Somebody stop me!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Gary S., Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    So you filed the TOP of the frog, right? I did notice that a couple of the turn-outs seemed to have the frogs set a little too high.

    Here is my theory: I have the following locos: Athearn CF-7, GP-35, and P2K GP30. All of these are short wheelbase 4 axle diesels. It seems that when the rear truck is completely on the point rail, the front truck has a wheel on the frog, the frog lifts the front truck up slightly making the other wheel lose contact with the rail, and also the tilting truck may upset the contact with the metal loco frame, in the meantime, the point rail doesn't have a real good connection to the power source, so the rear truck on it isn't getting perfect power either.

    Here are the proposed fixes:

    Choice 1: Rip out the Atlas and go with Peco (but what problems do they have?)

    Choice 2: A combination of some or all of following:
    A. Power the frog
    B. Do some file work on the frog for a smoother ride
    C. Clean the area where the points contact the stock rails(? the two outside rails)
    D. Solder tiny little jumper wires from the stock rails to the points
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Gary, One option you have not mentioned, slowly replace all your turnouts with handlayed. With the pc ties it is not that hard. I won't go into all the gory details, but I have made them before:D .

  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    You could also replace just the "working" parts of your existing turnouts. There was an interesting article in the September 1981 issue of Model Railroader on building closing frog turnouts. While not strictly prototypical, they look good and work well. Of course, you could do this using traditional methods, too.
    On a closing frog turnout, the point rails are continuous with the frog (except for the pointy part where the rails of the divergent tracks meet), and they pivot about a point located about midway between the throwbar and the frog. The frog itself (pointy part) is isolated, then powered, via a switch machine, as are the point rails. You could just rip out the parts of your switches between the stock rails, then rebuild the point and frog area.
    I built one of these closing frog turnouts on a previous layout: it would have been about the equivalent of a number 12, and was curved. It was in an extremely difficult area to get at, so I powered it with a Fulgurex geared switch motor (a beautiful, but expensive piece of machinery). I never had a problem, either electrical or mechanical, with this turnout.
    On my first layout, a 4'x8' that my Dad built (we're talkin' brass flex on fibre ties) there was one turnout that he had scratchbuilt (he wasn't really into model trains, but he could build almost anything) which had mechanically continuous point rails which were also soldered at the powered frog. I don't recall the electrical set-up, although all turnouts were thrown via twin wire (not electrical) cables operating pivots under the layout. These were controlled by very small levers on a control panel. This switch would've been about a number 8 or 9, and also operated flawlessly. I'm not sure if any of these suggestions are compatible with DCC though.

  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I've gotten over my "rip them out" thoughts. I don't want to resort to hand-laying at this time either. So for now, I am going to tinker with them a bit and see if I can improve their performance.

    Thanks everyone for the interest in my topic and in your advice. I'll keep you posted on what is happening.

    I guess Atlas CL code 83 turnouts aren't all that bad. There must be a couple hundred thousand of them out there?
  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member


    I just discovered that the hole in the frog can be tapped for a 2-56 screw.
  6. toptrain1

    toptrain1 Member

    If you have metal wheels and metal frogs metal on metal makes noise. The real railroads have the same problum. So look at it as prototipical. On HO diesel locomotives for a long time all wheels pick up electricity. When a locomotive spans (passes through)a insulated or nonpowered metal frog nothing should happen. A clean loco will go right past the frog. If your loco hesitates. It is dirty and needs work.
  7. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    Atlas switches need to be outlawed.

    I have many many Atlas switches on my layout and as I have said before in other threads the are all failing electrically. I have tried soldering jumper wires and it is a pain. I am now in the process of replacing them with Peco. I just informed my LHS that I will be purchasing Peco switches and machines in the near future in large quantities. Probably 10 at a time. I am replacing ALL of my Atlas even if they have not fail as I know they will eventually.
  8. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

  9. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Okay- feeding the frog:

    The hole in the metal frog of the Atlas Code 83 turn-out is perfect for a 1-72 screw. I tapped the hole for the threads.

    I drilled a 3/8 hole in the 1/4" plywood, layed out as close as I could to be directly underneath the hole in the frog. Then I stuck a small wire down through the frog hole, through the foam, and through the hole in the plywood. Then I too a 5/16” plastic tube and cut some saw teeth in it, poked that back up through the hole from the bottom, using the wire as a guide. I turned the plastic tube as I went, like a hole saw. This also would cut through the cork roadbed with a little judicious cutting from above with an exacto knife. That gave me access to the frog hole from beneath the layout.

