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Which is better with DCC electrfrog or insulfrog diamond crossings?


Windjabbers

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I am planning a small shunting layout, to be operated by DCC. Track will be Peco code 75 using electrofrog points
 
It included short diamond crossing SL-193/SL-E193. I am not sure which to use, the electrofrog or the insulfrog?
 
Any suggestions or comments on which is best with DCC?
 
Best Wishes

David

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Depends what you mean by best! If you want smooth operation with no stalls then there's no contest - use Electrofrog. If you want ease of installation and the absolute minimum of wiring then use Insulfrog. It's your choice....

 

PS - if you do decide to use Electrofrog points there are plenty of people on this forum who will help you sort out the wiring etc if you need it.

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Electrofrog without a doubt, esp with small diamond where frog spacing may match wheel spacing on short wheelbase locos leading to dead spots - ensure points are wired correctly (bridge feed wires and switched frogs) for faultless running!

 

See Peco info on http://www.peco-uk.com/imageselector/Files/Instruction%20sheets/Code%2075%20Concrete%20Sleeper%20Eng.pdf - you can power the crossing frogs off a switch or for automatic polarity  changes have a look at a frog juicer or similar

 

Cheers

 

Phil

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I would always go for electrofrog with DCC.  The increased wiring is more than compensated for by smooth running.

 

For ease of use (although added expense) I'd go for something like a frog juicer to change polarity automatically.

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I initially installed an SL-193, as well as the long crossing - both Insulfrog.  Nothing but trouble due to intermittent shorts as the plastic nose in the frog is too small, and locos were touching both rails as they passed through. And I'm not talking about older locos with thicker wheels, but modern ones such as Hornby's T9 and Bachmann's 9F.

 

Now I use Electrofrog and all problems solved.  The frogs themselves are switched by the turnout motor that controls the path over the crossing.  This is a Tortoise with two separate switches so it's easy.  If you have two turnouts managing the crossover, then you only need one polarity switch per turnout motor: each motor controls its own frog and that on the diamond furthest away from it, as both always need the same polarity.  That's how one of mine is configured.

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I initially installed an SL-193, as well as the long crossing - both Insulfrog.  Nothing but trouble due to intermittent shorts as the plastic nose in the frog is too small, and locos were touching both rails as they passed through. And I'm not talking about older locos with thicker wheels, but modern ones such as Hornby's T9 and Bachmann's 9F.

 

Now I use Electrofrog and all problems solved.  The frogs themselves are switched by the turnout motor that controls the path over the crossing.  This is a Tortoise with two separate switches so it's easy.  If you have two turnouts managing the crossover, then you only need one polarity switch per turnout motor: each motor controls its own frog and that on the diamond furthest away from it, as both always need the same polarity.  That's how one of mine is configured.

 

Interesting experiences! With this in mind I think we can say that the Insulfrog short and long crossings are not suitable for use with DCC. Anything that produces regular short circuits should be avoided.

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That rules out frog juicers and other such kludges then :no:

 

Andrew

A Peco/Seep point motor + one port of a frog juicer will set you back £12-13.  For the same money you can buy a Tortoise motor, which will not only give you the benefit of a reliable, slow-action motor but, with its two built-in switches, the satisfaction of being able to do the polarity wiring properly.

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A Peco/Seep point motor + one port of a frog juicer will set you back £12-13.  For the same money you can buy a Tortoise motor, which will not only give you the benefit of a reliable, slow-action motor but, with its two built-in switches, the satisfaction of being able to do the polarity wiring properly.

 

As long as you have deep enough frames to your boards.

 

I wanted to go to Trotoise motors soem years ago but the I build my boards they are just too big.

 

I have used Frog Juicers on two layouts now and they have performed well so far at numerous shows with no adverse affects to the layout or the DCC system.

 

Ian

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As usual, the discussion has been based around Peco® dead-frog Insulfrog® and live frog (Electrofrog® crossings and/or pointwork - as this would appear to be the most commonly used track...

The solution - using appropriately configued live-frog points (with the switch rails bonded to the adjacent running rail, and not themselves switched purely by the motion), as has been described, is to use a frog-polaritty switch - and in the case of associated mechanical movements, this is often conveniently driven off the point motor.

