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Discussion Starter #121
Been rather busy but not all on trains, had to do an oil change on one of the cars (PITA 'Zuki, didn't do the filter this time), the S10 and the Hot Rod are next and much easier. Here is what was done to the layout, got the pit dug for the tank farm, oil lines done, tanker drain hoses (I looked online and this is close to what is out there, probably will shorten the hoses), RXR markings on the highway coming into town, will need to get some more, built the control board, now to run the wires and hook everything up, got the Military Memorial built and sitting close to where it will end up

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Discussion Starter #122 (Edited)
Finished the turnout wiring last night. Everything works as it should. Got the various power cable tucked up under and held with plastic "U" holders. Now I've got to find and address a problem I'm having with the E5 loco (Silver Streak), and this issue isn't with the SDs even with just about the same wheel base. This is on all 3 tracks there are parts of the track that has small dead spots, the headlight flickers and sometimes the loco stops completely depending on the speed set. The SDs go around the same track and closely watching the headlights no skips or flickers at all. The lights in the passenger coaches have had a problem of flickering since new and I first put the light kits in them. Could it be dirty track (I went over it all with alcohol and a rag a week or two ago) I'm looking to get a track cleaner, any ideas on what to get, I've seen those cleaner cars, that would work too
556444

Maybe a bit ghetto but the wiring out the bottom left to right go along with the toggles left to right with first set go to upper left toggle. Plastic covers over the screws so no spitzensparkenz ⚡😲⚡
 

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Not sure this will help your loco issue but for track cleaning i did this treatment and it totally changed how my layout runs.
Its called NO-OX-ID A-SPECIAL HD Anti Corrosion Antenna Electrical Contact Grease .
It is labor intensive but the improvement is night and day for me.
I was experiencing stalls especially in the double crossover and some turnouts, even at random places on the track.
Stalls are all but gone now, I still have issues with the double crossover but i think its due to the points not making good contact. I got the stuff on E-bay for about $7 and it took a couple of days to complete the treatment
556445

Here's the steps to do this.
The only part i didn't follow was i only ran my loco about 45 minuets instead of to hours
And i also still clean the rails with WD 40 contact cleaner caues the gunk still builds up even though their is no running problems.


All contaminants such as plaster, glue, or oil, should be removed prior to No-Ox application. The steps below are all VERY important and none should be skipped.
1. Use a mild abrasive such as fine sandpaper or a brite boy on all rails to remove any oxidation.
2. Wipe all rails with a rag and alcohol to remove any dirt and fine particles.
3. Vacuum all rails to ensure cleanliness.
4. Put very thin smears on your finger and rub it on your rails. The total amount of NO-OX-ID “A SPECIAL” that should be applied to 500’ of N scale track is about ¼ teaspoon. If you can SEE No-Ox on rails, you are putting TOO MUCH on! DO NOT APPLY MORE!
5. Run all your locomotives, EXCEPT ONES WITH TRACTION TIRES, (no rolling stock yet) over all of your track for at least 2 hours. You may notice some wheel slippage and skipping, (DO NOT PANIC) this ensures that all wheels get treated with No-Ox.
6. Remove all locomotives from track and wipe all rails with a clean rag to remove any excess product. Don’t scrub, just rub.
7. Wait 24 hours.
8. Wipe rails again. Rag will be black.
9. For locos with traction tires, turn them upside down, connect track power so that wheels turn. Put a small dab of No-Ox on a Q-tip and apply to all wheels that DON’T have traction tires. While wheels are still turning, use a clean Q-tip to remove any excess No-Ox.
10. Run trains and forget about cleaning your track except for occasional light vacuuming. .

Your layout lookin awesome!
 

