KB690: Turnouts and DCC

This article was last updated on Oct. 17, 2010, 10:24 a.m. | Print Article | Leave Feedback

"Turnout" is a civil engineering term for what railroaders call a "switch".  In the model railroad environment, we often use the word turnout to avoid confusion with the electrical term "switch".  On the railroad, throwing a switch usually only means one thing, while "Throw the switch" on a model railroad could mean operating a light switch.

Probably the best answer is to consistently use one type of turnout.  The notion of a "DCC Friendly" turnout is a myth; the standard answer in the past has been: "If it worked on DC it will work on DCC". In the end, which turnout you use is a matter of personal preference. Many prefer standard power routing turnouts with the proper electrical gaps in the rail.

It should be noted that the insulated-frog turnouts use a fine wire or metal strip to go around the frog. This acts as a fusible link, burning out after it gets several 5 amp shorts through it. At that point the turnout will not work at all without soldering a jumper wire around the problem.

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