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Shorts in new track

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Shorts in new track
Posted by Moses45 on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:05 PM

I just expanded my Virginian layout by adding 150 feet of track. I turned my Digitrax contoller on and it indicates a short somewhere in the track. First off let me tell you I used mosly Peco Insulforgs and a few Atlas switches. I did not use plastic connectors to insulate them. Was this a mistake. I had heard I dont need to isolate them. Beyond that what is good procedure to find the short? I do own a volt-ohm meter, but I am the picture of ignorance about electricity. But, with your input I will attempt to learn.

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:12 PM

I think a diagram of what you installed would be in order.  I presume that you didn't just install a straight length of track.  Also, take a look around and make sure that you didn't leave a metal tool  across the rails.  Also show us where you put your track feeders.

And if you tapped your feeders off a track bus, make sure that you didn't get some leads swapped someplace.

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Posted by Moses45 on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:29 PM

I will perhaps get some photos posted. There are no metal objects on the track. Almost every joint is soldered. I ran feeders every 6 feet. I will double check the feeders Thanks.

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Posted by gregc on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:50 PM

Moses45
Beyond that what is good procedure to find the short?

divide and conquer

i know this may be difficult, but if you can isolate sections of your layout into smaller and smaller sections, you can use your ohm-meter to locate the the section with the problem.   Of course it's the last section you check.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by cacole on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 3:57 PM

Start with the first turnout you added, and set it for the straight-through routing.  If the short doesn't go away, move to the next one.

Peco Insulfrog turnouts are power routing, so when you throw it for one direction of travel it cuts off power to the other route.  Even so, I ALWAYS put insulated rail joiners on both rails that diverge from the frog to prevent problems like you are experiencing, and then add separate feeder wires beyond the frog.

With over 50 Peco Insulfrog turnouts on a large HO scale club layout, we have never had a problem with one of them causing a short circuit.

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Posted by alco_fan on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 4:27 PM

Moses45
I just expanded my Virginian layout by adding 150 feet of track. I turned my Digitrax contoller on and it indicates a short somewhere in the track.

This is why you should lay a few feet of track, solder a couple of feeders, then check. If OK, lay some more. Then repeat the process, checking _every time_.

As others said, a track diagram may show where you have created a problem that needs gaps. Or you crossed feeders somewhere.

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Posted by Moses45 on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 5:22 PM

If i got a continuity tester would that be useful. If I put one lead on track A and another on track B, could I check sections that way? Like I said, I am learning as I go. As a previous poster said, assemble track and test and the add more and test again. This will be my M.O. in the future.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 5:36 PM

If you have a volt-ohm meter, you already have a continuity tester.  Just set to the lowest resistance range and watch the needle go to zero when you have continuity.

This is where automotive lamp current limiters shine - literally, if they are connected to the rail that's shorted.

About an eternity ago, when metal window screen was a common scenery base, one modeler created some all-but-impossible-to-find shorts when his long spikes contacted the screen wire under his roadbed.  I believe the cure was to apply a LOT of amps to the rails, and watch for smoke.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by richg1998 on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 6:01 PM

Moses45

If i got a continuity tester would that be useful. If I put one lead on track A and another on track B, could I check sections that way? Like I said, I am learning as I go. As a previous poster said, assemble track and test and the add more and test again. This will be my M.O. in the future.

 

 

Yes. From a Google search. Scroll down a little.

http://www.dccwiki.com/Wiring_tools

Rich

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Posted by Moses45 on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 7:39 PM

If you have a volt-ohm meter, you already have a continuity tester.  Just set to the lowest resistance range and watch the needle go to zero when you have continuity.

OK. Help me understand. On one section of track there are 2 rails. Let us call them track A and track B. If I join 2 sections together, do I then touch one probe on track A of one section and jump over the joiner and touch the other probe on track A of the next section.? Or do I check A and B within one section? This may be elementary to you, but it is new to me.

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Posted by davidmurray on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 7:49 PM

You are trying to see if the two rails are electrically continous.  Check one probe on rail A and one probe on Rail B, first on one section of track, and then leap frog down the line.

If two feeder wires are crossed, you will get zero resistance first try.

Dave

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by richg1998 on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 8:22 PM

davidmurray

You are trying to see if the two rails are electrically continous.  Check one probe on rail A and one probe on Rail B, first on one section of track, and then leap frog down the line.

If two feeder wires are crossed, you will get zero resistance first try.

