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Help with Faulty Atlas #8 turnouts

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Help with Faulty Atlas #8 turnouts
Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, October 11, 2018 9:49 AM

Has anyone experienced shorts on Atlas #8 turnouts?  If so, what have you done to address it?

I have four such turnouts and three create a short when a loco touches the frog on my DCC layout.  The frog is isolated which I power by putting a wire in the metal loop that then runs to the buss.  It's a short b/c the solid light on my NCE panel flips off and the loco stops.  I flipped the points on the turnout but the short still remains.  The turnout that works has this same wiring configuration and the loco goes through it flawlessly.

This issue has lasted for weeks.  During that time, I have put in a screw in the frog, removed all the wires from the turnout, etc.   

Thanks!

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, October 11, 2018 10:26 AM

If instead of wheels, do you also get the short if you trace the path of the wheels  but using a current testing tool such as a light bulb with wire contacts ending in alligator clips?  If so then it is a genuine wiring issue.  If not, then it is likely a metal wheel which is bridging an important gap.

I am probably the last person on earth who should tackle a wiring question (and maybe this would get more attention in this Forum's DCC/wiring section) but did you violate Andy Sperandeo's famous "don't feed the frogs" rule - track feeders at the points end of these particular turnouts, with gaps at the frog end to avoid violating the rule by accident?  

Larry Pucketts wiring book for Kalmbach (which is more DCC-centric than Andy's out of print wiring book, which in most other ways I prefer for pure understandability - I find Puckett to be nearly incomprehensible as a technical writer, but that's just me) has a section on wiring power routing turnouts to be DCC friendly.  He makes the point that sometimes these changes are not needed but other times they are, in seemingly arbitary ways, so in that sense he anticipates your problems.  His steps: isolate the frogs, power the frogs using a mechanism to switch polarity (you have done this but maybe not the way he recommends, which is to use switch throw or machine contacts, or the Frog Juicer), reinstall the points so they are powered independently, and tie the closure rails and points electrically to the stock rails using jumpers.  He was writing about old Shinoharas but in some ways those metal frog Atlas turnouts are sort of a combo type.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by zstripe on Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:03 AM

kasskaboose
The frog is isolated which I power by putting a wire in the metal loop that then runs to the buss. 

You can't do that..........the wire from the frog Must go to a selonoid or  frog juicer, which in turn changes the polarity of the frog for direction of travel. The frog does not stay the same polarity all the time.

Sounds like You have the frog wired to the buss South rail polarity which is negative - and the top rail North+ polarity when the wheel bridges the frog gap it creates a short because it is a negative- polarity......positive  and negative create a dead short. Atlas turnouts are not power routing, both routes after the frog get power all the time.......the frog is just insulated. The frog in Your case is the wrong polarity. If You switched the wire to the other buss, it will work for one direction only, meaning straight  route. When You switched the points to the divergent route it will short again once the wheels bridge the gaps at the frog.....wrong polarity again. You must use a selonoid or frog juicer......there is no way around it.

I don't believe the turnouts are faulty...it's how You have it wired.

Do a continuity test with all Your wiring removed to the turnout......one probe on the frog the other on every piece of track on the turnout and You shoud get NO reading. If You do, then You can say You have a faulty turnout at the frog.

Good Luck! 

Frank

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:32 AM

kasskaboose
I power by putting a wire in the metal loop that then runs to the buss.

Loop?  I thought you were going to use frog juicers.

The mystery here is why one of the turnouts work. 

Henry

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:38 AM

BigDaddy

 

 
kasskaboose
I power by putting a wire in the metal loop that then runs to the buss.

 

Loop?  I thought you were going to use frog juicers.

The mystery here is why one of the turnouts work. 

It will work on one path, but not the other.

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

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:39 AM

I think I'm going to have to agree with Frank on this one.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by selector on Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:51 AM

This is where diagrammes of what you have is important and useful.  Take two different colour sharp markers and draw out the track geometry around the entire turnout, including any metal joiners and gaps.  Make sure you include the wire to the bus that you say is powering the frog.  Then, simply trace to find where you get a conflict of two opposite phases/polarities meeting to make hard contact with each other, even if it's through the metal tire of a wheel on rolling stock.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:56 AM

Thanks for your responses.  The small metal loop is attached to the turnout.  I am not using juicers because the turnout that works gets power from a wire connected to the loop that goes into the buss.

