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Ready to Start Wiring My Layout - Need Help

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Posted by starman on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 12:14 PM

 
Well, I started wiring my layout and immediate ran into a problem.  My DCS100 Command Station is located in the upper right-hand corner of my layout diagram.  I have wires from the Track A and Track B outputs of my Command Station going to a distribution board.  From the distribution board I have one pair of buss wires going in one direction and one pair of buss wires going in the other direction.  I have connected one set of feeder wires going from the buss wires to my RED track, which is NOT physically connected to my BLUE Track, and everything is fine (no shorts, as expected).  However, even before I connect any feeder wires to my BLUE Track, I have continuity between rails A and B and every other rail in all of my yards.  Any suggestions as to what is going on?
 
Jack
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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 3:53 PM

starman
I have connected one set of feeder wires going from the buss wires to my RED track, which is NOT physically connected to my BLUE Track, and everything is fine (no shorts, as expected). However, even before I connect any feeder wires to my BLUE Track, I have continuity between rails A and B and every other rail in all of my yards.

 There is a connection at turnout 4 (I didn't see which turnouts you are using) and several of us suggested adding another crossover, so this diagram may need updated.

The other possilbity it that there are feeders that really do go to the blue track

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by starman on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 4:50 PM
Henry
 
Thanks for your reply.  I currently have insulated connectors between switches 3 and 4.  I am not going to add the additional crossover until I correct the current problem I have.  I have not added any feeders to the blue track, but I will check to see if I accidently added a feeder to the blue track when I thought I was adding the feeder to my red track.  I’ll let you know what happens.
 
Thanks,  Jack

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 4:54 PM

Since it's electricity, it could be magic, but my money is on the feeders.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by starman on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 7:20 PM

 

Well, Henry, it must be magic.  I have several feeder pairs from my buss going to the RED track.  I ran an engine and several cars around the track with no problem. 
 
I checked the Blue track several times and found NO feeder wires.  I checked to be sure the BLUE track was NOT connected to my Command Station.  I checked that NO cars or engines were on the track.  There is nothing across the rails of my BLUE track that would obviously cause a short.  However, I have continuity across the BLUE track A & B rails and ALL tracks connected to my BLUE track.  How can this be??? 
 
Finally, I decided to connect one feeder pair to my BLUE track and turn on the power.  As you can imagine, I got the 4 beeps on my Command Station that indicates a short. Could there be a track connection somewhere in one of my yards causing the short?
 
I’m totally at a loss!  Do you have any new thoughts? 
 
Jack

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by chenxue on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 11:29 PM

Jack! You did remember to gap at 24-46, right? (and no feed to that section)  Other than that, try isolating the turntable.  And delete all cookies if you can't log in. :D

Cid    (Memphis, Tennessee)

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, July 9, 2020 8:09 AM

 Is track NN continuous through the coal dumper? If so, the tail track forms a wye with turnout 43, so you need to insulate the point end of 43 to isolate the kickback.

                                   --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by starman on Thursday, July 9, 2020 9:35 AM

 

 

Cid and Randy
 
Thanks for your replies.  The short answer is no, I have not insulated anything.  This morning, I will insulate the Blue track just to the right of switch 24 and just to the left of switch 46.  I will also insulate the point end of switch 43.  While I have been working on my layout for quite some time, I am new to wiring a layout.  Thanks for your comments.  I would have never known to do the insulation.  I see now why the insulation is necessary as I am learning a lot.
 
Jack
 
PS  My father worked for several years in the Car Shop in the N&W Lamberts Point Yard until he was laid off during the depression.  An uncle was a holster in the yard.  As a child I remember they always called what we now refer to as turnouts, switches.  I guess that's why I usually call the switches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by starman on Thursday, July 9, 2020 11:34 AM

 

OK, I have insulated the BLUE track between switches 24 and 46.  I insulated the end of switch 43 from the kickback track.  I still have a short!  I decided to disconnect both BLUE tracks by the letter V, thus isolating the Lamberts Point Yard from the rest of the BLUE track.  I also disconnected the end of track N from the turntable.  I now have no short on the BLUE track outside the yard, but every rail in the yard (expect between switches 24 and 46 and the kickback track) has continuity with every other rail in the yard.  Just to be sure, I again checked to be sure I have NO feeder wires from the buss to anything in the yard.  There are none.  So, the short is somewhere in the yard.  Do y’all see any other place(s) in the yard that need to be isolated?  This is frustrating but I’ll stick with it until we solve the problem!!  Thanks again for your interest in helping me solve this problem. 
 
