Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Bob Collins, Jul 12, 2001.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I'll be a bit sneaky and see if I can get away with putting two subjects into one message!
    First: Couplers. Unless I am not looking carefully enough there seem to be a number of different/maybe non-compatiable couplers that come with both r-t-r and kits. I also see from time to time where folks recommend several Kadee couplers (I can't recall the #, but I want to say #58). Would I be among the majority if I bought the Kadee couplers and used them on the rapidly expanding box full of kits I have bought over the past several months in anticipation of ever getting this RR up and operational?

    Terminal Joiners.
    I have seen several mentions here of inserting the terminal joiners into both tracks. Is that correct? In the Basic Wiring book they really only address using them on spurs where you want to be able to hold an engine on an un-powered track and there they only address inserting the terminal joiner into one track. I need some guidance as I will be ploughing ahead on laying track and using the joiners within the next couple of days.
    Thanks as always. All of you have really spurred me on to do this right the first time and not to get discouraged.

  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, Second question first: Terminal joiners. Honestly, I don't know what they are. I've been assuming that they are rail joiners with a lead soldered to them. Is that correct? Assuming it is, then if you refer to the drawing Shamus just posted in another thread, you will see the locations where the feeds are required. As I mentioned in a previous post, gaps are required beyond the frogs of power routing turnouts at a minimum, with the exception of stub ended tracks (assuming the stub track does not have a feeder of its own) If you study Shamus's drawing, you will see this. Shamus, thank you for posting that drawing, I have no clue or required software/equipment to do so. It should make it much easier for folks to understand.

    About couplers, everyone out there probably has their favorite, mine are the kadee's. Until their patent ran out, they were the only choice (for all intents and purposes) The couplers that come with Proto 2000 units from Lifelike are o.k., quality seems to be inconsistent, I only change them to Kadee's when I have a problem with them. I don't care for the McHenrys. Have no experience with the others. Model Railroader had a summary of compatability issues in one of their recent issues. I would think that at this point in time, using Kadee's would indeed put you in the majority.

  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    I am also assuming the terminal joiners are just rail joiners with leads. One reason you could need one for each rail is if you have two controllers, as shown in shamus' drawing. Two controllers would be needed, for example, if you want one loco to run around a continuous loop while using another to do some switching.

    In any case, you need to be able to isolate b-o-t-h rails from either controller (that's why the DPDT switch). If you don't, depending on the forward/reverse setting of the controllers, you will end up with a short across the rails.

    If you want, I can draw up a diagram showing this condition and e-mail it you you (or even try posting it on the Gauge).
  4. Catt

    Catt Guest

    You only need to isolate one rail to kill the power to a siding,there for you only need one terminal joiner. Yes a terminal joiner is simply a rail joiner with a wire soldered to it. They are real easy to make. I would suggest that if you make your own that you solder the wire to the bottom of it.It is definately easier to hide the wire that way. [​IMG]

    I would also suggest that you use a rather flexible solid core wire for these.

    Catt! NARA#1 & A freelancer for life
  5. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I use Kadee #5 for HO stock. I do not change the couplers on r.t.r. stuff, however I double end some locos. ie replace the r.t.r. coupler at one one only with kadee #5. I tried replacing couplers on stock but that didnt work to well.

    Terminal joiners on 1 rail only? probably because you will have insualted to turnout frog, and power that track only, as the other track will be live (continuous) as the outer track on the turnout.

  6. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Isolate 1 rail only ,install terminal joiner,connect to simple on/off switch then to buss line.Throw turnout for sideing ,run locomotive (or) train into siding throw switch. Loco/train is now setting on unpowered sideing.Ready to move train,throw switch,siding is now powered and train/loco will move. [​IMG]

    Catt! NARA#1 & A freelancer for life

    [This message has been edited by Catt! (edited 07-12-2001).]
  7. George

    George Member


    Terminal Joiners are a railjoiner with a stub cut and bent to the side with a lead soldered to it. Mystery Solved [​IMG]

  8. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Bob,
    To hold a loco on a spur/siding (Unpowered track) simply throw the switch against it, that will remove the power from the track. Even if the switch has live frogs, the sput isn't live until the switch is thrown to get the loco out.
    Kadee #5's are what I have on all my stock, I know there are a number of others on the market, also a new kadee, but as yet I havn't found a better one than #5


    NARA Member #24

    [This message has been edited by shamus (edited 07-12-2001).]
  9. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Shamus, It's quite possible I'm misunderstanding what you're saying about the spur being dead when the switch is thrown against it. Perhaps I should define my terms so everyone will know what I mean. There are two types of turnouts, power routing and non power routing. Of the brands with which I am familiar, Atlas is a non power routing turnout, Shinohara is power routing, and Peco is available both ways. When I say power routing, I mean that when power is applied from the point side of the turnout, that power will travel down only the route the turnout is thrown for. The other route will have the rail connected to the frog the same polarity as the stock rail, thus that route will be dead. This is the situation which you are talking about, I believe. However, if the turnout in question is an Atlas, both routes will be powered regardless of which route the turnout is thrown for. Hence the term non power routing. In this case, in order to keep a loco from running while on the stub track, at least one rail would have to be gapped, and powered thru a toggle switch.