About the turnout that works, that is wired to the same buss of the turnout that doesn't work.  Looking at the turnout further, it appears that the metal is cut cleanly compared to the turnout that has the short.  I bet that's the reason for the short.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, October 11, 2018 12:27 PM

Do I remember correctly that you were not going to build out your diverging routes right away?

Are all the turnouts left or right, or is the one that works different than the 3 that don't?

Henry

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Posted by gregc on Thursday, October 11, 2018 12:45 PM

kasskaboose
The frog is isolated which I power by putting a wire in the metal loop that then runs to the buss.

as others have said ... doesn't the frog need to be connected to different rails (sides of the buss) depending on which way it is thrown?

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, October 11, 2018 1:04 PM

I found one of the old threads regarding these turnouts.

The OP just wanted to use the "normal" route through the turnout for the time being.  He also had problems with some of his locos stalling before he powered the frog, that was another thread.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/744/p/271946/3091264.aspx#3091264

The loop is just the standard hole that Atlas has to power the frog, if I am following correctly. 

 

kasskaboose
Looking at the turnout further, it appears that the metal is cut cleanly compared to the turnout that has the short. I bet that's the reason for the short.

A picture would tell us what we can't see in those words.  In my Atlas curved hole or loop is molded into the bottom of the ties and runs to the frog.  If that's what is cut, I would think there would be no power to the frog, but no short.

Nascar had 2 ball joints fail in one race so it could be a manufacturing problem.  But it's a whole lot easier to get confused working from underneath the layout and connect to the wrong bus.  That's where I'm placing my bet.

Henry

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, October 11, 2018 1:12 PM

How are you controlling the turouts?  Tortoise, Ground Throw, Atlas?  Besides a juicer, there are other options depending on you choice of switch machine/device.

For now, just try cutting or removing the frog wires.  That will leave you with a dead frog but will eliminate these shorts.

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

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, October 11, 2018 5:33 PM

 You simply cannot do that - connect the loop on the tuirnout to one of the bus wires. The frog needs to CHANGE polarity based on the point position. Connected to one of the bus wires, the train should go through in one direction but cause a short in the other.

                                          --Randy


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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, October 11, 2018 7:29 PM

All,I have tried everyone's excellent suggestions.  Changing the frog's polarity does not address the short, nor it does not matter what buss I use for the wire betwen it and the small metal loop on the turnout. 

Thanks again.  I hope Atlas can address this issue since the gap in the frog on three of the #8 turnouts is not cut well, so I need to get a dremel.  I called Atlas about this matter but thought to see if others are experiencing similar issues.  Clearly, checking the turnouts before putting them on the layout is necessary.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, October 11, 2018 7:34 PM

Any chance you could post or picture, or pm me and I can post it?

Henry

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Posted by kasskaboose on Thursday, October 11, 2018 8:21 PM

BigDaddy: Pls check your PM box for an email request.

At al: anyone who wants pics of the turnouts, pls PM me with your email address.

Thanks!

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, October 11, 2018 9:53 PM

Here are his pics.  The top two are from the working turnout.  I don't see anything that deserves comment

The following are from a non-working turnout

The ties between the two tracks aren't parallel.  That looks like a kink to me.  Not the cause of his short though.   That blob of solder and be cleaned up with a needle file and some 400 grit sandpaper

The hole is from drilling for a screw.  The gap looks like my Atlas turnout, but mine is filled with plastic.  The frog appears to be higher than the frog rails, which very end rails of the turnout.  Maybe that's an optical illusion. 

You can't see the other end of the frog, but on mine that insulated area is much longer than on the diverging end of the frog.

He hasn't corrected my earlier statement and I believe he is using the turnout as a straight piece of track.  If that's true, the frog only needs to be one polarity, yet he says he has tried both buses and still gets a short.  Most of us don't like that idea, but if he is not using the diverging track, it should work.

I would still like to know the results of testing with a meter, as described above.  Either the frog is not really isolated or there is some other wiring to the turnout that he doesn't know or has forgotten about.

 

 

 

Henry

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, October 12, 2018 4:02 AM

kasskaboose

I hope Atlas can address this issue since the gap in the frog on three of the #8 turnouts is not cut well, so I need to get a dremel. 

That will only turn matters from bad to worse. I don't ever recall hearing about an Atlas turnout with a faulty gap.

Rich

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Posted by mobilman44 on Friday, October 12, 2018 4:52 AM

Randy is telling it like it is.   

If you want the problem fixed, either remove any wires from the frog or - better yet - install an Atlas relay.

I have four single crossings on my HO layout using Atlas # 8 turnouts.  At first some locos would stall on the unpowered frogs, or the sound would "stop/start".

