Topics

PECO Insulfrogs

PennsyNut
 

Hello. I want to do something apparently not authorized. ?? A shelf layout, 12" deep by 24' long. On 2" foam. All wiring on top of the layout, hidden only by scenery. Switching. Want to use all PECO. Want to NOT use any machines or ground throws. Also, wish to install turnouts without fastening. i.e. Be able to slide joiners off the turnout onto attached flex track and simply lift up the turnout for repair or replacement. From the literature, Insulfrogs need no wiring. ? Unless I opt to do the simple cut and wire jumpers. But I choose not to. Now, the problem is the joiners. If the feeder is soldered to the flex track a couple inches from the joint with the point end of the turnout, and also solder feeders to the flex tracks at the frog end of the turnout. The one set of feeders is about 12" from the others. Is this clear? Won't having 6 joiners be enough to keep the turnout powered? i.e. Will all 6 joiners fail at the same time? I guess what I really want is to not restrict removal of the turnout. I've been told to "not rely on joiners". Fine. But how do you have soldered joints and wires attached - and still be able to get the turnout off to repair or replace. That would be a lot of work. What would be the odds of the turnout failing versus all 6 of the joiners failing? Actually, I think the odds are so low in either case as to not be a problem. So I want to take the easy way out. Finally, one last question: Is there a way to bypass the joiners without soldering to the turnout?
Sorry this is so long. But I guess I am stubborn and want to do it "my way". Besides, having the track wiring all on top makes it easier. And more wires mean more chance for problems. Kind of like the argument about soldering versus connectors. There is no choice for me but to solder. Period. No klutsy suitcase connectors, wire nuts, etc.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Carl
 

Hello Morgan:

May I suggest using a strip of PVC "wood" for the front of your layout. You can cut grooves in the PVC for buss wires and use a sheet metal screw to tap in for each track wire.

Look here:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Insulation-Displacement-Screw-Terminals/

When everything is working, make a nice cover for the front fascia.

I did a whole "O" gauge layout this way and it works great.


On my "O" gauge layout I didn't solder joiners but dropped two wires every 3'. I used crimp connectors and suitcases, since PVC wasn't in stores yet. No power problems at all.

Carl.

On 12/17/2018 11:01 AM, PennsyNut wrote:
Hello. I want to do something apparently not authorized. ?? A shelf layout, 12" deep by 24' long. On 2" foam. All wiring on top of the layout, hidden only by scenery. Switching. Want to use all PECO. Want to NOT use any machines or ground throws. Also, wish to install turnouts without fastening. i.e. Be able to slide joiners off the turnout onto attached flex track and simply lift up the turnout for repair or replacement. From the literature, Insulfrogs need no wiring. ? Unless I opt to do the simple cut and wire jumpers. But I choose not to. Now, the problem is the joiners. If the feeder is soldered to the flex track a couple inches from the joint with the point end of the turnout, and also solder feeders to the flex tracks at the frog end of the turnout. The one set of feeders is about 12" from the others. Is this clear? Won't having 6 joiners be enough to keep the turnout powered? i.e. Will all 6 joiners fail at the same time? I guess what I really want is to not restrict removal of the turnout. I've been told to "not rely on joiners". Fine. But how do you have soldered joints and wires attached - and still be able to get the turnout off to repair or replace. That would be a lot of work. What would be the odds of the turnout failing versus all 6 of the joiners failing? Actually, I think the odds are so low in either case as to not be a problem. So I want to take the easy way out. Finally, one last question: Is there a way to bypass the joiners without soldering to the turnout?
Sorry this is so long. But I guess I am stubborn and want to do it "my way". Besides, having the track wiring all on top makes it easier. And more wires mean more chance for problems. Kind of like the argument about soldering versus connectors. There is no choice for me but to solder. Period. No klutsy suitcase connectors, wire nuts, etc.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

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John Johnston
 

Morgan,

 

I understand the logic, and sympathize.  It may work, but do bear in mind that it’s not a case of six joiners failing to cause a dead track.  The outside rails are continuous, so they be fed by joiners on each end.  The inside rails will depend on a single joiner.  I think if a single joiner fails to make good contact on an inside rail, that rail will be dead.  (I use Peco Electrofrogs (in N-scale) so I may not correctly understand Insulfrogs.) Also bear in mind that an unsoldered joiner has two opportunities to fail, one on the switch side and one on the flextrack side.   If either end fails, you have a dead spot.  Assuming the flextrack side has other connections, you could cut the potential failure points in half by soldering the feeders to the joiners themselves.  That can be a little tricky to do.  My experience has been that most mechanical connections (whether unsoldered joiners, or power routing through the point rails) work well for about a year before they accumulate enough oxidation to cause random gremlins. 

