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DCC friendly switches. Confused !!!!!

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DCC friendly switches. Confused !!!!!
Posted by jack308gtsi on Monday, November 14, 2011 4:39 PM

I am building a version of Malcolm Furlows San Juan Central Hon3 railroad. I had this original book for years and with the new Blackstone locos  avail,  thought I would build it. I am going to use the Digitrax DCC empire builder.  I have all the benchwork done. Mirco engineering code 70 flex track down. I am using shinohara turnouts which are also installed. They are removable still.  I have not purchased the DCC system yet nor do I own any Hon3 locos.

Now my problem. In Malcolm's book he uses shinohara turnouts. He is using DCC. He cuts in gaps for the sections of tracks to isolate from shorts but does nothing to make the turnouts "friendly".  I keep reading about adding jumpers etc to prevent shorts as a loco goes thru the turnout. In the Hon3 2011 annual mag an author goes into great detail on making these turnouts "friendly" I saw the video of the San Juan Central Kalmbach made and Malcolm's  locos which are mdc models ran very well thru the turnouts.

Do I have to do this also????.  

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, November 14, 2011 6:38 PM

 The curent COde 83 turnouts they build for Walthers are DCC friendly - dunno if they also modified the other codes which they sell under their own name. It's usually not a problem if all your wheels are in guage, but what works for DC doesn't always work for DCC, a momentary short when a wheel bruses the back of an adjacent opposite polarity stock rail in a  non-DCC friendly turnout when usign DC power appears and clears too fast for a DC power pack to react, so you never see anything (maybe a spark if you turn the lights off). DCC however uses electronic circuit breakers which can react instantaneously and can see a short that DC would ignore. The major thing to do with Shinohara turnouts is install an insulated throwbar and gaps so that the each point has the polarity of the adjacent stock rail. As built, the entire moving point assembly takes ont eh polarity of the closed side, this is where the momentary short can occur. If you are buying new recently manufactureed turnouts, check them with a meter and see if things are already modified. If not, it would be best to made the modifications now, before installing them. It will be a huge pain to fix it after the fact once the track is laid and REALLY hard after ballasting.

                    --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by cacole on Monday, November 14, 2011 6:38 PM

DCC Friendly is basically just advertising hype to make you think one brand of turnout is better than another.

One way to make every turnout 'DCC friendly' is to insulate both rails that diverge from the frog and add extra feeder wires beyond the frog, even if the turnout claims to already be DCC friendly.

That's what I do with every turnout, whether Peco Insulfrog, Electrofrog, Atlas, Shinohara, etc., and I have never had a problem with a loco or anything else shorting on a turnout.

 

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Monday, November 14, 2011 7:25 PM

You actually have several issues here:

The first is that the Shinoharas are power routing.  This means that they rely on contact between the point rail and the stock rail to power the turnout through the frog.  This set up gets sketchy over time as the turnout ages and begins to create dead zones as the points don't conduct electricity through the turnout.  I have a buddy with over 100 HOn3 Power routing shinoharas and he spends lots of time cleaning contact points to keep the turnouts conducting power correctly.  There are several fixes for this issue.

The second issue is the backs of wheels shorting against the points of the opposite polarity as they pass.  The same buddy didn't modify a single turnout when he converted to DCC and has had no problems with these types of shorts.  He runs lots of older brass as well as the latest Blackstone offerings.

Advice:  If the number of turnouts is small, I would buy Litco, Cream city or Railway Engineering turnouts that are already wired to be DCC friendly and not use the Shinoharas at all.  Absent that, I would take the time to modify the Shinoharas, not because of the shorting issue, but mainly to make your life simpler when it comes to continuity issues as the turnouts age. 

HOn3 is small enough that continuity is an issue, those points are tiny and you want the most reliable powering scheme to make operating fun.  Nothing like having to tap the loco to get it to run past a dead spot.....

Of course opinions do vary,

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Monday, November 14, 2011 7:51 PM

cacole

DCC Friendly is basically just advertising hype to make you think one brand of turnout is better than another.

Sorry cacole, you are wrong on this point.  At first, I thought the same thing.

