Micro-Track Switches

Discussion in 'Z Scale' started by Dave, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. Dave

    Dave Permanently dispatched

    Good evening...I laid out a small oval of Micro-Track with a couple of switches. I have a MTL GP35 that I am running on it and these switches seem to be problematic. The loco kind of hops a little through them, stalls sometimes, cars have derailed, etc. Do these switches need some tweaking or modification to be reliable? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Supporter

    Some the GP's have had some gauge issues with them but I have not heard of rolling stock. Rolling stock wheels are cast so very consistent. However, all locomotive axles are press on to the plastic gears so tend to vary. A few thousandths over/under can sometimes get us into this.

    As for the turnouts, the black guard rails on the outer tracks are a bit too close to the other rails. Some have completely cut them off (wrong) and most of us have either filed or disc ground the side that faces the rail to about have the thickness.

    It may also be a points alignment issue, picking the axles as they go into the turnout.

    You did not mention if you observed any specifics nor if there was a particular direction that was the culprit.

    To find the trouble spot, take a known loco or rolling stock and lightly roll it thru. Get a good working lighted area and possibly a flash light to observer closely. Is it the frog area or the points?
  3. Don A

    Don A TrainBoard Supporter

    This may NOT be your answer, but on some of the early turnouts, pieces of rail were at different heights. When I found this I used 600 to 800 sand paper held tightly to a block of wood and sanded the rail tops.

  4. PuppySnacks

    PuppySnacks TrainBoard Member

    Dave, I know exactly what you are describing concerning Micro-Trains turnouts. I use their manual turnouts and had the same "hopping" issue with a few of them, but no derailments or stalling problems through them though.

    To solve this, the first thing I did was to check, and re-check all my track work to make sure everything was properly aligned and joined. Next, I used my Micro-Trains Z scale tool (#988 00 032) to check track width & wheel width. Then, I ran my engine's through slowly to identify exactly where on the turnout the issue was and I did the same thing Don mentioned...I lightly sanded/filed the rail tops all they way across the turnout just a little bit. The problem areas in my case were the guard rails and frog area - wing rails. Now, my engines roll through like warm butter...

    Don't blame the locomotive and Don't blame the rolling stock... :p

    Attached Files:

  5. newtoscale

    newtoscale Permanently dispatched

    Boy does this sound familiar. I had problems with my MTL switches as well. To overcome these problems I took my Dremel tool with a very fine grinding wheel, and I ground down the points of the guide tracks so that they were slightly slanted upwards.
    Next I bent the points out slightly with a pair of tweezers so that they would make better contact with the main rails and there was no chance of snagging flanges as they crossed over the points. I also ground down the tips of these points for the same reason.
    The stalling issue can be caused by power transfer over the joiners. I had to slightly shim my switches so that the joiners made better contact. I didn't have this problem on all my switches, just a few.
    These remedies seem to work very well for me.
  6. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    Guys isn't it a problem to file one's turnouts' railheads? I've always been warned against this, because filing railheads create micro-cracks (no word game!) that favor gathering of dust and dirt....

  7. newtoscale

    newtoscale Permanently dispatched

    Hi Dom.

    I don't know if that's true or not. I've had no problems with mine but I would suspect that if one doesn't clean the tracks or turnouts regularly, problems might develop.

  8. Raildig

    Raildig TrainBoard Member

    Using a file on rails can cause fairly deep scratches, depending on the file. What I've done when filing is necessary is... after the filing is completed, go over the rail with a 400 - 600 grit sandpaper, then smooth / polish with an 800 - 1000 grit paper. This will gently bring the surrounding rail height down to scratch level.

    We really are talking about very small amounts of metal being removed and by using the 800 - 1000 paper you'll get a nice, smooth surface. Final step for me is alcohol-soaked balsa squares to remove all metal dust.

    Ztrains.com | Z Scale (1:220) Model Railroading
  9. Don A

    Don A TrainBoard Supporter

    I think this is an "old wives" tale. Sounds logical, but I have never seen anything technical on the subject. I used to have access to a scanning electron microscope, but no more. If someone has that ability, post some photos of new track, filed track and sanded track. I have had no trouble what-so-ever on my sanded track and I am NOT a good track housekeeper.

  10. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    I started with the dremel cutting disc to held at an angle to the rail for initial work and then after a few accidents switched to use a fine jewelers file for the initial work and crocus cloth for the final clean up.

