I NEED HELP!: Engines Stall on Switches

MarkInLA Mar 24, 2010

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Hey rails, I now own an HO Tsunami digital/analog Bachmann 10 wheeler !! Bought it brand new on eBay at a great price from The Favorite Spot .com. Please help. I am going through the old stammering and stopping behavior going through the various Atlas all-live switches on my layout.. I thought by buying a state of the art loco this would not happen as most new stuff has extensive wheel-pickup properties. My Proto RDC and S1 don't stall. What's even worse with this loco is that it has sound (my only one so far). So, yeah , you got it ! When it stalls out all the attmosphere it has set up just abruptly ceases at the stall-out points along the way. And of course it did it the most when I ran it for a friend !! My road is still analog. If all goes well I am going to go digital with perhaps the Bachmann equipment, which I've heard is nice for small layouts. So, I realise with full power in the rails at all times, at least I won't (I pray) incur that abrupt 'sound' drop-out if and when it does stall. Gee, stalling-trains has got to be the worst aspect of our hobby. In fact the feeling reminds me of watching figure skating .You know ? ; always waiting for/fearing a mess-up. I hate that fear which seems to be present every time I run..Maybe hobby will go all-battery one day. This to me seems a fail safe mode; closest to the real one..Engines would all be radio-control. So no power what so ever in rails except possibly for signals. Batteries rechargable in-place on a dedicated track. Like we're really fueling-up,too.
    Anyway, what must I do short of taring up the Atlases and hand-laying; which I am not interested in at this stage of the game..Is it jumpers or what ? Thanks. Mark
     
  2. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

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    Should we assume the track is clean?

    Should we assume that, if there is a tether between the engine and tender, that the plug is well and truly firmly seated in its receptacle. They are notorious in that regard.

    Should we assume the joiners in and around the turnout(s) that are giving you fits are mechanically sound and actually forwarding the electrons?

    Should we assume the turnouts are power routing?

    Should we assume the turnout points are lying flush to their stock counterparts and are providing power down to the frog?

    Should we assume the turnouts have wipers/jumpers that are making contact as they should and forwarding power down the turnout?

    Should we assume the wheels on the engine are nice and clean?

    Should we assume all wire/solders inside the engine are in good condition and attached properly?

    Should we assume the power pickups on the engine (and tender?) are in place and clean enough such that they are doing their intended function?

    My reply may seem tedious or somewhat sarcastic (I hope not...), but any and all of these could be causing you to experience this less-than-thrilling time with your new engine. They'll each have to be ruled out.

    Barring the tether connector not being fully driven home, start with a full continuity check on the joiners on either end of the turnout, the turnout, and then with the engine and decoder. Means a multimeter.
     
  3. ak-milw

    ak-milw TrainBoard Member

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    Mark,
    I have a Bachman Spectrum 10 wheeler but with no sound, very detailed nice looking engine. But guess what, mine does the same thing!!! except I have Peco turnouts. I have had it for about 2 years, it is the only steam or diesel engine that does this on my layout. I have had it in and out of the hobby shop a number of times and there is nothing wrong with it, it does the same thing on thier layout. So basicly I set it on a shelf and look at it once and awhile, I will never buy another Bachman product, no matter how nice they LOOK.
     
  4. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    Mark - my neighbor brought up his Rivarossi Allegheny to run on my set and it did the same thing on my Atlas "snap switches". You are right, very frustrating! It stalled out or hesitated every time. I got to fiddling with it later (you fiddle very carefully with a $400+ steamer especially when it's not yours). Anyway, the plug to the tender was not connected. Once connected, the stalling/hesitation never happened again - very smooth and satisfying operation. So definitely check that plug (as well as the rest of COverton's checklist). Very simple things that can cause a lot of problems.
     
  5. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    Also to consider is what polarity the open turnout blade carries. If it is the 'opposite' rail then if the backs of the wheels touch it they will cause a momentary short.
    This is typically called being not DCC friendly, but it will have the same effect (momentary power glitch) on DC and will be more obvious on a decoder fitted loco than a straight analogue.
    Before rewiring the layout make sure the wheels on the loco are correctly gauged - if they are too narrow then the wheelbacks are obviously more likely to contact the open blade.
     
