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Powering Signals When Using Peco Spring Loaded Turnouts

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Posted by gregc on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 5:23 PM

richhotrain
However, when the Insulfrog is powered on all three ends of the turnout, as in my case, both point rails are always energized, effectively defeating the benefit of power routing.

could you isolate at least one rail to take advantage of the power routing so that you have a mechanism for sensing the turnout position?

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 6:52 PM

 Such a thing is definitely possible, but by the time you build the electronics, just using a simple snap switch pushed by the throwbar when moving the points by hand is far simpler. 

                                     --Randy


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Posted by gregc on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 7:13 PM

if you had a power routed frog, all you would need is an LED and series resistor between it and one of the stock rails.   The LED would be lit when the frog is powered from the opposite rail.

in this case, an LED and series resistor connected to a power routed point rail and the opposite stock rail would indicate when the points rail is powered.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 8:15 PM

In the dark ages of DC and power routing hand layed all rail turnouts, if we did not want the turnout to control the siding, we simply gapped the two frog rails past the frog, and ran a jumper or second feeder to the track past the turnout.

The route not selected would have both rails the same polarity up to the point of the gap in the frog rail - no problem.

But I will no longer rely on turnout points to conduct power, and I prefer the Atlas wiring scheme as it works better with my control system, the reasons why are too complex to explain here and are part of the automatic train control feature of my control system.

So as explained above, even my manual turnouts are connected to electrical switches which perform a number of functions depending on the situation.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 5:52 AM

 

It has become obvious to me that I do not have a switching device on the Peco Insulfrog to trigger the red/green LEDs on the signal.

Had I bought and installed Peco Electrofrogs, I could have used the powered metal frog as the switching device. But I chose Insulfrogs over Electrofrogs because the Insulfrogs were each $3.00 cheaper and a lot easier to install without the need for gaps. I don't regret that choice.

And I sure did not want to install 60 to 70 Tortoises. So, I chose spring loaded Pecos over Tortoise controlled Atlas turnouts.

My feeling is that since the Pecos require manual action to throw the spring loaded point rails, what's the big deal about using the same finger to activate the signal. After all, even with the Tortoise controlled turnouts, I still needed to flip the toggle switch on the DPDT on my last layout.

The one flaw in my plan is that I could forget to activate the switching device, resulting in the wrong color LED on the signal device. However, if I use a SPT toggle mounted on the fascia, I can install a bi-polar LED right next to the SPT to show which way the point rails are thrown. So, that is probably the way that I will go with the signal plan.

Rich

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 6:38 AM

Peco has two types of contacts that can be mounted below their turnouts but both supposedly require a Peco turnout double solenoid motor to mount them. I wonder how difficult it would be to mount them without the motor? You would have to glue a pin into the sliding part of the contacts which would then go through the throw bar.

Here is the less expensive unit. This one is just glued to the bottom of the motor so making up a mounting plate shouldn't be hard at all:

https://peco-uk.com/collections/peco/products/accessory-switch-turnout-motor-mounting

Here is the pricier one if you need more than one set of contacts:

https://peco-uk.com/collections/peco/products/twin-microswitch-turnout-motor-mounting

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 7:38 AM

Rich
 
OK, I have the fix!  This works, I tried it this morning.
 
I used a brass 0-80 x ½” or 13mm screw through the moving tie.  Fit perfect no, threading necessary.  I used a pair of .02” Bronze rods as contact levers.
 
 
 
As always click twice to enlarge.
 
A small #30 super flex wire soldered to the screw will allow easy flexing, the movement is less than ⅛”.
 
With the bronze rods anchored at 2” there is very little pressure on the screw.
 
I’ll leave the mounting of the rods up to you but this works, SPDT switch.
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 9:03 AM

Mel, thank you for your time and effort, especially the explanation and photos.

Let me take a closer look at this fix.

