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Author Topic: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog  (Read 1696 times)

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Online Yet_Another

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Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« on: June 11, 2018, 11:07:03 pm »
There are a couple of threads on here mentioning the new Unifrog points, but I don't generally read other railway modelling forums, or much of the press, so this has slipped under my radar. Given the lack of discussion about it on this forum, I wonder if it's the case here as well.

It seems that as moulds become worn, all Peco code 55 pointwork will be migrated to the new Unifrog format, and Electrofrog (& Insulfrog) points & crossings will be discontinued. This has just happened for the medium radius points.

Here's a picture from Osborn's website of the new look:

http://www.osbornsmodels.com/ekmps/shops/osbornsmodels/images/sl-u395f-peco-streamline-n-scale-code-55-medium-radius-turnout-r-h-unifrog-[2]-45412-p.jpg

Whilst operationally these are an improvement from a polarity point of view, visually they are pretty poor, in my opinion. The intrusive plastic insulation gaps in the rails are a retrograde step. This is much more obvious in N than in larger scales.

Additionally, (possibly not an issue in N) there is fairly strong evidence, IIRC, from the world of garden railways, that plastic is a dirt magnet, and deliberately putting it into a point is going to degrade its performance in the long run.

Fortunately I've been able to purchase all the electrofrog points I need.

There is discussion about this change (not specific to N) in other places; here's one such discussion:

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/121872-unifrog/

I don't intend this to be a Peco-bashing session, or otherwise - I bring it up purely because I wasn't aware of it, and I suspect others aren't either, and it does impact layout design.
Tony

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Online ntpntpntp

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 11:28:00 pm »
Well to me the isolation gap doesn't really look any worse than the typical gap you end up with when you use Peco IRJs just after the frog V on an Electrofrog point.    OK so a careful cut through rail with an Xacto fine razor saw gives a narrower gap, but The Unifrog gap doesn't look too bad to me.   

Everything else looks equivalent to current code 55 Electrofrog.  It's a shame they haven't taken the opportunity to make the outside check rails metal rather than plastic.

In what way does it impact layout design? Seems pretty-much interchangeable to me, other than I presume it's not a "power routing" design any longer as the rails are bonded beyond the frog.

In the past I've rebuilt Peco G45 points with a live frog V, certainly an improvement over the plastic frog. If/when Peco upgrade the G45 pointwork to Unifrog I would expect it to look very similar to my conversions anyway.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 11:32:48 pm by ntpntpntp »
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Offline RailGooner

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 11:53:25 pm »
Will this new line include switches with concrete sleepers? :hmmm: I hope so, but doubt it.
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Online Dr Al

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2018, 09:35:54 am »
Definite retrograde step - plastic wears over time - I've seen this extensively on OO and N turnouts, which is another reason I went electrofrog. Track cleaning (particularly with rubbers) will mean these don't last anywhere near as long as a real electrofrog. Some of my e-frogs are close to 20 years old, and have no notable wear.

Also, looks like the frog is basically dead unless you wire it, which is actually worse than electrofrogs, which need no additional wiring, only careful placement of insulated fishplates.

The 'dead' area looks massive compared to a standard insulfrog - at least 50% longer.

What Peco should have done was drop insulfrog and make electrofrog the standard, or replace insulfrog with this but retain electrofrog. They should also drop code 80 streamline IMHO (I know that'll be controversial :) ) as it's no longer necessary with code 55 (which is equally universal).

Glad I've saved a significant number of electrofrogs, and will be stashing some more.....

Cheers,
Alan
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 10:26:30 am by Dr Al »
Quote from: Roy L S
If Dr Al is online he may be able to provide a more comprehensive answer.

Offline njee20

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2018, 10:15:54 am »
Storm in a tea cup.

IMO they look better than having to use IRJs, I don't understand why people are uppety about them. If you want the diverging route isolated you can cut the wire underneath. If you want polarity switching on the frog you now have a nice wire to attach it to.

Reducing the number of toolings Peco need to carry and produce is advantageous to them and us.

That they've gone for Unifrog on the new OO gauge bullhead points suggests they don't see it as inferior, that was a new tooling so they could have done either just as easily. I'd happily swap all of mine and ditch IRJs, seems it'll simplify things like slips too, without the visual intrusion of insulfrog.

I can't see how wear would be an issue, the amount of plastic exposed to the surface is minuscule - the insulation gaps only, and they would inherently work as gaps, so worn plastic isn't going to be an issue. Plenty of old Insulfrog and set track points out there still going strong after 30+ years, why would these wear quicker?