Jack

 

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Posted by chenxue on Thursday, July 9, 2020 3:21 PM

Frustrating, I know.  Try disconnecting the track and bus at W.  Maybe it will narrow down the problem area to either north yard or south yard.

Cid    (Memphis, Tennessee)

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Posted by mikeGTW on Thursday, July 9, 2020 4:16 PM
Jack You never said what brand of switches you are using If you are positive there are no wires attached then it's a switch
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Posted by starman on Thursday, July 9, 2020 5:10 PM

 

 
I disconnected the BLUE track from the buss going to the Command Station before my last post.  This evening, I will disconnect track W just to the right to switch 35.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I am using Atlas HO code 100 Mark IV switches.  I believe I have 33 of them in my Lamberts Point Yard.  How should I go about checking my switches?
 
Jack

 

 

 

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, July 9, 2020 8:23 PM

 DO you have a bus and feeders for the blue loop? Even if it's not connected to the bus for the red loop? You may have one or more feeders ont eh blue side wrong, that would cause a short even if all the required tracks are isolated.

 Otherwise - I hope you are not yet another victim of the Atlas Myster Short - there have been several people here and just the past week, a local friend had the same issue on his layout, a short for no obvious reason. Tracked down to the same issue that some people here have posted about, an internal short in an Atlas turnout. The only way you are going to find that is to isolate each turnout, and if your track is already fastened down,m this is not going to be an easy task.

 Lesson learned - test as you go, that way if it was fine until you just installed the next 4 turnouts and now there is a short, the problem MUST be within those 4 turnouts. 

                                      --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by chenxue on Thursday, July 9, 2020 10:46 PM

Jack, hope it's going OK... I think you are proceeding correctly, try to isolate just half of the suspected area, as you have been, and test again.  A couple of iterations and you should be down to the problem.  (In theory) 

Cid    (Memphis, Tennessee)

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Posted by starman on Friday, July 10, 2020 7:35 AM

 

Bunner about the Atlas switches perhaps having a problem.  I have not heard this before.  I’ll try isolating half of the yard and continue with that plan until I have a winner.  I hope it is not more than one. I don’t have any feeder wires connected to my BLUE track so I know that is not the problem.  I only have 33 switches in the Lamberts Point Yard, so it should be a piece of cake, right??  Big Smile

Jack

 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, July 10, 2020 8:28 AM

 Divide and conquer. Make 2 halves, one half should be fine, the other half will show a short. Take the shorting half, divide that in two, and repeat until you narrow it down.

 Considering the number of turnouts they sell and the number of times someone has had an issue, I'd say it's probably a fairly rare issue where one gets by QC now and then, not some sort of widespread issue. And only with newer manufactured turnouts. Maybe not coincidently since production moved to China.

                                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by mikeGTW on Friday, July 10, 2020 9:06 AM

Do like what Randy says   and you will find it the last place you test LOL  

I have well over a hundred switches and so far  all have worked fine  And mine are a mix of different brands and age  some of them probably 40 yrs or more  But all it takes is one to mess you up     

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Posted by starman on Friday, July 10, 2020 9:50 AM

I found the short!! 

I isolated sections of the Lamberts Point Yard, one at a time.  Of course, the last section I isolated had the short.  I then started isolating subsections and finally found a switch that had a short.  I purchased all switches new, and assumed they worked.  Bad assumption on my part.  All of this frustration was caused by one bad switch.  I will be checking each section, very carefully, after replacing the switch and reconnecting the sections.

Thanks to all who offered their help.  Without your advice, especially to look specifically at each switch, I am not sure how I would have solved the problem.

Jack

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, July 10, 2020 9:54 AM

Great.  Where was the short within the switch?

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

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Posted by chenxue on Friday, July 10, 2020 10:03 AM

Great news, Jack!!!

Cid    (Memphis, Tennessee)

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Posted by peahrens on Friday, July 10, 2020 10:48 AM

rrinker
Lesson learned - test as you go, that way if it was fine until you just installed the next 4 turnouts and now there is a short, the problem MUST be within those 4 turnouts. 

