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Author Topic: Question about E-Z Track and Steam Engine Derailments  (Read 11245 times)
Robertj668

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« on: August 16, 2009, 09:08:01 PM »

As I am getting closer to  "Nailing Down" the final track plan I am coming across some problems of concern. 

The problem is derailments. Mainly with my switches and only with my Pennsy K4 4-6-2 and my Russian Decapod 2-10-0.  The culprit switches are my DCC 44137 and 44138 crossovers and occasionally my 44130 Left Switch & 44131 Right Switch.  Usually its the front wheels on these engines that starts the derailment.  But sometimes its not.  Sometimes when the train is running, I'll see the train look like it is hitting a speed bump.

We run the engines at a normal speed rarely them fast. The derailment can occur at normal slow speeds and even to the faster as well.  The connector between all of the tracks are holding strong.  But even when properly connected some track has gaps.  So I replace them to reduce or eliminate the gap. 

I am running 22" on the main rail and 18" on the inside.

As for my other engines the Diesels never derail nordoes my my J 4-8-4 rarely derails.  All of engines are Bachmann.

I saw the KATO track this weekend and fell in love with it.  But it would expensive to replace it.

So I need advice of ideas on how to fix this.  I may post a picture or two later exactly what I think may be causing the problems.  As an experiment the front 4 of the 4-6-2 making it an 0-6-2 and it ran fun fine.  I just wanted to see if indeed they were causing the derailments.

Robert
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2009, 10:16:03 PM »

Robert,
The first thing I reach for when I have a derailment is an NMRA track and wheel gauge.  It is used to tell if the rails are the right distance apart, the flangeways in the turnouts have the proper clearances and the wheels are spaced correctly.  Adjusting the trackwork and/or the wheels solves about 90% of the derailment problems but you don't know what to adjust or in which direction to adjust it if you do not have a gauge to measure it.

As you have noticed, the lead or pony truck is often the culprit.  That is because it usually does not have a whole lot of weight holding it down on the track.  So if rail and wheel gauge look okay and the flangeways seem right, check the pony truck.  Lift the front of the locomotive until the front drivers just come off the rails and check that the pony truck wheels are both still on the rails.  If not, adjust the truck so that they can move down a little farther.  Also make sure the pony truck can swing freely side to side by putting the locomotive on the tightest curve you run it on,  Then lift the pony wheels just clear of the rails and see if they can move a little further toward the center of the curve.  While you are at it, make sure the truck moves freely side to side.  Reverse the locomotive and repeat.  If the truck cannot swing far enough for any reason, the only choice the wheels have is to rise vertically, then the one(s) on the outside of the curve hop(s) over the rail.  If it is a four wheel pony truck, there may also be a problem with restriction of the fore and aft tilting of the truck.  Make sure you can lift the front pair of wheels clear of the rails without the back two wheels lifting off, and vise versa.  If the front truck still derails after you have checked gauge, clearance, and tilt, then you might have to add a little bit of weight to the truck.  Often you can find room for only a few grams of lead, but often that is all it takes.

Jim
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Robertj668

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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2009, 11:03:47 PM »

Jim
I cannot believe that I have yet to get a track and wheel gauge. Oh I guess I need to go to the Hobby shop tomorrow.  I am going to add pictures of exactly where I am seeing the problem with one of the engines



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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2009, 01:44:55 PM »

Robert,
I have taken the liberty of enlarging part of your photograph and showing it here:



Just to the left of your red arrow is one of the two points of this turnout.  It is hard in the photo to see if the tip of the point is sticking out a little bit from the stock rail (the straight through rail) or if it is below the top of the stock rail.  Any clearance at all between the tip of the point and the stock rail can cause a wheel, particularly a lightly loaded wheel like a pony wheel, to catch or "pick" the point and ride up over it.  Ideally, you should be able to slide the edge of a business card along the inner edge of the stock rail, at about the same angle as your arrow, and not have it slide between the point and stock rail.  It should follow the point rail to the left, just as a wheel should.

If the card does slide in between the point and stock rail, then there are two possible fixes.  The easiest and quickest is to bend the end of the point rail for better contact with the stock rail.  First set the switch to the straight through route.  Then take a pair of needle nose pliers, held vertically, and grasp just to the left of the tip of the point.  Then gently, gently twist the pliers so that the tip of the point is just a tiny bit closer to the stock rail than it was before.  Reset the switch for the diverging route (the route shown in your photos) and check with a rail gauge.  Also recheck with the business card.  If the tip of the rail is now tight against the stock rail, the card should not go between them, and if there is still the proper distance between the point rail and the other stock rail (the one at the bottom of your photo) then you should be in business.

