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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

The recent self-isolation has been a boon for my model rr - I got a lot done (details to follow).

One of my accomplishments was a new five track yard. Long story but I wired the entire yard while my DCS51 was back at Digitrax being fixed; I couldn't test as I went.

When I got my DCS51 back, I re-attached the unit and discovered a short. I had worked on four areas while my unit was being repaired; I was able to narrow it down to the new yard :( - I cut the bus wires coming from the new yard to the existing layout and the short disappeared.

I'm attaching a pic of the new yard. The yellow circles are where I placed feeder wires to a bus wire; the bus wires were attached to the main bus wires running around the existing layout.

The blue lines indicate where the power ends (now that I disconnected the bus wires).

All four switches (either sides of the blue line) are PECO Electrofrogs. I'm reading up on the differences between Electro and Insul now.

Any thoughts on what i need to do?

544361
res
 

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The type of frogs on your turnouts isn't causing the problem.

The most likely culprit is that one of your new sets of feeders has the polarity reversed (wire connected tot the wrong side of the bus), or possibly your yard is internally consistent but backwards from the rest of the layout.

I'm assuming that the main track outside of the yard has power and no shorts. If so, try disconnecting the main layout and powering only the yard and see if you have the short.
 

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Also prob may be the Electrofrogs which route power to whichever track the points are thrown for; the other route getting turned off. These are called 'power routing' switches (TOs) in the hobby. Insulfrogs, called 'all-live' in the hobby, do not get affected by which way the points are thrown and are considered the DCC friendly type...
Are you sure it's a 'short' (which is a polarity clash and causes heat and damage if controller fuse doesn't shut power down) and not an 'open' (which remains cold with no polarity clash, only '0' power in said area..(like turning a room lamp off)...
I'm betting on it being an open between new yard and main layout at the blue lines.. If they were 'all-live' (Insulfrog) switches my guess is problem would be gone; especially if you're saying the yard gets its power from the blue switches...
 

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I agree with CTvalley. It appears that you have a 'bus'/ 'track drop'
wiring error. You have a straight forward simple
(but very interesting) yard. There is no 'reverse loop' or
other complexities.

However, if you are using Electrofrog
turnouts, it is required that insulated joiners be used in
both frog rails to avoid 'shorts'.

Otherwise, recheck your bus 'polarity' and each track drop in
the new area. If you
used the common Red wire to Right rail, Black wire to
Left rail system it should be easy to trace.

Don
 

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Youll short if either of the two sets of points on the three-way is not aligned for a proper route. Also, if you are feeding from this side of the three-way, the ladder side, you will have shorts if your other routing turnouts conflict with the other side of the three-way.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi all,

Just spent most of Canada Day working on this:)

I disconnected the main layout (which works fine when disconnected from the yard) and connected ONLY the east yard (foreground in the pic) - got a short.

I then disconnected the east yard and connected ONLY the west yard (background) in the pic - got a short.

The feeders all look fine - yellow outside track, blue inside track. I will give that a much closer look tomorrow.

Mesenteria: the feeders are on the far side of the wye. I'll experiment tomorrow with the power only on the west yard and making sure the points are aligned.

DonR: I didn't know I had to use insulated joiners. I found a good article that also talks about what to do if the switches are already intsalled https://dccwiki.com/PECO_Electrofrog

So tomorrow: (Is this a good order?)

1) Verify feeders
2) Verify wye is aligned
3) Insulate my four PECO Electrofrogs

Thanks again all; Happy Canada Day and Happy July 4 (in advance).

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi again everyone,

I did my homework :) my feeders are correct and the wye seems fine.

It looks like the PECO switches may be the issue. I said earlier I thought all four switches were Electrofrogs; in fact three may be Insulfrogs: Is the top pic Electrofrog and the bottom Insulfrogs?

Don R: When you mentioned insulated joiners, is that that is circled in blue in the Insulfrog swtches? Will I need to do that on my Electrofrog switch?

Thanks again everyone.

Mike


544722
544724
 

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The top turnout needs the rail insulators, on the 2 rails soldered together (V shaped rail). Internal to the turnout that v shaped rail is powered by which ever side the points are in contact with, so again thinking of when the turnout is set to take the diverging route, the v shaped rail will be connected to the right rail and without being isolated will essentially be a direct short to the left rail on the straight thru route. If your not sure, it might be best to always isolate the turnout frog. You will lose the ability of the turnout to control power, but your probably better off running a feeder to the spur any way.
 

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Note that the photo with the two blue circles shows the 'insulfrog' variety of turnout. It works well enough for most people to get a B+ grade, and is a good turnout operationally and by way of construction. It will be reliable. However, the insulator at left, the tip of the frog, is not far enough toward the separation of the two frog rails to prevent all metal tires from bridging the two rails, and you will almost certainly find one or two metal tires doing just that...and generating a hard short.