 

If you are in HO scale, you may be able to get Peco’s new Unifrog, which I understand combines the best qualities of both.  I haven’t seen one yet, but it may be worth investigating. If you are running long engines with lots of pickups, it may not matter.  You also may want to consider putting “keep-alive” supercapacitors in your locos, which makes them less sensitive to track power imperfections.

 

From: w4dccqa@groups.io <w4dccqa@groups.io> On Behalf Of PennsyNut
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2018 11:02 AM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: [w4dccqa] PECO Insulfrogs

 

Hello. I want to do something apparently not authorized. ?? A shelf layout, 12" deep by 24' long. On 2" foam. All wiring on top of the layout, hidden only by scenery. Switching. Want to use all PECO. Want to NOT use any machines or ground throws. Also, wish to install turnouts without fastening. i.e. Be able to slide joiners off the turnout onto attached flex track and simply lift up the turnout for repair or replacement. From the literature, Insulfrogs need no wiring. ? Unless I opt to do the simple cut and wire jumpers. But I choose not to. Now, the problem is the joiners. If the feeder is soldered to the flex track a couple inches from the joint with the point end of the turnout, and also solder feeders to the flex tracks at the frog end of the turnout. The one set of feeders is about 12" from the others. Is this clear? Won't having 6 joiners be enough to keep the turnout powered? i.e. Will all 6 joiners fail at the same time? I guess what I really want is to not restrict removal of the turnout. I've been told to "not rely on joiners". Fine. But how do you have soldered joints and wires attached - and still be able to get the turnout off to repair or replace. That would be a lot of work. What would be the odds of the turnout failing versus all 6 of the joiners failing? Actually, I think the odds are so low in either case as to not be a problem. So I want to take the easy way out. Finally, one last question: Is there a way to bypass the joiners without soldering to the turnout?
Sorry this is so long. But I guess I am stubborn and want to do it "my way". Besides, having the track wiring all on top makes it easier. And more wires mean more chance for problems. Kind of like the argument about soldering versus connectors. There is no choice for me but to solder. Period. No klutsy suitcase connectors, wire nuts, etc.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

john
 

I may be giving away my age but once upon a time, to jumper a rail joint, a jumper was soldered from rail to rail avoiding the rail joiner. The rail joiner could be soldered but that would condemn the connection to be there for ever. Rail used to be code 100 and often brass which needed a tremendous amount to solder the joiner. The newer rolled joiners are much better connectors and are much better physical connecters but they will eventually fail if they are not soldered. soldering a jumper is easy.
I didn't invent this joint, the railroad still does it.
jd



On ‎Monday‎, ‎December‎ ‎17‎, ‎2018‎ ‎07‎:‎06‎:‎08‎ ‎PM‎ ‎EST, John Johnston <towboatjohnston@...> wrote:


Morgan,

 

I understand the logic, and sympathize.  It may work, but do bear in mind that it’s not a case of six joiners failing to cause a dead track.  The outside rails are continuous, so they be fed by joiners on each end.  The inside rails will depend on a single joiner.  I think if a single joiner fails to make good contact on an inside rail, that rail will be dead.  (I use Peco Electrofrogs (in N-scale) so I may not correctly understand Insulfrogs.) Also bear in mind that an unsoldered joiner has two opportunities to fail, one on the switch side and one on the flextrack side.   If either end fails, you have a dead spot.  Assuming the flextrack side has other connections, you could cut the potential failure points in half by soldering the feeders to the joiners themselves.  That can be a little tricky to do.  My experience has been that most mechanical connections (whether unsoldered joiners, or power routing through the point rails) work well for about a year before they accumulate enough oxidation to cause random gremlins. 

 

If you are in HO scale, you may be able to get Peco’s new Unifrog, which I understand combines the best qualities of both.  I haven’t seen one yet, but it may be worth investigating. If you are running long engines with lots of pickups, it may not matter.  You also may want to consider putting “keep-alive” supercapacitors in your locos, which makes them less sensitive to track power imperfections.

