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Peco has added another Unifrog turnout

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Peco has added another Unifrog turnout
Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 19, 2020 11:26 AM

As some may be aware, Peco is reportedly planning to replace their two lines of turnouts (Insulfrog and Electrofrog) with a single line (Unifrog).

Until recently, the HO North American code 83 Peco track line has only had the Diamond crossing and Double Slip Switch as Unifrog.

During the past couple of weeks I have noticed vendors are showing the Peco HO Code 83 #6 Insulfrog and Electrofrog as "discontinued" and have replace them with the #6 Unifrog.

The Unifrog has a short metal frog followed by a plastic filled gab and then bifurcating rails.  Basically they look like an Insulfrog but with a metal tip frog, which I believe can be energized.

In my case, I opted to buy and stock pile some Peco HO electrofrog code 83 #6 turnouts for my main yard.  But still don't have as many as I will need so time has caught up and existing stock on #6 electrofrog code 83 are harder do find.

If anyone knows of a shop that still has Peco code 83 #6 electrofrog, please pm me as I could use a few more.

OTOH, some may prefer the new Unifrog.

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, November 19, 2020 1:55 PM

 I just want my Code 70 North American turnouts so I can build my yard. They've only been promising those for years.

 Unifrog makes no difference to me, I am using Electrofrog anyway. If the next batch I order come as Unifrog, so be it.

 Peco web site still shows #6's as Electrofrog or Unifrog. SL-8361/8361 Insulfrog and SL-E8361/E8362 as Electrofrog. The Unifrog double slip is SL-U8363.

                                       --Randy

 


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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, November 19, 2020 2:00 PM

The difference is Unifrog are not power routing. You can snip a set of jumper wires under the turnout to restore power routing. Otherwise, Unifrog are Electrofrog. 

If you don't power the frog wire Unifrog are Insulfrog but  not power routing. Power the frog wire and it's an Electrofrog but without power routing. Also, it is Electrofrog but you need not isolate the inner diverging routes. Peco does that for you.

Simple. Electrofrog work fine as non-powered except you must isolate any inner diverging rail if there's any power source to that rail beyond the turnout. Insulfrog takes care of that for you.

As I say, Insulfrog is simple. 

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, November 19, 2020 2:45 PM

 They're all easy. Non power routing is easier for DCC. Or really, makes no difference as relying on the turnout to supply power after the frog is a bad idea anyway. With one, you need insulated joiners before any feeders downstream of the turnout, with the others, just connect feeders. Neither is particularly difficult.

 What I think gets missed is that with Electrofrog and similarly designed turnouts like Fast Tracks is that the gaps in the center diverging rails do not have to go as close to the turnout as possible. That can go some distance away, they just have to be gapped before any fixed polarity feeders are connected. So stretch it out a bit and make it part od the OS detection section, maybe a car or locomotive length, instead of just a couple of inches.

                                        --Randy

 


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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 19, 2020 4:53 PM

Right, I get it y'all like other thing than me but this is my preference. Some my welcome unifrog, but not all.

I prefer Electrofrog, partly for appearance, solid rails, and partly because the insulfrog rails can short if wide tread wheels bridge the gap.  Some report it others don't.  I prefer  to not go there.  That's me.

Walthers had new turnouts come so if I can't find anymore Electrofrog Peco #6, maybe I'll fill in with Walthers.  

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, November 19, 2020 5:59 PM

riogrande5761

Right, I get it y'all like other thing than me but this is my preference. Some my welcome unifrog, but not all.

I prefer Electrofrog, partly for appearance, solid rails, and partly because the insulfrog rails can short if wide tread wheels bridge the gap.  Some report it others don't.  I prefer  to not go there.  That's me.

Walthers had new turnouts come so if I can't find anymore Electrofrog Peco #6, maybe I'll fill in with Walthers.  

 

There are no negatives to the Unifrog design. 

Shinohara turnouts are the same electrical  design as Atlas plastic frog turnouts or Peco Insulfrog, except they are not power routing. Assuming Walthers makes no changes then the Walthers copies will not work in place of Electrofrogs. 

Unifrog is an Electrofrog just with two additional features. First, the frog is isolated, like an Atlas metal frog, so unless you connect the power wire the frog is not powered just like an Electrofrog without a power connection. Second, Peco went the all rails powered non power routing design which works more easily for DCC than their Electrofrog design did.

Anywhere you'd use an Electrofrog you'd use an Unifrog  with no modifications. 

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, November 19, 2020 7:30 PM

 If you power the Unifrog the samwe way you power the frog on an Electrofrog, it can't possibly short the way an Insulfrog might. There should be zero issues.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 19, 2020 8:26 PM

riogrande5761
In my case, I opted to buy and stock pile some Peco HO electrofrog code 83 #6 turnouts for my main yard. 

