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Peco Insulfrog should I pass?

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Peco Insulfrog should I pass?
Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 8:54 PM

I have no Peco turnouts.  There have been many threads about insulfrog, electrofrog and unifrog, but if you have never used any, it's like a guy from Kansas reading about Sushi, who hasn't been paying attention.

What I think I know: is they can short on the diverging side of the frog, they are power routing, one needs insulated joiners on the frog rails.

I came across a store that sells used trains and they have a bunch at $2.50 each!

They are used, some have soldering or removal damage that I don't want to deal with, but some seem like new.

What modifications would I need or what downside would there be if I go with these for a DCC layout?

 

Henry

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 9:58 PM

You'll be wanting some wasabi and soy sauce.

And a plentiful supply of good cold sake.

 

Ed

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 10:31 PM

BigDaddy

I have no Peco turnouts.  There have been many threads about insulfrog, electrofrog and unifrog, but if you have never used any, it's like a guy from Kansas reading about Sushi, who hasn't been paying attention.

What I think I know: is they can short on the diverging side of the frog, they are power routing, one needs insulated joiners on the frog rails.

I came across a store that sells used trains and they have a bunch at $2.50 each!

They are used, some have soldering or removal damage that I don't want to deal with, but some seem like new.

What modifications would I need or what downside would there be if I go with these for a DCC layout?

 

 

Code 83?

I would pass because I don't like the wiring system or the little throwbar springs, but many people love them.

Code 100?

Pass for sure, they are curved thru the frog, unrealistic for North America, and have the same wiring/frog issues.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 10:36 PM

BigDaddy
 

I have no Peco turnouts.  

What I think I know: is they can short on the diverging side of the frog, they are power routing, one needs insulated joiners on the frog rails. 

What modifications would I need or what downside would there be if I go with these for a DCC layout? 

Henry, my layout is littered with Peco Code 83 #6 Insulfrogs. None of mine short on the diverging side of the frog. True, they are power routing, but you do not need insulated joiners on the frog rails because the frog is plastic (dead). As far as the power routing feature is concerned, if you power all three ends of the turnout, as I do, the Insulfrog is no longer power routing.

There are no modifications that you need to make to a Peco Insulfrog to use it on a DCC layout. If you plan to power your turnouts with switching devices (e.g., Tortoise), you can easily remove the throwbar spring. I leave mine in place and manually throw the points with a flick of the finger.

The title of your thread is Insulfrog, but in your question you mention the Electrofrog. The Electrofrog is also power routing and has a live frog, so you do need to gap the inside frog rails. 

At $2.50 per turnout, I would snap them up.

Rich

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 1:39 AM

If they have enough of them, buy them, you could always use them in a yard if nothing else but they are fine turnouts in general.

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Posted by Water Level Route on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 5:16 AM

BigDaddy
What I think I know: is they can short on the diverging side of the frog, they are power routing, one needs insulated joiners on the frog rails.

Yes, they are power routing.  No, they do not short on the frog side or need insulated joiners on the frog side, unless they are part of a reversing section.  Then obviously they would, just like any other turnout.

BigDaddy
I came across a store that sells used trains and they have a bunch at $2.50 each!

And where is this exactly? Pirate

Seriously, unless there is something about them that would be a non-starter for you (sprung points, curved through the frog (code 100)), I would buy them up in a heartbeat.  For what it's worth, I have somewhere around 50 Peco code 100 insulfrogs on my layout.  They work flawlessly.  I like the sprung points.  Power routing doesn't bother me as I power all sides anyway.  The curve through the diverging route doesn't bother me a bit.  Don't even notice it honestly.  Even if it bothers you, at 2.50 each use them in a staging yard.

Mike

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 6:38 AM

I have Peco 83 Insulfrog on my layout exclusively.  No shorting issues, I use normal joiners exclusively, and I add a feeder to the mid point of a runaround siding or spur to defeat the power routing only because I want to.  Never saw the point of electrofrog anyway.

The design of the Peco code 83 may preclude you from doing some special niche things, but for average layout construction, they operate as well or better than others.

And the design of others preclude you from doing some other special niche things the Pecos don't.

The code 100 Pecos curved through the frog, so it might make for a wierd crossover if you use two together or one with another brand. For industrial spurs, in many ways, this design is better.

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 7:00 AM

Doughless

Never saw the point of electrofrog anyway.

