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Date: 10/22/21 14:05
Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: OnTheSiding

I have tired everything and after years of work have yet to run a train through a turnout I have laid without having blinking lights, sometimes over the frog and sometimes over the points.  I have become proficient (and even good) at all other areas in model railroading (benchwork, scenery, backdrop, etc.), but have yet to have locos operate correctly over turnouts.  I work in HO scale, and have tried both Peco and Micro Engineering turnouts, and have followed the instrcutions, and neither has yielded reliable lighting and performance.  My layout is also extremely simple--just a small point-to-point.  The instructions indicate that all shouild run well without even wiring the turnout.  And even if I did wire the frog with a juicer, it would not help the blinking lights in the area of the points.  So, what is the answer to this electrical riddle?  How do you guys run your trains with steady lights?  My scenery and such look good now, and the last thing I want is a loco with intermittent blinking lights.  And I use all top-quality (newer) locos with all-wheel pick-up.  A "keep alive" or capacitopr is a nice idea, but only a few brands and types have these things installed right now.  I would not want to attempt installing a capacitor in a loco, as that has been my only other notable issue--some of those shells are hard to remove and I have broken some handrails and have runined a couple of locos trying to get in there to install a decoder.  Locos are now too expensive for me to risk breaking something by trying to remove the shell.  Thus, I am at a loss, and may have to give up the hobby...



Date: 10/22/21 16:34
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: WrongWayMurphy

I have about 100 Atlas code 83 switches on my pike and have no issues as you describe.

I have no ME switches and three PECO curved switches, and those don't give me problems either.

What locomotives give you problems?  Are they short switchers ?

 



Date: 10/22/21 16:42
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: SPDRGWfan

Maybe install keep alives?



Date: 10/22/21 17:03
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: PHall

SPDRGWfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Maybe install keep alives?

He said he didn't want to open up his engines because of previous breakage issues.

But maybe have a "professional" install the keep alives. The one's who install stuff all the time usually know how to get inside without damaging the unit.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/21 11:50 by PHall.



Date: 10/22/21 17:25
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: ChrisCampi

This is just, like my opinion man :-) And I'm assuming your running DCC with sound. 

You can install the frog juicer and it will help but not solve your problem. Next is to install jumper wires across the rail joiner acting as a hinge for your points. This is the biggest bang for your buck in my opinion as once you ballast your track this is a huge weak spot once the glue wicks into the rail joiner hinge. New offerings from Peco and Walthers eliminate that hinge completely solving the problem. Your best bet and full proof fix is the keep alive and you should jump into this end of the hobby if you must have flawless operations and are running sound. I find TCS KA2 to be outstanding.

it should be mentioned that some Peco turnouts can short at the frog if the wheel tread is too wide. A fix is clear nail polish on one of the rails were they meet at the frog. Not an issue with ME turnouts. Sounds like you have a bit of time and money invested. Pick up the soldering iron and add the jumpers to a few points and see how that works for you. If your running four axle diesels, tell us what you got and we can probably help.

Chris



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/21 17:28 by ChrisCampi.



Date: 10/22/21 19:16
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: funnelfan

Use a multi-meter to check the turnouts for dead spots. Keep-alive circuits in the locomotives is the best option for keeping the lights steady, and pretty much a must have on sound units to keep the sound from cutting out.

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA



Date: 10/22/21 19:50
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: OnTheSiding

Thanks for the inpur, folks!  Yes, I am running DCC and sound, and I do indeed have a ton of time and money invested, at least as far as my budget is concerned.  My locos are mostly four-axle diesels (my favorite), and they are top-quality units...Atlas Gold Series and Athearn Genesis.  I am an EMD fan,   and my favorites are Geeps, especially GP7s, GP38-2s, and GP40s and 40-2s.  I just got the new Genesis 38-2 and with some CV adjustment, I love it...Tsunami 2 sound blows away the Lok Select in my Atlas units.  The new 38-2 loves my test track, which is just a four-foot run of Peco Code 83.  I have now put scenery on it, and it is fastly becoming a super nice "test track."  So, no problems with the locos themselves, as far as I know..