Welcome to my world.

I am sitting on quite a stockpile of old style Non-DCC-Friendly Walthers/Shinohara code 83 trackage components.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 19, 2020 9:10 PM

Lastspikemike
There are no negatives to the Unifrog design. 

You don't know that.

Take a closer look.  They look very much like insulfrog with a metal tip.

Anyway, it's early days yet.  We could still see reports similar to insulfrog.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 19, 2020 9:13 PM

rrinker

 If you power the Unifrog the samwe way you power the frog on an Electrofrog, it can't possibly short the way an Insulfrog might. There should be zero issues.

                     --Randy

 

Then why insulate the metal tip from the two rails if they are all the same polarity.  Might as well be electrofrog then.  

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, November 19, 2020 9:28 PM

riogrande5761

 

 
rrinker

 If you power the Unifrog the samwe way you power the frog on an Electrofrog, it can't possibly short the way an Insulfrog might. There should be zero issues.

                     --Randy

 

 

Then why insulate the metal tip from the two rails if they are all the same polarity.  Might as well be electrofrog then.  

 

Unifrog isolates the entire frog and wing rails and provides a separate power wire just as for Electrofrog. 

This makes the Unifrog an Electrofrog.

The frog cannot short against the wing rails. 

The difference is the frog is completely isolated from the two inner diverging rails at the frog so you need not isolate them anywhere else. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, November 20, 2020 7:55 AM

Unifrog is the best of both worlds (Insulfrog and Electrofrog).

What's not to like?

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, November 20, 2020 8:31 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
rrinker

 If you power the Unifrog the samwe way you power the frog on an Electrofrog, it can't possibly short the way an Insulfrog might. There should be zero issues.

                     --Randy

 

 

Then why insulate the metal tip from the two rails if they are all the same polarity.  Might as well be electrofrog then.  

 

 The two diverging rails are NOT the same polarity. That what makes the Unifrog like an Insulfrog. The metal tip has to be insulated to keep them from shorting together. Instead of a plastic tip, they use a metal tip so that it can be powered and never have the dead section that exists with an Insulfrog.

 It really is best of both worlds, no insulated joiners needed on the diverging rails, no requirement to power the frog point, but you can, which eliminates the potential short point on the Insulfrog. The closure rails are already tied to the stock rails, which is a modification on an Electrofrog, so that saves a step as well.

 Ad if you want to run DC and use power routing - snipping 2 jumpers makes it power routing like an Insulfrog, with a metal frog that can still be powered, like an Electrofrog. 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, November 20, 2020 8:32 AM

richhotrain

Unifrog is the best of both worlds (Insulfrog and Electrofrog).

What's not to like?

Rich

 

I find the explanations of how these electrical circuits work tricky to follow until I wire one up and use a multimeter to trace the circuits.

Alternatively, the colour coded diagrams can be very helpful.

https://dccwiki.com/PECO_Unifrog

 

 https://dccwiki.com/PECO_Electrofrog

 

Insulfrog use a big "gap" by installing an all plastic frog, as do Atlas for their Custom line, except for the Wye and curved turnouts which have isolated metal frogs with wire connection tabs. Electrofrog use no gaps and no plastic insulation for the frogs. That's how Electrofrog can develop a shorting effect at the frog if you forget to isolate the inner point rails AND power is fed back to the turnout from the heel end as it will be if wired for DCC. If there is no power fed back to one of the diverging routes then power routing means you do not need to wire the Electrofrog for polarity change, because the diverging point rail is powered by the alignment of the points. For insulfrog the diverging point rail is dead. 

The real functional difference in the Unifrog is the installation of electrical isolation (gaps) by Peco at the heel of the frog instead by the hobbyist at the ends of the inner diverging rails. That restores polarity control at the frog regardless of any power routing effects.

Leave the frog unpowered and Unifrog is insulfrog. Because the heel of the frog is also isolated in the Unifrog you get no shorting over the frog which was a potential issue when using Insulfrog in a DCC layout with no power routing at turnouts. Peco insulfrog use very short frogs. Unifrog eliminates that possible problem.

Power the frog and you must switch polarity with the turnout alignment as for Electrofrog but you don't need to fit any further isolating gaps anywhere. Unifrog is an Electrofrog when you power the frog,

Electrically, these Unifrogs are the same as Atlas Superswitches.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, November 20, 2020 10:46 AM

rrinker
 The two diverging rails are NOT the same polarity. That what makes the Unifrog like an Insulfrog.

