Track switch won't switch!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Teachermatt, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. Teachermatt

    Teachermatt New Member

    Hi all,

    I have a 4x8 layout in my class (ho) and I am finishing the wiring. I am having some trouble with my electric track switches. The switches are getting power and they switch- sometimes but not always. I have wired two switches in Parallel so they switch at the same time. What am I doing wrong? (I know, a dangerous question, but be gentle, I'm new...)
  2. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Are you pressing down on the switch? I presume you're using standard atlas snap or custom line switches.
  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    if you are trying to switch two switches at the same time, together they are drawing too much current and more then your power pack can handle. You either need to throw one switch at a time or get a bigger power pack.

  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Teachermatt, if most of the machines are not working right, you might need a better,stronger power supply for them. The little power supplies that come with the train sets are more for lite current draws like building lites.
    If only one or two are not throwing, there might be something under the throw bar. Try wiggling the throw bar back and forth a few times with your finger and see if that helps.
    P.S. you should have the power hooked to the ac terminal, not the dc track supply.

  5. woodone

    woodone Member

    Rather than getting a larger power supply, try using a capacitor discharge unit.
    It will power two or more turnout coils at the same time. They provide lots of power for just an instant, and will not burn out your turnout coils.:thumb:
    This is if you are using DC and not DCC.
    You can even build you own.
  6. Teachermatt

    Teachermatt New Member

    Thanks for all the advice! I think getting a larger powerpack is the way to go but don't really know where to start. What should I be looking for? Can I just use any ac adaptor? As for a capacitor discharge unit, that sound complex.....
  7. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    First stop is you Local Hobby Store (LHS - I'm a big fan of supporting local stores whenever possible) and ask someone who is knowledgeable about power packs. I happen to like the MRC Tech-series, the one I have has been hassle free and worked a lot better than the Bachmann Spectrum power pack I had before - but I bet there are plenty of good ones out there. I looked for one that could push power to multiple engines and work the turnouts too, and my Tech 4 does just that. Ask around, visit some local hobby stores for their opinion and by all means grab some opinion from everyone here on the-gauge too.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    You can use an computer power supply if you have one from an old computer. There's articles on the net on how to wire it.

  9. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Teachermatt...since the powerpack issue is purely speculation...what is your current powerpack?

    If it came with a probably ought to replace it. I presume you're using DC and not which case The MRC powerpacks have long been the hobby's standard. I have their Control Master 20 and a Tech-4 220. I love them. Their Tech 2s were probably the best selling powerpacks for probably 20yrs+
  10. Teachermatt

    Teachermatt New Member

    I like the idea of an old computer power supply. I couldn't find the wiring instructions online. Any help?
  11. Teachermatt

    Teachermatt New Member

    By the way, my powersupplies came with the train. They're cheapo's.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    How about doing a test. Disconnect one of the switches from a pair -- probably take off the black or common wire -- and see if the other switch fires. The disconnect that switch and hook the other one up. If it fires, then you need more power. (I trust the wiring is done properly.) You'll find that if you flip a switch back and forth a number of times rapidly that it will heat up and not work as well. If you leave the button "on", you can cook the machine.
    A Capacitor Discharge Unit (CDU) is a little electronic device that provides a big, short burst of electricity to knock switch machines over. It's similar to whatever powers flash units in cameras. It takes a few seconds to recharge after use.. You may be able to find one in your LHS, but there aren't many parts if you have to make one.
  13. woodone

    woodone Member

    They are very simple- Do a search on it. You should be able to find someone who makes one that you can install. Very simple to do.
    A larger power supply might not solve your problem.
    The capacitor discharge unit delivers a large jolt of power to the turnout for just a brief instant. Even if you hold the switch on, that controles the turnout( or the switch should malfunction and stay on) it will not harm your turnout coils. The capacitor discharge unit will operate several coils at the same time. I have used one for years- would operate 4 turnouts at once- no problem. :thumb:
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Teachermatt, here is one web site for you.
    AT Power Supply
    There is a web site more geared to the beginner, but I have not found it yet (did not bookmark it) but I wiil keep looking.

  15. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Another thing you might want to try is getting another transformer for operating the switches only. This way you're not taking power from the tranformer used for running the trains. Or keep the transformer that came with your trainset for the switches, and buy a better quality one for the trains. MRC makes a good cheap quality tranformer. I'm still using one I bought fifteen years ago.

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