Having started this tread and knowing how knowledgeable everyone is here, I have unearthed my 6.5-foot regular layout tonight  I put it "on the shelf" after yet another turnout blinking light problem some months ago,  Tonight, I ripped up the problematic area (turnount and connecting flex track), sanded the area (I had ballasted a bit) and am now ready to relay and patch that roadbed and then try again with new turnouts.  I have made my own turnout pads, and they look great.  It is such a nice little layout and I would love to get it running.  It is designed to use two ME number 6 switches.  So, pretty simple.  It would be great to finally run some trains on it, but my faith is waning and my frustration level is high.  If anyone here can help me solve this turnout problem, I will be happy to pass along some of my scenery secrets/techniques that I have taught myself over the years...



Date: 10/22/21 20:06
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: OnTheSiding

Forgot to mention...my 6.5-foot layout is a little switching layout and not a continous-running layout...



Date: 10/22/21 20:16
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: OnTheSiding

Chris,

What "new offerings" from Peco and Walthers do you mean?  Turnouts?  Rail joiners?

Also, while my layout and turnout pads are designed for ME number 6 switches (one left and one right) would switching to another brand of turnout help?  As I have mentioned, I got the same problem with Peco Code 83 Insulfrog turnouts.



Date: 10/23/21 09:45
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: funnelfan

Walthers has a new line of turnouts out now that look very nice. Instead of a seperate point rail, they use a continous point rail from the frog that is much more prototypical.

Ted Curphey
Cheney, WA



Date: 10/23/21 10:21
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: SPDRGWfan

The "new" thing about Peco code 83 are the #6 Unifrog have replaced the Insulfrog and the Electrofrog.  There is an up side to the Unifrog - the points are continuous rail rather than jointed.  The down side is they have the same "flaw" that the Insulfrog turnouts have, which is some flat and/or wider tread metal wheels can cause a short near the plastic frog.  I did email Peco about the Unifrog same as Insulfrog issue and Peco did acknowledge it:

"Thank you for your email raising concerns about short circuits on the Unifrog #6 turnouts. It is standard railway engineering practice to put a 3° taper on wheels, which normally means they only contact the rail they are sat upon and the overhanging outer edge of the wheel should pass over the top of the opposing frog rail without contact. This is what we are used to, and it works that was on our OO and N scale products. However, NMRA RP-25 only recommends a taper, and having spoken to a former colleague who is deeply into American HO scale we now realise there are ready to run models being produced without the taper on the wheels, which would of course cause the short circuiting problems as you describe and what you saw in the YouTube video.

We are now looking at how we can modify the tooling to provide a longer Unifrog tip and greater gap between the frog rails. This will also be implemented on the code 70 #6 turnouts and all future HO scale Unifrog products.
 
Thank you for bringing it to our attention."

I decided to go with the Electrofrog turnouts and use frog juicers tp avoid the shorting issue. Hopefully Peco will revise their code83 Unifrog turnouts.  BTW, another advantage to Peco is they are short so you can usually fit them without trimming.  The Walthers look nice but probably you'll have to trim them for some yard or other situations to get them to fit.

Cheers,
Jim



Date: 10/23/21 10:23
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: OnTheSiding

Thanks for the tip on the WalthersTrack.  It would be nice if these things were in stock once in a while.  I found 38 Walthers track items and only 4 in stock, none of which are turnouts.  It has always been this way with model railroading.  Do not know why.  We wait forever for things to come in stock and then by the time they do, we forget about them.



Date: 10/23/21 10:53
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: SPDRGWfan

Walthers has been probably the worst for regular stocking.  Mostly Peco isn't out of stock for extended periods.  But I always helps to have a lot of vendors to check.



Date: 10/23/21 11:07
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: OnTheSiding

Agreed in regard to Walthers.  Lots of times, though, if Walthers is out of something, then so is everybody else.