Exactly.  And some have reported Insulfrog getting shorts where wider tread metal wheels touch both rails near the plastic point.  There is a "fix" for that, which is to paint the ends of those rails were they are close together with black nail polish or something else to insulate them at the problem point.  See photo below:

As you can see with this photo of the Unifrog point area, they look very much like the Insulfrog with a similar potential for shorts:

Many report no issues, but some do.  That is one of a couple of reasons I'm going with Electrofrog.  I am planning to use frog juicers which are configured for DCC running.

I've managed to find and order a number of right-hand #6 electrofrog recently.  Now I'm hunting for some left-hand #6.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, November 20, 2020 2:07 PM

Insulfrog and Unifrog are essentially the same from that perspective. With respect it is illogical to object to the Unifrog on that basis since the Electrofrog is much worse. To make the Unifrog just like the Insulfrog you need only restore the power routing and hey presto no short. 

 All brands of insulated frog turnouts are much the same in terms of the size of the insulating gap at the heel of the frog. Rather than nail polish it Would be simpler to cut gaps wherever you feel you need to in order to make the isolated frog larger. With Unifrog or Electrofrog you could then power the main part of the frog which you cannot do with insulfrog. 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, November 20, 2020 2:39 PM

  I'd like to see a picture of a regular Unifrog turnout and not the double slip - the N scale ones fo NOT have the two rails anywhere near close to each other -0 if the bridge on an N scale one, you have some serious problems. Here is an N scale one:

https://jamestrainparts.com/2018/07/30/peco-pecos-new-unifrog-turnouts/

The diverging side of the frog is cut at least as far up as an Electrofrog. No way is an oversize wheel going to bridge that gap between the two diverging rails. I still say the metal tip on the double slip is bigger than the plastic tip of the old Insulfrog version of it, otherwise why bother powering it, a teeny tiny dead section that short shouldn;t stall out anything.

 I am pretty confident a Unifrog will work as reliably as an Electrofrog, without having to make all the modifications needed on an Electrofrog. Supposedly you don;t need to do the mods with a Frog Juiver, but I fail to see the point of buying a $20+ per turnout electronic gizmo when a @4 switch does the job just fine. If I was handlaying some crazy trackwork to replicate one of the New York terminals like Tim Warris did with the CNJ Bronx Terminal, with turnouts passing through turnouts and frogs within closure rails (there's also a good pic of some of this at one of the big passeneger union stations, with like 6 tracks curving in from one side, passing through 7 tracks coming from another direction, which have turnouts splitting into a third direction in the middle of all these crossings). Yeah, not going to figure out all the correct SPDT switch links to get the correct frog polarity with that kind of thing, Frog Juicer all the way there. 

                             --Randy

 


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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, November 20, 2020 3:13 PM

rrinker
I'd like to see a picture of a regular Unifrog turnout and not the double slip - the N scale ones fo NOT have the two rails anywhere near close to each other -0 if the bridge on an N scale one, you have some serious problems.

you can zoom in on this photo

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, November 20, 2020 5:01 PM

rrinker
I'd like to see a picture of a regular Unifrog turnout and not the double slip

From what I see in photo's, the Peco code 83 #6 Unifrog looks just the same as the frog on the double slip switch.  It appears they easily could have the same issue as the Insulfrog turnouts that some have reported shorting issues with and had to paint or coat the ends of the rails near the frog to mitigate the shorting.

AFAIK, only the HO code 83 cross-over, double slip and now #6 turnouts are in the Unifrog line.  Eventually the #5 and #8 turnouts and #7 curved will join the Unifrog line.

I have read on some British model RR forums that there are big fans of the Electrofrog line who are very upset that Peco is planning to discontinue them all for Unifrog.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, November 20, 2020 5:49 PM

BigDaddy

 

 
rrinker
I'd like to see a picture of a regular Unifrog turnout and not the double slip - the N scale ones fo NOT have the two rails anywhere near close to each other -0 if the bridge on an N scale one, you have some serious problems.

 

you can zoom in on this photo

 

And I have the Insulfrog version here right in front of me, plus Atlas and genuine Shinohara. They all have the same "problem" which isn't. 

My point was  supposed to be that the Electrofrog has NO gap, the point rails come to a point and are shorted out there 100% of the time.

I am not understanding how the need to add isolating joiners possibly to the other end of the point rails for Electrofrog differs from the need to do the same with Unifrog, assuming the point rails aren't separated enough for particular wheelsets. 

Every Unifrog is just an Electrofrog with an isolator cut at the point rails. How can that be worse than an Electrofrog with zero gaps?

