Low-Tech methods of powering a frog?

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KB02

Well-Known Member
As I have been getting into scratch building my own turnouts, I have come across a conundrum: While most of my locos will be able to transverse these manually operated turnouts with a dead frog, it would be good to have them powered. The problem: I'm cheap and on a super tight budget. What are some good low-tech ways of powering a frog on a manual turnout?

I've thought about the little slider SPDT/DPDT switch idea, but with the closing of the local RadioShack, they're availability locally is pretty much non-existent.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
As I have been getting into scratch building my own turnouts, I have come across a conundrum: While most of my locos will be able to transverse these manually operated turnouts with a dead frog, it would be good to have them powered. The problem: I'm cheap and on a super tight budget. What are some good low-tech ways of powering a frog on a manual turnout?

I've thought about the little slider SPDT/DPDT switch idea, but with the closing of the local RadioShack, they're availability locally is pretty much non-existent.
You might try Walthers. I don't have their catalog handy at the moment, but I'd bet there are some slide switches in the electrical section.
 

dave1905

Active Member
I stopped buying electrical switches at Radio Shack when I figured out I could get them at Jameco or Digikey (or thru Amazon) for 1/2 to 1/3 the cost (including shipping).

You can:
- Uses a slide switch to operate the mechanism
- Mount a toggle switch under the layout and use a push rod to operate the switch
- You can get micro switches with lever actuators that can be attached to the throwbar or operating lever to reverse the polarity

Any of those solutions are below $5 a switch all parts included if you buy 10+ switches from a mail order distributor.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
Thanks all. I'm leaning towards the simple switches at this point. I was kind of hoping for something I could just build myself rather that buy, but the DIY options I have seen appear to be beyond my tooling and skill level. (or is that "patience level?" I've got two turnouts built and 4 to go...)
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I would say if you're capable of scratch building turnouts, you're well qualified to do the switching controls. Not pushing them, but why not try a couple of those Caboose Ind ones. When I looked MB Klein had 88 in stock, not likely to run out soon. Club layouts are notorious for being hard on stuff, I belong to one, I'm rough.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
Well, now I'm a little torn. The Radio Shacks around me are closing down. There is one store left on the area (vs a couple months ago there were 5), and now that one is shutting down, too. I stopped in tonight and they pretty much had batteries left. So, I guess on-line will be my source. The CbI ones are more expensive, but they're made for the job. The switches are cheaper and easier, but then I'll have ugly switches hanging out on my layout.

Why am I such a cheap bugger?

Alright, I guess I'll give Caboose Ind. a second look.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
When you're saying the switches (SPDT's) are cheaper, remember they only do half the job by themselves. All they do is change the frog's polarity, they don't move the point rails. If you look at Gene's (post #10) alternative, using spokes and fascia knobs, there is a reversing polarity switch operated by the same rod that moves the points. The object is to achieve simultaneous operation of both actions, something that is desirable to avoid a short circuit if you were to attempt to do those actions separately i.e. switch the SPDT with one hand, while switching the point rails with the other.
 

KB02

Well-Known Member
Actually, I was thinking of this method here:
TrainPhotos010.jpg


But, either way, it kind of becomes a mute point as I placed an order for some of the Caboose industries ones last night after my last post. Why reinvent the wheel, right?
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Actually, I was thinking of this method here:
TrainPhotos010.jpg


But, either way, it kind of becomes a mute point as I placed an order for some of the Caboose industries ones last night after my last post. Why reinvent the wheel, right?
What you have pictured certainly satisfies both requirements, shifts the rails, changes polarity. There is a 3rd requirement I overlooked. It's the need to keep the moving points held reasonably firmly in place against the stock rail that leaves no gaps a wheel flange can "pick", especially when the wheel is travelling towards the point (facing turnout). Might be a bit difficult to accomplish in that illustrations case i.e. rail point held firmly and electrical switch making full contact, without any slack. As you are building your own turnouts, I don't suppose you have, or can, easily provide a sprung locking mechanism to hold the rail in place e.g. as Peco's commercial points do. This is where the C.I. ones have that covered also, with a throwbar locking spring included.
 

gregc

Apprentice Modeler
here's a reliable approach to consider from the Pacific Southern.

there's a yellow dowel protruding from the block on the left that extends thru the facia. It is moved left/right (vertically in the photo). The block pivots on the screw near the top. The advantage of a toggle over the slide switch is that it locks into position while a slide switch relies on friction.



The wire extending thru the top of the photo connects to the turnout torque wire in place of the push rod in the image below. The toggle switch above serves the purpose of the spring below

Turnoutcontrol.jpg


I would think the aluminum pivot arms could be replace by a scrap piece of think sheet (plywood, luan, masonite) and all three components: the block, switch and pivot mounted on a piece of luan built on a workbench and mounted under the layout with a couple screws. the wire coupling to the turnout torque can have v-bend allowing its length to be adjusted.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
As you are building your own turnouts, I don't suppose you have, or can, easily provide a sprung locking mechanism to hold the rail in place e.g. as Peco's commercial points do.
I do remember seeing a Youtube presentation on making locking springs akin to those on Pecos, somewhere in the past. Perhaps google it?
 




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