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Frustrated beginner requiring help with point wiring


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Having spent many hours trying to set up my track for my new model railway, I am becoming increasing frustrated and am starting to pull my what little hair I have left out of my head and would really value some help.

 

I have laid the baseboard and intend to model my track with a shunting yard and a run-around track around the shed. However, I have encountered no end of problems with getting my points to work without shorting. Due to the fairly compact space, I only intend to use 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 steam locos on DCC. I have an NCE PowerCab which I found to be faulty and was repaired, so that was the first hurdle I overcame.

 

The points are mostly SEEP motors with a built-in switch and the odd Peco solenoid motor with PL10 accessory switch attached. I have been able to wire up switches for my points and I have a Cobalt CDU2 to juice up the point motors, none of which has proved problematic. The track is a combination of Hornby and Peco and the points themselves are mostly Peco Streamline Electrofrog small left and right turnouts which I have cut the small wire underneath and I've bound the stock and closure rails with additional wires to make them electrically live. So I appear to have done everything I think I should have done.

 

However the issues arise when I try to run my 0-6-0 loco, particularly where I have face-to-face points: there are certain places, namely A and B in the diagram attached where I have a short when the loco runs over the point. Currently point A shorts when the loco passes going East to West, but is ok going down to the next track. Similarly point B shorts as well.  I'm not sure that I shouldn't have a double IRJ at point C with additional dropper wires to power the track in between points B and C. ??

 

Finally, although I have adapted my Peco streamline point, I have an older Peco Electrofog point which only has pivoted switching rails and I'm not sure where (or if) I need an additional break in the rails, or if I can adapt this point in the same way above the switching rails as the other points - or would I be better just to buy new points?

 

I know I have a lot of questions here, but if anyone could help I would be most grateful as this hobby is supposed to be enjoyable and at the moment it is proving anything but! I know I may have missed something really obvious, but I am a beginner, so be gentle with me...  

 

Thank you in anticipation of your help.

Shunting yard track plan.jpg

Points with labels.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Hi, as a relatively new modeller of just a couple of years (well, ignoring teenage experiments so long ago), I too have been through a steep learning curve, not least on the DCC aspects.

First question, you say most points are Streamline electrofrog - what are the others? I wonder if the others are dead frogs, the IRJs may be working against you if the blade connections are not perfect.

Secondly, just to check my understanding of your terminology - when you say ‘short’ (as in triggers the cut out on your DCC system), or is it a loss of power, where the loco simply stops?

Question 3 - do you have a meter, as I found one to be invaluable in understanding what was happening around points?

Ian

Edited by ITG
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Hi

The Seep solenoid switches are not the easiest to get aligned correctly due to the small movement between one contact and the other.

Is it possible one or more are not switching completely and leaving a frog unswitched?

At one time I had Seeps and I ended up adding extra microswitches to get reliable switching, ignoring the inbuilt switch.

 

 

 

 

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Then,  do you (Iain) own a multimeter ?   If not, buy one, they're less than £20 (make sure you get one with a continuity buzzer).      Set it to "continuity buzzer" (and if you don't have a buzzer setting, set it to resistance).   Disconnect the DCC system.  

 

Go round the rails you believe are connected to the "red" track wire and confirm that red-rail connects to red-rail (should get "buzz" or "nearly zero resistance" when connecting two "red" rails).   Repeat for "blue" rails.   if any don't buzz, then investigate further.   If a "red" buzzes when the other probe is on a "blue" you've a wire reversed.   

 

With turnouts A, B, set to "straight", their frogs should "buzz" when you probe frog to "red rail".  When set to "curved", they should "buzz" when connected to "blue" rail.    If not working correctly, check wiring to turnout motor switches, and whether those switches are working correctly.  

 

Work round the whole layout systematically, ticking off every rail as connecting to the correct red/blue.  That will confirm the layout wiring.   (This is exactly the same as analogue (DC) wiring, nothing special for DCC....).  

 

 

If there is still a fault, then look whether any wheels on the loco could be touching the "wrong" rail anywhere.     And as Ian says, there is a huge difference between "short" (equals system shuts down due to short circuit) and "loco not working because no pickup".   

 

 

 

 

Edited by Nigelcliffe
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5 hours ago, Iain1491 said:

 

Finally, although I have adapted my Peco streamline point, I have an older Peco Electrofog point which only has pivoted switching rails and I'm not sure where (or if) I need an additional break in the rails, or if I can adapt this point in the same way above the switching rails as the other points - or would I be better just to buy new points?

