Model Train Forum banner

161 - 173 of 173 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
84 Posts
Discussion Starter #162
Severn

right now it’s the “better” equipped car couplers that are giving me the problems.

I do like the idea of metal wheel sets and have some on order.

Not sure how a DCC set up or other locomotive will stop the higher end cars from uncoupling or derailing but I’m all ears!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,559 Posts
Vette-Kid

thanks you,

I wish I could have done it your way, unfortunately his trains are mostly gifts so he gets them and wants to see them run. I just feel bad for the little guy because I’ll tell him I have to set it up and test it out. Then I’ll do that and things seem fine. Then hours later or next day when he’s ready for the reveal all he’ll breaks loose and I’m like WTF I had you working and now this. Thankfully he’ll just move on to race track or his power wheels, but I hate letting him down.

His initial set, the Model Power , did have some track issues at first, but ever since trading out the track joiners with TYCO it’s had zero issues.
Speaking of TYCO, it’s a combination of new and used and outside of some rough wheel sets, the preform fine, the TYCO stuff has been for the most part fine. Yes one New car has a coupling issue but I can deal with 1 out of 10. The transformer was working great at first but somehow our shop gremlin got inside it and now it will suddenly not work or even work when in the off position....lol....pretty sure a disassemble and clean will help that out. Or at least I’ll chase the gremlin out of it.

The point ia we asked earlier for brand grading and the Model Power snd Tyco were rated as worst or at the bottom. The thing is though they are the least problematic. It’s the “higher quality” stuff that has the issues.
Maybe the Model Power and Tyco stuff is more tolerant and the other stuff is too sensitive...idk
Honestly, I would venture a guess that your last sentence is dead on: at least part of the reason your cheapest stuff performs the best is that the sloppy equipment plays well with bad track. Things with higher tolerances has more trouble with the track.

You need to be careful with that "new in the box" stuff. True, it may never have been taken out of the box, but that doesn't mean its newly manufactured. I once purchased a Proto 2K loco that I assumed was fairly new, and it turned out to be one of the first ones made by LifeLike, well before Walthers acquired them (and even that was a while ago). The drive gears were cracked, and the lubricants were rock hard, but it was, in fact, new in the box, with the manufacturer's seal intact kn both ends...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,559 Posts
Severn

right now it’s the “better” equipped car couplers that are giving me the problems.

I do like the idea of metal wheel sets and have some on order.

Not sure how a DCC set up or other locomotive will stop the higher end cars from uncoupling or derailing but I’m all ears!
DCC will not solve any performance issues, and would not help uncoupling or derailments in any case. Unfortunately, few manufacturers send their stuff from the factory with high quality couplers, so you often need to swap them out. A train that starts jerkily will often cause an uncoupling or a derailment. Likewise, you ALWAYS need to check coupler height, wheel gauge, truck motion, and wheel alignment on every car.

Also, it is often true that the car that causes the derailment isn't actually the one that derails. You need to spend the time to figure out WHY they derail, and whether it's the car or the track causing it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
Dad here....

I now remember why I got away from this stuff in the 70’s. Way to much hassle for very little reward. It is sad when you spend 8 hrs to get something to work reliable for your boy....then when it’s time to play it all goes to hell. Nothing changed from the time it was working fine and shut off....till an hour later and you turn it on and nothing but problems for two hours.

I’ve found that despite some good advice on here brand means very little to how things work and brands comes down to cosmetics.

the most reliable and usable is the model power. Works fine for most part but two cars will do 100 laps fine then all of a sudden one can’t stay coupled and the other can’t stay on track.

tyco....yes wheel sets are rough, but transformer will work sometimes and sometimes not. Kinda funny to have it turned off and all of a sudden runs by itself. The track itself seems to be the best though.

