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Hi,

 

For as long as we have been building layouts, we have used Peco Electrofrog. We always snip the tiny bits of wires underneath and add a polarity switch to the turnout motor, without fail. 

 

For the next layout, it will be a three turnout diorama, we would prefer not to use turnout motors and we have a question:- Why are we sniping the tiny bits of wire and adding a polarity switch to the droppers to the Vee.  What is the logic behind undoing Peco's handiwork?

 

The new layout is definitely non-DCC, we are trying to save weight/simplicity by using a simple brazing wire+drawer knob combination to move the tie-bar from under the trackbed. So, what do we really need to do?

 

A few months ago, Alan Monk advised us that he did 'nothing' to Peco Electrofrog turnouts, even with DCC and we were amazed to find that our larger analogue layout did not fail (not once) when we simply replaced DC with DCC. Therefore we are starting to question the perceived wisdom with our tiny DC diorama, help please.

 

Cheers

 

JB

 

Edited by Jack Benson

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The purpose of your modification is primarily to remove reliance on contact between the point blades and stock rails for electrical continuity. The effect may not be apparent when new but will become more evident with age as dirt and tarnish make that contact unreliable.

A secondary benefit is to eliminate the risk of shorts between the open blade and stockrail when contact is made by passing wheels, the extent of this risk depends on the type of whels in use and the degree to which the back to back is maintained.

Rgds

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11 minutes ago, Grovenor said:

The purpose of your modification is primarily to remove reliance on contact between the point blades and stock rails for electrical continuity. The effect may not be apparent when new but will become more evident with age as dirt and tarnish make that contact unreliable.

A secondary benefit is to eliminate the risk of shorts between the open blade and stockrail when contact is made by passing wheels, the extent of this risk depends on the type of whels in use and the degree to which the back to back is maintained.

Rgds

Keith,

 

There is only loco on the diorama, Hornby Peckett. 

 

I forgot to mention that we also bonded the switch to the stock rails after cutting the tiny wires and adding a polarity switch. Presumably, this ensured that the Vee was always the correct polarity?

 

JB

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19 minutes ago, Jack Benson said:

Keith,

 

There is only loco on the diorama, Hornby Peckett. 

 

I forgot to mention that we also bonded the switch to the stock rails after cutting the tiny wires and adding a polarity switch. Presumably, this ensured that the Vee was always the correct polarity?

 

JB

 

Bonding as you describe removes the reliance on the point blades making contact. But you cannot do this without cutting the tiny wires as a permanent short via the vee would be created. Hence the need for a discrete feed with polarity switch to the vee. 

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I have Electrofrog turnouts on my DC layout which have been in place for many years. I have never modified them and they have always been 100 percent reliable. 

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2 minutes ago, Les Bird said:

I have Electrofrog turnouts on my DC layout which have been in place for many years. I have never modified them and they have always been 100 percent reliable. 

You have been lucky...

...unless you find it perfectly normal to clean the inside of the rail & point blade? I find this totally unacceptable because it can be easily avoided by wiring the point as described above.

Weathering & ballasting makes the problem worse.

 

An older club layout was given a running session recently in preparation for an exhibition. It relied on point blade contact, but every point except 1 failed to conduct due to dirty point blades, requiring about a 15 minute cleaning session.

 

The trouble is that once you have ballasted & weathered the track, you can't easily change your mind & change it.

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I've also clearly been lucky too then, as my electrofrog points just get plonked down straight out of the packaging, usually wire-in tube mechanically operated, ballasted/infilled/weathered and they work fine, even after a fair few years use and periods of storage. DC and DCC.

 

Not saying that the wiring methods noted above don't work, but my personal experience also shows the points work 'as is'.

 

 

Edited by CloggyDog
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I use insulfrogs, rebel that I am, and the reason for this is to simplify wiring and enhance reliability (there is a reliability question mark over anything I've soldered...).  I have very reliable running but do occasionally need to clean the blades and stock rails to ensure good contacts.  Turnouts are medium and small radius; I reckon dead frogs on large radius or curved points are too long to expect reliable running.

