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Sorry about my lack of proof reading. The mighty mite has shown to be very reliable, at least in terms of contact position matching switch position. I've yet to see it throw the contact without moving the switch. but I had to mount it a few inches away from the turnout to get it to work properly. That's not ideal. Ideally it would be right next to it.

The answer is, there is no perfect answer probably for any situation. For now I'm going to order the 751Ds and use the Atlas machines. I can still use the mighty mite as well with the 751. I think you had recommended it earlier in another post as well. I had some of the mighty mite on hand so they seemed like an easy solution... They are not.

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vette-kid;

It sounds like you have a workable plan there. Good luck & have fun.

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Discussion Starter #42
I'm actually having a blast. I love trying to work through these puzzles.

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I'd agree with you in most circumstances. It just isn't feasible. Chief of household is not going to allow a table type layout. This area is our only real option, or a counter top that would have similar issues. It's just an obstacle to overcome.

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Make your layout out of 2 layers of 1" foam. Cut a hole in the bottom layer under where the turnout will be and mount the switch machine inside of it. The bottom of the lower layer will sit on your benchwork / counter / whatever, and the turnout machine won't be visible or interfere with the positioning or level of the layout.

As TF said, do what you want, but really, Henry Ford was right: "If you think you can do something, or think you can't do something, you're right." Almost everything is possible; you just have to figure out how.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
CT Valley, I certainly appreciate all the advice I've gotten from you, traction fan and others on here. And there just certainly is a way, several. I just don't want to gain the height for now. If the Atlas machines give me headaches, we may look at switching to something else and take more drastic changes to the layout.

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CT Valley, I certainly appreciate all the advice I've gotten from you, traction fan and others on here. And there just certainly is a way, several. I just don't want to gain the height for now. If the Atlas machines give me headaches, we may look at switching to something else and take more drastic changes to the layout.

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vette-kid;

If you operate those Atlas switch machines with the CDU included in your Stapleton 751D controller, you should not have any serious problems with them. Their biggest deficiencies ares their weak throw, and coil burnout. The Atlas turnouts are made with very easy to move points which helps compensate for the weak switch machine. Also a CDU will fire a quick, powerful burst of electricity, which helps to move the points reliably. A CDU will also make coil burnout impossible, and it does so electronically, not with electro-mechanical contacts like the mighty mite. So, again, I think you have a workable system. Enjoy it. BTW I gave my 5-year old grandson his first model train today, he loves it!

regards;

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Discussion Starter #46
Ok, making progress. I painted all of the plastic frog turnouts and have greatly reduced the number of shorts. Virtually no existent with all trains but the Athern. I got a short today on this turnout. As soon as the first wheel hit the frog (low speed) it shorted with a nice spark.

I'm going to keep watching it to see if it repeats, but if there anything obvious here?

Septate note, you've convinced me to go under table for at least most of the machines. I have a handful of PL10s that I forgot about. Back turnouts will remain surface mount for now.



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vette-kid
that frog appears to be insulated and totally un-connected to any power source, is that correct? Or are you powering the frog somehow?
 

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Discussion Starter #49
vette-kid
that frog appears to be insulated and totally un-connected to any power source, is that correct? Or are you powering the frog somehow?
I have not powered them. I will take measurements and get back. My garage hasn't arrived yet, but I do have calipers

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OK good. What I am thinking is, that if the frog has no connection whatsoever, that any wheel touching it cannot cause a short without also touching two rails.
Maybe check with a meter to ensure there is no power on the frog, possibly from a compromised internal jumper connection under the frog.
The other possibility is that a wheel set is too close together, causing a wheel to bridge both rails at the frog entry. I'm not saying that either of these is common
but either could explain the short. Only the wheelset would be associated with only one loco and not the others. It;s very puzzling. A gentleman on modelrairoader forum recently identified an internally shorted atlas switch which was a little difficult to track down, being one out of 44 installed switches/turnouts.
 

