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Hi everyone,

I installed this Peco #5 electrofrog turnout driven by a Tortoise machine. The problem is power is not getting to every rail -- i'm hoping attached photo will explain. The stock rails are hard-wired to + and - and the frog gets its power from Tortoise's DPDT contacts, to flip polarity when the switch changes state. Everything works fine except for the dead rails in the photo marked in red. It's already glued down. Can I fix this with jumpers?
 

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Power to the wing rails

Hi everyone,

I installed this Peco #5 electrofrog turnout driven by a Tortoise machine. The problem is power is not getting to every rail -- i'm hoping attached photo will explain. The stock rails are hard-wired to + and - and the frog gets its power from Tortoise's DPDT contacts, to flip polarity when the switch changes state. Everything works fine except for the dead rails in the photo marked in red. It's already glued down. Can I fix this with jumpers?
ajay;

The tortoise-switched powered frog needs to also include those short sections of rail that are dead. Connect jumpers from the working part of the frog that is switched by the tortoise contacts to the dead rails. That should make things work right. I don't understand why your Peco Electrofrog didn't come with the entire frog connected. I build my own turnouts with a one piece metal frog that includes the rails you're having problems with as part of the frog. The whole thing is switched as a unit. Another thing you may want to do, is use insulated rail joiners, (or cut gaps, if Peco didn't do so at the factory, since your turnout is already mounted) to electrically separate the other two rails exiting the frog, (not shown in your photo, but they would be to the left of the frog as shown.) from the rest of the layout. This "isolated frog" setup is sometimes advertised as "DCC friendly" or "DCC compatible" While it's not absolutely necessary, since you're part way there already, it couldn't hurt to go the rest of the way. The other part of this so called "DCC friendly" option is to jumper the stock and point rails to each other on each side of the turnout. You should end up with a frog that is electrically isolated from every other rail of the turnout, and the left stock rail connected to the left point rail. The right stock rail would be connected to the right point rail also. Just don't connect right to left! :laugh: That would, of course, be a dead short circuit across the track. Even if you are not using DCC now, you may convert to it later. Also the isolated frog system works equally well with traditional DC control.

The photo below shows one of my scratch-built turnouts. The white wire goes to the frog assembly, including the wing rails that are dead on your turnout. If you look very carefully you may see the thin gaps cut in all four rails of the frog. The gaps are filled with clear plastic to prevent shorts.

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

Painted turn out 1.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The tortoise-switched powered frog needs to also include those short sections of rail that are dead. Connect jumpers from the working part of the frog that is switched by the tortoise contacts to the dead rails. That should make things work right.

I don't understand why your Peco Electrofrog didn't come with the entire frog connected. I build my own turnouts with a one piece metal frog that includes the rails you're having problems with as part of the frog. The whole thing is switched as a unit.

Another thing you may want to do, is use insulated rail joiners, (or cut gaps, if Peco didn't do so at the factory, since your turnout is already mounted) to electrically separate the other two rails exiting the frog, (not shown in your photo, but they would be to the left of the frog as shown.) from the rest of the layout. This "isolated frog" setup is sometimes advertised as "DCC friendly" or "DCC compatible"

While it's not absolutely necessary, since you're part way there already, it couldn't hurt to go the rest of the way. The other part of this so called "DCC friendly" option is to jumper the stock and point rails to each other on each side of the turnout. You should end up with a frog that is electrically isolated from every other rail of the turnout, and the left stock rail connected to the left point rail. The right stock rail would be connected to the right point rail also. Just don't connect right to left! That would, of course, be a dead short circuit across the track. Even if you are not using DCC now, you may convert to it later. Also the isolated frog system works equally well with traditional DC control.
Thanks for your help, traction fan. Now I know to call them "wing rails" :) Btw I cannot see the gaps in your photo--great work!

I bought a total of 5 brand-new Pecos on eBay, all in electrofrog packages.This was first one received. It wasn't till I received 4 more that I realized THIS ONE was missing the bare wire that's pre-attached to the underside of the frog (I thought that's how they came & just soldered on my own lead). If it was actually an insul-frog mistakenly put in the wrong package, would that explain this problem?

Both tracks exiting the turnout have short (4"-6") extensions soldered on, with insulating joiners where these connect to the rest of the layout. I hope that's sufficicently "isolated frog"? I'm still testing with an old DC power supply, but trying to keep it DCC-ready if not DCC-friendly, lol.

Thanks for the suggestion about jumpering point rails to their corresponding stock rails. When you throw a switch & one of the points contacts a stock rail, is that generally a reliable electrical connection so long as it looks clean & spring tension is normal?

Anyhow thanks for the suggestions & sorry to keep asking more questions! I can probably fix this now based on your answer. Cheers!
 

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Turnout info & answers

Thanks for your help, traction fan. Now I know to call them "wing rails" :) Btw I cannot see the gaps in your photo--great work!

I bought a total of 5 brand-new Pecos on eBay, all in electrofrog packages.This was first one received. It wasn't till I received 4 more that I realized THIS ONE missing the bare wire that's pre-attached to the underside of the frog (I thought that's how they came & just soldered on my own lead). If it was actually an insul-frog mistakenly put in the wrong package, would that explain this problem?

ANSWER:

No, an insulfrog would have a plastic frog, not a metal one, like the frog shown in your photo.



Both tracks exiting the turnout have short (4"-6") extensions soldered on, with insulating joiners where these connect to the rest of the layout. I hope that's sufficicently "isolated frog"? I'm still testing with an old DC power supply, but trying to keep it DCC-ready if not DCC-friendly, lol.


ANSWER:

Yes. You just have a somewhat longer "frog" (electrically speaking) "than any other turnout on the block" :laugh:, because those 4"-6" extensions are, (again electrically) part of the frog. This shouldn't do any harm, but you could bypass the insulated joiners with jumpers, and cut gaps closer to the frog if you just wanted to. I would just leave things as they are. As long as all four rails that enter the frog are insulated from the rest of the turnout, you have an "isolated frog".




Thanks for the suggestion about jumpering point rails to their corresponding stock rails. When you throw a switch & one of the points contacts a stock rail, is that generally a reliable electrical connection so long as it looks clean & spring tension is normal?


ANSWER:

No, (or maybe yes depending on who you talk to! :eek: )
Although Pecos are renowned for their overall reliability, I say a firm NO. The rails can get dirty, and lose their ability to conduct electricity. Forty some odd years of fixing electrical stuff for a living have made me a firm believer in redundant reliability. A jumper wire, soldered between the stock and point rails will be a super reliable connection that will never be affected by dirt, or how well/poorly the spring pushes the two rails together. The micro-switch built into your tortoise machine is designed to be an electrical switch (Duh!) The rails of a turnout are not. Why not make things as reliable as you possibly can?




Anyhow thanks for the suggestions & sorry to keep asking more questions! I can probably fix this now based on your answer. Cheers!

ANSWER:

Don't apologize for asking more questions please. The more questions one asks, and receives answers to, the more that person learns.
We "experienced modelers" (A.K.A. :hah: old farts) don't mind answering questions at all. In fact, we usually enjoy it. ;)

ADDITIONAL INFO:

The files below may help you understand the sometimes bewildering worlds of turnouts and terminology a bit better. I wrote these, and several others, to help new modelers. If you are interested in seeing more, you can look in the "Beginner's Q & A" section. Open up the thread "Help a new modeler to get started." I have them listed there.

regards;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment All AboutTurnouts.pdf

View attachment Model Railroad Terminology 2.2.pdf
 
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