Question Rokuhan Turnouts for DCC in Z, how modifiable?

drken Nov 25, 2017

  1. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    Can I put frog juicers or switch machines on Rokuhan turnouts? They don't look modifiable and I can't find anything on the internet of anybody doing either of those things with them. If I decide to use switch machines will I have to go with non-roadbed track, such as Marklin or Fast Tracks? Fast Tracks would seem like a fun, challenging project if I didn't have to invest over $300 just to see if I would like to try it. Should I even consider waiting for Atlas turnouts?
     
  2. Greg Elmassian

    Greg Elmassian TrainBoard Member

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    Hmm... you are asking two different questions from my interpretation. A frog juicer would be to power a frog (which is not a bad idea on rokuhan since they can have the internal contacts burn out pretty easily)

    A switch machine would be to move the points, and I've not seen anyone do this, would suspect it would be possible.

    Why not experiment on one?

    Greg
     
  3. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    Well, the switch machines are because they're more replaceable and reliable than the internal mechanism, especially the Rokohan, which has a reputation of not playing well with DCC decoders. The Tam Valley servo based ones seem like the best pick for Z. The frog juicer is just to make the trains run over the turnouts better. But, can I just dremel or drill through the roadbed? Because that's the only way I can see wiring a frog or attaching a switch machine. I'm wary to experiment with the turnouts because every attempt I've made to inspect the inside of a Rokuhan turnout has rendered them inoperable, leading me to believe that they don't respond to being cut though too well. I like that the Rokuhan track sets up easily, but aside from the easy installation, they may not be the best pick for what I want.
     
  4. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looks like you need to be a guinea pig. I used servo and juicers, but on fastrack switches.
     
  5. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    Well technically, the turnout would be the guinea pig, not me ;). Oddly enough, I feel better about building a Fast Tracks switch than I do mucking about the ultra thin wires and levers of an internal roadbed switch mechanism. At least the former has instructions. How do you like your switches?
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  6. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    The original Rokuhan turnouts were power-routing only. If you check through the forums, there is quite a bit of information on the internals and the modifications for non power-routing which may help you.

    Operationally, the Rokuhan units are great. The power control is a bit of a pain and I find the wiring connectors a pain, even with their pin "extraction" tool.

    Mark
     
  7. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

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    The Rokuhan turnout, is still a manual turnout once the motor is burnt. It is not difficult to gut the Rokuhan turnout and add a tortoise or Hoffman under table turnout machine which use a piano wire to move points so small hole in manual operator, both these machines, have external contact to power the frog, just need to drop three wires from bottom of roadbed on gutted turnout to go to these contacts, there are other options for turnout motor that do not have the external contact like a Tortoise or Hoffman. To wire the gutted turnout you need three wires on to each stock rail and one to the frog, and rout them through the turnout base, make sure you have continuity from frog to each point rail, when in open position, if not install jumper on underside of roadbed.

    I have not had any problems with Rokuhan if you use their controls, even on DCC. and Converting Rokuhan turnout from power routing as delivered to non power routing or power everywhere, is easy, remove the the screws indicated and place them in the new locations indicated, according to the instruction sheet in English, my only note is torque the screws down fully extra, screws are supplied, if the carpet monster gets some.
     
  8. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    So, what you're saying is that I'll probably wreck the works inside if I try to install a switch machine, but that's OK because I won't need them anymore because I'm installing a switch machine. That makes sense. I have actually ordered a kit to make #6 turnouts from Fast Tracks, if that works out I won't be using Rokuhan.
     
  9. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

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    Fast tracks switches are great but gutting an existing Rokuhan is easier than building a fast tracks one and getting it in place and operating with a switch motor tortoise or other.
     
  10. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    Well, since I last posted, I have been able to reassemble a functional Rokuhan switch, so I guess they're not as intimidating as I thought. However, despite my previous statement about the relative difficulty of Rokuhan and Fast Tracks switches, I don't think anybody has ever used Fast Tracks switches because they're easier. Personally, I'm using them because they look better and their functional simplicity suggests greater reliability. But, since my first kit is due to be delivered Wed. I guess I'll find out then.
     
  11. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I love the fastrack switches. I would never go back to mass produced ones. There’s a learning curve on how to build them. Be ready to toss out the first five. Don’t bother to glue the laser ties. You will be wasting your money. I just wish there’s a simple device to actuate the switch.
     
  12. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    Direct sub-mount of $5 servos, is pushy. This creates the Tortoise-like simple lever. It will through them, but *every* one you install will have *vastly* different torque, especially symmetry. Using a crank mount will give more torque. See Tam Valley Depot or search 'servo crank mount'.
    To improve the ability to flex the point rails, you can use a grinder or square file to remove the rail base (file down to the vertical web), just after the PC tie that holds the points near the frog gap. This makes the rail more flexible at that point.
    At the points, make sure the rail and PC-board tie are *clean*. Make sure the PC-board is good contact to the bottom of the points. When soldering, make sure it freely flows and *not* on the Stock rail side !!! The Throw Bar will be your weakest link as the points swing is a parallelogram and stresses those soldered joints. Alignment to the motor mechanism will be the worst of it !! Over torqued, it really stresses the soldered joint!!!
    Don't forget: the frog needs a feeder, as it will be gapped from the points and exit side.
    Cobalt sells a smaller version of the Tortoise, with 3 sets of push-in contacts and even DCC Decoder verions. They do draw a bit more current than a tortoise.
     
