Turnout point conductivity


Perry A Pollino
 

Folks, I have exhausted my options on My N scale Peco electrofrog turnout issues.
It seems to be related to reliable contact of the point rails to the stock rail. even after cleaning where the points meet the stock rails the problem seem intermittent.
I have read of using different conductive materials like graphite.
Looking for what some may have used with success in improving conductivity. 
Perry

 


PennsyNut
 

Here's what I have done with PECO code 83 Insulfrogs in HO. As you know, they rely totally on point feed. Unless one were to wire. I chose not to wire. So. What do I do. Clean the points and adjoining rails carefully. There are plenty of cleaning liquids available. Heck, some even use alcohol. Others use acetone - but that can damage plastic ties, etc. The latest is Mineral Spirits which is what I now use. And of course, we can't forget No-Ox. But as you probably have done is get them clean. When you wipe with a clean cloth/I use an old tee shirt. They rails should be clean, no black gunk. Finally, dab a bit of graphite with a microbrush on the inside edge of the rail, being extremely careful with the points, etc. Just an itsy bitsy dab. And run a car across to get that graphite spread. If you can see it, you put too much. After this, you should not have to touch this rail for a very long time. FYI. While you are working on that turnout, be sure to do this with the rest of your rail/track. If this don't work/after all, you are in N scale and I don't know the difference other than size. I can't help more. Others have more experience and with wiring. As I said, I rely on rail joiners for power and no wire whatsoever on the turnout. Further FYI. I also treat those rail joints with joiners - with the same cleaning and graphite. And so far, so good with conductivity.
Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC


emrldsky
 

On 6/2/2021 10:32 AM, Perry A Pollino wrote:
Folks, I have exhausted my options on My N scale Peco electrofrog turnout issues.
It seems to be related to reliable contact of the point rails to the stock rail. even after cleaning where the points meet the stock rails the problem seem intermittent.
I have read of using different conductive materials like graphite.
Looking for what some may have used with success in improving conductivity.
Perry
 Hi Perry,
Nothing will work for a long period of time on a reliable basis. The one thing that I have found that does work is to solder a flexible jumper wire from the stock rails to its closure rail. In doing so you do need to verify that there is the proper clearance between the two when open so that there is no shorting as the wheels go through the gap.

Peace,
Mike G.


Rodney
 

Mike G,

That won't work with electrofrogs

 

 Perry,
 
 Your going to have to solder a wire to one of the rails on the frog side of the turnout. Then you need to use a frog juicer or a switch of some kind to switch the polarity. That is the only way you'll get it to work reliable.

Rodney



-----Original Message-----
From: emrldsky <azMikeG@...>
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Sent: Wed, Jun 2, 2021 1:18 pm
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Turnout point conductivity

On 6/2/2021 10:32 AM, Perry A Pollino wrote:
> Folks, I have exhausted my options on My N scale Peco electrofrog
> turnout issues.
> It seems to be related to reliable contact of the point rails to the
> stock rail. even after cleaning where the points meet the stock rails
> the problem seem intermittent.
> I have read of using different conductive materials like graphite.
> Looking for what some may have used with success in improving
> conductivity.
> Perry
>
 Hi Perry,
Nothing will work for a long period of time on a reliable basis. The one
thing that I have found that does work is to solder a flexible jumper
wire from the stock rails to its closure rail. In doing so you do need
to verify that there is the proper clearance between the two when open
so that there is no shorting as the wheels go through the gap.

Peace,
Mike G.







Doug Wagner
 

Might want to take a look at this video on YouTube:
 
 
Doug Wagner
Bakersfield CA

In a message dated 06/02/21 10:32:58 Pacific Standard Time, texasperry@... writes:
 
Folks, I have exhausted my options on My N scale Peco electrofrog turnout issues.
It seems to be related to reliable contact of the point rails to the stock rail. even after cleaning where the points meet the stock rails the problem seem intermittent.
I have read of using different conductive materials like graphite.
Looking for what some may have used with success in improving conductivity. 
Perry

 


PennsyNut
 

Doug. Even Ron agrees with graphite. He also has agreed that mineral spirits are acceptable. So as for cleaning and improving electrical conductivity, my solution does work. I am a frugal person who don't like to spend too much money. Graphite comes from a soft pencil. The other thing is that no matter what fluid you use, it is usually wet when done. If it don't evaporate rapidly, and even then, you might wish to wipe the rails dry. Then apply graphite. But I can assure y'all that it works. As for N scale, I don't know and won't argue with y'all about it. But yes, for electrofrog, the wiring may be necessary for long term. I do know one other thing. Points don't always get thrown completely enough to touch the rail. If the movement of the throw rod gets sluggish, that may be a factor. A dab of graphite between the point and the rail may help. But just a dab. Too much graphite has the reverse effect and can actually make things worse. A toothbrush can also help by getting any debris when you wipe with the wet cloth. The throwrod must have a very smooth action.
--
Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC


Jim Betz
 

Ron,Doug,Morgan, ... all,

  Conductivity to the loco and power to the rails are related but two separate things.  

