Insulfrog v Electrofrog points?

 
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)

I was just reading back through Blackadders current thread....was going to make a comment within that thread, but didn't want to get it off-topic; hence this new thread.

There seems to be a trend towards using Electrofrog points amongst the readers here.

My opinion (for what it's worth, having many decades of model railway experience) is that it depends how you intend to control your points as to which type is more suited to your layout. I reckon there are pros and cons for both types and will attempt to outline my thoughts below.

I operate my points manually (for the most part...the exception being 5 that I cannot easily reach). I have heard it mentioned too that it depends on whether your layout is DC or DCC as to what system suits you best.

Insulfrog Points:
Pros: They need no additional wiring, with the exception that I always add a small section of copper stranding (from a 240v household wiring cable....the type the sparkies use to wire-up your house, not the flex cord off your old kettle). These 2 short bits of copper are soldered underneath the point before installing on the layout. Their purpose is to ensure there is a proper electrical connection between the outside rails and the closure rails...thus you are not relying on the point blades to transfer power. Peco even provide the correct place to install these wires, by leaving out a section between the plastic sleepers.
Cons: If you use "steam roller" wheels (as Terry calls them), then there is the chance of momentary shorting near the nose of the frog, as the outer edge of the wide wheel/s touches the "wrong" rail for an instant. In my case I have noticed (when running the layout in low lighting conditions) there will be occasional sparks when this happens. However, it is not enough to stall a loco etc.

Electrofrog Points:
Pros: You don't get the same issues as mentioned immediately above is the "Cons" section of the Insulfrog comments. If you're using point motors to operate your points, and if these point motors have a SPDT switch either incorporated or as an accessory, then this type of point is probably preferable. With Electrofrogs I always use plastic rail joiners on the 2 rails leaving the frog.
Cons:In my case, operating the various Electrofrog points that I installed when I first started this current layout, by hand as I walk around the layout with my train, I was required to add some form of switch to ensure I had good power routing through the length of the point. In fact, my experience is that every Electrofrog point will need to have a wire soldered to the frog, and that wire taken to the common terminal of some form of SPDT switch. This may not be necessary if your point is leading into a dead end siding that doesn't require power all the time, but in that case you would still be relying on the good contact of the point blades in order to get positive power feed to that siding.

I've tried a few different switches. Obviously, where I've installed the 5 point motors, I've used Peco's accessory switch to route the power to the frog (if that point has in fact been an Electrofrog of course). For the manually operated points, I've attached a ON/ON micro-switch to the baseboard, beside the point, in such a position that the throwing of the tie bar of the point will also move the spring-loaded actuating arm of the micro-switch. This works fairly well.

Recently, however, I had to fit a No8 Shinohara curved point into a large radius curve, so that I could have a new (extra) entry point into my new turntable arrangement. Shinohara points are of the Electrofrog variety and have no centering spring arrangement like the Peco points have.....so a microswitch would not have been ideal unless I also fitted a ground-throw lever! A search on ebay found the answer. For just a few dollars I was able to buy (from China, where else), a bag of 50 very small SPDT slide switches. The throw of these switches is ideal for the throw of the typical HO scale point blades. So, I was able to mount this very small switch beside the point (after having drilled a small hole through the switch's actuating lever) and connect it to the point with a piece of 0.5mm brass wire, then solder the 3 wires into position. It works a treat!!

So, there you go....that is my "take" on the type of point/s that you may wish to choose from. Now lets have a "mass debate"....because there are plenty of "mass-debaters" on this site that will be champing at the bit to tell me how wrong I am. Go for it!! hahaha

Cheers

Roachie

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  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia

rule one, one's railway is yours and you decide, and your choice. whether the choice works only time will tell ya !

but we all like to give opinion and our own experiance !

me I like the electrofrog for slow speed running with small locos.  more wiring.

Regards,
David Head

  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".

As David Head said it is your layout and it works for you then that is all that matters. I used to swear by Insulfrog points until a few years ago when the plastic in the Peco points was changed from that hard type to a softer type they use now. The frogs on mainlines simply wore down at angles after a couple of years and started to cause derailments at points, so a friend suggested that maybe Electrofrog points might be better. So I gave one a try, sure a lot harder to put in but now the former derailment problem at frogs was gone. So I took out all the Insulfrog points and replaced the lot of them. No more problems, my points are all hand thrown using a lever to move a rod under the board and I have had no problems with these at all yet. Hopefully I wont either.

But as David Head pointed out I can now get a small 0-4-0 to creep along without stalling on a point frog like they used to.

I would not now go back to Insulfrog points, the Electrofrog points take a bit more thinking to put in, but once you understand them they are no harder to put in than an Insulfrog point really. Also they look better too with a all metal frog.

Just my two Bob's worth.

