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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I am new to the forum. I am somewhat of a beginner and are building a 4 x 6 set up (small) for my son for Christmas. I enjoyed and loved HO trains as a child (still do) and want to share that wonderful experience with my son.

I am building this with my father who has a little bit more experience, but we are running into some trouble. Let me tell you what I have done so far. Please bear with my novice terminology.

Instead of buying a new set, I am passing down my old set from 30 years ago. The engines are in great shape are high quality and from what I can tell are in good working condition. Some of the track itself was kept, some had to be throw away, but I have bought many new peices as well.

First, I am slightly more abitious at 37 then I was at 7, so I have built an over/under type of oval/figure eight with about 40ft' of track.

Per the recommendation of my local hobby shop, I ditched my 1975 Tyco controller and got a new 18VA controller (MRC). Also, per their recommendation since I have a lot of track, I wired 4 power sections of the track to a distribution block to even the power across the entire track length (minimize cold spots). I made sure wiring was positive was on one side, with negetive on the other consistently through the layout.

I tested the each track with an OHM meter and I get full continuity around the length on both sides (I disconnected a section for the test). I put the train on the track and I get NOTHING. I also notice the power light on the controller DIMS as I turned it up more, still nothing.

I took each engine and held both wires to their wheels to test their motors, and when I do that...they work. When I put them on the rail, they don't. The meter says both track have continuity, but yet there is no power going to the engines.

I even went further to set up a small 2 foot test section with it's own power source and the train kind of worked (very intermittant), stopping at a few spots and then not working at all. Took it off the track and held 2 wires to the wheels...and it worked???

Whats worse, now my original Steam engine won't work even when I put 2 wires to the wheels.

Totally confused, hoping someone can offer some suggestions...I tried about everything I know.
 

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Yard Master & Research
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Welcome and let's see what we can do?

Does your tender get power from the track, and pass a connection to the engine? What is the make?

The track and wheels need to be cleaned and you must use DC current.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Welcome and let's see what we can do?

Does your tender get power from the track, and pass a connection to the engine? What is the make?

The track and wheels need to be cleaned and you must use DC current.
I am deftinately using DC, and yes engine gets power from the track. Not sure of the make, as it is 30 years old (will try to find out).

Is there any recommendations on what to clean the track and wheels with?
 

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Yard Master & Research
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Make sure the wheels go to the correct side. The insulated ones should be on the same side . Check all the wheels when off the track because you have one that is backwards and causing a short. The truck could be reversed or the axle fell off and was pkaced in backwards. That is why it works with two wires but not on the track.
Clean with an eraser, scotch brite pad.

Your drive wheels may be insulated entirely so digure out what contacts the left and right side . On a tender all the insulated wheels are on the same side. If one is off you ground out the tender.
I use a dremel wire brush on the wheels. A buildup may be so bad it will chip off with a screwdriver.
 

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i got bunch of engines from friend that sat for about 15 years or so - corrosion everywhere posible. the needed very good cleaning and still most of them are running jerky and throwing sparks at a times.
i started the hobby by purchasing bunch of old track - waste of money. it was all coroded not conducting really well, but i polished the top surfaces and now it is acceptable.

good idea to get good power supply, but i'm not sure that hobby store is a good place to get one. i noticed my LHS asks 50-80 for these used. i won 2 tech2 MRC packs for 20$ shipped on the bay and it is not unusual. don't mean to upset you but perhaps some other people will read this and take note.

contimuity does not worry me to much as you said you have 4 power leads , but you said you made sure polarity is right. could you do me a favor and double check? put your ohmmeter probes on each rail.
 

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i got bunch of engines from friend that sat for about 15 years or so - corrosion everywhere posible. the needed very good cleaning and still most of them are running jerky and throwing sparks at a times.
i started the hobby by purchasing bunch of old track - waste of money. it was all coroded not conducting really well, but i polished the top surfaces and now it is acceptable.

good idea to get good power supply, but i'm not sure that hobby store is a good place to get one. i noticed my LHS asks 50-80 for these used. i won 2 tech2 MRC packs for 20$ shipped on the bay and it is not unusual. don't mean to upset you but perhaps some other people will read this and take note.

contimuity does not worry me to much as you said you have 4 power leads , but you said you made sure polarity is right. could you do me a favor and double check? put your ohmmeter probes on each rail.

I'm always impressed with how tactful you are, tankist. I'm not, so I respect it when I see it used so well.
 

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i used to work in phone tech support. at a times people tend to get defensive and even outright offensive when they pointed out that it is they who made a mistake. so if a phone tech want's to get cooperation from that kind of person, extreme patience + that kind of tact is required. there is always a risk of that person slamming you down on "tell us how our tech did" reviews afterward.

that said, i'm 90% sure he did his wiring right, i just want to eliminate that 10% and narrow everything down to corrosion of wheels and pickup springs. the dimming indicator bothers me a bit as from what i see it is actually gets brighter as the throttle increases.
its one of these "dough!!!" moments, happens to almost everybody not excluding me.
 

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Not my strong point---I was once described as the company's pit bull. On the other hand, I tend to get really good cooperation from our suppliers. *L* My own lil niche.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks to all for the responses. You guys are all very nice. I also thought it could be corrosion or build up of residue. Originally, I didn't think that was the case as they look in almost perfect condition. No visable damage or corrorsion of any kind...very well stored and taken care off. But hey 30 years is 30 years.

I am going to do the following:

  • re-check the polarity on the track
  • clean the tops of the track thoroughly
  • clean all the wheels

I figure these are the easy things to do first. I just laid out some coin for the controller, so I am hoping I don't have to replace it (again), but that may be the next step if the above is not effective.

Thanks again to all!
 

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I've had similar problems in the past when taking older engines out of storage. Corrosion or dirt on the pickup surface is almost always the culprit. Grease the locomotives because lots of them will run upside down with no load and then won't move an inch on clean track. Clean the wheels and the wipers that pick up from the wheels. (Some older ones may need additional wipers added before you get enough conductivity.) Check the wires for broken insulation, a short to the frame can stop everything. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just wanted to update everyone. Had some time last night to work on it. Here is what I did:

sanded down the wheels on the engine
sanded down the tops of the tracks
oiled the engine

My steam locomotive might be shot, I had to re-sotter some connections, but the gears aren't making proper contact. Took the whole thing apart and put it back together, but the gears spin around on themselves. It is probably shot.

I finally found what was the real issue. I had a single switch track with a dead end to put trains while they are "out of service". I bought a stopper for the end of the track and the stopper actually formed a steel triangle and tied both tracks together causing the short. Not sure why they would even sell such a thing. I took it off and the train ran fine. I can't beleive I spend a week trying to figure that out.
 

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conductive end bumper? i never hear of it but good to know you found your short. i guess you can use that bumber with isolating joiners.

as far as "sanded down wheels" i really hope all you did is polish then just a bit with very fine grit water-paper :eek:
using coarses stuf can introduce deep scratches where even more corrosion going to be built up.
 

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Good Job

Observation is your best troubeshooting tool.
I spent two weeks trying to make a LED flasher work. It was my first and I copied it from a commercial one or so I thought. I had an extra connection between two pins. Next time just be faster:laugh:
 
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