  1) Check your power with a meter.  Operate the turnout - several times - and
       test for "is the power there - or not".  Check with the turnout open, closed,
       and even part way.  If there are problems with "power to the rails" you need
       to solve that.

  2) If step #1 is "fine" then you need to solve the problem by getting the power
      from the rails to the loco.  Although there are many guys who have had
      success with a variety of techniques that enhance conductivity - for all of
      those who have had success with a particular method (or product) there
      are others who have had failures with the same method or product.  My
      conclusion is that it may be related to technique (how much product? etc.)
      or to "environmental conditions" (part of the country, whether or not the
      layout is in a dusty or clean environment, etc.).

  3) Be VERY careful about any "magic" product.  Many of them have 
      proven to be a total disaster on many layouts.  This includes both any
      product for cleaning and products for improving conductivity.  Ask 
      yourself the question "how easy/hard will it be to remove this product
      - entirely - if it doesn't work.  My experience has been that ANY product
      that has any petroleum component is often highly suspect.  Products
      I've personally seen take a layout to its knees are RailZip, GooGone,
      and Wahl oil - and many of the so called "conductivity improvers" sold
      directly to our hobby (such as RailZip).  These miracle products are
      nothing more than something meant for some other use that has been
      repackaged in small quantities (at high prices) and sold to us as the
      "world's best".  

             ===> Guys, Guys, Guys - the previous is MY experience.  If
                       you are using one of those products and you like it this
                       is not an attack on you and you don't need to "defend".

  4) If the problem is "all locos and not just one or some - this points back to
      number 1 (usually).  Test with more than just one or two locos.

Ron,
  Your post seems to say "it's number 1" - that you know that is the problem.
My only reason for restating the above is that the symptoms are essentially
the same for either.  
  I am not in N-scale and I don't use Electrofrog turnouts.  Since you say
that the problem is a marginal contact between the points and the stock
rail ... have you tried something that holds that contact solid (such as a
tortoise machine)?
  Is it all turnouts - or only one or some?  If more than one, fix that one and
then repeat as necessary.
  Is it possible that your loco(s) are causing the point rail to loose contact
with the stock rail?  Check wheel gauge - then check rail gauge.
  At least one thing you haven't mentioned is "have you tried replacing the
turnout?".  Perhaps just a new one, an Insulfrog instead of an Electrofrog,
etc.
  Any product you use (such as Conductalube) between the points and the
stock rail ... will eventually/quickly move/wear off.  For rail to rail or rail to
wheel I like "clean metal to clean metal".
  If you were in HO I would recommend a Keep Alive.  There are some 
that will fit in some N locos - but it's a pain to find the space.  And you
can end up loosing weight which is not a good thing in any scale and
especially not in N!
                                                                                                        - Jim


Jim Betz
 

  Perry,

  Sorry, I did not address my post to you.  - Jim


Don Weigt
 

I agree with the others that pont rails contacting the stock rails are not a great switch design. Better designs have one contact slide onto the other, often referred to as "wiping".

I'd take a vacuum to the turnout first, to get rid of dust and any loose debris. If you use liquid cleaners, be cautious, as others have advised. What I've done with good success in HO is folding a small piece of previously unused 600 grit or finer sandpaper so there is grit facing out on both sides, put it between the point and stock rail, making sure it's down low enough to touch the ties, closed the stock rail against it, held it there with light pressure, and pulled the sandpaper out, moving it parallel to the rails about an inch, not up. What it does is remove a tiny bit of surface metal from the rails where they touch. It also cleans out any debris that avoided vacuuming or other cleaning, and helps make certain the two rails fit together nicely. That's the best I've found for making the rails switch point power reliably.

Ultimately, firm pressure from a motorized switch machine, plus a switch wired from the stock rails to the points, still adds a lot of reliability. Rail to moving rail just isn't great in my experience..

