I need help.

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by tetters, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I'm running into some trouble trying to get my yard ladder working. It's frustrating and confusing because I don't see nor understand what the problem could be.

    I'll try and explain.

    First off...I've been using this handy diagram as a reference.

    Fast Tracks | How To Wire A Turnout

    So logically. If I stick to this program so to speak I should not have any trouble with electrical shorts or dead spots? If I make the connections as shown and wire each turnout out to my bus wires I should have no problems. Right?

    This is where it gets funny. I've managed to get two of the turnouts working...If I attach a third turnout and then try to test the DCC, it senses a short and doesn't "boot" up. Get this. Off the layout the third turnout works fine. No shorts, and if I clip it to my Power Cab it boots up no problem. However, place it back in the yard ladder I get the same issues.

    I'm at my wits end. Here plain paint sketch of the track work I have installed thus far.


    I don't know if that is muc help. The two green turnouts when left alone work.

    Its when I get to the third turnout out or anything beyond that circled in red do I have problems...Off the layout, and hooked up to the DCC or tested with a Voltmeter, no issues. Even if I only hook it up to only the two green turnouts it also stops working.

    I've tried two different turnouts and I'm about to lose it. It shouldn't be this hard. What am I doing wrong here? Is there a switch in the polarity that I'm not picking up on? I've built all my turnouts according to the instructions. I've checked and double checked all my wiring...yet...wall1

    Yesterday I could even look at the mess I'd made of things thus far. A big part of me wants to rip it all up and start over. :curse:

    The only other crack idea I can think of is to use insulated rail joiners and connect each turnout to the main bus without connecting them electrially top side...however I still don't see how that could fix anything at all either.


    Here is a poor attempt at an electrical schematic. All of the frog points are electrically isolated. I didn't know how to depict them so I just used a black dot. I'm using Caboose Industries ground thows with contacts. The black wire powers the frog when the switch is thrown. I don't know what else to do...perhaps, some one can look at this and say, "you idiot! you've got it all wrong!" and show me how it should be done.

    Thanks... :sad:
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Check to make sure all frogs are gapped on both sides, four gaps per frog. Also check to make sure feeds from bus are all correct polarity.
  3. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I did. The turnouts have the necessary gaps cut in the PC ties and the rails to completely isolate the frog. I did get a couple of the wires mixed up on the two turnouts which work, however I corrected that because well now...they work, no problem.

    There has to be a problem or a short somewhere...I just haven't found it or figured it out. It's driving me mad I tells ya!
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Tetters, as I understand it, Fasttrack turnouts are just like Atlas cl's, correct?

  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Sorry for the double post, folks.
    Did you test the ground throw for shorts? It might not be the turnouts.

  6. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I'm not sure if they are or not. I don't have any experience with Altas Products.

    No I did not. I'll have to check them out. I've installed them correctly. I'm not sure how they could be shorting out. Have others had problems with CI ground throws causing shorts?
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    You say your using ground throws with contacts. It is possible the contact has a factory short.
    Now, I don't know what you have tried, so a question. Did you put in the turnout without wiring? Connect it to the ladder with no wires connected and see if you get a short. If not connect one wire and test. If all is well connect another wire and test. keep going that way until it shorts. Then you will know exactly where to look. It will be time consuming, but sometimes that is the only way to solve the problem.

  8. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I'll give it a shot. I'm pretty sure I tried that however, I'm willing to go back and try again just to satisfy myself.
  9. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    I'd be tempted to get rid of the frog power until everything is happy, then hook it back up.

    That said, is the track at the top a part of a dogbone coming back? In other words, is the top turnout creating a reverse loop?

  10. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Yeah...I hear you about the frog power.

    No I do not have a reversing loop. It is a point to point switching layout. The top turnout is a set of curved turnouts joined to make a single crossover to get to industry sidings and tracks.
  11. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    Did you ohm every turnout out on the bench? I know a couple of the gaps in the PC board are in pretty tight spots. Really, that's the only place I can see getting a short from, assuming no wiring errors.
  12. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    No...I didn't. Which maybe why I'm probably in the spot I am in now. :curse:

    It's a puzzle. If I OHM or DCC test the turnout off the layout, its fine. Come to think of it, to answer Loren's question if I just connect the turnout to the two that work just using rail joiners and nothing else (no wires to the frog or bus), a short occurs.

    Yes...I even went back and re-cut the gaps. (sigh...)
  13. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I am stumped. You have tested and done everything I can think of. Maybe you could e-mail the person at fast tracks and see if they can help.

  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Can you put a picture of the turnout up? And maybe the actual layout so far?

    If the turnout is fine by itself, and the rest of the layout is fine by itself, then there are (at least) a few other possibilities:

    1) The way you connect it (even with railjoiners) is creating a short

    2) There's something else it comes into contact with that causes the short. E.g. is there any metal in the benchwork it is touching when installed - imbedded screw, nail, wire or even a spill of something electrically conductive?

    3) Is the turnout somehow constructed with the "reverse polarity" of the rest? I know you said you followed the diagrams just like the others, but something isn't the same...

    I hope that helps... although it sounds like you have explored all possibilities. :confused:

  15. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    I just want to make sure I am picturing this right....

    You have two turnouts in place, and you have Ohmed them out, and there is no short. Check between the stock rails, and between each of the rails at the diverging end.

    You have Ohmed out the third turnout on the bench, and there is no short, between stock rails, or rails at the diverging end.

    You put rail joiners on, and put the third turnout in place. You Ohm it out and what do you see?

    It's getting a bit desperate, but is there a possibility of something on the benchwork causing the short?

  16. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    I would disconnect every wire from every turnout, and check again with an Ohmeter. The idea being to break things down to the smallest pieces we can without ripping stuff apart.

  17. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I know its a mystery...and you think you guys are frustrated!!!

    I can try and post an ariel shot when I get home. It might be the bench work like a screw or what not...who knows. Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of this.

    Thanks guys for your patience and listening to me...you been great. I'll get back to you asap.

  18. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    We'll get it. Shorts can be found. Sometimes they are just hiding pretty well!
  19. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    If there called shorts how come it takes so long to find them:mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:
  20. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    A shot in the dark: if you have PC board ties, are any of them copper on both sides? You could get a short with spikes through the PC board.
    Are your turnouts held down or just on with joiners? Did you chcek the wiring to the ground throws -- no extra large solder joints or strands of wire touching? Does it short both ways, curved and straight?
    Are the gaps still gaps? I mean, you haven't pushed any rails together.

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