DCC – Program Track – How To Wire In A Siding

DCC How To Wire in a Siding or Stub end track for a Program Track.

With the flip of a DPDT electrical toggle switch, often referred to as a cut off switch,  you can test drive the locomotive or diesel…back onto the layout.     This will solve a lot of frustrations with a Program Track.

This is the easiest thing you’ll ever do and it will prevent a mi-rad of yet undiscovered problems.

You can wire in a siding or a stub end track and set it up as a Program Track.      With the flip of a DPDT  (Double Pole – Double Throw) Center Off Electrical Toggle Switch you can not only program your DCC loco but you can test  drive it.    When you are finished you  can continue right back on to the mainline and it’s next assignment.

Mike Fifer will show you how in this video.    Easy as eating pie.

How to make a DCC Program Track out of a siding on your layout

Today we will show you how to make a DCC Program Track out of a siding on your layout using a double pole double throw switch.
This channel is N Scale but this works in any scale.    Thanks for watching, Mike Fifer.

The only thing difficult about this procedure is to remember how you set the DPDT .     Did I set it to program the locomotive or I did I set it to drive it out and onto the layout.      You’ll figure it out.

More to come from Mike Fifer.    Do feel free to subscribe to his You Tube Channel.


DCC – Wiring In Your Layout

Wiring in a DCC layout, is the simplest thing you can do.   

Ok!  I heard you ask,  “When compared to what?”    How about compared to wiring in Analog DC, Cab A and Cab B?  I think you’ll find yourself thinking,   “A piece of cake”. 

Let’s cover some hot button issues and then jump into what it’s really all about.

Gauge of Wire? The question that seems to be asked more often then not.   What size of wire or better said what gauge of wire do I need to use?     Do I need household sized wire IE.,   12 or 14 gauge wire?    No, you don’t.   What you need is 18 or 16 gauge wire.   If   you must,  you can use a heavier 14 gauge bus wire.     The heavier wires are a bit of an overkill and for most home layouts aren’t needed.     What you need is a bus wire (Not Greyhound), two wires that will run around the bottom side of your layout.      To which you can solder  all your wire drops at equally spaced intervals.     I recommend,  wire drops or blocks that are no longer then  (6) six feet in length.   Or as long as your longest trains.     Wire in a wire drop every six feet and you will be good to go.

Winding your wires? This has been done over the years more for aesthetic reasons as in good appearance.   To include  reasons that havn’t born any proof they really work.  I’ll leave that explanation up  to DCC Guy.    I view it in the same light as some view superstitions or hocus-pockus!   I don’t recommend it.     You will get a introduction to this method in Mike’s Video.   You can then decide for yourself  if winding your wires together,  as illustrated…  is for you.

Bus Wires?   I prefer to keep my bus wires about three inches a part.   Those who originally presented DCC,  kept the wires apart  from each other.    Making it simpler to trace the polarity and wire-in those essential wire drops.

We have two resources for you to tap into.     David Eaton’s PDF and Mike Fifer’s Video how to.    Valuable resources, a must read and video to see, I said expressing my not so humble opinion.   Why do we say humble opinion when there’s nothing humble about it?  Hummmm?

David Eaton’s  DCC Wiring Hints For Better Performance.  

David E. holds  a PhD in Electrical Engineering Mathematics Theoretical Physics.  Over the years we’ve discussed some interesting perspectives to DCC and here in this PDF he shares with a us a must read tutorial.  You can download this PDF and keep it in your personal files for future reference.     Here’s a link to David Eaton’s PDF:  David Eaton’s PDF Wiring In Your Layout

Mike Fifer’s Video:   How To Wire A Layout For DCC.

Mike will help us with the overall fundamentals of wiring in your DCC layout.

On Mike’s Videos he shows us how to add  an excellent short circuit device.   This will aide in eliminating those decoder killing shorts.  Not to forget,  I’ve seen melted down power trucks on my diesels and seen the same thing happen on a friends  layout.  Burned out motors, smoked out decoders, dead locomotives and other anomalies that all beg explanations.    Most often related to and NO thanks to a short.

