Newbie needs help

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by fuzzie, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. fuzzie

    fuzzie New Member

    I recieved the Polar Express R.T.R with extra track and 2 remote switches for Christmas. The problem I'm having is that running just the loco,the speed doesn't stay steady. (slows down) It seems to do it more by the terminal track,sometimes it comes to a complete stop. also when I hook up the tender car it sparks from underneath and usually stops at the opposite end from the terminal track and the green light on the controller flashes along with the remotes for the switches.the instructions aren't very helpful as to what's going on.Then I have the problem of it wanting to jump the track as it switches to the inner loop.(on both switches...not all the time and not going fast) I haven't even unboxed the other cars yet as I've been trying to remedy this problem.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    It sounds like it might be two problems. If the speed isn't consistent, that's usually due to the track. Does it snap together tightly? When you have the track apart, do any of the pins inside the track wiggle? I know one person who bent the middle pins on his slow track sections inward just a touch with a pair of pliers to make them make tighter contact with the other ones to fix that problem.

    As for the light flashing with the tender, that indicates a derailment, usually. Are the wheels and the roller on the tender clean? (They should be, since I'm assuming it's a new set.) Does the tender sit right on the track? If you set just the tender on the track (no locomotive) and push it, does it roll freely on its own?
  3. fuzzie

    fuzzie New Member

    I snap the track together and it was a firm snap.I guess I should clean the wheels........just cause it'new doesn't mean anything.

  4. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    If that doesn't help, Lionel's customer service is very good. It may be worth contacting them. Here's the info from

    * Phone:586-949-4100
    * Fax: 586-949-5429.
    * Customer Service Respondents, "CSR’s” are available Monday – Friday from 8 am. to 5 pm. ET at ext.9105 to answer general questions concerning product and services.
    * The Lionel Century Club, Railroader Club and Online store “CSR’s” are available Monday Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. ET at ext. 9104 to answer questions about these various Lionel services.
    * Technical Services repair techs are available Wednesday – Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. ET at ext. 9106 to answer technical repair questions concerning specific product requiring service.

    I would start with extension 9105, and if the problem is beyond them, then 9106. I'm sure we could get it working, but going straight to the source could be faster.
  5. fuzzie

    fuzzie New Member

    I couldn't call tonite,they were closed. I checked the track pins they all seemed to have a slight bend to them,slighty bent them some more. Also checked ohms on all 3 rails,all the way around the track, no problem there.checked voltage all the around.Had transformer set a 40 mph,volts are 5.7 at the back of the transformer w/ train running,volts didn't move,checked track,5.7 all the way around. With 3 cars attached it could barely pull itself on the slow section. I did find a loose wire on the truck of the tender,that fixed that problem. I'm wondering if it ain't the eng. I'm sure it's bottom of the line. any reccommendations on a reasonablly priced replacement. What do I look for in a eng?
  6. fuzzie

    fuzzie New Member

    Just read rigoomba's post on his polar express.Sonds like he has the problem with speed as I do.
  7. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    The loco in that set is a very good one (I have one). It could be defective, or it could be the transformer. Try this: flip the loco over, run one wire straight from the transformer to one of the rollers, and another wire to the front of rear wheels, and see if it runs smoothly.

    If anything is defective, Lionel will replace it, so there's no need to buy anything else, at least not until you get everything running.
  8. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I would have to say it's something in the loco. I don't see how it oculd be anything in the transformer or the track if you're getting an even current all the way around. I would get ahold of Lionel and let them know you have a defective engine.
  9. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Fuzzie I just gave a long winded explanation in rigoomba's thread. This may be soemething that you want to check too. In any event I hope it leads you in the right direction.
  10. Geno

    Geno Member

    Renovo- good job on the PE loco diagnosis! Unfortunately our trains are not as bulletproof as the PW steamers of the past. Tthose of us who have been in the hobby for years can tell you the offshore stuff (basically everything new) is far from reliable, but what can you do? Good thing you have some elctronics knowledge.

    I run mostly TMCC diesels and when they act up mechanically I check the motor mount screws first. Even basic wiring issues are not a problem-but if it's a board malfunction, it gets shipped back to the factory.

  11. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Over the years and only having one locomotive for most of them I had to learn to keep it running. Sometimes that was by trial and error since most of those years I did not have a hobby shop near by. I think it was a success to keep a 48 year old Lionel locomotive running for all those years with never seeing the inside of a repair shop. In any event unless you really did something foolish it was next to impossible to destroy something by doing the self-repair. It just took a little common sense. Don’t forget the proper lubrication has a lot to do with this and don’t assume it was done at the factory for that new train you bought.

    Today I have a few more modern locomotives and even a diesel. While they can be intimidating at first you can still work on them or just check the connections. Short of a major malfunction of the boards most things can be fixed fairly fast and easy. I would suspect most people would of just packed and sent back the new MTH diesel I was having problems with. After all you would expect it to work flawlessly just out of the box.

    However with a little common sense, checking wiring connections and looking for possible shorts it was easily fixed and put into action. I often wonder how many go back for something so easy as a loose wire nut.

    I’m not so sure if it can all be explain as overseas manufacturing or even the current design of the modern locomotive. I’m sure all the extra handling and bang during shipping doesn’t help either.

    I can remember back years ago when I had an N gauge locomotive made in Austria. After a few hours of action my new diesel just stopped, however after checking it out I saw the connector tabs on the trucks just needed adjusted.

    [FONT=&quot]My point is that as fans of model trains we have to become repair minded for the little things even if only to do the regular maintenance to keep the line moving on schedule. I only wished that every new train that came out of the box work perfectly.

    BTW did you get you PE to run right yet?

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