Burn Out?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Herc Driver, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Just getting back into N gauge and have a quick question...

    Bought a new Bachmann Spectrum transformer and new Bachmann diesels. I used the Bachmann EZ Track and made a oval with a left and right hand switch that feeds into a smaller half oval resting within the larger "main line" oval. I noticed the transformer wouldn't send power to the diesel until around 30 or so on the index and the train wouldn't move until about 40 or so (under a load pulling about 10 cars). Is this normal? I expected at least something to creep along at 10 or 20 or so. The engine moves evenly throughout the track at slow or fast speeds without jerking or hesitation.

    Secondly, I thought I could rest the other new Bachmann engine on the smaller oval when the main line is being used - with both switches set to the main line track only.

    My question is...is it safe to "rest" the second engine on the track? Is power still getting to that smaller oval even though the engine on that track doesn't move? I noticed today that the main line engine wouldn't work, and the switches wouldn't work either, and what sounded like a temp limit switch clicking within the transformer. I unplugged the unit, (it wasn't too hot - only slightly warm and the engines were not hot at all) and waited a minute or two, plugged everything back in and it all worked fine. None of the trains are DCC. The switches are correctly installed on the AC posts of the transformer...anyone know why nothing worked for a while? I thought that as long as the switches are off the main line or only on the main line (depending on the train I'm running at the time) that no power is going to the other engine. Is this a correct assumption?

    Please, someone with more knowledge than me give me an answer before I ruin a transformer and expensive engines. Thanks.
  2. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    To start with, welcome to the Gauge, glad you found us.

    Let's see if I can address you problems one at a time. I'm not familiar with the Bachmann Spectrum transformer, but I'm assuming the top number on the dial is 100. What you need to do is see what kind of voltage the unit is putting out at 10 or 20 and at 40 or 50. If you don't have a meter to measure it, try disconnecting the power pack from the rails, and putting a 12 volt lighbulb across the output. Check and see if you get a slight glow at the 10 mark and the bulb should glow brighter as you go higher. If that works OK, than you might have a poor connection to the rails, or between rail sections.

    Secondly, I wouldn't rely on the turnouts to provide power to your inner loop. What you should do is isolate your turnouts and run rail power to both the outside loop and inside loop. If you want to park a train on the inside loop, run the power to it through a switch that you can turn off when you want to do that.

    Thirdly, if your power pack was switching off because of temp overload, you probably have a short somewhere. That could be anything from a loco or car not being on the rails right, to a short in the wires at the power pack. That's what the overload is for, but I'd try to determin what is shorting out, since too many overloads could eventually ruin the power pack. A short will cause it to kick out quickly before it heats up too much, too big a load will cause it to heat up more before it kicks out.

    I hope this helps some. Let us know how you're doing.
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Very good ideas. Thank you very much. Yes, your assumption is right, the top "speed" number is 100. Anything past 80 or so and the trains fly around the track waaaay tooo fast for me (although they do stay on the track at leasst). The diesel lights will start to illuminate around around the 20 index and the train starts to move at 35 or so. I just thought it should start moving before that. I'm assuming that the larger the engine...the more power it will take to make the motor move - is that a correct assumption?

    The transformer is a standard Bachmann product that is included with various train sets. Some use it to run O-gauge as well from what I've been told.

    How long do engines need to "break in" as written about in the Bachmann instructions? Do they work better with a few hours in them or is that a myth?

    I've read about the problem of changing polarity...how do you get into that problem (so I know how to avoid it)? Is it related to the positioning of the switches? I would like to leave some engines on the track so the kids won't have to mess with them too much, so I'm trying to design a layout that will have one main line with turnouts that are "de-powered" so they can park a train and start another. Your idea about a seperate selection switch is a good one.

    It's kind of funny that I fly and can understand the electrical system of a plane that makes enough power to run a small town but am humbled at the electrical concerns of an electric train.
  4. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    Herc Driver: E or H ? In-flight ref ?
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I think most find that a break-in period is almost essential. I'd probably not try a whole hour break-in period all at once, but do it over a period of time.

    With the setup you have, I wouldn't worry about getting into trouble reversing the polarity. That would be of concern if you had two power packs and your track was "blocked" out so you could run two trains at the same time. I would use plastic rail jointer to isolate th inner loop from the outer loop and run power to them separately through switches. This way you can stop a train on either loop and run a second train on the other. Better yet, you might just add a siding for that.

    Just something to think about.

    Sounds like you're into flying the big guys...:wave:
  6. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Welcome to the Gauge HD. Don has given you some good advice so hopefully you are ready to go.
  7. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    E or H...

    C-130H3...but lots of time in the Herc's big brother too...the C-5.
  8. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    I worked on the -E and -H. Did a stint on the -707 before moving "up" to faster things (with AB's!!)

    Good to see a Transport guy here

    Drop, Drop, DROP!