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If all the other engines do not have a problem then it seems their is something unusual about just that engine. It also seems it would have problems at almost all the turnouts. Conflicting evidence here. Are you sure the points were set right?
 

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Discussion Starter #52
Ok, my Guage came in today. But I don't understand what I'm supposed to be looking at. Yes, I read the instructions.

Also, the frog is powered. I did not realize that it was, I have not done anything to wire it... Just connected the rail joiners. I'm learning here. These turnouts are a little more complicated than I have them credit for.

As to the loco, I'm not sure. We did get s few shorts with the f7 on other turnouts before the nail polish trick. But this send to be there only loco doing it on this turnout. This one is not polished, but probably will be soon.



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Ok, making progress. I painted all of the plastic frog turnouts and have greatly reduced the number of shorts. Virtually no existent with all trains but the Athern. I got a short today on this turnout. As soon as the first wheel hit the frog (low speed) it shorted with a nice spark.

I'm going to keep watching it to see if it repeats, but if there anything obvious here?

Septate note, you've convinced me to go under table for at least most of the machines. I have a handful of PL10s that I forgot about. Back turnouts will remain surface mount for now.



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vette-kid;

UPDATE: You made your most recent post while I was still composing this response. I'm glad you got your NMRA gauge. Later in this response I'll ask you to check some things with it. Also my "Improving Atlas turnouts" shows photos of the gauge being used on a turnout, starting on page eight.
The metal frog on this turnout should not have power on it now. Since it does, there must be a connection to one, or more, of the rails in the turnout. There may be metal jumpers to the frog under the tie strip. If there are any, they should be removed, so that the frog is not powered. You should not paint the frog. It shouldn't be necessary if the frog can be electrically disconnected from the rails. Painting a metal frog also negates its big advantage. A metal frog can be powered which helps locos with few power pickups get through the turnout, but the electrical polarity needs to change with the route. Read on please.

First, The Turnout;

The turnout in your photo actually is an Atlas "Custom Line" turnout with a metal frog. The frog is, or at least appears to be, "isolated." If true, that's a very good thing. Use a multimeter set for ohms of resistance, to check if there is any connection between the frog, and any other rail in the turnout. An isolated frog should be just that, electrically isolated from every other rail in the turnout. Since this is a mass production, commercial, turnout though, I wouldn't be surprised if one, or more, rails are connected to the frog with metal jumper straps under the plastic tie strip. So, what's so good about an isolated frog? It means the frog can be powered, and have its electrical polarity changed to match the route. This, electrically, makes the frog into just one more piece of rail powered for the selected route. There will be no opposite polarity rails to short to, no nail polish needed, and even locomotives that have few wheels picking up power should pass smoothly through the turnout.
An Isolated frog is also part of the DCC friendly configuration. So are the point/closure rails insulated from each other, which are normal on an Atlas turnout. If you ever go to DCC, the only remaining modification to make this turnout DCC friendly, is to add jumpers between each point rail, and the stock rail nearest to it. Considering the age of this brass-rail turnout, Atlas must have been pretty forward looking as DCC was not even thought of, much less invented, back when this turnout was made! 馃槃

Now, The Athearn Locomotive;

Since you are getting sparks and shorts from only one locomotive, (presumably on the same turnout) then it stands to reason that something must be different about that particular locomotive.
Since you now have your NMRA gauge, use it to check both the "wheel gauge," (The distance between the two wheels on each axle.) and the "tread width." (The thickness of the part of each wheel that rides along the top of the rail.)
If the wheel gauge is off spec. adjust it. You may need to either push the wheels inward, or pull them outward, on each axle, until the wheel flanges fit into the "wheels" slots on the gauge. If your locomotive is new, the tread width is probably OK. You check it on the NMRA gauge with the large slot right next to the two small "wheels" slots. The entire wheel should fit into this large slot. If the tread is too wide, that may be causing the short. Unless you were to completely disassemble the locomotive and turn the wheel treads narrower on a lathe, there's nothing you can do about the tread. Somehow, I don't see you doing that! 馃槃

You can, however, do some things to the turnout to help remedy the short.

