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Author Topic: Can't get the train running  (Read 5282 times)

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« on: August 20, 2011, 03:40:00 PM »

HI - I got my empire builder set , put it together and plugged it in, etc.

The power pack is plugged into a live wall jack, as far as I can tell, the track is assembled properly. The powerpack is black and has a red light in the upper left corner.

I'm having an awful time getting all 16 wheels of the engine to sit properly on the track. I even put on an 8 wheel engine I have from atlas. Both trains seem to be rolling smoothly, but when I turn the power up slowly, nothing happens.  Huh?
How can i be sure the track is getting current? I don't have an electrical tester. Very frustrating, as the kids are clamboring for the train to run.  Cry
Any help?
Ken G Price

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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 06:14:29 PM »

None of the wheels on the engines should turn by hand only with power or the shell off and you hand turn the Motor. So when you say rolling smoothly what does that mean? Huh?

You could get a very low watt light bulb used in a auto and see if it lights up. Also make sure you are using the DC output to the track and not the AC accessories output.

Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,

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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2011, 06:47:16 PM »

The manual says to place the wheels on the track and roll them over the track. That's what I mean by rolling. Haven't tried to turn the wheels by hand.

The two plugs for input/output are different so I know they are connected correctly. The power plug portion of the track has prongs on both sides of the track. I tried both, and nothing changed. There are two accesory spots that I haven't done anything with yet.

As for the auto light - do I just place it on the track, make contact at a certain spot, etc - Thanks for any input!
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 06:50:39 PM by Brentski » Logged
Ken G Price

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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2011, 12:10:30 AM »

The center bottom of the bulb would be + and the side should be -- . I thought of this as I would put the bottom on one rail and the side on the other. If nothing then reverse this.
You could also try with two wires from the transformer to the bulb as this would tell me if power is even coming out.

The worst that could happen is nothing. Then you would need to get a meter. Or find some one with one.

I still don't get the wheels turning on the engines. Or are you talking about the freight cars.?

Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,

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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2011, 12:29:03 AM »

I don't think he is rolling the loco's, just sliding them across the re-railer.

Sliding loco's to make sure they are on the rails is a bad habit. When you get to loco's with traction tires, you can dislodge them by sliding the train on the rails.

Don't do anything with the accessory out, it is AC and won't run trains, it is for powering turnouts and lights.

Do the loco's light up when you place them on the track and apply power?
Your best bet is to pick up a cheap volt meter and find out what is going on.


Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950

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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2011, 05:58:56 AM »

I didn't notice any lights. I don't know if the train needs to be in full contact - ie all wheels on the track properly to have any lights. I was just doing what the manual said with the rolling - I have never done toy trains before - started picking it up for my kids.

Guess I'll pick up a volt meter - will  need one when I start on a full layout anyway.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2011, 08:37:00 AM by Brentski » Logged
Albert in N
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2011, 09:35:15 AM »

Bachmann train sets come with instructions, as well as a help number to call.  Some sets even include an instructional CD.  If there is a question about the electrical outlet, try plugging in something else to it (like a night light or vacuum cleaner) to see if the outlet is OK.  Although rare, I have seen defective power packs or locomotive motor contacts.  My gut feeling is that the problem is not with the locomotive.  Try calling Bachmann or contacting the seller who sold you the set.  Assuming that the set was brand new, it has one year guarantee with the warranty info included in the papers.

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« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2011, 10:01:07 AM »

The outlet is absolutely working. I assume that the powerpack is also since a red light comes on in the upper left corner.I read all the instructions twice before doing anything with the train set. I don't know if power is in the track or not - no lights on the track that I am aware of. I can't even call customer service til the week - and only if I get the right time.
Ken G Price

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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2011, 03:44:02 PM »

I want to thank the others that have added their ideas.  Smiley

Brentski: Some auto supply stores also carry inexpensive meters if there is no electronics shop near you.

Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,
James in FL

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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2011, 05:12:37 PM »

Hi Brentski,

I posted this a long time ago for someone else with a similar problem, maybe it will be helpful to you;

snip... "do you have a multi-meter at your disposal? This would make troubleshooting quick and painless.
If not, you can still pretty much isolate the problem using some crude measures.
We will assume all your rail joiners are connected properly, (double check this) and your locomotives wheels are all on the track
You state your controllers LED is on so you are getting some power to it,
Next step, are you getting any power out of it?
Cradle your locomotive upside down on its back in such a way as it is secure.
Get some wire, 2 pieces, and strip the ends, connect them to the power supply DC terminals one on each. Advance the power supply to about 50% and then touch the opposite ends to the locomotives power pick-up wheels. One to each opposite wheel, any sign of life?
Yes - the locos wheels turn, the problem is in the connection from the power supply to the track
No - the wheels donít turn, the problem is in the power supply or the loco.

To test the loco Ė
Get a 9v battery the type in most smoke alarms or alarm clocks.
Touch the known good battery to the loco wheels, again opposite side wheels.
Any sign of life?
Yes - the wheels turn, the loco is good
No - the wheels donít turn, the problem is in the locomotive (could be several things internally which is another thread).

To test the power supply without a meter -
Plug it in and advance to about 50%.
Briefly, and I mean split second briefly, deliberately short the circuit.
In a darkened room, using the same wires in the loco test, briefly touch the ends together.
Brush them past each other in a continuous motion rather than holding them connected to each other.
Spark? Yes? No?
Yes - the power supply is putting out current, the problem is in the connection from the controller to the track (if using EZ track check the red connecting wire) or in the terminal track itself.
No - the problem is in the output of the controller.

Even a brief short may cause the controllers internal circuit breaker to pop. If this happens, unplug the power supply and let cool for 20 minutes before plugging back in.

Please note you can severely damage any controller by creating a sustained shorting condition. Be careful here."

Try this and report back.

« Last Edit: August 21, 2011, 09:04:10 PM by James in FL » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2011, 07:36:23 PM »

I'll have to try these suggestions. won't get time until tomorrow, but til then

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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2011, 08:53:34 PM »

Finally got the time to test out some things and the train is running.
The power pack needs to be plugged in VERY securely. Also, the engine is sluggish to start - it hardly moves til about 70 % power, then has to be turned down
I learned how to use the rerailer effectively.
The boys went nuts - and of course want a more hands on exrepience.
Setting off on my  most expensive hobby to date! Undecided
Albert in N
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2011, 09:44:46 AM »

My older 4-8-4 Northern (bought new in 2003) starts at higher voltage, then settles down to run at lower voltage.  It has improved with age and usage, so now does not take as much power to start up.  Break in improves performance.  Also, I noted the same on my Bachmann Standard F-9, GP40, 4-4-0 American, and 2-6-2 prairie.  However, my Bachmann Standard H16-44 and GE B30-7 diesels start at much lower voltage.  Unfortunately, speed control varies, even with other brand locomotives.  Through trial and error, I can match speed if I run two trains on the same track at the same time.  I just have to use locomotives with similar speed range.  Note that this applies to DC current trains, since DCC is a totally different control system.  Also, you will need a more powerful power pack if you run more than one train.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2011, 09:47:57 AM by Albert in N » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2011, 10:45:19 AM »

Mine seems to be running fine from 20% it sometimes takes a little nudge on bends but I just ran the locomotive for a good couple of hours on 30-50% starts and stops to loosen the motor up....

I used to remember the f9 units being quite "tight" out of the box and needed a lot of running in to make progress....

I don't run at 100% but it looks like the 4-8-4 when at 100% can go pretty speedy if I had bigger radius curves and longer straights...

they used to run regularly over 100mph on runs if they were short of time... so my book tells me! Smiley
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