Dave

 

Connect one probe to rail A and one probe to rail B to test for shorts.

 One probe to rail A, and one probe to other rail A is testing for continuity which should be zero ohms, not a short in this case.

 Don't confuse a short with continuity,

 The beauty of the link I posted is you do not have to look at the meter. Just keep working along and if you here the buzz, stop.

 Rich

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 8:44 PM

You have already recieved a lot of helpful advice so I won't go there, but it sounds to me like you have a cross wired feeder. The switchs you are using should not be a problem.

A wiring diagram would be extremely helpful, especially since you added an extension to an exising plan. By chance did you create a reverse loop, for instance?

Frank

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Posted by richg1998 on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 9:29 PM

zstripe

You have already recieved a lot of helpful advice so I won't go there, but it sounds to me like you have a cross wired feeder. The switchs you are using should not be a problem.

A wiring diagram would be extremely helpful, especially since you added an extension to an exising plan. By chance did you create a reverse loop, for instance?

Frank

 

Or maybe a crossover.

Rich

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 9:32 PM

I'm certainly no wiring expert, but when I saw the title of your thread, my first thought was that your problem might have been even more serious if you had instead had tracks in your shortsWhistlingLaugh


Wayne

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Posted by maxman on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 10:56 PM

Moses45
On one section of track there are 2 rails. Let us call them track A and track B. If I join 2 sections together, do I then touch one probe on track A of one section and jump over the joiner and touch the other probe on track A of the next section.? Or do I check A and B within one section? This may be elementary to you, but it is new to me.

Everyone else here keeps talking about continuity and ohms.  I have never had any luck using an ohm meter to troubleshoot anything with DCC.  This is because if you have feeders connected to the track anyplace, you will read back through the rails, feeders, comand station, and anything else in the line.

I set the meter to the AC voltage scale, the smallest scale available that will read up to 20 volts.  If you read from rail A to rail B you should see a voltage.  If you don't, you either have a bad connection, or you have a short.  If you do read a voltage, then the next step is to read from one rail A to the next rail A.  This assumes that the two rail A's are separated by an insulator.  This should read zero volts.  If you read zero, that means that the two rail A feeders are in phase.  If you read a voltage, then that means that the two rail A feeders are out of phase (you have a wire swapped).  This could cause a short.

If you do plan to use the meter set to ohms, make sure that you have the power off.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 4:51 AM

Wow, we are still on the first page of this thread and my head is spinning.

W could definitely use a track plan to see what all is involved here, but if I had one guess, it would be that a pair of feeder wires got crossed.

If all of the track is soldered, then continuity would always be there, so an ohm meter will prove nothing. 

Any chance that a Peco Electrofrog got thrown into the mix?

My advice would be to disconnect one set of feeders at a time until the short disappears.  Or, better yet, disconnect all of the feeders and then reconnect one pair of feeders at a time, testing along the way for shorts.

Rich

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Posted by zstripe on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 4:51 AM

Wayne,

What can I say? Smile, Wink & Grin Laugh Laugh

Frank

BTW: You must now come over and remove all the coffee from my keyboard. Bow

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 5:00 AM

Moses45

OK. Help me understand. On one section of track there are 2 rails. Let us call them track A and track B. If I join 2 sections together, do I then touch one probe on track A of one section and jump over the joiner and touch the other probe on track A of the next section.? Or do I check A and B within one section? This may be elementary to you, but it is new to me.

 

If you have a short on your layout, continuity is not your problem, it is reverse polarity.

Either you crossed feeder wires from the bus to the rails or, as Frank suggested, you created a reverse loop or reversing section with your track work.

Show us your track plan.

Rich

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Posted by Moses45 on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:27 AM

I will try to post an ANYRAIL 5 pic and some photos in the next few days. I dont know how well a 13x25 layout will show up. Also , I have taken some photos. But, I have to get Photobucket to post them Be patient, I am an old fart, who is going to college. If you are in your 60's then no further explanantion is needed. LMAO

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:58 AM

For clarity, be sure to differentiate between RAILS and TRACK.  Track is two rails with ties upder it.  Rails are the individual pieces of metal.  You will also find rather than A and B, people refer to North and South rails.  For example pick a spot an dhte rail closest to the aisle is the South Rail and the rail closest to the wall is the North rail.  That way any place you go you can keep the same orientation of N and S rails.  Many people use different color feeders and use the color to identify the rail.  Two handy memory devices are to use black (black in back) or red (red to rear) wire for the rail closest to the wall.

