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Model Railroading > Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...


Date: 11/18/22 12:03
Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

Greetings! I'd like to be in contact with someone who could be considered a Hex Frog Juicer "authority." After successfully using these for awhile I'm having a vexing problem and need to speak with someone. I've been corresponding with the manufacturer but frankly, that hasn't been as much help as it should.

I'm at the point where I'm afraid to install any more because I don't want to let any more smoke out of any more Juicer components. That is getting expensive.

For the record, this goes WAY beyond the "Is the computer plugged in to the wall power?" or "Is the monitor plugged into the computer" level of troubleshooting.

Any guidance to a help source would be fantastic.

Jeff Johnston
www.thesugarpineshop.bigcartel.com
 




Date: 11/18/22 16:18
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

Per a friendly suggestion, here’s some background.
 
- I have two other Juicers, fed by the same DCC Booster, wired in identical fashion to the one that’s a problem child, operating just fine. Same track setup, same switch wiring, and so on. Those have been in use for several years with zero problems. (see photo attached) The track power in this layout area is fed by a different but identical PowershieldXX circuit breaker, but the booster power supply is the same.
 
- Many of the switches on our layout are unmodified Shinoharas with the metal bar connecting the point rails, right from the package. These have been working fine for years on our layout, including areas with Juicers already installed and working fine, so they are not the problem.
 
- We have the Lenz DCC system.
 
Regarding the problem unit:
 
- Powered by a 5-amp DCC booster, fed by the pre-circuit-breaker supply per the Juicer instructions. That power supply wiring has been inspected and verified several times. There are no shorts or crossed connections there.
 
-  The Powershield trip current has been upped, via CV 49, to 5.08 amps per the Powershield instructions. This helps accommodate the current needed to charge sound-equipped locomotives. It also helps with the Juicer function and reduces false short circuit indications, per the Juicer instructions.
 
- There are no return loops, wyes or other complications in the track area in question.
 
- Locomotives operate just fine over all of the track in the area in question so there are no crossed feeder wires or the like.
 
- The Juicer feeder and switch wiring are approximately as shown in the illustration. The “aerial photo” shows the track arrangement in question.
 
- All of the switch frog gaps verified and non-shorting.
 
The problem:
 
- Install the Juicer power feed with the power off and no switches wired in, turn on the power, all Juicer polarity lights are on and functional.
 
- Shut off the DCC power, install the frog feeder wires (four at this time), turn on the power. The DCC system goes into shutdown mode, hit the reset button, the system comes back online.
 
- While watching the juicer, a small wisp of smoke appears near the top red circle in the first photo above. One or more of the polarity lights shuts off. The short indicator light blinks as it should.
 
- Throw a couple of switches, another small wisp of smoke from the lower area in the red circle in photo 1, more polarity lights shut off. The short indicator light comes on constantly, per photo 1. Only two of the polarity indicator lights still on per photo 1.
 
- Remove all of the frog feeders, indicator lights remain on per photo 1 (yes, the frog feeders were still installed for that photo, but the light display is the same when they’re removed).
 
- Repeat as needed … This situation has been vexing me for awhile now, and that’s frustrating because the wiring is really simple for the whole setup.
 
Thank you for your consideration.
 








Date: 11/18/22 17:31
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: wpdude

I am not an electronics guru, but, i have a model railroad... I think the juicer needs to be wired just to the frog , and not the switch rail (as shown) that touches a live "stock" rail (?) Not a professional or expert :-)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/22 17:31 by wpdude.



Date: 11/18/22 17:49
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: bigmc83

I also have a few of these units and have had great success with them. I agree with the post above that the juicer should be wired to the actual frog “v” and not the closure rails.

As for troubleshooting, can you tell if it’s a specific frog juicer lead (1-6) that is causing the problem? Perhaps hook one frog up only and see if you can isolate the short. I’m worried that the smoke you’ve already released means you have a fried component on the juicer that needs replaced.

Finally I would still confirm the frog is electrically isolated with a continuity tester/meter. I’ve had a few newer Walthers turnouts arrive where the frog was not in fact fully isolated out of the box.

Sean

Posted from iPhone



Date: 11/18/22 17:52
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

Hi, the setup as shown, per my note above, is exactly as I have elsewhere on the layout and it's working fine. The Juicer changes polarity when the switch points are thrown and ensures a solid electrical path through the switch. The points alone can work, but can also be erratic, so using a Juicer in this case is a "belt and suspenders" approach to wiring. We have many short-wheelbase locomotives that need all the help they can get with continuoty.

Jeff



Date: 11/18/22 17:53
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: BAB

wpdude Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am not an electronics guru, but, i have a model
> railroad... I think the juicer needs to be wired
> just to the frog , and not the switch rail (as
> shown) that touches a live "stock" rail (?) Not a
> professional or expert :-)
That is my thought too as why do you need a jucer for the points? They are powed off of the rail its touching and in that diagram the frog would be dead.



Date: 11/18/22 17:56
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

No dead rails here. Per my note, "The Juicer changes polarity when the switch points are thrown and ensures a solid electrical path through the switch. The points alone can work, but can also be erratic, so using a Juicer in this case is a "belt and suspenders" approach to wiring."

Yes, the points alone can provide power through the rails, but the juicer is there to be sure the power is there as needed. Points can become dirty or not always conduct as they should. The Juicer is the backup power routing source.

