Friday, December 20, 2013

084 The Navajo Mining Railway - Wye? Why Not?

Before we install the wye to the hidden yard, we need to do some work on it.  Remember, a little time BEFORE you install the turnout means a lot of quality operation later.  Don't rush it!

As you can see, the wye is MUCH smaller than the #5 turnout I had in the plan.  This gives it a much tighter turning radius.  This should work well, as it is a Peco #4 code 87 turnout.

I laid out the #5 turnout.  It just doesn't fit in the 20" radius curve very well, unlike the plan.

Sitting the wye on top of the #5 you can see the difference.  It is shorter in both directions, and the frog number is much smaller.

Here it is laid out on the track centerlines.  This will be perfect!

Just so I remember what I put there in case I have to replace it...which does happen.  It says a #4, but it is much smaller than that I'm sure.

This is the most inaccessible turnout on the layout, so we have to make sure this one works flawlessly.  Before we install it let's do some prep work.  First thing - read the directions!  Yes...READ THE DIRECTIONS.  This is an important step when installing DCC turnouts especially!

We're going to use a Tortoise switch machine on this turnout.  Peco turnouts have a spring in them that helps to hold the points against the wing rails for conductivity.  The Tortoise does that for us, so we don't want the Tortoise fighting the hair size spring...tortoise...hare...get it?  Ok, not funny.  So we'll cut that spring off.

The instructions say that you want to cut the two jumpers that will feed the frog from the points.  We'll cut these because we'll want to power the frog from the Tortoise machine.

Two snips and the jumpers are toast.

I'm not sure why turnout manufacturers do this, but they fasten down the last tie.  I guess they figure you really aren't going to use a rail joiner to connect this to other track and are just going to let the pretty turnout sit on the mantle for all to see.

We trim off the spike heads, then flip the turnout over and remove the first tie.

I snip off the spike heads on the end...

...and I remove the tie by cutting the connections on the back.

The instructions say it is better to connect and power the point by making a connection to the wing rains.  So let's do that.

We'll need a soldering iron, silver solder, paste flux, liquid flux, tweezers, wire stripper and some green 18 gauge wire.

First I put some flux and solder prepped the four rails.

Then I stripped some wire, tinned it, and cut it to length.  Using the tweezers I held the wire to the solder on the rails and heated it up.  Zap...the solder is melted.

Next we need to power the frog.  To do that we need to connect a wire from the frog rails to the Tortoise machine.  I cut a 12" length of wire and stripped about one inch of shielding off and tinned it.  Then I tinned the rails where I am going to mount the wires, and put the two together and soldered them.  I bent the wire down just between the tips of the ties.  It will go through a hole in the roadbed and down below to the Tortoise.  Hopefully its not a hare short...

Oh good!  You are still reading!  Using some alcohol that I keep in a small sprayer I coated the turnout where I had been using resin and scrubbed it clean.  After making sure all the resin was gone I sprayed it one more time with alcohol and let it dry.

There!  She's ready to be laid.

I'm always looking for a scrub brush for the alcohol, so I fastened it to the bottle with a rubber band.


1.  Trackplans, no matter how well you draw them, don't always work like you think they will
2.  Take time to prep the turnout correctly.  Take more time for a turnout that is hard to reach.
3.  Read the directions for DCC application


  1. Thanks for the step-by-step, I need to do this soon. I've bookmarked this page for reference!

  2. The frog # of a wye turnout is actually 1/2 of its actual angle -- think about it, both legs are diverging from the center line so they get 1" apart twice as fast. So #4 why has the curvature as a regular #8 turnout.

    Bill Uffelman


Thanks for your comment!