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The other day I found that one of my locomotives, a TRIX Br.187 is shorting out just before the frog on a PECO turnout.

This locomotive doesn't short any other turnouts anywhere be it an Atlas or a Peco turnout.

After slowing approaching the turnout it stopped and shorts the entire layout at the converging rails of the frog. Makes no difference which direction the locomotive is traveling through the turnout or which way the locomotive is facing.

I ended up using a piece of gaffer's tape on about 1/16" of the converging rails.

The wheels are in gauge and in spec. The only thing I can gather is that these are British turnouts running German trains and the two are not 101% compatible with all brands. None of my other Roco or A.C.M.E. locomotives gives me any trouble on this turnout.



This is the locomotive:

 

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Interesting. I have a Bachmann 2-10-0 that does the exact same thing on two turnouts. Only two. Every other loco traverses them without issue. I'll have to try the tape.
 

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How long has this been going on? Have you done any mods to the turnout? Was this a new or used turnout? A lot of people rework PECO turnouts to make them more DCC friendly. It usually involves cutting away factory contact points and soldering new ones to manipulate the flow of polarity. You can see the process and reasons for doing it on Youtube. Most turnouts will work fine right out of the package, depending on what model you buy and how you intend to use it, but no turnout is perfect; that's why they give you options. If it's a used turnout that you picked up somewhere and was modifies without your knowledge, it could have been done incorrectly, one of the wires may have a cold solder joint, or just fell off. You most likely will have to pull out the turnout and trace the polarity for each rail.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This is a brand new Peco #8 turnout installed two weeks ago.

I'll just stick with the gaffer's tape. There's nothing wrong with the turnout. Five other locomotives traverse this turnout without even a flicker.
 

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hm. I guess you could extend your insulfrog by one more tie using a dremel tool :)
This was my cure for a W/S curved #7 turnout I used on my layout years ago. It was 'DCC-friendly', but the metal tires of some of my longer steamers (BLI T1 Duplex with it's blind inner drivers) would migrate across the frog on the curve, even on the through route, and make contact with the wrong polarity on the far frog rail. That meant an instant short. I used a jeweler's saw with a hair filament in it for the blade, and sawed one of the two rails, just past the insulator, in two. I added perhaps 5 mm to the dead frog, but only on one rail. It didn't affect any of my locomotives, not even a SW-8.

Instead of gaffer's tape, may I recommend a dab of clear nail polish? Let it cure for an hour, then repeat for an overcoat. An hour later, you should be able to run your trains with impunity.

That aside, I just noticed that the guard rails on that otherwise very nice Peco turnout (I use their Code 83 #6 turnouts a lot) has guards against the stock rails that are either misplaced or simply too short by about one tie's span. A sliding axle whose closure rail-riding-wheel flange might pick the frog point is meant to have its opposite flange meet the stock rail guard and be snugged over into alignment. The picture shows that, at best, this can only happen simultaneously. Not very good IMO.

Even so, I never have that problem, so what do I know? It must be that our models are so well engineered, with such good standardization across the industry, that almost no problems of this nature seem to take place except with axles at least a mm out of gauge.

And yet, people report all the time that some Peco's need a thin styrene shim between the guards and the stock rail....?
 

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Wheel tread width and isolated ? frog.

The other day I found that one of my locomotives, a TRIX Br.187 is shorting out just before the frog on a PECO turnout.

This locomotive doesn't short any other turnouts anywhere be it an Atlas or a Peco turnout.

After slowing approaching the turnout it stopped and shorts the entire layout at the converging rails of the frog. Makes no difference which direction the locomotive is traveling through the turnout or which way the locomotive is facing.

I ended up using a piece of gaffer's tape on about 1/16" of the converging rails.

The wheels are in gauge and in spec. The only thing I can gather is that these are British turnouts running German trains and the two are not 101% compatible with all brands. None of my other Roco or A.C.M.E. locomotives gives me any trouble on this turnout.



This is the locomotive:



MichaelE;

The tape solution you are using is very similar to an old problem (and temporary solution) people have had with Atlas Snap Switch turnouts over the years. That turnout has a plastic frog. Over time,( and sometimes with inadvertent help from the modeler*) the plastic would wear (or be filed) away, exposing the two short rails leading out of the frog. Along comes a metal wheel, it shorts across the two rails, which are of opposite electrical polarities, and bingo, a short circuit happens. The traditional solution was to paint some clear nail polish over the ends of those rails. Like your gaffer's tape, the nail polish formed an insulator between the rail tips and any passing metal wheels.