 

From: w4dccqa@groups.io <w4dccqa@groups.io> On Behalf Of PennsyNut
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2018 11:02 AM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: [w4dccqa] PECO Insulfrogs

 

Hello. I want to do something apparently not authorized. ?? A shelf layout, 12" deep by 24' long. On 2" foam. All wiring on top of the layout, hidden only by scenery. Switching. Want to use all PECO. Want to NOT use any machines or ground throws. Also, wish to install turnouts without fastening. i.e. Be able to slide joiners off the turnout onto attached flex track and simply lift up the turnout for repair or replacement. From the literature, Insulfrogs need no wiring. ? Unless I opt to do the simple cut and wire jumpers. But I choose not to. Now, the problem is the joiners. If the feeder is soldered to the flex track a couple inches from the joint with the point end of the turnout, and also solder feeders to the flex tracks at the frog end of the turnout. The one set of feeders is about 12" from the others. Is this clear? Won't having 6 joiners be enough to keep the turnout powered? i.e. Will all 6 joiners fail at the same time? I guess what I really want is to not restrict removal of the turnout. I've been told to "not rely on joiners". Fine. But how do you have soldered joints and wires attached - and still be able to get the turnout off to repair or replace. That would be a lot of work. What would be the odds of the turnout failing versus all 6 of the joiners failing? Actually, I think the odds are so low in either case as to not be a problem. So I want to take the easy way out. Finally, one last question: Is there a way to bypass the joiners without soldering to the turnout?
Sorry this is so long. But I guess I am stubborn and want to do it "my way". Besides, having the track wiring all on top makes it easier. And more wires mean more chance for problems. Kind of like the argument about soldering versus connectors. There is no choice for me but to solder. Period. No klutsy suitcase connectors, wire nuts, etc.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

PennsyNut
 

Carl: Yes. An excellent idea. I did see something similar and your idea is worth a try. I will let y'all know.
John J: I understand. I had thought of using joiners with a feeder wire soldered to the bottom and just slid on the rails. That isn't much better, but again, worth a try. I sure wish PECO would get their Unifrogs on the market. They do seem to solve a lot of problems.
John: Yes, I'm in HO, and code 83 . You are suggesting I solder a wire from the flex to the turnout without a joiner? A very simple solder job. Yes, I can do that. But it still requires unsoldering when needing to replace the turnout. And yes, I had thought of doing that for "leaving a gap" in the rail for expansion/contraction. Of course, then the rail alignment becomes critical. But I can see how it would be easier to remove the turnout. Just clip the wire. The unsoldering of a "little wire" from the turnout would be easy.
I even thought of using code 70, but I show my age by saying "too hard to see". LOL And yes, I remember code 100 brass. Do you remember Midlin track? Now that will show your age.
Thanks to y'all. I look forward to trying the suggestions.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Don Vollrath
 

It is your RR. You do not need to follow the recommendations. However... Experience tells us that the rail joiners are not gas tight connections. Movement due to vibration, expansion and contraction will eventually cause the electrical connection to suffer. Yes, they can work very well for a while. The best way to avoid problems is to have an electrical feeder wire soldered to every piece of rail you want electrified. Soldering rail joiners to the rails is one way to minimize the number of track feeders but brings up the issue of making sure you leave a mechanism to relieve track expansion. Using unsoldered joiners at a turnout will allow you to slide them off and remove the turnout if necessary. However what is likely to go wrong at a well designed turnout??? A poor electrical connection to the turnout rails is the most likely issue... Particularly those of the movable points. It may take a few months or years to find that out depending on your environment and/or luck. A simple solution is to drop a soldered feeder wire to each rail inside the turnout. If you leave enough slack you can easily slide the joiners off and clip or unsolder the feeder wires.

For those who say to solder a feeder wire to the joiner... Think about where the connection issue actually occurs. It is the partially crimped 'sliding' joint between the rail and joiner itself that gets corroded.

DonV

Keith Elrod
 

I agree with Donv. It’s a long-standing debate, but I’m on the side of not soldering the rail joiners. Send feeders to all sections of track.
Keith

Carl
 

Hello Morgan:

It has been so long since I built my layout, O Gauge with Gargraves track, that I forgot a whole section can lift out. Three tracks with three crossovers on a 8 foot section of plywood. No pins or rail joiners at the ends, just careful alignment. ( Yes, O Gauge with deep flanges are more forgiving ) But it has worked for nearly 20 years. All the wiring, track and turnout motors are plug connected, so no cutting wires to remove, if ever.

Carl.



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PennsyNut
 

Carl: You hit upon a solution I might be able to live with. The feeder wires connected to the turnout can be connected but not soldered. A connector of some sort that can be disconnected easily. Automobile connectors? I'll check and see what's available.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC