Atlas 83 with manual ground throws? : LUSENET : Wiring for DCC : One Thread

I have layed out a small yard and service facility comprised of Atlas Code 83 #4 manual switches. For monetary reasons I have been planning on using manual ground throws instead of switch machines, since all of the turnouts are within easy reach.

However, after reading at, it appears that I will have to power the frogs on the switches. Does this mean that I'll need a ground throw AND a spdt to power the frog? Are there ground throws that also act as spdt's?

I'm trying to avoid the expense and wiring complications that will be incurred if I use switch machines throughout the yard.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

-- John DiFrancesco (, September 27, 2001


If your engines are making it over the switches without stalling because of the electrical gaps of the switches, why do you need to wire them?

Bob Guercio

-- Robert Guercio (, September 27, 2001.

Dear John,

Caboose Industries makes a ground throw, #214-S, for this application and it costs about $4.25 each. It is a ground throw with a built in switch containing three metal prongs that you will have to wire to your rails and to the frog on the Atlas turnout. Green Frog did a video in their layout building series discussing the use of these ground throws.

Hope this helps.

-- David F. Butts (, September 27, 2001.

But why is it necessary to wire the frogs if the locomotives have no problem negotiating through the turnouts.

Bob Guercio

-- Robert Guercio (, September 28, 2001.

If all of your locomotives are making it over the frogs without a problem, no, it is not necessary at all to wire the frogs. Those of us running 0-4-0's, frequently 0-6-0's, 25 and 40 ton switchers, and other locomotives that don't have much in the way of power pick-up, usually do have to wire our frogs. To be sure, it would be nice it wiring frogs was not necessary! If you are only running locos that have long wheel bases and many wheels of pick and you don't have any problems with your locos stopping on frogs, by all means, feel free to not waste the money or time to power route your frogs!

Some people might do so anyway. You might not own any 25 ton switchers or 0-4-0's today, but if you ever think you will, then you should consider wiring your frogs.

Could you wait until that came? Sure. No real harm. You have two choices when that day comes. 1. Use the Caboose Hobbies ground throw with the built in frog power routing contacts. You will have to get rid of all the ground throws you bought up to that point. A couple dollars each wasted, but not the end of the world. 2. I don't like Caboose Hobbies ground throw with the built in frog power routing contacts. It's even bigger than the regular ground throw. Check one and out and decide if it appeals to you or not. I prefer to use industrial micro switches. For the person who power routes later, they can keep their original ground throws making the industrial micro switches a slightly cheaper way to go. I just mount the micro switch to a block of wood and screw it under the layout. Then we use a piece of piano wire attached to the turnout to activate the micro switch. One of these days I'll make a drawing of this and put it on my web page. It's tough to describe in words, but it is very simple.

-- Allan Gartner (, September 28, 2001.

Way back when, when I scratch built turnouts, I used to use solid frogs and a little phosphor bronze (scrap trolley wire) wiper soldered on the switch throw that wiped on a pc board tie, with a gap filed in the middle. It would change the polarity of the closure rails which were electrically solid with the frog. It made for trouble free operation, and I could use a narrow gap between the closure rails and the running rail, since they would be the same polarity and there was no danger of a short circuit. It was a pain to do that to all my switches, but I didn't have that many. Incidentally, for switch "machines" I used door latch bolts from a hardware store. I used "squid line" to pull the switch one way, and a strong spring to pull it the other when they were released. They were screwed to the front of the benchwork and were marvelously reliable. (And cheap, which I loved) Good luck, Lloyd Rosevear

-- Lloyd Rosevear (, November 17, 2002.

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