How to Wire a Layout for DCC

Published on Nov 27, 2015  How to Wire a Layout for DCC

Thanks for watching, Mike Fifer.

My Thoughts:

Mike and I agree on so much that it’s never my intention to argue a point with him.     If it sounds like it,  it’s not meant that way.    Just providing other options that you can choose from.     After all it’s not about him or me it’s about you and the choices you make.

Do I need  DPDT Center Off electrical toggle switches?  Yes and No!    It depends on whether or not you want to shut off power to those locomotives or motors sitting idling as in going nowhere on the  storage or ready track.    Here  you might want   to consider shutting off the power supply to both rails by using a DPDT Center Off electrical toggle switch.    This has it’s benefits.    As in if you have a short on the layout the momentary spike or flash of current moving over the rails won’t be able to invade the decoder and let the smoke out of the components.    Just something to think about.

DPDT Switches – Electrical Toggle switches a tutorial:   Here’s another of those must read resource/tutorials.   It is in a PDF format so once again you can download it to your personal files for future reference.  Here we will be talking about light switches or electrical DPDT toggle switches:    Switches_demystified_assembly.

The above illustration uses a “Common” which shouldn’t be confused with the “Common wire” as in “Common rail wiring”.   Nor should it be confused with a ground…. not the same thing.   The word common is one of the most misused words in the electrical and model train arena.   It would be easier to follow if we talked in the realms of polarity.

When using a DPDT, I prefer to think of the center posts as the hot post, out to the track.    Said another way:     Outside posts to be used for power in  AND center posts for  power out or hot out to the rails / track.

The good news is if you wire in as shown here by the presenters,  it will resolve most issues.

Mike, David and I can help you build, wire-in and  trouble shoot your layout.    You can view Mike’s videos and read what David E.  has submitted and  later you can  bore your self to tears by reading what I’ve  shared here on BarstowRick.com, I said with a  grin!

I admit, I am  rather long winded  on any discussion I present here.   Especially on how to trouble shot your DCC layout.   I do try to keep things simple and down to earth with simple resolutions to otherwise complicated issues.  You are more then welcome to visit any of the How To Posts here on BarstowRick.com.     I can only hope it helps you.

Wiring is it an art project?

Wiring is not an art project and is seldom seen by visitors.        It’s not about how pretty the wiring looks, it’s whether or not it works.

For most visitors it’s what’s topside that is of interest.   The great scenery,  little people, lighted night scenes and automobiles/cars with lights on, the airport where planes actually fly in and out.   With little vehicles running around and planes moving around the tarmac and taxiing in to the terminal.       The little people movers that carry people from one place to the other and…Wait…did we just switch hobbies?     Ok, back to trains.   How about  those gorgeous passenger trains and in some cases those ugly freight trains that show-up and mysteriously disappear to reappear later.   That’s better.

Wiring is never fun and is usually a tedious and mundane exercise in what seems to be futility….until….you finally get around to operating your layout.    Once completed, it has it’s own benefits and rewards.

Go have some fun and let’s get your layout up and running, as in operational!


Let’s Talk – Model Railroad Wig Wags

It’s time we talk!     An open letter to all toy train and model railroad wig wags (magazines).

An Editorial

May 17, 2016

Dear Editors, Columnist, Submitter’s,  Associates  AND My fellow Toy Train or Model Railroad Enthusiast.

Where are we going with this hobby?    What will our favorite wig wags be promoting in the next issue?     “It’s time we talk!”

My family referred to the railroad magazines as Wig Wags or Tattle Tales.     Just thought I’d throw that in here to add some color to our discussion.

Warning:    This post  uhh…err  Open Letter,  will not make some fine folk any to happy with it’s contents.   There again it might!