I don't have any Electrofrogs on my layout because I don't need live frogs. But, the Electrofrog is very useful if you need or want a live frog. As long as the inner frog rails are gapped, the Electrofrog works just fine.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 7:58 AM

richhotrain

 

 
Doughless

Never saw the point of electrofrog anyway.

 

 

I don't have any Electrofrogs on my layout because I don't need live frogs. But, the Electrofrog is very useful if you need or want a live frog. As long as the inner frog rails are gapped, the Electrofrog works just fine.

 

Rich

 

I meant the point of needing live frogs.  Other than helping short steam locos with bad pickup systems, I never understood the advantage.

Not wanting to make a discussion here, just trying to stay in the swim lanes of the OP who seems to favor simplicity in this situation. 

Making sure the used turnouts are Insulfrogs would seem wise. 

- Douglas

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 8:11 AM

Peco insulfrogs are very well made turnouts. They are also more compact than the competition. They are power routing but that is easily dealt with if you wish by connecting power feeders to the tracks after the frog.

Also, Peco is no longer making the insulfrog  as they are committed to their newer design, the unifrog. These newer design turnouts are not power routing (but snipping a couple of jumper wires restores this feature) but the new frog design is not perfect. Some locomotive wheels short at the new frog design. Insulfrog remain more useful as a result. Peco is said to be working on a solution to this shorting issue.

Until they succeed I'd be buying up any Code 83 Peco insulfrogs I could find at 10% of original list price!

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 8:24 AM

BigDaddy
I came across a store that sells used trains and they have a bunch at $2.50 each!

Henry, if you can use them, I would snap them up.

If I found a source of used Walthers/Shinohara turnouts like I use at $2.50 each, I would buy them all. If only 1 out of 6 pass inspection for re-use, that is still quite a bargain.

I do not use Peco turnouts, but I know many who do, and they generally do not have any more complaints than anyone else.

Oh, I did use Peco turnouts on several N scale layouts with great results.

-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 richhotrain on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 9:13 AM

Doughless
 
richhotrain 
Doughless

Never saw the point of electrofrog anyway. 

I don't have any Electrofrogs on my layout because I don't need live frogs. But, the Electrofrog is very useful if you need or want a live frog. As long as the inner frog rails are gapped, the Electrofrog works just fine. 

Rich 

I meant the point of needing live frogs.  Other than helping short steam locos with bad pickup systems, I never understood the advantage.

Not wanting to make a discussion here, just trying to stay in the swim lanes of the OP who seems to favor simplicity in this situation. 

Making sure the used turnouts are Insulfrogs would seem wise.  

Yes

Alton Junction

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 11:14 AM

I had several Peco insulfrogs on the Code 100 part of my layout, including a few double-curved ones.  I also had one electrofog.  I used Peco machines so I could keep the springs.  I found that nothing ever picked the points on Peco turnouts.  For that reason, I used them in situations where the main line followed the divergent curved path.  Whereas Atlas turnouts sometimes allowed picked-point derailments, I could rely on the Pecos for flawless performance.

I have had shorting issues.  This comes from the closeness of the frog rails, which are metal over a plastic frog.  However, when a wide wheel tread would cross the frog, particularly on the curved path, it would short as it momentarily bridged the narrow gap.  The solution was simple - paint the rails right at the gap with nail polish.  The polish never wore off, and I never had shorts afterwards either.

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

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 2:38 PM

Thanks everyone, they turned out to be Code 100 and I use 83.  I did pick up a couple Atlas turnouts for the same price.

They are at Shenandoah Heritage Market, for anyone in the area.

 

 

Henry

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 5:19 PM

Also, Peco is no longer making the insulfrog  as they are committed to their newer design, the unifrog.

The only rub is the unifrog have the same flaw as the insulfrog.  Shorts can occur.  Peco has even admitted this to be true and have stated they plan to revise the Unifrogs to mitigate this issue.  Here is the email I received from Peco:

Thank you for your email raising concerns about short circuits on the Unifrog #6 turnouts. It is standard railway engineering practice to put a 3° taper on wheels, which normally means they only contact the rail they are sat upon and the overhanging outer edge of the wheel should pass over the top of the opposing frog rail without contact. This is what we are used to, and it works that was on our OO and N scale products. However, NMRA RP-25 only recommends a taper, and having spoken to a former colleague who is deeply into American HO scale we now realise there are ready to run models being produced without the taper on the wheels, which would of course cause the short circuiting problems as you describe and what you saw in the YouTube video.
 