The solutions are as follows:
Temporary - use clear fingernail varnish to paint one or both of the rails until they are separated another 2 mm or so, perhaps another 5 mm further toward the split. Let it cure fully before you run the first train over it. It will last for several weeks, perhaps longer, and then you'll have to clean it with some acetone and reapply.

Permanent - use a Dremel tool with a small cut-off disk and cut a gap in ONE of the two frog rails about 5mm away from the plastic. Do this with great care because those disks can snag the edge of the rail and lift them right out of the turnout bed. Ruined turnout.
 

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I had a problem with a TRIX locomotive on a #8 Peco turnout on your circled picture on the left. The wheel was so wide that it bridged the gap between the two converging rails and would short out the whole layout.

I first used a sliver of gaffer's tape to separate the two converging rails and then switched to the finger nail polish that Mesnteria recommends. I have not had any problems with that locomotive since over that turnout.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks again all.

Mesenteria: My problem isn't metal wheels, it is likely how I laid out my new yard. With no equipment on the layout, I get a short if I hook up my yard bus wires to the main layout :(

I think the nail polish wouldn't help, as current would still flow through. And I don't have a Dremel - can I uses a fine-toothed handsaw?

Mike
 

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Mike

No. Do NOT modify your turnouts. The insulated JOINERS
(they are plastic instead of brass)
separate the Electrofrog Turnout FROG RAILS from the connected tracks.

To help you understand:

Look at the FROG of your ELECTROFROG turnouts. You see that
where the RIGHT rail of the of the STRAIGHT is directly connected to
the LEFT rail of the divert at the FROG. The FROG uses track power
and it's polarity is changed when you move the points. So if you
have live tracks connected, that changing polarity causes a short, no
matter which way the points are set. To avoid this, use an insulated
joiner between BOTH turnout FROG RAILS and connect tracks.

The above situation does not exist when you use INSULFROG turnouts.
No insulated joiners are required since the FROG does not change
polarity and there is a plastic rail insert at the frog that prevents right rail/left
rail touching. You can see the black plastic rail insert where circled in
purple in the above photo. However, Insulfrog turnouts are 'power routing'.
That means power to the 'divert' is shut off when points are set to
straight. For this reason if 'always on' current is desired you must
use a track drop to your track bus for BOTH frog rails. NO INSULATED
JOINERS, however. Note that the divert frog rail in your photo is LEFT
rail and the straight frog rail is RIGHT rail. Connect your drops to
your bus accordingly.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #14
No. Do NOT modify your turnouts. The insulated JOINERS
(they are plastic instead of brass)
separate the Electrofrog Turnout FROG RAILS from the connected tracks.

To help you understand:

Look at the FROG of your ELECTROFROG turnouts. You see that
where the RIGHT rail of the of the STRAIGHT is directly connected to
the LEFT rail of the divert at the FROG. The FROG uses track power
and it's polarity is changed when you move the points. So if you
have live tracks connected, that changing polarity causes a short, no
matter which way the points are set. To avoid this, use an insulated
joiner between BOTH turnout FROG RAILS and connect tracks.

The above situation does not exist when you use INSULFROG turnouts.
No insulated joiners are required since the FROG does not change
polarity and there is a plastic rail insert at the frog that prevents right rail/left
rail touching. You can see the black plastic rail insert where circled in
purple in the above photo. However, Insulfrog turnouts are 'power routing'.
That means power to the 'divert' is shut off when points are set to
straight. For this reason if 'always on' current is desired you must
use a track drop to your track bus for BOTH frog rails. NO INSULATED
JOINERS, however. Note that the divert frog rail in your photo is LEFT
rail and the straight frog rail is RIGHT rail. Connect your drops to
your bus accordingly.
[
Mike

No. Do NOT modify your turnouts. The insulated JOINERS
(they are plastic instead of brass)
separate the Electrofrog Turnout FROG RAILS from the connected tracks.

To help you understand:

Look at the FROG of your ELECTROFROG turnouts. You see that
where the RIGHT rail of the of the STRAIGHT is directly connected to
the LEFT rail of the divert at the FROG. The FROG uses track power
and it's polarity is changed when you move the points. So if you
have live tracks connected, that changing polarity causes a short, no
matter which way the points are set. To avoid this, use an insulated
joiner between BOTH turnout FROG RAILS and connect tracks.

The above situation does not exist when you use INSULFROG turnouts.
No insulated joiners are required since the FROG does not change
polarity and there is a plastic rail insert at the frog that prevents right rail/left
rail touching. You can see the black plastic rail insert where circled in
purple in the above photo. However, Insulfrog turnouts are 'power routing'.
That means power to the 'divert' is shut off when points are set to
straight. For this reason if 'always on' current is desired you must
use a track drop to your track bus for BOTH frog rails. NO INSULATED
JOINERS, however. Note that the divert frog rail in your photo is LEFT
rail and the straight frog rail is RIGHT rail. Connect your drops to
your bus accordingly.

Don
Thanks Don. I'll work on this tonight. I hope I have enough plastic rail joiners left.

Will I need to do this in my ladder yard?

Mike
 
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