Oct 192014

I spent a good portion of my modeling time this summer modifying and super-detailing three Peco turnouts. I replaced the frogs with Details West #8 Manganese frogs, filed new guard rails, added fish plates and rail braces. The process was fairly simple, but time consuming.


Peco Turnout modified with Details West Frog

Peco Turnout modified with Details West Frog

Unfortunately, my gorgeous manganese frogs don’t work. The Details West frogs appear to conform to NMRA S 3.2 Trackwork Standard Scales, the depth of the flanges are .025″, but the NMRA S 4.2 Wheels Standard Scales allow for a wheel depth of .028″. It appears that wheels are allowed to be deeper than flangeways.

So I have to rip these turnouts out. I’ll replace them with Peco Electrofrog turnouts. I’m super-detailing each one with fish plates, frog bolts and point bolts. The first one has been installed.


Peco Electroforg Turnout

Peco Electroforg Turnout



A long time ago, I purchased a stash of Peco #8 turnouts, just in case I got fed up with trying to make my own. But abandoning this Proto:87 venture would lead me right back to why I diverged onto the Proto:87 course anyway: Peco frogs don’t look like frogs (see post - Frog Frenzy). With making a suitable turnout moving at a glacial pace, and after another frustrating failure last week, I ordered a half dozen Details West #8 frogs to replace those ugly Peco frogs and move the layout along with at least a temporary track while I figure out how to build a suitable turnout.

One lament with this idea would be that I would have to build this temporary track as a standard HO track, while everything else I’m building would be Proto:87. As I ripped out the Peco frog and refitted it with a nice Details West frog, I had the idea to convert the Details West frog to be usable as a Proto:87 frog. To do so, I simply glued a .030 styrene shim to the wing rail portion of the Details West manganese frogs. This shim was then sanded down to not interfere with the flange-ways, and acts to carry the wheel tread from the closure rails to the frog point without dropping into the enormous HO gap. I also removed the Peco guard rails, filed their bases and moved them closer to the stock rails so that they met the Proto:87 Check gauge. If I do another one, I’ll try to make a video or take in progress photos.



Being a locomotive engineer, I look at turonouts every day. And the model turnouts always look toy like. I’ve never really been a rivet counter, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on what was wrong. The first clue was the length of the gaurd rail. The gaurdrail on a Peco #6 turnout spans five ties. The real life turnouts I see at work span 10 or more ties. The next clue was the length 0f the points. The points I see at work span the length of at least one 60″ engine, whereas the Peco #6 turnouts are only a half engine length long.

So, I decided to take some actual measurements to determine real life frog sizes. What an eye opener. I measured four prototype turnouts which will appear on my layout. To determine frog number, I divided the length of the frog by the width as described in the Castskill Archive.These are the results:

  1. Industrial Lead: Frog #14 (L 138″ x W 10″)
  2. Sig 1: Frog #14 (L 136 x W 10″)
  3. Odom Lead: Frog #10 (L 108″ x W 10″)
  4. Sugar Track: Frog #10 (L 108″ x W 10″)
  • sig-1-103
  • sig-1-102
  • sig-1-101
  • odom-103
  • odom-102
  • odom-101
  • industrial-102
  • industrial-103
  • industrial-101

Wow! No wonder the #6 turnout looks like a toy, it’s one half the size of my prototype turnout. So what to do? The largest commercially available turnout kits I’d be willing to use are #9 Proto:87 Superfine or #10 Proto:87 Ultimate. I know building a model railroad is about comprimise and maybe I can comprimise with #8 turnouts, but #6′s are almost completely out of the water for me now.

I waas wondering if I could find a prototype #6 turnout. On a whim I drove out to roundhouse wye at Argo yard and found one of tightest turnouts I could remember seeing. The Argo roundhouse wye switch turns out to be a #8.

  • argo-wye-102
  • argo-wye-103
  • argo-wye-101

Peco Headblock Swap

 Posted by Greg Amer at 1:23 pm  Track  2 Responses »
Oct 232012

Swapping Headblock ties on Peco Code 83 turnouts. Peco Code 83 turnouts come with the headblock ties extending off of the diverging side of the turnout. In this video I show my method for swapping headblock ties so that they extend from the straight side of the turnout.

Peco Headblock Swap

Peco Headblock Swap

Expanding Test Track

 Posted by Greg Amer at 3:23 pm  Track  1 Response »
Sep 292012

I’ve now got two test tracks:

  1. A Peco Code 83 Track, which I installed previously, but have now expanded.
  2. A Micro Engineering code 70 Test Track. Which I’ve just installed.

I’m hoping the test tracks will give me a sense of what I like best. So far, I can say it is easier to work with Peco code 83 track, it’s easier to get the tracks to line up at joints because both tracks slide easily. The Micro Engineering Frogs look better.

Micro Engineering track needs a couple of wiring mods to make it usable. Most notably jumpers from the stock rails to the wing rails. I also added a jumper from the frog in case I ever decide to power the frogs. I also added some Proto:87 frog and point bolt details to one turnout (looks good).

Some things I’d like to try before making a decision:

  • I’d like to try replacing a Peco frog with a Proto:87 frog. (I think this will only work with Electro-Frog turnouts because of the big chunk of plastic that makes up the Insul-Frog turnout.)
  • Building a Proto:87 stores turnout. Either the Superfine or Ultimate.
  • Micro Engineering code 83 turnouts for compatibility with Peco Flex Track.
© 2012 Greg Amer
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