posts
Posted by rrinker on Monday, November 20, 2017 6:59 PM

 N way, Electrofrogs are most definitely superior, especially when running at slow speeds. Insulfrogs can have a problem where if a wheel si slightly wider than spec, it will short at the point of the frog. The common solution is to make the insualted part longer with nail polish or similar, but that will wear off and need to be replaced periodically. Electrofrogs have no such problem, especially when modified per the instructions shown on Wiring for DCC. But, they can be used straight out of the package if the frogs are powered via an electronic reverser like the Frog Juicers from Tam Valley. I'm still modifying all mine, BEFORE installing them. 

Sort of the same argument for the current capacity of Tortoise contacts - how many locos can actually occupy a single turnout frog? Be REAL tough to get more than one. So maximum current would be no more than 1 locos's worth, hardly a problem. And if you use switchmachine contacts, you would normally line the turnout BEFORE the train gets there, meaning it's switching 0 current.

 Properly set up, there are no dead spots and no hinged areas of an Electrofrog to carry power - it's all wires or solid piece of 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.

  • Member since
    October, 2017
  • 92 posts
Posted by Andy110675 on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 3:56 AM

So it's basically a case of getting the wiring correct and your laughing.You mentioned frog juicers so if i purchase a frog juicer for each turnout would that simplyfy the wirining process.

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 25,093 posts
Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 7:50 AM

 It can, because there's no case of getting the contacts backwards and instead of preventing a short, causing one each time. But that's only for DCC, the Frog Juicers do not work on DC.

 Also, it's not an inexpensive proposition, vs taking a little bit of time to just wire things correctly. I'd save the Frog Juicer for complex trackwork where it's difficult to figure out what piece should be what polarity for a given condition.

 The Peco instructions show where to change the jumpers for the ultimate in reliability. It's not difficult, but you do need to know how to solder and you need a fairly fine tip on your soldering iron to get into the space without melting ties.  It's well worth the effort, especially for a slow speed switching layout, and by making this effort and having the turnouts totally reliable electrically, there's no reason to spend money and put keep alives in every loco. A properly wired Electroforg has no spots where there isn;t a rail with power touching the wheels of even the smallest loco.

                                 --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    October, 2017
  • 92 posts
Posted by Andy110675 on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 8:40 AM

Thanks for that so i basically just need the point motor and switch for each turnout.

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 25,093 posts
Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:56 AM

 Yes, Peco has a switch that works with their style point motors, or you can use something like the Tortoise which has the switch contacts built in.

                           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    December, 2015
  • 4,203 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 11:33 AM

Andy110675
Thanks for that so i basically just need the point motor and switch for each turnout.

Not necessarily.   There are mechanical switch controllers that have electrical contacts for the frog.  Bullfrog, Blue Point and one of the caboose Industries ground throws. 

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 2,164 posts
Posted by peahrens on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:58 PM

rrinker
The Peco instructions show where to change the jumpers for the ultimate in reliability. It's not difficult, but you do need to know how to solder and you need a fairly fine tip on your soldering iron to get into the space without melting ties. It's well worth the effort, especially for a slow speed switching layout, and by making this effort and having the turnouts totally reliable electrically, there's no reason to spend money and put keep alives in every loco.

This is an important point.  I went to the trouble of wiring my Walthers-Shinohara frogs (with Tortoise contact switching) for my DCC layout and would do it again.  The hard part is figuring out up front how to wire a given turnout for what you want to achieve, including reduced probability of interruptions, especially for DCC sound locos.  Regardng locos and my track installation, I have found that maybe 10% of my DCC sound locos warrant a Keep Alive (or similar).  My first indication is sound "hiccups" from a short connectivity disruption.  Usually it is time to better clean my track with the CMX car (another thread).  But the remaining problems (with cleanest track) include a Genesis GP-9 traversing my not so smooth triple 90-degree crossings (with short, soldered rails for desired track centers), a Bachmann doodlebug with converted power truck, etc.  So those received added capacitors.  The point being, if one does a near max job on ensuring track power, only a few locos in a broad roster might still need Keep Alives.  It's more than just short wheelbase locos, as some bigger ones may have unique issues with relationship to your trackwork.  So, I'd power the frogs for DCC sound, for sure, as once you learn how to wire them for initial install, it becomes routine to install them that way.