 

As has been highlighted; the problem with the 'Insulfrog' S&C is the very-minimal dead frog - such that all but the finest of metal wheels are likely to short across the gap - requring them to be wired as if electrofrog anyway ! (as far as the V goes)

 

HOWEVER, Diamond Crossings CAN be a 'special case': in which there is NOT ALWAYS an associated mechancal (point) movement which can be used to control the frog polarity.

And they were the precise subject matter of the original question.

 

There was a 'simple' solution for Insulfrog pointwork, put forward by Airfix when they launched their (Technomatic's) MTC controller ahead of Hornby's Zero-1: to apply clear varnish / nail varnish over the frog area - thus enlarging the area insulated - thus allowing existing (insulfrog-style) wiring to continue.  The coating needed replenishing at intervals as track cleaning wears the coating away.

 

The 'other alternative' is to use a different make of pointwork - which provides an adequate dead-frog area to cope with most wheelsets, whilst minimising the problem - often including additional benefits - however, it may not be possible to find the matching geometry. 

 

With a DIAMOND CROSSING there are 2 parts to the 'problem': The V - as with pointwork, and the K obtuse angle - WHICH WITH DCC is probably electrically common to both routes - and therefore need not be insulated - as it is with the insulfrog® crossing which is designed for sectionalised analogue trackwork.  By comparison, the Roco Rocoline crossing is designed with a slightly larger dead V, so that is not a problem, and the K is not insulated, as it will be common to both routes:  it is 15 or 30 degrees, to match their 3-4 radii of points.

[Rocoline is the wide range of trackwork from Roco which is still available 'unballasted'  and therefore similar in style to Peco track - not to be confused with the (discontinued) ballasted version with the same geometry (which I use) and the newer GEOline which is 'ready ballasted' and uses a 22.5degree geometry - and does not have the wide range of radii . Other makes such as Tillig are available]

 

Regretably, in my loft layout, I have 2x 24degree Peco crossings, as part of one complex junction, due to geometry requirements ... and certain Hornby Stock highlights the situation! 

Ultrascale wheelsets have been a 'solution' in the past - but with long delays, and loss of traction-tyres.  For me, the frog-juicer is likely to be my 'final solution' for that junction; but the 'Airfix' method in the meantime. [All my other trackwork is Rocoline, and does not have the problem: the points can be set to 'Live Frog', and are switched by the integral point motors, and the crossings have been designed to be 'fit for purpose' without modification or additional devices!]

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As usual, the discussion has been based around Peco® dead-frog Insulfrog® and live frog (Electrofrog® crossings and/or pointwork - as this would appear to be the most commonly used track...

The solution - using appropriately configued live-frog points (with the switch rails bonded to the adjacent running rail, and not themselves switched purely by the motion), as has been described, is to use a frog-polaritty switch - and in the case of associated mechanical movements, this is often conveniently driven off the point motor.

 

As has been highlighted; the problem with the 'Insulfrog' S&C is the very-minimal dead frog - such that all but the finest of metal wheels are likely to short across the gap - requring them to be wired as if electrofrog anyway ! (as far as the V goes)

 

HOWEVER, Diamond Crossings CAN be a 'special case': in which there is NOT ALWAYS an associated mechancal (point) movement which can be used to control the frog polarity.

And they were the precise subject matter of the original question.

 

There was a 'simple' solution for Insulfrog pointwork, put forward by Airfix when they launched their (Technomatic's) MTC controller ahead of Hornby's Zero-1: to apply clear varnish / nail varnish over the frog area - thus enlarging the area insulated - thus allowing existing (insulfrog-style) wiring to continue.  The coating needed replenishing at intervals as track cleaning wears the coating away.

 

The 'other alternative' is to use a different make of pointwork - which provides an adequate dead-frog area to cope with most wheelsets, whilst minimising the problem - often including additional benefits - however, it may not be possible to find the matching geometry. 

 

With a DIAMOND CROSSING there are 2 parts to the 'problem': The V - as with pointwork, and the K obtuse angle - WHICH WITH DCC is probably electrically common to both routes - and therefore need not be insulated - as it is with the insulfrog® crossing which is designed for sectionalised analogue trackwork.  By comparison, the Roco Rocoline crossing is designed with a slightly larger dead V, so that is not a problem, and the K is not insulated, as it will be common to both routes:  it is 15 or 30 degrees, to match their 3-4 radii of points.