Don Weigt
Connecticut

--
Don Weigt
Connecticut


PennsyNut
 

I'm not arguing, but. Wiping any rail with any abrasive can lead to other problems. I quit using bright boy, sand paper and certainly never a file. My current favorite is a white wine bottle cork. And even that is rare. But to clean points, etc. I only use a liquid. As I mentioned, acetone would work, but can harm ties. So the best thing is to start with alcohol, and then the mineral spirits. That I have done and does work.   Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC


AchimK
 

I can highly recommend WT-40 Contact Cleaner (NOT 'normal' WT-40) which is a non-polar solvent designed for cleaning of electrical circuits and contacts. Or many other contact cleaners (I live in the UK). Leaves no residues at all. In my experience, anything that contains water (i.e. any alcohols) is unusable as water promotes oxydation (the black gunk we all hate) rather than prevents it. Any 99% alcohol after some time will contain a lot of water as the alcohol itself is so hygroscopic taking moisture out of the air when open. Other opinions are available.

On Fri, 4 Jun 2021 at 16:25, PennsyNut <fan4pennsy@...> wrote:
I'm not arguing, but. Wiping any rail with any abrasive can lead to other problems. I quit using bright boy, sand paper and certainly never a file. My current favorite is a white wine bottle cork. And even that is rare. But to clean points, etc. I only use a liquid. As I mentioned, acetone would work, but can harm ties. So the best thing is to start with alcohol, and then the mineral spirits. That I have done and does work.   Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC


AD
 

But the wd40 electrical contact cleaner contains both alcohol and petroleum products , both we are told to avoid, yet its the most recommended for conductivity

What’s going on with recommendations

Tony


On Jun 5, 2021, at 8:45 AM, AchimK <dr.micha.koenig@...> wrote:


I can highly recommend WT-40 Contact Cleaner (NOT 'normal' WT-40) which is a non-polar solvent designed for cleaning of electrical circuits and contacts. Or many other contact cleaners (I live in the UK). Leaves no residues at all. In my experience, anything that contains water (i.e. any alcohols) is unusable as water promotes oxydation (the black gunk we all hate) rather than prevents it. Any 99% alcohol after some time will contain a lot of water as the alcohol itself is so hygroscopic taking moisture out of the air when open. Other opinions are available.

On Fri, 4 Jun 2021 at 16:25, PennsyNut <fan4pennsy@...> wrote:
I'm not arguing, but. Wiping any rail with any abrasive can lead to other problems. I quit using bright boy, sand paper and certainly never a file. My current favorite is a white wine bottle cork. And even that is rare. But to clean points, etc. I only use a liquid. As I mentioned, acetone would work, but can harm ties. So the best thing is to start with alcohol, and then the mineral spirits. That I have done and does work.   Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC


Perry A Pollino
 

Thanks All Some good advice. 
I think the most reliable fix will be to modify my turnouts in place. All my turnouts are Peco. With the exception of a few Unifrogs, all are Electrofrog and wired to DCC specialties Frog ARs. Obviously no need to rewire the few Unifrog turnouts.
 I have. Attached is a drawing I modified with what I plan to do. I had a turnout that I applied this to and tested with my DVM. Seems to be a good solution.  However it was not connected to the layout. 
Does anyone see something that may cause me grief?
Perry


Perry A Pollino
 

Added my drawing to Photo section. Mofified Peco Turnout.
Thanks.


Nat Hill IV
 

Tend to agree with the WD-40 contact cleaner caution.
AFTER I buy two cans, I now find it contains 10-20% isopropyl alcohol.  Groan....

On Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 14:35 AD <bklyns_baseball_club@...> wrote:
But the wd40 electrical contact cleaner contains both alcohol and petroleum products , both we are told to avoid, yet its the most recommended for conductivity

What’s going on with recommendations

Tony


On Jun 5, 2021, at 8:45 AM, AchimK <dr.micha.koenig@...> wrote:


I can highly recommend WT-40 Contact Cleaner (NOT 'normal' WT-40) which is a non-polar solvent designed for cleaning of electrical circuits and contacts. Or many other contact cleaners (I live in the UK). Leaves no residues at all. In my experience, anything that contains water (i.e. any alcohols) is unusable as water promotes oxydation (the black gunk we all hate) rather than prevents it. Any 99% alcohol after some time will contain a lot of water as the alcohol itself is so hygroscopic taking moisture out of the air when open. Other opinions are available.

