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Discussion Starter #1
Forgive my ignorance in advance, and talk to me like I'm a 3rd grader because I'm very new to this. :laugh:

The background: I have a lot of Lionel stuff from the 50's that my grandfather bought my dad when he was a boy. I'm getting it all set up and running again. It's all O scale...the locomotives are New York Central diesel's from the mid 1950's. Everything is wired following the extremely high tech directions (total sarcasm...) written on a piece of notebook paper by my father ages ago. :laugh:

The problems: Two specific ones, to be exact.
1.) One of the 022 switch tracks is not working. It moves freely when switched by hand, but will not switch using the remote lever. My transformer has 3 posts on the back...the wiring goes from top post to switch 1, and from switch 1 to switch 2, as outlined by good ol' Dad.

2.) There is a section of track that appears to not be powered at all. Cars move fine across the entire track, then just come to a sudden halt at this particular point. It is right next to a lockon that has good connection with both wires. There are 6 lockons in total across my layout. All are wired clip 1 to the center post, clip 2 to to the bottom post.

I'm hoping there are simple fixes to these that aren't too heavy on the electrical engineering aspects....I'm totally willing to learn but don't know much about how to get this fixed. Thanks ahead of time for any advice you guys might have!
 

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Welcome aborad!

I'll try #2 first.

The center rail is usually isolated if you want to control a section separately.

Check to see if you have used steel pins to connect the dead section to the rest of the track. Insulated pins are usually black plastic.

The center rail should have paper insulaiton beteween it and the cross tie and the outer rails have none.

If you have all steel pins, check to see if the pins are making good contact. They should be bright and a tight fit. If you crimp the track around the pin, you will get a better connection. A special pair of pliers is made for this purpose.

I don't have any 022 switches.

Pictures of you transformer and locos will help.

I hope this helps.

(I have a soft spot for collectons which span generations.)
 

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I never had those switches either, wait till gunrunner or servoguy logs on.

The track, do you have another piece to substitute the bad one with?

The center rail has paper insulators if one is bad that will happen.

Try taking that lockon (power connection) off at that spot, maybe that is bad.

Are the pins nice and shiny? A rusted one will cause problems too. Make sure they are clean. Also make sure you did not put a plastic pin in by mistake.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi, Dave. Thanks for the reply. The pins are all steel, and the contacts should all be good. I made sure of that during the assembly phase.

You make an interesting point about the insulation on the center rail. I know exactly what you're talking about and what it looks like, but haven't checked to verify it's there on every piece. There were definitely some pieces of track that had some rails that had slid out of place and I put back together. Would a track piece lacking that insulation cause the cars to simply stop?

The locos look exactly like these:

http://www.postwarlionel.com/cgi-bin/postwar?ITEM=2354

The transformer is an American Flyer 30B. Looks like this one:

http://www.icollector.com/images/209/11758/11758_1075_1_lg.jpg
http://p1.la-img.com/610/24447/8832605_2_l.jpg

I'm using the posts down one side, as I'm only running the one train with it...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I double checked every piece of track...the center rail insulation is in tact across the board. Replaced the lockon in question and now I have no juice anywhere on the track at all. Calling it a night due to frustration. :confused::laugh:
 

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Depending on the size of your layout, it probably won't matter if you remove that lockon completely.

You might also want to consider replacing the wiring if it's old. Could be why that one switch won't move and possibly why you aren't getting power to the rest of the layout..
 

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The usual reason for the 022 switches not moving is the contacts require cleaning/adjustment, they're under the lantern cover. The link that servoguy provided is all-inclusive, but you may not want to spend that amount of time right up front. :)
 

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Here is the O22 Remote Control Switch service manual. It really can help if you don't let it confuse you.

Make sure that the lantern bulb is good. If the switch lantern lights up, take a wire and hold it to the center terminal post of the switch motor, and then touch it to each of the outside terminal posts, one at a time. The switch should operate.

If the switch lantern does not illuminate, remove the fixed voltage plug and apply track power. If the lantern lights, perform the above test.

If the lantern does not light up, read the manual! ;)

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Not trying to be difficult, but honestly I get a bit scared I'm going to do more damage than good by opening up the transformer. I'm by no means an electrician and just don't trust that I'd be able to keep from making things worse. I can tell you when the handle is engaged and turned, the bulb on top does not light....I think that's simply a burned out bulb. The meter on the face of the transformer does go up and it makes a slight humming sound....I think the transformer is doing its job. The most puzzling thing to me right now is that I had power on most of the track before replacing what appeared to be a bad lockon, but now I have nothing at all. I'm going to clean up the lockon I removed and put it back and see what that gets me.
 

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When you debug problems, it is important to start with as little as possible and make sure that works. Then keep adding stuff until it doesn't work. The last stuff that you added will be where the problem is. For example, start with a few straight pieces of track and a single lockon wired to the transformer. Make sure that the engine will run on this short bit of track. Then keep adding a few sections of track at a time, checking that the engine still runs after you add each bit of track. Then add a lockon and see if everything still works.

After all this talk, do you know how to phase the lockons so they are all in phase? If you connect the two wired on one lockon crossed from the wires on another lockon, you create a dead short across the transformer, and nothing is going to work.
 

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BTW, I wouldn't take the transformer apart unless I had determined for sure that it wasn't working right. Transformers don't usually give trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
After all this talk, do you know how to phase the lockons so they are all in phase? If you connect the two wired on one lockon crossed from the wires on another lockon, you create a dead short across the transformer, and nothing is going to work.
Each lockon is individually wired directly to the transformer. I have double checked several times to be sure no wires are crossed. If switching the lockon back to the one I had before does not work, I guess I'm going to deconstruct and start from the beginning like you described.

Thanks for all the input, guys.
 

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Here is a quick check on the lockons. Remove the train. Remove all the lockons. Remove the wires from the transformer. Turn the transformer on about half way. Now connect the first lockon to the transformer. There should not be any sparks. Now connect the first lockon to the track. There should not be any sparks as long as nothing is connected to the track. This includes switches. Disconnect all the switches. Now connect the 2nd lockon to the transformer. Again, there should not be any sparks. Now connect the 2nd lockon to the track. Again, there should not be any sparks. Keep going until you either get everything connected together, or you find something that sparks when you try to connect it.

Don't feel like the Lone Ranger with this kind of problem. I have 48 years of experience as an electrical engineer, and I still have to debug problems a piece at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
OK, good news is she's off and running now! All I did was pull the lockons and clean them up real good then put them back. Track is powered all the way around now. Problem is the engine loses traction (for lack of a better term to describe it) at several points along the way. It's getting good power, but the wheels are spinning out and it's slowing way down or even coming to a stop in place. It may be just because this thing has been boxed up for so long...it seemed to get a little better after it warmed up some. Could it be a sign that the track needs cleaning?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
What's the best way to clean the wheels? There is definitely some corrosion and general gunk on there. I cleaned all the track up really good....I have a little workman car (tiny little powered car with bumpers on both sides that make it change directions) and it's flying around the track. No lag spots at all. The engine not so much. I'm pretty sure it's because of the buildup on the wheels.
 

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Have you oiled the wheels on the cars? Are you running post war cars with wheels that turn on the axles? These cars will have a lot of friction of they are not well oiled, particularly when they are going around curves.
 
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