  10. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Found the Kadee coupler article in the April 2001 MR. My memory is even shorter than I suspected!! As I am planning to go to the NMRA Show in St. Louis on Saturday, I'm sure I can pick up some couplers there that will take care of my immediate needs.

    Let's talk insulating track please. In the plan I am using from 101 Track Plans there are numerous places both along main lines and in the yards, etc. where the plan indicates it is necessary to place an insulated joiner in BOTH tracks. From that instruction it seems to me that between where these insulators are in both tracks it is necessary to provide power to the track in some manner. I have chosen to use terminal joiners (the joiners with the wire leads). My question is simply this... if you are insulating both tracks is it necessary to power both tracks? I am not planniong to use DCC at this time. If I decide down the line to use DCC will it make a difference as to how I power the tracks from not using DCC?

    Thanks again to all of you. I would never get this done without your willing assistance. I just hope the final product turns out to be worth all your time and efforts!!!!

  11. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, It will be easier for everyone to follow if we refer to insulating both rails, rather than track. The wiring required for block control (what you will be using) is readily usable for DCC. In essence, any rail that is isolated (gapped) at both ends requires a feeder. There is a method of wiring called common rail, where you only gap either the north or south rail (as long as you are consistent). Since your plan calls for isolating both rails, we won't discuss common rail now, it would tend to confuse you. I don't remember how the book 101 Plans shows the wiring, I thought they showed lines thru the track where you need gaps and arrows where you would attach feeders. A suggestion: draw out your plan, showing both rails for all the tracks. Draw a line where you will use isolating joiners. Draw a circle at each location for a feed. Look carefully to see if there are any rails with lines at each end with no circle between them, they need a feeder. If you are using Atlas turnouts, power will flow thru them so you needn't concern yourself with them. Hope this helps.

  12. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Shamus, Whether or not Atlas turnouts confuse beginners probably depends on their first exposures to what others in the hobby are doing. Speaking for myself, and perhaps George has similar experience, Atlas turnouts were the leader among modelers in the sixties (probably still are for beginners). Therefore, you learned that system, in which you didn't have to gap any rails at all. If you were running one train, you could put a set of feeders anywhere on the layout, and as long as the joiners were tight, you were ready to run. Also, if you run into a turnout from the route which the turnout is thrown against, you did not get a short (until the train derailed). So, actually, it was very simple. Once you wanted to add another train to the layout, but still run just one at a time, you had to gap one rail in a siding, either thru or stub, and use a toggle to turn power on/off. When you advanced to running more than one train at a time, it was time for cab control, with center off toggles or rotary switches controlling which cab a given section of track is attached to.
    Sometime in the 70's, when I first experienced Shinahara type turnouts (the kind I refer to as power routing, and which you are using) I found them to be somewhat confusing, as you had to gap the rails leading from the frogs before the next feeder to the rail in order to prevent a short when the turnout was thrown for the other route. Except for stub tracks, of course.

    One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet is the book published by Kalmbach, Wiring your HO layout, or some such title. I believe anyone beginning in the hobby would be well served by reading it.

  14. George

    George Member

    I have to agree with Gary on the intracacies (temperment?) of the various manufacturers turnouts.

    where I was in my early years of the hobby, all we had was ATLAS. Now I know that the only time a train leaves the rails on a turnout, is when it's ATLAS. The quality of Shinohara products, if you can get them, is unsurpassed. Well worth adapting to for the advantage of smooth operation, reliability and appearance. However I must admit that operationally, PECO turnouts impress me more so with the way they lock into position. Never a wandering frog there!

