Clean That Track !!!!

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by colin, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. colin

    colin New Member

    After being out of the hobby for over 15 years; (had to bring up 3 sons) I decided to get back in the hobby. Someone asked me if I was going DCC. What is DCC I asked; never heard of that. After lots of reading I decided without a doubt this is the way to go. Purchased some engines; some decoders, and a DCC unit and away I went. Had to get my teenage son to help me install the decoders. Funny how kids are better at electronics than us old geezers. Then the frustration started. Seems like nothing seemed to ever work right. A friend of mine switched his layout ( one of the largest in eastern Canada) to DCC and he had the same problem. You just want to get out of the hobby. Then I started cleaning the track and the loco wheels. What a difference. Now everything works perfect.
    I had 2 CP FP7's and the passenger cars sitting on a shelf for over 15 years. I just installed sound to this and what a sight to see this running around my layout with sound. Who would have thought that 15 years ago.
    So if your new to DCC clean that track and those loco wheels and enjoy!!!
  2. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    I was told to try using Mother's Mag and Aluminium Polish (at the auto store) as a way to keep track clean. The smallest can available is all anyone would ever need, and it's cheaper than a bright boy.

    Seems to work so far. After working with scenery around the track, it just took a quick wipe of a rag and the track was clean again.
  3. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    I wholeheartedly agree, colin. :thumb: Especially older locos that are not "all wheel pickup". With older locos such as these, I've found DCC to be reasonably tolerant once the loco is on the move. It also makes it a lot easier to find those niggly spots. With DCC you can run with the headlight fully on, at slow speed, and headlight flicker is a good indication of grubby track etc, when moving along at slow speed. With DC, the headlight would glow relative to the speed. slow speed, little glow, so that headlight flicker was hard to determine.

    DC, with grubby track, you didn't really know if the motor was getting power or not. With DCC, if the headlight is on, then power is available, and older motors etc can be "fine tuned" to get a much better slow running, with the use of "start voltage", and "kick rate" and "kick depth" of DCC decoders.

    But this is all not to say the older DC locos are not just as sensitive to dirty track, when run on DC, as when converted to DCC, of course.

    Momentum, at speed, on DC with dirty track was usually enough to kick it along to the next bit of track pickup, even though that produced a jerky operation. With DCC, if the loss of power is too long, then it will stop, and then rebuild up to what speed step it was at, especially of you have used the "acceleration" CV.

    I'm yet to muck around with the "packet dropout timer CV" to lengthen the time before the decoder sets itself to speedstep zero, when a loss of power/DCC data packets is detected.

    I'm still very new to DCC, but I think the default for my DCC booster is "??continuous resend??", where it repeats the DCC commands that are current for all locos at regular intervals. (I think it's doing that).

    With older locos, and dodgy pickups, when the loco hits a dodgy bit of track and loses power, the momentum, at speed, will shove it along to maybe pickup power again, but that short loss will be enough to reset the decoder to speed step zero.

    If I understand the workings of DCC correctly, that is possibly what is happening on dodgy track and old pickups.

    On my older locos like that, the loco comes to stop. (even though the headlight may remain on, the "momentum" of the loco will have shoved it along to a spot where the power pickup is OK). Then, due to the "DCC repeat mode" of the booster, off it goes again, as if you had set the speed etc via the cab controller. Especially noticable if you have used the "Acceleration" CV.

    With my older non-all wheel pickup locos, it's a track clean just about every time I want to use them. DCC or DC. With my all-wheel pickup locos, I hardly ever have to clean the track, DCC or DC.

    DCC really does make a good motor/mechanism/pickup run brilliantly compared to DC, however, to get and older motor/mechanism/pickup to run acceptably, compared to DC, takes quite a bit of fine turning, but it can be done.

    With my older locos, I've had to set the "start voltage" pretty high (around 100) to get them to move off with a low speed step setting. With a "start voltage" of anything less, or zero, they wouldn't move off till I got to a speed-step of around 50 - 60. "kick rate" and "kick depth" seem to be only valid for speed steps below about 20. (on 128 speed steps).

    Well, that was a lotta waffle, wasn't it. sign1 but I know what I meant. :D
  4. siderod

    siderod Member

    Colin, Check your private messages (top right hand corner of your screen)

  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    One of our dealers was demonstrating the new decoders with reserve power. The loco would walk right over a piece of paper on the track.
  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Wow...shoulda seen that comin' :thumb:
  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    Clean track is must for reliable operations in both DC and DCC. I've developed a VERY GOOD way to keep my track clean. Check it out at eBay. Search for HO TRACK GUARD. You'll be glad you did...

    Gus (LC&P).
  8. LisaP4

    LisaP4 New Member

    Just to be differant, I haven't cleaned my track for almost 4 months, and providing I don't spill paint on it or something I don't intend on cleaning it this year. I use Digitrax DCC, sound decoders, lighted coaches etc. etc. all works great.

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