I installed Atlas relays (one relay wired to both turnouts on a single crossover) and they work perfectly!

If you want the problem solved, this is what you need to do.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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Posted by gregc on Friday, October 12, 2018 4:54 AM

BigDaddy
I believe he is using the turnout as a straight piece of track.  If that's true, the frog only needs to be one polarity, yet he says he has tried both buses and still gets a short.

sanity check -- is there a short if the frog is not powered (even if the loco stops on it)?

when there is a short, is the frog voltage polarity the same as the closure rail the wheels are riding on?  (it should be the same)

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by zstripe on Friday, October 12, 2018 6:56 AM

All I can honestly say now is......the turnouts ARE JUNK now......why on earth would You drill holes through the frog? There are jumpers under there, which is really a solid piece of rail with notches so they fit over one another, insulated by the thin plastic injected into the mold. That last photo, if you look at it...the frog is not longer sitting flush with the nubs that hold the wing rails in place....it is pushed into the insulated part where the nubs stop it from hitting the other rail.

All You had to do is solder a wire to that outside brass ring that is on the edge of the turnout........that goes right to the frog. There was no need what so ever, to drill holes in the frog.

I guess in our phone conversations, You did not fully comprehend what I was saying.....sad.

Take Care, and Good Luck!

Frank

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Posted by kasskaboose on Friday, October 12, 2018 8:28 AM

Frank,

I fully understood what you wrote.  The turnouts aren't junk.  No matter if you're no longer able/willing to help. 

This frustrating issue has tested my mental capacity.  I might just scrap using these turnouts.  

it should not take this long to resolve such a simple issue.  Perhaps closing the topic helps.  No need to continue going round in circles.  Either I'm not understanding what I'm doing wrong or there's an issue with the turnout.  Either way, no need to continue.  Nothing to see here.  Thanks

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, October 12, 2018 8:40 AM

When I saw the photo's, I wondered the same as Frank, why drill holes through the frog when Atlas has engineered in a tab for connecting a wire to power the frog.

I haven't tried soldering a wire to it, but I have read that due to the type of metal, that is not feasible, at least on some of the Atlas turnouts unless they have changed the metal.  My understanding is you use a screw to attach the wire rather than solder it.

Judging by the photo, it doesn't look like Atlas would make an exchange on the turnout which appears to have been damaged/disfigured during the process of drilling a hole.

It might be salvaged by the user if it can be made to operate reliabley with wheels tracking across the frog.  The issue seems to be how it is powered which by convention should be routed power via a device like a relay or switch machine with that capability.

If the Atlas turnouts are not working out for the OP, perhaps Peco insulf frog would be best as they have unpowered plastic frogs which don't need any special wiring or considerations.

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Posted by zstripe on Friday, October 12, 2018 9:09 AM

Lee,

Do Yourself a favor....slow down. Get (or if You already have one) a multimeter and set it to ohm's, that is where you put it on some for testing continuity. One probe on the frog, the other on every part/rail of the turnout, done with no wires connected to the turnout at all.....like I said above and before. You should not get any reading at all. If You do, like on an analog meter, the meter would move all the way to infinitey, a digital will either beap or show resistance, that means, the frog is touching one of those rails....could be the jumpers imbedded in/under the frog. That is something that should have been done to begin with and I did mention that before. You would have known at the get go, if You had a bad turnout then.

In drilling those holes, You may have done exactly that...drilled through the jumpers and some part is touching the frog. Could even be some scrap metal that the drill bit left in the hole. Do a continuity test also on the brass ring for frog power and touch every part of the rails with the other probe. You should get continuity when touching one probe on the ring and one on the frog, But no where else.

DO THAT AND SEE WHAT YOU FIND......no need to start another thread. I'm just trying to help You out.......But you have to start at the beginning......test.

Take Care!Big Smile

Frank

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Posted by mobilman44 on Friday, October 12, 2018 9:26 AM

Did anyone read my previous post?

The Atlas #8s are great turnouts for the money.

There is an obvious solution - get an Atlas relay and it hooks right up to the #8s and will take care of the problem.

Just do it..............and you will be happy with the result.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, October 12, 2018 9:49 AM

mobilman44

Did anyone read my previous post?

The Atlas #8s are great turnouts for the money.

There is an obvious solution - get an Atlas relay and it hooks right up to the #8s and will take care of the problem.

I bought an Atlas code 83 #8 and used it on my last layout.  It seemed to be pretty good.  Your powering solution sounds textbook!

