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Help with troublesome section of track

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  • Member since
    May, 2019
  • 6 posts
Help with troublesome section of track
Posted by coreyhkh on Sunday, May 12, 2019 3:47 PM

Hey all I am wondering if someone can help me, I am building a layout based off the Virginian and everything has progressed smoothly except for the track in the picture. My problem is my two BLI steam engines stall or reset the sound going through the turn outs either straight or switched, but the odd thing is it seems to be alot worse going right to left then say the other way, my diesel on the other hand has zero issues and seems to just be related to my steamers. 

am I doing something wrong with the wires or do I need insolated rail joiners somewhere? 

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  • Member since
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  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
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Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, May 13, 2019 1:44 PM

Hello All,

Welcome to the forums Welcome

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I have a Bachmann USRA 0-6-0 that stuttered when passing over the re-railer sections of track.

Turned out the gear cover on the bottom of the loco was contacting the center section just enough for the wheels on one side to loose contact with the rails.

I shaved down the gear cover with a rotary tool so it would clear the re-railers.

Have you checked for clearance problems?

If it is not a clearance issue when passing over the turnouts it might be you need to power the frogs.

What brand and number (i.e. #4, #6 or #8) of turnouts are you using?

How are you throwing the turnouts; manually, or with some type of switch motor?

If you are using a switch motor what type?

The more information you can provide, beyond a photo, the better help folks on these forums can give you.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
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Posted by cuyama on Monday, May 13, 2019 2:12 PM

Here's your photo

  • Member since
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  • From: Canada, eh?
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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, May 13, 2019 2:32 PM

Welcome to the Model Railroader Forums!

I'm not all that familiar with the BLI steamers, but most such locos depend on  current pick-up through both the wheels of the locomotive and those of the tender.  In some cases, particularly on older locos, the drivers on one side of the locomotive were used, in conjunction with the wheels on the opposite side of the tender.

Many more recent steamers pick-up current from all drivers and all tender wheels, generally making them more immune to the situation which you describe.

I'll hazard a guess that you're using Atlas turnouts, which usually have a non-powered frog.  If you loco picks up current on only one side of the drivers, and that side happens to be on frog when the loco stutters, it may explain the problem.
The usual solution is to use a self-tapping screw and some wire to power the frog, and there should be some info on that HERE.

There have also been some Atlas turnouts which had frogs higher than the adjoining rails.  A diesel, with its relatively flexible trucks and all-wheel pick-up, could easily navigate such difficulties, but a steamer, with a longer and more rigid wheelbase, might have the entire driver-set lifted by that high frog, losing contact with the powered rails before and after the area of the frog.  If the drivers being lifted were the ones used for power collection, they'd get none from the un-powered frog.

A loco passing over such a turnout at high speed might make it with only a minor hesitation, but at realistic speeds, the loco could stop dead.

I learned this when a friend bought several brass locomotives to run on my layout, as he, at that time, didn't have anywhere to run them.  While my plastic steamers had no issues with the high frogs because they had all-wheel pick-up, the brass locos all quit on those unpowered frogs, even when their wheelbase exceeded the length of the frog, as the stiff springing common to such models simply raised the entire driver set.
I asked my friend to leave one of the locos with me (all of them negotiated other Atlas turnouts on the layout without difficulty, so I knew that the problem was with those particular turnouts). 
I didn't initially know that the problem I've just described was the cause at that time, but a later check, with the power off and a metal straightedge across the turnout soon revealed the too-high frog, and I immediately checked every turnout on the layout, finding four or five with the same problem.

I used a mill file, across the rails, to bring them down almost to the height of the adjoining rails, then finished off with a finer file, which totally eliminated the problem.

It's easy to check for the high frog and easy to correct, and if that's not causing the problem, powering the frog isn't all that difficult either.

Wayne

  • Member since
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  • 6 posts
Posted by coreyhkh on Monday, May 13, 2019 2:47 PM

Thank you, so what I have found is the engines are not just stalling but shorting out and for the life of me caint figure out how that is possible on an unpowered switch.  The problem seems to be worse on my 2-6-2 backing up tender first.

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, May 13, 2019 7:16 PM

Who made the turnouts, and what model are they?

Peco turnouts have a well-known issue with wheels bridging the frog gap and thus causing a short.  A bit of clear nail polish will insulate the gap and cure the problem.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    May, 2019
  • 6 posts
Posted by coreyhkh on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 11:31 AM

so I fixed my problem it turned out to be dirty wheels, I found on another thread someone was having the same sort of issues with another loco and it turned out the wheels where dirty from the factory. 

  • Member since
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  • 19 posts
Posted by Mmbushnell on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 5:05 PM

First of all, nice photo!  It really helps with understanding the problem.  

Secondly, with BLI locos, I'll hazard a guess that you're operating DCC.  

Thirdly, Allan Gartner's Wiring for DCC is an EXCELLENT reference on DCC and turnouts --  http://www.wiringfordcc.com/switches.htm . 