  13. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for all the advice. I'll definitely keep all of it in mind. But, I'm not that worried about ruining a few switches, my current plan is for a gentrified industrial area, so I'll need to bury a switch or two in the streets to show where the railroad used to be.

    Edited to Add:
    I've worked with servos before, I haven't had many issues aside from a tendency to be unable to share a power supply with anything. Otherwise, I've found that they point where you tell them. I'll definitely look into the Cobalts, nothing's written in stone yet.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  14. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    Well, I built my first switch (mostly, I did all the soldering, but I haven't isolate the frog rails or glued on the wood ties) so I thought I'd let you guys know how it went. So far the biggest issue was soldering the points to the PC ties (you were right, Jeff) as the points were so thin at the end (and fraying) and keeping the solder from flowing into the gaps I cut in the copper ties, especially by the guard rails where there's not much space (put the gaps near the rails, my Aunt Fanny). But, except for the guard rail I knocked off trying to re-cut a gap in the ties it looks like a switch and functions pretty much like one too as I can get a car to go through it without bouncing or derailing. It's a bit weird to have a switch with the default position in the middle like that, but that's the switch machines problem. Once I isolate the frog, I'll see how well everything works electrically.

    I'm pretty sure I can fix my issues with the points by putting the rail into the point form so it leaves them a tiny bit thicker at the end and/or mount them a bit more forwards so I have more material to work with and so the ends don't fray. Otherwise, I tired to use rosin solder as I had a bunch already and it worked OK, but I have some acid based stuff on order so I'll see if it helps. I think by the time I finish with the rails and PC ties I have, I will have gotten it down pretty well (*knock wood*).
     
  15. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

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    do not use acid core solder on electrical for Z scale, the same for soldering rails to PC ties use a high silver content rosin core fine solder, so it flows with less heat and cools quickly, be sure to clean joints before and after they're done. If you are doing fast tracks use the point and frog forming tools for solid joints that look professional. There is a way to improve the point connection to the throw bar tie, I use a small piece of wire that I solder on the web of the rail and bend to go thru the tie and gouge out a space in bottom of tie the bend this wire over and it acts as a hinge if you will. when soldering point rails I solder them to the throw bar with piece of wood between the rails that is sized for the correct gap and I solder the throw bar about 3/16th back from actual point. Solders the higher the silver content the stronger the joint, the finer the rosin core solder wire is the less heat required to get it to flow and to wick into joint ore between surfaces.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  16. drken

    drken TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Garth,
    Actually, I meant to type acid-based flux, not solder. The solder I used was 0.6mm (0.02") 60/40 Tin-Lead flux core solder which is pretty much what fast tracks sells, so I assumed it was OK. Don't worry, I don't use acid based flux on electronics. In fact, I can't even find the stuff in electronics stores. It seems to be sold mostly by plumbing supply places. Fast Tracks seems pretty gung-ho about acid flux. They also used a "safe" flux in their Z-scale turnout video, but it didn't seem to work as well. I used the Radio Shack Rosin Flux I had lying around. I have no experience with silver solder, but I'll give it a try if I can find some. What brand do you use? Is it difficult to work with?

    So, if I understand correctly, you solder a piece of wire to the point rail, then wrap the wire around the the throwbar tie, which has a channel on the bottom cut out for the wire to pass through. What I have pictured in my mind seems more like an anchor than a hinge, do you have any pictures so I can see what you mean? Also 3/16" is pretty far back. I'd have to start filling the stock rail past the first PC tie to fit that in. I did eventually get both points soldered on. I think I'm more worried about how the rail frays if filed to a point. Since I'm going to have to file the point so it flows better onto the stock rail anyway, I figured I could just leave a bit more when I make them (for the record, I'm using the Point and Frog forming tool and the Stock-Aid). For placement, I used a piece of PC tie to space one point from the rail and slipped a piece of paper between the other point and the rail like the instructions said. I have no issues with the spacing between the points, I'm just used to the store bought hinged ones that rest against the rail rather than springing back. There isn't even a space for the H tie on the form, so I'm assuming hinges aren't even an option for Z.

    Edited to add: Also, since it looks like I might just go with the Fast-Tracks turnouts, is there a track software that will let me use custom turnouts? Everything I've seen for Mac only uses commercially available ones.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  17. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

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    Soldering wire to point rail is about half an inch long with a 90 degree bend and the leg is about quarter of an inch or less depending on thickness of pcb tie material my throw bar is one complete tie ahead of where point rail comes to rest against stock rail, the short leg goes thru a small hole in tie and below the the hole in the tie I have routed out a hole about 4 time the diameter the wire is coming down thru, then I fold or bend the end over so it is held below the throw bar tie and does not interfere with movement of tie bar
     

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