What makes the turnout DCC friendly is that the open point rail is the same polarity as the stock rail next to it.  If you look at a older Shinahara turnout, you will see that the throw bar is metal so that both point rails are the same polarity.  So that makes the open point rail one polarity and the stock rail next to it the opposite polarity.  If the opening between the point and stock rails are wide enough, AND the locomotive wheels are in gauge, you won't have a problem.  BUT, if either one of those two things are off a tiny amount, the locomotive wheels will make contact with both point and stock rail and cause a short.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Monday, November 14, 2011 8:23 PM

gandydancer19
 cacole:

DCC Friendly is basically just advertising hype to make you think one brand of turnout is better than another.

 

What makes the turnout DCC friendly is that the open point rail is the same polarity as the stock rail next to it. 

  Is that really an official definition or just an observation?

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:07 AM

I hand-lay my turnouts, use live frogs and, because of the way I install points, the open point is as (electrically) dead as Julius Caesar.

There are those who will tell you that live frogs aren't, "DCC friendly."  True, if you try a trailing point move when the points are aligned for the other route you WILL have a short.  The cure is to ALWAYS make sure the points are set for YOUR route BEFORE trying to cross the frog.

Question.  Which would you prefer?

  1. Locomotive shorts on live frog, stops the world until the breaker is reset.
  2. Locomotive rides up on closed point, derails and either stays upright or rolls over - and possibly makes an uncontrolled descent to the layout room floor.
  3. Locomotive splits the switch and goes on to a cornfield meet - aka headon collision with another train.

I know which I would rather have happen!

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by wp8thsub on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:30 AM

Texas Zepher

 gandydancer19:

What makes the turnout DCC friendly is that the open point rail is the same polarity as the stock rail next to it. 

  Is that really an official definition or just an observation?

Not sure about "official," but every DCC friendly turnout I've encountered fits that description.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by fwright on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 11:32 AM

trainnut1250

You actually have several issues here:

The first is that the Shinoharas are power routing.  This means that they rely on contact between the point rail and the stock rail to power the turnout through the frog.  This set up gets sketchy over time as the turnout ages and begins to create dead zones as the points don't conduct electricity through the turnout.  I have a buddy with over 100 HOn3 Power routing shinoharas and he spends lots of time cleaning contact points to keep the turnouts conducting power correctly.  There are several fixes for this issue.

The usual fix is to add a feeder for the frog and power it through a separate contact on the switch machine (or manual throw).  The frog feeder becomes a parallel path for powering the points/closure rail/frog and the selected turnout path.  The points are powered through the hinges if they don't make perfect contact with the stock rail. 

The second issue is the backs of wheels shorting against the points of the opposite polarity as they pass.  The same buddy didn't modify a single turnout when he converted to DCC and has had no problems with these types of shorts.  He runs lots of older brass as well as the latest Blackstone offerings.

What many folks don't realize is that the same possibility for the wheels shorting out happens in DC.  In larger HO standard gauge, the locomotive/train usually powers through the momentary short, the circuit breaker doesn't trip, and the short goes unnoticed.  With the much smaller HOn3 engines and the shorter, lighter trains, the odds of powering through the momentary back of the wheel short even when using DC are significantly decreased.  And as Guy said, the Shinoharas in HOn3 have a reputation for not having the wheels short out.  They rarely need modifying for use in DCC.

Advice:  If the number of turnouts is small, I would buy Litco, Cream city or Railway Engineering turnouts that are already wired to be DCC friendly and not use the Shinoharas at all.  Absent that, I would take the time to modify the Shinoharas, not because of the shorting issue, but mainly to make your life simpler when it comes to continuity issues as the turnouts age. 

Be very careful of what you are buying if you go down this road.  Litco and Cream City use Fast Tracks designs and templates, which are usually hingeless points.  Stephen Hatch at Railway Engineering also uses hingeless points.  Unless the closure rail is gapped, both point rails are tied electrically to the frog and you electrically have the same situation as a Shinohara.  The examples of HOn3 Litco turnouts I have seen do not have this gap.  They may have changed since.  Railway Engineering will put in the gaps at your request, and I believe Cream City does also.

HOn3 is small enough that continuity is an issue, those points are tiny and you want the most reliable powering scheme to make operating fun.  Nothing like having to tap the loco to get it to run past a dead spot.....

How very, very true.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:39 PM

wp8thsub

 Texas Zepher:

 gandydancer19:

What makes the turnout DCC friendly is that the open point rail is the same polarity as the stock rail next to it. 

  Is that really an official definition or just an observation?

 

Not sure about "official," but every DCC friendly turnout I've encountered fits that description.