Rich

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 9:35 AM

To make it a bit smaller .01” bronze rods would work at 1” from the screw.  You don’t need large wire for lighting LEDs so smaller spring bronze wire would work.  I was thinking of using CA to attach the rod to a small square of Styrene then CA to hold the Styrene to the bottom of the ties.
 
It would require a shallow groove in the cork about ⅛” deep but should be very reliable, just make sure the screw puts a bit of pressure on the rods.
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 11:27 AM

I'm no electrician, but Mel's idea makes sense to me (maybe that's why?)

If I'm thinking of this correctly, sliding a point rail against something metal activates a separate circuit that changes the sitting green signal to red, or visa versa.  The circuit doesn't run through the rails at all, making insulfrog vs electrofrog or power routing issues moot in this situation.

- Douglas

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 11:52 AM

Doughless

I'm no electrician, but Mel's idea makes sense to me (maybe that's why?)

If I'm thinking of this correctly, sliding a point rail against something metal activates a separate circuit that changes the sitting green signal to red, or visa versa.  The circuit doesn't run through the rails at all, making insulfrog vs electrofrog or power routing issues moot in this situation. 

What troubles me about what I call "mechanical" solutions to the problem is that they are prone to fail. The beauty of an "electronic" solution to the problem is that it is not likely to fail since it does not depend upon physical forces.

What I should have done, if I care to second guess myself, was to install Peco Electrofrogs, not Insulfrogs.

Rich

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 12:06 PM

Rick
 
How about a Caboose Hobbies Ground Throw with the SPDT switch?
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 12:22 PM

 Even using Electrofrog turnouts woudn't completely solve the problem. If installed unmodified, you would get the electrical switch action, but it would be relying on the point rails contacting the stock rails, bot to light the signals AND power the raisl through the turnout. Not a reliable way of doing things at all.

 I'm using Electrofrog on my new layout, all modified using the jumper points to isolate the frog for independent powering, and tying the point/closure rails to the adjacent stock rails. By the time I get that far, the Code 70 stuff should be readily available, so I am plannign on using that for sidings and yards. Those are expected to all be the new Unifrog design, but given that these will be areas traversed by smaller locos, at lower speeds, I will probably at the very least make arrangements to power even the small insulated section of frog, even if it turns out I don't need to hook it up to anything. That worked out well on my last layout - every turnout was pre-wired to power the frog before installation, and then it turned out I had quite reliable operation without actually hooking those wires up.

                                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by gregc on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 3:03 PM

points contact with stock rails.   self cleaning

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 3:26 PM

Greg
 
That’s not an Insulfrog turnout, the Insulfrog doesn’t have the wipers.
 
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 3:48 PM

RR_Mel

Rick
 
How about a Caboose Hobbies Ground Throw with the SPDT switch?
 
 
Mel 

That would work of course, but the whole reason for installing Pecos was to to be able to take advantage of the spring loaded point rails, so that I can throw them with a flick of the finger.

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 4:33 PM

 I like Dave's idea of using the Peco contacts. The contacts, like their solenoid motors, are free moving - they don't have over center prints or wipers to hold in position like a regular switch, or like an Atlas solenoid motor, because the over center spring to hold the points to one side is part of the turnout itself. So by rigging the Peco contacts to the throwbar, you gain the electrical contacts needed to operate signals or whatever, and still have the manual push the points control of the turnout, no additional electronics needed.

                             --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 4:43 PM

rrinker

 I like Dave's idea of using the Peco contacts. The contacts, like their solenoid motors, are free moving - they don't have over center prints or wipers to hold in position like a regular switch, or like an Atlas solenoid motor, because the over center spring to hold the points to one side is part of the turnout itself. So by rigging the Peco contacts to the throwbar, you gain the electrical contacts needed to operate signals or whatever, and still have the manual push the points control of the turnout, no additional electronics needed.

                             --Randy 

I'm not sure that I understand this idea at all. Would this involve drilling through the plywood layout surface?

