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Author Topic: Bachmann EZ Track Dead Zones  (Read 4854 times)
HamptonT

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« on: January 07, 2011, 07:41:20 PM »

My sons new train layout has developed dead zones in the track. Areas where the train slows down or will not start if stopped in that particular location. The HO train and track are only about two weeks old. He is running the Bacmann EZ Nickel Silver track system. Could it be dirty or is it the connections between the tracks???
Help! Thanks
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ACY

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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2011, 08:14:09 PM »

It could be both. so check all the connections and if that is not an issue, the track is likely dirty, which means the locomotives wheels are also dirty. So clean them both, and they may not appear dirty, but they likely are dirty. Also, oxidized steel track does not conduct as well as oxidized nickel silver.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2011, 11:13:34 PM by ACY » Logged
JerryB

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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2011, 10:55:09 PM »

A voltmeter will help to determine the problem, especially if it is a lack of contact between sections. A basic one can be had for around $10 from sources like Harbor Freight.

As ACY suggested, cleaning the track and locomotive wheels with a wiper saturated with alcohol is always a good idea.

Happy RRing,

jerry
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Sequoia Pacific RR in 1:20 / 70.6mm
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bobwrgt

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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2011, 11:48:29 PM »

Tighten the rail joiners between the sections. They must be tight. If it is on the carpet or moved around a lot they will loosen.

Bob
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Sandersonvt

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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2011, 01:47:55 PM »

Try using a sanding block on the area in question. Be sure to use a light sanding paper. I had the same problem, and this fixed it.
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ACY

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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2011, 02:53:25 PM »

Try using a sanding block on the area in question. Be sure to use a light sanding paper. I had the same problem, and this fixed it.
This is not good advice as it actually will make the track get dirty quicker in the future because it creates tiny grooves. Using 300 or larger grit wet/dry sandpaper is okay though.
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Doneldon

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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2011, 08:44:35 PM »

HT-

I'm even cautious about using 300 grit paper as it, too,
will leave a scratched surface. I use 600 grit if I use
sandpaper at all, and always wet.
                                                                -- D
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rrmchone

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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 12:59:49 PM »

MY thought is to never ever use sandpaper if you are trying to clean track it will leave scratches that will lead to later problems with your sons track my thought is to go to where ever your nearest hobby store is and buy a  walthers Bright Boy track eraser it is cheap easy to use  and it last a long time    i own one and it is amazing i bought it a year ago and it still hasnt worn off yet. Cheesy
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Ken G Price


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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2011, 03:23:34 PM »

As you can see there are many answers to even simple questions.

My take on this subject is that if you are going to use a Bright Boy then you might as well use some 800 grit or finer sand paper. You must still use the rubbing alcohol to clean off the loose stuff that the paper loosened. The alcohol may be enough on its own though. so do it first as the sand paper or BB is only for those places that have something stuck that still causes stalling at that point. You do not need to press very hard as you only want to remove gunk, not track. Cheesy

For the wheels I put a piece of coffee filter or paper towel over a section of track. Wet it with some isopropyl alcohol then put one set of wheels on the cleaner while holding the other wheels on the track so that they spin. When no more black comes off reverse the engine and do it again. Putting track on carpet is not a good idea as Bob stated.

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Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout, http://s567.photobucket.com/albums/ss115/kengprice/
Pacific Northern


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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2011, 06:48:25 PM »

Try using a sanding block on the area in question. Be sure to use a light sanding paper. I had the same problem, and this fixed it.
This is not good advice as it actually will make the track get dirty quicker in the future because it creates tiny grooves. Using 300 or larger grit wet/dry sandpaper is okay though.

My opinion is that even 300 grit is too coarse for track, use at least 600 as mentioned. Use alcohol after cleaning with the emory paper
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Pacific Northern
ACY

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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2011, 06:57:55 PM »

I never use sandpaper, but I was guesstimating what might be suitable.
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BradKT

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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2011, 10:10:32 PM »

First, let's talk about how to identify the problem and then resolve it.  

If you have more than one engine, run each one separately around the track.  If they both stop at the exact same spot, then your problem is most likely with the track...although it is possible (but less likely) that the wheels are dirty on both engines and you have hit a dirty spot on the track.

