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Power Pack Troubleshooting

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  • Member since
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Power Pack Troubleshooting
Posted by Mjorstad on Saturday, February 1, 2020 10:49 PM

So I bought a Revell MicroTrain power pack a while ago for an attempt N scale layout, and have tried to use it recently to power an HO test track.  I have two wires with prongs at the ends attached to the DC ports, but when I put the transformer at max power and touch the wires to the track terminals, all I get are a few sparks-I can’t get the train to move.  


I know the train works as I tested it elsewhere, so what’s my issue here? What am I doing wrong?  Any help would be appreciated, thank you!

  • Member since
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  • From: Northeast OH
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Posted by tstage on Sunday, February 2, 2020 12:51 AM

"Train set" power pack quality is notoriously mediocre, at best.  For starters I would suggest dumping the Revell and purchasing a good-quality MRC power pack - e.g. Railpower 1370.  M.B Klein sells them discounted for $40 ($63 MSRP).  I picked one up new off eBay years ago for $25.  Your locomotives will run much better.


Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, February 2, 2020 7:48 AM

I agree with Tom, schematics are unavailable, and cases can be require special bits to open them.

so what’s my issue here? What am I doing wrong?

It could be a track issue as well.  We don't know what you haven't told us.  Is this just a piece of test track or is it a never run before new layout with issues like power routing turnouts that don't have insulated joiners?  Or as in my case, the metal scale ruler lying across the tracks?

A voltmeter, even a cheap one, is invaluable tool in model railroading. 



COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, February 2, 2020 8:53 AM

Hook up the power pack to one piece of track only. Make sure the wires are on the "DC" terminals for the track. See if the locomotive works then.


If it does not, and the locomotive is known good, you need another power pack. Do not try to fix a cheap power pack, that will just lead to frustration.


The Railpower 1370 is a good choice as suggested.




Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, February 2, 2020 10:44 AM

 COuple of things may be wrong here. FIrst, as an N scale pack, it may not have enough power for the HO train, though if they HO loco is fairly new, not a 50 or 60's vintage thing, that's probably not the issue.

 Revell hasn't made trains in forever - so that power pack is almost certainly a rheostat. HO and N scale power packs in the rheostat days were not interchangeable - they needed different value rheostats to be able to control the trains. That's why classic old MRC power packs often had two versions, say the classic 501 and the 501N for N scale. 

 If you want to stick with vintage, you need to be careful that the line cords are in good shape, and most power packs of the time used selenium rectifiers which by now are well past their typical life - and when they burn out, they give off a very nasty (and harmful) smell. Unless you undertand all this and know how to repalce old components with modern ones, and know how to safely work with somethign that plugs in to a wall outlet, your best bet is to take Kevin's advice. The MRC 1370 is a quite decent DC power pack without all the extras, simple and dependable. ANd far superior to any train set power pack.

 ANd if you've seen those black bricks with red speed controls - just throw them in the trash. One of those came with the large scale Thomas I got my older son many years ago. Within 2 days it literally melted into the carpet, lucky it didn;t set anything on fire. It wasn't shorted or anything. 



Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's


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