Online Dr Al

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2018, 10:38:53 am »
IMO they look better than having to use IRJs,

Functionally, no, as you have a large dead section; with electrofrog you have no dead section. I don't see why folk are so uppety about use of IRJs - their deployment is trivially simple.

That they've gone for Unifrog on the new OO gauge bullhead points suggests they don't see it as inferior, that was a new tooling so they could have done either just as easily.

It suggests cost cutting to avoid tooling two ranges..... I don't see that as advantageous to us if we end up with a product that is functionally inferior to one that already exists and has been in the marketplace for 40+ years.

seems it'll simplify things like slips too

I don't think the wiring here would be any different - the slip requires frog/route switching due to its very nature. Unifrog would just add more rail intersections on an already complex piece of trackwork - and given the length of dead section (assuming the same as those pictured) I'd have thought this will be a dire piece of trackwork for running. Pure electrofrog slips are a challenge enough for most locos!

I can't see how wear would be an issue, the amount of plastic exposed to the surface is minuscule - the insulation gaps only, and they would inherently work as gaps, so worn plastic isn't going to be an issue. Plenty of old Insulfrog and set track points out there still going strong after 30+ years, why would these wear quicker?

I've seen extensive wear on plastic components on trackwork in the past, so can only base my opinion on that experience - both frog vees, and insulating sections like those on these turnouts - some with only 5 years use.

Given the longevity, functionality, ultra-simplicity of pure electrofrogs, this can only be seen as a backward step IMHO.

Cheers,
Alan
Quote from: Roy L S
If Dr Al is online he may be able to provide a more comprehensive answer.

Offline njee20

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2018, 11:13:01 am »
I'm not going to dissect your dissection of my post, as we'll be here all day, but I said they look better than having IRJs, in response to people saying the isolation gaps are massive, I don't think they are. I didn't comment on functionality of the isolated area if you lay them as they are. It's possibly slightly bigger than with insulfrog, but given Peco's market share and their keenness to protect that I'll wager in use you won't notice a marked degradation in performance, as that would be commercial suicide. This will not stop .a lot of people on forums moaning about a theoretical problem

You miss the point about the bullhead range of points - they're totally new, significantly more expensive than existing pointwork and I'll wager the demand for insulfrog would have been absolutely zero, there was never going to be a requirement for two tools. They've still plumped for unifrog, and I've not seen complaints.

Offline Vonzack

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2018, 11:56:49 am »
Would be nice to see the underside of the point, the two isolated sections suggest the closure rails are linked to the stock rails, can anybody confirm that?

Seems a reasonable compromise as a mass produced item for me. Concrete sleepers are well overdue though, would have been nice to see that done at the same time, fingers crossed.

Offline njee20

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2018, 12:10:50 pm »
Yes, the stock rails are linked to the closure rails. There was a photo on the NGF Facebook page last week.

Agree on concrete sleeper - I know the geometry is more wrong for modern points than it is for older, wooden sleeper prototypes, but would still be good.

Online ntpntpntp

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2018, 01:00:24 pm »
Would be nice to see the underside of the point, the two isolated sections suggest the closure rails are linked to the stock rails, can anybody confirm that?


Yes they are bonded as if "DCC friendly" - there was a photo of the underside on Facebook as @njee20 mentions.

Whilst not yet having one in my hands to play with, I reckon they're a step forward.  I hardly think the small isolating gap (which I assume is plastic filled) is going to wear down in the same way that the frog tip of an Insulfrog point does.
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Online Dr Al

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2018, 01:01:25 pm »
I'll wager in use you won't notice a marked degradation in performance, as that would be commercial suicide. This will not stop .a lot of people on forums moaning about a theoretical problem

With the double foot on code 55 rail, IRJs are invisible once ballasted, so I don't see a strong argument against them - my impression is that many folk simply don't understand their use, and assume more complexity that is actually the case - once actually explained it's pretty simple.

To me, functionality of the isolating area of a turnout is totally crucial to the entire functioning of said turnout, everything else (with the possible exception of the fidelity of the blade pivots) is less significant. Wagering is irrelevant - in reality the dead section on these is quite clearly at least 50% larger - that's a fact given the current knowledge from the photos exhibited of the N gauge trackwork. Therefore it seems highly likely to have the potential to give stalling problems, given how many folks already complain of short 0-6-0's stalling on much shorter dead sections on setrack or current insulfrogs. I'll be surprised if we don't see the same complaints coming from these once they get into wider circulation (and that will take time as folks generally don't upgrade their track with the frequency of locos, stock etc). To get round that, you are forced to use switching of the frog, which means more wiring and additional hardware; something I do not need and do not have on the current range of electrofrogs straight from the box.

