Bout fed up

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NickB

Wannabe Engineer
I guess it's just got to be one of those days where everything is getting under my skin. To top it off I haven't made any head way on laying scenery on my layout. I'm almost to the point of scrapping my current design and starting over with something more simplified. I'm having so many issues with the current layout that I can't enjoy running my big steam engines now because lately all they do is derail every 2 feet. Sorry for raving on but this just makes me want yell and start over again. I feel anymore whenever I go work on my layout I'm just hitting my head against a wall. Well that felt better to vent some, hope everyone else is having a better day.:cool:
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Nick, sometimes, issues like that just scream start over. My very first layout lasted me all of 2 months, then sat in a barn for the better part of 4 years until my dad salvaged the stuff used on it. He plans to re-use most of the layout on his future layout.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Been there done that. I scrapped mine when the EZ track started failing.

Is it the design or the trackwork? I switched to Fast Track Turnouts so that I knew they would work flawlessly.
 

NickB

Wannabe Engineer
I think it's the trackwork and I try reworking different areas of the curves which are suppose to be anywhere from 22" radius to 24" but the engines(4-8-4, all the small stuff like 0-6-0 work) still keep jumping off. I've inspected curves like crazy and nothing jumps out to me as to what's the problem. This plan's curves were there to accommodate my 4-8-4 and my 4-8-8-2.
 

chimmike

UP and BNSF freelancer
chances are likely you just need larger radius curves for the larger locos. If your smaller locos work fine, that leads me to believe it's due to less articulation among the behemoths, especially with HO scale.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Sometimes the problem is not where the engine derails. Look back the track too. Watch the train run very carefully. sometimes a wheel will pop off the track and run un-noticed along the top of rail until the centrifugal force of the turn pushes it over the edge. Other similar thing can happen. I've found that problems can be as much as a couple yards away from the derail.
 

iggysaksr

Freelance N Scaler
Nick, Is there anything(including scenery) that is too close to the rails? At our club a member put in a cement road that he put up close to the rails and it was just a teensy weensy bit higher than the rails. Some engines did okay others derailed every time they came to the curve. Blow off the steam, walk away, take on fuel, and look again.
 

iggysaksr

Freelance N Scaler
Chip's on the right track as well. I had a spot where the track dipped just below grade...derailed one wheel... and went almost three feet down the track before it took out the entire engine.
 

NickB

Wannabe Engineer
My only scenery is my roundhouse near a yard, other than that this is bear wood with the cork and track. I've watched but it's hard to run to the outside of the layout to see the outer wheels and operate the controls of the train. I'm the only one that messes with this thing. These steam engines should be able to handle a 22" to 24" curves. I've watched at each curve I don't know how many times since middle of Nov. but I still can't make any head way. Just when I think I have the spot figured out that's causing the derail, it jumps off the track before the spot or after it.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Nick, I don't think your radii has anything to do with it. I run big guys all the time on that size without problems. Back when I first got my Challenger, all my locos ran fine without any derails...but then the new guy.

The Challenger's pilot and sometimes the drivers would derail at almost every curve. Carey came over and we found that where I thought I had perfect track joints, I didn't. There was enough of an edge of one rail sticking out from the other that it would snag the wheels, i.e KINK. We resoldered almost every joint in the curves using the flat side of a file to hold each railend exactly in alignment with the other while soldering. Now...never a track caused derailment.

Take a look...watch the loco slowly...do you see any kind of bump/movement at the joints?;) :)
 

Secondhandmodeler

All new now!
I noticed around mid fall, my perfectly functional track work needed work. I had one of those days where everything was derailing. What I figured out was, when I laid the track, it was mid spring. My layout was in the basement with a fair amount of humidity. When I started having problems was when we started to run the furnace. I came to the conclusion that the humidity change must have tweaked my track work. This is purely a guess, but I couldn't come up with any other reason for the track work to suddenly be inadequate. Maybe a change in atmospheric conditions has caused your layout to shift a tiny bit? Just a theory.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
It is not the radius, it is the surface of the rails, both inner and top, that are giving you the problems.