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Hi Jack,

 

I know that you were considering using Bullhead turnouts at one stage, probably for the diorama you're now talking about.

 

You didn't say explicitly in the OP what type of turnouts you are proposing to use. If the idea is still to use Bullhead turnouts then remember they are "Unifrog" which is completely different from "Electrofrog", electrically speaking.

 

Edited by Harlequin

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Hi all,

Ok all I have is a test track at the moment with 4 points on it. All are about 15-20  years old if not older. I have never modified them in ay way at all except trimming the sleepers a bit to get a better fit. They all work absolutely fine. The test track is DC. I do not  find the idea of cleaning your points if need a problem. Makes you go round your track and check it is all ok.

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1 hour ago, Harlequin said:

Hi Jack,

 

I know that you were considering using Bullhead turnouts at one stage, probably for the diorama you're now talking about.

 

You didn't say explicitly in the OP what type of turnouts you are proposing to use. If the idea is still to use Bullhead turnouts then remember they are "Unifrog" which is completely different from "Electrofrog", electrically speaking.

 

Phil,

The turnouts are all Code 75 FB small for the suburban diorama. 

 

It is odd that some responses seem not to cut the wires, we have always done the deed and have wondered what would happen if we left the turnouts uncut.

 

Some form of mechanical actutation from below the trackbed is the way ahead, just need to sort out how to achieve it.

 

cheers

 

JB

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OH and I sit in both camps.

Our HO and OO layouts have never had any adjustment or wire cutting and 30 years on are still going strong with minimal additional cleaning.  The points of that era are of course code 100 and point blades had a wiper that contacted the underside of the rail.  Occasionally one of these wipers might need to be adjusted upwards to improve the contact.

 

The OH's HOe/OO9 layout does not have this wiper facility on the point blades and there we have used polarity switching at the crossing.

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It's not only the point blade contact you are relying on: there's also the pivoted joint between the blade and the fixed rail before the frog to take care with. Over zealous ballasting with a PVA/Water mix whose ability to penetrate deep into the ballast by the addition of a few drops of washing-up liquid can easily get into this joint via capillary action leaving you with a very long dead section. Don't ask me how I know! Fortunately I had modified the points as described, with polarity switch and bonding wires, but once the point blade got dirty it ended up with no electrical feed at both ends. Now, despite having carried out all the recommended mods, I'm still having to regularly clean the blades of a couple of troublesome points. 

 

Edited by RFS
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Peco seem to have a different view when it comes to their N gauge electrofrog points.  When I was laying the track early this year for my new DCC layout which uses Peco N gauge electrofrog points, their construction looked different from the 00 gauge ones I had used some years previously, so I asked Peco where to make cuts in the track and in the under-point wiring.  The emphatic response was do NOT cut any wires or track - the reason given was that, because of the amount of contact between the stock rail and the switch rail, it was unnecessary to bond the two in the way we do for 00 gauge.  Thus advised, I left the points as they were and have regretted it ever since.

 

Harold.

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On 20/11/2019 at 17:39, The Johnster said:

I use insulfrogs, rebel that I am, and the reason for this is to simplify wiring and enhance reliability (there is a reliability question mark over anything I've soldered...).  I have very reliable running but do occasionally need to clean the blades and stock rails to ensure good contacts.  Turnouts are medium and small radius; I reckon dead frogs on large radius or curved points are too long to expect reliable running.

It is possible to modify insulfrogs too.

 

Along with several others, I ended up with a club layout which was fitted mainly with insulfrogs. (Existing members seems to have lost interest so newer, seemingly more enthusiastic members got involved with it. I am sure many of us have seen this at a club).

Most of the points had limited weathering but few had been ballasted. Many of those nowhere near ballast were unreliable because of poor blade contact.

There were other issues & together, these prompted us to re-lay all the track & start again on the same baseboards. Replacing all the pointwork would have a costly outlay which I could not justify. Re-laying them as they were would have been silly. Any poor contact areas were not going to get any better.

We decided to cut the rails & bond them to feeds, just like I have been doing with electrofrogs for years.

