Seep vs Peco point motors

Hi,
I'm just about to embark on the track laying for my new layout, and I think I'm going to have to decide what to do about point motors from the outset.
For my other layout, I used Peco point motors with the extra switch, which I used to control the frog polarity. They've been fine, but I thought the switch was a bit flimsy and you have to pay extra for it.
You can get a Seep point motor with an integrated switch, which seems much more attractive. However, they appear to need to be mounted under the baseboard with screws, and I fear this may make them difficult to get "square" with the point above (well, difficult for someone as cack-handed as me, anyway), whereas the Peco ones clip to the point itself.
Does anyone have any experience of the Seep point motors? I'm going to be using DCC (haven't decided which system yet) and I'm going to control the points using some sort of accessory decoder (the only one I know about is the Lenz one). I'd also like to hear about any experiences, good or bad, that people have had controlling the points via DCC.
Just one more question - using DCC is it always better to power the point motors with a seperate feed? And how do you do it? I anticipate that my layout will have approximately 20 points, and it will go around the perimeter of my loft, so it has quite a long track run.
TIA.
Stuart.
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My layout is fixed, very, very fixed which means that when I wish to motorise a set of points (after pulling my layout apart and relaying it for the "nth time") I have to climb under it rather than simply life a board. To help me I drill a couple of very narrow pilot holes on either side of the tie bar. Then once I get below I can draw a line between the two pilot holes - giving me the centreline for the points and Bob's your uncle.
The other thing you can do is surface mount them and connect them to the pointwork by a linkage. Something I've done with a lot of my motors, again very sucessful.
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All the best,

Chris Wilson
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Oh goody, shall we have another blast about DCC and computer control ? Hornby do an accessory controller... Lot of people not happy with using a DCC unit for point control as it can take a few button pushes and address remembering/lookups. So have a try with your chosen unit and compare with computer control or straight levers. Also point control can steal an amp from your power supply.
Cheers, Simon
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Stuart Smith wrote:

Don't dismiss other options, such as the Hoffmann (from Finney and Smith in the UK) and the Tortoise (getting quite cheap now as the dollar is on the skids). I'm not much of a fan of solenoid turnout motors. The Hoffmann is pretty simple to fit and adjust after fitting. The Tortoise can be a bit large for some baseboard designs.

There are lots of accessory decoders. The better UK DCC dealers should have a selection.

I've only seen it done once or twice. Once very well done.
If doing it, give serious thoughts to how your handsets will control the turnouts at the same time as the trains; some are more cryptic than a bad VCR controller, others superbly simple. Price is not a determinant of ease of use, some of the cheaper items are amongst the easiest to use.
Remember when selecting a DCC system to factor in things like turnout control, and it may tip you in favour of one maker or another. Lenz control gear interworks via its data bus with Roco controllers. Digitrax interworks via its bus with Uhlenbrock (Fleischmann) controllers.
I'm now waiting to see a Bachmann Dynamis system in action before making a decision on which DCC to purchase; prior to getting some reports of Dynamis, I was finding it a hard call between a Digitrax Zepher and an Uhlenbrock Daisy.

I'd lay at least two pairs of electrical supplies around such a layout, using very substantial fat cable. One for the primary DCC power, and a secondary one with just power for anything else which needs it (such as supplimentary power for solenoid turnout motors). If not using secondary boosters with built in short-circuit isolation, I would fit isolating switches for sections of the DCC supply (corresponding to baseboard areas) to help in isolating any short circuits or faults in the system.
- Nigel
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Stuart Smith said the following on 26/11/2007 21:53:

Yes - don't rely on the built-in "switches" (really a washer floating about that occasionally makes contact with a couple of pads so long as you have the alignment spot on.) The mechanical alignment does need to be fairly accurate as well.
If you don't mind the noise (and if you were thinking of solenoids I guess you don't), Tortoise motors are quite good and less critical about alignment. There are other slow-mo TOUs such as Lemaco and Fulgurex. My current favourites are either memory wire as used on my narrow gauge layout or belt-drive motors like Exactoscale used to sell. The former is totally silent, the latter virtually silent, but both need a bit of non-cack-handedness to make :-)
To me, silent operation is essential. There's nothing guaranteed to spoil the atmosphere of a layout at an exhibition than a great clunk or whirr as a motor changes.
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Paul Boyd
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I was under the impression that Tortoise motors were pretty quiet, and Fulgurex were the really noisy ones (at least, the Fulgurex ones I have are noisy. I don't have any Tortoise at the moment, but when I've seen them used I've hardly heard them).
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SPROG DCC will soon be launching a DCC accessory decoder to drive RC servos. These are a fraction of the cost of Tortoise. Like Tortoise, and other slow motion solutions they are quiet and do not stress the points like a solenoid motor can.
Andrew Crosland http://www.sprog-dcc.co.uk
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snipped-for-privacy@sheerstock.fsnet.co.uk wrote:

