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Discussion Starter #1
I have just finished laying track and cork roadbed for my American Flyer xmas garden.

If it is not moving fast enough (reasonable speed; not slow but not too fast to jump on a curve), my #302 locomotive "stalls" when passing over my re-railer. Of course, the "stall" occurs when the tender is on the re-railer.

I have 2 not-connected loops on the platforms with 2 separate #302s running. Swapping the 2 locomotives or running in either direction (forward or reverse) does the same thing, so it is not a specific locomotive problem. (Note: The two locomotives are identical right down to the take-offs on the tenders.)

The re-railer is in very close to mint condition and is within 12-inches of the power clip. There is no continuity between the rails when the re-railer is removed, or when in the loop without a locomotive. The re-railer shows the same AC voltage as the rest of the track when the transformer is ON.

Several very close examinations with small trouble lights and magnifying glass (my eyes are not what they used to be) of the (1) standalone re-railer, (2) with #302 locomotive, or (3) with a non-operational type boxcar offers no hints to the behavior.

I'm stumped. Or, more likely, the answer is so simple I just can not see it.

I need to move on to wiring and to layout streets.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sorry, I should have included this: I removed the re-railer and a straight section of track and swapped them. Exact same problem on the re-railer, and the straight track worked fine.

The re-railer is just a piece of plastic with 2 pieces of track attached to it. The re-railing action is a function of the plastic and seems to work perfectly. The track has been cleaned (twice) and looks good.
 

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Here are a few things to try to see if you can isolate the problem. Are the wheels in gauge? Put a dime between the wheels, make sure it just fits between. Place the engine on a few pieces of track, look and see if all of the wheels on the tender are touching the track evenly. Also make sure the draw bar and the tab on the front tender truck are not bent up or down or twisted, this can cause the tender truck to sit crooked. Make sure that the sheet metal trucks aren't bent or twisted. Also check the bushing at the draw bar to tender truck to make sure its not intermittently shorting.The last thing to check might be the pick ups that rub on the axles for proper tension. All of these things I have come across. If all looks good, lock the reverse unit in forward and run the engine across the rerailer on your loop and try to see if you spot any sparking, the engine may sputter momentarily but should cross the rerailer. If it stalls on the rerailer look and see if you can spot why. Do the trucks look even and not being lifted by uneven track or the plastic on the rerailer? Next, gently push down on the top of the tender and see if it starts moving again. Its hard to imagine 2 engines having the same type of issue with a rerailer but anything is possible. It could also be that the plastic on the rerailer is somehow lifting the tender trucks just enough to cause this stalling. Hope this helps.
 

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I would suspect continuity problems.Get your multi-meter out and check the rails, also the underneath. If you're stalling when the tender is on the re-railer, sounds like you're not getting any power to the re-railer. Check your track pins. We know the re-railer is bad as you've used several different engine/tenders and the problems remains. Do you have a spot-light car or lighted passenger car? If so, run those over the section and see what happens. This should be a easy fix. I would start with the track pins, then check for continuity. As a last resort, solder some wires from your track to the re-railer, and see what happens. Or.. get your multi-meter and put 1 probe on your running track/layout, and the other probe to the corresponding track on the re-railer while it's hooked up.. You should have continuity. Check both tracks..This should be an easy fix, you're just losing power to the section of track,(re-railer)... After checking all this, I would suspect there's a high-spot on the re-railer, causing the trucks to lift off the track, losing contact. You say at a slower speed, this problem exits, so I would consider that moving fast over the suspected portion of track, power is not interrupted.
 

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Ideally it would be nice to run a 322 or 332 over the rerailer section to see if the problem occurs. Checking the wheel gauge and the coupler height were already mentioned. One other thing to check are the brass axle wipers. Verify there is downward pressure on the axles. If so then there must be something out of tolerance in the center plastic insert of the rerailer section or a continuity issue.
 

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It's been decades since I last ran an S gauge train.
As a result I'm not that familiar with the power
pickups.

Could something on the tender be 'riding' on the
rerailer plastic parts and lifting a truck thus
losing power?

Since others have correctly suggested tests there
is another that often points to the culprit in a track
related problem.