    :wave: :wave:
  9. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Sure, I can fly an airplane...but it's making these darn little trains go is way harder. (You don't have to be too smart to be a pilot...that's why there are so many pictures in my training books.):D

    I'm trying to discover the "proper/right/acceptable" way to "break in" a new engine. Just bought three Dash-8 Wide Cabs and a GP50 and they all seem a little slow - requiring different power levels to move the same number of cars around the track. I've been told to add a drop of oil to the gears of any new engine, and run it at various speeds for a while till the brushes get seated...but I'm still wondering if it's the right thing to do. Is it normal to have to "break in" a newly made engine?
  10. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    It wasn't that long ago that all new automobiles had a "break-in" period, I think like around 1000 miles before you should exceed 35 miles/hr. Even now they say take it easy for the first few hundred miles. Let's say that the break-in period is inversely proportional to the cost. A $100,000,000 747 has no break-in period since all the parts have gone through an extensive pre-testing and fit like a $100,000,000 vehicle should. A $50,000 car has a slight break-in since at that price the parts aren't quite as accurate, and a $100 loco has around an hour for all the parts to get aquainted and lubed up for the same reason. :D:D I'm thinking that if you spend $50 for a loco, you might want to increase that period a bit more just in case...:rolleyes::rolleyes:
  11. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thank you for the advice...I plan on adding a drop of light weight oil to the gearing, and run each engine on various power settings and with different car configurations. Hopefully, after a few hours of normal running, each engine will run a bit better at a lower power setting.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Herc: Your breakin period should be done at moderate speed with no load (or just a caboose if you like the look). Plan to run it both backwards and forwards for equal times. Also, if your breakin track is a loop, turn the engine around so that it gets worn equally.
    To see if the other loco is getting power, take the first one off the tracks and see if the other runs at any speed setting. I'm not sure what EZ track switches do, but there are 3 types of switches in HO. Atlas Snap Track has all rails powered. Peco plastic frogs have the rail that's not set unpowered -- dead. (that's the rail through the frog). All rail switches have a rail that connects the frog with the rail on the other side (depending on which way it's set) which can create a short circuit.
    Sectional track switches are usually one of the first 2 types. #1 will power your entire layout. #2 will power both loops if the switches are set to crossover, but only one loop if they're set straight.
    Got it?
  13. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thank you for the break in advice.

    As to the switches...I'm using Bachmann N-gauge EZ track. The basic layout consists of one main line oval with a right and left switch allowing a half oval that is inside of the larger main line oval. When both switches are set to the main line - there is no power on the smaller oval. With either switch set to touch the main line - the main line is still powered - but not the smaller oval. When both switches are set to allow access from the inside oval to the main line, only that portion of the main line is powered as well as the inside smaller oval. (Clear as mud?) I have set two new engines on the layout (one on the main line resting prior to the switch and the other on the smaller inside oval) and depending on how I set my switches, one or the other engine will move - but not both. I have made no other provisions to connect both the smaller oval and larger main line oval to transformer power - except the switches. But since I'm just learning about this "break in" period of the newer engines, I'm wondering if both engines were actually receiving power but the "resting" engine on either the main line or the smaller inner oval were getting power but not quite enough to move. Hmmmmm
  14. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member

    Herc... First off, welcome to the Gauge forum. I am a retired Herc loadmaster, and always glad to have someone else aboard from the Herc Brotherhood.

    The guys gave some good advice on "break-in" period, but as I had never heard anyone give a suggested "time duration" before, I have just always ran my new lokey's at least two to three hours for "break in", even on my BLI's and Spectrums.

    Once again, welcome aboard.... Bob :thumb:
  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Herc: You may find that only part of the inner half oval is powered. Imagine the power sweeping in through the switches to the dead end. None of it is getting back the other way past the switch. Try taking a piece of wire and connecting (just touch) the rails closest to you on both ovals. Does the train run?
    Check for insulated rail joiners at your hobby shop and Atlas electrical switches. See if they have the Atlas wiring book. I think the switch you need is the "Connector" but it might be the "Selector".
  16. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Retired??? Heck...we need some loads in my guard squadron...wanna get that green bag back on?

    I'm thinking that I added too much too quickly to the new engines and probably overheated the transformer (or tripped it's internal thermal switch...assuming it had one). I'll run them in both directions, without cars as has been suggested...add a drop of oil, and see if they work a bit better. Silly me...I thought you could just open the box and put 'em on the track and run them at will. Shoulda known better.
  17. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member


    Very good suggestions...time to buy a wiring book.
  18. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    As far as the breakin' is concern this is what I do
    Irrespective of loco's make or type:

    Run it at various speed, forward and reverse for 45 min to 1 hour
    Run it at various speed, forward and reverse with a few cars for another
    Run it at various speed, forward and reverse with lots of car (heavy load)
    for another "session"


    It's been realy good so far =knock on wood=

    My last SAREX was in 1996. Did you participate then? (Primrose Lake)
  19. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member


    David (60103) was right on the book... see if you can find "the COMPLETE ATLAS WIRING BOOK", and that should help get your layout up and running.

    Thanks for the "employment offer", but I am about a month away from turning 67, and my Herc days are now just memories (fond one's, mind you...) but that would be stretching the Air Force term "RETREAD" a little too far.

    Once again, glad to have you on the Gauge !

  20. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thanks for the hello.

    I am very happy to finally find this forum. I've appreciated the quick responces to basic questions. So far, I've spend hours reading through posts and am amazed at all the experiences here. Great advice, great knowledge.

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