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Finished the turnout wiring last night. Everything works as it should. Got the various power cable tucked up under and held with plastic "U" holders. Now I've got to find and address a problem I'm having with the E5 loco (Silver Streak), and this issue isn't with the SDs even with just about the same wheel base. This is on all 3 tracks there are parts of the track that has small dead spots, the headlight flickers and sometimes the loco stops completely depending on the speed set. The SDs go around the same track and closely watching the headlights no skips or flickers at all. The lights in the passenger coaches have had a problem of flickering since new and I first put the light kits in them. Could it be dirty track (I went over it all with alcohol and a rag a week or two ago) I'm looking to get a track cleaner, any ideas on what to get, I've seen those cleaner cars, that would work too View attachment 556444
Maybe a bit ghetto but the wiring out the bottom left to right go along with the toggles left to right with first set go to upper left toggle. Plastic covers over the screws so no spitzensparkenz ⚡😲⚡
WCB;

Try cleaning the track at the dead spots first, simply because that's the easiest thing to do.
Does your E-5 loco have the same problem on other track, or only in certain spots? Are those spots on curves, straight track, or turnouts ?
Since your other locomotives do not have the same problem, it's most likely to be inside the E-5, but the preceding track-related questions were aimed at the possibility that there is some interaction between the E-5 and the track. For instance, one of the wheel contacts in the E-5 may not like curves.
If cleaning the track makes no difference, I would next clean the wheels of the E-5. Again, try the easy fixes first.

If the problem remains after the track and wheels are both clean, you will need to pull the body shell off the E-5. o_O
I don't know how Kato gets the power from the wheels of their E-5 loco, to the input of the DCC decoder.
The ideal connection, electrically, would be soldered wires directly from the wheel wipers, right up to the decoder.
Manufacturers tend to use the frame, (on DC locos) or some form of snap-on metal strips rather than wires. (I guess they don't want to give those Chinese ten-year-old's an extra grain of rice in their pay envelope for taking the time to solder wires! 😄)
However, you can't beat wire for electrical reliability. That's why our houses & model railroads are "wired" instead of "bracketed." :p So if they didn't use wires, you might consider adding them.
In any case, if the problem is in the E-5 locomotive at all, then you have one of the only two possible electrical problems. An intermittent open circuit (most likely) or an intermittent short circuit (less likely, but still possible.) Trace the path from wheels to decoder, and you should find the problem. It's very unlikely to be beyond the decoder since both the motor, and the headlight, have the same behavior, and they are on two separate outputs of the decoder.

As for track cleaning:
First I'd do it more often than once every "week or two." My old club cleaned all 25 scale miles of their track before each operating night. The track does get dusty just sitting there.
Second, I am a contented user of "Brite Boy" track cleaning blocks. So was the club. There are many who dislike the Brite Boy, claiming that is scratches the rails. If you're one of that group, then stay "On the rag" & alcohol. :cautious: Personally, I've yet to see a metal rail damaged by running a Brite Boy over it, even quite vigorously.
Brite Boys quickly pick up a lot of dirt from the rails, (after all, that's exactly what their supposed to do!) In the first photo, the Brite Boy on the left has just been cleaned with LPS-1. At the very bottom, you can just see traces of the dirt trails that were cleaned off the rest of the block. The Brite boy on the right shows some of the dirt it has just removed from the track.
To clean the crud off the Brite Boy, I spray it with LPS-1 greaseless silicone spray, and wipe the Brite Boy with a rag. This system has worked well for me for many years. The photos below show Brite Boy track cleaning blocks, a can of LPS-1, and a Minitrix wheel cleaner for N-scale locomotives. This is the blue & white striped object to the left of the LPS-1. (By the way use LPS -1, not LPS-2, or LPS-3. The first is somewhat electively conductive. The other two are not.) All three are good things to keep an N-scale model railroad running smoothly.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #125 (Edited)
Thanks Spruslayer and I'll look up that compound

TF, here is a pic of the E5's innards, the pickup rails have wires soldered directly to the underside of the decoder, up at the motor pickups I have double layer of Kapton tape insulating those tabs and they are soldered to the appropriate locations on the decoder as well, I even took the board off (when I doubled the Kapton tape) and installed slightly smaller gauge wire.