It is certainly the most logical and concise definition I've heard.  It still leaves me a little uncomfortable because as gandy pointed out , it isn't really the turnout that causes the problem but the sloppy standards of the equipment passing through.

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Posted by Train Modeler on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:48 PM

As you can tell from the responses, you have some justification in your confusion.    No question there are some mods which can help alleviate problems if other problems come up first from bad maintenance.  In other words, if you wreck, have wheels out of gage, extra large flanges, etc--then extra effort to avoid "weird" shorts makes sense. 

I use PECO, Shinohara, Atlas, and other turnouts/double slips, etc..    I converted my layout from a common rail DC system and haven't had any problems with a lot of turnouts--probably over 50 of them. 

Richard

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:12 PM

 If they don;t cut the gap below the frog then they aren;t following Fast Tracks designs, which are really just NMRA specification, but Fast tracks instructions and technique clearly have you cut the gaps to isolate he frog, which can then easily have a wire soldered to it to provide power. Fast tracks turnputs built per their instructions meet all requirements to be 'DCC Friendly"

 There really is no official definition, jus tliek there is not one for "DCC Ready" locos. The most critical piece is having he point and adjacent stock rail the same polarity, ie insulated throwbar and gap below the frog. Power routing or not is not critical.

                           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 6:16 AM

Well, after reading through 11 replies to the OP's question, now I am confused.  I wonder how the OP is coping with all of this.

I use Altas Custom Line #6 turnouts throughout my DCC powered layout, but I also use several different Walthers Shinohara turnouts including curved turnouts, double crossovers and double slips.  All of these items are marketed as DCC friendly.  I have never cut gaps or added wiring, and I have never experienced any form of shorts when running equipment through these various track items.

Definitions aside, that is what DCC Friendly means to me, no gaps required, no special wiring, dead frogs.  What am I missing?

Rich

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Posted by RDG1519 on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 7:48 AM

This is a good thread on the subject.

Interestingly enough my PECO code 83 DCC Friendly turnouts are DCC Friendly except when I created a run arround track. I am using a set of PECO turnouts at each end. Each end of the run arround is a set of PECO turnouts enabling the loco to cross from one track to the other, a crossover arrangement.

All the DCC equipped loco's work great except for one type, my great running Athearn SW1500's (new version). They stall as they move from one turnout and start to enter the second turnout of the cross over. This happens at both ends of the run arround.

I tryed painting a part of the track where I thought the width of the wheel was creating a short. This did not resolve the issue. How can I combine isolating frogs and sections of rail to enable the SW1500's to run without shorting out? Why is it that it is just the Athearn SW 1500's?

Chris

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:03 AM

RDG1519,

Is the loco stalling or shorting?

When I experience stalls, not shorts, on turnouts or double crossovers or double slips, I wire every end of that piece of track, and the stalls disappear.  Shorts are a whole different matter, of course.

Rich

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 9:44 AM

RDG1519

All the DCC equipped loco's work great except for one type, my great running Athearn SW1500's (new version). They stall as they move from one turnout and start to enter the second turnout of the cross over. This happens at both ends of the run arround.

Chris

 

As richhotrain asks, is it stalling or shorting?  If you have feeders going to both the main and the siding, it is possible that you have the wires swapped to one or the other.  And this would result in a short.  But if other engines are crossing this gap okay, then this condition would be unlikely.

If the engine is stalling, you may not be getting electrical pickup from both ends.  To check for this, slide a piece of paper under one truck, apply power, and see if the engine moves off the paper.  If it does, check the other end in the same manner.

It could also be that you have an electrical discontinuity.  Check that the points are making good contact with the stock rails when they are thrown.  Clean the contacting areas to make sure.  Do you have unsoldered rail joiners at the powered (point) end of the turnout?  If so, make sure they are tight.  

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Posted by Train Modeler on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 9:51 AM

RDG1519

This is a good thread on the subject.

Interestingly enough my PECO code 83 DCC Friendly turnouts are DCC Friendly except when I created a run arround track. I am using a set of PECO turnouts at each end. Each end of the run arround is a set of PECO turnouts enabling the loco to cross from one track to the other, a crossover arrangement.

All the DCC equipped loco's work great except for one type, my great running Athearn SW1500's (new version). They stall as they move from one turnout and start to enter the second turnout of the cross over. This happens at both ends of the run arround.

I tryed painting a part of the track where I thought the width of the wheel was creating a short. This did not resolve the issue. How can I combine isolating frogs and sections of rail to enable the SW1500's to run without shorting out? Why is it that it is just the Athearn SW 1500's?

