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BCDR
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I'm using code 100 track on my modular HO layout (that's the standard, ostensibly to accommodate pizza-cutter wheels and accompanying tread widths of old dinosaurs with wheels and motors). Code 100 corresponds to about 150lb rail, suitable for main line freight running, so it's reasonably prototypical. The standard allows code 70 for branch line work, more to my liking, and no dinosaurs allowed. It's been a few years since I used code 100 track, so after some reviewing (armchair and real layouts) of the choices over here  - Atlas, Peco, Micro Engineering, and Shinohara - I settled on Micro Engineering as their flexitrack is available with weathered track and ties (sleepers), and the ties are a lot thinner than those from Atlas and Peco (less ballast, less weight). It also stays put when bent. I have a gantlet bridge in the plans off the main lines, that one will be hand-built.

The downside is Micro Engineering do not do code 100 turnouts. Atlas and Peco code 100 turnouts do not look good next to the Micro Engineering flexitrack (they stand out like sore thumbs actually). Shinohara code 100 points can be got as NOS with a wide range of frogs (#2-#8), and types (LH, RH, wyes, single and double cross-overs, slips), and their ties are a very good match to the Micro-Engineering ones. Downside is that they are decidedly DCC unfriendly (I'd go so far as being downright antagonistic). Many a brave soul has tackled making these turnouts DCC friendly, with some good and not so good conversions being posted on the usual sites. The tools required are basic - a Dremel with a cut-off blade (or a jeweler's coping saw will do), soldering iron, and track gauges. Game on!

 An eebygum spending spree got the turnouts (all new old stock, #6 frogs, 3 LH and 2 RH, average price $7.50 (about £5.75) and some Shinohara track connectors (pack of 50 for $8.00). These are essential, more on that as the post develops. The turnouts come in 2 types - the older ones which are the DCC antagonistic ones and require the most work, and the newer ones which are just DCC unfriendly. I am going to make a start on the DCC antagonistic ones (3, all LH), the other 2 are RH DCC unfriendly and will come afterwards.

So what's the problem with Shinohara turnouts? Power routing with a vengeance! First photo below shows a #6 LH turnout out of the box. The stock rails are fine, but that's about it. The frog is part of the power-routing, no gaps before or after, the closure rails are continuous with the frog and are way too short, the point rails are connected to each other (twice, once at the switch bar, once at the closure rails). I connected one of these turnouts to some track using insulating joiners at the frog rails, and newer stock with RP-25 wheel treads ran though fine on DC and DCC. However, wide-tread wheels or under-gauge wheelsets (a common problem, especially with metal-wheeled freight and passenger stock) will make sparks fly with DC and short-out DCC.  



 
The figure below shows why these turnouts cannot be used for DCC without modification. Any contact of the wheels on the red stock rail with the black point rail will cause a short. This normally happens at the stock rail-closure rail junction. OK with those old pizza cutter wheels, open frame motors and DC power, just adds to the excitement with a momentary jerk. For DCC power it's a short and some interesting comments and looks from your fellow modelers as the block shuts down momentarily. This is probably why Shinohara used such short point rails to keep this problem to a minimum. Switch the points and it's the same problem in reverse. Electrical continuity depends on a good contact between the point ends and the stock rails, as well as between the closure rails and point rails, the latter of which is a sliding contact under the rail foot. Both of which are a definite no-no for DCC operation.



That's the background, design changes in the next post, then on to cutting, soldering and rewiring.

Nigel


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I do like Micro Engineering track - lovely stuff.

Atlas turnouts from what I've seen are execrable - unless they've changed their tune over the years.

I quite like the look of Peco code 83, but, despite being designed for NA track, doesn't seem very common.  Most NA layouts that I've seen (not all that many to be sure) tend to use Peco code 100 with Atlas plain track.

Code  100 is so yesterday.  I recall a discussion that we had at the club as to whether the new layout should be code 100 or 75.  Code 100 was decided upon because some members thought they might have "dinosaur" stock.  In the event, no-one's stock was so old that it wouldn't happily traverse code 75 track.  The branchline, you will recall, was code 75, with hand built turnouts.

I suppose the Shinohara that you've pictured will look OK when painted but the heel looks clumsy.

The common crossing can be isolated by cutting the rail just before it and wiring for DCC.  Doesn't seem too difficult to me - unless I'm missing something. 

Did you consider making your own turnouts?

John

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Hi John,

In reverse order:

Yes I did consider making my own using code 100 rail, decent prototypical frogs can be had from Proto87 (code 83 would be the closest), along with a raft of detail items (scale spikes, plates, fishplates, tie rods). Too many other jobs on the todoit list, and I've only just started modeling again after an enforced break of 3 months. There is one small section with a gant track over a bridge in the plans, rather than modify existing turnouts it's easier to scratch build.

Wiring for DCC is straightforward.

The heel (of the frog) is poor (non-existent in fact). The turnouts would benefit from the addition of Proto87 frogs except I can't get them in Code 100, so filling with low temperature solder or even metal epoxy filler from the hardware store followed by a bit of judicious filing and sculpting may be called for.

