sputtering n-scale

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by johnny b, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. johnny b

    johnny b Member

    I am in the process of building a small N-scale layout on top of an old drafting table. I have played around with model railroading for years but this is the first serious effort at building a nice little layout. Not much space in the house so the table top and N-scale is what I have room for.

    Anyways, I layed the track out and it worked just fine. Securred it down , still worked great. Started the sceneries and tunels etc... works fine until just this week. Suddenly the one track seems to have shorts or something all over. The engine . a pretty decent little Atlas h16-44 . It now slows and stops at different pionts around the track. A little figure 8 for the most part. The light goes on and off at these pionts . I cleaned the track several times and the wheels on the engine.
    Could it be a dieing power pack? Its a very old Atlas (model# 2860 ) that was my dads. I remember it as long as I have been around ( 37 yrs ). Could it be in its last days and just not putting out a good steady current anymore. It does seem to be better at higher speeds and after it warms up a bit.
    Any insight to this would be appriciated. Thanks
  2. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    what type of pick up is on that loco they might be dirty or your rail joiners could be loose.

    just a guess as i'm in HO
  3. johnny b

    johnny b Member

    Honestly , I have no idea ???? I will look into that though . Thanks. The rail jioners are just the typical old fashion metal clips. They were fine for months though.?
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    the joiners can get oxides in them make shure there tight to the rail.
  5. johnny b

    johnny b Member

    I'll check that out too then , Thanks !
  6. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Have you got any other locos to check it with? All my Atlas ones do that...
  7. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    if it stops at the same points around the track every time - probably a track issue.

    if it stops at different spots - probably a loco or power pack issue.

  8. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    As the others have said, you could have any of a number of issues and need to sort them out. I would not think you have a short, rather a bad connection somewhere. If you suspect a rail joiner, I have soldered every rail joiner on my N scale layout, and that's something you could do also.

    One thing I might suggest is that you get an inexpensive meter to see what's going on. You can find a digital meter for under $10 and it will help you troublshoot your problem. When your engine stalls, you can measure the rail voltage and if it is zero, go to an adjacent piece of track and measure it. if there is voltage there, than you have a bad connection between rails. If you measure voltage on the track where the engine is stalled, then you need to clean your engine up because you have a bad connection somewhere.

    If you don't have voltage on any of the tracks, work your way back to the power pack with the meter. If there is no voltage at the power pack, disconnect it and try again. No voltage, bad power pack, voltage, you might have a short somewhere after all.

    These are just a few basic tests you can do with a meter to isolate you problems.
  9. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    I would start (after getting a meter) looking at the connections from the power supply to the track. If things went bad all of a sudden in a lot of areas that makes more sense to me than joiners. Of course if there is only one power feed then it could be just a joiner or two. But I bet it is a connection somewhere, no the loco or the powerpack itself.

  10. johnny b

    johnny b Member

    OK then , I 'll check that stuff out here in the next day or so. Thanks for the advice.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Possibly handier than a meter is a light bulb across the power supply. A model 12 or 16 volt bulb. If it brightens when the loco stops, you've lost contact; if it goes out you have a short. Another bulb touched to the rails will tell you where the track power is broken.
    I use old christmas tree bulbs (in series). take 1/10 of a string and you get 12v worth of bulbs. An old string that doesn't work anymore will be cheap, but a brand new string may be on sale just after Christmas (or hallowe'en).
  12. johnny b

    johnny b Member

    Thats too cool I will try that. If it is the engine what could cause that ? And what can be done ?

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