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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I am getting ready to setup a layout for running trains. Not sure on how long I will be at my current place so just want something I can tear down when the time comes.

My first layout was with Bachmann EZ track. Now that I have a little experience I want more! So I got some Micro Engineering flex track and thinking about doing a double oval track. The space is 9x5.

I have read about turnouts but then start looking at purchasing and get confused all over again. What do #5 #4 #6, etc mean for turnouts? How are multiple switches powered? Should I go with one turnout control system for all or get the one with push button individually. I have those for my Bachmann EZ track and the one of the buttons just burned out after about a year. So I flip it manually by hand.

Basically I need an understanding of how they work because I start reading about turnout frogs and I'm like Kermit, Michigan j, Jeremiah????? HELP! lol
 

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There are several factors about turnouts that you
should know about.

1. The numbers denote the 'angle' of the diverting track.
The larger the number, the wider the diversion.

Most with the typical home layout will choose #4 or if they have the room, #6. Most of today's locos have no problem negotiating the 4's.

2. There are two electrical models used on turnouts.
One is known as power routing. These 'turn on' power to
the selected route while cutting it to the unselected.
Most modellers choose this system.

The other system powers the frog, This is useful for those with
short wheelbase and 4 wheel locos.

Some turnout models have a switch to select the system.

3. There are two major motor systems used to throw
the points. One is the twin coil, instant throw with the
push if a button.

The other system uses 'stall' motors that are more realistic
as they move the points slowly. These usually also have connections to power panel and track side signals. These use a Double Pole Double Throw panel switch to operate them.

Don
 

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Welcome aboard!

Hello, I am getting ready to setup a layout for running trains. Not sure on how long I will be at my current place so just want something I can tear down when the time comes.

My first layout was with Bachmann EZ track. Now that I have a little experience I want more! So I got some Micro Engineering flex track and thinking about doing a double oval track. The space is 9x5.

I have read about turnouts but then start looking at purchasing and get confused all over again. What do #5 #4 #6, etc mean for turnouts? How are multiple switches powered? Should I go with one turnout control system for all or get the one with push button individually. I have those for my Bachmann EZ track and the one of the buttons just burned out after about a year. So I flip it manually by hand.

Basically I need an understanding of how they work because I start reading about turnout frogs and I'm like Kermit, Michigan j, Jeremiah????? HELP! lol


Kieta;

Welcome to the forum!

Tom_C thanks for the plug! ;) You're not stepping on my toes at all. :D ..... B.T.W. My entire "laundry list of how-to stuff" is also available inside the sticky post "Help a New Modeler to Get Started", at the top of this "Beginner's Q&A" section, along with some great tips from several other experienced members.


Kieta;

I like Kermit, and all the other Muppets, but I don't understand who Michigan J. Jeremiah is? :confused: Is he the Warner Bros. cartoon singing frog?

The first three files listed below are directly related to turnouts. The rest are my "laundry list" of other, model railroading, "how-to stuff."

I would suggest replacing those Bachmann EZ-Track turnouts (ugg!) when you switch over to Micro Engineering flex track (excellent choice!) Micro Engineering makes very good quality turnouts as well as their super-realistic-looking flex track. The Micro Engineering turnouts are also great looking, and quite reliable. However, if your layout is likely to move, you might be better off with Peco turnouts since they are more rugged. The Micro engineering turnouts are great if you can, gently, install them on a permanent base. But they're a little bit delicate, and won't stand up well to rough handling. The same is true of the Micro Engineering flex track vs. the more rugged Peco flex track.

A good thing to do, since you may have to move, would be to build your 9' x 5' layout in sections say four 30" x 50" sections. This will let you use the Micro Engineering track and turnouts, if you like, since everything can be fastened down to the sections. Those sections will also be a whale of a lot easier to move, without damage, that trying to manhandle a 5' x 9' ping-pong-table-sized layout through doors, around corners, and up/down stairs!

If you read the first file, "All about turnouts" it should answer all the questions you asked, and even explain why the coil in one of your Bachmann turnouts burned out. You will also find my quality ratings of seven popular brands of model turnouts. (Spoiler alert! Bachmann comes in dead last! :thumbsdown: )

Good luck, Have fun!

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf

View attachment How I scratch build turnouts new(8).pdf

View attachment WHERE DO I START rev 4.pdf

View attachment 1 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 2 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 5 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment 6 How to build a better first layout.pdf

View attachment Choosing a Scale.pdf

View attachment MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 3.pdf

View attachment Paintbrush Pine Trees.pdf

View attachment Lighting a layout with LEDs.pdf

View attachment Introductory letter for $5 switch machine.pdf

View attachment Assembly instructions for $5 switch machine..pdf
 

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Frog number

There are several factors about turnouts that you
should know about.

1. The numbers denote the 'angle' of the diverting track.
The larger the number, the wider the diversion.

Most with the typical home layout will choose #4 or if they have the room, #6. Most of today's locos have no problem negotiating the 4's.

2. There are two electrical models used on turnouts.
One is known as power routing. These 'turn on' power to
the selected route while cutting it to the unselected.
Most modellers choose this system.