What, if anything, you decide to do beyond tape, I leave up to you, of course.
However, I find your problem with one particular locomotive crossing one particular turnout intriguing. I hope you will forgive a little nosiness on my part, but I'd like to find out what's causing this unusual problem. I think you are right about the German loco not getting along well with the British turnout. (After all, those two countries have been bitter enemies throughout two world wars! :D)

I know you have checked the wheel gage on this locomotive, but have you also checked the width of the wheel "tread?" (The tread is the part of the wheel that actually rides along the top of the rail.) You can check the tread width using your NMRA gage. If you look at the "wheels" side of the gage, that you used to check the wheels before, you should see, right next to the two small wheel gage notches, a bigger notch.
That notch is used to measure tread width. The wheel should fit into this notch. I suspect you will find that the wheels on your problem locomotive, not only don't fit into it, but they will be less close to fitting, (a.k.a. wider) than the wheel tread of some of your other locomotives.

If that's true, you could turn down the wheels to get the tread narrower, but there is an easier fix.
I can see one insulated gap, just before the frog, in your turnout photo. I'm assuming the other gap is under your tape. I don't own any electrofrogs so I'll ask if the entire frog is all-metal, or is it plastic, with metal rails on the outside? I'd also like to ask if you are using DCC?
In any case, you can put insulated rail joiners on the two short rails exiting the frog. If the frog is all-metal, then you can create one "giant frog" by soldering jumpers from those two short rails to the frog. Putting the insulated rail joiners in may possibly leave these two short rails unpowered, unless you jumper both of them to the frog, but quite possibly not. I hope DonR will chime in on this point since he has been recommending insulated rail joiners on both frog rails of Electrofrog turnouts for some time. It's possible that some internal factory jumper will power these rails, making it unnecessary for you to add jumpers at all.
Electrically, installing these insulated joiners simply puts the point where the "rails of opposite polarity", beguin out further apart from each other than even a very wide wheel could ever span.

Regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

* Some modelers have mistakenly tried to "cure" "frog drop" By filing down the frog, "Frog drop" is my name for the effect where the wheels drop down into the frog of nearly all commercial turnouts, and then get jerked back up again when they hit the frog point. This causes some fairly obvious bouncing, both up and down, and side to side, of cars as they travel through the turnout. What the modeler should do is shim the frog floor up, instead of filing the top of the frog at all. If the floor is high enough to reach the "flangeways" tab on an NMRA gage, the bounce will largely disappear. Filing frogs only causes problems, it doesn't cure any.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Mesenteria. I'll pick up a bottle of that and make use of it tonight.

TF, that's what I meant about "in spec" in my first post. Wheel tread is fine as is wheel track.

I'm just going to call it 'one of those things' and proceed with the nail polish. Maybe something in Traffic Red or Deutsch Bahn red....:D
 

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I had one of these Peco turnouts do the same thing. I compared it with some others and noticed the insulated area was slightly different then the others. Maybe caused by the manufacturing process. I applied some nail polish to expand the insulated area and had no problem since.

George
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The nail polish is working as well as the gaffer's tape.
 

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A tried 'n true remedy for shorts at the frog. The polish should last many hours of run time which, for most of us, amounts to a few months.

Don't be alarmed if it migrates a bit along the rails as a black streak. It's just normal arcing which carbonizes the organic material nearby left on the rails and some of the polish layer at the same time. You can clean it with alcohol, but every time you clean it you'll be removing some of the polish, so be aware of that.

To apply a new layer of polish, wipe the frog with acetone (just dampened, no dripping or you'll possibly destroy the plastic ties below the frog!!!!) Let it air-dry a few minutes, then apply the new layers.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks!
 

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Having the same problem with the Peco turnouts on my layout. Sometimes the trains will run for hours with no shorts, other times they wont go a minute without stopping and starting again. I've seen the tiny little sparks at the frog if you turn the lights off. Does someone have a pic of properly applied nail polish?
 

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photo

Having the same problem with the Peco turnouts on my layout. Sometimes the trains will run for hours with no shorts, other times they wont go a minute without stopping and starting again. I've seen the tiny little sparks at the frog if you turn the lights off. Does someone have a pic of properly applied nail polish?
WIrailfan;

If you go back to MichaelE's original post at the beginning of this thread, you will see a photo of his turnout with a bit of silver tape over the point area inside the frog, right where the two rails almost meet, and where you saw sparks. Painting that small area with nail polish will temporarily insulate a bit more of the frog. The two opposite polarity rails that come so close to each other there, won't be shorted by metal wheels passing over that spot.
The nail polish "solution" is very easy to do, but will wear out in time, requiring adding a new layer of nail polish. From what I've read in this thread, the nail polish may last months, or even years.
I don't know, since I use the different, more difficult, but "once, and forever" permanent solution I proposed in my reply. That involves extending the "frog" electrically, through the length of the two short rails that feed out of the frog, and installing insulated rail joiners at the far end of those rails. That puts the possible, "two rails that can be shorted by a whee" point" out far enough that a wheel can't possibly bridge that wide a gap. Reading through this thread, apparently I am the only one who thinks this is a better solution, and worth the effort, oh well, that's life! :eek:hwell:

good luck, have fun;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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WIrailfan;

