FRIENDLY FROGS

Model Rail (UK) - - Workbench -

There’s a com­mon be­lief that you need to make points ‘DCC friendly’. This is a bit of a mis­nomer, as a more cor­rect de­scrip­tion is to make a point ‘elec­tri­cally friendly’, re­gard­less of whether you use digital or ana­logue con­trol. What this refers to is the ac­ci­den­tal con­tact that may be made be­tween the back of the wheel flange and an open point blade, where the open point blade is of the op­po­site rail po­lar­ity. If your wheelsets are prop­erly ad­justed, then this shouldn’t be an is­sue. But if a wheelset does cause a short, this can be prob­lem­atic. The re­sult will be a mi­cro-short. A 12V ana­logue sys­tem has a rel­a­tively slow-act­ing over­load cir­cuit, and trains will of­ten con­tinue to run. A DCC sys­tem, how­ever, has a faster short cir­cuit pro­tec­tion sys­tem and a mi­cro-short will cause the lay­out to shut down. Shorts on both types of track power will also cause pit­ting of the wheel­backs over time. Mak­ing the point elec­tri­cally friendly in­volves cre­at­ing an in­su­lat­ing gap in the switch rail be­tween the blade and cross­ing ‘vee’. The switched part of the blade is con­nected to its ad­ja­cent stock rail, whereas the frog end is elec­tri­cally con­nected to the frog. Peco has made it easy to make its ‘OO’ gauge Electrofrog points ‘elec­tri­cally friendly’. Here’s how to do it:

A Peco SL-E191 that’s been made ‘elec­tri­cally friendly’.

You’ll see that there are in­su­lat­ing gaps in the clo­sure rails of the Peco SL-E191 Electrofrog. If there are none in your point, you’ll have to cut the rails here.

Cut the wire and, hold­ing the in­su­lated end, bridge the clo­sure and stock rails on one side. Ap­ply the sol­der­ing iron and sweat the joints to­gether.

Strip off a de­cent length of in­su­la­tion from some thin, multi-strand wire. Ap­ply flux and then solder, al­low­ing the solder to flow along the ex­posed strands.

With both clo­sure and stock rails linked, you now have to break the wire across the in­su­lat­ing gap. Break the joint with the tip of a scalpel.

Ap­ply flux to the un­der­side of the rail where there are gaps in the web­bing. Then ap­ply small amounts of solder to each ex­posed bit of rail.

Turn­ing the point over, you’ll see the wires that cross the in­su­lat­ing gaps. Note also the gaps in the plas­tic web­bing.

Use the scalpel blade to lift the wire up­wards and then cut it back with a pair of fine-nosed cut­ters.

Re­peat the process on the other clo­sure and stock rails. When they’ve been sol­dered into place, cut back the ex­cess wire.

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