Track slows Train

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by jeremy2017, Nov 1, 2002.

  1. jeremy2017

    jeremy2017 New Member

    hello, I am new to this forum but not new to model railroading. I just recently set up my old layout and it consists of two ovals each divided into four blocks. in two of my blocks the train goes fast at one end, but slows down near the end of the block. on the other one the train slows down where the power is being fed to the block. Can anyone Explain whats happening and what to do? I thought about soldering the track together so that the current has more of a chance to make it through all of the track but I don't want to make my track un changable. there is nothing wrong with my Locomotives because they move fast in some area's. any input would be great thanks.

  2. Ravensfan

    Ravensfan Member

    I'm no expert, but you stated "old" layout which could mean that you have corrosion/deposits on the track that decreases its ability to conduct electricity. Is the track clean, or has it been cleaned lately?
  3. jeremy2017

    jeremy2017 New Member

    well you see, we had the house redone and the whole layout had to be packed up and put away for a year and now that I've set it up again this problem has comeforth. All the track has been inspected and is only about three years old anyways. that can't be the problem.
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    He's talkin' bout a thin layer of slime you might not even be able to see, jest 'nuff to block off that electro-magic half way. You should take a clean white rag and put some goo gone on it it and rub down the track real good. Adding goo gone and turnin' the rag as you go. See all that black yucky stuff? Now you should read Shamus's track cleanin' tips down at the bottom, in the archives, the academy :) It's likely your problem.

    If not, it could be the connections between the tracks, like you already hinted at, wantin' to solder them. Well you can solder them if you like, there's differing opinions on that, but you will have to clean them up real good for the solder to take. Sometimes you can take it apart, gently tighten the joiners with plyers and reassemble, but best to have a spare joiner or two on hand.

    It could also be voltage drop across the track if it's real long. Unless you got that real expensive solid gold track, you get some drop of the voltage across the length. NS is worst than brass for this, but both do it. Copper is best, next to gold that is, and you can run copper to both ends of each block to minimise this effect. Also take a shortcut, straight from the transformer to each end, and not from transformer to one end to the other end, use two seperate wires, joined together at the transformer (or block selection switch).

    This seems to indicate the power is either not going that section, if you have more than on connection per block, or the connection is good, but the tracknear the pickup is dirty (it goes through the track to the other sections further away, but not to the loco throught the top of the track. Make Cents? $? :D
  5. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Jeremy and welcome to the gauge. Sounds to me as if you are having some sort of shorting going on in the blocks where the loco is slowing down. I don't mean a dead short. Do you use switches (DPDT) to isolate blocks? Can you post a trackplan showing these blocks, maybe I can find your problem, Hope so anyway.
  6. jeremy2017

    jeremy2017 New Member

    this is my rough track plan done in paint in about 10 mins. the whole table is only 8' x 4' right now. explansion is on its way. I will try some of the cleaning suggestions that have been put forth. thanks.

    Attached Files:

  7. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Jeremy and welcome aboard.:)

    Here's my two cents worth on the problem. In addition to what the others have said about your track needing a cleaning I think that also there may a problem with oxidized rail joiners. This can happen when layouts (assembled track) are stored under less than ideal conditions. Although they may seem to fit tightly oxidation can occur between the joiners and the rails causing poor contact and a loss of voltage.

    If the track cleaning does not cure the problem try soldering the rail joints in the aera where the slow down occurs. If they are already soldered try re-heating the joints. If you'd rather not try the soldering pull up the track in the aera where the slow down happens, remove the old joiners, clean the bottom of the rails on the ends of the track pieces and replace the joiners with new ones and relay the track.

    One other thing you might look at in the aera where the slow down happens is the gauge of the track. Its possible that during the storage period due to expansion and contraction something has caused the rails to pull inward and they are physically binding the wheels of the locomotive.
  8. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Hi Jeremy,

    I second Vic's response on the joiners. All that I have read on tracklaying and maintenance suggests that the joiners are the weakest link on your layout for conducting electricity. Storage of the layout is likely to have loosened or phisically deteriorated one or more of the connectors. I am wiring my new layout for DCC by soldering feeders to every other track in my power districts. A good solder connection will ensure thet the power gets to the track and clean track will ensure that the power gets to the locomotive.

