Originally Posted by kmillett29
Thanks to all for the replies. I should've added that I'd planned to use Kato #6 turnouts because I already own several. Unfortunately these switches also route the power. Seems like it would make power all sides of each switch an insurmountable beast.
Is there a simple way to make the Kato #6 powered regardless of switch direction?
Yes. You can bypass the power routing feature of a turnout, if you want, by using insulated rail joiners on both of the short rails that are connected to the frog of the turnout. Then you use power feeds to all three tracks that enter/exit the turnout. This way power will be constantly available on all three tracks, and the insulated joiners will prevent shorts through the frog. You would need to do this for every turnout that you wanted not to route power.
Are you sure you want to bother doing this at all? Power routing is generally very reliable, and helps prevent a derailment caused when a train enters the turnout with the points thrown the wrong way. A series of turnouts in a row, such as at the entrance to your yard, acts like a series of electrical switches. All the turnouts that lead to a particular yard track have to be in the right position for a locomotive to move onto/off of, that track. This is obviously necessary mechanically, to get the train into/out of that track without derailing. So why not leave it necessary electrically too? I happen to like power routing, but it's your railroad, not mine, and therefore your choice.
I think Kato turnouts use a twin-coil type switch machine built into their turnouts. It's possible to build a simple matrix of diodes that will let you push one button to set all the turnouts for a desired track. I use a similar system (though mine is designed to work with the DC stall motors I use to operate my turnouts) on my railroad and it makes switching a yard very simple.
Another thing that's very good to have, in order to protect your turnout's electric coils, is a "Capacitive Discharge Unit" (CDU) Holding down the turnout button more than a second or two can fry a coil. Turnout control buttons can also short internally, with the same smoke-producing result.
A CDU prevents this from ever happening. The button shorting thing is primarily a characteristic of Atlas blue button turnout controls. The Atlas turnout controls are not well made. Kato controls may well be a different story, since Kato quality is excellent. I think the Kato turnout controls are bulky though? You may want to check out a turnout control called the Stapleton 751D. It is small, reliable, and has a CDU built right into it.
good luck & have fun;