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Posted by Track fiddler on Friday, November 20, 2020 7:44 PM

I like them

I ran experiments after buying one and the only locomotive that stalled at a very slow speed was my Bachmann 0-4-0.  That's OK,  him going up on the minning horseshoe track without any turnouts anyway.

There is only one wire with no insulator casing on it if you want to power the frog.  What I found was interesting is the right turnouts have an insulator where the wire goes under the frog where as the left ones do not.  I will feed the wire through the foam anyway in case I ever want to power them.  The cool thing about these new turnouts is the track connector goes into a cubby in the ties so you don't have to replace ties or slide and glue them underneath.

No Ox conductive lubricant will work for that since nobody solders turnouts anyway and I will also be putting No Ox on the blade contacts as well.  I ordered only enough of these turnouts for the main line but I will be ordering the rest soon. 

ISO-frog and Electro-frog are still perfectly good turnouts.  The only difference is Unifrog gives you a choice of either, depending how you want to use them.  Plug-and-play or power the Frog.  PECO is phasing out two turnouts to replace them with one that functions as both.

After a few hundred thousands of dollars to retool everything to make this new product.  I don't think PECO is going south anywhere too soon like another thread suggests.  They have a premium product selling it well while consolidating their expenditures.

 

 

TF

 

 

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, November 20, 2020 10:14 PM

So, out of the box the unifrog acts like an Atlas Custom Line, but all its jumpers are exposed so it can be rewired like an electrofrog, or any old fashioned sold rail turnout.

Not a bad idea, BUT why did they make the isolated part of the frog so small? 

It looks like it is an invitation to the same sort of shorting out that some people have experianced with the insulfrog.

From a business and customer standpoint it does makes more sense to have just one product rather than two.

While the Atlas is not really convertible to power routing, the frog is easily powered. I prefer the electrical properties of the Atlas design.

I use relays for power routing and frog power polarity if turnouts are operated by machines. I use small slide switches as ground throws for manual turnouts. Those slide switches provide power routing and frog power.

Both much more relible long term that contacts at the rail.

I'm happy with what I use, I will keep my extra money in my pocket.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, November 21, 2020 7:46 AM

The short frog is for the insulfrog role.  Minimizes the dead rail section.

Peco basically redesigned their insulfrog to include a frog power wire and then eliminated the power routing.

Electrofrog were never DCC friendly.

Unifrog is a DCC friendly Electrofrog turnout right out of the box. Don't power the frog and it's an insulfrog with no power routing.

 A quick turnout vasectomy and power routing is restored.

What's not to like?

The shorting problem is not a Peco issue nor is it a turnout issue. It's a rolling stock wheelset issue and all commercial turnouts suffer from the same issue. With Unifrog you can solve the issue by treating the turnout as an Electrofrog and fitting isolating gaps or joiners further down the point rails. Then you may also need switchable power to the frog if you decide not to restore power routing as well.

Unifrog can do it all. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, November 21, 2020 8:07 AM

Lastspikemike

The shorting problem is not a Peco issue nor is it a turnout issue. It's a rolling stock wheelset issue and all commercial turnouts suffer from the same issue. 

Nope. It is a turnout issue.

It happens with Walthers Shinohara Code 83 turnouts, but I have never had it happen with an Atlas Custom Line Code 83 or Code 100 turnout. It does not happen on my Peco Unifrog Code 83 double slips, but it has happened on my Peco Code 83 crossings.

The problem is not the wheesets on rolling stock. The problem is with converging rails of opposite polarity on the turnout without sufficient clearance for wheelsets. It is a turnout design flaw.

Rich

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, November 21, 2020 8:26 AM

Yes.  The shorting problem with Insulfrogs is because the frog length is too short, so the rails of opposite polarity diverge at a point that's narrower on turnouts that have a slightly longer frog, like the Atlas frog. Wheel treads can come across and touch the other rail.  A little nail polish prevented contact.

Jim highlighted that already in his pics.

And I agree with Jim and Sheldon, the new Unifrog looks to have that same short frog.

But it wouldn't take much more length to solve the issue, so maybe pics aren't a reliable measure at this point.

Having said that, Mike is making a point that if it was purely a turnout design flaw then every locomotive would short over the turnout.  That's not the case.  To my knowledge, its an occasional short problem and not an every-time shorting problem.

So while Jim is correct in saying that there have been many reports, It would be nice to know the exact conditions that brought about those shorts.

Anecdotally, I have run some Peco code 83 #6s on my previous layout, and am testing my current layout now, all with Pecos.  I have never had a shorting problem.

Having said that, all of my locos are diesels, DCC Sound that have been produced since 2008. 