  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)



As David Head said it is your layout and it works for you then that is all that matters. I used to swear by Insulfrog points until a few years ago when the plastic in the Peco points was changed from that hard type to a softer type they use now. The frogs on mainlines simply wore down at angles after a couple of years and started to cause derailments at points, so a friend suggested that maybe Electrofrog points might be better. So I gave one a try, sure a lot harder to put in but now the former derailment problem at frogs was gone. So I took out all the Insulfrog points and replaced the lot of them. No more problems, my points are all hand thrown using a lever to move a rod under the board and I have had no problems with these at all yet. Hopefully I wont either.

But as David Head pointed out I can now get a small 0-4-0 to creep along without stalling on a point frog like they used to.

I would not now go back to Insulfrog points, the Electrofrog points take a bit more thinking to put in, but once you understand them they are no harder to put in than an Insulfrog point really. Also they look better too with a all metal frog.

Just my two Bob's worth.

"David Peters"


G'day David,

I'm curious with regard to your hand-thrown (rod under the board) system. Does your arrangement include a SPDT switch in there somewhere or do you rely on the blades making good contact?

Bill Roach

  wrongroad Deputy Commissioner

Location: Grafton
G'day gang,
It is as has been said, what ever style floats your boat.
I have used insulfrog points for many years and that includes years of dc and dcc running. I have had no dramas electrically or with derailments using i/frogs.
I do think e/frogs look better and I doubt any one would challenge that, however, as I do not have any four wheel short wheel base locos, I do not see any need for myself to change......
If I were to build a new layout, I believe I would take the time to put in e/frogs.
Regards and respect
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia



G'day David,

I'm curious with regard to your hand-thrown (rod under the board) system. Does your arrangement include a SPDT switch in there somewhere or do you rely on the blades making good contact?

Bill Roach

"Roachie"


Many rely on point blade pressure, little tabs on the blades etc. But time,grime, tarnish,rust, dirt, crud, glue all affect the track, and I do ot like to rely on simple pressure, be it electrofrog or insulefrog. When I throw a switch, I want to know electrically is switched as the mechanical portion. So yes I use dpdt, etc.

now it all depends, a short lived 4x8 tabletop for a trainset may never have this. but my layout is longer concerns, so I do it at construction.

and I weaning off the physical, more tortoises are now being used, labor is not saved, but well !!!

Regards,
David head

  hosk1956 Deputy Commissioner

Location: no where near gunzels

My club layout is only 22 years young but I have just noticed today at an open day that the plastic 'nose' of the Insulfrog crossing 'V' is wearing away on some high traffic points, not a problem with bogie stock and engines but 4 wheelers really jump thru these points, on the electrofrog this is all metal so no wear problem.

Roachie, getting of topic now and apologise to all, but I am starting a home layout build, all my points will controlled with little slide switches as you describe, the layout is a shelf style and right up at eye level (or near to it) and the switches will be on the layout edge rather than next to the switch, can you post a link to where you got your switches from (or PM me), I will need about 40 off them so any dollar saved is a dollar spent on other things.



Wayne

  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".

Roachie I rely on the point blades at the moment, but in the future will use some kind of external contact like a pressure switch or something. My layout is still a work in progress. I dont get much time these days to actually do much work on it.



My method is simple just a direct rod under the point to the module edge push or pull the lever and the point changes, most are direct line under the board jobs so installing these contacts later is not going to be hard for me.

  Kevin Martin Chief Train Controller

Location: Melbourne



I was just reading back through Blackadders current thread....was going to make a comment within that thread, but didn't want to get it off-topic; hence this new thread.

There seems to be a trend towards using Electrofrog points amongst the readers here.

My opinion (for what it's worth, having many decades of model railway experience) is that it depends how you intend to control your points as to which type is more suited to your layout. I reckon there are pros and cons for both types and will attempt to outline my thoughts below.

I operate my points manually (for the most part...the exception being 5 that I cannot easily reach). I have heard it mentioned too that it depends on whether your layout is DC or DCC as to what system suits you best.

Insulfrog Points:
Pros: They need no additional wiring, with the exception that I always add a small section of copper stranding (from a 240v household wiring cable....the type the sparkies use to wire-up your house, not the flex cord off your old kettle). These 2 short bits of copper are soldered underneath the point before installing on the layout. Their purpose is to ensure there is a proper electrical connection between the outside rails and the closure rails...thus you are not relying on the point blades to transfer power. Peco even provide the correct place to install these wires, by leaving out a section between the plastic sleepers.
Cons: If you use "steam roller" wheels (as Terry calls them), then there is the chance of momentary shorting near the nose of the frog, as the outer edge of the wide wheel/s touches the "wrong" rail for an instant. In my case I have noticed (when running the layout in low lighting conditions) there will be occasional sparks when this happens. However, it is not enough to stall a loco etc.