Code 100 is still the NMRA standard, and the club follows the standard. I hate to think what would happen if I turned up with code 83 (which I like, although Peco's efforts are very fragile, the spikes are not robust and the rail will pop out if looked at) or (gasp) code 70 (which I prefer) on the modules. Using code 100 does give some leeway for bad ballasting (i.e. up the insides of the rail). We do have a couple of dinosaurs that get brought out at meetings. Ancient coffee grinder brass heirlooms that cannot have the wheels touched. Probably because re-wheeling would be a small fortune even if the wheels were available (quadruple Ultrascale prices at least for a 4-6-2). Oh well, it's only a hobby.

Peco code 100 HO/OO (which is neither fish nor fowl) and Atlas Code 100 still get used a lot. Atlas is a bit too springy for me. Micro Engineering, even in code 100, is the bees knees as far as I am concerned, although difficult to conform to tight radii. The ties/sleepers are not as thick as Peco or Atlas, so a bit of height adjustment is required whenever Micro Engineering meets them.

The sleepers/ties on the Shinohara turnouts are almost the same as those on Micro Engineering flextrack, and that was the deciding factor as I do like uniformity when possible. Peco/Atlas code 100 turnouts just look out of place with Micro Engineering track.

Nigel



 


 

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Yes I know the feeling about to do lists.  I've set myself a long list and even retired, there isn't enough time in the day - that and I do feel the need to rest and unwind after two or three hours working over a hot soldering iron.  The concentration is brutal.

Good news - I was reading my first issue of 0 Gauge Gazette today.  There's an article about how railway modellers may be less prone to dementia than others.  The author puts it down to the requirement to be physically dexterous and the need for intense concentration. 

Anyway, it sounds like you have your pointwork in hand so I will watch with interest .... and stick my oar in when the mood takes me.

John

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Hi John,

Oars to rowlocks it is then (or in this case, blade to plastic and iron to solder).

Nigel

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Plan of work,

The diagram below shows the proposed changes to the Shinohara turnouts. Apart from the work necessary for DCC operation, I've added one more change so that the point blades match those on later models (which are longer).

 

1. Make frog isolation cuts and add  power leads from stock rails to frog rails.
2. Infill frog heel infill with metal epoxy (thanks to John for pointing that one out). Wire frog for polarity changing.
3. Make frog isolation cuts
4. Add power leads from stock rails to closure rails.
5. Remove current switch blades and connector, make good sleeper/tie underneath. Make up longer switch blades and solder ends to new copper-clad sleeper/tie.
6. Remove current tie bar and replace with copper-clad sleeper/tie.

Step  5 may be problematic with what would still be short blades and stiff code 100 rail. Testing will tell. Later Shinohara models use rail connectors soldered to the blades and with a degree of lateral movement on the closure rails (their connectors have 4 fishhead bolts/nuts stamped in, a lot finer than Peco/Atlas/Micro Engineering rail connectors, JLTRT). If that approach is necessary some flexible power leads from the stock to rail blades will be necessary to ensure electrical continuity.

Off to the store to get some metal epoxy, then it's out with the Dremel.

Nigel
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I can't tell from the picture but the point blades look like they may be similar to Peco blades ie pressed metal.  You've already started the thought process by wanting to make the blades longer.  I would consider planing new blades and attaching them to the adjacent rail with a quasi loose heel phosphor bronze strip. 

Code 100 flat bottom rail is pretty hefty so I doubt a (Tortoise) point motor will be able to move an unheeled rail.  It does work with code 75 bullhead though - even code 75 FB.

There is a lot of material.  When I've made code 100 blades, I start with a grinding wheel to get rid of most of the material, finishing with files.  It's more a carving job and art than anything else.  A file with a dead edge is useful to have for this.  I have the EMGS jig for code 75BH but I'm not aware of one for code 100FB.  You might want a rebate in the stock rail too.

For joining the rail to the tie bar, you can solder but fatigue will probably break the joint at some point.  From Norman Solomon, I took away a neat dodge.  Get some brass pins and drill the tie bar (non copper side up) in two places - where you want the inside of the blade to be.  Insert and bend the pin and solder it to the blade web.   It is easier said than done I admit, but perhaps worth a thought.

John

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Hi John,

Shinohara use ground blades, they're substantial bits of gear. Lot better than Peco pressed blades (which should be filled with solder to give them some meat).

Progress today: Isolation gaps cut, blades cut (longer to match the newer turnout) and filed, frog heels filled with 2-part epoxy containing metal filings from the blades, gaps cut in webbing for soldering wires. Shinohara use an interesting "floating blade" on their newer turnouts where the junction between the blade and the closure rails is a rail connector. This is soldered to the blade and is a loose fit on the closure rail. Works fine as long as the tie bar is a reasonably tight fit. I'm going to use droppers on the blades (soldered to the rail connector) to ensure power gets to them. Bit neater than a floating piece of copper-clad.