Here's another -- https://dccwiki.com/DCC_Friendly_Turnout . 

There are also many others; search on "DCC friendly turnouts."  There are also a few helpful YouTube videos on this topic.  It may help to familiarize yourself with the things to watch out for.  

What jumped out at me, immediately, was that the point rails and the closure rails (using the terminology from the above site) appear to be powered through contact between the points and the stock rails, and also through the flexible joint between the point rails and the closure rails.  Both of these electrical connections are fraught, and can be unreliable. Also, it's not obvious whether the points are electrically bonded to one another through the throw bar, or not. So there are two cases to consider.

In the first case, where the points are electrically connected (typical in old-style Shinohara code 100 turnouts), you may be experiencing an intermittent short, caused by flanges of the loco or tender contacting the open point rail or adjacent closure rail, causing a momentary DCC short, and loco stall.  This is a common problem using non-DCC-friendly turnouts with DCC.  

How to diagnose this situation?  The easiest way is to power-down the layout, and using a multimeter, test for continuity (or zero resistance) between the two point rails.  If the two point rails ARE electrically connected, your best bet is to take up the turnout and modify it, so that the points and closure rails are electrically isolated from one another.  Allan Gartner explains his approach to such modifications, and there are others.  Do some searching, watch the videos, and decide which approach suits you.  

Myself, I have had good results modifying old Shinohara turnouts with PC board ties from Fast Tracks.  It took a couple of turnouts to develop a good technique, but it's mostly a matter of patience, plus good soldering technique.  

In the second case, the point rails are already electrically isolated from one another, which simplifies things.  In this second case, you may be experiencing a weak or intermittent connection, either/or between a point rail and its stock rail, or a weak connection between a point rail and the adjacent closure rail.  

The simplest approach would be to add a feeder to each closure rail from the adjacent stock rail, guaranteeing a solid electrical connection.  If the problem still persists after installing the feeders, adding a jumper across the point/closure joint is indicated.  This is a bit trickier, but not that hard.  A short length of braided solder remover is useful for this application.  

In either case, you've got a little bit of work ahead of you.  But isn't that the essence of model railroading?  Good luck! 

  • Member since
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  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 5:18 PM

coreyhkh

Thank you, so what I have found is the engines are not just stalling but shorting out and for the life of me caint figure out how that is possible on an unpowered switch.   

coreyhkh

so I fixed my problem it turned out to be dirty wheels, I found on another thread someone was having the same sort of issues with another loco and it turned out the wheels where dirty from the factory.  

Dirty wheels can cause a loco to stall but not to short. Your replies are in conflict with one another.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    May, 2019
  • 19 posts
Posted by Mmbushnell on Thursday, May 16, 2019 12:13 PM

Check out Larry Puckett's (DCC Guy) arrticle, "Dealing with shorts at turnouts," Pg. 62, May 2019 Model Railroader, for more discussion on this issue.  

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  • 163 posts
Posted by PC101 on Friday, May 17, 2019 8:39 PM

Both of my BLI M1 Mountains 4-8-2 did one of these three, shorted/stalled/hesitated on the dirverging route of left hand turnouts. To find the trouble I sat in the dark with a flashlight and watched till I located the exact spot over and over till I found out it was the locos. and not the track work. Both loco's. pilot truck/leading wheel flanges would touch the frame of the loco. as it went though the turnout (I saw the arc/light in the dark up under the frame and arc/burn spots on the metal frame when the lights were back on and examining the under side). So now it's Dremal tool time, and removed some frame metal forward of the leading wheels. No more trouble. Never at any time did I have any other BLI, AHM, Bachmann or Rivarossi steam do this at this spot. 

 

WPA
  • Member since
    April, 2018
  • 29 posts
Posted by WPA on Saturday, May 18, 2019 9:42 AM

I am having trouble in the exact same spot, same layout, using N scale Atlas code 55.  Even have same Woodland foam in yard area (wish used cork)....almost looks like my bench. I found that the slightest barely detectable gap stalls my 6 wheel Spectrum SD40 (Using DCC).  I made the mistake of raising the mainline above the yard and being new to code 55/DCC did not realize the slope down to yard was going to make me regret the change in elevation, causing some subtle rail gaps.  Had to buy track gauge since it was driving me nuts.  Also caused derailments at slightly lower frogs.  

The foam base as opposed to cork also caused slight rail elevation/fluxuation changes as did the slightest change in latex film thickness for gluing track down.  I thought dirt was the issue but it was very very subtle gaps between rail and wheel.  Where it would stall, I would slide a toothpick under the outside tie and slowly push it under to raise the rail.  If no change would then slowly push down on the outside tie to see if that worked.  Did this to both sides until figured out the problem area. Once figured all the gaps out firmed up the track with a shim or tack then with ballast and glue in that spot to cement it firm until full blown ballast later.  

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