I've heard of the Bright Boy and questioned the abrasive on the rails but if your outfit has been using them with no worn out track then that might be an option plus me getting a wheel cleaner gizmo. If the E5 is running fast enough then there is just the flickering across some areas both straights and curves. As I said and noted the SDs at a crawl no flicker and no stalls (they are running a "combine" or whatever the word is)
556470
 

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Thanks Spruslayer and I'll look up that compound

TF, here is a pic of the E5's innards, the pickup rails have wires soldered directly to the underside of the decoder, up at the motor pickups I have double layer of Kapton tape insulating those tabs and they are soldered to the appropriate locations on the decoder as well, I even took the board off (when I doubled the Kapton tape) and installed slightly smaller gauge wire.

I've heard of the Bright Boy and questioned the abrasive on the rails but if your outfit has been using them with no worn out track then that might be an option plus me getting a wheel cleaner gizmo. If the E5 is running fast enough then there is just the flickering across some areas both straights and curves. As I said and noted the SDs at a crawl no flicker and no stalls (they are running a "combine" or whatever the word is) View attachment 556470
WCB;

The copper strips along each side of your E-5's mechanism look suspiciously like substitutes for wires to me. When you pulled the DCC decoder board off, what was underneath? How does current get from the wheels, up to those copper strips the wires to the decoder's underside are soldered to?
There should be some other, smaller, copper contacts called "wheel wipers" down inside the trucks that rub against the wheels. The electrical path from those up to the decoder inputs should, in my opinion, be all wire. When the decoder circuit board was pulled off, did the long copper strips come off with the circuit board, or stay on the locomotive? I suspect they stayed behind. If that's true, then there must be some contacts on the bottom of the decoder board that are intended to touch the copper strips when the decoder board is mounted on the locomotive. They, and / or the wheel wipers may be dirty, or not making good contact. The contact points on the board that mate with the copper strips are the real input to the decoder, from the wheels, not the copper strips themselves. So we really don't have an all-wire feed from the wheel wipers directly to the input of the decoder. I can't see the truck end of this circuit in your photo, or the underside of the decoder PCB. Photos of those areas might help.

I think you mean your two SDs are running as a "consist." A "combine", in railroad parlance, is a car that carries passengers in one end, and baggage, mail, or express packages, in the other end. It is a combination passenger and cargo car. Both these terms, and a slew of others, are in the attached file. you can peruse them if covid lock down has you that bored. o_O

regards;

Traction Fan 😊
 

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So far this is what I use and track is super clean and shiny so far. I use the eraser till I seen shinyness, small shop vac with soft horse hair brush attachment. Then finish with the ACT6006. X


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Thanks Spruslayer and I'll look up that compound

TF, here is a pic of the E5's innards, the pickup rails have wires soldered directly to the underside of the decoder, up at the motor pickups I have double layer of Kapton tape insulating those tabs and they are soldered to the appropriate locations on the decoder as well, I even took the board off (when I doubled the Kapton tape) and installed slightly smaller gauge wire.

I've heard of the Bright Boy and questioned the abrasive on the rails but if your outfit has been using them with no worn out track then that might be an option plus me getting a wheel cleaner gizmo. If the E5 is running fast enough then there is just the flickering across some areas both straights and curves. As I said and noted the SDs at a crawl no flicker and no stalls (they are running a "combine" or whatever the word is) View attachment 556470
Does it come from the factory with the motor tabs folded and soldered?

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Discussion Starter #130
WOW. doing MY part to stimulate our economy by ordering a wheel cleaner, track cleaner juice and "dust monkeys" that ride the rails under a boxcar, should help along with the Bright Boy ordered. I hit one part of the track that was causing some of the blinkys on the E5 with a block eraser, a very notable improvement but grooved the rubber (I have more of them here)

Now to answer all the ???s about the E5 loco, the (factory) copper strips running front to back on both side are where the power gets to the decoder and / or the DC board. In the pic there are copper pins / bars attached to the trucks, both sides, and ride back and forth on the underside of the strips. The motor tabs with the original DC board were simply folded over and held in place with the grey plastic piece in the center. When I got the DCC decoder I went with how Mike Fifer did the install on this very model of loco, soldering the two wires to the underside of the board and then to the copper strips, then soldering the motor tabs to the appropriate place midway towards the front then just so it wouldn't get lost installed the plastic "plug" in it's hole. The (factory) copper strips are held in place by a plastic locating pin and with flat plastic fingers (just ahead of where the wire is soldered and ahead of the front edge of the decoder board). It was stressed that the motor contact fingers needed to be insulated from contact with the copper strips. The measly piece of Kapton Tape that came with the decoders is why I bought a roll and doubled up the insulation
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Discussion Starter #131
Now I have another $64 question, does anyone know where I might be able to find and purchase some of the RXR pavement markings like pictured, N Scale. The outfit I bought these previously don't have any more and other outlets and vendors don't have anything like them. These were the type that you place them and rub the backing to get them applied. Thanks

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I like your tank farm and the piping, but I have one comnent.