Next up will be tie bars, and wiring.

Pictures tell the story.

Nigel


Photo 1. Isolating rail cuts made for the frog, heel of frog filled, closure rails shortened, and new, longer blades made. I'm doing a batch of 5 turnouts at the same time.




Photo 2. New blades with floating rail connectors to closure rails. The tie bar is meant to keep them in place.




Frog heel filled with 2-part epoxy containing metal filings. This will be painted rust when laying the track. The rails need a polish with some 1000 emery paper.




Underside of frog with a section of webbing removed to expose a nice convenient blob of solder just right for the polarity wire.


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Wow, that's rapid progress. 

When I had responsibility for wiring harnesses, conductive epoxy was used a lot.  It contained silver particles.  I recall that it was eyewateringly expensive - but then anything used for aircraft tends to be silly prices.

Now the turnout is starting to look more convincing and your mods will improve performance.  Hope the lads in the club are suitably impressed.

John

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A nice conversion there Nigel.
One of my local modelling mates has been converting the Shinohara Code 75 . Uses the tiebar metal but cut to electoral separate the blades and held to the tiebar with very small bolts and uses metal joiners for the blade hinge point like you are doing.
I will see if I can get him to send me photo or two.

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Hi Ron and John,

Thanks.

Not all Shinoharas are the same. The pictures below are the newer version, the latest versions in code 83 and code 70 are DCC compliant. I have 2 of these newer ones, not so much work as the 3 older ones. Something to watch out for when buying old stock - make sure it's the black box, not the red one.



First thing to note is that the connecting bar at the junction of the point blades is gone and the connection with the closure rails is now with a rail joiner. There is still the connecting bar at the points, so good old power-routing is still in force. Usual cuts around the frog, copper-clad tie bar and appropriate wiring will get them DCC compliant.




This a close-up of the rail joiners, being used here as a pivot for the point blades. Conductivity is of course questionable as it's a dirt-trap, the contact between the point blades and the stock rails is still the real connection. The plan is to attach some flexible wire droppers to the underside of the connector. Nice idea to have bolt head/nut impressions stamped in, saves on fishplates. I snagged a bag of 50 on eebuy gum for $8.99.

 

 
Shinohara's idea of a locking spring - a brass piece under the connecting bar that is supposed to latch under the foot of the rail. I simply ground off the rivet with the Dremel to free everything up.




Underside of the point rails. The rail connector is soldered on. Plenty of room for a connecting wire.




And finally the topside of the rail joiners. The ends have been slightly flared to give about 0.5mm rotation around the ends of the closure rails, so putting the wire about half-way down under a tie will need around 1mm lateral movement (i.e., a 2mm diameter hole in the tie and track bed should be enough with stranded wire.

Nigel



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Better looking but you've spotted some weak spots.  There does need to be a wire jumper between the blades and closure rails - easy to fix at this stage, far more difficult once everything is ballasted.  I'm with you and agree that you shouldn't rely on the blade sliding joint for conductivity.  

This was a big bugbear of mine with Peco points.  I had the hinge of one of my code 75 Peco points fail and had to solder the blade to the closure rail.  The Tortoise had the muscle to move it though (0.032" steel wire).

John

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Hi John,

I had a (subjective) look at what it would take to move an unjointed, fixed switch blade in code 100. The Tortoise may be up for it, the plastic ties are not. Methinks a few (actually a lot) of copper-clads would be required to keep everything in place. Longer blades help of course, but it looks rather odd. Code 100 rail is a lot more rigid and resistant to lateral movement than code 70/75 rail (and a lot harder to bend to shape, I'd hate to do a #4 turnout, these #6's are bad enough). After this quick bit of investigation I'll be going for droppers from the rail joiners as planned. As you say, relying on switch blade contact with the stock rail is not good enough for DCC and the Shinohara rail joiner joint is not intended to conduct current (and will wick paint at the slightest opportunity).

I've come across methods using springs, soldered pins, soldered bolts on the rail in threaded copper-clad (drill and tap the copper-clad, insert cheese-head bolt, solder rail to bolt head), sliding contacts with copper-clad, the list is legion. A lot of this falls into the "just because it can be done doesn't mean it should be done" category. I think 2 vertical and flexible wires is actually the simplest and most robust, and gives the least mechanical resistance for the motor. Solid copper cored wire soldered to the rail connector and dropping vertically would also work as the rotational arc is very small. Connect to the power bus using flexible stranded wire.

Nigel

 

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Agree about code 100 rail - it really is huge.  This comes home when using it to build turnouts, no finessing just carving a great deal of material.

I'll be building C&L code 75 BH turnouts for my layout (whenever that happens :roll:) so your experience with the tiebar might help.