Jeff



Date: 11/18/22 17:58
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

Here's the track plan and wiring Ptof. Klyzler suggested. The yellow circles are gaps (yes, they're good, all test as being clear, no shorts);  Red dot is Juicer feeder to the point rails etc, Green is power feeds to one rail, Blue is power feed to the other rail.

I need to emphasize again that locomotives operate just fine throughout this area, no problems at gaps or anything, so the track wiring is unlikely as a problem.

Jeff



 






Date: 11/18/22 19:33
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: railstiesballast

Pardon my ignorance, but do you have gaps in the rails that connect the two crossover turnouts?
Could it be that if the crossover is lined normal (on both turnouts)  a short is created?



Date: 11/18/22 20:05
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: TCnR

Agree with the comments above, possibly something different about how the points assembly is touching the rail to the frog.

Many folks would have four gaps around the frog, then the turnout would act similer to modern DCC friendly switches, except for the metal bar across the point rails. There's also a little metal piece making contact with the points at the throwbar. btw this would be a major deviation from the recommended use of the frog juicer and probably voids any warrenty.

I had a similar experiece with frog juicers and went back to basics, minimize the distance of the isolated frog and keep the track clean. Also looked at 'Keep Alive' capacitors, switch motor power routing and figured out it's easier to just keep the track very clean. Steam logging locomotives may not agree with that concept though.

Not an expert on frog juicers, I understand the basic circuit functions but will leave the product level theory to somebody else.



Date: 11/18/22 20:10
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: TCnR

When the points on the wye switch go to one side it's a direct short, but the frog juicer should change its polarity until it no longer has high current. Same for the curved switch in the middle...had to think about that.

railstiesballast Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Pardon my ignorance, but do you have gaps in the
> rails that connect the two crossover turnouts?
> Could it be that if the crossover is lined normal
> (on both turnouts)  a short is created?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/22 20:18 by TCnR.



Date: 11/18/22 20:32
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: TCnR

There may also be something with the juicer being connected to the track power rather than having the juicer isolated to only the frog. If the 5 amps goes through the juicer it may be exceeding it's ratings. If the frog is isolated only the locomotive power would go through the juicer.

That's were theory and what actually happens at the product level differs.



Date: 11/18/22 21:06
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: ChrisCampi

In this case the frogs are only ever insulated on three legs as long as the points aren't floating. Is it possible the plastic insulation on one turnout is bleeding or a set of points causing arcing?  Stray solder under the points or frog? For comparison, I run 7amp boosters with no problem through my Frog Juicers, but my frogs are insulated at the closure rails. You might have to systematically cut out your turnouts to try to isolate the issue, then swap out your FJ to see if it's defective.



Date: 11/19/22 08:50
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

I sincerey appreciate all of your suggestions about possible solutions to my Juicer situation. Per my note above, locomotioves operate just fine throughout the area including via all switch alignments so I know the basic track wiring is correct. I'm not going to mess with that.

However, as I've spent enough time and money trying to figure this out and I have other modeling projects I need to pursue so I can move on from this job, I'm "throwing in the towel" so to speak and doing what I should have in the first place, which is cutting more gaps to create fully isolated frogs for the Juicer to power. This leaves the point rail contacts against the adjacent rail to route the point rail power, and that should be OK for now. I put a dab of DeOxIt on a cardstock scrap and rub that between the point and adjacent rails and that seems to help.

Thank you all again for your thoughts and efforts on behalf of this problem.

Jeff Johnston
www.thesugarpineshop.bigcartel.com
 



Date: 11/19/22 09:12
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

Sometimes it takes me awhile to select the path of least resistance, so to speak, but eventually, I get there. Maybe it's my age ...

Jeff Johnston
www.thesugarpineshop.bigcartel.com
 



Date: 11/19/22 10:21
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: TCnR

Many of us learn from questions like this, even the crew at MRH seems baffled.

Looked at my installations using the older Shinohara switches and I don't see why some of them are working... but they are. Isolating the frog with four gaps seems like a good move.
t4p.



Date: 11/19/22 14:02
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: SPDRGWfan

The wire in the diagram isn't connected to the frog.  It's connected to the point rails.  Maybe that is the problem.  I have Peco turnouts and they have a wire connected to the frog, for exampe, that is the wire that connects to the frog juicer.



Date: 11/19/22 16:18
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: Jeff_Johnston

Yes, the wires are connected to the frog. Shinohara switches are completely different that Peco.

Jeff



Date: 11/20/22 15:59
Re: Hex Frog Juicer professional or expert needed ...
Author: JUTower

That crossover on the right could be the problem if you don't throw the two switches at exactly the same time.  Your repeated statements of "there's no problem because locomotives work" would not hold true if the crossover was mismatched ("out of correspondence") because you wouldn't be operating a locomotive through there.  So it could be the case that if you're throwing those switches one at a time, you are creating a temporary short due to the lack of gaps on the crossover.

Incidentally, I was full of similar confidence over an issue with a PSX-AR auto reverser which I fried and replaced, to no avail.  Eventually I ripped everything apart and rewired, discovering that I had a feeder miswired.  It didn't cause problems for locomotives operating over it but it did prevent the AR from operating properly.



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