    This is the type of sanding material used by engine fitters doing clean up for matching surfaces such as piston sleeves on diesel engines etc. and I use one and two inch wide material glued to a hard wood block and only move or work it in the direction of travel over the top of the rails and it does a better job of polishing the surface and the cloth holds to-gether better than than sanding paper. I used it in my marine work for polishing steering cylinder piston rods to clean up surface damage to rod surface that was chewing up rod seals. So it gives a very nice polished surface that is friendly to the lip on shaft seals operating in hydraulic oil. It is commonly found in machine shops.
  11. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    My experience is that once you change to metal wheel sets track cleaning becomes easier. Once you have banished the delrin wheels from your track and have cleaned it well to remove oil and crude left behind by our dirty wheel sets then maintenance is easy with a an Aztec track cleaning car. My portable layout is covered with a cardboard sheet when not in use so it is ready to go the next time I uncover it. I use nothing more than alcohol to clean it initially and then nothing after that except for the aztec car.I also clean my engine trucks to be sure they are not dripping oil from over lubrication. The only maintenance I perform on them is to make sure the dust is removed from behind wheel wipers from time to time.
  12. newtoscale

    newtoscale Permanently dispatched

    On the subject of switches, here's a problem I hope someone can help me with.
    I purchased two brand spankin' new switches on Friday from my local dealer and I am having a huge problem with these. They are both left hand remote switches and I can't get them to work properly. Then will not open or close fully when the controller is activated. What I am observing is, the back part of the points at the pivot point move like normal, but the points are only moving half way in most cases or just barely. It is like something is blocking them. I've replaced the controllers thinking that maybe they were the problem, but it's had no effect. I've raised the switches slightly thinking that maybe the slider on the bottom was getting snagged on the matt. Still nothing. I've checked and rechecked the tiny screws on the bottom. Nothing. I've examined the switch machines themselves but can't find anything wrong with them. I've operated them manually and they function as they should. I'm out of ideas. Can anyone help me solve this problem. I don't want to have to return these switches as the dealer always gives me a hard time about returning stuff that doesn't work and no other shops in the city have them right now. These are part of the layout that I am displaying at Supertrain 2011 in three weeks and I need them to work since they are to be my engine storage tracks.
  13. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    These are impulse switch machines and there is a magnet that holds the switch points in place after the coil is pulsed with power to change their position. If the switch is moving normally when operated manually, then I don't think that the switch is faulty but rather you maybe using the wrong type of control switch to operate it and / or wrong voltage to operate switch coil. as you have not mentioned what you are controlling thw switch with this is just a W.A.G.The operating control switch should be a momentary contact switch which is normally open and spring loaded to open side and closes when pressed and opens when released. If you are using a toggle switch you could end up burning out the switch motor as they are not intended for continuous power on stall type operation. and you only touch the push button to move the switch and when it moves you should here a snap like sound as the points move.
  14. Don A

    Don A TrainBoard Supporter

    What is the recommended voltage range?

  15. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    I don't have any un-opened switch packages so I am not sure what MTL recommends but I know from N-scale if they are rated at 12vdc and you use 16vdc then you can bounce the throw in the coil with the higher the voltage above the recommended the greater the magnetic pulse induced the greater the acceleration. Once you reach the end it will rebound and fall back a bit. and the magnet can not hold it in place.
  16. newtoscale

    newtoscale Permanently dispatched

    Hi Garth.

    My appologies for not mentioning the controllers. I'm using Atlas switch controllers for all my turnouts. I haven't had any problems with all the others on my layout, just these two. And yes I do hear the snap when they open and close. I got to thinking about this yesterday after this post and I was wondering if maybe I'm getting a power drain somewhere so that there isn't enough of a pulse going to these switches. I have all my controllers for my blocked track, loops, and such on one power pack. Perhaps I should split them off. I'm going to try that today and see what happens.

  17. Don A

    Don A TrainBoard Supporter

    I have an unopened #990 40 915 Micro-Track r490mm 13° right remote turnout. I don't see any info what-so-ever on front or back as to what the operating voltage should be.

    O.K., Joe -- jump in here.

  18. newtoscale

    newtoscale Permanently dispatched

    I solved my problem of sorts. I had all my switch controllers connected to the selector box for my yard tracks which in turn was connected to the DC output on the powerpace. It seems that when I adjusted the speed control on the pack, it adjust the power in the selector box which controls power to the yard tracks. What I failed to notice was it was also adjusting power to the switch controllers as well since they were all hooked in together. I isolated the switch controlers and I'm powering them now from the accessory output from another power pack and they seem to be working just fine now. Except on one of the new switches, I have no power to one side. Everything works fine on the through side, but when I turn the points to the closed or turning poisition, none of my engines will make it over the frog. There is absolutely no power on that side. It is only when I push the engines to the track beyond, that I get power again. I've checked all the connections and everything appears to by nominal but still there is no power to the turn portion of the turnout. It's the same in both directions. Any ideas?
  19. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

    Anyway thanks everybody for the input about filing the points. I think it will help me if I finally chose MTL turnouts for my future project. But first I want to wait what finally occurs with Peter Wright and his fine crafstmanship.

  20. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    THis means the pass around for power is from the outside or wing rails on one side of the switch to the other side of the switch are working but the selector for powering the frog is not able to connect the track power to the frog. It could be dirt or the brass wiper could be poorly formed and not making contact with the pcb pads it is supposed to connect with.
    There are some pictures of the inside of the switch here. Nn3.ca - Main -American Z Gauge Page 3

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2011

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