Originally Posted by paulrail
Awesome info, Traction Fan. I love learning more and more about everything I can.
However, my problem is one of a switcher stalling or sputtering over the insufrogs of an Atlas turnout. I am being told that Peco will solve that problem and I'm not arguing... I would just like to understand why that is.
You made some excellent points, but they explain more about why rolling stock doesn't derail and don't seem to explain why locos run more reliably over them.
I will probably just buy a Peco and see what happens because I see on youtube (and other places) that experienced modelers use them...but I would like to know why
Your question asked for quality differences between Peco and Atlas. I assumed this included derailment issue differences. To answer your electrical question, Peco's spring system, and their rail joiner pivots, carry power more reliably to the point rails.
Those Atlas rivets are an electrical problem, as well as mechanical. Sometimes the rivets don't carry power to the point rails well/at all.
Our locos run by picking up power from the rails, through their wheels, and whatever contacts the manufacturer includes in his design. There is an old adage, in this hobby, that says,"you can't have too much electrical pickup." I strongly agree with this notion. All our locos should have power pickup on all wheels. Some don't. This may be because they were designed that way(usually older, cheap locos); or because some part of the wheel-contact-motor system has stopped working. This is how a loco designed with 8 wheel pickup becomes a loco with 4 wheel pick up. As Don wisely suggests, check the loco for all wheel pickup first.
When the pickup is all in one truck, at one end of the loco, it may well stall on a plastic frog. Why? Because the plastic can't supply power to the wheels. A loco with all wheel pickup will not stall on a plastic frog, because it's still picking up power from it's truck that is not on the plastic frog, but on electrically live, metal rails, further back. This brings up another thing you should look at on your balky loco. Some model diesels, and many model steamers, pickup power from one rail only at one end of the loco, and from the other rail only at the opposite end. This means that if you can cut power to the wheels at either end, the loco will stall. You can sometimes see this by looking at the wheels. If each truck has metal wheels on only one side; and plastic wheels on the other side; It is of the type just described. If all wheels are metal, that usually means they all pickup power. Usually, not always! You can test your loco's pickup by running it along the track, and running one truck up on a piece of paper, laid across the rails. Then repeat the test with the other truck. If it runs with either one of the trucks touching the rails, great! That means it has true, all wheel pickup.
Now what about metal(AND powered) turnout frogs Vs. Plastic (and some metal#) Non-powered frogs. I strongly prefer powered metal frogs. Every turnout I've made has a powered frog. The frog has a wire soldered to it and connected to the "common" terminal of a micro-switch. The other two micro-switch terminals are connected to the "stock"(non-moving) rails. When the turnout is set for the main line, the switch connects the frog to the main line stock rail. When the turnout is set for the siding, the frog is connected to the siding's stock rail. This system ensures that every wheel, of any loco, is always sitting on a live metal rail. Result? NO STALLS.
A plastic frog is always electrically dead. If, for any reason, both trucks of a loco are not picking up power; from BOTH rails, the loco may stall.
Peco calls their metal frog turnouts, "Electrofrog"(as in Electrically live*.) They call the plastic frog turnouts, "insulfrog"(as in insulated). I would strongly recommend "electrofrog turnouts.
# Just because a frog is metal, that doesn't mean the frog is powered. Some Atlas "custom line" turnouts have metal frogs that are not powered.
Hope that answers your questions;
*If you buy a Peco electrofrog turnout, check the manufacturer's instructions. You may have to slightly modify the turnout to get the benefit of a powered frog.
Notice the blue wire at the upper right of the photo. It is connected to the frog. When the turnout is installed on the layout; this wire will connect to the "common" terminal of a micro-switch that is operated when the turnout points move. These turnouts also have the "DCC friendly" set up. The frog is isolated from the rest of the turnout. Each point rail is jumpered to the adjacent stock rail. The bottom view shows some of the jumpers.
Turnout parts showing double sided tape.jpg
Scratch built turnout parts.jpg