At the helm (Or should I be saying, Dispatch?)   of a number of toy train and model railroad wig wags are persons who aren’t (are not) toy train enthusiast or model railroaders.     I don’t know about you but that raised my eyebrows and it doesn’t make me any  kind of  happy.

Noted among a number of us toy train and model railroader enthusiasts comments stating,  we are dropping our subscriptions.    Most noteworthy…  and if I say who… I’d be slandering them and that’s not my intent.      It’s called problem identification and what I hope to submit here on BarstowRick.com… is  a resolution.

Examples of problems identified:

I’m a rail fan, model railroader and a fan of using proper terminology and not coining new terminology that is way out there in left field.   There’s plenty of that going on in our world, so much so that we don’t need publishers doing the same thing.    May I point to the advent of DCC.    “DCC Friendly,” now what does that mean?    Now my first impression is it has to be something to do with  “User Friendly”.    Then I went to the coiner of “DCC Friendly,” and discovered what Alan Gartner,  illustrated is anything but user friendly.    It has nothing to do with “User Friendly,” uh humm “Plug and Play”!   To many wires that require soldering to the switch mechanism.    You’ll find my comments here on other posts where I discuss, DCC Friendly Switches.

What I see:   We are leaving…  not only the world of what we’ve all grown to love as model  railroading,  we are also leaving  the real world of railroading  (1:1 foot scale).   Moving outside of what has been considered the norm for toy train and model railroad terminology.   You’ll find the miss-use of railroad and model railroad vocabulary throughout the pages of the wig wags and the printed pages.  Leaving what has been considered to be traditions…for what can be adequately described  as a poor attempt at recreating ourselves.      I prefer to call most of what I’m reading and hearing……stuff.  Ok, perhaps something else but I can’t use that here.   The family show…thing!  You could use nonsense but that’s up to you.

There’s no problem with discussing DCC in it’s appropriate setting but some of what’s out there and printed… is just a bit to much.    I mean, let’s talk modems, interfacing and all the computer mumble jumble and do it in such a way it educates the rest of us who are anything but computer geeks.   I have no problem with that.    Power districts we’ve always known as Blocks.    Consisting we’ve always known as a Lash-Up.    Just some of the things that come to mind quick enough to include here.

Errors in periodicals that never would of been allowed in the past.   Proof reading by an experienced hobbyist would of caught these oops-s.

The old timers in our ranks are shaking their heads and wondering why is this happening?     Asking the obvious, “Whats going on, what’s up, what the #e!!?”   I hear myself asking,  “Whats Changed?”   Why do our railroad wig wags read like Greek?     Translated, something foreign to the language… I use daily.    There’s a point to be made here but I will let you figure it out.

What I keep hearing, is someone is trying to make a name for themselves or leave their mark.     Now  that can’t be a bad thing but at what cost?   Do I dare ask,  “To themselves?”

You’ll find a lot of modelers turning to various toy train and/or model railroad type websites for those hard to find answers to those difficult questions, new product information and in general as their personal resources.    There they can rub shoulders, share ideas and have access to some of the best modelers and hobbyist out there.   And I ask, “Why not?”

Oh don’t get me wrong, the websites and home made video’s  can be a big help.   However, there is so much  bad information mixed in with the good.  May I point to, You Tube and other websites.  Now everyone can be a star.    They too are in need of a little house cleaning.   It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack to find those experienced and/or qualified presenters You-tube video’s that provide the kind of information one needs.     Especially when you are looking for the best advice out there.  One of the reasons I started BarstowRick.com.      One of the reasons other video information websites got their start.   The reason friends of mine started their own  websites or blogs.     You can find many of the old timers (like me),  those willing to help another hobbyist, right here on BarstowRick.com.    Along with some newbies that have caught on and are doing a great job of presenting How To’s.  Those who  share the same love for the hobby, as do I.