[Rocoline is the wide range of trackwork from Roco which is still available 'unballasted'  and therefore similar in style to Peco track - not to be confused with the (discontinued) ballasted version with the same geometry (which I use) and the newer GEOline which is 'ready ballasted' and uses a 22.5degree geometry - and does not have the wide range of radii . Other makes such as Tillig are available]

 

Regretably, in my loft layout, I have 2x 24degree Peco crossings, as part of one complex junction, due to geometry requirements ... and certain Hornby Stock highlights the situation! 

Ultrascale wheelsets have been a 'solution' in the past - but with long delays, and loss of traction-tyres.  For me, the frog-juicer is likely to be my 'final solution' for that junction; but the 'Airfix' method in the meantime. [All my other trackwork is Rocoline, and does not have the problem: the points can be set to 'Live Frog', and are switched by the integral point motors, and the crossings have been designed to be 'fit for purpose' without modification or additional devices!]

 

You make some interesting points (woops). I personally don't like the varnish idea - I'm sure it works, I've seen it done, but it doesn't seem a very elegant solution.

 

"Diamond Crossings CAN be a 'special case': in which there is NOT ALWAYS an associated mechancal (point) movement which can be used to control the frog polarity."  I suppose one of the old "train-set" type layouts with a figure of eight arrangement would be an example, but otherwise, on a model rather than a toy,  this must be rare.

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"Diamond Crossings CAN be a 'special case': in which there is NOT ALWAYS an associated mechancal (point) movement which can be used to control the frog polarity."  I suppose one of the old "train-set" type layouts with a figure of eight arrangement would be an example, but otherwise, on a model rather than a toy,  this must be rare.

Even on a toy trainset layout I'd be tempted to include a signal somewhere for the crossing and have the switch for the signal also switch the polarity. It would look a bit better even for a toy and give you a reason to remember to switch.

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There was a 'simple' solution for Insulfrog pointwork, put forward by Airfix when they launched their (Technomatic's) MTC controller ahead of Hornby's Zero-1: to apply clear varnish / nail varnish over the frog area - thus enlarging the area insulated

This simply makes matters worse.

 

The biggest NO to ever using insulfrog is precisely the dead plastic lump that provides that insulation.

 

The only possible excuse for favouring insulfrog over electrofrog is the inadequacy/incompetance/simple unwillingness to perform some very simple wiring.

 

To me there is very little worse than having to use the hand of god to push a stalled train stuck due to inadequate wiring or unable to keep electrical contact with both rails.

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I don't have any diamond crossings but I only use Insulfrog points and have never had any stall issues with them, both my Hornby 08 and J94 pass over at a crawl, clean level track along with spotless loco wheels seem to help.

 

Michael

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Kenton commented thus on my reporting the Airfix solution from 30 years ago:

 This simply makes matters worse.

The biggest NO to ever using insulfrog is precisely the dead plastic lump that provides that insulation.

The only possible excuse for favouring insulfrog over electrofrog is the inadequacy/incompetance/simple unwillingness to perform some very simple wiring.

To me there is very little worse than having to use the hand of god to push a stalled train stuck due to inadequate wiring or unable to keep electrical contact with both rails.

Phil; I would simply comment that it was (and is) an effective and instant solution for those with an existing built layout - and converting to dcc - not wishing to scrap and rebuild everything.  ALSO the increased use of both all-wheel pickup (on larger locos) and  stay-alive capacitors on smaller locos makes the problem of a dead-frog point minimal or historical - except for the problem of Peco Dead-frogs which have too small a dead area to avoid adjacent rail shorts, and other problems. Live Frog points are also UNUSABLE (without a frog juicer or similar automatic correction) as sprung points as commonly found in tram tracks, and in some exits from passing loops.  However; where it is possible to use live-frog, it is usually better to do so.

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 This simply makes matters worse.

 

The biggest NO to ever using insulfrog is precisely the dead plastic lump that provides that insulation.

 

The only possible excuse for favouring insulfrog over electrofrog is the inadequacy/incompetance/simple unwillingness to perform some very simple wiring.

 

To me there is very little worse than having to use the hand of god to push a stalled train stuck due to inadequate wiring or unable to keep electrical contact with both rails.

While I agree with you 100%. its their layout to do as they wish. If poor performance results, that's their problem.

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While I agree with you 100%. its their layout to do as they wish. If poor performance results, that's their problem.

Definitely their problem. Until a recommendation made on here returns with the question "I was advised on RMWeb to use **** (dead frogs) *** and all my locos stall on them - what do I do? ... to which the answer will probably be paint them with silver paint.