Chris

 

Actually this sounds like it's stalling.   If it were a short, the system would make an alerting noise and perhaps shut down(maybe it is and you just didn't say). 

If that loco has sound, as mine did, I added a larger capacitor and it helped a bunch.   If it doesn't have sound I would check to make sure all wheels are picking up current reliably and that the pickup connections are good on the PC board.  Athearn  uses those push connectors that can come loose from the PC board.

Richard

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 10:57 AM

This is where a voltmeter or test light would really come in handy.

You would test each piece or small section of track like the wheels of a loco would do as it is going through the turnout / crossover.  One probe on each rail and slide them along directly opposite of each other.  This would tell you if you had continuity to every piece of rail / track.

To check for mis-wired sections or pieces, keep the probes on the same rail and work one along the rail while leaving the other one in the same place.  If you get a section that lights up, that section is the opposite or wrong polarity.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by RDG1519 on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 4:10 PM

Thanks, actually this is a short. The DCC system shuts down. It happens on both sets of turnouts at either end of the turnarround. Should have posted that earlier.

I will try the paper under a wheel and see what I get.

Chris

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
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Posted by RDG1519 on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 4:41 PM

When positioning the piece of paper there is sufficient weight that the engine is bumped and than the engine begins to move. I will run in the dark to see if I can see a spark.

Chris

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 5:52 PM

RDG1519

When positioning the piece of paper there is sufficient weight that the engine is bumped and than the engine begins to move. I will run in the dark to see if I can see a spark.

Chris

To test if the loco is picking up current properly, you don't need to put it on the section of track where you are having a problem.  Just put it on a straight piece of track, slide the paper under one end, and apply power.  If the engine moves, put the paper under the other end and repeat the test.

But a more basic question.  You said that your PECO code 83 turnouts were DCC friendly.  I just looked at the Walthers on-line catalog and see that they are offered both insulfrog and electrofrog.  Which type do you have?  Depending upon how they are actually internally wired, you may have to install some insulators.

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, November 17, 2011 6:00 AM

RDG1519

This is a good thread on the subject.

Interestingly enough my PECO code 83 DCC Friendly turnouts are DCC Friendly except when I created a run arround track. I am using a set of PECO turnouts at each end. Each end of the run arround is a set of PECO turnouts enabling the loco to cross from one track to the other, a crossover arrangement.

All the DCC equipped loco's work great except for one type, my great running Athearn SW1500's (new version). They stall short as they move from one turnout and start to enter the second turnout of the cross over. This happens at both ends of the run arround.

I tryed painting a part of the track where I thought the width of the wheel was creating a short. This did not resolve the issue. How can I combine isolating frogs and sections of rail to enable the SW1500's to run without shorting out? Why is it that it is just the Athearn SW 1500's?

Chris

 

Chris,

Now that you have clarified that it is a short, not a stall, I took the liberty to strike out the word "stall" and insert the word "short" in italics.  That ought to make it easier for others who may be reading this thread.

Since the short only occurs with your Athearn SW 1500's (how many do you have?), and since the short occurs on both of your crossovers at either end of your runaround track, it seems likely that the problem is attributable to your specific locos rather than the turnouts.

You say that these locos short as they move from one turnout and start to enter the second turnout of the cross over.  Immediately or once the lead wheels reach the point rails?  Pin it down for us as best you can.

Rich

 

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Posted by RDG1519 on Thursday, November 17, 2011 6:08 AM

Thanks Maxman,

They are all insulfrog.

The "spark test in the dark" revealed the short is across the two diverging inside rails. The wheel tread of the SW1500 is just wide enough to bridge these.

Paper test confirms all wheels are picking up. Its interesting that the loco will back across the paper.

With regard to insulators, where might you place these?

Thanks, Chris

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, November 17, 2011 6:17 AM

RDG1519

Thanks Maxman,

They are all insulfrog.

The "spark test in the dark" revealed the short is across the two diverging inside rails. The wheel tread of the SW1500 is just wide enough to bridge these.

Paper test confirms all wheels are picking up. Its interesting that the loco will back across the paper.

With regard to insulators, where might you place these?

Thanks, Chris

It seems to me that if the locos move backwards across the point rails without shorting, then the problem must be somewhere in the front trucks of these problem locos.  From what you have been describing, the turnouts don't seem to be the problem.