Another question...if I can find some Peco Elctrofrogs, should I use those, or are Electrofrogs not a good idea with DCC?  Again, I have a small switching layout that will have two stub-end industrial spurs (hence I will use two turnouts).

Also, I just spoke to a retailer and he said that it looks like ME has lost interest in making their #6 turnouts.  Wonderful. I designed my layout using ME dimensions, and I gather I will have to tear up more roadbed and tear up the turnout pads that I made for the ME turnouts.



Date: 10/23/21 11:13
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: inyosub

I bought one of the new Walters turnouts @Funnelfan and they are very nice.  
You still have a dead frog unless you juice it; but they make that easy. Replacing turnouts
is not a cheap proposition but the original author seemed willing to try some. I believe they
are reviewed in the DCC segment of Model Railroader or RMC (can't remember which and don't want
to search out mags)
The reality is, most all solutions require entering the shell. IF you can't or won't do it you either need
a friend who will, or be willing to pay someone. to do so. You could MU locos with wires to extend you 
pickup across more than one; buy when when Keep_alives work so well. Both require entry but one ties
locos together forever. 
If on this gents layout he really wants to run single four axle locos, the reality is this is the right solution.
Note that I have a video of my 1st Keep-alive equipt loco running across a paper towel on my jcure 
youtube channel. One last thing. I bought one of the Walthers ML8  2 axle industrial switchers. It has
built in Keep Alive and it makes an AMAZING difference. Ride over anything. 



Date: 10/23/21 12:49
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: trackplanner

If you don't already own this book, I highly recommend it. Looking at the turnout photo, I suggest adding short jumper wires from the point rails to the closure rails. Much cheaper solution than installing Keep Alive's, although I recommend them also. Good luck!






Date: 10/23/21 16:02
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: mkt1992

Have u contacted ME directly. They are a small company and batch run items. They may be able to tell you what time frame they have running the turnouts you need.

Posted from Android



Date: 10/23/21 16:32
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: SPDRGWfan

trackplanner Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If you don't already own this book, I highly
> recommend it. Looking at the turnout photo, I
> suggest adding short jumper wires from the point
> rails to the closure rails.

The problem with adding short jumpers is it requires good soldering skills or you end up melting ties. My soldering skills are just serviceable and it didnt go real well when I tried to add short jumpers.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/21 16:33 by SPDRGWfan.



Date: 10/23/21 17:40
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: OnTheSiding

Thanks for the tip.  My soldering skills are decent, but in tight areas and around ties, I gather it could be a challenge for anyone.  Lots of people, here and elsewhere, talk about adding jumpers, and I am glad that you have commented on the feasability of doing so here.

My odds of completing a layout with turnouts are looking slimmer yet...



Date: 10/23/21 19:59
Re: Help Me Put an End to Blinking Lights Over Turnouts
Author: mcdeo

I know you said you've had issues with putting in keep alives. But I too am not all that good yet with putting in decoders. I have some of the new Athearn GP15-1's and GP50's with Tsunami and non-sound. After I remember to remove the extra screw near the fuel tank, I found that a flat head screw driver to loosen what appears to be a small amount of paint, near the underside of the couple pockets, the shells came off fairly easy. I did have issues before I found the stuck part. 

SoundTraxx makes a blue/black double ended plug that fits in the Tsunami two decoders. The TCS KA1 is able to sit on top of the decoder and still fit within the shell for both models. Which I assume would include all current GP38-2, 40-2 models of Athearn. 

The keep alive discussion seems as sided as, Tsunami vs. LOK sound, Coke vs. Pepsi, VHS vs. Beta, etc. I've been to layouts without keep alives and lots of wired connects and with keep alives, both have no issues. My layout that I'm currently building, if I put leads on all 3 three end points of the turnouts, it seems to work. All Peco, code 83, #5, #6, and #7 curved, both uni and insulated frogs. 

I guess the point of the story is, you should be able to find a solution that you are happy with. 

Mike ONeill
Parker, CO



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