Rich

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 4:45 PM

richhotrain

 

 
RR_Mel

Rick
 
How about a Caboose Hobbies Ground Throw with the SPDT switch?
 
 
Mel 

 

 

That would work of course, but the whole reason for installing Pecos was to to be able to take advantage of the spring loaded point rails, so that I can throw them with a flick of the finger.

 

Rich

 

Gotcha.
 
I really like the Peco Spring too.  I’ve converted several of my Atlas turnouts to the Peco spring type and use the Peco PL-10, much better than using the Atlas switch machines.
 
 
 
That means back to the Mel switch.
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 6:49 PM

richhotrain

 

 
rrinker

 I like Dave's idea of using the Peco contacts. The contacts, like their solenoid motors, are free moving - they don't have over center prints or wipers to hold in position like a regular switch, or like an Atlas solenoid motor, because the over center spring to hold the points to one side is part of the turnout itself. So by rigging the Peco contacts to the throwbar, you gain the electrical contacts needed to operate signals or whatever, and still have the manual push the points control of the turnout, no additional electronics needed.

                             --Randy 

 

 

I'm not sure that I understand this idea at all. Would this involve drilling through the plywood layout surface?

 

Rich

 

 Yes, you would have to clear a space below the turnout. The Peco motors and the contacts both are designed to hang off the bottom of the turnout under the throwbar. Depending on how thick the contacts are, you might get away with just clearing the space in the roadbed, unless you are laying the track right on the plywood. You'd need to clear space under the turnout for Mel's DIY method as well, but it's effectively the same thing.

Another way would be to combine the methods - a small protrusion down from the throwbar like the screw in Mel's example, impacting on a snap action switch laid on its side. I'm pretty sure you can get ones thin enough to fit within the thickness of cork roadbed. In one position, the lever of the switch would be released, and the normally clsoed contacts woudl be active. Flip the throwbar the other way, and the nub added to the bottom pushes the lever of the switch, closing the normally open contacts. Quick searching, I can find some that are 5mm thick, same as HO cork. There might be thinner ones out there.

                             --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, October 24, 2019 1:02 AM

rrinker
I'm not sure that I understand this idea at all. Would this involve drilling through the plywood layout surface?   Rich    Yes, you would have to clear a space below the turnout. The Peco motors and the contacts both are designed to hang off the bottom of the turnout under the throwbar. Depending on how thick the contacts are, you might get away with just clearing the space in the roadbed, unless you are laying the track right on the plywood

Hi Randy and Rich,

This is pure speculation, but I wonder if either of the Peco switches could be mounted below the subroadbed with just a small hole required to make space for the rod that links the throw bar to the switch. The rod would have to be mounted securely in the hole in the switch so that it moves the contacts as the throw bar moves, but I don't see why the Peco switch has to be right tight to the bottom of the turnout.

Something that I would suggest is to mount the Peco switch on a larger piece of thicker styrene. With somewhat oversized holes in the styrene and washers on the mounting screws, the switch position could be easily adjusted to make it work properly.

Just an idea.

Dave

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, October 24, 2019 4:57 AM

On my last layout, I used Atlas Custom Line turnouts, powered by Tortoises. One of the internal switches on the Tortoise controlled the signal associated with that turnout. This system worked flawlessly.

On my new layout I decided to use Peco turnouts because the idea of a spring loaded turnout really appealed to me, and it eliminated the need for a Tortoise to control point rail movements. A significant advantage of this arrangement is the elimination of under layout turnout controls. No drilling, no laying on my back to install motorized devices.

I don't intend to reverse that decision at this point. For that reason, I revived this thread to learn if there was an electronic solution. By electronic solution, I mean a method of wiring alone that will power the signal. It does not appear that such a solution exists with the Peco Insulfrog.

Rich

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, October 24, 2019 9:53 AM

OK, one more shot.
 
The only problem with this is the Peco points are the power pickup for the power through the turnout.
 