Randy, good advice.  I would include doing at least some minimal loco / rolling stock running.  That would add the ability to notice running issues such as kinks, derailments at turnouts (not flat, etc.) which one would rather correct as soon as practical to ease the corrective steps.

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by starman on Friday, July 10, 2020 4:47 PM

 

I’m not sure where the switch is shorted.  I’ve looked at it and it looks like all the other switches.  I’ve poked around with my VOM but everywhere I touch seems to be a short.  It would be interesting to discover the problem.  Perhaps I could fix the problem.
 
Jack

 

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Posted by starman on Friday, July 10, 2020 5:05 PM

FYI  The switch with the short was #20.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, July 10, 2020 6:16 PM

peahrens

 

 
rrinker
Lesson learned - test as you go, that way if it was fine until you just installed the next 4 turnouts and now there is a short, the problem MUST be within those 4 turnouts. 

 

Randy, good advice.  I would include doing at least some minimal loco / rolling stock running.  That would add the ability to notice running issues such as kinks, derailments at turnouts (not flat, etc.) which one would rather correct as soon as practical to ease the corrective steps.

 

 Yes - by "test as you go" I mean wire things as you go along, and actually run trains - to check both electrical AND mechanical operation. This is how I've always gone about building layouts, and I see no reason to change for my new one.

                                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, July 10, 2020 6:21 PM

starman

 

I’m not sure where the switch is shorted.  I’ve looked at it and it looks like all the other switches.  I’ve poked around with my VOM but everywhere I touch seems to be a short.  It would be interesting to discover the problem.  Perhaps I could fix the problem.
 
Jack

 

 

 If it's like what others have reported - the way Atlas turnouts are made, since they are non-power routing and have insulate frogs, at the frog there are actually 3 layers of metal with plastic in between. The top one is the frog itself, metal but not connected to anything. Then there is a thin strip of the one closure rail crossing under the frog, and finally a thin strip that is the other closure rail passing under the frog and the other strip. If the molding machine fails to inject enough plastic between the two strips, or if they are already touching when the plastic is injected, it's a short. And you'll never see it because there is yet another layer of plastic undeneath the bottom strip. If a close inspection, perhaps with a magnifier, doesn't reveal any other obvious places where one rail is touching the other, this is probably what happened.

                                                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
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Posted by peahrens on Friday, July 10, 2020 7:14 PM
Another aspect (hopefully not going off on a tangent) is worth mentioning.  Opposite to the problem of a turnout with a short, I had a Walthers-Shinohara with a bad built in jumper that left one piece of track dead.  (I power each piece of track for DCC, and do not solder the joiners on turnouts).  Somehow I discovered the dead piece after installation and cured the flaw with an added feeder.  

So, suggest checking a turnout before installing, both for short (this case) as well as lack of continuity where it should exist.  In my case, I could have installed a perfect turnout, instead of having a fault to find and cure.

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, July 11, 2020 7:34 AM

rrinker

I hope you are not yet another victim of the Atlas Myster Short - there have been several people here and just the past week, a local friend had the same issue on his layout, a short for no obvious reason. Tracked down to the same issue that some people here have posted about, an internal short in an Atlas turnout. 

I have a ton of both Code 83 and Code 100 Atlas Custom Line turnouts and never had a short in anyone of them. The OP has Atlas Code 100 Mark IV turnouts and the short was internal on one of them.

Randy, are you finding that the shorts are only occurring in Atlas Code 100 Mark IV turnouts? Or are Atlas Custom Line turnouts also vulnerable?

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, July 11, 2020 2:25 PM

 Have to poke through the posts here to see what those all were. Local friend who just experienced it has all Atlas track on his layout excpet for a few hand laiid to fit and his layout is huge - triple deck semi mushroom in a dedicated building on his property. And just that ONE was bad.

 So it is very rare - like the injection molding machine gets it right 99.99% of the time so they don't bother testing or checking, or just do a small sampling. Or maybe it's only the very last one made before the hopper of plastic pellets runs out. Whatever the cause - it's rare. 

 I don't think this is something that can linger and then pop up - they seem to be bad right out of the package. It's possible this has ALWAYS been a problem, and without an internet to post about it, it didn't get around, and when the turnouts were far cheaper than they are today, the bad one either got returned to the store or just tossed aside and a new one used.

                                             --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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