John

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Hi John,

Code 100 is tough to bend, you're right, no finesse required. I've been using Atlas code 100 for the new switch blades, and have had some nagging doubts about it. The profile is not exactly the same as Shinohara code 100, the head is slightly wider and taller and presents a distinct step where the 2 meet. Getting Shinohara flex track just for the rails means buying a pack of 10 (a $75 ouch) as nobody seems to have single pieces available. So I ordered a piece of bridge track from my favorite hobby shop for $6, which has a guard rail as well as the stock rails (3 x 20" pieces of rail, which would be almost the same as 1 piece of flex track). Should be enough there for the blades (3 turnouts). Should arrive Tuesday or Wednesday so I'm taking a break until it gets here.

Luckily Shinohara code 75 flexitrack is readily available for the turnouts that I will also need to convert (5 in total). Plus that double cross-over needs converting to DCC operation.

Nigel




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BCDR wrote:
Luckily Shinohara code 75 flexitrack is readily available for the turnouts that I will also need to convert (5 in total). Plus that double cross-over needs converting to DCC operation.

Nigel




Nigel, you should should ask Max about the "fun" he had with the double crossover by Shinohara  and DCC !
  But then he may reply himself as he reads all posts.

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I'm still having counselling, but I can talk about it now.  :lol:

I bought two Shitohara double crossovers for A$100 each.

Somewhere I have a photo of them after I cut them up with the tin snips.

They are complete rubbish.

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Hi Max,

Why am I not surprised. I was waiting for this one. Shinohara Code 10O track is not fine scale, but it's a lot closer (and I do mean a lot) than Atlas or Peco Code 100 track with their over-dimension ties/sleepers and non-prototypical spacing. Closest I've found is the track from Micro Engineering. I'm between the devil and the deep blue yonder here, NMRA still says Code 100 for modules, my club is 100% NMRA with a lot of grandfathering (and grandfathers), so code 100 it is. I'm using Micro Engineering flex track, which has scale ties/sleepers and a decent profile to the rail. Which then raises a bit of an issue, Atlas/Peco turnouts do not match Micro Engineering track (to me they look awful together, anybody who says they look fine after ballasting and weathering is being generous or maybe needs a visit to the optician), plus shimming is the order of the day because of the difference in tie/sleeper height. Micro Engineering do not do turnouts in Code 100. Shinohara turnout ties and rail match Micro Engineering, so it's a no-brainer what the combination of track needs to be.

Their turnout design is interesting. The original approach from what I've read was to get rid of gaps in the rail so that it looked more like the real thing. Which is only reasonable if it's power routed from tip to tail. As I've said previously, OK for DC, not so good for DCC. Shinohara's Code 100 turnouts are actually more robust than those from Atlas or Peco, and it's not a lot of work to get them DCC compliant.

Now onto those "rubbish" crossovers. I've got a Shinohara #6 double crossover in Code 70, which works fine as is with DC. Making it DCC compliant is just more cutting/wiring, and frog juicers will eliminate much of that (with or without power routing). The two frogs that look as if they're insulfrogs are not, There is a live section of track exposed with opposite polarity to the crossing rail, it's a potential short area. Easily addressed by fully isolating the frogs  Mine is the intermediate one with the rail joiner connections between the closure rails and the point blades. The tie bar connection at the points needs removing and replacing with copper clad, more for appearance sake than anything else. It's one of those cases where power routing actually makes more sense than independent, live circuits. Given that frog juicers are now quite happy with power routing, it's a viable option with minimal changes. This is for the home layout, and I know my stock (including locomotives) is at the right gauge and there is plenty of space between the point blades and the stock rails for my semi-fine scale stock wheels.  Not something I could guarantee with the modular club.

I've already been over the track with the meter to identify potential short areas (in addition to the obvious ones). These two highlighted in red are the worst (there are a couple more minor issues):



What look looks an insulfrog is far from it - there is a naked bit of rail in the middle.



 One of the "insulfrogs" magnified. The wheel on the red rail is supposed to ride over the black rail (opposite polarity) when crossing the frog. Hmm. Bit of use and some wear on the plastic frog tip or some pizza-cutter rims - sayonara! Isolating the 2 frogs by cutting the rails before and after and using a Frog Juicer with the as-is power routing would be the obvious way to go. Or simply grind the rail down and fill with epoxy, although the guard rail/stock rail opposite is also a problem area. This one cost me $20, current retail is around $60, an afternoons work and two single juicers for around $23 (which I'd need anyway), job done.

Now with a bit of careful snipping you can get 2 single cross-overs out of a double cross-over, but Shinohara do perfectly good left- and right-handed single cross-overs, so no contest there either.

Careful analysis shows these turnouts are not "rubbish" (very bad; worthless or useless), far from it. They're a good compromise between prototypic dimensions and robustness. One questionable design element (presumably for structural stability) in my book is no justification for binning it, especially when it's easily corrected. I'm almost tempted to get some code 70 frogs from Proto87.

Building a double cross-over from regular turnouts and a regular piece of cross-over is of course feasible, but at almost double the length. If I can get an old Shinohara double cross-over in code 100 at a reasonable price it's going in a club module. Useful piece of gear when it comes to switching trains from one track to the other. Double track here doesn't mean "up" and "down" lines. The direction often depended on gradients and traffic.

