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Trains Stop Running Track, Engines, Electrical?

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  • Member since
    January 2018
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Trains Stop Running Track, Engines, Electrical?
Posted by kenben on Sunday, March 3, 2024 7:54 PM

Two weeks ago I was running some trains on my 8'x6' HO DCC layout and all appeard to be fine. Today on about half of the layout the engines started to stutter and stop, then go, stutter and stop. On some of the engines I can push them and the lights may flicker. But nothing more. On other engines ... nothing at all.

I always have a track cleaning car hooked up to one of the engines which ran around the layout 2 weeks ago for 45 mintes with no problem. I have another hand track clesning took that runs aloung the track. I've cleaned the wheels as well. it seems to point to maybe an electrical issue.

Suggestion, tips? THX  (Frustrated in ScCal)

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Posted by PennCentral99 on Sunday, March 3, 2024 9:54 PM

What changed in the last 2 weeks? Did you modify the track? Modify the layout? Modify the room or area the layout is located?

Grab a voltmeter and check the track.....completely, all the way around

Terry

Inspired by Addiction

See more on my YouTube Channel

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, March 3, 2024 10:19 PM

Which DCC system are you using?

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by kenben on Sunday, March 3, 2024 11:18 PM

Nothing changed. Nothing added. Just running trains.

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Posted by kenben on Sunday, March 3, 2024 11:20 PM

NCE PowerCab

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, March 4, 2024 5:47 AM

How is your layout wired? Single set of bus wires? Any power districts? Any circuit breakers?

I am wondering if there are any loose connections somewhere on the layout.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by gregc on Monday, March 4, 2024 6:52 AM

kenben
he engines started to stutter and stop

how many engines?

is the PowerCab detecting a short and cycling on/off?

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by Tophias on Monday, March 4, 2024 7:47 AM

I'm in agreement with Rich. If you're confident that the track and engine wheels are very clean and that you have not done any work/maintenance to the layout, then is sounds to me that it very well could be a wiring issue. Try to determine exactly which sections of the layout are effected. Then you'll have to check every connection carefully. I've experienced years after installing wiring a connection that was not done correctly that it finally failed completely. OTOH, if you determine the problem is random then I would look at connections from the command station to the bus. Or the problem could be the NCE system itself. 

Regards, Chris

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Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, March 4, 2024 11:48 AM

Hello All,

It sounds to me like its dirty track.

Have you tried cleaning the track again?

Hope this helps.

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

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Posted by Wolf359 on Monday, March 4, 2024 12:56 PM

Is it possible that some sort of particles like ballest or sand broke loose and stuck just below the railhead so the track cleaners can't get it? I've had that happen many times on my currently under construction layout. Over long distances too. The flanges ride up on it and lift the wheels up off the rails just enough to loose contact. If not that, then it sounds like you may have a gremlin in your wiring. I would check for small particles and debris first however.

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Posted by kenben on Monday, March 4, 2024 3:12 PM

richhotrain

How is your layout wired? Single set of bus wires? Any power districts? Any circuit breakers?

I am wondering if there are any loose connections somewhere on the layout.

Rich

 

Track power is a single set of bus wires with feeders every 36" or so. No districts or breakers. Loose connections seems to be the next check. But then that would include a long span of track. And the layouts position hasn't moved.

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Posted by kenben on Monday, March 4, 2024 3:16 PM

gregc

 

 
kenben
he engines started to stutter and stop

 

how many engines?

is the PowerCab detecting a short and cycling on/off?

 

I tested 4 engines I know were running fine before. I have had the PowerCab cycling on and off in the past but I discovered the cause of the short.

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Posted by kenben on Monday, March 4, 2024 3:24 PM

Wolf359

Is it possible that some sort of particles like ballest or sand broke loose and stuck just below the railhead so the track cleaners can't get it? I've had that happen many times on my currently under construction layout. Over long distances too. The flanges ride up on it and lift the wheels up off the rails just enough to loose contact. If not that, then it sounds like you may have a gremlin in your wiring. I would check for small particles and debris first however.

 

 

 

I will be doing a more intence cleaning of the track and vacuum up loose debris along the tracks. I do have a track cleaning car that is always runing in during sessions.

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, March 4, 2024 6:34 PM

kenben
 
richhotrain

How is your layout wired? Single set of bus wires? Any power districts? Any circuit breakers?

I am wondering if there are any loose connections somewhere on the layout.

