Trains on Timer

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  • Member since
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Trains on Timer
Posted by OGaugeRailroader on Sunday, December 30, 2018 6:55 PM

I'm building a layout with hands-off, display-style operation. Is it possible (and safe) to operate trains on a timer? For instance, in conventional operation, could the mainline transformer(s) be set at the right speed with engines locked in forward and the transformer plugged into a timer ready-to-go? Or is there some kind of harm in starting up the trains this way?

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Posted by Penny Trains on Thursday, January 03, 2019 7:01 PM
  1. When my trains have sat for awhile on the track, I've noticed they tend to run poorly when I first apply power.  This is especially true for older machines like my Standard Gauge #8 which often requires a serious jolt of juice to get going, otherwise it would just sit there and probably burn out the motor.
  2. My 2035 O27 steamer likewise can have trouble getting going at first.  I have to turn off my #145 and keep my American Flyer loop off for a few minutes so my KW can devote all it's power to warming up the 2035.
  3. Derailments happen on the best trackwork.

I'd keep the transformer throttle handy in case of emergencies.

Becky

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Posted by rtraincollector on Thursday, January 03, 2019 9:22 PM

When growing up there was a place that the trains would go for a set amount of time for say a dime back then, today probably be a dollar for about 3 minutes if that long. I'm sure they service them regularly but they where set to run at a set speed. I would as Becky mentioned thou if they sat for a while to run them with out the timer in place and make sure they where up to speed. 

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Posted by Roger Carp on Friday, January 04, 2019 9:54 AM

Hi,

 

Please contact me at Classic Toy Trains for help with your problem.

 

Happy New Year,

    > 

Roger Carp

Senior editor

Classic Toy Trains

262-796-8776 ext. 253

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 04, 2019 1:18 PM

If I remember correctly there was an article in CTT several years ago where the writer told about building a layout for his grandchildren with a timer on it, however the timer was applied to the wall socket where the layout drew its power, not on the layout itself.

The reason being was to negate the possibility of the grandkids forgetting to "pull the plug" when playtime was over.  He said it worked out just fine.

He also recommended that the timer install be done by a qualified electrician if your electrical skills were marginal.

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Posted by BigAl 956 on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 9:06 AM

Here is another idea I used. Instead of a timer I hooked up one of those motion detection sensors they sell for outdoor lighting. You can adjust those for sensativity and duration. The layout is off until someone approaches then it detects and turns on and runs for x minutes after it last detects motion. This way I don't have to manually keep resetting the timer.

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Posted by SotaPop on Friday, January 11, 2019 9:51 AM

I think this brings up an interesting topic - Should you ever leave a powered layout unattended with trains on the track?

Regardless of how you power your trains, an unattended train sitting on a powered track has the potential for something to go wrong.

Just this week I received some delayed holiday trains.  I placed a specific boxcar (which had exterior lighting) on my track and powered up my layout.  No trains were actually moving - simply sitting on the powered rails.  Wow - this new holiday boxcar really looked cool all lit up!!!

In my excitement, I left my layout to get my wife to come and see this new glorious LED lit boxcar.  I was gone for about 3 minutes.

When I returned, I was surprised to see that this particular boxcar had a smoke unit in it ... wait ... the LED lights are no longer lit ... WAIT ... it’s smoking like CRAZY!!!  The whole boxcar is smoking like CRAZY!!!  I quickly grabbed it off the track as I inhaled a noseful of burnt electrical and plastic smoke ... which lingered for hours in the room.

So the roof of the boxcar melted and warped and of course it’s now junk, but covered under warranty.  Afterwards I reached inside the boxcar and put my finger on the spot where the roof had melted and warped.  I retrieved my finger to find black soot on it.  Obviously extremely hot inside ... hot enough to melt the roof.

If I had been gone for a longer period of time - I wonder if this could have been much worse than it was?  It could have truly been a fire on the main line!

I called my retailer and they had another similar situation, but it was caught much earlier and the damage far less extensive.

So the lesson I learned this week - I will never leave my powered layout unattended again with power-dependent trains on the track.  It might seem a bit extreme, but the experience this week was surprising and totally unexpected.

A fire extinguisher now sits next to my layout ... probably a good general practice either way.

One thing about trains: It doesn't matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 11, 2019 10:39 AM

Good story SotaPop.

I too never leave the layout powered up if I'm not in attendance.  You never know, do you?

The handy fire extinguisher is a good idea, I never thought of that!  I'll have to pick one up "just in case."

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Posted by Penny Trains on Friday, January 11, 2019 6:51 PM

SotaPop
I will never leave my powered layout unattended again with power-dependent trains on the track. It might seem a bit extreme, but the experience this week was surprising and totally unexpected.

Yet another reason why I lost my liking for protosound equipped locomotives.  I didn't like the idea of having to charge the batteries by leaving them on the track and not all engines had a plug jack for the adapter/charger kit.  So what do you do?  Sit there and stare at them?  No thanks, I went back to postwar Lionel.  Big Smile

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 11, 2019 9:42 PM

I solved my Proto-Sound battery problems by yanking 'em and installing BCR battery replacements.  One minute (sometimes less) of track power and I'm ready to go.

The downside is they're about $25 each at my LHS.  So I just didn't do them all at once.  But I'm glad I did.

From what I was told by the Trainmaster at my LHS BCR's are standard equipment now in MTH locomotives, no more batteries.

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