Kato Double crossover Stutters ONLY on one Route or Path

Mark Ricci Apr 24, 2021

  1. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Was/is the prototype Atlas used for their signal tower in that area? Or wasn't it based on any particular prototype? The PU is similar.

    Doug
     
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  2. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Very cool. Does look a little like Atlas Signal tower. I had a lot of self-imposed requirements in my design. What track are you or will be using? Since I'm new here, want to follow protocol, should a new thread be used like... "All Things CNJ" ?? rather than this Kato Stutter?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
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  3. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Definitely looks like it. Had always wanted one so this time, I'm using that Atlas Signal tower and added exterior upstairs light and upstairs inside light (LEDs)
     
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  4. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Just watched them and man, there's a lot of jaw-dropping footage there. So neat to see the Ashley Planes in operation -- I had no idea that speeds were that high on the Planes. Thanks!
     
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  5. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Hi all, wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their valuable input. Both locomotives were the main culprits but in different ways. Haven't been on much since I was about to abandon the hobby after the final straw- After much frustration ( including wirings the mains 3x, ripping up ballasted track, eg) from March to mid April and then intentionally pushed the layout causing the F3 to fall 50" to a hard surface. breaking the F3 late last month. However, as it turns out, maybe a blessing in disguise .

    With the trucks sent off for repair. The BLI F3's contacts as shown in the picture, though a little dirty, was not the major issue but the contacts on one side as shown without trucks attached were slightly higher or farther away from the bottom presumably making better contact as compared to the side where the default position, without trucks, were closer to the frame bottom resulting in a less contact. Unfortunately don't have a pic of the side view showing the difference in distance between the contacts and the frame bottom. While the F3 required throttle setting of about 1/3 with sound for it to traverse the crossover before, it now can go through at around 1/20 throttle and runs quite flawlessly through either path or route of the double crossover.

    The Atlas SD35 is another issue but thinking it is a truck or mechanical issue. It is significantly
    noisier and whether that is caused by design or defect, there must be a slight tolerance problem. Bought this SD35 brand new last month, F3 in November. So the two most expensive items so far appear to be the primary cause, how ironic.. Where is QC? Plus, it was crazy that both were "defect" in such a way to exhibit the same issue?? Oh well..

    Again, thank you all for the insights and feedback. Will report SD35 solution when confirmed.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for following up, and revealing the source of the issue. It may help others with similar problems.
     
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  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for your post Mark. For what it's worth, I bought a pair of Atlas CNJ SD-35s of the new design with hard-wired trucks. They run more poorly through switches than my earlier design Atlas SD-35s with trucks not hard-wired. The hard-wired trucks on my units are more rigid and can't rock, tilt or rotate on axis as easily. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure why the hard-wired trucks were considered an improvement.
     
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  8. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Ah, engineers (not locomotive). What are ya gonna do?

    :D

    Doug
     
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  9. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    * Sorry, double post. Posting didn't appear to work and so...

    Doug
     
  10. Mark St Clair

    Mark St Clair TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for posting an update on the problem. Some BLI F-units are in my future so it is good to learn about them. Hope you can solve the SD-35 issues as well.

    Stay safe,
     
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  11. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    My pleasure.. Always try to give back if can.

    However, believe a few other changes like minimizing the wire lengths of the Kato feeder cables reducing Kato wire length with the addition of another paralleled connected power block contributed to the April improvement from original layout performance but still unable to operate at prototypical speeds. Now it does. Plus, since the contact fix as mentioned in earlier post was done only after receiving the trucks but think they either replace with refurb trucks or just the housing and reused everything else so unsure how that plays into the mix. Just want to share as much info so hopefully someone else can avoid problems.
     
  12. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you. That's key info and confirms some other posts I've read about the SD 35. This rigid trucks is something new and believe now that it is a material contributing factor to this poor performance. The SD35 is much nosier than the BLI, slower at any given throttle position as compared to the F3 and does not seem ride the track as nice. It stalls over turnouts where the F3, with 2 less axles, is smooth, even the unpowered #2 wye. The F3 is NOW purely amazing.

    Had contacted Atlas about 2 days after receiving but decided to hold off returning until getting the BLI F3 back. Now after seeing the F3 perform so good and have a reference, it will be sent back for repair.
     
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  13. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    While I think the Atlas paint, detail and LokSound "sound quality is better on the SD35, I like the BLI diversified sounds and separate F key for sound on and off. Since I'm only getting Loco's with CNJ marker, slim pickens... That's how I ended buying these 2 but really wanted a shorter Loco instead of SD35 so if BLI comes out with a CNJ Sw7 or NW2, I would want to buy and hopefully the contact tech has been improved. The discovery of the contact problem only occurred after breaking the F3 as sure with my limited mechanical knowledge would have never attempted to remove trucks and inspect contacts. Also, thought sometime ago overheard someone in hobby shop mentioning that the poor contact is due to BLI design and so when I saw the contacts uneven distance from one side to the other on my Loco and it was worth a shot to bend all slightly away but equal in distance from frame.

    Guess, in the end, hard to beat nature. The physics of DCC inefficiencies and end scale small rail gauge resulting in less contact area, even in the best of scenario.
     
