What is wrong with my locomotive?

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ChinaHaun19

New Member
I have a Lionel 1900 on fastrack I got a month ago. I’ve used it quite heavily and run it every day and have switched layout designs a few times.

the locomotive headlight started going out occasionally and the locomotive would stop when this happens. It seemed to start happening at several different parts of the layout, and while I thought it may be a track continuity issue, my troubleshooting has not fixed it.

this problem quickly worsened to the point where not the train just won’t run. I’ve cleaned the track and the wheels... didn’t get better.

when I tap the locomotive or move/reposition it, the headlight goes on and off again.

an led lighted house I have connected to the track remains lit solid.

I can’t find help searching online or seem to figure out what was going on. Would 5 to 10 hours of heavy daily use for a month be sufficient to burn it out?
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
If relocating the locomotive, and often all it takes is touching it, or nudging it, makes the lights go on again, and the engine wants to move, you have an electrical continuity issue. It might be a wiper behind a metal surface, like the back of a tire or however your scale locomotive picks up power from the rails. It still could be dirty tires or tracks, but it could also be joiners where lengths of track meet. If relocating the item, or shoving it further, releases pressure somewhere, or restores pressure and contact, it could be that the joints are dirty. Try spraying WD-40 contact cleaner into the joints (consider safety, of course, and hazards of breathing in the stuff or contaminating the air around you and others, or getting it on your skin), or CRC, or whatever you can find locally.

I'm assuming the contacts and solders inside the loco are all sound.
 

ChinaHaun19

New Member
If relocating the locomotive, and often all it takes is touching it, or nudging it, makes the lights go on again, and the engine wants to move, you have an electrical continuity issue. It might be a wiper behind a metal surface, like the back of a tire or however your scale locomotive picks up power from the rails. It still could be dirty tires or tracks, but it could also be joiners where lengths of track meet. If relocating the item, or shoving it further, releases pressure somewhere, or restores pressure and contact, it could be that the joints are dirty. Try spraying WD-40 contact cleaner into the joints (consider safety, of course, and hazards of breathing in the stuff or contaminating the air around you and others, or getting it on your skin), or CRC, or whatever you can find locally.

I'm assuming the contacts and solders inside the loco are all sound.
thanks for taking the time to write me! I had completely disassembled the track layout last night and what I did was rebuild a small oval, doing the trick where I slightly bend the center rail tabs up toward the outer left rail. After a couple taps of the finger this worked and the engine has successfully been running ever since so I will do this trick throughout and rebuild my layout. Looks like the locomotive is ok!
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
Any rail that gets assembled and disassembled repeatedly, develops loose connections. That is what this sounds like. Get a crimping tool or use a pair of pliers to crimp every join on all rails, both sides, to fix this. It is similar to what you are doing by bending the tabs. In the future, disassemble more carefully.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
thanks for taking the time to write me! I had completely disassembled the track layout last night and what I did was rebuild a small oval, doing the trick where I slightly bend the center rail tabs up toward the outer left rail. After a couple taps of the finger this worked and the engine has successfully been running ever since so I will do this trick throughout and rebuild my layout. Looks like the locomotive is ok!
I am pleased to see that your perseverance has paid off. Should I take it that your track elements are on a hard, flat surface, and not on the floor? I ask because often people reveal that they have to shove their layout under a bed, or that they repeatedly craft a track plan on the floor, or worse, on a rug. I mean, you gotta do whatcha gotta do, but repeated disassembling and assembling, and letting the weight of the locomotive run over joints that are allowed to sag a bit with the weight, is a recipe for nagging and infuriating power problems.
 

ChinaHaun19

New Member
I have pretty much solved the problem with the track by doing the tab bending trick.

I used to have the layout on a rug, but I moved it into a large linoleum floor kitchen.

But then today I bought a Williams Bachmann diesel locomotive, and when I put it on the track, it doesn’t go anywhere but instead the horn just blares solidly.

I called the dealer and he advised me that the 18V DC plug in wall unit is insufficient and that a Williams Locomotive will require me to purchase an AC CW-80 transformer from a Lionel to run this. He also mentioned that the factI grew my layout to 15x20 feet is making the starter set power equip inadequate just as well. Meh, I wanted to run this engine tonight.
 
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Selector

Well-Known Member
Ah, yes, the disappointment that sometimes pinches our learning. :D I purchased what I thought was all I needed to start running trains with a Digitrax Super Empire Builder system, at the time already a bit long in the tooth. This was 15 years ago. When I had it set up and went into the box to find a power cord and transformer, I discovered that they were extras I ought to have ordered. Took another two weeks to come from the USA.

If your voltage must travel over distance, it attenuates a bit. If the voltage suffers too much loss, it degrades both the DCC signal and the amount of available power to your locomotive. But worse, if it is too low, your DCC system's shorts detection circuitry won't know when you're frying one of your decoders due to a hard short. So, you probably should do two things when you add more than 50% more trackage to a layout in the future:

a. Ensure your power supply is up to the task, especially in terms of delivered/output amperage to run more than two or three locomotives, especially if there are passenger cars taking up track power to run lights inside them; and

b. Attach more feeder wires to the rails every ten feet or so to keep the voltage from having to travel down a pair of wires and all the way around the 'wire' rails. If you know you need to do this, it would be best to run a 16 gauge wire, at least, from the power outputs that service the rails, and off each wire have 22 gauge feeders, insulated except for the bared tips, that you solder directly to the rails. This maintains robust voltage, robust DCC signal, robust shorts detection, and maximizes performance for your drive mechanisms inside the locomotives.
 

ChinaHaun19

New Member
Ah, yes, the disappointment that sometimes pinches our learning. :D I purchased what I thought was all I needed to start running trains with a Digitrax Super Empire Builder system, at the time already a bit long in the tooth. This was 15 years ago. When I had it set up and went into the box to find a power cord and transformer, I discovered that they were extras I ought to have ordered. Took another two weeks to come from the USA.

If your voltage must travel over distance, it attenuates a bit. If the voltage suffers too much loss, it degrades both the DCC signal and the amount of available power to your locomotive. But worse, if it is too low, your DCC system's shorts detection circuitry won't know when you're frying one of your decoders due to a hard short. So, you probably should do two things when you add more than 50% more trackage to a layout in the future:

a. Ensure your power supply is up to the task, especially in terms of delivered/output amperage to run more than two or three locomotives, especially if there are passenger cars taking up track power to run lights inside them; and

b. Attach more feeder wires to the rails every ten feet or so to keep the voltage from having to travel down a pair of wires and all the way around the 'wire' rails. If you know you need to do this, it would be best to run a 16 gauge wire, at least, from the power outputs that service the rails, and off each wire have 22 gauge feeders, insulated except for the bared tips, that you solder directly to the rails. This maintains robust voltage, robust DCC signal, robust shorts detection, and maximizes performance for your drive mechanisms inside the locomotives.
Thank you, as further digging has led me to understand that not only did I outgrow the powerpack the set came with, I outgrew it a few times over... and even the upgrade I was considering.... before I decided to wait today, would not have sufficed!!!!
 




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