Help me power my FROG!

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Gary S., Mar 28, 2007.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Atlas CustomLine Code 83 turn-outs... insulated frog. I want to put power to them.

    Has anyone here done this installation?

    The turnouts are already installed. I can get a wire through the little hole on the frog and through the benchwork, that is no problem. But should I solder the wire to the frog, or use a small screw in the hole to attach the wire?

    I wouold rather solder it, but what kind of metal is the frog made of? What kind of solder should be used? Silver solder? And what are the dnagers of too much heat on the frog?

    I should use some heat sinks?

    I definitely need advice on this, because I already messed up one of them.
  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Gary, I generally like to use my truck for this task, as the battery is quite a bit bigger than the one in the car. I usually put the jumper cables on the toes of the back legs, as the rest of the body is quite squishy, and therefore easily damage by the jaws of the jumper cables.

    By attaching the cables to the rear toes, the back legs will cook rather quickly. If you need a longer cooking time to bring everything else to the same degree of "doneness", I'd suggest basting the legs to keep them from over-cooking.

    It's up to you, Gary, but a hot sauce would probably be more suitable. :D

    Sorry, Gary, I just couldn't let it pass. :wave:
    I'm using the same turnouts on my layout, and haven't had any need to power the frogs: the only stuff that seems to stall on them is my friend cn nutbar's brass steamers. I've been telling him that the locos are defective, and hope to soon have a good collection of brass at bargain prices.;)
    I do seem to recall seeing something about doing this, but it involved cutting the jumper wires that are imbedded into the bottom of the tie strip. I'll try to see if I can find the pertinent article tomorrow. I think that the frog is white metal (just a guess, though); if it is, the screw might be a better choice.

  3. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    doctorwayne- hehehehehe!
  4. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Ribbit. :D.
  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Doctor Wayne, when I first started reading that, I was "What the huh?"

    The frogs certainly seem to be white metal. I'll see about the possibility of using a small screw.

    On the other hand, what kind of modifications have you done to your turn-outs to make them work well electrically? I'm getting a lot of stalling from several different locos, not so much downright stalling, but the loco lights flicker, with some hesitating, which plays havoc on my uncoupling/magnet moves.

    They seem to be pretty rough too when the locos go over. I checked the wheel gauge and it was fine.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. I know there was another thread about this "rough running" subject, but I didn't quite catch what the fix was.
  6. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    How'd you mess one up already? C'mon - share the gorey details!

    If for appearance's sake, you'd prefer not to screw the wires in place, you could try liquid solder to hold the wire in, just make sure the wire has good mechanical contact with the frog first.
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I haven't personal experience with the modern Atlas turnouts but have seen various threads on another forum.

    Soldering to the frog is a near impossibility. The screw is the best solution according to the reports I read.

    A common problem on Atlas turnouts is that they actually bow upwards at the frog, which leads to rough running. Try a straight edge across the rails at various angles and positions and see if you have any vertical irregularities. One way to fix is to gently heat the ties to soften a little and "push down" the offending portion.

    Also, use your NMRA gauge to check the flangeway width and check gauge. Sometimes the Atlas turnouts have guardrails that are too far from the adjoining stock rail. A very thin piece (.010") of stryene strip glued in place may stop wheels from riding up on the frog point or intermittently shorting against wing rails in the frog throat.

    Finally, sometimes the jumpers do not make contact with the rails they are supposed to touch properly. This makes the insulated portion of the turnout a lot longer than it should be.

    yours in tracking
  8. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Gary, everything that I can find on the topic suggests a brass screw in the hole in the tab on the turnout, then solder the wire to the screw.

    Gary said:
    "On the other hand, what kind of modifications have you done to your turn-outs to make them work well electrically? I'm getting a lot of stalling from several different locos, not so much downright stalling, but the loco lights flicker, with some hesitating, which plays havoc on my uncoupling/magnet moves."

    The only modification that I made to my turnouts was to run a large mill file across the frog of those on which the frog seemed to sit too high (the problem noted by pgandw). This helped the appearance of things as they moved through the turnout, and did help cut down on the stalling of some of those brass locos. I've just recently discovered a problem with a couple of brass steamers jamming as they go through the turnout - they appear to be actually caught in the flangeways, as it is very difficult to even push them manually through certain points on some turnouts. I'll have to check for the cause, but my own locos have no problems through these turnouts, and the troublesome locos seem to have no problems elsewhere. I suspect that a slight out-of-gauge problem with the wheels is combining with a slight out-of-gauge problem through the turnout, resulting in enough interference to jamb-up these particular locos, while not affecting others.
    As I noted, I've made no electrical modifications to my turnouts, and none of my locos has a problem with stalling on them. I agee that the flickering light problem ruins the effect of working lights, even if it otherwise has no affect on the running qualities of the loco. To solve that problem, I make it a point to remove the lights on all of my locos. This also has the benefit of making it much easier to perform routine maintenance on them, especially steamers.

  9. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Wyne...Steamers with no lights..?!?!? That just breaks my heart... :cry:
  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    In contrast to todays over-regulation by governments, lights were not always required to be displayed during daytime running. And even though night shifts were my favourite ones to work, there are no night time operations on my layout. In my opinion, despite the impressive lighting options offered by DCC, the first time that the lights flicker, the illusion is shot. When the lights in my imagination flicker, it means that my mind is shot, and it's time to quit. :rolleyes: :D :D

  11. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I used a couple of these turnouts and I used the screw. If I recall correctly, there is a tab on both sides. Iused the side away from the aisle, and after painting the ties (and screw) it isn't too noticable. It would be in photos tho. I also used the Atlas undertable machine with aux contacts for the frog. Oh, that's right, you just posted about using the light switches. Very cool invention, btw. If you want to be able to use them at angles to the layout edge, perhaps you could substitute bicycle brake cable or equivalent for the straight wire to your knob.
  12. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    The screw kit with an Atlas selector it has a screw and a little brass tab to attach to the frog to which you can solder a wire. You can't solder to the frog, but if you don't have the Atlas parts you can tap the hole and use a machine screw if you want.
  13. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I am going to use a screw in the frogs for attaching the wire. I am also going through every turn-out with a track gauge to make sure everything is correct.
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Sorry for the wait... was out of town. I messed the switches up by trying to solder a wire onto the frog. I used silver solder which takes more heat to melt. Apparently the heat made the frog pop loose from the plastic, and also warped the plastic a bit. Unfortunately I did this on two switches that were already installed instead of experimenting on an uninstalled switch first. I glued the frog back down, but my locos tracked terribly, extremely rough clunk clunk. So. I began to work on the frogs, filing, dremeling, trying to get them to the right level, and just couldn't get rid of the major clunk. It was so bad that it would actually lift the opposite side wheel off the track, then drop it back down as it went past. In all, it was very strange, I had my wife take a look at it too, just for a second opinion of what was happening.

    Anyway, I gave up on the fix, I just now ripped them out, and put two new turn-outs in their place. I still may try powering the frogs, but it won't be with solder.

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