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, October 12, 2018 11:13 AM

riogrande5761

If the Atlas turnouts are not working out for the OP, perhaps Peco insulf frog would be best as they have unpowered plastic frogs which don't need any special wiring or considerations. 

Except that he probably wants #8 turnouts, and those often require a powered frog, particularly for short wheelbase locos. If he moves to Peco turnouts, he should get Electrofrogs since those frogs are factory powered. The only caution on the Peco Electrofrog is that the two inner frog rails must be gapped to prevent shorts.

Rich

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, October 12, 2018 12:54 PM

richhotrain
 

Except that he probably wants #8 turnouts, and those often require a powered frog, particularly for short wheelbase locos. If he moves to Peco turnouts, he should get Electrofrogs since those frogs are factory powered. The only caution on the Peco Electrofrog is that the two inner frog rails must be gapped to prevent shorts.

Rich

Although code 83, Peco does make both insulfrog and electrofrog #8 turnouts.

Looking at the insulfrog #8 Peco, the dead part of the frog is probably as short as you will ever see on a turnout that long.  Google them and check the images.

That said, it depends on what is going to be run and whether or not the Peco #8 would work as an insulfrog.  The OP could buy a just one and run tests to see if it would work.

 

I am planning on replacing my old Atlas code 100 #6 turnouts in my future staging yard with Peco code 100 large, and have been debating insulfrog vs electrofrog for some months now.

OTOH, insulfrog are simple for wiring, but some report issues with shorting and there is the dead frog.  I've slowly decided to bite the bullet and go with electrofrog large code 100 Peco for staging. 

 

For the main yard, I'm leaning toward ME code 83 #6 which have a metal frog that can be powered.  I did notice a guy on TrainOrders complained bitterly about his ME turnouts 2 or 3 years ago and said he ripped them all out and replaced with Shinohara.  

Every one of my Code 83 and 70 ME switches has failed over time. I ripped them all out one at a time as they failed and they were ballasted in place. No small task. I just replaced the last 2 code 70 switches 2 weeks ago. Good riddance to ME swiches. Good looking but poorly designed. 

Otherwise I have heard lots of good things.  I wonder if ME has improved their switches in the last several years.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, October 12, 2018 1:06 PM

 Because of the way Atlas layers the rail through the frog area to make them continuous and non-power routing, what Frank said is true - the one with 3 holes drilled in it is almost certainly ruined and will cause a short just by connecting it to the rest of the track, before a loco even tries to run over it.

 There have been several threads on this. It's been mentioned numerous times that there is no need to try to solder to the provided lug, just use some brass nuts and bolts. That's how the Atlas Snap Relay connect to the frog - brass hardware and a bar that runs between the hole and the relay, instead of a piece of wire. The flat bar easily runs under the turnout without having to gouge a channel in the roadbed to get it to sit flat, but a pieceof wire would work just as well and could go straight down through a hole drilled int he benchwork to underneath the layout and then connected to any sort of switching device. Snap Relay, Tortoise contacts, Frog Juicer, toggle switch.

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Posted by jjdamnit on Friday, October 12, 2018 2:16 PM

Hello all,

There seems to be a need for some basic understanding of electron theory.

Even though you are running DCC understanding how electrons flow is important, especially in this instance of frog polarity. 

I recommend getting the book "The Complete Atlas Wiring Book". Less than $10.00 and, in my opinion, worth every penny.

No matter what system you are using; DC or DCC, understanding the basic principles of polarity will help you understand the problem you have created and how to solve it yourself.

There is also a section in the book of using a solenoid to reverse polarity on Atlas turnouts using Atlas components.

Understanding these concepts will hold true for other types of polarity switching devices- -including Wyes and reverse loops.

I have followed your threads since the first. Like others that have replied I can clearly see where your misunderstanding lies and how it stems from your perception of powering a frog.

As a retired electrician, one of the most difficult concepts most apprentice electricians have is grasping the three way switch; one light controlled by two separate switches. 

Until you understand the purpose of polarity based wiring and the reason for switching polarity at the frog; either manually- -with a toggle or rocker switch- -or electronically, I am afraid you will continue to experience what Albert Einstein defined as insanity: "Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (I am not suggesting that you are insane.)

Simply pulling power from one pole (one of the bus wires) to power the frog will allow you normal running in either the straight or divergent route but will cause a short when crossing from one polarity to the opposite polarity.

Step back for a moment!

Take a deep breath!!

Please understand all of us on this forum want you to succeed in solving your problem!!!

Regroup, and get some reference materials that make sense to you.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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