LIVE OR INSULATED?
The frog is the ‘V’-shaped arrangement where the rails of the diverging routes split. This is why it’s also known as the ‘vee’. There are two types of frog in model railway terms, insulated and live. Peco’s brands Insulfrog and Electrofrog are often used to describe the two types. Insulated frog points have a small plastic insert for the frog and there is no complicated wiring involved. All that’s required are two track feeds, one to each of the outer rails. The point blade will conduct power through the point with two wire links fitted underneath the frog to the exit rails at the heel end of the point. The beauty of insulated frog points is that they automatically route the power, electrically isolating the track that isn’t selected. DCC users can get around this by simply adding power feeds to the tracks beyond the point. The downside is that the insulated section across the frog can reduce the running quality in some locomotives and, at worst, cause short wheelbase locomotives to stall. They can interrupt the DCC signal for digital users. The alternative is the live frog point, where there is no insulted gap. The whole crossing ‘vee’ is metal, with no plastic insulated section. Running quality is much improved, but you must bear in mind that electrical power has to be provided to the frog, and insulating gaps must be added. This has created a perception that there’s a black art to wiring live frog points. But there isn’t, and what follows should bust those myths.