Newbie Questions on DCC Friendly Track Switches : LUSENET : Wiring for DCC : One Thread

Gonna build my first layout in over 20 years, HO scale, abt 130 feet of track (6x12), leaning toward Digitrax Chief system. Atlas flex track with a whole bunch of Peco Insulafrog(sic) turnouts (abt 32). Now the reason for Peco is 'cause it's "DCC friendly". At this stage, haven't bought any track or switches yet, is this the way to go ?? Looks like just the track and turnouts will cost over $700, so I only got one chance to do this right... thanks guys...

-- Ken Cunningham (, November 10, 1998


Response to More Newbe Stuff


Have you considered building your own track? It is easy to do and is the most friendly track, both DCC and operationally.


-- Mansfield (, November 11, 1998.

Response to More Newbe Stuff


Not ready to jump into laying my own track just yet... heck, I have problems just nailing the commercial track down !! Maybe on the next one...

BTW, what is the problem with code 100 track, just the way it looks ??

The last time I had a layout, Carter was prez !! The price of this stuff today is astronomical, we need a Walmart for model trains...


-- Ken Cunningham (, November 11, 1998.

Response to More Newbe Stuff

Ken, Problem withcode 100 is mostly appearance. One other thing is that there are some real toys in switch work that comes in code 100 and the reliability is less than optimal. Good code 100 trackwork is available and does have the least cost compared to the code 83 and code 70 track. One club I belong to uses the code 100 Atlas flex track and does use the PECO track trunouts. Thsi has proven to be a very reliable operational combination. If you paint the flex track and carefully ballast it, you can mask the appearance considerably and make a really acceptable railroad. Some other tricks include sniping the tie ends randomly just a very small amount to fool the eye into seeing quasi misalignment. See the video on the Franklin and South Manchester (Keller #2) to see some tricks that George does to mask trackwork appearance. Do stay away from the really cheap turnouts in any code. (The Atlas custom line turnouts have a a good reputation as well - but the PECO with the spring loaded throws is a favorite). Do try some handlaying for maybe a demonstration module or issolated corner area. You'll get the hang of it and will really appreciate the costs and appearance. With the right techniques, handlaying becomes a real pleasure and satisfaction. -ed mccamey-

-- Ed McCamey (, November 23, 1998.

Response to More Newbe Stuff

Ken, I have used Atlas Code 100 track and Pico turnouts on most of my layouts in the last 15 years. If the track is painted and balasted most people can not tell the track is oversized. I have had experienced modelers ask what code the track was. The code 100 and the Picos give me excellant operating.

I have had Digitrax installed for over a year on my new layout and have had almost no trouble with the system. Compared to the block wiring jungle I had on my last layout, this looks barren under the bench work. I think your ideas are great.

Keith Shifferd

-- Keith Shifferd (, December 02, 1998.

I've had good luck with Atlas code 83 turnouts. They are relatively inexpensive and DCC friendly. Look almost as good as Peco when camouflaged with balast and weathering. No hidden electrical problems with crossovers or passing sidings. You don't NEED any insulated rail joints unless there is a reversing loop. I have not needed to power the insulated frog. Just make sure that there is a DCC feeder wire on both sides of the t-o so that you do not rely on rail points to carry current. Before installation take the time to examine the point rail hinge and throwbar parts movement. Fix any problems to make operation smooth. Use a small tip soldering iron to mushroom out the head of the point rail to throwbar assembly 'rivet' on the under side so it doesn't come off. I use hand throws, double coil, and tortoise type switch machines, all spring loaded, depending on accesibility, visibility and need for remote control. Ditto for their Mark-3 code 100 turnouts that I use in hidden areas for reduced cost. (Not as good looking in black.)

Walthers/Shinohara c83 turnouts are good looking (great for mainline curved t-o's) and work well but need insulating joints and an external switch or relay to provide rail power switching. The copper contact at the rail points is not reliable.

Pilz t-o's look great but seem to be very fragile. Guard rails are plastic. The rail profile doesn't match Atlas c83 flextrack. So the required insulated rail joints become a hassle. Also needs a strong spring loaded switch machine to flex and hold the point rails, and a relay to power them.

-- Don Vollrath (, March 22, 1999.

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