We are now looking at how we can modify the tooling to provide a longer Unifrog tip and greater gap between the frog rails. This will also be implemented on the code 70 #6 turnouts and all future HO scale Unifrog products.
 
Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

 

BigDaddy

Thanks everyone, they turned out to be Code 100 and I use 83.  I did pick up a couple Atlas turnouts for the same price.

They are at Shenandoah Heritage Market, for anyone in the area. 

That looks like a good 2 hours from where I live.  I do use code 100 Peco in staging but it is all built.

Peco Insulfrog do have the potential to short out but if that happens you can paint the rails near the frog with finger nail polish.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by basementdweller on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 8:01 PM
I too use Peco insulfrogs code 100 on my DCC layout. I will only add one additional comment, the point rails pick up their power by using a tab that contacts the stock rail when the turnout is thrown. I have found that those tabs can loose contact creating a dead turnout. All my Peco’s now get a feeder wire installed underneath connecting each stock rail to the point rail before installation. I just use decoder wire. I know this does not need to be done but over the years I have had one or two turnouts go dead due to the tab loosing contact. To the OP I would snag them up and play around building some test track and see what you think, you won’t have any trouble moving them on if you don’t like them.
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Posted by Doughless on Friday, July 23, 2021 12:20 PM

basementdweller
I too use Peco insulfrogs code 100 on my DCC layout. I will only add one additional comment, the point rails pick up their power by using a tab that contacts the stock rail when the turnout is thrown. I have found that those tabs can loose contact creating a dead turnout. All my Peco’s now get a feeder wire installed underneath connecting each stock rail to the point rail before installation. I just use decoder wire. I know this does not need to be done but over the years I have had one or two turnouts go dead due to the tab loosing contact. To the OP I would snag them up and play around building some test track and see what you think, you won’t have any trouble moving them on if you don’t like them.
 

I have had similar undercarriage issues with both Atlas and Walthers turnouts that lost power months to years after installation.  Either slight warping and ensuing up and down flexing, or stray ballast glue schmutz flowing its way into the understrips/rivets.

While it does not help to power the closure rails on the Peco, I default to powering all three legs of a turnout when building the layout, sometimes several feet away down the spur, to help thwart any future problems caused by the turnout or my slopiness. 

- Douglas

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, July 25, 2021 6:32 AM

Doughless

While it does not help to power the closure rails on the Peco, I default to powering all three legs of a turnout when building the layout, sometimes several feet away down the spur, to help thwart any future problems caused by the turnout or my slopiness.  

+1   Yes

Alton Junction

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, July 25, 2021 8:21 AM

Doughless

 

 
basementdweller
I too use Peco insulfrogs code 100 on my DCC layout. I will only add one additional comment, the point rails pick up their power by using a tab that contacts the stock rail when the turnout is thrown. I have found that those tabs can loose contact creating a dead turnout. All my Peco’s now get a feeder wire installed underneath connecting each stock rail to the point rail before installation. I just use decoder wire. I know this does not need to be done but over the years I have had one or two turnouts go dead due to the tab loosing contact. To the OP I would snag them up and play around building some test track and see what you think, you won’t have any trouble moving them on if you don’t like them.
 

 

 

I have had similar undercarriage issues with both Atlas and Walthers turnouts that lost power months to years after installation.  Either slight warping and ensuing up and down flexing, or stray ballast glue schmutz flowing its way into the understrips/rivets.

While it does not help to power the closure rails on the Peco, I default to powering all three legs of a turnout when building the layout, sometimes several feet away down the spur, to help thwart any future problems caused by the turnout or my slopiness. 

 

I have never had these types of failures, but my track laying approach is likely different.

I glue my track down with adhesive caulk, but I do not glue turnouts down. Turnouts are nailed down with a minimum number of track nails, 3-4 typically.

And since my roadbed is always wood or homasote, also mounted on a base that will not flex, they hold well and prevent any movement, especally combined with the connected track being glued down.

Because of the nature of my control system, most turnouts are only fed from one direction because turnouts part of interlockings and interlockings are the boundries between the primary control and signal blocks. 

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, July 26, 2021 9:00 AM

The turnouts were warped.  Caulked down at each extreme end, but the middle still rose up and down a bit.  These were in yard/industrial areas with no roadbed.  Then ballasted them in the middle to hold them down and glue likely got under them.  It was during the time when a lot of the Atlas turnouts I bought also had the tangent track not exactly tangent, seemed to bow out.  