 

 

 

Points with labels.jpg

I assume the old Electrofrog is the RH point, if so you should not use a frog switch as the switching is done by the blades* as they move (the small tabs near the tie bar end), you still need to insulate the exit track though.     *(Unless you want to modify them!)

Both the switch rails and the frog are, I assume, commoned together.

Edited by melmerby
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Quote

First question, you say most points are Streamline electrofrog - what are the others? I wonder if the others are dead frogs, the IRJs may be working against you if the blade connections are not perfect.

Secondly, just to check my understanding of your terminology - when you say ‘short’ (as in triggers the cut out on your DCC system), or is it a loss of power, where the loco simply stops?

Question 3 - do you have a meter, as I found one to be invaluable in understanding what was happening around points?

1. The other points are just older Peco ones like those shown on the right in the photo. They are still electrofrog but don’t have the additional gap after the switching rails as I highlighted in yellow. I’m not using any insulfrig turnouts.

 

2.  When I say ‘short’ as the loco passes over a point when switched to a particular way the DCC system cuts out.

 

3. I do have a multimeter and it shows a reduction in voltage when the turnout is switched a particular way so I know this is the issue but I don’t understand why.

 

Thanks

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18 hours ago, melmerby said:

The Seep solenoid switches are not the easiest to get aligned correctly due to the small movement between one contact and the other.

Is it possible one or more are not switching completely and leaving a frog unswitched?

At one time I had Seeps and I ended up adding extra microswitches to get reliable switching, ignoring the inbuilt switch.

Thanks,

 

I know that the switches themselves work but at the moment I’ve disconnected the power to the switches (I still have them connected to the red and blue bus and the point frog is wired back to the switch) and for the time being I am operating the turnouts manually, but still getting the shorts. 

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16 hours ago, Nigelcliffe said:

Go round the rails you believe are connected to the "red" track wire and confirm that red-rail connects to red-rail (should get "buzz" or "nearly zero resistance" when connecting two "red" rails).   Repeat for "blue" rails.   if any don't buzz, then investigate further.   If a "red" buzzes when the other probe is on a "blue" you've a wire reversed.   

 

With turnouts A, B, set to "straight", their frogs should "buzz" when you probe frog to "red rail".  When set to "curved", they should "buzz" when connected to "blue" rail.    If not working correctly, check wiring to turnout motor switches, and whether those switches are working correctly.  

 

Work round the whole layout systematically, ticking off every rail as connecting to the correct red/blue.  That will confirm the layout wiring.   (This is exactly the same as analogue (DC) wiring, nothing special for DCC....).


Thanks

I’m pretty sure that everything is wired up correctly, but I’ll give it a go with the buzzer on the multimeter - I wasn’t aware it had that function. 
 

Interestingly, a couple of days ago I disconnected part of the track so I was just left with a straight run and turnout A on the diagram and the DCC system still cut out when the loco passed the  turnout. This is what prompted me to ask for help as I couldn’t understand why this was happening as it wasn’t connected to anything else other than the bus wire below.

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16 hours ago, melmerby said:

I assume the old Electrofrog is the RH point, if so you should not use a frog switch as the switching is done by the blades* as they move (the small tabs near the tie bar end), you still need to insulate the exit track though.     *(Unless you want to modify them!)

Thanks,

Ok, so I read that a modified electrofrog is more efficient and doesn’t rely on the switchblades working. I’m happy to save myself some work. Are you saying that an ordinary Peco motor without the micro switch attached would operate this turnout ok?

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1 hour ago, Iain1491 said:

Thanks,

Ok, so I read that a modified electrofrog is more efficient and doesn’t rely on the switchblades working. I’m happy to save myself some work. Are you saying that an ordinary Peco motor without the micro switch attached would operate this turnout ok?

I haven't had experience with that myself, but I would say yes, as the two switch blades are commoned together with the frog and the polarity is changed to whichever stock rail they are touching.

Maybe someone might like to add to this?

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21 hours ago, melmerby said:

I assume the old Electrofrog is the RH point, if so you should not use a frog switch as the switching is done by the blades* as they move (the small tabs near the tie bar end), you still need to insulate the exit track though.     *(Unless you want to modify them!)

Both the switch rails and the frog are, I assume, commoned together.

However, using a frog switch with these points will only cause shorts when the points are actually moving so has no effect on the described problem, its a red herring.

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Hello Iain, going back to your original post you say that the shorts exist when a loco is travelling 'East To 'West'which I take to be right to left, across points at A and b and the short only exists on the straight and not when the point is set to curve. Unusual as its on the curve where shorting is more likely. However you have IRJs on both rails, correctly, at the crossover.