Bachmann.....what a joke....works one minute than next out of nowhere just stops. Locomotive works fine on model power and tyco track though. Just Bachmann track is garbage

AHM....stupid car can’t stay on track to save its life

Roundhouse....can’t stay hooked up on one end to save its life

ROCO....we know the story with the silver car and its Kadee couplers....but the other car and its “standard” couplers....lmao can’t stay hooked up on one end to save its life.

arthrearn or however you spell it, cant stay hooked up on one end to save its life.

Got some life like stuff and still seeing if that’s worth a crap....not to confident....not do I feel like messing with


we are pretty much at the stage that the amount of work needed to keep these things working on a consistent basis is nowhere near the small reward you get.

I can build a high performance two stroke engine in a couple of hours and get a years worth of fun out if it in the nastiest conditions known to man. This crap can’t run straight for 10 minutes in a perfectly controlled environment.

Yes I am ranting. Very frustrated and if this stuff was not my sons.....there would be a terrible drone attack dropping bombs on it like a WW2 battle field
KGB Railways;

First, know that I, and other people here, have had many of the same problems you describe; at one time or another in our model railroading history. It also seems,( per Murphy's law of model railroading) that the presence of visitors, or saying "Hey honey, look how this works", or in your case, "OK son, let's run some trains" will act as a siren call to all the bugs, gremlins and mean-spirited poltergeists, to come out of hiding and see how many things they can do to mess up your railroad! It's uncanny! In the eleven years that I was a member of a model railroad club, I can't remember a single "open house day" when all the trains performed perfectly. So, You are not alone.

Second, I only know of one solution to those problems, work.
As with your engine builds, the right tools help a lot. Do you have a multimeter, and an NMRA gauge? If either of these essential tools isn't in your possession, You should get them.
Model trains can only stay coupled when all the couplers are the same height. That means exactly the same height. It helps if they are all the same type, and brand, though using a "conversion car" with a Kadee coupler at one end, and an X-2F "horn hook" coupler at the other end, is OK, for now.

Trains will derail if the track, the wheels, or both, don't meet the standards incorporated in the NMRA gauge. This is not to follow NMRA standards for their own sake. Rather, this is simply an easy, & accurate, way to insure that every wheelset on the railroad has it's wheels exactly the same distance apart. All railroads, real, or model, depend on the wheels being in gauge to operate well.
The same gauge also needs to be able to slide smoothly through every inch of track on your railroad. The track's rails can't be too close to each other, or too far apart, and the tolerance is a fraction of an inch.
Be glad that, at least for now, you don't have any turnouts to deal with. They are the most complicated, and therefore "error rich", pieces of track on any railroad.
If you get things running well, (Hang in there, you will.) and if your son stays interested, and if you decide that you want more than a circling train, then you can deal with turnouts, later, using some of the other functions of your NMRA gauge.

The multimeter won't help keep the trains on the track, or keep the cars coupled, but it's a great help in finding out "Why the train won't go." You won't need an elaborate or expensive meter. The model in the photo below is quite adequate for model railroad use, and only costs $5. It's available from www.harborfreighttools.com The NMRA gauge costs $12, and is available through www.modeltrainstuff.com www.trainworld.com or other online dealers.

One "keep em coupled" trick I once used on a display layout where two trains simply circled constantly, and nothing needed to be uncoupled, was to slide a piece of shrink tube around each pair of mating couplers as the train was put together. I didn't shrink the tubing, I just picked the smallest size that would fit around the couplers. This kept the two mated couplers lined up with each other so well that they stayed together all day. It's "cheating" in a way, but If it works, great. Later, changing to Kadee couplers and making sure they are exactly the same height, will accomplish the same "keep em coupled" thing, but also allow you to uncouple cars when you want to park them on a siding. For now, if it works, why not?

Trains derail much more easily, and therefore more often, if they are not the proper weight. It's somewhat unusual that a car, even if it's brand new, is actually even close to the NMRA's recommended weight. Most cars, especially older cheap cars, are very, very, much lighter than they should be. I have a little paper with the NMRA's recommended weights on it. However, I've found that, at least with my N-scale cars, it's hard to fit enough weight in the car to match their recommendations. I don't sweat that at all, I just want the cars to be heavy enough to track reliably.

