derailing is getting the best of me

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by photoman, Jan 10, 2007.

  1. photoman

    photoman New Member

    I think I have a pretty good track layout, as I said before this is my first try, there has to be something IM not doing right. This derailing is getting the best of me. I took back a box car that seemed to be derailing a lot and got a smaller one and everything was fine, I put my last switch in and things were going good. Then out of no where another car and or the engine want to go straight on a right out switch. I can't figure it out. One switch I have to back over but I have other switches I back over and no problem. Why everyting will work great most of the time and then 2 swithches (only 2 out of 6) derail the cars. I watch really close and it looks like the wheels of the train get between the track in the switch. Even when I go super slow it can happen. I actually purchased 2 more switches on line jsut to see if I will have better luck, they should be here tomorrow. IM using Bachmann easy track, I know most of you want to tell to use another track but too late, I have already made the big purchase, and IM too deep to go back now. I really want to start building scenics around the set now. I do have the track on a indoor outdoor fake grass surface. Any help would be great. IM so close! Thank you in advance.

    Dino (photoman)
  2. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 Member

    what kind of switches are they? do they have springs on them so it stays where it should?
  3. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    From your description, it sounds like the wheels are picking the switch points. Get a jeweler's file and file the points until they blend smoothly with the stock rail. Also make sure that the movable piece of rail in the switch isn't sticking up. Most critically, make sure that the coupler pins on your cars and locomotive aren't snagging anywhere on the switch. What degree switch are you using? #4, #6, #8? #4 is the sharpest, #8 is the broadest. If you're backing a train through a #4 with an curve right after so it looks somewhat like an 'S' you're going to see lots of derailments. Don't ask me how I know this. BTW, Bachmann nickle-silver EZ track is all I use. Most of it is over 8 years old and all my rail joints are soldered, including the turnouts (switches) and have no problem running it with DCC.
  4. nycentral2006

    nycentral2006 New Member

    I have been having the same problem with my ez track cross overs that I purchased. I believe it is the points and the wheels seem to move them. If filing them will work I would love to know
  5. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    In addition to fileing the points, be sure to check for correct track and wheel size with the NMRA gauge, and especially the coupler hose height with the Kadee gauge - I've had coupler hoses catch on switches and flip the loco or car off the track!
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Don't forget that the other part of the equation is the rolling stock.

    Are all the wheels in gauge? Are the couplers at the right height and properly adjusted? Are the couplers body-mounted or attached to the trucks (the latter can cause problems, especially when backing through turnouts)? The cars' weight can also impact performance.

    Check for the "Recommended Practices" concerning roling stock. They have guidelines for weight, coupler adjustment and so on. And if you don't have one, get an NMRA gauge that will let you measure wheel gauge, and critical trackwork/turnout dimensions to see if they are up to spec.

  7. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I have 2 turnouts that I had picking problems with. Upon close inspection it looked as though the point rail (the movable rail) looked to be a bit too thick. I used a fine jeweler's file to file the end of the point rail so that it sat flush with the stock rail. That was 3 years ago. I'm still using those 2 turnouts and they work perfectly.
  8. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    I had mega-problems with switches too until I replaced them (mostly) with Peco ones. I had used quite a few Atlas switches, but I'm sorry to say that they weren't the best. The gauge width on the Atlas points was actually off. Older stock went through them OK but newer stock (with finer wheels) derailed a lot.

    So, I think if you go with the best high quality switches possible, which are made by Peco, IMHO, you should see great improvements. Hornby also makes good switches as well.

    I'm also relatively new to the hobby and my layout has been a real "dog's breakfast" of problems because I was constantly learning by trial-and-error as I went. I foolishly didn't follow any plans (when I built the layout), sort of making up my own design as I went.

    Flexitrack is also good and will solve derailing. But I had some trouble joining one piece of flexitrack onto another & I would get derailments where one piece of track joined onto another. Again, all of this improves with practice.

    Anyway, try using Peco or Hornby points. Keep the points as "gradual" as possible, i.e. use the most gradual angle instead of sharp-angle points. Also, try to use 22" radius curves (or larger) as much as possible.

    HTH, Rob
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    One further comment, about you're being "in too deep" to go back & make changes. I had my 4x6' layout up and running but had to replace most of my switches. I wasn't too happy about spending the extra bucks to replace these, but I did it gradually, starting with the most problematic.