  6. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Hey guys , all your responses are A-1 and taken into account. But , get this !!: I have a very old all-metal Atlas controller. It's about 2"x2" and has 2 push-buttons along the bottom of its face and 3 brass connectors along the top.. I knew from experiments before with it I can wire it to the 'All-live' Atlas' frogs which, some of you may not be aware of, have a tiny screw hole connecting to the dead ,isolated frog.
    Again, for you who may be uninformed, look close at the frog for this screw hole. The reason Atlas type switches are 'all-live' is precisely the fact that all the rails are live with juice but they don't short out because the frog where they converge is isolated and thus dead. But, with a button like mine (above) you can temporarily power the frogs just before and during loco's traveling through them so that there is no stall out at the frog..This is just an experiment to prove the frogs are the culprit.. And I did !! Tsunami 10 wheeler roles right through as long as I am pressing correct polarity button..Here's the kicker though !! This beautifully detailed, sound equiped engine is so finicky pick-up wise , it tends to stall on quite decent-radii curves..!! There is one section of track, slightly curved and she rolls smoothly through forward. But backing through it stalls every time. And it's not even on a frog..!! I soldered all 4 fish plates. The 7" piece of 83 flex has a wide curve and is level (checked that too) and it still stalls AND with sound still on , huffing an idling steam-sounds. I mean it just sits there idling but won't move no matter how much more throttle I give it !! Then comes the old 0-5-0..to give it yet another of maybe 3,400 pushes I've possibly performed on model train engines since about 1956....H E L P !!! Engine cost $140.00, too. I do believe loco would perform better on a digital road. Mine is still analog. Tsunami automatically knows which power type it's getting..It looks and sounds great !! But here we go again.!!.BTW my Proto S1 and RDC never even stammer, anywhere..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2010
  7. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    Then it's not an electrical pickup problem per se. A slight chance the wiring isn't up to spec and volt drop is meaning the decoder isn't seeing enough volts to move. (The loco may bind a bit and draw more current in reverse due to mechanical issues and the extra friction of the curve is enough to stop it.) Try checking the volts across the rails when it is stuck like that.
     
  8. Alan C.

    Alan C. TrainBoard Member

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    You mention that your running analog! are you sure your CV's are set correctly for the configuration that your running the engine in!----Maybe the decoder is getting over heated. AlanC
     
  9. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Hey guys, I tried a little bit of each of your's advice. But, get this..I decided to put the engine upside down under strong light..You'd think a brand new engine wouldn't have dirty wheels..I took the point of a pair of thin tweezers and put it right in the tender's flange filet (the curved portion between the flange and the tire .[ It is pronounced as fill-ett, or fill-it , not fill-aye like the meat] ). Lots of schmootz gathered on the tweezer point as i turned axle pushing opposite wheel. Next, the wheels on this 4-6-0 are white walled and specs of paint were on the treads inhibiting contact. I fingernailed all that off. I then very lightly rubbed off blackening color on wheels and on the axle's middles that the wipers are touching. This tender is one truck (+) , other truck (-) polarity. Engine's wheels looked OK and clean and I couldn't figure out how to spin them as was no place to clamp on my old KaDee wheel cleaner ( you know, the wonderful red device with the + - wire brushes and the 3 alligator clampped wires ). I put smidgens of baby oil (mineral) on the multitude of side rod action and the pilot truck axles. Last but certainly not least, I unplugged and replugged in several times to clean the connections, the pin plugs into the cab bottom; the decoder and sound lines to/from tender to engine. I cleaned all the trackage where I was having stall outs. I said above I own a very old 2 inch square Atlas push- button. I put her back on the rails and B O Y !! WHAT A DIFFERENCE..Night and day ( yeah, just like the Sinatra tune ) .. I now have no qualms about the engine. The polarity buttons fire up the Atlas isolated frogs and it's shear heaven..Oh, a few screws needed tightening including draw-bar (it's inactive) which was too jiggly as was pilot swivel screw and tender trucks. I am very happy now having experienced my first sound equipped engine !! Sadly until I go digital (DCC) I can't control anything as far as the dozen or more sounds available and start and stop attitudes. But boy oh boy, I will never go soundless again ! I urge anyone who is sitting on the fence about this aspect of the hobby to, especially if your road is still analog (DC), get one of these Bachmann Tsunami 4-6-0s or any other loco that boasts automatic mode (DC/DCC) sensing.. What a pure gas!! ( pun intended ). With about 5 volts into engine she sits idling and belching all the various boiler noises you either forgot about or have never heard ! I mean you can just stare at it and listen without even rolling and you're thrilled !! It's like standing next to the real one. You can almost feel the heat coming off the boiler and pistons...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2010
  10. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    Wow Mark...great news! Good to hear things are rolling again and that you're enjoying that engine. Nothing worse than getting all cranked up and then hitting a wall of frustration and no real idea of what to do about it - especially with a brand new engine.
    Very interesting point about cleaning off some of the wheel blackening. I had done some minor cleaning on the truck/wheelset assemblies of my Atlas FP7. In the process of replacing the wheelsets, the wipers were now contacting the clean (but still blackened) wheels in slightly different areas (this is all explained ad nauseum in another thread). Anyway, the point is that performance degraded significantly. As I've continued to run the engine, the performance has improved - I think because the wipers are finding their new (shiny) grooves on the wheels. The thought had occurred to me that blackening might be interfering with power transfer but I had dismissed it. The wheels were factory blackened, after all.
    I am living with DC analog too, budget mandated at the moment. I'll be interested to hear how your transition to DCC goes.
     
  11. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

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    I feel better for you and your purchase...it is good to learn that you are a happy railroader. :thumbs_up: Good work!
     