Brilliant.
I presume from description its a proper DCC decoder, and not tied in any way to running the layout with a Sprog (good though they are).
- Nigel
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Yes, its a proper DCC decoder intended for use with any DCC system.
The first version is 6 channel (ie controls 6 servos) with 6 local control inputs.
Andrew
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I take it the servos would need to be mounted in something to be usable as point motors? Are there any ready-made point motor units that could be used in conjunction with the decoder?
Ian J.
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Ian J. wrote:

There are lots of radio control servo designs. But, most are a rectangular box which can be screwed to a baseboard and an arm which comes out the top and moves (rotates).
It requires little more than a bent bit of stiff wire (from radio control parts stockists) to connect such an arm to a typical Peco turnout. Put a small omega loop in the wire to take out any over-pull.
Some experimentation required to get the correct pull, but as most servos have multiple connection places for wires, this won't be difficult.
30 seconds with Google, and I'd found UK supplies of radio control servos at 4 each. I'm sure more searching (and ebay, particularly stuff from Hong Kong) or a volume purchase would drop the price further.
- Nigel
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OK thanks.
Ian J.
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I'm using a panel of 6mm ply with a 37mm hole cut out with a hole saw. The servo is mounted so that the arm comes through the hole.A couple of strips of 12mm (or so) timber are used as spacers to mount the whole on the underside of the baseboard. There will be pictures on the website eventually.

Yes, it is *very* important that there is some give in the linkage. Otherwise the servo will attempt to carry on driving against the points and draw a lot more current. I'm using music wire to give a flexible link between the servo arm and the point tiebar. It also makes mechanical setup a lot less critical.

The endpoints of the servo movement can be set by CVs so it's not too difficult.

Howes in Kidlington advertise Acoms AS-16s at 4 for 15. These are the ones I'm using and they're even cheaper on Ebay. We will consider stocking them or selling a complete kit of decoders and servos.
Back to the testing...
Andrew
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Thanks for all the replies, chaps. I've been put off the Seeps a bit; the perceived advantages evaporate if the internal switch is unreliable.
I've picked up a couple of the Peco microswitch adaptors for the point motors, and I'm going to try and fit them, to see if they're any less flimsy than the single switch. I'm conscious of the fact that a Fulgurex motor is the about same price as a Peco motor+microswitch, so I'm going to pick up one of those too, the next time I'm at an exhibition.
Even that isn't without its hazards, it would seem. Someone on a forum said that you have to wire both the switches on the Fulgurex to the frog - something to do with the switch switching over instantly, but the point blades moving over more slowly, causing shorts. No doubt I'll be back on here pleading for help when I've installed one!
Thanks again for the responses.
Regards,
Stuart.
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On 09/12/2007 14:30, Stuart Smith said,

That sounds like a load of crap, to put it bluntly! The switches are electrically connected to the adjacent stock rail, and insulated from the crossing (frog). Electrically speaking, the switches and the crossing can do whatever they like without interfering with each other. You would only get a short if you drove a loco over the turnout without the crossing being set to the correct polarity, but by the time the loco is moving over the turnout, the switch will have finished switching anyway.
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Paul Boyd
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Paul Boyd wrote:

For electro frog points he's quite correct unless you take off the contact tags on the switch rails, talking about Peco points. Probably different for other makes and handbuilt of course.
Same potential problem with Tortoise motors as well.
Chris
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Unless the point is still wired as bought. If it is, then the blades could cause shorts?
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Ian J.

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On 09/12/2007 16:42, Ian J. said,

How? Even on Peco points, the blades are insulated from the frogs (reverting to OO-speak!!) If the open blade was at the same polarity as the frog, then you have the very real potential for shorts from the widely varying wheel backs on RTR stock. Last time I owned a Peco point, that simply wasn't possible with either insulfrogs or electrofrogs. Admittedly I don't have any Peco points to hand, but I can't believe they would change the design to introduce the possibility of shorts when they had the design right in the first place. If the design has changed, then I stand to be corrected, but I really can't see Peco doing that.
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Indeed, that is the case in theory. In practice, the clearances are so wide that you get away with all sorts.
I only have N gauge electrofrog (where the clearance mentioned above is nearly 2mm). The switch blades are electrically bonded to the frog and it's the contact between one blade and the stock rail that switches the frog polarity.
The problem happens when the principle of proper point wiring is misunderstood or not carried out correctly. If you switch the frog by other means and do not isolate it from the switch blades then the frog can change polarity before the switch blades change over and cause a short. Once the frog is isolated, the switch blades should be electrically bonded to the adjacent stock rail.
Andrew Crosland
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There are three scenarios you need to consider.
1. It's a really, really bad idea to power solenoid motors from DCC unless the point motor driver has a CDU (Capacitor Discharge Unit) built in, or the facility to add one. The solenoid will crowbar the DCC signal when energised and cause all sorts of bad things. The CDU supplies the oomph when required but recharges slowly from DCC at a much lower current.
2. If you power point motors from DCC and the booster shuts down due to a short caused by a loco running into points set the wrong way then you cannot change the points.
3. Even if you have seperate power for the point motors but use the track DCC to send commands to the accessory decoders, you still cannot change the points if the booster shuts down. Solution to this is a separate booster that can supply power and DCC data to the decoders.
MBQ
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