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Adding wiring contacts for DC track pick-up

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  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 6 posts
Adding wiring contacts for DC track pick-up
Posted by LVRAIL on Monday, February 11, 2008 11:29 AM

My track is laid and wired for DC in typical blocks.  Until recently all my motive power ran well crossing over the Atlas turnouts.  I never bothered with wiring the frogs with polarity relays. Never had the need as all my loco's had multiple wheel power pick-up and did not stall.

Last week I obtained a Mantua 0-6-0 switch engine custom painted with a matching "bobber" caboose that I will use in my coal breaker operations.  Trouble is, this loco stalls on every turnout.  What I would like to do is run jumper wires from the loco to the caboose and somehow use the caboose wheels (they are metal) for additional electrical pick-up. 

Anyone familiar with this process?  I assume I can use some kind of "wipers" on the truck/wheels, but not sure if this will fix the problem.  feel free to contact me off line with any additional suggestions.  chuckhuthmaker@hotmail.com

Thanks

Chuck

 

  • Member since
    November 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,990 posts
Posted by fwright on Monday, February 11, 2008 11:51 AM

Chuck

Doesn't matter whether you use DC or DCC - electrical power pickup issues are the same.  If anything, clean and constant power pickup is more critical with DCC.

Questions: 

1) is the Mantua switcher a tank engine, or does it have a tender?

2) if it has a tender, is the tender body and frame die cast metal or plastic?

I'm guessing this is a tank engine (no tender), or you would likely be asking about using the tender wheels for electrical pickup.  But I could be wrong.  A good web article on adding electrical pickups to a tender (will work for any car with metal wheels) is here:  http://www.pacificcoastairlinerr.com/bachmann_4-4-0/wipers/.  On small locomotives, you want to have every possible wheel picking up power.

I would think twice about permanently wiring the bobber caboose to the locomotive for extra pickup.  That means the caboose is always next to the engine, and any cars will trail behind the caboose.  Is that what you really want?

Powering the frogs through a "polarity" contact is the best solution.  Powered frogs are kinder to all sizes of locomotives, and eliminate the flickering of lights on locomotives and cars.  But the only Atlas turnout frogs that can be powered are the ones with cast metal frogs.  Earlier (and some present) Atlas turnouts had all  plastic frogs.  Use a Snap Relay, replace the Atlas switch machine with a Tortoise (or other switch machine with contacts), use a Caboose Industries throw with contacts, use Humpyard levers with contacts, or rig a manual throw that incorporates a slide or toggle switch - all are ways to get the contact to power the frog.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W 

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 6 posts
Posted by LVRAIL on Monday, February 11, 2008 3:19 PM

Fred,

Thanks for the reply.  It is a tank switcher, no tender.  The bobber caboose was included as part of the set.  This is a custom painted Lehigh Valley Coal Co matched set.  Having the caboose permanently attached is no issue for me as the switcher will only move back and forth thru the colliery yard pulling or pushing no more than three to four hoppers each time.  I appreciate the article link.  I will give it a shot.

 

Chuck

  • Member since
    October 2005
  • From: Ulster Co. NY
  • 1,464 posts
Posted by larak on Monday, February 11, 2008 5:44 PM
Also be aware that you cannot solder to the atlas frogs but you CAN tap the little eyelets for a 2-56 brass screw. Insert from the underside (with wire), tighten gently, file off the protrusion.

The mind is like a parachute. It works better when it's open.  www.stremy.net

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: US
  • 122 posts
Posted by Beowulf on Monday, February 11, 2008 8:32 PM

If your turnouts are already in place, you can tap the frog from the top and bolt the feed wire on to the top, then run it down thru a hole in the ballast between the ties.  Some paint and ballast will disguise it.

I run a couple of 2 axle industrial diesels over unpowered frogs near my blast furnace.  To prevent stalling they are each wired to an idler car which provides additional pick up.  The idler cars ride on Roundhouse tender trucks which have metal wheels, axles and a phosphor bronze wiper. (If no longer available, a similar set up could be made from any trucks with metal axles and wheels and sheet phosphor bronze.)

Commercial pin and socket sets are available from Miniatronics bit I made mine from the smallest metal tube  on hand, cemented to the loco frame and wired to the motor, and fine piano wire with a slight dog leg to hold it in the tube.  The piano wire pin is soldered to flexible wire connected to the idler car's truck wipers.

The idler cars are made of whatever was handy.  One came from a caboose floor, the other from a piece of a junked flat car.  Both were made as short as possible to just fit two trucks and coupler pockets.

The loco and idler car set operates very well and can still be disconnected if desired.

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