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Orr Traction Turnouts

Wiring an Orr Traction turnout for DCC.

Before anyone gets confused, let me briefly discuss the two ways you might wire your traction. They are:
1. Power from the catenary.
2. A non-powered catenary (meaning all power is taken from the rails.

The first type - power from the catenary - is simple. One wire from your DCC system goes to the traction trackwork and the other wire goes to the catenary. The issues of power routing and "DCC friendly" need not be considered. You will have no DCC problems. How to install catenary and reliably pick up power from it is something I cannot advise.

The second type - a non-powered catenary - is wired just like your typical DCC wiring described in these web pages. The issue addressed here is how do you use traction turnouts. While we are at it, how you use typical traction track as well.

Before we go any further, please note that you only need to be reading this if you intend to use both rails to supply power to your traction equipment and not draw any power from your catenary. If you are drawing from the catenary, read about the first type above.

Typical traction track and turnouts have both rails soldered together with a spacer. For both the turnouts and the track, you must cut the spacers. Before you do so, you must do something to ensure you do not knock the rails out of gauge. Also, cutting all your spacers will leave you with a bunch of pieces.

How you keep your track together is not a big deal. Any way you want to do it is fine. One simple idea is to glue down the track and then cut the spacers with a Dremel. Another simple idea is to glue strips of thick styrenne under the spacers. Then cut the spacers with a Dremel. DON'T cut through the styrenne! I suggest 0.04" or 0.06" styrenne. The thickness is not critical. All that is important is that you don't cut through it. Use thinner styrenne if you want and can cut the spacer carefully.

Cutting the spacer is the first thing you need to do to convert a traction turnout to two rail power. The second thing you need to do is isolate the frog. Look at the photo carefully. There are four cuts in the rails leading to and away from the frog. These have pieces of styrenne glued into these cuts and electrically isolate the frog. Glue pieces of styrenne to the underside of the rails and the frog before cutting the rail. This will hold the frog in position. I suggest several pieces of styrenne. Don't depend on a single piece of styrenne. One piece might break free. Using multiple pieces ensures your frog alignment will be maintained. You should be able to use gel type CA glue to glue the styrenne pieces in place.

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