 

Unfortunately you havnt used as many IRJ's as some of us would regard as normal, just isolating the frogs ,so that for example a loco crossing from A onto the point to the left gets power from different droppers each side.  This shouldnt be a problem but it might be. The safest system is to have 6 IRJ's per point, with power fed down the jumpers you have soldered in. Where you have a short piece of track connected to a point this can be regarded as part of one point so doesnt need its own power feed provided its well bonded to the point. Dont know how easy it is to change at this stage, and what your arrangements are for powering the frog rails.

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2 hours ago, RobinofLoxley said:

The safest system is to have 6 IRJ's per point,

I really don't get that. The polarity of the rails must be the same right through the route being taken by the loco - if that ain't true, then at the point the loco bridges between two pieces of rail on the same side but with different polarities, then you get a short. It does not matter how many IRJs you use in such a case.

 

The IRJs are really there to prevent shorts on routes NOT being taken by the loco, hence the need for IRJs on the rails leading from the (live) frog, since either of these can have the "wrong" polarity, depending on the route selected by the switch. This gives a total of 2 IRJs per turnout. (Slips are more complex, of course)

 

You may have other reasons to have IRJs installed - for example, if you have block occupancy detectors in place that use current detection - but this is not concerned with preventing shorts.

 

Yours,  Mike.

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5 hours ago, RobinofLoxley said:

.......Unfortunately you havnt used as many IRJ's as some of us would regard as normal, just isolating the frogs ,so that for example a loco crossing from A onto the point to the left gets power from different droppers each side.  This shouldnt be a problem but it might be. The safest system is to have 6 IRJ's per point, with power fed down the jumpers you have soldered in. ......

 

Disagree - what you're proposing Robin is abnormal.  It is an unnecessary complication of matters, and as soon as you connect feed wires to turnout fixed rails you've by-passed four of your six IRJs:  so they're doing nothing.   

 

Only the frog rails are an issue for isolation on a turnout.   

 

 

-  Nigel 

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Your problems sound like back to back issues.  Really Streamline points only need modifying if you use metal wheeled stock with the B to B too tight  or those awful Hornby pacifics with flangeless rollers instead of trailing wheels.   With micro switches being so cheap I use micro switches for frog polarity switching as well as point blade contact,   Lots of DCC layouts run with insulated point blades which make no contact with anything due to damage from the track being shorted out, that's why people need stay alive 's 2 inch plus dead sections on modified points  Its all good fun modifying points, I usually ruin mine in the process but really it will all work fine straight out of the box as long as you have a 1 amp overload cut out, but most DCC doesn't have a 1 amp cut out....  Not rocket science to retro fit them between Cab and track bus

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15 hours ago, DCB said:

Your problems sound like back to back issues.  Really Streamline points only need modifying if you use metal wheeled stock with the B to B too tight  or those awful Hornby pacifics with flangeless rollers instead of trailing wheels.   With micro switches being so cheap I use micro switches for frog polarity switching as well as point blade contact,   Lots of DCC layouts run with insulated point blades which make no contact with anything due to damage from the track being shorted out, that's why people need stay alive 's 2 inch plus dead sections on modified points  Its all good fun modifying points, I usually ruin mine in the process but really it will all work fine straight out of the box as long as you have a 1 amp overload cut out, but most DCC doesn't have a 1 amp cut out....  Not rocket science to retro fit them between Cab and track bus

Please explain the logic of this, it makes no sense.

 

If you wired the layout properly with suitable gauge wiring for the DCC system being used, a short anywhere should cause it to cut out, no ifs no buts.

IMHO lowering the rating of the cut out is irrelevant.

 

 

 

 

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@Iain1491 Have you followed Nigel's instructions?

 

What was the outcome for turnout A?

 

I'll put money on the "frog" being connected to blue no matter which way the points were set. Am I right?

 

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6 hours ago, melmerby said:

Please explain the logic of this, it makes no sense.

 

If you wired the layout properly with suitable gauge wiring for the DCC system being used, a short anywhere should cause it to cut out, no ifs no buts.

IMHO lowering the rating of the cut out is irrelevant.

 

 

 

 

Its about the fact that many DCC systems use far more than the 1amp the track was designed for,  I have had OO Fishplates glow red hot on 2 amps DC running US style freights with several locos, that's with 2 X 1 amp cut outs neither of which had tipped .  Its nothing to do with dead shorts, they trip the cut out,  Partial shorts and loads in excess of 1 amp cause the damage.   Again worst case scenario a short anywhere causes the layout to shut down.