Maybe steam locos with sloppy middle drivers?  Wider treads?  Older P2Ks where the owner replaced the gears but got the gauging a bit off?  Certain brands of six axle trucks?  To Mikes point, if not every loco does it everytime, there are probably certain locos that will never short.  

And in places like a hidden staging yard, I can certainly see why somebody would not want to take their chances by having those rails being opposite polarity.

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, November 21, 2020 8:32 AM

Doughless

Having said that, Mike is making a point that if it was purely a turnout design flaw then every locomotive would short over the turnout.  That's not the case.  To my knowledge, its an occaisional short problem and not an every-time shorting problem.

In my experience, especially on the Walthers Shinohara turnouts, all of my locos that passed over such turnouts shorted without exception until I solved the problem with a coat of clear nail polish.

Even if not all of your locos short on problematic turnouts, that doesn't rule out the turnouts as the cause of the shorts. There may be "play" in the wheelsets for example, but if those locos perform flawlessly everywhere else on the layout, the shorting problem leads back to the turnout - - insufficient clearance.

Rich

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, November 21, 2020 8:32 AM

richhotrain

 

 
Lastspikemike

The shorting problem is not a Peco issue nor is it a turnout issue. It's a rolling stock wheelset issue and all commercial turnouts suffer from the same issue. 

 

 

Nope. It is a turnout issue.

 

It happens with Walthers Shinohara Code 83 turnouts, but I have never had it happen with an Atlas Custom Line Code 83 or Code 100 turnout. It does not happen on my Peco Unifrog Code 83 double slips, but it has happened on my Peco Code 83 crossings.

The problem is not the wheesets on rolling stock. The problem is with converging rails of opposite polarity on the turnout without sufficient clearance for wheelsets. It is a turnout design flaw.

Rich

 

Exactly, it is physically and electrically impossible to have these problems with an Atlas turnout. The points are always the same polarity as the their stock rail, and the frog is long enough to insure a wheel thread cannot contact the other rail on any opposite polarity pzrt..

If you have short wheelbase locos all you need to do is power your frogs.

After a decade of scratch built turnouts, I decided the Atlas electrical approach was superior.

Then when I developed my Advanced Cab Control, I found it to be even more important to have feed thru wiring, no power routing, and isolated frogs that can be powered.

These features are actually important to my Automatic Train Control feature. Run a red signal and your train stops.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by betamax on Saturday, November 21, 2020 8:44 AM

It isn't a design problem with the Insulfrog, it is a user problem.

The Insulfrog is power routing, so adding insulated rail joiners to the point rails eliminates the issue of a short where they converge in the frog. 

The issue arises in DCC because all the track has feeders, so both point rails will be energized by the downstream trackage, leading to a short should a wheel tread bridge the point rails at the heel of the frog. 

With DC this wasn't really a problem as most users took advantage of the power routing feature, where only one of the point rails was energized, controlled by the switch rails. 

 

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, November 21, 2020 8:44 AM

richhotrain

 

 
Doughless

Having said that, Mike is making a point that if it was purely a turnout design flaw then every locomotive would short over the turnout.  That's not the case.  To my knowledge, its an occaisional short problem and not an every-time shorting problem.

 

 

In my experience, especially on the Walthers Shinohara turnouts, all of my locos that passed over such turnouts shorted without exception until I solved the problem with a coat of clear nail polish.

 

Even if not all of your locos short on problematic turnouts, that doesn't rule out the turnouts as the cause of the shorts. There may be "play" in the wheelsets for example, but if those locos perform flawlessly everywhere else on the layout, the shorting problem leads back to the turnout - - insufficient clearance.

Rich

 

I think its a matter of semantics.  To me, saying that its a turnout design flaw means that its something that should be redesigned....which would show up in sales drop offs.  I'm assuming there are plenty of folks like myself who have never had a problem, in whatever their circumstances might be.

And maybe the new Unifrog frog is a bit longer.

But I think the point of having the short frog is to eliminate the need to power the frog or installing keep alives for shorter locomotives...which a person would weigh the efforts with installing those remedies against the efforts of just applying a little nail polish if they had the problem.

I would also think that beveling the inside corners of the two rails might do the trick.  The wheels can't be touching very much metal of the opposing rail.

 

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    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 20,323 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, November 21, 2020 8:53 AM

Doughless

I would also think that beveling the inside corners of the two rails might do the trick.  The wheels can't be touching very much metal of the opposing rail. 

Yep, that would work. Clear nail polish is a great temporary fix. Temporary in the sense that constant use of trains over the area may eventually require another dab of clear nail polish although I have never had to do a repeat application.

Rich

Alton Junction

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