Electrofrog Points:
Pros: You don't get the same issues as mentioned immediately above is the "Cons" section of the Insulfrog comments. If you're using point motors to operate your points, and if these point motors have a SPDT switch either incorporated or as an accessory, then this type of point is probably preferable. With Electrofrogs I always use plastic rail joiners on the 2 rails leaving the frog.
Cons:In my case, operating the various Electrofrog points that I installed when I first started this current layout, by hand as I walk around the layout with my train, I was required to add some form of switch to ensure I had good power routing through the length of the point. In fact, my experience is that every Electrofrog point will need to have a wire soldered to the frog, and that wire taken to the common terminal of some form of SPDT switch. This may not be necessary if your point is leading into a dead end siding that doesn't require power all the time, but in that case you would still be relying on the good contact of the point blades in order to get positive power feed to that siding.

I've tried a few different switches. Obviously, where I've installed the 5 point motors, I've used Peco's accessory switch to route the power to the frog (if that point has in fact been an Electrofrog of course). For the manually operated points, I've attached a ON/ON micro-switch to the baseboard, beside the point, in such a position that the throwing of the tie bar of the point will also move the spring-loaded actuating arm of the micro-switch. This works fairly well.

Recently, however, I had to fit a No8 Shinohara curved point into a large radius curve, so that I could have a new (extra) entry point into my new turntable arrangement. Shinohara points are of the Electrofrog variety and have no centering spring arrangement like the Peco points have.....so a microswitch would not have been ideal unless I also fitted a ground-throw lever! A search on ebay found the answer. For just a few dollars I was able to buy (from China, where else), a bag of 50 very small SPDT slide switches. The throw of these switches is ideal for the throw of the typical HO scale point blades. So, I was able to mount this very small switch beside the point (after having drilled a small hole through the switch's actuating lever) and connect it to the point with a piece of 0.5mm brass wire, then solder the 3 wires into position. It works a treat!!

So, there you go....that is my "take" on the type of point/s that you may wish to choose from. Now lets have a "mass debate"....because there are plenty of "mass-debaters" on this site that will be champing at the bit to tell me how wrong I am. Go for it!! hahaha

Cheers

Roachie

"Roachie"


Always the challenge is to justify the 'extra work' of live frog points.

You often get people here saying that they used dead frog points for years, then for some reason they tried a live frog version. Now they would never go back.

I can't remember the last time I read the opposite. I wonder if that conclusion is still meaningful?

Going to an earlier point. Why should the choice of dead or live frogs make any difference to DC or DCC? Its all about best running, for the work done.

  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)



My club layout is only 22 years young but I have just noticed today at an open day that the plastic 'nose' of the Insulfrog crossing 'V' is wearing away on some high traffic points, not a problem with bogie stock and engines but 4 wheelers really jump thru these points, on the electrofrog this is all metal so no wear problem.

Roachie, getting of topic now and apologise to all, but I am starting a home layout build, all my points will controlled with little slide switches as you describe, the layout is a shelf style and right up at eye level (or near to it) and the switches will be on the layout edge rather than next to the switch, can you post a link to where you got your switches from (or PM me), I will need about 40 off them so any dollar saved is a dollar spent on other things.



Wayne

"hosk1956"


Wayne,

Item number on ebay is: 150971729010

I can't seem to cut and paste links onto this forum site these days....!!! When I hit the "paste" option, I get an error message that says "currently not supported by your browser, use keyboard shortcuts instead". If anybody knows what that means or how I can fix it, I'd be grateful.. Smile
Roachie

  hosk1956 Deputy Commissioner

Location: no where near gunzels





My club layout is only 22 years young but I have just noticed today at an open day that the plastic 'nose' of the Insulfrog crossing 'V' is wearing away on some high traffic points, not a problem with bogie stock and engines but 4 wheelers really jump thru these points, on the electrofrog this is all metal so no wear problem.

Roachie, getting of topic now and apologise to all, but I am starting a home layout build, all my points will controlled with little slide switches as you describe, the layout is a shelf style and right up at eye level (or near to it) and the switches will be on the layout edge rather than next to the switch, can you post a link to where you got your switches from (or PM me), I will need about 40 off them so any dollar saved is a dollar spent on other things.



Wayne

"hosk1956"


Wayne,

Item number on ebay is: 150971729010

I can't seem to cut and paste links onto this forum site these days....!!! When I hit the "paste" option, I get an error message that says "currently not supported by your browser, use keyboard shortcuts instead". If anybody knows what that means or how I can fix it, I'd be grateful.. Smile
Roachie

"Roachie"


Thanks for that, I will look it up, I have a blog going for my impending build so I will do some sketching to show how my point throws will work and post that up as well.
I have that same problem with cut and paste so I look forward to a fix as well.

http://waynestrainsandbikes.blogspot.com.au

Wayne

  allan Chief Commissioner


I can't seem to cut and paste links onto this forum site these days....!!! When I hit the "paste" option, I get an error message that says "currently not supported by your browser, use keyboard shortcuts instead". If anybody knows what that means or how I can fix it, I'd be grateful.. Smile
"Roachie"


From memory, ctrl + v will paste.