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  14. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I feel badly that your start in N Scale has been rocky, despite your having bought high quality pieces. Model railroading is supposed to be relaxing, but like all hobbies, it has its moments. I sure hope that the discovery with your BLI F-3 electrical contacts marks a welcome reversal in fortune. (y)
     
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  15. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Found another contacts picture to share that better shows contact pickups at different heights. Yeah, I know now that the what I called a cowl is really a point. LOL Unsure as to the extend that the 50" fall to floor contributed to the "improvement" but my thinking is the fall did not affect the pickup heights and also, do not know exactly what BLI replaced on the 2 exchange trucks. The contacts as also shown in the previous picture looked a little dirty and so cleaned with CRC contact cleaner prior to slightly bending all up a tad and making them equal in distance. Guess the only concern is that the previous main strike areas of contact pickups look a little bit "worn" so wonder about long term reliability. However, if they are fairly easy to replace, I would gladly do it every couple of years or so to maintain the current outstanding performance levels. Definitely prefer contact pickups from the little I know about this over the noisy, less rigid wired trucks on the Atlas SD35. One other note on BLI, very pleased with how BLI handled the exchange as the loco breaking was really all my fault and ended up only costing 1 way shipping. On the other hand, the contact pickups height issue might have been missed by BLI QC so who knows. In the end, I'm happy with the loco and would buy another BLI. Just need to figure out how to make the marker numbers equally lit as one side is significantly brighter than the other.
     

    Attached Files:

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  16. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    For the uneven brightness of the numbers you may want to check to see if the light pipe(s) are aligned properly to the LED(s).
     
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  17. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for the support. Oh yeah, 1 step away of total abandonment..

    I packed up everything except for the 2 locos and 1 2 bay covered hopper, removed programming turnout and spur track, listed a few items on ebay and was thinking about how to dispose of but was going to wait to breakdown the layout until getting the F3 back.

    A lot of the difficulty stems from my own self imposed requirements including;
    -Creation of a permanent yet portable layout
    -1 Power-in connection
    -Be small enough to hang on a door or in a closet around 24"x48"x6"
    -All self-contained- No Panels or shelfs
    -Keep as many or all turnouts as close to the "designated layout front-(where a panel would be)
    -Double CrossOver is the track centerpiece + 1 control wire = Primary reason in selecting Kato
    -Be easily put up or taken down either on the build Jig (Big feet on legs) or coffee table by 1 person
    -Low Mess = No Plaster Enables project to be safely done inside finished living space
    -Low Weight - Minimize wood and plaster -- maximize Extruded Foam EPS
    -As quiet as possible with Kato
    -Deciding to change themes from Holiday x-mas tree farm-sales and holiday market to CNJ Service Depot and Holiday x-mas tree farm-sales possibly a hiking trail head if funds, layout space and product is available. I had a fairly difficult time finding CNJ stock and loco offerings are few (with the dark green).

    In order to achieve the height spec and have a tunnel, used 1x2 s for layout frame. This has proved to be the biggest oversight as it limits what electronics can be mounted underneath the layout. At least used 1/4 ply instead of just EPS Saw some on Youtube with just EPS-Would not do. Was considering the Digitrax Zephr but while the DS64 just fits at 1 3/8 and wireless module LNWI is over that thus the layout would be unable to site on coffee table unless short legs or feet added to corners. NCE has a little panel and the 1960's reel to reel microphone like manual throttle. Initially thought a manual throttle and base like Zephr was really desired but after using a wireless throttle especially when backing up to the end of the spur being being physically close that bumper is just so great, don't really need however as a future project, will attempt to use the Kato 24-018 throttle as an option. Fortunately, one of the reasons on re-entry into the hobby was for the electronics and use of Arduino and maybe pi --they fit fine.

    Another minor unnecessary expense was laying out cork tiles over the plywood in attempting to quiet the layout but the acoustics of the inner bottom road bed channel is too much a factor. Initially did not want to use any adhesive and then stumbled on the fact that there are little openings on the bottom that with a pin vise, opens the rest and enables track nails to be used. Rail sounds immediately became louder. Covered cork with EPS and moved forward.

    The full mountain was too aggressive, was removed in late Feb and replaced with a half mountain. Another delay.

    I really like the Kato track, unsure whether I would use again if doing a permanent layout. Find product documentation severely lacking for its quality level but mostly because, by design, its for portable setups. Think Allan G's Wiring for DCC hits nail on head as well as the last paragraph "https://ncedcc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/207991626-Power-Cab-Track-Voltage." IMHO if feed wires need to be soldered directly on rails and/or holes drilled thru plastic roadbed, to me Kato track is DCC Adaptable and not really DCC compatible. Maybe a minor distinction?? As an example, it is very interesting, if one has watched any of Jimmy at DIY model railroading videos who has gone from just cutting off the mini tamiya connectors (wasteful but what I did too) to drilling roadbed holes and soldering solid wires to outside rails eliminating Kato feeders altogether. Lastly, Kato is like the Apple of track... All in all, I think Kato is very reliable and I have not had any derailments. I mean zero. Best ever over the 2.5 train layouts I've ever made.. So maybe it acceptable tradeoff.

    The main issue which I have expected from the beginning is throwing the power hungry D- Crossover under DCC. That should be the last major hurdle to overcome which have not decided on the best approach yet.

    Sorry that this reply a little longer, at any rate, a couple of pictures with cover and just cover support. btw, not designed to survive a fall down stairs but should protect layout from minor bumps and bruises when moved or banged into.
     

    Attached Files:

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  18. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Noticed since getting the SD35 that in addition to the stuttering over turnouts there is one section of track straight into 11" radius where the SD35 kinda rocks slightly for a sec. The F3 does not show any sign of rock. Anyway yesterday afternoon, taking into account your info from yesterday morning, took SD35 off track and gee, you are right on, there is like no flex vertically so sure that makes the loco feel everything and susceptible to any imperfections in track. Have some very short videos if there is a way to post. Thank you again for the info. It definitely helped clarify problem(s)
     
  19. Mark Ricci

    Mark Ricci TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, thank you for the input... Hate taking off the shells as not much experience with that.. Will check.
     
  20. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    We old N scalers think nothing of a stutter/stall here and there, these days, since, in the early N scale days, they were a "natural" part of operation on a second-by-second basis.

    :D

    Doug
     
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