- Douglas

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, July 26, 2021 9:12 AM

Doughless

The turnouts were warped.  Caulked down at each extreme end, but the middle still rose up and down a bit.  These were in yard/industrial areas with no roadbed.  Then ballasted them in the middle to hold them down and glue likely got under them.  It was during the time when a lot of the Atlas turnouts I bought also had the tangent track not exactly tangent, seemed to bow out.  

 

Understand, again I use a few track nails, no problems. But, again, no foam or cork here, when I nail down a turnout, its not moving.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, August 2, 2021 8:55 AM

basementdweller
I too use Peco insulfrogs code 100 on my DCC layout. I will only add one additional comment, the point rails pick up their power by using a tab that contacts the stock rail when the turnout is thrown. I have found that those tabs can loose contact creating a dead turnout. All my Peco’s now get a feeder wire installed underneath connecting each stock rail to the point rail before installation. I just use decoder wire. I know this does not need to be done but over the years I have had one or two turnouts go dead due to the tab loosing contact. To the OP I would snag them up and play around building some test track and see what you think, you won’t have any trouble moving them on if you don’t like them.
 

I was prompted to inspect my Code 83 Peco turnouts for this feature. As far as I can see for their Code 83 turnouts the only electrical contact between the closure rails and the stock rails is via the sides of the points touching the stock rails.

One tricky fault we did discover is the very end of the throwbar may just barely touch a tie end on an adjoining turnout or piece of track. The points may then appear to be touching the stock rail but are not. It required a multimeter continuity test to track down this fault because you can't see the tiny gap.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, August 2, 2021 10:41 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Understand, again I use a few track nails, no problems. But, again, no foam or cork here, when I nail down a turnout, its not moving.

I only use nails to hold track in place until the ballast is applied.

Once ballast is glued down, no track is moving.

-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 Doughless on Monday, August 2, 2021 1:49 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Understand, again I use a few track nails, no problems. But, again, no foam or cork here, when I nail down a turnout, its not moving.

 

I only use nails to hold track in place until the ballast is applied.

Once ballast is glued down, no track is moving.

-Kevin

 

The issue I was reporting was that the liquid glue from ballasting got into the tabs and tension contacts.  I don't normally caulk turnouts in the middle or glue down ballasted turnouts, but the warped nature of several prompted me to do it.  

- Douglas

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 6:12 AM

SeeYou190
 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Understand, again I use a few track nails, no problems. But, again, no foam or cork here, when I nail down a turnout, its not moving.

I only use nails to hold track in place until the ballast is applied.

Once ballast is glued down, no track is moving.

-Kevin 

Amen.

Rich

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 8:40 AM

richhotrain

 

 
SeeYou190
 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Understand, again I use a few track nails, no problems. But, again, no foam or cork here, when I nail down a turnout, its not moving.

I only use nails to hold track in place until the ballast is applied.

Once ballast is glued down, no track is moving.

-Kevin 

 

 

Amen.

 

Rich

 

Doesn't work on foam.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 10:05 AM

Doughless
The issue I was reporting was that the liquid glue from ballasting got into the tabs and tension contacts. 

That sounds like a real problem.

Keeping glue out of moving parts is always a challenge, at least for me.

-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 richhotrain on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 10:59 AM

Lastspikemike
 
richhotrain 
SeeYou190 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Understand, again I use a few track nails, no problems. But, again, no foam or cork here, when I nail down a turnout, its not moving.

I only use nails to hold track in place until the ballast is applied.

Once ballast is glued down, no track is moving.

-Kevin  

Amen. 

Rich 

Doesn't work on foam. 

That's the main reason that I have never used foam. The inability of foam to hold nails is a deal breaker.

Rich

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 12:53 PM

Looks like the Unifrog turnouts have the single blade point rails, not joints.  Like the new Walthers turnouts.  No joints looks nice.

- Douglas

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 2:39 PM

Doughless

Looks like the Unifrog turnouts have the single blade point rails, not joints.  Like the new Walthers turnouts.  No joints looks nice.

 

They do, and they do, and they do.

The only possible issue is the tiny insulated frog point which does short across some wheel profiles. 

The Unifrog is also all live except for that tiny frog point. Restoring power routing and treating the turnout like an electrofrog could solve that issue. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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