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turnouts

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rdw
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    March, 2014
  • 6 posts
turnouts
Posted by rdw on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 8:24 PM
am trying to decide what kind of turnouts to put on my new DCC layout. Most info says use insulfrog turnouts but it appears that there is a community of what appears to be "veterans" who advocate electrofrog turnouts. I don't have a problem with electrofrogs if there is a distinct advantage but will need to buy frog juicers to power the frog if I go with them. Any recommendations?
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  • From: Rimrock, Arizona
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Posted by SpaceMouse on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 10:02 AM

I'm going the insulfrog route on my new layout. Actually, I'm building the turnouts with Fastracks and leaving a dead spot about 3/4 of an inch long. The insulfrogs will work just fine as long as you have continuous power to the wheels of your locomotive. 

Chip

"Rock Ridge and Rock Ridge Lumber are names that really stand for something" --Randal "Rock" Ridge, Mayor and Founder

"Mining is the very foundation of a free America." --Stanley "Stone" Ridge

"Give me Apathy, or give me something else."--Carlton Ridge, aka "The Cat"

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 11:17 AM

The insulfrog turnouts are less 'involved' and can save you time and some bits of material.  They have fewer problems at the frog because the frog is isolated.  Unfortunately, for small switcher locomotives with short wheelbases, this means that you'll get either intermittent or consistent stalls at the frog because of the arrangement of pickup at the metal tires under the frame.  I should add that I don't seem to have this problem with a Walthers SW8, even on my longer handlaid #8 turnouts with insulated frogs.

But, if you DO have problems with small wheelbased locomotives, say in your yard, and they are persistent, you would be better off using electrofrogs and going about the business of energizing the frogs according to the route and polarity your locomotive needs on that route.  Some use switch machines that automatically change the polarity of the frog with built-in DPDT-like apparatus.  That fairly doubles the cost of a turnout, but at least you get remote operations, an electrified frog that keeps you running, and you won't have to worry about forgetting to manually change the frog's polarity...correctly...for the route being lined.

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  • From: In the heart of Georgia
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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 11:27 AM

The problem with insulfrogs is that short wheelbase locos with phinicky onboard sound decoders might stall or have their lights flicker over them.  Some people install keep-alive capacitors in their locos to minimize this possibility.  Generally, DC locos don't have much problem. 

I run short wheel based onboard sound locos over insulfrogs on speed step 1 all the time and have minimal problems.  IMO, the loco's wheeled electrical pickup design and execution has more to do with stalling rather than the turnout's insulfrogs.  As SpaceMouse said, the other three sides of the trucks stay powered and supply the decoder.  

For me, the extra trouble of wiring electrofrogs simply isn't worth it.

The only reason I considered electrofrogs is because I run short locos very slowly over the frogs.  If I was running locos above 10 mph over the turnouts, I wouldn't even consider it.

- Douglas

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  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, February 09, 2018 5:31 AM

I use Peco Insulfrogs and they work just fine. The frogs are plastic, so they cannot be powered, but that is no problem as long as you stay away from slow running of very short wheelbase locos.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Friday, February 09, 2018 9:57 AM

FROGS ? !!!

LION does not even bother to power the entire interlocking plant!

WTH: with 48 wheel power pick up the point is moot!

ROAR

 

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

Moderator
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Posted by Steven Otte on Friday, February 09, 2018 10:23 AM

I'm answering this very question in an upcoming edition of "Ask MR." Here's what I wrote...

The short answer is: Either. The choice depends on how you prefer to wire your turnouts. You can spot the difference between the two types of Peco turnouts by looking at the closure rails that converge on the frog.

On an Insulfrog, the closure rails are solid, and there’s a short section of insulating plastic rail where they meet the frog. The tip of the frog itself is likewise non-conductive plastic. Locomotives run on Insulfrog turnouts should have long electrical pickup wheelbases; engines that pick up power on only a few wheels, like some older steam locomotive models, can stall on these turnouts. But if you run diesels that pick up power from both trucks, or steamers with pickups on the tender as well as the drivers, you have little to worry about from an Insulfrog.

An Electrofrog has small gaps in the closure rails, about an inch before the frog. Underneath, small jumper wires bridge that gap. That means that out of the box, it seems like Electrofrogs work like Insulfrogs: the closure rails get power from the points, which get it from contacting the stock rails when they are lined in either direction. But on an Electro­frog, the entire frog, closure rail, and point assembly is one electrical unit. This means that unlike an Insulfrog, on which a closure rail is powered only if its point is contacting its stock rail, on an Electrofrog, both closure rails and points are always powered the same polarity as the stock rail the one point is touching. This is fine if your locomotives’ wheels are all perfectly in gauge. But if any of those wheels, or metal wheels on your rolling stock, are a little tight back-to-back, it’s possible that a wheel can touch both a stock rail and an open point rail simultaneously, causing a short. This can’t happen on an Insulfrog, which is why some people regard them as more “DCC-friendly.”

But there’s a reason for those little gaps on the Electrofrog turnouts. Electrofrogs come with a leader wire attached to the bottom of the frog itself. There’s also a gap in the plastic ties underneath, two ties before the gap in the rails topside. If you cut the jumper wires, the points/closure rails and the frogs become separate electrical units. Solder some jumper wires across the gaps in the ties, joining each closure rail to its adjacent stock rail, and you not only give the points a much more reliable power connection, but also, you guarantee that each point and closure rail will always be the same polarity as its adjacent stock rail — eliminating the possibility of shorts at the points.

But then the frog is dead, right? That’s where the frog’s leader wire comes in. Attach it to the switched contacts of a turnout motor like a Tortoise by Circuitron, or to a DCC-aware polarity switching circuit like the Tam Valley Frog Juicer, and your frog will automatically switch to the right polarity for whichever way the route is lined. It’s a little more wiring work, but you need never worry about turnout shorts again.

--
Steven Otte, Model Railroader associate editor
sotte@kalmbach.com

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Posted by DigitalGriffin on Friday, February 09, 2018 11:25 AM

Live frogs are good if you have a limited number of pickups, or bad pickups.  For example 0-6-0T by bachmann will stall on a #6.  Even my Bachmann FT 4 axle diesel will sometimes hesitate on a #6 frog at low speeds.

That said, unless you have uber deep pockets, don't waste your money on a frog juicer.  A tortoise will do the same thing for no extra money.  So will a blue point switch machine, or a caboose industries ground throw (220S or 119R) for FAR less money than adding a juicer.

Don - Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

Modeling C&O transition era and steel industries There's Nothing Like Big Steam!

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, February 09, 2018 11:31 AM

DigitalGriffin

Live frogs are good if you have a limited number of pickups, or bad pickups.  

Agreed. Other than short wheelbase locos, the one time that a powered frog comes in handy is when there is a bad pickup on the front or rear truck. In that instance, a slow moving loco will stall on an unpowered frog.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by NVSRR on Friday, February 09, 2018 11:41 AM

Keep alives will fix the problem with Short wheelbase locomotives on dead frogs.  Or any other loco that hates dead frogs

 

Wolfie

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by DigitalGriffin on Friday, February 09, 2018 3:34 PM

NVSRR

Keep alives will fix the problem with Short wheelbase locomotives on dead frogs.  Or any other loco that hates dead frogs

 

Wolfie

 



Keep alives are $30 or MORE and take up more space then my 0-6-0T's have.  660 uF helps, but it doesn't solve everything.

Don - Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

Modeling C&O transition era and steel industries There's Nothing Like Big Steam!

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