First step is to visually check all the feeders to make sure that you haven't crossed a feeder to the wrong bus.

You will be testing the resistance (continuity) between the N rail and S rail and than also, when you install gaps you will be testing on the same rail across the gap.

Assuming the feeders are OK, you will probably have to start cutting gaps.  Normally I would suggest that you isolate the new track from the rest of the layout (both the rails and the bus wires) and then use one of three approaches  to find the short:

- Start from the "beginning" and work toward the end, isolating sections of track.

- Start at the "end" and work back toward the old portion of the layout isolating sections of track.

- Go to near the middle of the section and cut gaps there, then go to the middle of the section with the short and cut gaps there, then go to the middle of the section with the short...etc.

However in your case since you did everything at once the same way, I fear that you probably have multiple locations with the same short.  In this case I would take one switch or siding and isolate it from the rest of the layout and the the bus.  Then test that one portion to find where you have the short and where the gaps need to be.  Then go to the rest of the layout and find every place that same situation exists and do the same fix.

Rather than do the entire track plan (unless you have reversing loops), why don't you show us how you wired a switch and a crossover.  Something there is most likely the problem.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:55 AM

Moses45

I am an old fart, who is going to college. If you are in your 60's then no further explanantion is needed. LMAO

 

LOL

Well, that explains it quite well.  Hang in there.  It all turns around when you hit 70.

If you want to email me the pics, I will post them for you.

Rich

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Posted by richg1998 on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:19 AM

I mentioned continuity because you did ask about putting the probes across the junction of two rails. Not part of your problem. That was only, just in case. As you gain more electrical knowledge, it will become clearer to you.

 Don't forget, Google should be your best friend. Today, hardly anything is Ungooleable. The downside is, Google is a privacy thief.

 Try Google for, electrical short and electrical continuity as a couple examples.

 If you ever get curious about DCC, there are thousands of links for all kinds of areas of DCC.

 You can build quite a selection of subjects in your Favorites for all kinds of subjects, including model railroading. Sure makes model railroading much easier to understand and you have many documents at your finger tips.

 Below are a couple links about using meters in model railroading. I have four of those meters for working on cars also, besides electrical wiring in the house. Been using them for some years.

 Again, there are many links about using meters and many You Tube videos about using them.

 You can even find You Tube videos on troubleshooting. Downside is, some videos are not done very well.

 Rivet counters will no doubt tell you the meters are not good enough. I hear that at times.

 http://www.trainelectronics.com/Meter_Workshop/index.htm

http://www.trainelectronics.com/Meter_HF/index.htm

Good luck on your venture.

Rich

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Posted by Moses45 on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:35 AM

Richhotrain

If I knew what your address was I would send them to you. I thought your address might be in your profile, but no luck there.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:39 AM

Moses45

Richhotrain

If I knew what your address was I would send them to you. I thought your address might be in your profile, but no luck there.

 

I will send you a PM

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Posted by Soo Line fan on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 11:56 AM
Disconnect all the new feeders. If the concern is still present I would suspect a reverse loop. If the concern goes away a feeder was crossed.

Jim

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Posted by Kay.Div. on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 4:14 PM

Here is another one for you friends, the other day a friend and I were at our train club and had changed out some switches on our auto reversing section ( it is quite complex with a number of switches) Then when we ran a loco on it it went for a while and stopped. The whole system shut down, indicating a short. It took us over an hour to figure it out, Finally realised that we had another loco stopped right over an insulated break in the rails, the tire was able to bridge the gap and cause the short.  Solution: -   put some kind of signs on the side of of the track to indicate where the insulated breaks are so we don't stop trains right on the breaks.

Kay.Div.

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Posted by zstripe on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:31 PM

Kay.Div,

Put one of these up, next to the break: Oops - Sign Dots - Sign Whistling

Frank

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Posted by Soo Line fan on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:28 PM

zstripe

Kay.Div,

Put one of these up, next to the break: Oops - Sign Dots - Sign Whistling

Frank

 

Another good one...............

Jim

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 10:26 PM

Had something similar happen. Everything was fine and then I went to show off the layout and it was dead. Tuned out I had a siding that normally holds 5 cars and I squeezed in a 6th, whose metal wheel was right over a gap that had to be there, removed car, layout was fine.

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