Switch Quandary

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Pitchwife, Aug 9, 2001.

  1. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    I come back to the experts with some simple questions that I have been unable to find an answer to on my own.

    I have found turnouts, switches and snap switches but don't know the difference between them or which to use where and how. Also I have read in these pages about switches with insulated and non-insulated frogs. Do they come one way or the other? In my research I have not come across any indications for either. Or are they adaptable, able to be one or the other? :confused:

    I'm sure that I'll have many more questions, but these will do for now.

  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Re: switches(Turnouts/Points)

    Hi Clark,
    What you call a snap switch(Turnout/Point) is a turnout which has a spring at the throw end and keeps the turnout in the direction it is placed. There are some turnouts which have not got a spring and require some way of holding it in the desired route.
    None insulated and insulated frogs -------- If I explain one companies turnout, perhaps you will get an idea, so I will explain "PECO TURNOUTS"
    Peco make two kinds of turnout for either H0 or N-scale both kinds can be used together although it is advisable to stick with just one kind, whether using H) or N.
    1 - Peco insulated frogs (PLASTIC FROG)means that no matter how many turnouts you have on your layout it wouldn't think you would use any more than two wires to power up the lot for running trains. When a point is thrown, the opposite tracks are dead.
    2 = Peco live frogs (METAL RAIL) however need wiring in such a way using insulated rail joiners that no two facing points have power feeding back into them, otherwise a short will happen. As we haven't got the articles in the academy anymore, I am enclosing my original.


    I have been asked many times over the last 50 years, how do 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


    NARA Member #24
  3. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer


    Thanks for clearing that up. I surely appreciate having a knowledgeable source to turn to for such a wide range of information.


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