(1) Glue plastic shims in the guard rail flangeways. (See my "improving Atlas turnouts" file, starting on page 8.) While this modification is usually done to remedy derailments, It also affects shorts between the rails in a plastic frog. The entire "wheelset" (two wheels on the same axle) is forced outward, away from the frog, a bit, and this may move the wheel that goes through the frog over far enough not to hit the other rail.
Since the turnout in your photo has a metal frog, this may not apply, but in any case it's a good thing to do, in terms of preventing derailments. (I know, you never have any) Still, It's very simple to do, and it certainly can't hurt anything.

(2) Remove any jumpers that connect the metal frog of your turnout to any other rail. This should create a "dead" (not powered at all) frog. Try the Athearn Locomotive again with the dead frog. It may work better and not short. Ultimately, you can connect a wire to the frog and use a product called a "Frog Juicer" to change the frog's polarity. Then, as described earlier, the frog will become just another piece of correctly powered rail, with no shorts.

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Discussion Starter #54
I forgot to mention, it does change polarity with the turnout position. Here is a picture of the underside of a different piece. They appear identical from the top, as do the remainder of the metal frog turnouts I checked so far. I have a handful of these left.

The wheels appear in Guage, I'll recheck when I get a chance. I'll have to reread you paper and digest some more.



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I forgot to mention, it does change polarity with the turnout position. Here is a picture of the underside of a different piece. They appear identical from the top, as do the remainder of the metal frog turnouts I checked so far. I have a handful of these left.

The wheels appear in Guage, I'll recheck when I get a chance. I'll have to reread you paper and digest some more.



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vette-kid;

Well, if it's consistently changing polarity with the route, then you shouldn't have a short, or even the possibility of a short, from two rails being bridged by a wheel. Nail polish won't fix it either, at least I don't think it would. In a plastic frog you have two opposite polarity rails very close together. The one piece metal frog simply isn't set up that way. You may possibly be getting a short between the point and stock rails, or elsewhere in the turnout. It's also possible that the polarity changing hardware is malfunctioning, and the frog would then be of opposite polarity from the rail. Where did you see the spark?

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Discussion Starter #56
In my picture of the turnout in question, it's happening with the train going left to right as soon as the first wheel hits the frog section.

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In my picture of the turnout in question, it's happening with the train going left to right as soon as the first wheel hits the frog section.

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vett-kid;

For the spark to occur as the wheel bridges the gap between the rail and the frog, the frog would have to be a different polarity than the rail. If they were the same polarity, as they are supposed to be, there would be no difference in polarity to cause the spark. That leads me to think that your frog is not always changing polarity when it should. This is not too surprising, since whatever polarity switching contacts Atlas is using are very old, probably brass, and probably corroded.
The Atlas "Custom Line" is out of my line since they don't make custom line turnouts in N-scale. Several forum members, including telltale, I think, are long time users of Atlas custom line turnouts. Maybe they can help. Personally, if this turnout were on my layout, I'd rip out the original Atlas jumpers, make sure the frog is isolated, and install a frog juicer.

Good Luck with it;

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Discussion Starter #60
I was thinking of that possibility, I just don't understand how. Looks like it's a simple mechanical operation. If the points are moving then the contact should as well. I may dissect one this weekend. The locos all seem to do fine on the plastic frog turnouts with the nail polish, so I suppose I could just disconnect power from these frogs as well.

If I go DCC, how would that change anything? We are mostly running the loco genies now, which is essentially like DCC using regular DC current and signals are sent wirelessly instead of through the rails. Point being, you run full power to the rails and they don't like power hiccups. They seem fine on this setup once we got past the initial issues.

I'll have about a week on my own coming up, so I hope to have time to actually investigate and read further.

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