    Next, I cut a piece of rail about 3” long from a scrap piece of flextrack and filed one end to a screwdriver point. I put a 1-72 screw on that and soldered it together. I also soldered a piece of #22 wire onto the rail. This completes the frog feeder screw assembly.

    I poked the frog feeder screw assembly up through the hole, lined it up, and threaded it in. Once the screw is somewhat through the hole, you can use it to turn the screw. I somewhat tightened the screw for a good connection, but be gentle. The remainder of the rail sticking below the benchwork can be cut off, but again, be gentle, probably use rail nippers or a dremel rather than big wire cutters, just to ease the strain on the frog tab.

    Connect the wire from the frog feeder screw assembly to the common on the SPDT switch. Connect rail power to the other screws on the SPDT, observing proper polarity, which can be determined with a VOM, or just hook it up and give it a try. If the connection is backwards, the loco will cause a short when it hits the frog.

    So there ya go. I’ll do the rest of the switches this week. Sure wish I would have done this before I installed them.
  10. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    And then some experiments:

    I actually did 2 switches like this so far, on a crossover. Once the power was correctly routed to the frogs, I ran a loco back and forth through the crossover. I must say I am pleased with the result. 8 times out of 10 there was absolutely zero sputtering or even lights blinking. Beautiful. The other 2 times, there may have been a very small bkink of the light, but hardly even noticable.

    Then I disconnected the power to the frog, and did the same thing. The very first trip through, the loco stalled dead. Vindication! I ran it a bunch more and never stalled the loco again, but every trip through did have a bit of blinking of the lights.

    Now of course, keeping the track clean is of vital #1 importance, but the powered frog comforts me.:)
  11. NCMRailroad

    NCMRailroad Member

    Atlas switches...

    All I can say is that I too have infused ATLAS switches into my layout as well. I sometimes wish I spent a bit more and went PEKO instead! They may be worth 2x as much but definatly well worth it in the end! If you have ballasted your track announce1 DON'T DO IT!! If your engines are running smoothly on the rest of your track (derailment free!) smoothly ---> DO NOTmess with it! Talk about a MAJOR PAIN in the $%^Y*! trying to relay ballasted track. Try and remove the switches if you so wish to, and replace them with better! I say this from experience. I wouldn't bother trying to even wire the frogs. Too much hassle if you ask me but that's your choice. If I knew how much ATLAS switches were poor quality, I would NEVER have purchased them in the first place!
    Good Luck!
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Desperation, the mother of all inventions. Good going Gary. Glad you got them fixed.:thumb:

  13. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Running small and older steam engines, powered frogs are a must for me. Nothing like consistent running without stalling!

    I'm glad you were able to make it work, Gary. The only success with powering Atlas metal frogs I have heard of was by using a screw in the hole to attach the wire. Nice work!
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Fred, I will post some pics of the "frog feeder screw device" later tonight. And maybe some pics of the install if I get a chance to work on them.

    There is still a little voice telling me to change the switches out for another brand, but I probably won't. Considering that others here at The Gauge have reported good long-term usage of the Atlas switches, I'm hoping I'll have similar success.
  15. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Oh, come to think of it, I have another issue with the Atlas turn-outs. I'll post some photos tonight, it will be easier than explaining.
  16. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    OK you fixed the dead frog but how about when the rails start do go dead. That is the problem I am having.
  17. I just got started in this great hobby, and while I am a beginner, I went with flex track instead of the snap variety and my local train shop sold me on some Peco turnouts, especially since they recently came out with the code 83 stuff. I have to say I've been extremely impressed with them. I went with the Insulfrogs and haven't had any issues; no frog wiring or any messing around there. They are more expensive, especially when paired with a Tortoise switch machine for my small, but now fully computer controlled layout, but IMO totally worth it in the end. The only minor issue was I had to sever the spring on the turnouts because the Tortoise machines didn't have enough power to overcome it, but it switches more smoothly and realistic now. Nice, realistic slow motion switching, and they last forever! My flex track is Peco as well, but I'd like to give the Atlas code 83 stuff a try and see how I like it. Anywho, glad you got your problem fixed. If ever you replace your turnouts in the future, I highly recommend the Peco ones. Just my two cents.
  18. Senegal1

    Senegal1 New Member

    I am trying to figure how to remove my homasote that I glued with liquid nails to 3/4 plywood. I want to put 4inches of foam board down and then glue homasote on top.
  19. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Later this week I will experiment a bit with soldering a tiny wire to the point rails. With HO, this shouldn't be too difficult. Now, if it was N scale, that would be tough.
  20. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I would say leave what you have, glue the foam to the existing homasote, then put new homasote on top.

    What kind of switches you gonna use?

Share This Page