Another angle.  For my W-S turnouts I did wire the frogs.  But I did not take the final step (for that type) to jumper the firmly powered closure rails, which connect to the pivoted  / moveable point rails on that style, to the point rails.  I relied on the moveable point rails (rather than the loose pivot) making good contact with the stock rails basis a strong Tortoise spring pressure (and clean point rail area contacting).  It's a different turnout, so ignore the specifics.  My point is to understand the details of your type turnouts, and if there are progressive installation detail (wiring) options to improve reliability towards the max, understand them before installing and make an informed decision as to your initial approach.  Easier to include most wiring options on initial intall that to modify late (it depends). 

Much the purpose of this thread, which I presume is helpful.

Note that I am an "intermediate skier" (I thought it had two i's) on this subject.  Others commenting know both Pecos and the details better than I!  so, all the above FWIW.

   

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,917 posts
Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 11:49 PM

railandsail
What size are the turnouts you purchased,...small, med, or large? I was just going thru a number of turnouts I have collected for doing a layout, and discovered that the small Pecos are smaller than the Atlas #4's I wassurprised! It appears as though the 'medium Peco's' are equivalant to the Atlas #4's, and the large Peco's are equivalant to the Atlas #6's. If thats so. then how useful are the 'small Pecos' if the common knowledge is not to use turnouts less than #4's ??

You may be mistaking the overall size of the turnout with the sharpness of the frog. They are not necessarily proportional. The Atlas CustomLine “#4” is actually a #4½ frog. PECO Code 75 and Code 100 turnouts have about the same frog angle for all sizes, also roughly #4½. 

The difference is in the diverging leg, which is curved in the PECO Code 75 and 100 and straight in the Atlas Customline. “Small” curves at about a 24” radius, “Medium” at about a 36” radius, and “Large” at about a 60” radius. This diverging leg makes the PECO C75/100 very space-efficient and makes them appear shaper.

PECO Code 83 turnouts have a straight diverging leg and numbered frogs.

So the PECO "Smalls" work well with about 22" and smaller radii. 

Byron

  • Member since
    October, 2017
  • 92 posts
Posted by Andy110675 on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 2:06 AM

Thanks for all the info i have attached a youtube video for you to watch could i just follow this as it seems pretty straight forward.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3wIiCKVKqo

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 1,096 posts
Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 10:18 PM

Andy110675

Thanks for all the info i have attached a youtube video for you to watch could i just follow this as it seems pretty straight forward.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3wIiCKVKqo

 

That video promotes the use of electrofrog Pecos for DCC operation. And it does seem to be a more 'involved' electrical wireup.

This video seems to promote the opposite, ...the use of insulfrog Pecos that will work for most modern locos with 'many wheel' pick-ups. Then add some additional pick-ups on those shorter or older locos that need 'multiple/more' pick-ups to operate over the insulafrog turnouts.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIsoJuF0OAs

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 1,096 posts
Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 10:37 PM

cuyama

You may be mistaking the overall size of the turnout with the sharpness of the frog. They are not necessarily proportional. The Atlas CustomLine “#4” is actually a #4½ frog. PECO Code 75 and Code 100 turnouts have about the same frog angle for all sizes, also roughly #4½.

The difference is in the diverging leg, which is curved in the PECO Code 75 and 100 and straight in the Atlas Customline. “Small” curves at about a 24” radius, “Medium” at about a 36” radius, and “Large” at about a 60” radius. This diverging leg makes the PECO C75/100 very space-efficient and makes them appear shaper.

So the PECO "Smalls" work well with about 22" and smaller radii. 

Byron

Thanks for that Byron. I'm going to have to re-read that several times to see if I can get it clear in my mind....still a little confused.

Per the Peco 'smalls', it appears as though their quoted 'nominal radius' is 24", so shouldn't that make them work with 24" and smaller radii ?

I almost wonder why they don't just ID all turnouts by their 'nominal radius' ? Isn't that their most important feature as far as determining their usefullness on the track plan??

 

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 7,371 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 11:00 PM

railandsail

 

 
cuyama

You may be mistaking the overall size of the turnout with the sharpness of the frog. They are not necessarily proportional. The Atlas CustomLine “#4” is actually a #4½ frog. PECO Code 75 and Code 100 turnouts have about the same frog angle for all sizes, also roughly #4½.

The difference is in the diverging leg, which is curved in the PECO Code 75 and 100 and straight in the Atlas Customline. “Small” curves at about a 24” radius, “Medium” at about a 36” radius, and “Large” at about a 60” radius. This diverging leg makes the PECO C75/100 very space-efficient and makes them appear shaper.

So the PECO "Smalls" work well with about 22" and smaller radii. 

Byron

 

Thanks for that Byron. I'm going to have to re-read that several times to see if I can get it clear in my mind....still a little confused.

