INSTRUCTIONS FOR UPGRADING A RTR TURNOUT
WITH A DROP-IN STANDARD OR "SUPER-DETAILED" NEW FROG
FROG SECTION BEFORE AND FROG SECTION AFTER
It is recommended you read these instructions all the way through first, before starting the conversion.
WEAR PROPER EYE PROTECTION AT ALL TIMES, WHEN USING ANY POWER OR MOTORIZED TOOLS!
1. Regardless of whether the switch is already installed in your trackwork, or new on the bench, first familiarize yourself with the parts we are going to modify - The frog and the two guard rails. Note that, although they are not visible, there are likely solder joints between the guard rails and their respective stock rails as well as solder joints between the wing rails and the frog vee.
2. The first actual task is to prepare the frog area to receive the new, drop-in, Standrad , Super -detailed or Proto:87 frog, (example shown). Note that if you are going to operate with a live, rather than insulated, frog, it is strongly recommended that you use/build the version of the frog with a power wire already attached. Despite a lot of marketing hype about having "DCC Safe" insulated frogs, DCC users can actually operate either way. But using a live frog is much better for running reliability. A simple and very inexpensive relay will switch the frog polarity automatically if there is not a spare set of contacts on your switch motor. See the "TURNOUT WIRING GUIDE" for more wiring information
3. Visually position the new frog first beside the old one. The theoretically correct location of the new frog is with the virtual point of the new vee in exactly the same place as the virtual point of the old vee. You should be able to judge that by eye. Move the frog slighly sideways to allow for the slightly "blunted" actual vee point of a realistic frog. Mark the closure rails lightly with a pen or pencil where the new frog ends are, for use as a reference later.
4. If you are doing this for the first time, preferably using a razor saw, you may want to cut carefully well "inside" those marks ( in the directions towards the point of the vee) to allow removal of the the center portion of the frog and wing rails. Hold the rails firmly in place while cutting, so that none of the fixed rails are pushed out of position. You can use a Dremel with a fine cutting disk for this, but unless the cutting disc is much larger than the Dremel Body, the cuts will be incorrectly sloping. Take quick, light, almost upright cuts and pause to let the cut edges cool back down. Be aware that heating the rail too much at one time may melt the plastic "spikes" and damage the switch beyond repair. Also, for the final cuts later, the body of the Dremel must be pointing away from the frog point. Why? Because otherwise the sloping cut will slope the wrong way and you will end up with too large a surface gap between the frog and the fixed rails.
5. Now we come to the violently destructive part. The old wing rails and frog vee need to be carefully removed. (in that order) This is achieved mainly by gripping each part with some needle nosed pliers and slightly but firmly trying to tip it over at an angle and back, over and over, until the solder joint becomes fatigued and breaks. Firmly hold any adjacent rail that should stay in place, so that it is not loosened or damaged. Each part should then come free, leaving the plastic base intact, with only slight cosmetic damage. Note that the guard rails will need to be removed, shortened and relocated, if fitting a Proto:87 frog.
Sometimes the wing rails are so firmly attached to the vee, that sawing down along the frog flangeways may be necessary first to weaken the solder joint before trying to break it .
6. Here we see the base with the frog removed. Clean off up any plastic bumps and obstacles, that will prevent the new parts sitting correctly on a flat surface, with a sharp craft knife. The solid plastic under the frog, which would show under a smaller scale sized frog, has also been cut away until only the separate long ties remain. New scale length guard rails made from filed up strips of spare rail are being test fitted in this picture. Note for Proto:87's narrower flangeways, the back of the guard rail foot must be filed away.
7. The new frog must now be rechecked for exact alignment. This is done by placing the new frog on top of the gap and checking that the frog ends are the best possible fit with the remaining fixed rails. (inside railhead edge for the closure rails - outside rail head edge for the extended vee). The final, exact cutting marks are then made with the craft knife blade. (This picture is showing how an experienced modeler can use the new frog to mark the cut positions exactly at an earlier stage) . If the new frog has a power wire does not slip easily between the ties, during the alignment process, drill a small hole , 1/16th in. dia. or less, in the appropriate place so the power wire drops down out of the way.
8. Now the fixed rail ends are cut and/or filed back with the saw and swiss files until the frog drops in and fits perfectly. There must be a small electrical isolation gap from at least the closure rails. This can be filled with expoxy cement after final assembly. Check all the frog and guard rail alignments are correct with an appropriate NMRA HO or Ed McCamey P:87 gauge and glue all the new parts in place with ACC or epoxy.
9. The finished frog can be "super-super-detailed" with our kit of joint bars at all four corners and bolt/plate detail around the sides of the frog.