 

Dead frogs are fundamentally flawed and there is no reason to use them. Electrofrogs do not need a frog juicer (I have never used one - note that does not mean that they do not work - just that it is an add on that is not essential).

 

I never have a problem with someone doing their own thing, getting it wrong and learning from the experience - that is how I have learned most of what I know. But what I have also learned is to listen to consensus and try that first. It often isn't the only way, it might not even be the most obvious or as written in some book by some celebrity but if it works than it probably is a good starting point to start experimenting from and at least somewhere secure to return to when the experiments go wrong.

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Okay, if no one minds I'd say that, in certain circumstances, dead crossings/frogs can be an advantage with DCC. Let me explain why I think that, based around my recent experiences with DCC.

 

Firstly, I have rarely used ready-made plastic based track. I tried it back in the early 60's, didn't like it, and so it's been hand built whatever the scale, and thus I have always used 'live' crossings as a matter of course. With DC it seems a no-brainer. Sidings are automatically isolated when the point is set against them etc. so saving on separate isolating sections. Yes, it needs a frog polarity changeover switch of some description, but with hand made stuff the switch can also usefully hold the blades in position should this be desired. With short wheelbase steam and diesel locos it's also a distinct advantage as far as pick-up goes. Short-circuits? Well yes, if you cross sections with reversed polarity, (run against points set against you for example), then well, ahem, it all stops until you set them properly. But it's all soon up and running again.

 

But contrast this with DCC. Short-circuits are one of the basic inherent drawbacks. Get one, and unless you've got power districts and circuit breakers to keep the command station going, well it all stops. Yes, live frogs are still an advantage for short stuff, but, if you haven't got any but rather say multiple units and bogie diesels, then it's not as essential, and you don't need to isolate sidings or other bits of track to store locos not under immediate control. Indeed if you've sound stuff then it's the last thing you want.

 

Under these circumstances 'dead' crossings are an advantage. Easier and simpler wiring, cheaper, with no changeover switch (or expensive frog juicers) or other bits needed, and less risk of shorts. Not for everyone granted, but particular track make dead crossing problems aside - which are a separate if interconnected issue and the same whether it's DC or DCC - perhaps not quite so one sided as it might at first appear.

 

Izzy

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  • 1 month later...

Hi all

New member here. I have been reading all your comments regarding the use of the points themselves switching the polarity of the diamond crossing. I have, hopefully uploaded a photo of the junction I'd like to use on my layout ( a return to model and full size railways after about a 20 odd year break )

One of the possible problems is that the points left in 'last used' position could cause a short if the loco crosses the other half of the crossing.

Track is Peco code 75, points are electro-frog with either Seep or Peco motors, both also switch the frog. Diamond crossing is insul-frog, as suggested by a local model shop.

post-23421-0-42949600-1405548373_thumb.jpg

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Hi Phil

 

Have to agree with Dutch Masters points!

 

You don't say what your intended control mechanism is? If DCC then flank protection can be achieved by programming routes in to control system eg ECoS which does it for you once you work out the logic. Interlocking does this on the big railway.

 

In DC point control (and DCC) a degree of flank protection can be achieved by pairing up point motors at opposite ends of crossovers so that some conflicting routes are eliminated. Have also used a diode matrix in DC to do this with solenoid type motors

 

Kind regards

 

Phil

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Hi

Thanks for your replies. Operation is DCC

I think I can still see possible shorts even when using the 'flank' protection. Other option maybe to isolate all rails on the crossing and use some kind of switching to liven the correct rails when crossing

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Hi

Thanks for your replies. Operation is DCC

I think I can still see possible shorts even when using the 'flank' protection. Other option maybe to isolate all rails on the crossing and use some kind of switching to liven the correct rails when crossing

If the diamond crossing is of the dead frog variety then you have no wiring problems whether under DC or DCC because there is nothing that needs the polarity changing. That is the advantage of them.

 

Izzy

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If the diamond crossing is of the dead frog variety then you have no wiring problems whether under DC or DCC because there is nothing that needs the polarity changing. That is the advantage of them.

 

Izzy

 I once had one of these diamond crossings on DCC - caused no end of problems with intermittent shorts when loco wheels touched both rails of the vee, especially when the loco was moving slowly.  If you haven't laid the track yet, I would strongly recommend using the Electrofrog version.

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