    For awhile, I bought 1-2 new switches a month until all the problematic ones were replaced. This meant buying about 5-6 new switches, but over some time. And Peco switches are the most expensive, around $25 to $32 per switch!

    There is still one switch that occasionally acts up but I'm holding out on replacing it!

  10. stanC

    stanC Member

    I am also relativly new with problems of derailing. I found using engines with a shorter wheel base help a lot ( 2 sets of wheels rather than three) as the angle was a bit too sharp. I have also had parts of the loco touching the points and I am slowly filing away the problem areas.

  11. avlisk

    avlisk New Member

    Hi group. Here is my experience. I found Peco #5 frogs (either L or R, I forget) to be out of NMRA standards. Too narrow. So I am building a layout using Atlas #6 mostly. Absolutely no problems. I can back long trains of goods wagons anywhere without derailment. Proper weight and body-mounted kadees help. As for the Bachmann turnouts (points), I had some of those early on, and found there isn't a "cut-out" in the stock rail for the points to settle into as the Peco and Atlas have. Because of this, the wheels have a greater tendency to pick the points. Even a lot of filing didn't seem to help. I replaced it all with Atlas and Woodland Scenics ballast strip. It looks a lot more realistic, too. If you want to use track with roadbed attached, there are several other manufacturers, including Kato and Atlas that will give you better performance. In my opinion, based on my experience. I hope some of this is helpful. Ken S.
    Putfile - Welcome to my homepage!
  12. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    Just an idea but....
    Did all these problems start as the summer came?
    Might just be the rails are changing due to heat [or cold in the winter] and the slight change is causing the problems.
    Like I said, just an idea.
    I know one day a part of my layout actually popped once as it was in the sun and the temp went above 30 celcius. [about 100 F] .

    I hope that helps.
  13. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Sorry I'm off topic, avlisk, nice to see some Aussie stuff at your sight, very interesting- did you build those or did you buy the models.

    I agree with fsm1000 could be temperature.

    Also agree with masonjar about wagon/coach weight.

    This might sound stupid but also check that the rails are properly seated in the joiners.
  14. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    That's a good point about temps, the first year tends to affect plywood and roadbed under the track. After that it seems to stabilize. Could be the undertrack movements have skewed the track itself, or could have moved the track in relation to the switch machine or ground throw, so that the moving rail isn't snug up against the stock rail like it should be.

    Also check the cars, any car that derails I first check the trucks. Sometimes grime has built up on the wheel tread and cleaning it does the trick. Also, just turning back the mounting screw a little helps - if the truck is too rigid, it can't follow little imperfections in the track and will derail.

    As others noted, checking coupler pins hanging down and that the track is properly connected together is a good idea. Depending on your track, see if a track nail or spike may have come loose and be sticking up too high.
  15. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Lots of good suggestions here. Another thing to check for if you're using track, such as Atlas, that is spiked in place through the centre of the ties: if the nails are pushed in too far, they can deform the ties through which they pass, causing the rails to be pulled too close together.

  16. avlisk

    avlisk New Member

    I have been gluing my flex track down with DAP clear latex caulk instead of with nails. I use pins and weights to hold it while it dries, which is about a day. I find it to be a far superior method to nailing. It even helps smooth out minor variations in ballast strip. The only caveat I can think of is longevity. I don't know if time will cause it to come loose or not, as the layout is only 4 months old.
  17. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Yeah i'm having a crazy derailment problem to. Its only one car, and everytime i send it through the diverging rougte of an atlas snap switch, the wheels somehow push over or through the points and try to go straight. I have a NMRA guage, but i can't findy anything wrong. I've sat and filed the points for hours, still not fixed.

    its an Athearn RTR double door box car. Its really strange, because this boxcar is the only one that derails on everything. i've added weights to it, cleaned the wheels, everything. I'm considering swapping out wheelsets or trucks to see if i can get it work better. It does have what appear to be plastic wheels, so maybe they are the problem.
  18. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    All good suggestions. If one car is giving you problems in several different places, there's a good chance that the problem is with that car.

  19. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think you have correctly self-diagnosed the problem, but...

    you have been working on the wrong solution.

    Have you taken your gauge to the wheels? Tried different wheelsets and/or trucks on the same car?

    If it is truly just this one car, then the solution lies in fixing the car, not the track/turnout.

  20. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    yeah, but i also checked the gauge of the wheels on the car, still it seems fine. I have some metal wheeled freight cars i don't use often though, so i will switch the trucks out.

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