One man's meat...

Nigel

 






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Code 100 scissors crossover using Peco Code 75
http://yourmodelrailway.net/view_topic.php?id=14142&forum_id=6#p256860
not for the faint hearted.

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Hi Ron,

I read it some time ago. If I want to preserve the geometry and the 2" track centers I'm looking at a 9.5° diamond crossing, and those are long (and far and few in Code 100). Plus I'm mixing Code 100 and Code 75. And it's Peco ties/sleepers (which I'm trying to avoid). Easier to go with a Shinohara, warts and all, and spend an afternoon fettling and grumbling. Project for the future.

Now if the NMRA decided to modify the HO module standard...

Nigel

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I've got an idea that mine were Code 83?  Can't be sure - it's all a blur.  :lol:

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Hi All,

I made a start on the more up-to-date #6 turnouts this morning. I used 4mm copper-clad from C+L Finescale as the throw bar, it fits quite snugly between the retaining ties. There is a reason for this. I normally ballast the top of the tie-bar between the rails and outside of the stock rails, and will be adding 2 cosmetic round tie bars between the blades after ballasting and painting. 

The copper-clad was given a very light wipe with #800 sandpaper, followed by a degrease with 91% IPA, and was held in place with masking tape on the bottom. I marked the outside position of the switch blades (the stock rail contact side) with a graphite pencil to stop solder from wicking through. The Shinohara metal connector was then desoldered, and the inside web and bottom the rails was cleaned as above. I soldered up keeping each blade next to its stock rail using 145° solder (Carr's) and organic flux. An insulating groove in the copper-clad was made with a small triangular file. This was checked with a multi-meter to make sure the sides were isolated. I also made sure that a bogie with pizza-cutter rims rolled through without bouncing on the bead of solder. The keen-eyed will note that the RH solder blob needed a smidgen taken off the top.

Completed tie bar.




Close up showing graphite barrier (light grey strip) on the outside of the RHS blade, and insulating gap on the LHS in from the rail. This leaves the center free for a hole if I decide to use stall motors in the future (which will mean another isolating cut on the RHS). Might as well do that tomorrow. The current plan is to use manual throw-switches with inbuilt frog polarity switching (Caboose Industries).




These later turnouts are DCC ready in that there are grooves in the underside of the ties/sleepers for wiring (closure rails and frog exit rails). I cut gaps for the wires, which will be bent to an [-shape, tinned and soldered to the underside of the rails between the ties/sleepers (shown in last photo). My smallest soldering iron tip is way too big for those tiny rectangular gaps, and if I cut the webbing i can move the ties/sleepers at risk out of the way. One tip I've come across is to cover the ties with wet kitchen towel to keep heat exposure down. Not sure about that, I'll experiment tomorrow on some old rail. 





The Shinohara code 100 3-rail bridge track arrived this afternoon, very new stock, immediately stripped down to the rails and ties/sleepers. Exact match for the old rail. I'll make a start on the blades for the older #6's tomorrow, and hopefully get everything wired up.
 
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Something else learned from Norm Solomon is the insulating gap should be made by using a cutting wheel to scrape away the copper.  By filing the gap you've introduced a stress riser where the tiebar can break (and I've seen it do that).  I know it's conventional practise to do this - just sayin'.

The gap should be filled, it remains quite noticeable even after painting.

Ain't I just full of great wisdom?  Or just a smarta*se.

John

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MaxSouthOz wrote: I've got an idea that mine were Code 83?  Can't be sure - it's all a blur.  :lol:
Hi Max,

Could be, Shinohara do code 70, 83 and still do code 100. Code 83 is now sold exclusively by Walthers as their own brand. Production in Japan is in batches, so it's either feast (lotsa stock) or famine (back-order) regarding new stock availability. Next shipment is due in the shops October/November. New stock is decidedly more DCC friendly than the old. Walters Code 83 is sold as DCC friendly with isolated frogs and jumper wires installed. Their code 83 #6 double crossover is only $99.99. :roll:Isolated frogs and jumper wires to make it DCC friendly. I can do that for nothing on my $20 code 100.

Their HO/narrow gauge dual track is a real temptation to get back into narrow gauge. Cheaper than Tillig and a lot better looking.

Nigel
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Hi John,

You've raised a good point. It's piqued my interest.

I've come across the grinding method and have given it a try a few times. Could be me, but there is often delamination of the copper from the base material with the Dremel and a grinding disc. It generates too much heat, and has an effect on the base. It gets hot enough to melt it, which is around 180°C if it's one of those polyimide base compositions, and the copper laminate detaches or reseals improperly. We've all had this happen with a too-hot soldering iron or repeated soldering*. I know the idea is to remove just the copper and leave the base intact, but doing this by hand with a Dremel and grinder disc is going to be hit and miss unless a jig is used to control the depth of cut.