  12. Schraddel

    Schraddel TrainBoard Member

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    Hello Folks!
    In these Spectrum 4-6-0's the current flow from the wipers is via the tender truck mounting screws. This may be the cause of bad electric contact or even no contact. So i drilled two holes in the bottom of the tender. Then soldered thin flexible wires direct to the wipers an the other end of the wires to the pcb. No current pick up problems any more.

    My Spectrum ten-wheeler is DCC equipped with a ESU Lok Pilot Basic decoder. It runs very great after a little finetuning of the CV's.

    On the other side i rewired my switches. On every Point i soldered a direct electric connection made of thin flexible wire between points and stock rails. Thus eliminating bad electric contact caused by dust and dirt.

    Greetings Lutz
     
  13. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Good List

    I never thought about making a list before, but that is as good a list of possible problems for any engine or turnout issue. :thumbs_up: We are working with two things here: both an engine and a piece of track. That might make the list a little long.
     
  14. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mark In-LA!

    I just found this. Thought I'd throw in and give you a hard time. No.
    Not really. Did you get the problem solved or is this still haunting you?

    My first impression from reading everything so far is that you may have an electrical pick-up problem on the locomotive.

    I like Coverton's approach all though you know what assuming does. Grin! A very creative writer. I liked it.

    Now, getting focused on the real problem. If all your other locomotives work fine through the same turnout (Did I say "Turnout"...take me out and shoot me...my mind is failing) then it's not the "SWITCH"...it's the locomotive.

    You may need to add tender pick-up from both sides of the rail...unless the locomotive came that way...then you need to make sure someone didn't rewire it--- cutting them off. I have a locomotive sitting on my work bench where someone tried to rewire it. I'm still shaking my head over it wondering what the hell they were thinking?

    Anyway, after Coverton's list of ass-u-me checks out, give your new loco the evil eye. I'm all but certain the problem starts and stops there. I'm sure Coverton didn't mean any insult by the use of the word assume. We all assume at some point or another. And it usually proves out... to make a mule out of me.
     
  15. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    That is a good thing to keep in mind as simple as it sounds, but I for one tend to forget. Very easy to focus on one and "assume" the other is OK. I have also learned that track that looks clean may not be clean. :tb-err:
     
  16. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Thank You to all who have chimed in on this thread.. Here's where I'm at now : I have decided , though it is not a new concept, 98% of the time a stall-out is due to electrical continuity of the rails; their joiners, cleanliness, and these same conditions in respect to the frog at each and every switch-track..So, if you have Atlas switches on your road, you have the 'all-live' type and not the 'power-routing' type. Yet because of this configuration the frog is in fact, dead. ( kind of an oximoron, huh ?) What I have done as a temporary solution is, aside from cleaning and soldering rail joiners which encompass each switch, I have wired in the push-button I mentioned in the post above and leave it sitting at edge of the benchwork. There are 3 terminals at top of device and 2 buttons at bottom. I have many 1 ft long, colored aligator clipped wires. The two outer terminals clip on to a main-line track section which is always live; 1 wire on each rail. The center terminal on controller has 2 wires on it leading to 2 atlas switch track's frogs. Again, look closely for the threaded hole jutting out from the frog on other side of rail . These switches are facing same way, seperated by a 7 in. piece of flex . Each switch has, of course, diverging routes. But this is not the immediate issue..This is : Seconds before loco rolls across either fr0g, I hold a push-button down ; either left one or right one depending on which activates the ensuing frog with the correct polarity. Each of us will have different switch track configurations so I can't tell you here which button to push and when. After some experimenting you'll soon find out which button hits the fr0g with the correct polarity..When you do you will find any well made loco, 0-4-0 to 4-8-8-4 will travel though the switches you've activated as if there is nothing but a piece of plain tangent track under the wheels. I have also finally began adding Caboose Industries ground-throws to these switches. I do wish these were closer to scale in size. But, boy don't pass this job up too long ! All that frustrating derailment disappears ,too..along with the stall-outs and the whole railroading experience becomes nearly flawless..
    I don't want to stand there pushing these buttons forever ( though I admit it is kind of fun and 'switch-tower-ish' ;like you're changing a signal aspect for engineer to proceed ). I believe I am going to go to digital control in the near future and I assume the brain (hard drive ? )will control the frog poles ( just a little would be a tad-pole ! Yuk Yuk ! )..
    I am going to post a discovery I made for tightening up Shinohara switch points. But enough for now !! Do the above and find peace of mind ..I can't name a push button to buy. Mine is ancient and was lying around. I'm sure there are 2 button, 3 post devices out there.. Maybe some of you know where to buy them..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2010
  17. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting solution and I probably would have never figured that out - wiring is not my natural inclination you might say.
    I do have to say that having to push a button every time my loco got near a switch would get old real fast.
     
  18. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wow!

    The best of luck
     
  19. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    The solution to that is to use a switch operated by the turnout control device. Ie. the auxiliary contacts available or provided for exactly that purpose on most electric turnout motors and some manual throws.
     

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