That's when you turn to fly fishing or playing on line games.  Of course if you wired with sections, or "Power Districts" a la DC you could quickly find where the fault is, but really it makes no sense at all to wire everything to a bus, and nonsense to run equipment designed for  12VA with 4 amp breakers when 1 amp polyfuses are about 10p each..   

Unless you have a simple circle on the kitchen table.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Iain,

 

I have started a history of my 47 year old layout called 'Crewlisle - From Baseboards to DCC & Overhead Catenary' as I have contravened many of the accepted 'taboos' in layout construction, wiring & DCC.  These have appeared in the 'Layout & Track Design' & 'Modelling Help & Questions' forums.  I will be soon starting one in this forum.  There are photos & track plan on line to show that 'Crewlisle' is not just a basic simple layout!

 

Many things in DCC are made over complicated by many contributors to answer modellers questions.  Many are put off DCC because all the 'gizmos' that are quoted as 'necessary' to run a DCC layout.  I think this has happened to you.  My layout was started 47 years ago & I converted to DCC 12 years ago using the Lenz LZV100 Command/Power Station together with a LH90 Throttle set.  It has worked perfectly with very few minor problems.  DCC can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be & I cannot add to any of the suggestions to solve your problem.

 

 I have a total of 29 Peco old style Electrofrog points.  About half are converted from Insulfrogs.  7 of them are mechanically operated from under the baseboard at the edge of the inside of the operating well by simple operating arms made from 1.5 mm steel wire.  The remaining 22 are controlled by simple old style Peco small cylindrical solenoids & a handful of the newer PL10 solenoids via a CDU.  None are fitted with polarity switches, frog juicers, accessory decoders, uni-frogs, rail-bonding or any other DCC 'gizmos'.  The only polarity switch on the whole of my layout is for my converted Peco Insulfrog diamond to 'live frog', polarity of which is switched by the point motor.'

 

And how are the electrical points operated?  By the simple use of that basic method of using Dymo tape as the diagrammatic track plan & Peco bifurcated rivets for each route.  The bifurcated rivets are pushed through the track plan & trap the relevant solenoid wire on the underside by opening them out. I have three of these small panels inside one end of the operating well.  As you look at the diagram, the actual track is in front of you! 

To set a route, all you do is touch the head of the route rivets with the other wire of the solenoid circuit & the points change instantly or use the Peco rivets & probe (PL17 & PL18).

 

Some of the point motors are linked mechanically to PL10 Peco accessory switches to operate colour light feathers or the lights themselves.

 

Peter

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5 hours ago, Crewlisle said:

None are fitted with...

Peter,

 

I can agree that it is possible to use Electrofrog points without any modifications at all and without any gizmos. All that is mandatory is the use of 2 IRJs on the rails leading away from the frog. And this applies to both DC and DCC operation.

 

However, with no modifications to the points and with no gizmos, you are open to a potential problem with shorting. This is caused by the switch rails both being at the same polarity as the frog if the point is unmodified. This leaves open the possibility that the (metal) wheels of locos or of stock can bridge between the stock rail and the switch rail for the route not being taken. If this happens there will be a short, since these two rails will be of opposite polarity - for DCC and DC operation.

 

Does this shorting happen? Well, it certainly did for me - with my shiny new Hornby GWR 2-8-2T when I was test running it. Supposedly it is a worse problem with older models which have coarser scale metal wheels, but my 2-8-2T shows that it can still happen with modern equipment with finer scale wheels. I suspect there is more "play" involved with long wheelbase locos and this is the root of the problem in my case.

 

If this shorting occurs, then it is necessary to make the modifications to the turnout that have been described many times in these forums, to ensure that the stock rail and adjacent switch rail are always the same polarity. This then forces the isolation of the frog from the switch rails, since the two switch rails will be of opposite polarity. Following from that is a need to provide a means of powering the frog - which is where the gizmos come in, since the polarity of the frog changes depending on which way the turnout is set. 

 

If you have managed to avoid the shorting problem without modifying your electrofrog points, that's great. It works for you. However, please be assured that the shorting problem really does occur for lots of other folk - and that it needs to be dealt with. There are alternative approaches for powering the frog - and they don't really differ much between DC and DCC operation. I use a switch built in to the point motors that I use - simple and easy to understand. Other folk like to use frog juicers and so on.

 

Yours,  Mike.

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On my latest layout I've modified my Peco points for DCC, but on my previous one which was built for DC use then subsequently converted to DCC, the points are as supplied.  I know shorting can occur with older stock with wider tyre profiles, though in years of exhibiting I never experienced any at the points apart from being set the wrong way.

 

I power my points using servos under analog control, and use nothing more exotic than a microswitch to change the frog polarity.

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