While I somewhat agree with MichaelE's comment about quality cars and locomotives, in general, I also see your point about some less-than stellar cars working better than others, and I don't think the answer to all your difficulties is to run out and spend a fortune on better quality equipment. Instead, at least for now, I like Stumpy's idea of upgrading whatever cars you do have, and even those, a few at a time.

Short term, get an NMRA gauge, and use it to check, one loco at a time, and one car at a time, for wheels set properly. If you find some that don't fit the "wheels" notches in the gauge, what to do next will depend on the type of wheelset you have. I think you may find that some, or even most, of the wheelsets on your cars are plastic wheels, on plastic axles. They may be the type where the entire wheelset, wheels and axle, are one cast piece, and therefore can't be adjusted. (This is one example of the benefit of better quality cars. Usually their wheels are adjustable.)
Any wheelsets you find that don't fit the gauge, and are made as an unadjustable single casting, should be thrown away. Replace them with aftermarket, metal, wheelsets which can be adjusted by twisting the two wheels in opposite directions , while pulling, or pushing, them to the proper width. New wheelsets from Fox Valley Models, Intermountain, or Kadee, are all but certain to be in proper gauge from the factory, and thus won't need adjustment, but check them anyway.

One thing model railroading needs lots, and lots, of is patience. You also need to enjoy building, and working on, your railroad as much as running it. Think how many people would have not the slightest interest in building one of those two-stroke engines you can assemble relatively easily and quickly. How many could do it at all? Now think about the very first engine you put together. How did that go? I think it took time, and repetition, and tons of patience, to get to your present level of expertise. So does model railroading. I spent most of today assembling little tiny pieces of N-scale stairway handrails. Now that takes patience! At several points, I also had to go do something else to keep sane. If the hobby's not fun, stop. Go do something else and, only if you want to, come back later, and take up where you left off.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
186 Posts
I have been adding weight and checking couplers on our cars. I bought a large pack of stick on wheel weights that work great for this and they make a higher difference. Of course the added weight limits the old pancake engines I'm running, but it still managed ten. The only ones to derail were unweighted. These are unweighted because I haven't figured out where to hide the weights on tank cars and flat cars.

Try adding weight as many suggested, if you haven't. The when weights you can get on small packs for around $10 or in large boxes of around 30-40oz in 1/4 weights for around $50 at AutoZone or similar.

I built a 383 roller a few years back for a78 Vette I was doing. Took me FOREVER. I had never done a scratch build before so I took time to check, recheck and triple check things and then still more time to redo things a still got wrong. In the end, I wasted some time and money, but I managed to wring out a good amount of power (425ish). That car was a blast! (Sad I sold it). Stick with it, well figure it out eventually.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
673 Posts
You keep being told you need this tool and that gauge and NMRA standards. I have never had any of those in all my years and I've been doing fine. I started out with brass sectional track and used it for years. It was a mix of brands. A number of years ago I was able to purchase a large lot of nickel silver sectional track cheap and have been using that ever since.

If you recall my initial post to you I laid out my experience over the years hoping to give you the simple view of this hobby. Your objective is to have a train your young son can play with. There are some key elements to to get that, but tools, gauages, and NMRA standards are not it.

As for the coupling issues, with the horn hook type, they are notorious for coupling issues, especially with starts and stops. With DC operation when you shut off the transformer, the locomotive stops immediately. The cars keep rolling forward and push against each other which causes the horn hook couplers to "open up". Then when you start up again, the cars uncouple. Look at the attached picture. One of the other problems is that the little "spring" (that's the thin piece pertruding on the one example and the thin piece curling around the screw hole on the other) can break off. This then means the coupler will not spring back to the neutral position. When you go around a curve or stop, the coupler pulls to one side or gets pushed to one side and allows the cars to uncouple. The way to check this is push each coupler to one side and see if it springs back. If it stays, that little "spring" piece is broken off. The coupler needs to be replaced or the frustration will continue.