Tank farms are built with dikes around the tanks. They are not built at a lower level than the surrounding terrain.

This is because the closer to the underlying water table the tanks sit at, the more likely a very low or empty tank is likely to float as the water table starts rising after heavy or prolonged rain.

Been there, done that.
 

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Discussion Starter #133
I like your tank farm and the piping, but I have one comnent.

Tank farms are built with dikes around the tanks. They are not built at a lower level than the surrounding terrain.

This is because the closer to the underlying water table the tanks sit at, the more likely a very low or empty tank is likely to float as the water table starts rising after heavy or prolonged rain.

Been there, done that.
Thanks, too late now, I've seen the ones with berms but IIRC there was one farm that had tanks just below ground level, the farm was on high ground and Noah would have floated by before those tanks floated. If need be I can move the farm and end up with a frog pond instead
 

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I watched the same Fifer video on decoder install. Nice work in the pics. I even contacted Mike about the video on YouTube because it conflicts with the install instructions in the article on his site. The article advised to not solder, but Mike stated he soldered them. Anyhoo.. Good video. Hope it's just dirty track!
I like those street layouts. I also need some!

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Discussion Starter #135
I watched the same Fifer video on decoder install. Nice work in the pics. I even contacted Mike about the video on YouTube because it conflicts with the install instructions in the article on his site. The article advised to not solder, but Mike stated he soldered them. Anyhoo.. Good video. Hope it's just dirty track!
I like those street layouts. I also need some!

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Thanks, I was piddling around with the body off the loco and noticed that one of the copper strips wasn't "rocking" like the other three ends, SO out came the magnifier and then the razor knife, seems that when I soldered the L/R wire I musta touched the iron to the plastic jussta smidgen, I removed the flat "finger" (see pic) piece Scraped a rough spot off'n it, scraped a spot next to the copper strip and all 4 corners "rock" now

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Discussion Starter #136
Oh the streets are Busch 7087 flexible roadway. It can curve a bit but once the sticky touches down it's pretty much there where it is. Here's a pic of my first layout with it down around town

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And during the tear-down the roads were still intact mostly
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I use the Busch product too. I'll be ordering more soon. It's good stuff, but as you said, once it's down it's not coming off without a putty knife or a razor blade scraper and a can of lighter fluid.
 

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WOW. doing MY part to stimulate our economy by ordering a wheel cleaner, track cleaner juice and "dust monkeys" that ride the rails under a boxcar, should help along with the Bright Boy ordered. I hit one part of the track that was causing some of the blinkys on the E5 with a block eraser, a very notable improvement but grooved the rubber (I have more of them here)

Now to answer all the ???s about the E5 loco, the (factory) copper strips running front to back on both side are where the power gets to the decoder and / or the DC board. In the pic there are copper pins / bars attached to the trucks, both sides, and ride back and forth on the underside of the strips. The motor tabs with the original DC board were simply folded over and held in place with the grey plastic piece in the center. When I got the DCC decoder I went with how Mike Fifer did the install on this very model of loco, soldering the two wires to the underside of the board and then to the copper strips, then soldering the motor tabs to the appropriate place midway towards the front then just so it wouldn't get lost installed the plastic "plug" in it's hole. The (factory) copper strips are held in place by a plastic locating pin and with flat plastic fingers (just ahead of where the wire is soldered and ahead of the front edge of the decoder board). It was stressed that the motor contact fingers needed to be insulated from contact with the copper strips. The measly piece of Kapton Tape that came with the decoders is why I bought a roll and doubled up the insulation View attachment 556509

View attachment 556510
WCB;

IF, and only IF, you continue to have problems with semi-stalls & headlight flickers from you E-5, I would solder a thin (28-32Ga.) stranded wire from the bottom copper tab on each side of the trucks, up to the track power input terminals on the decoder board itself, not the long strips. Then you will have an all-wire path from the wheel wipers, directly up to the decoder PCB. You could then forget about the long (factory) strips, and remove them. Hopefully, cleaning the track, the wheels, and the inside surface of the wheel wipers, will fix the problem.