On Fri, 4 Jun 2021 at 16:25, PennsyNut <fan4pennsy@...> wrote:
I'm not arguing, but. Wiping any rail with any abrasive can lead to other problems. I quit using bright boy, sand paper and certainly never a file. My current favorite is a white wine bottle cork. And even that is rare. But to clean points, etc. I only use a liquid. As I mentioned, acetone would work, but can harm ties. So the best thing is to start with alcohol, and then the mineral spirits. That I have done and does work.   Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC


AchimK
 

All true with regards to WT40 contact cleaner (30% heptane i.e. petrol, 20% isopropyl, rest propellant) and yet on my layout it does the job well with no issues. Maybe because moisture/humidity cannot enter the can and the alcohol actually remains in the specified concentration.

I'd be nice if the world was perfect, innit?

On Sat, 5 Jun 2021 at 23:00, Nat Hill IV <nathilliv@...> wrote:
Tend to agree with the WD-40 contact cleaner caution.
AFTER I buy two cans, I now find it contains 10-20% isopropyl alcohol.  Groan....

On Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 14:35 AD <bklyns_baseball_club@...> wrote:
But the wd40 electrical contact cleaner contains both alcohol and petroleum products , both we are told to avoid, yet its the most recommended for conductivity

What’s going on with recommendations

Tony


On Jun 5, 2021, at 8:45 AM, AchimK <dr.micha.koenig@...> wrote:


I can highly recommend WT-40 Contact Cleaner (NOT 'normal' WT-40) which is a non-polar solvent designed for cleaning of electrical circuits and contacts. Or many other contact cleaners (I live in the UK). Leaves no residues at all. In my experience, anything that contains water (i.e. any alcohols) is unusable as water promotes oxydation (the black gunk we all hate) rather than prevents it. Any 99% alcohol after some time will contain a lot of water as the alcohol itself is so hygroscopic taking moisture out of the air when open. Other opinions are available.

On Fri, 4 Jun 2021 at 16:25, PennsyNut <fan4pennsy@...> wrote:
I'm not arguing, but. Wiping any rail with any abrasive can lead to other problems. I quit using bright boy, sand paper and certainly never a file. My current favorite is a white wine bottle cork. And even that is rare. But to clean points, etc. I only use a liquid. As I mentioned, acetone would work, but can harm ties. So the best thing is to start with alcohol, and then the mineral spirits. That I have done and does work.   Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC


Nat Hill IV
 

I intend to give WD40 contact cleaner a try.
Two cans is likely a lifetime supply for me. 🤪.
One thing is certain.  The subject of how to best clean track has more options and opinions than politics.
Well, except for how to properly wire reversing loops.  I am not putting any on my layout, because after all the discussion here, I have deemed it an absolutely incomprehensible subject area.


On Jun 6, 2021 06:33, AchimK <dr.micha.koenig@...> wrote:
All true with regards to WT40 contact cleaner (30% heptane i.e. petrol, 20% isopropyl, rest propellant) and yet on my layout it does the job well with no issues. Maybe because moisture/humidity cannot enter the can and the alcohol actually remains in the specified concentration.

I'd be nice if the world was perfect, innit?

On Sat, 5 Jun 2021 at 23:00, Nat Hill IV <nathilliv@...> wrote:
Tend to agree with the WD-40 contact cleaner caution.
AFTER I buy two cans, I now find it contains 10-20% isopropyl alcohol.  Groan....

On Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 14:35 AD <bklyns_baseball_club@...> wrote:
But the wd40 electrical contact cleaner contains both alcohol and petroleum products , both we are told to avoid, yet its the most recommended for conductivity

What’s going on with recommendations

Tony


On Jun 5, 2021, at 8:45 AM, AchimK <dr.micha.koenig@...> wrote:


I can highly recommend WT-40 Contact Cleaner (NOT 'normal' WT-40) which is a non-polar solvent designed for cleaning of electrical circuits and contacts. Or many other contact cleaners (I live in the UK). Leaves no residues at all. In my experience, anything that contains water (i.e. any alcohols) is unusable as water promotes oxydation (the black gunk we all hate) rather than prevents it. Any 99% alcohol after some time will contain a lot of water as the alcohol itself is so hygroscopic taking moisture out of the air when open. Other opinions are available.