In the past I've always filled that gap with epoxy to get rid of the groove. Remember I said I would normally ballast the top of the tie? I can see where a lot of vertical stress is going to cause a fracture, but most of the stress is lateral compression/expansion. I'm not that convinced that a groove cut through less than 5% of the thickness is going to lead to catastrophic failure. Half-way through I would concur. I know that with a groove this deep I have difficulty snapping the copper-clad with my hands, and that's about 50-60lb of force.

Like a lot of things in this hobby there is often a lot of hearsay and not enough hard data. In this case position of cut, depth, and vertical force required to fracture. Do you know if Norm Solomon really evaluated this or is this "his way"? Wright Track 10?

Which also begs the question, how much weakness is introduced by drilling a hole in the middle to accommodate a stall or solenoid motor wire? A 1mm diameter hole would be 25% of the width removed, even more if 3.5mm width copper-clad was used, leaving 1.5mm either side to take the stress. I would have thought this would be a lot more damaging than a light groove to one side.

 I'll think about generating some hard data.

Nigel

*One of the reasons to solder first , cut the isolation groove afterwards.


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Well you're only supposed to scrape it lightly which shouldn't generate much heat.  Epoxy fill might mitigate the weakening effect of the notch.

You are right I have the Right Track video which is where I saw Norm doing this stuff.  BTW, it is worthwhile for everyone to watch because he does get into installing Peco track as well as showing how he does the handbuilt.  He and Tony were tracklaying on Little Bytham.

Again, you're right, drilling a hole for the point motor pin also weakens the tiebar although perhaps not as much.

The tiebar does see relatively high stresses compared to the the static timbers.

On the other hand, if the tie bar does break it can be replaced in situ.

John 

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Hi John,

In the interests of objectivity I did do a few comparisons this morning of grinding versus a triangular file cut.

C+L Finescale 4mm copper-clad (copper on both sides).
Markway 3.5mm coper-clad (one side only, old material).
Dremel at the lowest speed (5-8,000 rpm) with a 3/8" diameter/1/8 inch grinding wheel (the green one, fine stone).
Triangular file (fine cut).
A source of force - my hands, so this is subjective. Needs a proper lab with calibrated equipment to measure the shear force properly. I'll see if the local community college would be interested.

So, what did I find?

1. It's easier to control the depth of cut with a file than it is with the Dremel. Both would benefit from a jig if doing a lot of work.
2. There is definite copper delamination around the edges of the grind area using the grinding wheel. None with the file.
3. With double sided copper-clad resistance to snapping appeared to be slightly better with filing than with grinding. (I did 10 of each, alternating between the 2 methods).
4. Single sided copper-clad snapped very easily with both methods. Again, resistance was slightly better with filing than with grinding. This was old material, and the composition of copper-clad substrate has improved dramatically over the last 5 years.
5. Cutting a deep groove in the copper-clad (50% of the thickness) made for a nice snap-line and very little resistance. As expected, it's how we snap copper-clad strip (that or the Xuron cutter).

Conclusions:

1. This is another one of those old-wives tales. If the file cut is made just through the copper-clad it's stable. Go deep and it becomes susceptible to shear force. This is where the contention that cutting through the copper-clad with a file leads to instability comes from.

2. It takes very little practice to get a cut just through the copper with a file. Make a jig to get it reproducible. The action of the grinding stone affected the stability of the substrate just as much as putting a small cut with a file.

3. Double sided copper-clad is probably more stable than single sided (although that would need a head-to-head with new stock of the same width to confirm).

4. Use new material, not old stock. The core polymers have improved dramatically over the past few years, and are now more heat and stress resistant.

5. If a gradual transition from copper to core is desired for cosmetic purposes, use emery paper and feather in the gap. Otherwise fill in with 2-part epoxy.

6. Put the gap as far as possible to one side of the tie, and as far away as possible from the hole if using switch motors.

I'll stick with the file, as far as I can determine the structural integrity is as good-as or perhaps even better than when using the grinder. Safest way would be to use etched copper-clad ties/sleepers. DIY or DCC Concepts (their kits include tie bars). No good for me at the moment as they are OO UK outline. I might get an etching kit and do a few of my own for HO and EM. It's what copper-clad was designed for.

Some photo's below.

Nigel

1. File. Through the copper-clad and less than around 10% of the core.

 
 
2. Grinding wheel. Even using the wheel some 10% of the core is removed.The top LH edge shows some delamination.



3. Depth of cut with file - good. Just through the copper-clad. (It's that tiny white valley on the upper edge).



4. Depth of cut with file, 50% thickness - bad. This will give problems as it snaps easily.




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Ha ha Nigel, you've really made a science project out of this - maybe you should present a paper.

I agree that it is difficult to control the depth of "scrape" with the cutting wheel, probably takes practice.  You also need to watch that there are no shards of copper left. 

Other than that, it is a personal choice as is so often the case.  We all do things that are in our comfort zone.  It's only modelling after all.

John

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Hi John,

Write a paper? No way, stopped all of that nonsense when I retired and filed my CV away for good. Never been happier. Mind you, if I get a positive response from the local community college that could change (or if I rig up a test jig to calculate stress).