Perhaps to the editors a bit of advice.    Revisit the wig wags of yesterday and the articles once promoted in those pages.    Let’s trim out the use of terminology that just doesn’t fit in and get back to being the  toy train and model railroad enthusiast we once were.   You know before everything was scrambled like the eggs… I had this morning.


I’m tired of the, “DCC Friendly,” cow pies.    Let’s not overwork “DCC Friendly” when it has nothing to do with “User Friendly.”  Go back and revisit Alan Gartners DCC Friendly Switches and it will be obvious this has nothing to do with “User Friendly”, as in “Plug and Play.”    What he illustrates is not easy and is anything but plug and play.    Actually a spin off on what’s been done to solve problems with our switches… that’s older then I have been around.     A  long, long time.

Let’s see more scenery How To’s as compared to how to dissect a “Turnout”    Uhh…err…a “Switch.”  GRRRRR!

Good News Update:   I might add here someone is not paying attention.    You won’t believe what Peco has been up to and what that will mean for DCC operators.     The newest run is truly User Friendly and Friendly to DCC.

Here in BVMR aka Bear Valley Model Railroad land we have a new layout under construction by one Mr. Russ Greek.     He is installing the newest run of Peco switches and they are going in without any problems or shorts.    I’d say a truly, “User Friendly” switch that is “Friendly” to DCC and/or DCC Safe!

Let’s call things what they are in the world of railroading and get off this,  “I call it syndrome.”

Suggesting articles on  How To scratch-build the Barstow Santa Fe train station or other railroad track side buildings.    More electronic How To articles, as submitted by the engineers who manufactured them.     Turn to the pro’s and not the wanna be’s.       Do I dare say, a good place to begin.

There’s way to much to list here and I will let the editors and authors plow through the mess they’ve made.    Time for some housekeeping, don”t you think?.


What can we do to resolve the problems?

Let’s not sweep under the rug, the work we’ve put in to establish the hobby of model railroading or even today’s toy trains.     Let’s DO perpetuate the values of the past.

So what can YOU, the toy train enthusiast or model railroader do?     Vote with your wallet.    It’s amazing how sensitive editors and toy train manufacturers can be to the almighty dollar.    Although, not as almighty as it used to be.    But that’s another discussion for another time and place.

Sorry to say, until then don’t be looking for a subscription from this hobbyist!  I can’t afford my own subscription and until recently I’ve halved the cost with a fellow hobbyist.    We both agreed this isn’t what we are looking for or what we expect from the editors of our choice of favorite wig wags.    Not worth our hard earned dollars.    Cancelled!

The wig wags today look like pamphlet’s, compared to yester years booklets.     Never mind the price increases   And what happened to all the mail order websites, asked a good friend of mine?   In his words,  “I don’t use a computer.”         Aiiyiiyii!

Agree with me?    You do?   I didn’t see that coming.    Let the editors of your favorite wig wag know.   Vote!    Your wallet is a good place to start.   Now for those of you who don’t like what I shared here… you won’t mind if I run and duck for cover?

Take what you can from any resource available and of course you have the choice of leaving behind what you don’t like.    It will and always has been a choice thing.     Exercise your choice!

Make your choice and make your voice heard.   But don’t do it by tipping over a train car, burning someone’s layout down or destroying someone Else’s property.    Gosh what are we thinking?

Now let’s get back to railroading in the best sense of the word.   Yes!   I thought you’d agree.


Your fellow Model Railroader,   Uhh…Err… Railroad Modeler


Edited add on 3/9/2017:     Since I wrote this editorial I’ve noted that things have changed up in the model railroad wig wags.     There’s still room for improvement but I’m applauding what I see.

You never know who might be lurking about BarstowRick.com.




Layouts – Built For Friends

Layouts – Built For Friends, Family and Perfect Strangers.

Over the years I had the privilege of building some unique train layouts.    It gave me a chance to hone my skills, establish my own building rhythm and  learn some lessons the hard way.   Some have been fun to build.   While others presented various problems and some serious challenges.   It wasn’t always easy to get everything the owner wanted into or onto the layout.    Never mind owner proofing the layouts.