First things first, though. The engine specs out? No gauge issues, nothing hindering the trucks from pivoting when the engine is on the rails. No flashing or binding somewhere? If those are all okay, then we must turn to the tracks.

When I introduced my Lionel Challenger, that is when I learned that new engines mean new problems. Since then, I have had to refine my bad spots when a BLI Niagara 4-8-4 came later, then a BLI Pennsy Duplex 4-4-4-4. All three locos humbled me until I gritted my teeth and began to track down the problems. As Chip says, they derail here, but what makes them derail here is something about where they have just been. So look anywhere from the mid drivers and on back to the rear coupler on the tender. Somewhere in there is a bad joint with a sharp edge or there is a dip or a hump...and those two don't have to be at a joint at all. Poorly supported flextrack will sag over a couple of inches. Turnouts can really sag and cause wobbling if they don't float properly.

Use good lighting, use a straightedge, and use a small handmirror to see which axle begins to lift out of the rails first. Then look back to the drivers to see if one or more, on either side, is slightly suspended above the rails. Alternatively, place a smooth straightedge atop the rails in several locations and backlight where the two meet. If you can see widening bands of light between the dark underbody of the straightedge and the rail tops, that is where you must shim or reduce. When it is impractical to watch the far side drivers as the engine creeps over the bad spot, use a handmirror behind the engine tilted so that you can watch what is happening.

As for the rail ends, it is very important to dress them with a small metal file. You should get in the habit of imparting a gentle bevel to both the top surface and on the inner flange surface of each and every rail end...without fail. It isn't ever going to be a huge deal on the tangents, but you can see how a widish gauged axle going around a tight curve will want to force a flange to nudge and catch at slightly wide gaps, and if the metal rail edges are sharp, it will mean a displaced axle for sure.

I have never failed to locate and fix problems of this kind. It takes determination, and some cardstock or thin plastic shimming material shoved under several inches worth of ties and you will find that your engines will eventually behave, even at speed. If you have multiple areas of trouble, you may have to take up your track entirely, prepare a new subroadbed, and then re-lay it. It will take a weekend, perhaps, but if it leaves you enjoying the hobby more, especially a new engine, then it would be worth my trouble, in my opinion.
 
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UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
All good advice. I'll throw in my two cents. I went through every rail joint on the layout with a fine tooth small flat file and filed the top of the rail heads and the inside surface of the joint until they were absolutely smooth. I tested the joint with a business card. If the card would slide smoothly over the top and side of a joint, I moved on to the next one. It took about two full days of work to get this done but I went from having the same type of problems you're having to being able to run a train for hours and not have a derailment. Do this to all the track, not just the curves. As Chip said, the spot that's causing the wheel to lift might be many feet away from where it derails on the curve. Things that will run on straight track will derail on curves because that's when the stress actually pops the wheel off the track. Don't give up hope, whatever the problem is, it's fixable. At least you're doing this before you have your scenery down. I was dumb enough to wait until the scenery was done and the track was ballasted before I finally did some serious track smoothing.
 

NickB

Wannabe Engineer
Thanks guys for the words of encouragement. I'll do some investigating on those spots starting tonight, I have roughly 3-4 spots now that my 4-8-4 can't handle. This tips will definately come in handy as far as the straight edge and mirror. As far as the engine goes the trucks pivot freely, so I'm about 85% sure it's track issues. The only thing that stinks about building this track is I really don't have anyone that I can call on with experience to give me some help with a second set of eyes that knows what to look for. Well I'll get cracking on it tonight, like I said thanks again guys.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Like Jim said, you have to work every joint. I have a G & D coach that is my current bell weather. Or it was. Yesterday a battle ax fell on it. It may just have shaken loose the roof, but I can't find the break wheel.
 




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