My experience is that the combination of dirty track plus dirty engine wheels equals dead spots on a layout.  I don't use sandpaper or abrasives either.  Alcohol and a smooth cloth is very cheap, effective and simple way to clean track and can go a long way toward either solving the problem or at least identifying what it really is.

After cleaning the track, a simple, quick, cheap and effective way to clean the engine wheels is to lay a paper towel moistened with alcohol (moistened...not soaking wet...sprayed on would be best) and put the engine on the track on top of the paper towel.  Move the engine so one set of wheels is making contact with the bare metal track, hold the engine in place, turn on the power pack, apply power to the engine and let the other set of wheels run in contact with the paper towel.  You will need to set a weight on both sides of the track placed on the paper towel to hold it in place...otherwise, it wil just spin out from under your engine.  I use a couple of other engines as weights.  You'll probably see a black track on the paper towel.  That's the dirt you just got off the wheels.  Do this several times and then reverse the position of the engine and do the same thing with the other set of wheels.  Now your wheels are clean.

You should clean your engine wheels at least once a year...more often if you run your engines a lot  That's just a part of normal good maintenance.

If you still have dead zones after you have cleaned both the engine wheels and the track, then the problem is a track connection...especially if the layout has been moved around.  Identify the exact dead zones by slowly running your engine around the track and notice what piece of track the engine is located on when it stops.  Then you will know that the connection between the last piece that has power and the first piece of track that does not is your problem...

...and then you can fix it either by substituting another piece of track, trying to tighten the rail joiners or soldering the connection.  If you use solder, apply it with a soldering pencil only on the OUTSIDE of the rails.

If you do this, you can kiss all of your dead spots on the track goodbye forever.  The people on this site have given me a lot of great advice over the years and I am just doing my part by passing some of it on to you.  That's how we all learn.

Good luck, happy railroading and Happy New Year!
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 10:27:29 PM by BradKT » Logged
railsider

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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2011, 03:41:37 PM »

After all, there's a reason that Americans call engine drivers (the British term) "engineers" -- they have to deal with problems in a logical and scientific way. The several suggestions made in this thread are really way to approach the problem in just that way. Again, when you solve a problem that way, you feel great about yourself.

Bright Boy, a pink-rubber eraser, or a liquid cleaner -- alcohol, Goo-Gone or Flitz -- are better than abrasives, which not only scar the track and wheels so they get dirtier quicker, but also leave residue that you have to clean. And you clean it with -- yeah -- alcohol, Goo-Gone or Flitz.

There are even track-cleaning cars that will do this for you, sort of semi-automatically ... once you have analysed and determined the problem.

Railsider
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mabloodhound


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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2011, 04:53:03 PM »

No sandpaper, no sandpaper, no sandpaper.   This will only lead to problems down the track, so to speak.
Use all of the other methods suggested but NO SANDPAPER.
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Dave Mason

D&G RR (Dunstead & Granford) in On30
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 in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”   Thos. Jefferson

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jward


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« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2011, 09:17:54 AM »

one thing that wasn't mentioned here is whether you are running dc or dcc. the reason i ask this is that dcc locomotives are much more susceptible to dirty track, and they tend to behave differently on dirty track as well. with a dc loco, when it hits a dirty spot and can't pick up power, it stops, simple as that. if it has a flywheel, you may be able to coast through the dirty spot, but if you stop there it won't start without a push. with a dcc loco, you can run into a situation where the track may not be dirty enough to stop the train, but is dirty enough to interfeere with the signal. in that case, your train will continue running at whatever setting the last command it received was. in other words, you lose control of the locomotive until it finds some clean track and once again recognizes the signals you are sending it.

in both cases, the methods above work well. be aware though, that the bright boy is an abrasive, though not as abrasive as sandpaper. it will also put scratches in the rail. on dc you probably won't notice them, but on dcc in a dusty or dirty environment these scratches will cause the track to get dirty faster. does anybpdy smoke in the same room as the trains? the smoke is attracted to the rails and can put a film on them...

from my experience, liquid track cleaners work best. it is best to clean your locomotive wheels at the same time, and if they still give trouble to clean the bronze pickups in the trucks as well.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
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