543875



You also mention about the power pack. Those small train set power packs are notoriously troublesome. You can find relatively inexpensive new power packs. I would be leary of buying any used power packs. I learned my lesson after buying some off ebay. Much of what is there are the small train set power packs or "vintage" metal cased power packs (very good in their day but now VERY old - it's what I had when I was young in the 60s and 70s).

It doesn't surprise me that the AHM car has trouble staying on the track. As I recall, they were very lightweight. Adding weight definitely helps. Tank cars and flat cars do require some creativeness to add weight to. The Tyco cars were heavy and stayed on the track better. Back in the day, Tyco was the best of the less expensive equipment.

I hope you can get things working simply without breaking the bank. It is what will get him interested and keep him interested.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
You keep being told you need this tool and that gauge and NMRA standards.

Your objective is to have a train your young son can play with. There are some key elements to to get that, but tools, gauages, and NMRA standards are not it.
I disagree.

It's not like somebody told him he needed to buy every tool Snap-On offers. It has been advised that he acquire $20-$30 worth of tools that can make diagnosing and fixing problems a lot easier.

If someone asks for advice on driving nails I'm going to advise that they use a hammer. If they want to forego a hammer purchase and give it a go with a section of 2x4, don't tell me my advice was bad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
186 Posts
You keep being told you need this tool and that gauge and NMRA standards. I have never had any of those in all my years and I've been doing fine. I started out with brass sectional track and used it for years. It was a mix of brands. A number of years ago I was able to purchase a large lot of nickel silver sectional track cheap and have been using that ever since.

If you recall my initial post to you I laid out my experience over the years hoping to give you the simple view of this hobby. Your objective is to have a train your young son can play with. There are some key elements to to get that, but tools, gauages, and NMRA standards are not it.

As for the coupling issues, with the horn hook type, they are notorious for coupling issues, especially with starts and stops. With DC operation when you shut off the transformer, the locomotive stops immediately. The cars keep rolling forward and push against each other which causes the horn hook couplers to "open up". Then when you start up again, the cars uncouple. Look at the attached picture. One of the other problems is that the little "spring" (that's the thin piece pertruding on the one example and the thin piece curling around the screw hole on the other) can break off. This then means the coupler will not spring back to the neutral position. When you go around a curve or stop, the coupler pulls to one side or gets pushed to one side and allows the cars to uncouple. The way to check this is push each coupler to one side and see if it springs back. If it stays, that little "spring" piece is broken off. The coupler needs to be replaced or the frustration will continue.

View attachment 543875


You also mention about the power pack. Those small train set power packs are notoriously troublesome. You can find relatively inexpensive new power packs. I would be leary of buying any used power packs. I learned my lesson after buying some off ebay. Much of what is there are the small train set power packs or "vintage" metal cased power packs (very good in their day but now VERY old - it's what I had when I was young in the 60s and 70s).

It doesn't surprise me that the AHM car has trouble staying on the track. As I recall, they were very lightweight. Adding weight definitely helps. Tank cars and flat cars do require some creativeness to add weight to. The Tyco cars were heavy and stayed on the track better. Back in the day, Tyco was the best of the less expensive equipment.

I hope you can get things working simply without breaking the bank. It is what will get him interested and keep him interested.
What power pack would you recommend? Mine are ok for now, but they are temperamental at times.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
673 Posts
If someone asks for advice on driving nails I'm going to advise that they use a hammer. If they want to forego a hammer purchase and give it a go with a section of 2x4, don't tell me my advice was bad.
Chill out Stumpy. I NEVER said the advice was bad. I'm just letting him know that it CAN be done simply.

