Layout woes

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Wiredup, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    So I've been constructing a layout based on the plans provided in an Atlas track plan book, and then expanded on for the area I have to work with. But I've obviously messed something up...

    All track is brand spankin new code 80 Atlas sectional and flex
    Brand new Prodigy Express DCC controller
    Brand new loco's including Athearn Challanger, Kato RDC1, Bachman Spectrum Lt. Mountain, Lifelike/Walthers 0-8-0

    I have filed down and then sanded the track to get rid of bumps, irregularities, and to make things level. I have checked voltage while trains are running/drawing power, while there is nothing on the tracks, and at the sections where there is drop outs... I even went as far as checking voltage on EVERY sectional piece of track...and everything measures out the same. I have cleaned the track using track cleaner, and even the Walthers thing that seems like a soft sanding block.

    Track is secured to roadbed by Woodland Scenics, and then secured to 2" thick foam. everything once again is level. All track is soldered together (could that be the issue?!)

    Anyways, my trains won't run. The RDC1 will make it a few feet, the Challanger can almost do the whole layout without a gentle push...if it's running at full speed...and the switcher...well it won't even light up. The lt. mountain doesn't have DCC yet so I have not tested her yet.

    I run the same loco's on Bachman EZ Track test loop using the Prodigy and have no issues.

    So I'm thinking I need to scrap the whole thing and start over.... unless someone has an idea to get this working... but I might do it anyways because this Atlas track plan is crap... here is what my layout is right now:


    And this is what I have revised:


    The 4x3 section in the bottom left is elevated by 2 1/2 inches or so, with a Walthers cornerstone doubletrack truss connecting it from the 'mountain range' that will be arriving when it comes time to scenic. the 11 radius loop on the right is about a 2.5% grade (according to Atlas pier sections) to get up to the elevated area... which my Challanger and the RDC1 can do without a sweat. The Challanger can even pull at least 18 cars up that without even thinking about it.

    There are three major reasons for the new track plan revision...
    1. More room for scenicing... I wanted to create the illusion of a mountain town
    2. Better operational potential for switching and longer trains
    3. I wanna redo my track work because of the issues above
    I have the following requirements in my system:
    • Mountain town like area. Major industry will be a brewery. But I also will have logging and passenger service up here too.
    • I would love to have some nice photo-op of mountain areas in this. So what is a boring straight along the back may become a bit twisty for more exciting entertainment... a couple of avalanche bunkers and what not.
    I would like to operate the following trains:
    1. passenger service pulled by my lt. mountain. consist of: railroad post office and 2 coaches. I'll have an observation car that I can pull out as well. '85 smoothsides in CN green/black/gold paint scheme
    2. local freight to be pulled by a Mikado. consist: mostly box cars, caboose, maybe a few flats for logging. Most likely BC Rail rolling stock
    3. through freight pulled by my UP Greyhound Challanger. consist: whatever I wanna put on it...
    4. RDC1 doing light commuter services
    5. 0-8-0 handling the switching on the yard. probably going to get a Alco high hood for help in the near future.
    Ideas? Opinions?
  2. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Did you try a power amp for the track?
    I don't know if the Prodigy comes with one or not, but the looks of the size of that layout, its not the voltage, but the amperage that might need boosting.
    Is there a way you can check the amps?
    From what I've read on DCC, (I'm still old school DC)different manufactures of decoders, use different amperages.
    Of course, this is just a guess.......
  3. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    Have not tried a power amp no... might be a think to check out though.
  4. radar

    radar Member

    Hi, How many track feeders do you have ? I know you are using DCC but do have any block switches? can you hook up the layout on DC and check it that way ? used that layout plan on my third layout . have you cleaned the loco wheels?
  5. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    For DCC, our club suggests feeder wires every three feet, the bus wires must be thick, 12ga or 14ga wire.

    If you have a multi meter, test both the voltage and amperage at various points on your track and compare it with the readings on your programming track.
  6. radar

    radar Member

    Ya that's probably it what size buss wires do you have ?need to be about 14 gauge. with 18 gauge feeders every 3-4 feet.
  7. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    I have only two feeders right now hooked up. But there are power outages right at the feeders... but not 3 feet away which doesn't make sense. I'm currently wiring a few more up tonight.

    No block switches. I tried DC using a Bachmann power supply and still have issues.

    I did clean the loco wheels, and they sparkle like new. The 4-6-6-4 was a bit dirty, but the 0-8-0 has had so little running time that it was still shiny. I cleaned them anyways.

    I'm using 20 gauge wire. the Atlas stuff to be specific.
  8. radar

    radar Member

    Thats a lot of layout to run on a couple of feeders.especiley with 20 gauge wire if you can get some 14 gauge for buss wires then use the 20 gauge for feeders.
  9. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    okay, I'll try that.

    I am converting to the other layout, I've made up my mind. it just looks more enjoyable. the current one is just a clustery mess of track.
  10. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Before you go tearing everything up....Are all of your engines sitting on "live" tracks while you attempt to run one..?? That could be a problem. Take all of them off the layout and test one at a time. It sounds as if the load of all engines drawing power could affect the one running. If so, you'll need a booster. No amount of feeders is going to overcome the lack of power coming out of your power source.

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