Rich 

Track power is a single set of bus wires with feeders every 36" or so. No districts or breakers. Loose connections seems to be the next check. But then that would include a long span of track. And the layouts position hasn't moved. 

I suppose that dirty track could be a possibility, but from your description of track maintenance, I doubt it.

The symptoms sound more like intermittent connections with either the command station (e.g., Power Cab) or the wiring being the cause of the problem. Is it a power loss or, possibly, a short? If too many locos are running with a Power Cab, the Power Cab can sense a short (i.e., excess current draw) and cycle on and off.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by cowman on Monday, March 4, 2024 8:10 PM

 How many locos are you running at once?  I was running 4 sound ones with my Power Cab and was told I had fried something inside.  NCE was very good about fixing it up for me.  Will add a booster when I get the new layout going.

Good luck,

Richard

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 9:12 AM

It sounds like it may not be dirty track, but a bad joint. Unfortunately with flextrack or sectional track, it can happen that a rail joiner will stop conducting electricity for some reason and a new feeder needs to be soldered to the rail to ensure power is getting there. 

Stix
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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 9:19 AM

wjstix

It sounds like it may not be dirty track, but a bad joint. Unfortunately with flextrack or sectional track, it can happen that a rail joiner will stop conducting electricity for some reason and a new feeder needs to be soldered to the rail to ensure power is getting there. 

 

Probably at least two bad joints. A voltmeter would help locate the culprits.

Simon 

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 1:46 PM

Hello All,

kenben
Two weeks ago I was running some trains...

How many individual locomotives were you running?

Sound or non-sound?

The Power Cab is rated for 2 Amps.

cowman
I was running 4 sound ones with my Power Cab and was told I had fried something inside.

If you are running more than 4 or 5 locomotives you may have exceeded the Amperage.

kenben
I do have a track cleaning car that is always runing in during sessions.

What kind of track cleaning car are you using- -dry pad or wet?

I use a Dapol "Motorized" cleaning car with a reservoir for cleaning fluid.

The cleaning fluid drips onto a sponge that runs along the rail heads.

Behind that car, I run another cleaning car with a dry masonite pad to pick up the dirty cleaning fluid.

Otherwise the dirty cleaning fluid drys on the rails and creates a bigger problem. 

Have you run a clean paper towel or lint-free cloth over the track to see if there is any residue?

Hope this helps.

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

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 2:28 PM

I suspect you have a problem with your bus wires.  If you draw up a picture of the layout, then overlay a diagram of the bus structure, including where the connections are, the place where the problem is should jump out at you.  You will probably see that the layout works fine close to the  base station, and as you move further away it stops working.

If you are current limited, which you might be, you might see some parts of the layout behaving worse than others because the connections there are loose.  Try running just one or two engines.  If they work fine everywhere, current limiting may be a problem.

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

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 8:51 AM

You might try disconnecting your DCC sytem from the layout and temporarily connecting it up to a separate piece of track, like say one piece of flextrack connected to the DCC system with alligator clips. Test your engines on that track. If they all work OK, then you know the engines and DCC system are OK, and it's a problem with the layout track.

If it's the layout, you might have to disconnect all the track feeders from below (i.e. disconnect from the bus) and then reconnect one pair of feeders and test it out. If it is OK, add another pair and test again, etc.

I had to do that when I was having trouble with one of my reverse loops and it's auto-reverser. Turned out one of the feeders was connected to the mainline wiring instead of to the reverse loop. It wasn't quite enough to trip the short circuit detector, but it caused a lot of trouble with the reverser. Once I traced down the problem and fixed it, the loop worked fine.

Stix
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Posted by floridaflyer on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 9:55 AM

Along the lines of what stix proposed. I would alligater clip from a known good section to a known bad section to see if performance improves. If so the bus and or the feeders are suspect.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 10:30 AM

Years ago, when I was just getting started, I was using an old power supply to drive my nominally 5 amp Lenz DCC system.  I started having trouble running just a couple of engines but pulling an old group of illuminated passenger cars.  Turns out I was exceeding the capacity of the input power supply, not the DCC system.  I put in a 5 amp supply, which i should have done in the first place.

Another thing to try would be temporarily removing the track cleaning cars.  The dry car will always add frction and cause the engine for that train to need more power, and I've noticed that my CMX car gets harder to pull when the fluid tank runs dry.

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

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