If you go back to MichaelE's original post at the beginning of this thread, you will see a photo of his turnout with a bit of silver tape over the point area inside the frog, right where the two rails almost meet, and where you saw sparks. Painting that small area with nail polish will temporarily insulate a bit more of the frog. The two opposite polarity rails that come so close to each other there, won't be shorted by metal wheels passing over that spot.
The nail polish "solution" is very easy to do, but will wear out in time, requiring adding a new layer of nail polish. From what I've read in this thread, the nail polish may last months, or even years.
I don't know, since I use the different, more difficult, but "once, and forever" permanent solution I proposed in my reply. That involves extending the "frog" electrically, through the length of the two short rails that feed out of the frog, and installing insulated rail joiners at the far end of those rails. That puts the possible, "two rails that can be shorted by a whee" point" out far enough that a wheel can't possibly bridge that wide a gap. Reading through this thread, apparently I am the only one who thinks this is a better solution, and worth the effort, oh well, that's life! :eek:hwell:

good luck, have fun;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
I'm definitely interested in a more permanent solution than the nail polish. You'd be pulling the turnouts out to get the insulated joiners in, and especially to cut the factory jumpers on the bottom. I'm ok with that. I think the insulated joiners and cutting the jumpers would be all you had to do to isolate those rails. What do you think? Here's some pics of an insulfrog to help...



 

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Maybe you wont have to pull up the turnout? Or maybe you will.

I'm definitely interested in a more permanent solution than the nail polish. You'd be pulling the turnouts out to get the insulated joiners in, and especially to cut the factory jumpers on the bottom. I'm ok with that. I think the insulated joiners and cutting the jumpers would be all you had to do to isolate those rails. What do you think? Here's some pics of an insulfrog to help...



WIrailfan;

Your second photo shows the jumpers giong from the closure rails out to the very beginning of those short frog rails. TomC's suggestion of simply cutting the frog rails further out could work if the jumpers could be extended out toward the other end of the frog rails. However, the dead area of rail near the frog would be a little bit longer. This would not bother an all wheel pickup locomotive, but short wheelbase switchers, or locos that only pickup power from a few wheels, might stall on the frog. It's unfortunate that those factory jumpers didn't extend further out. Since they don't, you're right, the turnout would have to be pulled up. The jumpers would need to be cut, and then extended, and an insulating gap cut in both frog rails.

I have to adjust my thinking a bit when dealing with questions about commercial turnouts. I make my own turnouts with all-metal, isolated, frogs. The frogs have gaps at both ends, with the exit side gap far enough out to prevent a wheel from spanning the two frog rails. There are jumpers between the point and stock rails on each side, and the two point rails are insulated from each other. This results in the "DCC friendly" configuration that is now showing up on newer commercial turnouts. The frog is powered by its own feeder wire from a microswitch that changes the frog's polarity when the points are thrown. This system is foolproof, and works with any locomotive, including those with very few wheels picking up power.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

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

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf

Painted turn out 1.JPG

Overview of wye and crossings.jpg
 

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You could do a little filing and then glue a thin piece of stylene on top. That would insulate the place where the two rails almost meet. Only needs to be a thin strip across the top.
 

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Interesting. I have a Bachmann 2-10-0 that does the exact same thing on two turnouts. Only two. Every other loco traverses them without issue. I'll have to try the tape.
So I finally got around to trying the tape (to see if it worked before applying nail polish). Worked like a champ. The Decapod traversed the two problem turnouts with nary a blip.

However, the radius of some of my curves is too small for a loco with five sets of driving wheels. :( So off to the auction block.
 

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That 'Russian' decapod by Bachmann is known to be a very forgiving engine, and purposefully designed to take curves slightly shy of 18" radius. The prototype was a tiny engine, about the same size as a large 2-8-0, and had tiny drivers for maximum tractive effort. Unless you have curves in the 16.5" range and below, it should negotiate them. Is it possibly you have something else going on? Are the drivers in gauge? Do the drivers derail, or the engine truck? Does the locomotive sit evenly on all axles, no daylight under one of the flanges, when you sit it on a clean countertop?

Sometimes it's the turnout yet again. It might have high or low rails pressed too much into the soft plastic ties at time of manufacture, or the guards might also fail the NMRA gauge flange-path test. Points rails move a bit as more of the drivers get onto them and they might shift or torsion. Are the points rails in gauge? Both positions, starting at the throwbar and sliding the gauge along the points rails to the closure rails, and beyond?

Is one of the points tips low? Will it succumb to the weight of the first driver axle and let the following axle ride its flanges over the point rail? Instant ooops!!
 
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