Overview of Peco Code 55 Electrofrog switches and DCC

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Hi all- My current layout uses Atlas track and switches with a Digitrax DCC system. I'm unhappy with the engine stall problems as they pass over the Atlas switches. I would like to build a new layout using PECO code 55 track and switches hoping that the electrofrog switches will eliminate the stalls. However, I'm not sure I quite understand the implications of using the electrofrogs switches with DCC. I've seen some websites that recommend not using power routing switches at all with DCC.

Can someone give a high-level overview of the issues concerning electrofrog switches and DCC? Will making any of the modifications suggested by sacrifice the "non stall" benefit of the electrofrog switches?

Thanks, Would greatly appreciate it. Jim

-- James Boyd (jboyd@healthlinkinc.com), April 18, 2001



you didn't say what scale or whether your engines are steam or diesel. So I am answering based on my experience with HO scale, diesel and steam engines. I have both brass steamers and some new non-brass. The brass are typical pickup from the drivers for one rail and the tender for the other. The non-brass are all wheel pickup.

I have numerous code 75 Peco Electrofrog switches. I have not modified them in any way (I have read Alan's pages on mods.) I just make sure that the frog rails are gapped and insulated where they join adjacent track work. All my track has feeders from a distribution bus so there is power to all rails. I do not have stalling problems anywhere with any loco.

I have made the wire to the frog available so I can later ensure that the frog and point rails are reliably powered through switch machines but at present I haven't got that far in construction.

So there's my $0.02 worth. Hope it helps.

Dale Gloer

-- Dale Gloer (dale.gloer@sympatico.ca), April 18, 2001.

Part of the problem with the Atlas track switches is that electrical connections to the point rails are not consistently good. As loco wheels pass over the switch the point rail wiggles and can loose electrical contact where the rail point touches the outer stock rail, and/or at the swivel rivet joint where the point rail is broken. This dead piece of rail can happen regardless of how you power or do not power the frog. This is not an insulated frog problem, and will also occur with standard DC throttles.

The fix is to solder a flexible feeder wire across the rail gap where the point rail begins to swivel as suggested to make them 'DCC Friendly'. I've also seen the hidden connection between stock and closure rails open. For best results, solder a feeder wire jumper from each stock rail to both the respective point and frog closure rails. If you have insulating rail joints at the spur end of the switch, provide a feeder conection to both of those rails also.

These problems and fixes are not necessarily limited to Atlas brand switches. Poor electrical connections exist with most other brands as well.

The Atlas code 83 switches are better than the code 100's but still need the above fixes. Code 83's look better and have much less wheel pounding at the frog.


-- Don Vollrath (dvollrath@magnetek.com), April 19, 2001.

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