Keeping in mind not everything about Toy Trains and Model Railroading is “Fun.”      It can be a challenge.   Just so happens I love challenges as well as complicated layouts.    Although, what you are about to see doesn’t always represent the above thought.

The following N and HO scale layouts operate on Analog DC.    The O and S scale layouts operate on standard AC.     Anyone of these would of been an easy conversion  to today’s DCC.

For better viewing or to zoom in, you can click on the picture to see a larger version.    Don’t forget how to get back..    You know the box thing and click on the arrow or “Back”…to get back here.

The Kentucky Railroad.  

A  N Scale, oval with a double track main.

Kentucky Railroad 0

Kentucky 4

Keep in mind, I was building to the standards set by the owner. He only had room for a roundy-round.    He wanted to finish the scenery. He was pretty sure his grandson and he could choose and construct the buildings.

Dayton Central. 

Here is a small HO Scale  layout with a lot going on and a unique story behind it.

Dayton Central 0

Dayton Central 4

Dayton Central 3

Dayton Central 2

Dayton Central 1

There’s a long story to be told about this layout.   It came together as a result of a last wish type of thing.    I won’t take the time to tell the whole story.    I think you can find it here on another post.

It was fun to build and  I came the closest to finishing it when compared to other layouts I’ve  built.     It had working cross bucks, red flashing lights that alternated back and forth.   I used an alternating flashing unit hooked up to a DPDT electrical toggle switch.    The owner could switch from one set of cross bucks to the other as the train proceeded around the layout.     The buildings are not glued down so the owner could move them around at his pleasure.     I was told this was one layout that was consumed by a little boys JOY!    My kind of kid.

The  Cherokee And Southern.

The owner, a clown by profession known as “Rags.”  A Native American and now you know the  story behind the name.    He’s left us for the Big Top… Circus in the sky.   May he rest in peace.

It is a N Scale, Mountain Railroad.   A double main line.  One that ran around the bottom and the other that ran up the grades and around to the top, complete with a helix.    If you asked Rags he’d say “I built it”.    Wish I had pictures of the scenery work he did     Not bad.   The Infamous C&S.

Cherokee & Southern 0

Cherokee & Southern 2

Cherokee & Southern Helix 2

Strictly in the building stage a work in progress.   This layout saw many changes and modifications.

The O&S Rail Link. 

Do you like S and O scale?

I teamed up with Doug Parcel to build this layout.     It is a multi-leveled layout with three rail, O scale running the lower deck and two track S scale running around the upper level.   The buildings seen in the pictures was constructed and detailed out by Doug P., kits with some kit bashing.



The O Scale portion of the layout sports a six track stub end yard to serve as a passenger station.   A Wye, two reversing loops and the main line was basically a single track main with two sidings to hold trains while making a train meet.     Even though it was operated with AC we set-it-up to DPDT, Cab A and Cab B standards.     We could operate two trains simultaneously while in separate blocks.   When it came to track and switches I use Atlas O Scale Switches, sectional track and some Weaver sections.    We even wired in a signal bridge so the signals operated correctly.    Green as the train approached and red as it departed.    Pretty awesome!

The S scale was a two track main with the old American Flyer sharp curved switches making up a crossover.    We had one stub end track.  It to was set-up with DPDT,  Cab A and Cab B standards.

I did make a video but it’s to-ooo long to put on You Tube.   Scenery was well on it’s way but not completed at the time it was torn down.    See Rick’s Lament should you be curious about the outcome.

I’ve been involved in helping others, trouble shooting various layouts and acting as an idea guy.    There are plenty of know it all’s out there and authoritative types that really don’t know what they are talking about.    The idea here is to recognize the difference, to capture the ideas you like, learn what you can and then translate all of that into your own train layout or layouts.     Why build just one?