The reason "it was stressed that the motor contact fingers not come in contact with the long brass strips" is that doing so would bypass the DCC decoder. The long brass strips are supposed to feed the track power into the decoder's input terminals. The motor, and its contact fingers, is an output. Shorting the input to the output would be very bad! (here play the song "Smoke gets in your eyes." :cautious: )

Regards;

Traction Fan 😊
 

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Discussion Starter #139 (Edited)
Good News today, this is a major WOOO HOOOO moment, the fiddling around I did last night (minor electronic surgery done, the money spent on my Army Training didn't go to waste). All of the light blinky and stuttering and stalling went away, SOOOO apparently when I soldered the L/R wire to the copper strip and touched the plastic piece with the iron it was JUST enough to have it break contact sometimes because it couldn't move like it should. The surgery was a success because running both trains on all four loops for over 2 hours there was not one light blinky, no "cough cough", and not stoppage except for where I didn't get the turnouts flipped back before the locos got there (controller shut down the tracks til I corrected my . . . . . . . . mistake :oops: I bet yall thought I was gonna say something else LOL. As far as soldering wires down to the trucks, that might make the problem worse by taking away the movement of the channels where those truck "stubs" travel and make contact under the copper strips. Both trucks have a pair of those stubs with a total of 4 contact points from the trucks. It seems to be fixed now so I'll leave it be

Now another layout update, I found a vendor that sells highway markings, lines, and YES railroad crossings, another WOO HOOO :cool: I also have more road material on the way as well as street lights, some people, and a mountain background picture for the back right side.

I applied the highway that I had on hand, 1/2 of the 4-lane through where the town will be (not quite enough for the other side) and one of the side roads. I'll butt the other side up next to what's there and then paint the double centerline yellow

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556559

Oh and there is the eraser I used last night, it's kinda crumbly due to being OAS, I have more plus the track cleaners on the way
 

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Good News today, this is a major WOOO HOOOO moment, the fiddling around I did last night (minor electronic surgery done, the money spent on my Army Training didn't go to waste). All of the light blinky and stuttering and stalling went away, SOOOO apparently when I soldered the L/R wire to the copper strip and touched the plastic piece with the iron it was JUST enough to have it break contact sometimes because it couldn't move like it should. The surgery was a success because running both trains on all four loops for over 2 hours there was not one light blinky, no "cough cough", and not stoppage except for where I didn't get the turnouts flipped back before the locos got there (controller shut down the tracks til I corrected my . . . . . . . . mistake :oops: I bet yall thought I was gonna say something else LOL. As far as soldering wires down to the trucks, that might make the problem worse by taking away the movement of the channels where those truck "stubs" travel and make contact under the copper strips. Both trucks have a pair of those stubs with a total of 4 contact points from the trucks. It seems to be fixed now so I'll leave it be

Now another layout update, I found a vendor that sells highway markings, lines, and YES railroad crossings, another WOO HOOO :cool: I also have more road material on the way as well as street lights, some people, and a mountain background picture for the back right side.

I applied the highway that I had on hand, 1/2 of the 4-lane through where the town will be (not quite enough for the other side) and one of the side roads. I'll butt the other side up next to what's there and then paint the double centerline yellow

View attachment 556558

View attachment 556559
Oh and there is the eraser I used last night, it's kinda crumbly due to being OAS, I have more plus the track cleaners on the way

WCB;

Congratulations! I'm glad to hear that your E-5 is now running smoothly. Good job (y)
The idea of soldering wires to the trucks was only if you continued to have the stall/blink problem. Since you don't have it anymore, I definitely agree. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Happy train running. 🙂

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 
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