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25 minutes ago, Pete the Elaner said:

It is possible to modify insulfrogs too.

 

Along with several others, I ended up with a club layout which was fitted mainly with insulfrogs. (Existing members seems to have lost interest so newer, seemingly more enthusiastic members got involved with it. I am sure many of us have seen this at a club).

Most of the points had limited weathering but few had been ballasted. Many of those nowhere near ballast were unreliable because of poor blade contact.

There were other issues & together, these prompted us to re-lay all the track & start again on the same baseboards. Replacing all the pointwork would have a costly outlay which I could not justify. Re-laying them as they were would have been silly. Any poor contact areas were not going to get any better.

We decided to cut the rails & bond them to feeds, just like I have been doing with electrofrogs for years.

I think that they lost interest BECAUSE the layout was unreliable. 

Glad you sorted the problems properly. 

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On 20/11/2019 at 20:14, Andy Hayter said:

OH and I sit in both camps.

Our HO and OO layouts have never had any adjustment or wire cutting and 30 years on are still going strong with minimal additional cleaning.  The points of that era are of course code 100 and point blades had a wiper that contacted the underside of the rail.  Occasionally one of these wipers might need to be adjusted upwards to improve the contact.

 

The OH's HOe/OO9 layout does not have this wiper facility on the point blades and there we have used polarity switching at the crossing.

Unfortunately on the latest OO versions those very useful wipers have gone.  

Edited by john new
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Which is what I thought John, hence the comment about the vintage of said points.  A sad retrograde step IMHO.

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5 hours ago, Andy Hayter said:

Which is what I thought John, hence the comment about the vintage of said points.  A sad retrograde step IMHO.

A soldered bit of wire, does a much better & 100% reliable job.

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Over 20 years without modification to my electrofrog ballasted point have given me reliable running.

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It's normal to have to clean between the blade and stock rail on dead frog points too.  That's what fibreglass pens were invented for!

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Our club layout has had a lot of problems with bad contact between the stock and switch rails on electrofrog points. Not good at exhibitions. These are the older type with the spring contact but it still gets dirty and loses its springiness over the years. It is much easier to do a thorough job in the first place than have to rectify things on ballasted track.

The other thing we now do is to ensure that any length of rail has two dropper wires. Then when one fails . . .

And we never rely on (unprototypical) fishplates to carry current,

Jonathan

PS Just build your own points. If I can do it anyone can!

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It depends on your power supply, track cross section, stock and various other random factors whether snipping wires and adding polarity switches is needed.

I have used Peco code 100 electrofrog  unmodified indoors for 35 years plus, with no issues worth mentioning except some dodgy tight to gauge stock needed modifications. Outside I find polarity switches absolutely essential, the first rain storm will make the contact intermittent at best. 

Some points lack the tag on the point blade which makes contact under the running rail. These are completely useless as purchased and have to have polarity switches added, I don't snip anything when adding polarity switches but I use DC.

Stock with tight to gauge B to B short out un snipped live frog points by rubbing the back of the point blade of the opposite polarity, this causes sparks on DC and trips the overload on DCC.  Might be easier to adjust the B to B...

DC is around 1 amp usually. DCC can be up to 4 amps and easily over 2 amps load without a short, those points were designed in the days of 1 amp power units and to my way of thinking the tags and point blades are not up to transmitting that level of power hence the need for polarity switches

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On 24/11/2019 at 19:35, rogerzilla said:

It's normal to have to clean between the blade and stock rail on dead frog points too.  That's what fibreglass pens were invented for!

It is nice to hear somebody admit that this is normal.

The 'power your frog via a switch' brigade (myself included) find cleaning the points in this way completely unnecessary.

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I wanted the little tabs on the blades for my storage sidings so I wouldn't have to frog switch them but the new Code 100 no longer have them so I cheated & used Tam Valley frog juicers & all good.

On a small station, all of my frogs ( approx 25-30mm) are dead & the 0-6-0 Pannier goes thru them OK - of course DCC so the blades are bonded to the stock rails.

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