Building a layout, is where the fun is for me.    If I’m not building… I’m dieing.

There are other layouts and I wish I had more pictures but I don’t.    Stuff Happens.

Thanks for the visit.


Track Switches – Let’s Talk

Track Switches – Let’s Talk

What is there to talk about?     How about how bad… the pre-fab switches have been prior to more recent times.   Then there’s the dead frogs.   When Power Routed switches became so unpopular is beyoned me.    Those (awful, I said sarcastically) power routed switches.  They will always be popular with me.   Just what I’ve been looking for.

FYI or as we used to say Clarification:

  • For sake of this discussion.  In keeping with the traditions of the U.S.  American Rails, I will refer to what most model railroaders call a “Turnout” as a “Switch”.    There in lies the issue… as in both Switch and Turnout are appropriate in certain settings.   However, they have been misused and misapplied by many a modeler.
  • A simple definition:    You install a turnout and you run through a switch.
DCC Friendly:

Then  there’s the nauseating discussion on going in model railroader circles, about the,  “DCC Friendly Switch… Issue”.  A real circus.    Does everything have to be DCC Friendly?   No it doesn’t!     I cover this exploding issue, pretty well on four other posts.  None of my switches on my layout are what I’d call DCC Friendly, as illustrated by Alan Gartner.

What kind of track switch are you looking for?

Question of the day:   How would you like some superbly professionally crafted  switches?  No shorts, no dead spots and DCC Safe?   Don’t forget like everything else…It’s Going To Cost You!  Let’s vote on this.   Yes, uhh…err…NO?   Your choice.   According to one survey the answer was and still is.  The yea’s have it…barely  51% to 49%.

Digging in:

Over on one of my post here at BarstowRick.com I presented a discussion regarding “DCC Friendly or Not.”   I  discussed DCC Friendly switches to quite some length.  Long winded as I can be.    I prefer to  leave that discussion to stand on it’s own two feet.    As in alone and focus here on the problems we’ve had in the past.   Because, some of those inherent problems are still with us to this day.   Do feel free to visit those postings.

Here we will look at  an assortment of problems to be identified here and how they’ve been resolved.    Sharing with you  my take and favorites regarding track switches.  Focusing on HO and N scale with some minor deviations.

Yesterday and Today’s, Model Railroad Switches.    No   I’m not talking about electrical toggle switches and this is not one of my rants or vents.  Although it would be easy for me to slip into that mode…grrrr!.   

A little history lesson now and then can’t be a bad thing.  

I’ll be talking about track switches and not electrical toggle or light switches. I’ve heard some say a light switch on the wall, is a switch to turn on a light, courtesy of R. Wiebe.   No argument there… yes it is.    

Not to be confused with Track Switches.   I heard some justify the use of “Turnout,” saying, the guys and gals can’t tell the difference between a track switch and a toggle switch.    They can’t?    One look at either one should be obvious and convincing enough.   Gosh, why is that such a difficult issue?  I wouldn’t want that said of me.  To look at one you’d know it’s not the other.   A track switch is not a light switch nor is it a toggle as in DPDT.    Did I hear you right?  You got it?   Good!

We need some workable definitions.   Allow me to  submit the following: 

  • A light switch is something you use to turn on and off a light.  Like the one on your desk. 
  • A track switch is the moveable points in a  diverging mechanism designed to switch one train from one track over to another.
  • A turnout is the whole mechanism and you don’t throw a turnout.

Here’s my take on what many toy train enthusiast and model railroaders call “Turnouts” and I call “Switches.”   Your probably asking yourself why?   I hear you saying, “Oh No”, he’s at it again.   I wish he’d stop this nonsense.    Right back at you!  To often model railroaders misuse the word,  “Turnout”.   I think I already said that but allow me to repeat it.    For example:  A video I was watching the commentator said “I will now throw the turnout.”    What, what, what did he say?    You don’t throw a turnout unless you are throwing it out the window, courtesy of Steve H.