    Have a good day.
  9. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    I'll put in a nickles worth, too. I am very careful about laying my track because of inherent problems. That is the single most important part to good running. HOWEVER, a problem like yours crops up ocassionly. I manytimes find that the track did NOT insert into the joiner. The joiner bent down ever so slightly and the rail rests on top, with just enogh bind to make it feel like it is right. Slid my finger along the top, and smooth as can be. Very deceptive so check every joint. This is only a possibility, but it can very easily happen to the best of them.

  10. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    I think some of you are missing the point. According to the drawing, the bad part is right where the power supply connects to the track but is fine away from that. That leads me to believe that the track has a film on top of the rails reduceing conductivity. I don't see where the rail joiners has anything to do with it. Also check to see if both rails are straight and not warped or has a dip at the bad location.

    Another thought occered to me. There could possibly be a real thin coat of oxidation that has hardened.. Try a real fine pice of emery cloth and rub it a few times lightly across the rails. If it has hardened, no amount of regualy cleaning will get it off.. I had this happed to me a few years ago when I used a piece of flex track to make a repair. It ran me around in circles until finally as a last resord, I used the fine emery cloth and it worked.
  11. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hey Clerk, I'm gonna stick by what I suggested...while it may not be the problem its a possibility as are all the other suggestions on Jeremy's problem. A corroded rail joiner will in some cases lead to just a simple lack of connection. On the other hand a corroded rail joiner can electrically act like a crude diode causing a voltage drop as it will only allow a certain amount of voltage/current to pass in a given direction. No offense taken and just clarifying my point:D :D :D
  12. jeremy2017

    jeremy2017 New Member

    Well thank you everybody, for all of your suggestions. I tried many if not all of them and in the end, the train runs smoothly all over the layout. I found that when cleaning the tracks with goo gone, I found a lot of dirt I didn't know was on the track! I also checked where the rails are joined and ran my finger across the entire track and it is all smooth now. Thank you to everybody, It was a wonderful way to start my Gauge experience. Thank you and I look forward to helping others if I can and having some of you help me with my problems, Thanks again

  13. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Another satisfied customer. Now you need to put a Track Cleaning car on your Christmas Wish List. And when it arrives immediately schedule it for a couple runs per week to keep your now cleaned track clean forever:D
  14. tomfassett

    tomfassett Member

    Yea, OK so the problem is already solved...:D
    Being an electrical/electronics junky, I gotta' go with Dick on this one... I was going to cast a vote for out of gauge track as I had this problem, but since cleaning seemed to do the trick, I won't even bring the "binding flanges" theory up so you all will think I know everything. Considering the location of the feeders on the drawing, the current is being fed directly to the section with the problem. The "hard varnish" problem Dick spoke about is well known to A/V bench technicians (like I was for 15 years) as it is a constant problem. It shows up most pronounced in moving or "disconnectable" parts like faders, potentiometers and connectors. A scale of dirt and particulates build up on the surface of the conductors and acts like the carbon in a variable resistor. This was a real problem with equipment that lived in a smoky environment like clubs and bars. The carbon from cigarette smoke is a great resistor. With the draw that a loco has coupled with a reduced current flow, even a micro thin layer of crud (technical term...:D ) can reduce the speed of the motor. The same thing happens in the poorly connected rail joiners. The solder overcomes this problem by creating an "airless" link between the conductors.
    So, here is a test to check for this next time... Take a pair of alligator clips and attach them to the pack. Clip them to the offending section of rail and see what happens. If the problem goes away, it is a joiner or resistance problem in the rail. If the problem continues, especially right where the clips are placed, it is a surface conductance problem.
    If it is neither of these, then it is little nasty gremlins and the only way to get rid of those involves voodoo, chicken blood, screaming, and hopping around like a rabid monkey... Pray that it is an impedance problem, 'cause you really don't want to go here...:eek:

    Tom F
  15. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    My 2 cents also!

    Back in 1999, I got my son a train set for Christmas. I was going to put my old Tyco set set up under the tree. Needless to say, this train hasn't ran in 20 years. The tracks and rail joiners where bad. I baught all new track and joiners. Plus cleaning the locomotive. After that, it ran if it was brand new!


    It may not be the cheapest solution, but it saved me from all those headaches!:p

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