CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, August 3, 2018

Short circuits in the Staging Yard!

Just when you think you are out, something drags you back in!

I was pretty confident that I had finished up the wiring for my layout. I had run some test trains around the mainline and into all of the sidings, and even checked the turntable and the stalls, but I never actually tested the staging yard. What was there to worry about? I mean, I wasn't powering the switch frogs and between the three switches I had three sets of feeder wires. What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot.

I had originally designed the layout for M.E. switches, which have insulated metal frogs. The rails that come from the frog are gaped from the frog and internal jumpers power them, so no rail gaps after their switches are necessary. I noticed the same thing with the Shinohara curved switch. For the replacement Peco electrofrog switch I installed on the mainline, I gaped the rails away from the frog and powered the frog through the Tortoise switch machine's contacts. Again, simple enough.

But, for the staging yard I intended to purchase Peco insulfrog switches and mistakenly bought electrofrog ones. They are better in the sense that they allow the frogs to be powered, but that benefit comes with a cost: you need a toggle switch to control the polarity of the track switch. I wanted to go the cheap route and use Caboose Industries ground throws, and hope the trains didn't stall on the frogs. I was also hoping to avoid using a Tam Valley Frog Juicer because they only work with DCC trains, and I might want to run DC trains in my staging yard. Unfortunately, something has to give.

If I had just ordered M.E. switches I would have been fine. But, I now question their reliability and am avoiding them (though their flextrack is still excellent).

I am now in the position where I must: (1) purchase three new Peco insulfrog switches; (2) purchase a Frog Juicer and cut gaps in the rails and install feeders, or (3) remove the switches, drill holes, and install my remaining Tortoise machines. Since this section is a "temporary" one I don't want to go with option 3. The other two were about the same cost so I ordered a Frog Juicer online.

Unfortunately, it means that DC powered engines will not be able to go into the staging yard. Since I plan to focus on DCC anyway, I don't think that will be a big deal. If it is, I can always remove the Frog Juicer and instead use slide switches or toggle switches to control the frog polarity.

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