    Before making a major purchase on new layout supplies, I'd advise getting one of each flavour before investing. ATLAS is OK, but you really should file down the end of the frog, as the other two products provide out of the box. Now, why can't ATLAS do that? [​IMG]

  15. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    If you use Peco Dead frogs (Plastic frog) you can do just that, one set of feeder wires to the tracks and run anywhere, except into a stub track if the point is thrown against it. With Peco LIVE frogs it is as you state, insulated between facing points.
    How to you wire a model railroad for block control, then make a control panel to control the trains afterwards. So for those how are about to start in the wonderful hobby of ours, here’s how I have always wired a model railroad up to a control panel. 
    Once all your track and points (turnouts) are down and ready for wiring, first make a simple drawing of your Trackplan on an A4 sheet of paper. This Trackplan you draw will help in determining where to place each D.P.D.T. (Double Pole Double Throw centre off switch) Every place where you have back to back points, need to have a power supply, if you are using Electro frogs. Even if you are using standard insulfrogs, if you want proper block control, then I would suggest that you follow these instructions as for Electro frogs.
    This Trackplan below is not any particular plan, just a way of showing how to wire up the track & Points. Below the track plan is a diagram showing how to wire up a D.P.D.T. switch, note that two controllers are used even for a single piece of track. , (I always wire my switches so that when the switch is in the up position, it is feeding the outer tracks)
     By simply switching the D.P.D.T. from down to up, or up to down, any controller can be used with any part of the trackwork. This is the beauty of block control. Looking at the Trackplan you will notice that the outside tracks have three RED power supplies (3 blocks), and the inner tracks also have three RED power supplies (3 blocks.) with one single RED power supply in the middle feeding back the spur.
    With this arrangement, it is possible to run two trains on the outer tracks from block to block, simply by switching the D.P.D.T as you go along, using the two controllers. The same applies to the inner tracks also.
     Another advantage of block control is that should you wish to travel around the outer tracks and then cross over into the inner tracks without stopping, all you need do is set each D.P.D.T switch to the up position. Now, when you wish to come out of the inner tracks back to the outer tracks, you can either leave the switches as they were and run out or switch the D.P.D.T.’s to the down position, and use the other controller. It’s as simple as that. 
    All BLUE strips show where to put in the two plastic rail joiners, (BOTH rails need isolating)
     RED circles show all power sections to the tracks (D.P.D.T.’s) [​IMG]
    The terminals for each controller to the D.P.D.T.’s are 12 volt DC only.The idea of the D.P.D.T. switches is to switch power from controller (BLUE) to controller (RED)
     Okay, now you know why you need D.P.D.T.’s for, lets set about showing you how to make a control panel and how to Daisy Chain the D.P.D.T switches. [​IMG]
    You will notice that you only need to wire the two Controllers once to a D.P.D.T switch, as all the rest of the switches are in fact Daisy Chained to each other. Just make sure that you start TOP right to TOP right for every switch that you are using. (On my layout, I have 9 blocks (9 D.P.D.T. switches with centre off)
    Once you have daisy chained the top rights of every switch, start TOP left to TOP left and so on until all switches have been daisy chained in this manner.
    Once all are daisy chained, you are ready to run trains.
    Now to reversing loops, and still using the D.P.D.T switches. The diagram below shows a simple straight piece of track representing the loop. You will notice that I have included the use of two controllers in this loop, should you wish to use either controller to reverse a loco. 
    The reverse polarity switch is on the right, whilst the other D.P.D.T serves as switch to govern which controller you wish to use.
    Making the control panel it 'self, I use two pieces of Perspex the right size for my panel. Next thing to do is draw out the plan on a computer programme to A4 size. When finished I print one copy on plain paper and another on Photo paper at top quality to use as the finished product.
    The first piece of plain paper is used only to provide the places to drill the holes through for the D.P.D.T switches. Mine are 1/4" holes for my switches. (Micro switches) and also where to drill the holes for point control. 
    When all drilling is completed, I remove the plain paper and clean up the two pieces of Perspex. Now I insert the new Photo Paper printout and I have a professional looking control panel just waiting to be wired up.
    For my point control I use the stud and contact method utilizing a capacitor discharge unit, which has a 16 volt output for my PL10 point motors which I use to throw the points. The reason I prefer stud and contact over momentary switches (To throw the points) is I only need two tiny nuts and bolts (Brass) fitted to each point on the control panel. 
    Here is what my control panel looks like, notice the nuts and bolts, these are my stud and probe contact for changing point direction. You will also notice that I have two switches per block, the reason, I could only buy D.P.D.T without centre off, so I had to put in beside the D.P.D.T.'s a separate on/off switch.
    Have Fun
  16. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I don't know how I will ever be able to repay each of you for all the valuable information you have provided to me. I know that in addition to increasing my limited knowledge by leaps and bounds you have also stimulated my motivation which has been lagging badly lately.

    I assume that my trip this afternoon to the NMRA Show in St. Louis will also stimulate me to get going again. I will report in tomorrow on my adventure.

  17. Voice

    Voice Member

    Just to add a little more confusion here...Atlas makes both kinds of turnouts. In the standard Atlas line, they do route the power to the rails that are aligned by the points. The Custom Line of switches that they make (which are better, imho) they do NOT route power, therefore, both leads of the turnout are powered at all times.


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