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N Scale turnouts - DCC friendly options

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  • Member since
    April, 2012
  • 1 posts
N Scale turnouts - DCC friendly options
Posted by Ge0gwafr on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 12:47 AM

G'day from Perth in Western Australia

If any of you have run DCC with an N scale layout you would be familiar with the stop-start contact problems many locos encounter with turnouts (I have heard it is less of a problem with larger scales). I have been running mainly 6 axle consists to reduce the stop-start contact problems that I had with many of my Peco turnouts (factory standard code 80) - i.e. the other locos can push the loco that has lost contact across the turnout.  I have seen some customised wiring modifications online to eliminate the problem and am willing to do that if I absolutely have to. But if there are any turnouts coming on the market that do not require this modification task I would be interested in using them in my planned layout re-build.  If there are none I'd like to hear from people who have an opinion about which N-scale turnouts are the least problematic/most reliable with DCC.  PS - I was considering code 55 for the new layout.  Thanks.


Tags: DCC , N , Turnouts
  • Member since
    November, 2004
  • From: Brisbane Australia
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Posted by james saunders on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 7:49 AM

Are they insulfrog or electrofrog?

I use code 80 insulfrog, and I've only had one point with a problem, which I happened to replace today. all my other turnouts work fine. I do make sure I have feeder wires between turnouts. I also have modern 6 axle locos.

Have you ballasted etc? sometimes the small wire contacts can corrode or lift away. If possible remove them and have a look at the underside for any problems with the contacts. Even out of the package sometimes they can develop faults.

If you are having a number of problems, the 'hard wiring' may be the only option.

James, Brisbane Australia

Modelling AT&SF in the 90s

  • Member since
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  • From: N.E. Lancashire (off Jnt. 12, M65.
  • 215 posts
Posted by john.pickles87 on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 8:50 AM

Hi , and welcome.

Adding to what Jim says, I have only used E/frog points (codes 83 &55) with PL10E motors, I fit motor switches and back feed from the frogs to help with cotinuity because of the small contact area at the blade tips.

So long as NMRA profile wheels are run (not the chair cutters from the sixties) there'll be little problems, also watch out for pointwork loosing profile ( twisting out of line) as you pin it down, don't like glueing and use water soliable PVA to rescue track after ballasting.

Just putting me twopenerth in

Be in touch.


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  • From: Eastern Shore Virginia
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Posted by gandydancer19 on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 1:52 PM

Welcome  Welcome to the Forums.

Since you are going to build a new layout or rebuild your old one, I would use all electro-frog type turnouts.  That would eliminate any plastic from the track except for crossings and give you more reliable electrical pick-up throughout.


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.) at home, and N scale at the Club.

  • Member since
    April, 2007
  • From: Clearlake, California. USA
  • 869 posts
Posted by Lake on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 8:21 PM

On my N scale layout, code80, I run short 4 axle, longer 4 axle, short 6 axle and long 6 axle engines.

All of my turnouts are Atlas with the plastic frogs. I have never had power problems with the engines stalling on the switches. Unless power is not getting to track past the frog. If the power is not getting past the frog area then I just run feeders as needed to the track that needs it. Works just fine every time.

Ken G Price   My N-Scale Layout

Digitrax Super Empire Builder Radio System. South Valley Texas Railroad. SVTRR

N-Scale out west. 1996-1998 or so! UP, SP, Missouri Pacific, C&NW.

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    July, 2008
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Posted by mfm37 on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 8:55 PM

If you are using PECO switches use only Electrofrogs. Since the frog needs to be isolated, it will always be the proper phase when the wheels hit it.

Insulfrogs will have the plastic frog but each rail will be different polarity (phase). If a metal wheel contacts both pieces of rail it will short. This doesn't happen on every insulfrog but can and does happen on occasion. I've noticed it's more prevalent with six axle engines. Using Electrofrogs won't change the geometry a bit as the occasional wheel will still contact both metal rails. It cures the dual polarity (phase) issue.

Martin Myers

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Neenah, WI
  • 192 posts
Posted by sschnabl on Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:37 PM

I've had the Peco C55 electrofrogs for about 8 years now and have no issues with locomotives stalling at the frog.  I model the transition era, so all diesels are 4-axle, and my smallest steamer is a 4-6-0.  I have gapped all four rails after the frog, which might be overkill but it has worked for me.


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    March, 2011
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Posted by owen w in california on Thursday, April 19, 2012 3:16 PM

Hi George: I've been using hand thrown N Scale Peco Code 80 Electrofrogs for many years. And I went for years looking for a simple way to power the turnout (slide switches, blue points, etc).

 I had the same issue and attacked it it two ways, and now, finally, I have a fantastic running layout - SW1500 at 5 MPH over the turnouts. Hope this helps.

Initially, I installed jumpers along the outside of the point rails, across the pivot joint. This improved the electrical connection made by the points, but still not 100% reliable, because it didn't address the frog. And it's tedious to do, but not absurdly so (unless you have 500 turnouts).

Last year I discovered a fantastic electronic fix,  that is easy to install, but not cheap.  Check out the Frog Juicer at Tam Valley Depot.  One wire to the frog, insulate both frog rails and you are done on the turnout. The under the layout part of the Juicer is then connected to the bus wires and that's it. Simple, elegant solution.

My understanding is that when the turnout is thrown, the frog juicer senses the "polarity?" change and eliminates the conflict before the DCC system detects a short.  

This isn't cheap ($69 for a six turnout juicer), but the expense was worth it for me (55 turnouts), because the layout runs flawlessly now.

Not all my turnouts have the jumpers, but all work perfect with the Frog Juicer, so the jumpers may not be needed. 

Hope this helps.

 Insulfrogs have different problems, as discussed above.

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  • 37 posts
Posted by Denver on Saturday, January 09, 2016 4:14 AM

G'day from Townsville in North Queensland, Australia

I have been pulling my hair out with a couple of issues as i have just purchased an NCE ProCab Radio controlled system from the USA as we have no model railway shops (at all) up here and my "local" hobby shops are in Denver, CO and Cockeysville, MD.  

However i needed a 15v AC transformer and the local JCar shop could not help me so i called Brunell Hobbies in Melbourne as they were advertising a suitable unit. They told me that the Australian NCE distributor would not allow them to sell a transformer on its own! i said thats too bad as i was going to buy a 2nd NCE controller from you as well. I also wonder what ACCC would say about such a restrictive trade practice. As it turned out they did not have the controller in stock (so much for buying from an Australian hobby shop) and i bought a very good transformer from TorTec in Sydney ( for $20 less which works just fine and meets NCE requirements.

I then started to worry about turnouts and spent a lot of time watching lots of Youtube videos and reading web pages written by HOers in which they advised making modifications to Peco Electrofrog turnouts and adding a SPDT switch. Well while thats an option in HO (and Peco have apparently modified their HO turnouts to make it easier) making the changes to N scale turnouts is much more difficult. Then i found a web site at in which the guy said that whilst all of these wiring mods are a good idea all that you HAVE TO DO is add insulated rail joiners (or gaps) after the frog on BOTH the mainline and diverging routes. I already had a test layout set up with two (2) turnouts configured as a crossover and had experienced the expected shorts. But after i cut gaps in the two rails after the frog everything worked just fine.

The website went on to say that you "may still have an intermittent short as our locomotives go through the points and the inside and mainline diverging rails." But the big word here is MAY - which is not the same as you WILL.

So given the challanges of making mods to N scale turnouts, not to mention the time and cost, I will take my chances that i may have problems from time to time.

So in the end my NCE system is working just fine and i am very pleased with my purchase.

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