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Author Topic: code size and flex track  (Read 19642 times)
Martha


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« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2013, 06:18:25 PM »

I'm Back!!!! Still having problems getting the results I want but as someone commented, walking away when frustrated is the way. I do have a few hobby/model railroading shops in town however they charge quite a bit for their stuff so I went online. The rail joiners including shipping was under $4.00 it didn't seem like an expensive item. Just annoyed me I needed them and only after I put in a formal complaint (6 days AFTER purchased)did the person ship them. So I am at a stand still until I get them. I think my frustration today is the joints aren't tight due to old bent joiners I am trying to use. The flex trac, well lets just say its piled up in the middle of the platform with all the other stuff I am not using. I went back to the old track, gave up on the R X R crossing piece and the trestle piece I purposely bought to add to the layout this year. Couldn't get the track and them to work out so they are in the middle of the platform too. The positive part of this is the lay out is done. The train should work once the new rail joiners are in place and its' glued, pinned down in place, but I do have a question I just remembered. There are part of the track the train just stops on,  if I nudge it along it will take off again. Now it doesn't happen all the time and I sit there scratching my head in wonder, why did it stop this time? I have read and seen video talking about adding direct power to those tracks? How would one do that? or is that just for advanced lay outs? I have cleaned the tracks numerous times, actually after every adjustment I am touching the tracks. Another thing I notice is locomotive will go along at a good speed and then slow up or go faster on some of the track. Is that a clue there is power issues? the track is flat no hills to climb. It just doesn't move at the same speed around the track continuously. As to gluing it down, I did do that last night using silicone, worked good but had to pull it all up for the replacement tracks and other issues, at least I know that will work and how easy it was to do once it was outlined, pinned and left alone to dry.
Now that the layout is done I can move on to adding more of the village aspects of the project. I think another mountain or level up for more houses is the next step. Had to wait to see where the tracks laid in proportion to what I can add, like a mountain, etc.  That foam and plaster cloth is the cats meow! I have been practicing soldering on the electrical connections I am putting in to this project. THANKS for the great advice on doing that.
Another question..... I will end up with cars extra cars, trestles, track, etc etc is there a site anyone recommends to put them up for sale, or just do it locally like Craigslist or do it on Ebay? I know I won't expand this, have no place to expand it unless I move into someplace bigger and well if that happens then I can go look for stuff then. I just lost my part time job so glad I have all the stuff I need to complete this years project. I am off, to plan the addition to the platform, hmm what will it be Huh?Huh?Huh?  Smiley
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jbrock27

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« Reply #31 on: September 28, 2013, 07:24:29 PM »

I am glad you found our advice helpful.

My suggestion on those bent/loose joiners you mentioned, is to toss them, especially if you will have enough replacements in what is coming to you via the mail.  They will only be trouble by not conducting electricity from one section of track to the other.  The only way I can see they could still be used, is if you decided you were also going to use your soldering tool to solder the rail joiner to the sections of track it is joining.  But, if they are so loose the rails don't line up properly, then I think that is more headache than worth.
On that subject, since you mentioned loose joiners, I am going to say I believe that is why your loco slows down on certain sections and why, when you put your hand on the loco, what you are also doing is moving the track together enough, to resume electrical continuity.  Does that make sense based on what you are experiencing?

Regarding selling, I know you said your place is small, but maybe you want to consider hanging onto those items if you can figure a way to.  Perhaps a friend or relatives place? If selling, EBay probably has more exposure than Etsy or Craigslist, but I hear sellers complain all the time about costs from shipping and EBay fees, eating into their profits (boo hoo).
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 07:37:40 AM by jbrock27 » Logged

Keep Calm and Carry On
Doneldon

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« Reply #32 on: September 28, 2013, 10:27:28 PM »

Martha-

You might find it helpful to connect your power pack to your rails at two or three locations. You can run separate wires from the screws of the power pack to the different connection points or run a single pair of wires which are themselves connected to your rails by short jumpers. Just be sure that you mind your polarity so there are no short circuits between the rails.

You can attach the wires by soldering them to the undersides of some rail joiners or by soldering them to the outsides of your rails. There's no good reason to purchase expensive terminal track sections when rail joiners or a simple soldering job will do the trick.

Craig's List isn't a particularly good marketplace for the kinds of surplus model railroad items you have. It's OK for train sets for children but not enough model railroaders look on Craig's List for the kinds of things you have. eBay should be pretty good but you won't net much after you sell used items, ship them and pay eBay and Paypal fees. As jb mentioned, you might want to hang on to the stuff at least for a little while, or maybe give the things to a child.

It does sound like you're making progress. Good for you!
                                                                                                                                                  -- D
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electrical whiz kid

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« Reply #33 on: September 29, 2013, 12:47:29 PM »

Soldering could well be defined as an acquired art in that it takes developed skill that for the most part, is readily available in mostof us.   It is very similar to brazing and welding in that respect.  To do a good job, it is like most anything else:  You first contemplate  the project, coordinate the operation, plan some contingencies, and if you are new, to the subject, do be patient and go easy.
Rich C.
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Martha


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« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2013, 03:28:14 PM »

Yippee I finally got the rail joiners in the mail. replaced all the old ones and what an improvement! I do notice they are much loser than the original ones and that may be so they work on both 100 and 83 track (just a guess know so little about MR) no big deal but now have a question. Theoretically if I glue down the track with tight connections, I won't need to solder the rail joiners? I am having a hard time soldering, not sure why. the solder doesn't seem to want to "melt". I am using the stuff that came with my soldering kit. and I have to admit I don't have flux. I watched a video that showed the guy was heating up the rail with the soldering iron and then placing the solder on the rail (he didn't use flux or they didn't show he did). it just melted right into that rail. then he used the iron to smooth out the solder along that joiner. what a nice looking result he had. Mine well looks like a first grader did it.  Actually it wasn't that bad but very little solder was actually on the rail. How much do I need on it to make it secure? I'm not trying to short cut the procedure, by not soldering I just don't know if it will be that necessary if the track is nice and secure.

Another question is IF after I glue it down, secure the joints and there is still power issues, can someone direct me to a video or explain how I go about running extra power to each rail or to rails that seem to lose power. Think I understand the process but sure don't want to screw anything up this far down the road. Oh issue I had yesterday. The power/control box just quit. Do they over heat? I have 2 so I just hooked up the other one and used it. In the past when I had my first power issues with the locomotive I had dropped and the wheels were on wrong, it tripped the built in circuit breaker, is that what might be happening now? These are the old style control box.

I do have to admit I was acting like a child yesterday when I actually was able to have the locomotive, a box car and the caboose go around the track several times before it derailed. (joints separated of course). I was clapping and doing a happy dance. Then I was even more happy when I won on ebay auction 7 sets of mini chasing lights to add to the village (they have been shipped not placed on the wagon train for delivery). Which is now know as Jamestown, named after my daddy who passed in 1995 and was my hero. So yesterday was a good day. