Author Topic: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches  (Read 1897 times)

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damrr

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 :? I tried to find info with a search on this site with no results so I am asking here: I am getting ready to start a layout and thinking of using Peco switches. I am not sure which type of switch to use, the insulfrog or the electrofrog type? That's why I am asking those who are in the know to tell me what the Pro's & Con's are of their use. My layout will probably have both a crossover and return loop. My layout will be DC not DCC.

eric220

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2014, 05:41:01 PM »
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Insulfrog
Pro: Cheaper
Con: Short locomotives will stall on the plastic frogs

Electrofrog:
Pro: MUCH more reliable
Con: More expensive, slightly more complex to install

I should qualify that the electrofrogs are only more complex to install if you wire up the frog. You can always install the electrofrog turnouts just like the insulfrogs and wire them up later if you want. I'd very much encourage you to go with the electrofrogs.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2014, 05:44:20 PM by eric220 »
-Eric

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damrr

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2014, 07:00:23 PM »
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  :)Thanks Eric for your input. From what I have seen on the auction sites the switches mentioned seem to go for about the same price, it looks like I will need to bone-up on my electrical skills if I have any, it's been a long time since I have had a layout of my own.

LV LOU

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2014, 07:07:35 PM »
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I've been using Atlas C80 with unpowered frogs for almost 40 years,5 years ago,I went to ME track with powered frogs..It was the single greatest improvement in ALL of my locomotives I've ever experienced.I've always liked small steam,but I considered it useless until I switched..Now,I go out of my way looking for little stuff I passed on before.You can't imagine the satisfaction of watching a Bachmann Dockside crawl around your entire railroad..

rickb773

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2014, 07:59:01 PM »
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I have 50+ Electrofrogs turnouts on my current DC layout and have been using them for 40+ years (over 3 layouts).
I find the engines run through them and maintain electrical contact much better than the Insulfrogs.

If you do not understand the electrical issues just get an experienced modeler (local or forum) to show you where to gap the tracks and where to place the electrical power feeders.

Bob Horn

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2014, 08:54:50 PM »
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I have around 80 Peco Electro-frog turnouts on the current layout, about 2/3rd of them powered. Changing to the Electro-frog was done mainly because they look much better and are more reliable. Old layout was taken down in 2009, started from scratch again. Bob.

u18b

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2014, 11:03:28 PM »
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One thing no one has mentioned so far.

I've never used Electrofrog.
But the many insulfrogs I have used, some locos with wide tread will short out just north of the frog since the tread can touch both rails.

On a DC layout, this might result in a slight hesitation.  But on a DCC layout, it can shut the system down.

(I hate insulfrogs).
There.  I feel better.
Ron Bearden
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"All get what they want-- not all like what they get."  Aslan the Lion in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis.

Teditor

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2014, 02:45:39 AM »
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On a DCC layout, it generally does result in a shut down.

I'm actually in the process of modifying Peco Electrofrog turnouts closer to NMRA specs, by filling the frog area with 70 degree low melt solder and milling a finer (NMRA) width flange way, also gapping for DCC so the frog can be powered through Tortoise turnout motors and installing PCB throwbars.

Probably scratchbuild new ones quicker, but something we wanted to try with the club layout.

mmagliaro

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2014, 05:11:18 AM »
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One thing no one has mentioned so far.

I've never used Electrofrog.
But the many insulfrogs I have used, some locos with wide tread will short out just north of the frog since the tread can touch both rails.

On a DC layout, this might result in a slight hesitation.  But on a DCC layout, it can shut the system down.

(I hate insulfrogs).
There.  I feel better.

On my pre code 55 layout, I used Peco Insulfrogs.   It ain't just DCC that shuts down.  Grrr.
I had some of those, right at the very point of the frog, that would short bad enough to stop an engine dead.
I had to play games, coating the tip with epoxy, to stop the problem.

Yep.  If you are going to use Peco, use the Electrofrogs!   The powered frog makes everything run better.

brokemoto

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2014, 07:42:22 AM »
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I had shorting problems with the one insulfrog that was in my larger pike (the one that I took down after it survived five moves).  Not every locomotive would stall, but some would.  Funny, I never knew what it was, and never paid any attention to the indicator light when the locomotive did stall.  As it was only two or three that stalled, I simply avoided using those locomotives there.  I had thought that it was a loss of contact.  A short, -eh?

On another note, I use electro-frogs on my nineteenth century pike.  If you are going to model the nineteenth century or use small power, in general, a live frog is a must.  The only nineteenth century power that will operate on plastic frog turnouts with any consistency is the Athearn/MDC.  The other nineteenth century power is simply too small.  This is not a design flaw, it is simply the way that it is.

On yet another note, I do use the PECO 'matchbook' turnouts in an industrial area on the Short Creek and Nopedale.  This industrial area is on a part of the pike that was (and really still is) an N-TRAK module.  I built the module in the 1990s, just at the time when N scale diseasel power was starting to improve.  I built the module before the Kato 2-8-2 and Bachamnn 2-8-0 had appeared, thus the only decent steam out there was the C-C hudson.  I used those turnouts due 1) to limited space and 2) to the fact that I had no idea when a decent small steam locomotive would appear.

I was using an Atlas/Kato SD-9 to switch it (YES, the A/K SD-9 will operate on so sharp a turnout.)  SInce then, there have been some decent yard goats that have appeared, as well as some steam power that has good enough slow speed control to switch this area.  The diseasel yard goats will operate well over these, as will the MDC/Athearn steam, the B-mann USRA 0-6-0 (with SPECTRUM tender substituted), MP mogul and eight wheeler (with all wheels live tender substituted), Bachpersonn 2-8-0 and Kato 2-8-2.

The general wiring rule for live frog switches is wire ahead, gap after.  Keep in mind that this is a general rule, only.  There are situations where you will need to gap or wire in different places.  The Kalmbach book on wiring the model railroad is useful on this.  I forget its name, now, but I recall using it back in my HO days and finding it useful.  I do not know if you are a DCC user nor do I know if Kalmbach has updated it for DCC.  I do not use DCC, so anything that I type is for DC, only.

I would go with the live frog switches.  I do not know if you operate steam, but I do.  Thus, one of my governing principles is Miranda's Maxim as explained by ke:  The poor performance of many N scale steam locomotives is almost always directly attributable to poor electrical contact.   

alhoop

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2014, 08:51:55 AM »
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....................................
On another note, I use electro-frogs on my nineteenth century pike.  If you are going to model the nineteenth century or use small power, in general, a live frog is a must.  The only nineteenth century power that will operate on plastic frog turnouts with any consistency is the Athearn/MDC.  The other nineteenth century power is simply too small.  This is not a design flaw, it is simply the way that it is.

On yet another note, I do use the PECO 'matchbook' turnouts in an industrial area on the Short Creek and Nopedale.  This industrial area is on a part of the pike that was (and really still is) an N-TRAK module.  I built the module in the 1990s, just at the time when N scale diseasel power was starting to improve.  I built the module before the Kato 2-8-2 and Bachamnn 2-8-0 had appeared, thus the only decent steam out there was the C-C hudson.  I used those turnouts due 1) to limited space and 2) to the fact that I had no idea when a decent small steam locomotive would appear.

.............................


The Peco ST-5 and ST-6 turnouts with insul-frogs can be modified (even in place) to have electro-frogs. I have modified several of these and other Peco insul-frog turnouts  on my layout and can run a Docksider anywhere on the layout without stalling.

Make two metal wing rails just like the two plastic wing rails at the frog area. Using a Dremel and appropriate cutting tool remove all the plastic at the frog area - two wing rails and part of the frog. Remove plastic materail until you are down to the metal rails that run under the frog area. File the bottom of the two fabricated wing rails until they sit level with the surrounding track and Goo then in place. Cut a piece of thin copper foil to fit in the space between the wing rails and what's left of the frog going about 1/16 inch past the blunt end of the frog. Glue the foil in place and using flux on the foil and insides of the wing rails fill the area with solder. When cool file the solder even with surrounding track. Using the points 'nubs' on a steel NMRA gauge drag the nubs through each route thru the turnout removing just a sliver of solder with each pass. Use the guard rails as a guide.
 Al

VonRyan

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2014, 09:53:26 AM »
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On a DCC layout, it generally does result in a shut down.

I'm actually in the process of modifying Peco Electrofrog turnouts closer to NMRA specs, by filling the frog area with 70 degree low melt solder and milling a finer (NMRA) width flange way, also gapping for DCC so the frog can be powered through Tortoise turnout motors and installing PCB throwbars.

Probably scratchbuild new ones quicker, but something we wanted to try with the club layout.

Just shim the guardrails. Works like a charm.

-Cody F.
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Blazeman

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2014, 12:26:22 PM »
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Nore on what Cody proclaimed regarding shims, see the MR series for the BN Prairie du Chien layout. In one of the installments, the writer details how PECO switches were modified for reliability.

damrr

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2014, 04:41:12 PM »
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All the info from everybody has been very informative and very usefull. The N Scalers on this forum are a great bunch, always helpfull.
So far it looks like most recomend Electofrog type switches, since I will be running mostly Steam looks like I need to start buying Electrofrog switches, ouch in the wallet but it pays in the long run, thanks for the input so far everybody.

x600

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Re: Need to know pro & con of using Peco Electro or Insulfrog switches
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2014, 12:58:21 AM »
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I found this site to be very helpful when I have a question on Peco turnouts.

http://www.wiringfordcc.com/switches_peco.htm

Greg O.