Bullhead rail is irrelevant also, as that's OO - what is relevant is a direct comparison of unifrog code 55 N gauge streamline with the original electrofrog. In that case I can see no improvement with these; but disadvantages - if that's a moan, then fine - I'd rather folk called this out.

I'm with the OP - Expect the price of new or even good used electrofrogs to start climbing!

Cheers,
Alan
Quote from: Roy L S
If Dr Al is online he may be able to provide a more comprehensive answer.

Online Dr Al

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2018, 01:05:36 pm »
I hardly think the small isolating gap (which I assume is plastic filled) is going to wear down in the same way that the frog tip of an Insulfrog point does.

I would agree to a point (excuse the pun) - it won't be as severe as a frog tip; though I've seen wearing of similar parts on the electrofrog double slips (they are an enforced necessity on that particular piece of pointwork), so I think it will happen. By comparison, the frog tips and check rails on the same turnouts remain unworn.

Cheers,
Alan
Quote from: Roy L S
If Dr Al is online he may be able to provide a more comprehensive answer.

Offline njee20

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2018, 01:07:38 pm »
Awesome, I've got about 50 pairs of electrofrogs, mainly large, once the Unifrog ones are available shall we start the bidding at £15 a pair?

You're still missing my point about the bullhead turnouts, and just repeating yourself. The scale is irrelevant, the point is that Peco have entered a "high-fidelity" market with a unifrog product. If they genuinely considered this a regression in any way that would jeopardise what some would suggest was a risky market to enter they'd have gone with electrofrog.

I shall reserve judgement until I've actually used them, rather than speculating on some photos, but for me, like ntpntpntp I see these as a step forward.

I just don't see the wear being an issue. What would the mechanism be for that wear? The wheels rolling over a gap enclosed by the rail? Once it wears to a few thou and the wheels/track rubber/whatever no longer touch it then you have no further issues. That's the same as saying IRJs will wear.

Online Dr Al

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2018, 01:25:22 pm »
If they genuinely considered this a regression in any way that would jeopardise what some would suggest was a risky market to enter they'd have gone with electrofrog.

Unfortunately not - there's no competing track systems at all, so there is no real credible alternative - thus they can change things and there's relatively little risk as there is little option for most to switch to (not to mention the legacy issues which see systems like code 80 also still exist).

"High fidelity" is a completely subjective term - your "High fidelity" could be completely different to mine. I'm simply looking at the factual evidence of the apparent new construction of the code 55 turnout.

Ultimately, whilst this is not the end of the world by any means, I find it disappointing that we have not instead transitioned to electrofrog being the standard and insulfrog being a historical standard of the past. That's a shame.

What it does highlight, is that now more than ever, we could do with a new state of the art track RTR system in N, with better rail heights (compatable only with the newer RP25 standards), finer frogs, better rail spacing, etc - after all Peco's code 55 flexi first came out in the mid 1980s, and the turnouts in the early 1990s, so it's been around a fair length of time. There is Finetrax, but for me this is too big an investment in time to be realistic - I know that's very much a personal thing though.

I just don't see the wear being an issue. What would the mechanism be for that wear? The wheels rolling over a gap enclosed by the rail? Once it wears to a few thou and the wheels/track rubber/whatever no longer touch it then you have no further issues. That's the same as saying IRJs will wear.

Respectfully, whilst you don't; I do as I've seen it on turnouts that will ultimately have to be retired because of it (despite being completely otherwise ok). The mechanism is primarily track cleaning.

Sadly, nobody's going to buy your turnouts at 15 quid a shot, yet, as they can still be bought new for less than that ;) Hold them for a few years though and that may be a different story....

Cheers,
Alan
Quote from: Roy L S
If Dr Al is online he may be able to provide a more comprehensive answer.

Offline broadsword

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Re: Peco Unifrog to REPLACE Electrofrog and Insulfrog
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2018, 01:37:20 pm »
When  I  first saw the heading for this topic I thought Peco were bringing out a KATO
type track sustem (Uni prefix ), however not the case!

 

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