As you say, we all go with what we're comfortable with. It really doesn't matter diddly whether it's a file cut or a grinding wheel. It's common sense that a deep channel one third or half-way through the copper-clad will lead to failure sooner or later.

What I have done with the next 3 turnouts is to cut the isolating gaps before I solder the rails up. The Shinohara Code 100 rail I got really ties in nicely with the existing rails, no jogs or steps , and the Shinohara rail couplers slide on a treat. It's a pain to shape the curved rail though. I'll be glad when I move onto the Code 70 turnouts. Hold on though a minute, I'll need some Shinohara Code 70 track...

Nigel

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Brossard wrote: Well you're only supposed to scrape it lightly which shouldn't generate much heat.  Epoxy fill might mitigate the weakening effect of the notch.

You are right I have the Right Track video which is where I saw Norm doing this stuff.  BTW, it is worthwhile for everyone to watch because he does get into installing Peco track as well as showing how he does the handbuilt.  He and Tony were tracklaying on Little Bytham.

Again, you're right, drilling a hole for the point motor pin also weakens the tiebar although perhaps not as much.

The tiebar does see relatively high stresses compared to the the static timbers.

On the other hand, if the tie bar does break it can be replaced in situ.

John 

I think I've watched that one. The look on Tony Wight's face when Norm Solomon dumped a shovelful of ballast mixed up PVA from a large bucket on the track and then proceeded to spread it around like an apprentice brickie on a Monday morning was priceless. As Tony Wright said "Well..there you have it".

Nigel

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Ha yes, dumping ballast onto track and wet glue is a bit slapdash for my taste.  However, the pros do need to find shortcuts to finish the job.  If they did their modelling like we do , they'd be in the poor house.  I'm sure Allan D will confirm that.

John

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Hi All,

Completed the wiring this morning on the newer turnouts The older ones will need grooves cutting in the back of the ties for the wiring using the Dremel at the slowest speed and very gingerly, it doesn't cut so much as melt plastic using a cut-off disc, but it's a lot faster than hacking away with a file. I'll compare with the diamond-coated cutter on some scrap ties and see how that works.

I used 24 gauge tinned wire for all but the switch blade connections. I checked a Peco code 83 I have, the gauge there is 26, so I should be OK re power draw (24 gauge is rated at around 3.5 amp, so unless somebody decides to start an old open-frame clunker on the turnout I should be OK). I used 20 gauge 7 strand wire (3.5 amp capacity) stripped and twisted up for the connection between the rail joiners that are soldered to the foot of the switch blades and pivot on the closure rails. This was to allow a bit of flexibility. I cut a groove in the webbing with the Dremel for the connection. There is just enough flexibility to allow movement of the points without any stress. I gave it a hundred switch movements just to make sure. Still good (although my hand is aching).

The connection to the frog is also 22 gauge and currently naked. This will run through a hole in the baseboard and will get some heat-shrink around it before installation (no naked wires under the board). This will be connected to the ground throw switch.

Apart from filling in the isolating gaps with a dab of 2-part epoxy (and some masking tape on the wheel rim side, which epoxy will not adhere to), and adding some dropper wires soldered to the foot of the stock rails that's it. I checked the continuity with the multi-meter, everything looks good.

Nigel


Photo 1. Exit rail wiring and frog wire.




Photo 2. Closure rail to stock rail wiring. Lingered a bit too long with the iron at the frog.




Photo 3. Twisted wire connections between closure rails and switch blade rail joiners (which are soldered to the blades but not to the closure rails - pivot point is preserved).





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I like that Nigel, very neat.  I like to think of wire gauge as a bit like air ducting.  Start with relatively fine wire near the end, in this case your turnout.  Getting progressively larger until the bus wire is connected.  It's all about total resistance.

John

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Hi John,

Thanks. Not quite commercial standards but it will do. I really must get an iron with a smaller tip for this sort of fiddly work.

Track feed according to the standard is 26-22 gauge, bus is 16-12 gauge. Anderson PowerPoles, which I like, bullet-proof.

Nigel

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Hi All,

Last post on the conversions.

I wired up one of the older Shinohara turnouts this morning after making the switch blades. These are pure DC models, no grooves in the ties/sleepers for wiring, power routing design. I decided against the Dremel with either a cutting disc or a diamond wheel for cutting the grooves - both melted rather than cut the plastic when I did some tests.  In the end I used a small round needle file and straight edge to cut a shallow groove, and then opened  it up with the milled edge of a small rectangular file. The ends of the grooves were opened to the rails up with the round needle file. Took around 5 minutes per turnout. Not as pretty as molded-in slots, but it looks OK from the top (:lol:).

Following a post in the "Tips" thread I've been using damp kitchen towel to minimize damage to the ties from the iron when soldering. Works well, although paper 'Shop Towel" is a bit more robust, and avoids questions such as "Where has all my kitchen towel gone?". Three minor accidents in 5 conversions, both confined to the underside and no structural damage. I did get some spare ties just in case.