The other system powers the frog, This is useful for those with
short wheelbase and 4 wheel locos.

Some turnout models have a switch to select the system.

3. There are two major motor systems used to throw
the points. One is the twin coil, instant throw with the
push if a button.

The other system uses 'stall' motors that are more realistic
as they move the points slowly. These usually also have connections to power panel and track side signals. These use a Double Pole Double Throw panel switch to operate them.

Don


Hi Don;

Your point #1 is backwards. While any frog# turnout will divert "wider" eventually, a higher frog # like a # 8 diverges less, per unit of forward travel, than a lower frog # like a #4. The angle of the frog is milder, not sharper, in a higher numbered turnout.

I'm not sure I agree with the second portion of your point #1 either. A #4 turnout is very sharp. Even the Atlas "Snap Track" HO turnout works out to be about a #4-1/2.
Like 18" radius curves, yes, most,( though not all) locos, and cars, can make it through a #4.5 turnout, they are still a lot less likely to derail on a #6 turnout, or even a #5 one, especially when backing a string of cars through it, as would happen at a siding, or in a yard.
The OP is a newbie, and if you say "Most of today's locos have no problem negotiating the #4s." I suspect he is likely to take that as a sweeping endorsement of #4 turnouts, (for any rolling stock.) Your statement about "most of today's locos" is technically correct, but I'm afraid that it might, unintentionally, tend to mislead the inexperienced newbie about the suitability of sharp #4 turnouts for his layout.
No offense intended to you sir. I respect your general knowledge, and experience. I just disagree, at least to some extent, with this particular statement of yours.

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you all!! I have much better understanding now. Any recommendations on switch machines and power. I was looking at a 6pk of Rapido Railcrew??? And a Peco CDU???
 

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Thank you all!! I have much better understanding now. Any recommendations on switch machines and power. I was looking at a 6pk of Rapido Railcrew??? And a Peco CDU???
Your post said you already have one turnout with manual control.
Your post also said you may tear down and move.

So I vote for manual control switch stands.
You will not have any wiring to disassemble if/when you take the layout apart/down.

Add the electric switch machines later if plans change.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Your post said you already have one turnout with manual control.
Your post also said you may tear down and move.

So I vote for manual control switch stands.
You will not have any wiring to disassemble if/when you take the layout apart/down.

Add the electric switch machines later if plans change.
Thank you. Sorry, to better clarify, my layout with the Bachmann EZ track and turnouts is permanent. Its a smaller layout dedicated to my home town so I won't be using any parts of my first layout.

I might stick with manual but would like the knowledge of electric if I decide to go that route.
 

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1. The numbers denote the 'angle' of the diverting track.
The larger the number, the wider the diversion.

Most with the typical home layout will choose #4 or if they have the room, #6. Most of today's locos have no problem negotiating the 4's.

Don
I think I know what you're trying to say, but I don't think this is clear the way you wrote it. The departure angle gets NARROWER (numerically smaller) as the turnout number gets bigger, so a higher numbered turnout takes more distance to get the same separation between tracks.

Also, I'd say #4 turnouts with 6 wheel diesels or steamers with 8 or more drivers are an iffy proposition at best.
 

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Switch machines

Thank you. Sorry, to better clarify, my layout with the Bachmann EZ track and turnouts is permanent. Its a smaller layout dedicated to my home town so I won't be using any parts of my first layout.

I might stick with manual but would like the knowledge of electric if I decide to go that route.
Kieta;

There is a long, thorough, explanation of the types of switch machines available, and the way they are powered, in the "All about turnouts" file I just sent to you. There is certainly no rule that says "You must read these files." but I think if you did choose to read them, you could find the answers to many of your questions in them. ;)

Electrically-controlled switch machines fall, as DonR mentioned, into two basic categories. "Twin-coil solenoids", and "DC stall motors."
Servos are also used. They operate similarly to DC stall motors in that they move the points slowly, and hold them in position when the point hits the stock rail. Their electronics are different but easy to connect and use. CTValley RR is our resident servo expert, he can answer any questions you have on the subject.

Twin-coil solenoid machines are used by Atlas, Bachmann, Kato* and Peco turnouts. They snap the points instantly from one route setting to the other. They can be operated by either AC or DC* power. Holding the button down more that a second or two, can burn out a coil. this is what probably turned one of your Bachmann EZ-Track turnouts from a remote control turnout into a manual turnout. :eek: A device called a CDU (Capacitive Discharge Unit) prevents this burnout.

[* Technically the Kato Unitrack is a single, rather than twin, coil solenoid machine. I believe it operates on DC* only and uses polarity reversal to change routes. I am not sure about this last part though.]

DC stall motors move the points slowly, and stay energized constantly until layout power is shut down. They just stall out when the point hits the stock rail. Current -limiting resistors keep the motors from burning out, or stripping their gears. The "Tortoise" machines, made by Circuitron, are a very popular DC stall motor switch machine.

Manually controlled turnouts can also be remote controlled turnouts. There are many mechanical linkages that can do this job. One is covered thoroughly in my two files on "$5 Switch machines."

TRaction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 
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