Per the Peco 'smalls', it appears as though their quoted 'nominal radius' is 24", so shouldn't that make them work with 24" and smaller radii ?

I almost wonder why they don't just ID all turnouts by their 'nominal radius' ? Isn't that their most important feature as far as determining their usefullness on the track plan??

 

 

No, because on the real railroads, the diverging route on turnouts is NOT a continious and uniform radius, and many model turnouts are not as well.

In North America, on the prototype, the section of the turnout where the frog is at, is straight track on both routes. And the diverging or curved route is not a constant radius, but a complex spiral easement.

What happens after the frog depends on the desired route from that point. 

So for example, on the prototype, on a crossover on parallel straight tracks, all the "curving" happens between the rails of the straight tracks, and the crossover track between the two frogs is straight.

AND, it is that same way if you make a model crossover from two Atlas Custom Line turnouts, or two Walthers turnouts, or two PECO code 83 turnouts. But it is not true if you make a crossover from two PECO code 100 turnouts - they curve through the frog and after the frog.

A fact that makes them undesireable to me. 

Most North American style turnouts designated by "number" (which defines frog angle) will not "fit into" a curve exactly - because of the straight section at the frog.

Sheldon

 

    

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 5,853 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 11:18 PM

railandsail

I almost wonder why they don't just ID all turnouts by their 'nominal radius' ? Isn't that their most important feature as far as determining their usefullness on the track plan??

 

 

 

Assuming you are talking about the real world, which we are modeling (they:??): No.

Real track switches don't represent a curve overlayed onto a straight.  They represent a sudden angular divergence from a straight.  That divergence is roughly equivalent to the frog number.  The less sudden, the higher the frog number.

Reality says that "sudden" can never be absolute.  But that is where it all starts from, in theory:  The track can be continuing straight, or it can be 6 degrees sideways.  Pick one.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 21,497 posts
Posted by selector on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 11:54 PM

railandsail

...

I almost wonder why they don't just ID all turnouts by their 'nominal radius' ? Isn't that their most important feature as far as determining their usefullness on the track plan??

No.  Not the N. American style, anyway.  Our style over here, unlike the common Peco Code 100 style and Atlas snap switch #4 with their curved divergence through the frog and beyond, has the points rails and maybe part of the closure rails curved, but the frog is straight and so is the route beyond the frog.  What you are intending, I think, is the substitution radius which is much broader than the radius of the points rails on either style of turnout. What this means, this extra broadness, or wider curve, is that a N. American non-curved turnout with its two routes beyond the frog being tangent will impose a substantial widening of the curve into which the hapless modeler hopes to insert it.  If he hopes to close a loop with this style of substituted radius turnout, he's in for a very sobering experience.

What this all means is that it is more meaningful to talk about frog angles of divergence, or really the ratio of divergence*, and about the length of the entire appliance so that it can fit easily into a drafted track plan.

*A #6 frog implies that for every unit of divergence at the frog there will be six units of axial travel along the major axis of the appliance.  Taken from the very point of the frog, if you were to travel six mm down the flange path of the frog on the through route, and use a square to find the distance at 90 deg to intersect the flange path on the opposite side of the frog (it's diverging face), you'd find only one mm of divergence. 

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 1,096 posts
Posted by railandsail on Friday, November 24, 2017 10:18 AM

I was getting lost in trying to determine all these designations, and wording on TURNOUTS.

So I went to find some documentation on the internet (rather than just forum discussions). Here is one I found very helpful,...

SO HOW DO YOU ATTACH A PDF TO THIS FORUM ??
or How do you reference a webpage without all this stupid, drawn out GOOGLE zillon long address crap??

sorry for the rant, .....but I get frustrated with some of the constant chages in the internet and the changes that get made on my computer WITHOUT my permission

[PDF]TURNOUTS. . .what you need to know

www.pcrnmra.org/pcr/.../Kolm-TurnoutsWhatYouNeedtoKnow-PCR2008-handout.p...

Page 1 • Turnouts. TURNOUTS. . .what you need to know. A clinic by Rich Kolm • 2008 PCR Convention “Sierra Memories” • Fresno, Calif



  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 7,371 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, November 24, 2017 10:34 AM

So Brian, hopefully you now understand that the diverging route of a turnout is not generally a fixed radius, so they should not be defined that way.

Generally, the points are straight and the frog is straight and they are connected by a curve.

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 3,177 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Friday, November 24, 2017 11:07 AM

railandsail



sorry for the rant, .....but I get frustrated with some of the constant chages in the internet and the changes that get made on my computer WITHOUT my permission

 

Brian you are not alone!!!!
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
  
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!