Get down close to the rerailer with a bright light.
Run the loco and tender as slow as you can. If you
see a wheel 'lift', STOP. There is something at that
point that is not right. If no lift but the train stops,
check the power pickup wheels. Are they contacting
the rails? Check also to see if the rerailer rails have
power with the loco and tender stopped on it. The weight
could be 'breaking' a joiner contact.

One other thought...is the stop due to loss of
wheel contact...or does the loco on the rerailer
cause a short circuit? As I recall the rails are
attached to metal ties with fiber insulators.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #8
1.) Wheels in gauge by dime test;
2.) I checked the engine/tender on straight track and the re-railer after removing both and examined with a magnifying glass;
3.) Closely examined both draw bar and the tab on the front tender truck;
4.) The sheet metal trucks aren't bent or twisted;
5.) pick ups seem to be good;
6.) No sparking;
7.) the trucks look even, etc;

Thank you for the detailed instructions.
 

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Was this a problem before laying the track onto cork? Or if you didn't run the engines this way can you set up a loop of track with the rerailer on the floor or table top and see if the problem happens? Trying to eliminate items as I think of what else to check. Should have mentioned this in my previous post but with the engine(s) on the track how far are the bottoms of the truck side frames from the top of the rail. I have run across this with a 312 pacific with worn holes in the sheet metal side frames and they sat close enough to the track that they would momentarily short just going through curves. Please don't take offense to my last question but it is a 728 rerailer and not a 710 early operating track section? Just trying to eliminate the obvious.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry, wife called for dinner.

I will have to re-install before I can test the "gently push down on the top of the tender and see if it starts moving again" suggestion.

Thank you again.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Flyernut,

Checking for continuity problems was my first thought. I got good continuity and the power levels are consistent with the regular track.

My lighted passenger car seems to be too long but after I re-install, I will try this.

I've probed just about every thing that can be probed.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
AmFlyer,

Wish I had a 322 or 332 (and a lot more floor space), but I don't and I've got more stuff than I can use now.

Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Don,

Thanks for the suggestions but "been there...done that". Bright LED light and magnifying glass (i.e. Sherlock Holmes meets CSI).

I've done a lot of tests. How would I rule out a short circuit other than not seeing any continuity between the 2 rails with tests at various points on said track?

Ben
 

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Discussion Starter #15
cramden,

OK.

I used hand cut cork sheets when the garden was up in the 1980's. This time around I bought cork from Midwest Products. I never occurred to me to run anything without the cork. I'll try it as soon as I can.

Since the re-railer is on a straight-away, and I've gotten up close I don't see this as a problem.

No offense taken. All suggestions accepted. It is a 728 rerailer.

Ben
 

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Don,

Thanks for the suggestions but "been there...done that". Bright LED light and magnifying glass (i.e. Sherlock Holmes meets CSI).

I've done a lot of tests. How would I rule out a short circuit other than not seeing any continuity between the 2 rails with tests at various points on said track?

Ben
Hook 1 wire from the base post on the transformer to the end of 1 rail on the rerailer. Hook a 2nd wire to the variable voltage post and turn the throttle up half way. Then starting at 1 end of the other rail rub the wire the length of the rail. If you have a short from the insulation where the track is clamped down you will get a spark and the breaker will trip. Edit: without any metal ties there shouldn't be any insulation, but its how to check the regular track.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
mopac,

Sorry, just saw your posting.

Yes, I did replace the re-railer with a straight piece of track. Locomotive runs fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hook 1 wire from the base post on the transformer to the end of 1 rail on the rerailer. Hook a 2nd wire to the variable voltage post and turn the throttle up half way. Then starting at 1 end of the other rail rub the wire the length of the rail. If you have a short from the insulation where the track is clamped down you will get a spark and the breaker will trip. Edit: without any metal ties there shouldn't be any insulation, but its how to check the regular track.
If I'm not teaching tomorrow, I will give this a try. I checked both continuity and voltage all along the re-railer but I don't want to miss a trick.

Thanks,

Ben
 

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What scale Midwest cork did you use. I am going to use it also. Better than no roadbed.
I have seen HO and O scale cork. I have not seen S.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I used the HO/O scale cork (they don't have S scale). I put the groove side down.

I also ordered a pack of 3-foot by 1-foot cork. I made a template for the curved track, switches, accessories, etc.

My wife thinks it looks very good (her opinion rates). Remember, I am not a hobbyist. This is a Christmas garden for our grandson.
 
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