 
 I have one Peco Insulfrog working using the points to power the turnout rails for about four years and never had a problem, it is powered with a PL-10 switch machine not hand thrown.  Even though it's switch machine operated it would work the same because of the Peco spring.
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by gregc on Thursday, October 24, 2019 10:16 AM

RR_Mel
The only problem with this is the Peco points are the power pickup for the power through the turnout.

does this mean the points not aligned with the stock rail are un-powered?

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by Water Level Route on Thursday, October 24, 2019 11:10 AM

gregc
does this mean the points not aligned with the stock rail are un-powered?

Yes, unless fed from the other end of the turnout.

Mike

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, October 24, 2019 12:15 PM

gregc

 

does this mean the points not aligned with the stock rail are un-powered?

 

Greg
 
Yes.  Here is my drawing of the frog and jumpers.
 
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by gregc on Thursday, October 24, 2019 12:39 PM

then, isolating one of the point rails from the other end of the turnout, relying on the power routing mechanism (tab or otherwise) of the turnout and attaching a wire to that rail provides a signal indicating turnout position.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, October 24, 2019 1:38 PM

Greg
 
The Peco I have is new in the package and the point rails to side rails don’t measure 0 ohms, just over 1 ohm (Fluke 179).  I’m not sure whether they will work well enough to pass power to the locomotive.  The Insulfrog doesn’t have the contact wiper on the point rail.  
 
 
EDIT:
 
The resistance must be between the plating on my meter probes to the nickel silver rails.  It measures the same resistance on the single straight through side rail.
 
 
Mel
 
 
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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, October 24, 2019 6:51 PM

richhotrain

 

 
Doughless

I'm no electrician, but Mel's idea makes sense to me (maybe that's why?)

If I'm thinking of this correctly, sliding a point rail against something metal activates a separate circuit that changes the sitting green signal to red, or visa versa.  The circuit doesn't run through the rails at all, making insulfrog vs electrofrog or power routing issues moot in this situation. 

 

 

What troubles me about what I call "mechanical" solutions to the problem is that they are prone to fail. The beauty of an "electronic" solution to the problem is that it is not likely to fail since it does not depend upon physical forces.

 

 

But I think all on/off switches rely upon physical forces.  Point rail to stock rail contact is physical force, as is what ever makes contact within those little plastic boxes we call switches.  When we press a button or flip a throwbar, something inside the box touches something else.  How else does electricity know which path to take?

 Its seems like you're trying to use the rails of the turnouts themselves as the signal's on/off switch.  I think there is another way, but the specifics of how to build it are above my pay grade.

- Douglas

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, October 24, 2019 7:19 PM

richhotrain
 

I mentioned that my Peco Insulfrog turnouts are powered by feeders on alll three ends of each turnout. That being the case, all of the rails are powered on each turnout. Only the plastic frog is dead. 

Rich 

richhotrain
 

If the Insulfrog is powered only on the stock rails at the tail end of the turnout, only the point rail touching its stock rail is powered, thus power routing. I guess that this would be useful for dead rail sidings.

However, when the Insulfrog is powered on all three ends of the turnout, as in my case, both point rails are always energized, effectively defeating the benefit of power routing.

Rich 

I got to thinking more about my own observations relating to the behavior of the Insulfrog. If only the tail end of the Insulfrog is powered, the power routing feature works. But if all three ends of the Insulfrog are powered, the power routing feature no longer works. So, I gapped the two non-tail ends of the Insulfrog. With the gaps in place, I was able to power a signal off the rails, using DCC power.

However, this only worked in certain situations. I could successfully power my dwarf signals which used separate red and green LEDs. But, I failed to power my search light signals which use a bi-polar red/green LED. The problem arises with the common wire. 

With the dwarf signal, I can pigtail the common wire and connect it to the opposite rail on both the straight through and divergent routes. But when I do that with the search light signal, the bi-polar LED turns amber on one of the routes.

Any suggestions with how to deal with the common wire on a bi-polar LED setup?

Rich

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