LIVE OR IN­SU­LATED?

Model Rail (UK) - - Workbench -

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.

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