Micro-engineering switches look good and have a cast frog that is easily powered.
Feb 18 2009 - Frog Power
There are a few topics that seem to always bring out a lot of discussion in model railroading, what is the best scale, what is the best layout, what is the best way to power a switch frog? Like the answer to that question, "how can I build all the trees I need?", answer, "model the desert", the answer to the frog power question is often "don't bother". And I will admit I have often been happy with that answer.
However, not all frogs are created equal - i.e. some frogs are very short and some are quite long. Take for instance the Peco Insulfrog turnouts, where the un-powered portion is so short, perhaps an eighth of inch not counting the gap in front of the point, which can't be powered in any case, that powering the frog is a moot point. On the other hand are hand laid switches, such as those made with a Fast Track kit, the length of the un-powered frog can be an inch and a half or so. In this case, powering the frog is of obvious benefit. The easy way out is to use the Insulfrogs, which I like a lot and have used a lot of. However, these gems are quite expensive and recently their price has gone above $30 while Micro-Engineering turnouts remain at $18 and Atlas has switches around $12. I assume a lot of this price increase is because the Pecos are made in Europe and the falling dollar has made it difficult for those of us living in the New Third World to afford the finer things from the Old Country. Also, the hand-laid stuff really looks the best and hand-laid track REALLY impresses your friends and increases the probability you will make it into Great Model Railroads significantly :-)
One solution to powering frogs - run big engines like this Cab-forward which has 26 wheels per rail to pick up power.
Then there is the other solution to powering the frog - don't bother and only run big locomotives such as this Cab-forward articulated 4-8-8-2 steam locomotive. With lots of wheels picking up power, the chances of a this locomotive losing power on a switch is fairly low. Still, most locomotives are shorter than this and as your layout ages and the track gets older you need all the help you can get to prevent power glitches. Since powering your frogs is relatively easy to do while you are building the layout and relatively harder to add later, it makes sense to power your frogs, just like it makes sense to put in lots of power drops while building.
How I usde a lever switch mounted on a servo with foam tape to power a frog.
Here is how I used a miniature lever switch mounted on the back of a servo to power the frog on one of my turnouts. The servo horn depresses the lever at one end of the throw and switches the power. These lever switches are quite reasonably priced and mounting with tape could hardly be simpler. I use 3M automotive acrylic mounting tape, which holds well and is strong, yet can be removed with a bit of persistence by starting at one corner and levering with a knife blade.