  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)



I can't seem to cut and paste links onto this forum site these days....!!! When I hit the "paste" option, I get an error message that says "currently not supported by your browser, use keyboard shortcuts instead". If anybody knows what that means or how I can fix it, I'd be grateful.. Smile
"Roachie"


From memory, ctrl + v will paste.

"allan"


Okay, thanks for that Allan....

Here goes: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/150971729010?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1439.l2649#ht_2167wt_997


$4.76 for 50 switches with free postage!! I couldn't go past that price, even though I only needed one switch...hahaha. However, I'm going over to Narrandera in April to assist my brother (who is retiring after being the town's barber for over 50 years). He is going to build a layout with Union Pacific prototype stuff and it's my job to wire it and school him up on his new NCE DCC system. Should be a fun 2 weeks and we will probably use some of those 49 switches I still have.

  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)

Here is a pic of the switch fitted to the No 8 curved Shinohara point on my layout.



Note that I have mounted it so that the actuating arm is above the board.... I could have quite easily mounted it below the board. It needed a custom made base....the site of the switch was right in the corner of the baseboard, so I just cobbled-up a plastic cross piece that is crewed to the 2 sides.

Roachie

  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Frog, dead frogs.  I note many americas do it as they tend to have lots of long wheelbase loco and not the small one we have.  A dead frog is just that, electrically isolated and unpowered. usually the frog is cut as close the frog so you do have the smallest of gaps.

Also to confuse one is a live frog is what a electrofrog turnout from peco is. I tend to think more in live/deadfrog terms, since I have made/soldered many - which tend to be live.

insulgrogs as a type aren't bad but their switching is a bonus when new, but eventually you either wire/replace the point to ensure you get the same switching.

insulfrogs als o are ok on DCC as long as they do not short twhen thrown. they allow you that 2 wire only to the track for samll layouts.

Back to the live frogs, one can power them later if one wants. For DCC and the geek there  are auto polarity devices, the Tortoise has a DCC 'rabbit' and for others there is a Tam Valley frog juicer - two examples. both sence a short and switch polarity automactically when a wheeh initiates it. Electronically.

For DC it correct one has to wire them with a switch, sliding contact, microswotch etc, or from the switch on the panel etc. the slideswitch is a popular method indeed.

Regards,
David Head

  NSWGR1855 Deputy Commissioner




Frog, dead frogs. I note many americas do it as they tend to have lots of long wheelbase loco and not the small one we have. A dead frog is just that, electrically isolated and unpowered. usually the frog is cut as close the frog so you do have the smallest of gaps.

Also to confuse one is a live frog is what a electrofrog turnout from peco is. I tend to think more in live/deadfrog terms, since I have made/soldered many - which tend to be live.

insulgrogs as a type aren't bad but their switching is a bonus when new, but eventually you either wire/replace the point to ensure you get the same switching.

insulfrogs als o are ok on DCC as long as they do not short twhen thrown. they allow you that 2 wire only to the track for samll layouts.

Back to the live frogs, one can power them later if one wants. For DCC and the geek there are auto polarity devices, the Tortoise has a DCC 'rabbit' and for others there is a Tam Valley frog juicer - two examples. both sence a short and switch polarity automactically when a wheeh initiates it. Electronically.

For DC it correct one has to wire them with a switch, sliding contact, microswotch etc, or from the switch on the panel etc. the slideswitch is a popular method indeed.

Regards,
David Head

"dthead"


Peco Insulfrog turnouts should be avoided for the reasons mentioned many times in this thread. To recap, wide metal wheels wheels can short out at the frog,  wearing out of the plastic bits, and having a insulated section which causes small locomotives to stall at low speed.  The momentary short circuit can cause electrical arcing. This sometimes causes localised pitting of the track and wheels and in extreme cases, melting of the plastic. Pitting of wheels and rails gives a place for dirt to stick. If you convert to DCC the short circuit at the frog can trip the DCC circuit breaker, causing all models to stop in the section affected. Now you can get away without wiring the frog if you have keep alive capacitors backing up your DCC decoders. Usually small engines don't have the space for the extra keep alive capacitors, so wiring the frogs is still desirable if you want reliable operations at scale speeds.

The only real difference in wiring an electrofrog turnout is you need to use more isolated joiners for certain situations. It's all explained in the instructions.

Terry Flynn.

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