One thing I've come to find on here is that the many highly experienced folks on here may not have ever just wanted to run trains with or for their kids without getting into a lot of expense or complications. I was trying to give that perspective of one who has done it that way for a long time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
You keep being told you need this tool and that gauge and NMRA standards. I have never had any of those in all my years and I've been doing fine. I started out with brass sectional track and used it for years. It was a mix of brands. A number of years ago I was able to purchase a large lot of nickel silver sectional track cheap and have been using that ever since.

If you recall my initial post to you I laid out my experience over the years hoping to give you the simple view of this hobby. Your objective is to have a train your young son can play with. There are some key elements to to get that, but tools, gauages, and NMRA standards are not it.

As for the coupling issues, with the horn hook type, they are notorious for coupling issues, especially with starts and stops. With DC operation when you shut off the transformer, the locomotive stops immediately. The cars keep rolling forward and push against each other which causes the horn hook couplers to "open up". Then when you start up again, the cars uncouple. Look at the attached picture. One of the other problems is that the little "spring" (that's the thin piece pertruding on the one example and the thin piece curling around the screw hole on the other) can break off. This then means the coupler will not spring back to the neutral position. When you go around a curve or stop, the coupler pulls to one side or gets pushed to one side and allows the cars to uncouple. The way to check this is push each coupler to one side and see if it springs back. If it stays, that little "spring" piece is broken off. The coupler needs to be replaced or the frustration will continue.

View attachment 543875


You also mention about the power pack. Those small train set power packs are notoriously troublesome. You can find relatively inexpensive new power packs. I would be leary of buying any used power packs. I learned my lesson after buying some off ebay. Much of what is there are the small train set power packs or "vintage" metal cased power packs (very good in their day but now VERY old - it's what I had when I was young in the 60s and 70s).

It doesn't surprise me that the AHM car has trouble staying on the track. As I recall, they were very lightweight. Adding weight definitely helps. Tank cars and flat cars do require some creativeness to add weight to. The Tyco cars were heavy and stayed on the track better. Back in the day, Tyco was the best of the less expensive equipment.

I hope you can get things working simply without breaking the bank. It is what will get him interested and keep him interested.

DavefromMD;

You have given a lot of good advice in your "keep it simple" responses. Yes, certainly there are differences in the way modelers with lots of experience and those with very little, do things.
I have to disagree with you about the need for an NMRA gauge though. It's not some exoitic specialty tool that only does one thing. Rather, I ,and many others, regard it as a simple, practical, and very necessary, tool on any model railroad. It's also a very good way to start tracking down the causes of some of the very problems that KGB Railways is experiencing now.
Adding weight is good, but it won't fix, or even find, out-of gauge track, or wheels. A too-light car, with out-of-gauge wheels under it, may derail a little more often than the same car will with added weight, but light, or heavy, it will derail, and keep right on derailing, until the real cause, the wheels, is found and fixed.
In some cases, adding weight may even tend to "mask" the real, underlying, problem.
If the OP adds weight to a car, and that reduces the number/frequency of derailments, he may think, "Wow weight was the ("only") problem all along. So, if I simply add even more weight then everything will work perfectly!"
No it won't. Not if the wheels are out of adjustment, or the track is out-of gauge. All the added weight in the world won't find those problems, an NMRA gauge will.
The thing only costs $12, and if used properly, should last for many years.

You say you have not felt the need for one, and your trains run just fine. Good. I'm happy for you. But that does not mean that KGB Railways is in the same happy boat that you are. From his post, it should be obvious that he's not.
As for NMRA standards, apart from those incorporated in the gauge, I ignore them. I'm not an NMRA member, never have been, and have nothing to gain personally whether KGB buys, and uses, a gauge, or not. I simply happen to think he will be able to find some of his derailment problems with one.

Thank you for the information on horn hook couplers. I used them many years back, when I had an HO-scale railroad. I didn't know about the problems you mentioned. Maybe I experienced some, and have forgotten about them, that was over 50 years ago. I did know, in general terms, about the weaknesses of train set power packs. However, your simple explanation was excellent, thanks for that too.

Traction Fan
 
161 - 173 of 173 Posts
Top