Just in case I haven’t already said this before:   I don’t call track switches, turnouts… unless I’m installing them.   

Here is a reminder or an easy application,  to assure me don’t misuse switch or turnout.   You install a turnout, you throw a switch.  

Toy train enthusiast have been misusing “Turnout,” longer then I am old.   It started in Britain and Europe and carried over to American Modelers.  I suspect it won’t change any time soon.  However!  On my layout?  What do I call them? My favorite heckler is once again  wanting some affirmation and recognition.   What do I call them?   Is that what you asked?  “Switches,” as most of the time I’m operating through them.

What was your question?   Good question!  What’s the story behind it all? I get into this more on another post and you can visit:     Switches, The Real Deal.

Switches and Toy Train Layouts and Model Railroads:

What about them?

Historical Perspective:

Over the years, starting back in the 50’s.    I was never  happy (not at all happy) with the offerings as in the different assortments of track switches available on the toy train market.  As provided by those affable (Or is that laughable?) mfg’s or better said providers.

In HO, Atlas didn’t give me what I was looking for.    AHM was better… what with the curved switches and the variety it brought to my layout.   As was true of most switches  the frogs were dead.  Stinky slimy things.    Others came along IE. True Track (my favorite as it had a live frog) and it wasn’t long before  Peco and  Shinohara put out some track switches in both HO and N scale that had my  head turning.

O and S scale.   Lionel, American Flyer, and a few others all provided an assortment of  pre-fab…  switches.   Delivering  rail gauges that was anything but realistic and wheels sets with flanges that have been compared to “Pizza Cutters”.  I was never happy with any of these choices.   But fun to play with.

For us HO Fans, the frogs  were dead (plastic frogs)  no electrical life in them.  Never mind the shorts!   Aiiyiiyii the shorts!    Stalling and hiccuping, locomotives and diesels  ruled the day….better said  rued  the day.    It wasn’t pretty!   It wasn’t fun.

The 0-5-0 hand switcher or sky crane had to be called in.   You could hear on personal layouts as well as club layouts, “Someone call the big hook”.  Those (expletives I can repeat here) darn “Turnouts.”    As we  dragged the  locomotives and diesels across the switches.

Not what we were looking for from our hobby suppliers!   We had a limited number of manufacturers to choose from.   Hand laying your own switch mechanism was just about the only way to get… what we wanted.    Again not something most of us newbies were willing  to deal with.

Someone forgot or no one bothered to tell the locomotive and diesel manufacturers (aka providers) to install  all wheel pick-up.     Today, that’s been resolved but back then it was the single biggest source of  frustration.    Frustrate, frustrate, and frustrate some more.   Appearing to be never ending.    Someone woke up and thankfully got the message.

Old timers might remember the HO, True Scale switches, they were “Power Routed,” with a hot aka live frog.  My kind of switch.  “I personally prefer the power routed switches.”    I really appreciate them back when  and still do today.    Now, now, now, finally my locomotives would creep across my switches and we were running like the real deal.   FINALLY!


What About Today:

As I write.

We have a wide variety of track switches to choose from.    To many to list here…  other then to say all of them will work well with DCC.     Buy the switch of your choice, after a brief inspection and install it without altering it.  Read the installation instructions that come with it.   Look at how the manufacturer wired it in.    If you find you seemingly have shorts, then cut in the isolation gaps (In the track that connects with the turnout) as already illustrated and shared here on BarstowRick.com.  

It’s so simple that to some it’s baffling.   What?  How?  It works?   No it can’t work!!!!!  Is what I keep hearing or reading.   Yes it does! Do you think I’d put my neck out and hang my reputation on something stupid that  doesn’t work.   Without trying it first?

For N Scale, Atlas makes a Classic Line of switches and the frogs are still dead, requiring a DPDT toggle hard wired in to reverse the current to the frog.  Really?!