On Fri, 4 Jun 2021 at 16:25, PennsyNut <fan4pennsy@...> wrote:
I'm not arguing, but. Wiping any rail with any abrasive can lead to other problems. I quit using bright boy, sand paper and certainly never a file. My current favorite is a white wine bottle cork. And even that is rare. But to clean points, etc. I only use a liquid. As I mentioned, acetone would work, but can harm ties. So the best thing is to start with alcohol, and then the mineral spirits. That I have done and does work.   Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC



whmvd
 

Nat,

Do not worry too much about reversing loops. If you want one, it's not as big a deal as some of the discussions had made them out to be. There are few rules, and the wiring is pretty straightforward. Plenty here will help you if you need it (chances are: you won't). The really tricky discussions only arise when people start to get almost philosophical as to what happens when you have two reversing loops very close together. I think that's the discussion that looked frightening. But the normal principles? Not daunting at all.

Wouter


On Sun, 6 Jun 2021 at 14:45, Nat Hill IV <nathilliv@...> wrote:
I intend to give WD40 contact cleaner a try.
Two cans is likely a lifetime supply for me. 🤪.
One thing is certain.  The subject of how to best clean track has more options and opinions than politics.
Well, except for how to properly wire reversing loops.  I am not putting any on my layout, because after all the discussion here, I have deemed it an absolutely incomprehensible subject area.


On Jun 6, 2021 06:33, AchimK <dr.micha.koenig@...> wrote:
All true with regards to WT40 contact cleaner (30% heptane i.e. petrol, 20% isopropyl, rest propellant) and yet on my layout it does the job well with no issues. Maybe because moisture/humidity cannot enter the can and the alcohol actually remains in the specified concentration.

I'd be nice if the world was perfect, innit?

On Sat, 5 Jun 2021 at 23:00, Nat Hill IV <nathilliv@...> wrote:
Tend to agree with the WD-40 contact cleaner caution.
AFTER I buy two cans, I now find it contains 10-20% isopropyl alcohol.  Groan....

On Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 14:35 AD <bklyns_baseball_club@...> wrote:
But the wd40 electrical contact cleaner contains both alcohol and petroleum products , both we are told to avoid, yet its the most recommended for conductivity

What’s going on with recommendations

Tony


On Jun 5, 2021, at 8:45 AM, AchimK <dr.micha.koenig@...> wrote:


I can highly recommend WT-40 Contact Cleaner (NOT 'normal' WT-40) which is a non-polar solvent designed for cleaning of electrical circuits and contacts. Or many other contact cleaners (I live in the UK). Leaves no residues at all. In my experience, anything that contains water (i.e. any alcohols) is unusable as water promotes oxydation (the black gunk we all hate) rather than prevents it. Any 99% alcohol after some time will contain a lot of water as the alcohol itself is so hygroscopic taking moisture out of the air when open. Other opinions are available.

On Fri, 4 Jun 2021 at 16:25, PennsyNut <fan4pennsy@...> wrote:
I'm not arguing, but. Wiping any rail with any abrasive can lead to other problems. I quit using bright boy, sand paper and certainly never a file. My current favorite is a white wine bottle cork. And even that is rare. But to clean points, etc. I only use a liquid. As I mentioned, acetone would work, but can harm ties. So the best thing is to start with alcohol, and then the mineral spirits. That I have done and does work.   Morgan Bilbo, slightly over one year with very basic DCC



Don Vollrath
 

Perry, Suspect conductivity of the point rail swivel rivet joint. May need a flexible jumper across this joint to ensure conducive power path to the points. Especially if a loco causes the point rail to flex as it rolls across.

You are repeating what Allan Gartner has always said what is needed to make turnouts DCC Friendly.

DonV


Robert Morrison
 

Gentlemen,

In the February issue of the Running Extra portion of the Model Railroading Hobbyist magazine, Joe Fugate wrote" Better track cleaning update …”. This is a follow up to his article in the May 2019 issue of MRH “Keeping your track and wheels clean…"
In it he lists the dielectric properties of various solvents used to clean track, with lower dielectric constant being better for cleaning track. The lowest solvents listed are:
Kerosene   -  bad smell
Deluxe Materials Track Magic
WD-40 Contact Cleaner
CRC contact cleaner and Protectant
Regular WD-40 is not quite as good as WD-40 Contact Cleaner

Since the February article is part of a paid for publication, I cannot include it here. The May 2019 article from MRH is free and available at 
https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com

Here’s hoping this helps.

Rob Morrison