DCC Friendly Turnouts

Modifying Walthers turnouts is an investment in time but worth the security it brings for operation with DCC. I have to confess that I wrecked the first Walthers turnout I tried to do the DCC friendly conversion to. After learning how to (and how not to) do it, I did OK with all the rest. It takes time and patience, but I liked the result including the fact that I could spread the points farther apart. I also filled the frog with epoxy so that narrower wheels didn't drop so much.

I'll undoubtedly continue doing the conversion in the future. It seems like it would be easy for Walthers/Shinohara to update their design. I suppose they have big money invested in the tooling for the present design, and probably not that many people really care.

I followed the directions at the web site http://www.WiringForDCC.com/switches.htm

You have to do the DCC friendly work before the turnout is installed because of the need to replace the throwbar for the points. Also, it helps a lot to be able to do a little careful pushing from the back of the turnout to loosen and remove the pivot assembly.

I generally followed the second approach (the one labeled: "Here is how one of my readers, Gary Feigle, chose to approach the task:") If you do it this way, be very careful removing and re-inserting the closure rails and be sure to keep track of which is the straight and which is the curved. I filled closure rail gaps with a bit of gray plastic (I think it's ABS) to make sure the gaps didn't walk closed as the turnout was operated repeatedly.

The instructions say to cut gaps in the closure rails as close to the frog as possible. For what it's worth, I didn't do that because I was afraid if I did that I'd lose the stability of the frog on the ties. I usually cut the gaps with a motor tool an inch or so away from the kink at the frog end of the closure rail and about the same distance or a bit less from the end of the frog guard rails. That left a good sized frog assembly that was stable and gave me gaps where the rails were about 1/4" apart. The biggest problem was not nicking the rails I wasn't trying to cut.

I used the Plastruct grey plastic to fill the gaps. It doesn't show much when it's trimmed/filed down to the profile of the rail.

Although I did take the trouble to convert all my turnouts (and would do so again--better safe than sorry), it appears, from successful use of Walthers turnouts on some of the Free-mo modules, that conversion of the Walthers turnouts isn't absolutely necessary as long as all parts of the turnout meet the appropriate NMRA standard *and* all wheels conform to the NMRA gauge standard.

Republished from the October 2001 issue of Free-MoNthly