Then there’s the Frog Juicer.     More wiring and soldering  then I want to do.   You have  choices:   The wire Juicer and you can hard wire it in, Alan Gartner illustrated how to,  cut in isolation gaps as per Peco, Block Wiring as I’ve illustrated and/or don’t do anything at all.   What the heck?

For  O scale:  My favorite  is the Atlas sectional  track and switches.  That should surprise the heck out of the boys and girls over at Atlas.    There is one downside:   You won’t be able to run the older Classic Stuff, through the switches.   The flanges on the older train equipment are to wide and deep.    Upside all the new stuff will run through them just fine.

What was that? Yes, you in the second row. Myself? What type of frog do I prefer to use. I prefer live frogs. The dead ones stink, smells up the place something terrible.   Didn’t I already say that, somewhere else?  

My favorite heckler is waving his hand for recognition.     You are indicating, I did say that?  You were paying attention…how about that?    What?   You thought it was funny and wanted to hear me say it again.      Hee Haw, Hee Haw.    What do you expect from a retired mortician?    I said with a mischievous grin.

Today:   Honestly, (Like I’ve been lying to you this whole time), I’m only sold on two manufacturers and I have their switches on my current N Scale layout…Peco’s and Kato’s.    Power routed and with live frogs.    All the things I consider to be  a plus.   Wish they were sponsors here on BarstowRick.com.

Power Routed Switches:

When power routed switches became so UN-popular to use escapes me.     I prefer to use power routed switches and you’ll find that the majority of the switches on my layout are just that.  Allow me to think out loud.   Pretty sure they are simply misunderstood by the inexperienced modelers.

Problem being there wasn’t a lot of choices for a power routed switches with a hot frog, until Peco came out with the Electrofrog,   Things were about to change-up and for the better.     Then Kato showed up and the frog is wired in similar to what Alan Gartner and others have advocated.     You can’t go wrong!

Following Greg M’s, advice:  I don’t use power routed switches as an electrical switch to shut off power to a dead end spur or siding.     I depend on my electrical DPDT toggle switches to do that for me.

The good news as already mentioned:     Power routed switches have been delivered to model railroaders with both a dead frog or live frog. See Peco’s live frog “Electrofrog,” and dead frog, “Insulfrog.”   Your choice.

Kato has a power routed switch that is hard wired-in with a reversing sliding switch tied to a hot frog.   They are User Friendly, Plug and Play and DCC Safe.   You don’t want to take one apart to prove me right or wrong.    You’ll have parts flying all over the place.   

What we need is DCC Safe Switches.

It’s time for a How To Video.

When it’s all said and done and you have your layout up and running with your choice of switches installed.    Here then, is a sampling of the switch moves you can make.

Virginia Midland HO model railroad: Switching out Specialized Beverage

Continuing my industry tour on my layout. This week we watch VM C424 #292 switch out Specialized beverage. A little fast for this spur but I did not want the video to be too long. If you caught it, I also grabbed a boxcar from Mid-Atlantic Feeds in the closest spur. The loco is an Atlas with a Soundtraxx Tsunami. Thought it sounded well. Still need to sync the loco some.      Thanks for watching, S. Crabtree.

I enjoy making switch moves and can spend hours see-sawing back and forth spotting empties to be loaded and picking up full loads that are headed back to the main yard for classification and the next train out of town.     This is the heart and soul of any railroad.     Although, some would prefer to be engineers for the long haul freights.    While others would rather hog head a crack passenger train.   I like operating the local or turn.    What? Did I imply that something is wrong?    Heck no!    There’s room for all of us engineer types.

Hours of fun!


That’s my two cents and I take change.

Still editing so hang on to your hat it may get windy around here.

Just for fun:    In Big Bear Country,  we have two kinds of shovels (1) Snow Shovels and (2)  Bull-$#!+ Shovels.     I don’t think you will need either one of them here but you might think so!     I heard that!

Now go have some fun with your model railroad.    After reading this you’ve earned yourself that right.