Rich

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Posted by yankee flyer on Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:09 AM

richhotrain

 

 RDG1519:

 

Thanks Maxman,

They are all insulfrog.

The "spark test in the dark" revealed the short is across the two diverging inside rails. The wheel tread of the SW1500 is just wide enough to bridge these.

Paper test confirms all wheels are picking up. Its interesting that the loco will back across the paper.

With regard to insulators, where might you place these?

Thanks, Chris

 

 

It seems to me that if the locos move backwards across the point rails without shorting, then the problem must be somewhere in the front trucks of these problem locos.  From what you have been describing, the turnouts don't seem to be the problem.

Rich

 

Are you talking about the narrow gap between the diverging rails at the frog? My SW8 had that problem if IIRC.
I have had to widen this gap with several of my turnouts when I first started out. A "Dremel" with a thin cut off wheel will do the job nicely.

Good luck.

Lee

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:29 AM

yankee flyer

 

Are you talking about the narrow gap between the diverging rails at the frog? My SW8 had that problem if IIRC.  I have had to widen this gap with several of my turnouts when I first started out. A "Dremel" with a thin cut off wheel will do the job nicely.

That may be, and sometimes I have had to modify a turnout all because of one troublesome loco.

What I wonder about in this case, though, is why these particular locos don't short in reverse but only in forward?

Rich

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Posted by yankee flyer on Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:01 AM

 

What I wonder about in this case, though, is why these particular locos don't short in reverse but only in forward?
Rich
_____________________________________________________________________________

Rich

I have had the locos do some strange things and wouldn't put it past the little suckers.
I now have an Atlas turnout that I picked up at a swap meet, that shorts out when a train moves through. I've widen the gap and checked everything I know about, with no luck.
This turnout appears to be an older unit. the outside guide rails have a metal strip on the top. I don't see this on the new Atlas turnouts. If the loco goes through at slow speed it shuts the POWER CAB down.
I believe the only solution is to replace the turnout.

Hope everything works out.

Lee

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Posted by RDG1519 on Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:24 AM

Lee and Rich,

Thanks.

The SW 1500's  will short forward and reverse. I think it is tread width.

Since it is just the new SW1500's I am thinking maybe replace the wheel sets with NWSL???

In my signature I show a green RDG SW 8 P2K. This one and others like it have no trouble. I sound equipped it with a LokSound.

This adds a new meaning to Murphy's Corelary "nature sides with the hidden flaw".

Chris

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Posted by yankee flyer on Thursday, November 17, 2011 11:39 AM

 

Following up on my previous comment, I have just ran 10 locos through this "defective" Bang Head turnout and the conclusion is that it doesn't make any difference what type truck that shuts down the system.
I used SW8 which was no problem to my steam 2-6-6-2. Some of the GPs  shorted and the SD7 didn't.
Some shorted on the turnout most shorted on straight through. I even ran a Kadee axle through, pushing slightly toward the turnout side, it shorted every time. This is with almost an 1/8" gap between the opposing rails. I am going to pull the ??? thing  Whistling out and replace it.

Are we having fun yet?

Lee

Note: some don't short at all.

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, November 17, 2011 12:01 PM

yankee flyer

 

Following up on my previous comment, I have just ran 10 locos through this "defective" Bang Head turnout and the conclusion is that it doesn't make any difference what type truck that shuts down the system.
I used SW8 which was no problem to my steam 2-6-6-2. Some of the GPs  shorted and the SD7 didn't.
Some shorted on the turnout most shorted on straight through. I even ran a Kadee axle through, pushing slightly toward the turnout side, it shorted every time. This is with almost an 1/8" gap between the opposing rails. I am going to pull the ??? thing  Whistling out and replace it.

Are we having fun yet?

Lee

I think part of the problem trying to analyze these issues is that some of the smart people who could help out might be having trouble understanding where the shorts are actually happening.  This might be due to the fact that we are not using clear, standard, terminology.  Pushing an axle through toward the turnout side and describing a 1/8 inch gap between the opposing rails is not exactly clear to the reader.  Maybe it would be better if we all had pictures of turnouts in front of us.  Here is a link to a PECO Insulfrog: http://www.wiringfordcc.com/switches_peco.htm.  And here is a link to an Atlas: http://www.wiringfordcc.com/switches_atlas_roco.htm.

I'm not criticizing, mind you, just trying to make things clearer.

Hope this might be helpful to some.

Regards

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