The admonition against twisting too hard or too far is because you can bend a little more if the first try was not enough, but bending then bending back can cause a kink in the rail or worse can break of the tip off the point, rendering the switch useless.

If it turns out that the point rail is tight against the stock rail and what we are seeing in the photo is the top of the point rail being lower than the top of the stock rail, then you need to take a different approach.  In the enlarged photo, it looks as if the edge of the point rail is nice and sharp and square.  You can test that by dragging the flat of a finger nail across the edge of the point rail at a right angle to the rail. If the rail tends to grab your nail, the edge is sharp and square.  That is fine for the edge that abuts the stock rail, but can occasionally cause problems when that sharp edge tries to make wheels take the diverging route.  The square edge can dig into the round radius where the tread of the wheel meets the flange of the wheel, causing a drag which opposes the turning force we are trying to generate.  The easiest solution in this case is to round over the edge with a jeweler's file or a fine emery board without applying too much pressure to the point rail.  When rounded even a little, the edge of the rail will no longer catch the flat of your finger nail and should no longer try to steer the wheels to the right.  If the finger nail test shows this edge is sharp, you may want to round it over even if you have already cured the problem by realigning the point.

Jim
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Robertj668

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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2009, 01:53:17 PM »

Jim
I will try these this afternoon. Thank you for the help.
Robert
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renniks


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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2009, 03:20:21 PM »

Robert,

The gap in the red square is nothing to give concern. As with any joint between sections, if you run a finger across the gap the rail ends should be level showing that the joiners are 'engaged' correctly.

Eric UK

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Robertj668

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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2009, 05:56:04 PM »

Eric UK
Thanks I was hoping that would be the case.
Robert
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Robertj668

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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2009, 08:00:46 PM »

Jim
Option 1 worked for the Decapod 2-10-0. It has been running for 20 minutes now and still no derailment.  We are exercising the switch to make sure it works for both directions.  I will try the K4 4-6-2 next.
Robert
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Paul M.

T&P Railway in the 1950s


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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2009, 10:05:31 PM »

If problems persist after filing the points and inspecting it with a gauge, weight the pilots. They may be too light.
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Robertj668

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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2009, 10:20:51 PM »

Paul
I have 2 of the four working of the crossovers.  I may need to file one down but the K4 4-6-2 still is giving me problems. So I may try a temporary weight to see if that helps.

I love the Kato track but I am really not interested in switching.
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Robertj668

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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2009, 10:23:47 PM »

Paul

I forgot to ask.  Do you live in Texas too?
Robert
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Hellhound


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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2009, 04:06:00 PM »

Same problem here with one switch in particular. The point sticks out just enough for a wheel flange to get behind it and try to go straight instead of following the curve. This can happen to any rail car and some locomotives at random. Seems to depend on how they hit the switch. This seems to be a common problem with bachmann switches since I have seen complaints in other model railroad message boards about the same issue. I have some old Atlas switches from the 1990s that never caused derailments. I notice that the straight rail has a recess cut into it that allows the point to fit into the straight rail so the point doesn't stick out to trip a wheel. When I got back into model railroading, I bought an ON30 set with the EZ track. I like to change and move my layout quite a bit so I use the roadbed track and bought more of it to make a bigger multi track layout. All was well until I started adding switches and the derailments began. I don't think the Atlas roadbed track and Bachmann will fit together so that may not be an easy solution.   
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2009, 04:45:26 PM »

I too like E-Z Track for temporary setups.  But one of the previously owned turnouts was giving me problems.  So I popped it off its base, sanded the top of the base until it was flat and smooth, and glued on an Atlas snap switch plus an 18" radius 1/3 curve.  It was easy to hold in place while the glue dried - I used three pieces of E-Z track hooked to the turnout base and held to the turnout itself with regular Atlas rail joiners.  If you use a new Snap Switch, it normally comes with rail joiners and a 1/3 curve.  For glue, I used Pliobond but I suspect Walther's Goo might work also.

Jim
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Robertj668

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« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2009, 05:19:00 PM »

Thanks Hellhound for giving me an idea.

Jim -  Do you think I Could create a small recess in the straight track switches to help out with things?

Robert
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Jim Banner

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« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2009, 06:10:20 PM »

It would worth a try, but filing vertically when you can move the file only 1/10" inch is not too easy.  On the other hand, you really don't have to file very much.

I always use a notch when building large scale turnouts so that I can leave the ends of the points a little thicker and stronger.  But in H0/0n30 I usually just rely on a very sharp point.  However, I can see no problem with using a notch in H0 but would make sure it was no deeper than the amount of rail head that hangs over the vertical web.

Jim 
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