These turnouts are now 100% DCC compliant, and the conversions did not take long to do. Only thing left to do is some 2-part epoxy in the frog isolation gaps. They don't affect running, but rail will "creep" with continued use, and the epoxy will minimize this. I'll post separately on that.

Next job up - those Shinohara code 70 turnouts, all power-routing design. More of the same. Plus that Gant track.


Some photos below.

Nigel

Photo 1. The operating theater. Damp shop towel on the bottom, kitchen towel on the top. My wife's in Florida at the moment, no questions about this particular usage. The wedge shaped bit in the middle is the soldered bottom of the frog. The power wire is to the right, with a loop in the end to ensure more wire-solder contact than with a straight piece (twice as much).




Photo 2.  Wired exit tracks and frog.




Photo 3. Closure rail and blade wiring. I've staggered the connections here to minimize the number of web cuts on each tie.




Photo 4. Tools of the trade (plus the 20-45 W iron, Carr's 145° solder, Kester 951 no-clean organic flux, sandpaper, and the multi-meter for checking continuity and isolation). And of course a nice solid piece of wood to work on. It ain't complicated. The blue thingy is my jig for setting the stock rail/point blade gap - 2 bits of styrene sheet with blue masking tape. The pencil is for shading areas where solder is not desired. The Kobalt cutter has heavy duty snap blades, and is a most useful piece of kit for trimming bits off the ties, as is the dart head for cleaning up and generally poking around to see what's going on. The big file is for initial metal removal from the points. The 4-wheel bogie is a Kadee sprung model - most unforgiving when it comes to iffy track, especially point blades and frogs.


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Cracking job Nigel.  Should inspire others.

John

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Hi John,

Thanks, it was actually fun. Almost a production line. These old Shinohara turnouts are an extreme case of power routing and an interesting (for want of a better word) switch blade arrangement on the really old ones. Bit of work and they look as good as the latest "DCC Friendly" ones. For about a quarter of the cost. More money for other stuff.:doublethumb

The only down-side to all of this is I am now out of the cadmium-containing 145° solder. Next packet is the new beryllium-containing one, which is not that easy to work with (and just exchanges one toxicity for another). There is probably some of the old one lurking on eebuygum.

Yes, let's hope others are inspired to ditch those insulfrogs, and wire-up turnouts for proper DCC operation, all rails powered, with isolated live frogs. I must say this was more work time-wise than doing it from scratch, which I might have done if the module standards were code 83 track. Then again, the Peco ones look OK if a bit fragile (the rail has a tendency to pop from those very fine spikes).

Nigel


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What brand is the 145 solder Nigel.  A couple of weeks ago I got a couple of packets of Carrs 145 which works well.  No idea what's in it.

Turnouts can be repaired with copper clad I reckon.  In fact  my first effort at hand built points was to deconstruct old Peco code 100 and use copper clad.  This way I could change the radius.   I still had to make the common crossing.  Good fun.

John

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Hi John,

Carr's 145°. Health and Safety said cadmium vapor was not good (which it's not), so it was changed to bismuth instead (which is also not good, but for different reasons). OK as long as there is adequate airflow and a temperature controlled iron is used. An unregulated one can get interesting as the cadmium combines with oxygen at high temperatures. Any soldering needs adequate ventilation across the work and away from you, never towards you. Al fresco is good. As far as I know it doesn't mess with the ozone layer and the amounts released at proper soldering temperatures are minuscule.

The old Carr's 145° sticks nicely to the tip of the iron (I believe it has a wide temperature melt, the new one drips off as it has a short melt. Both do the same job. May behave better with a decent temperature controlled iron. I keep mine at around 25 W for detailing work, I have no idea what the actual temperature is.

Kester 951 organic flux seems to work well with Carr's solders and brass/nickel silver. Safe to work with a no mess.

Nigel

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I haven't noticed any difference with the new Carrs stuff, it sticks to the tip OK.  I have always been in the habit of cutting off tiny amounts of solder in order to control how much goes on.

I got some Tix flux from Hobby Junction which I like - so much so that I bought a second bottle.

https://www.riogrande.com/Product/Tix-Flux/504097

I like that it's non-corrosive although I do find it still gets up my nose.

Dave also pressed me into getting some Tix solder which I tried and hated.  I'm guessing it's lead free.  I've also got a small bottle of a solution that stops parts from being soldered - tried it yesterday when soldering a nut to brass - works well.

I generally set my iron to 350C for 145 solder.  If I have a large surface area I'll crank that to 380C.  I use 300C for low melt, 70 solder - haven't melted anything so far.

John

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Hi John,

It's nice flux - the small amount of zinc essentially gives a galvanized finish. I believe I have some Tix solder and flux in the solder box - just checked yes, still some left. Both the flux and solder are meant for low temperature work (the silver finish that the flux leaves matches the solder and white metal). I like the low temperature solder as it comes in thin rods - just the job for getting into awkward places.

I'd completely forgot about Rio Grande  - I'll give their catalog a peruse.

Nigel


                 

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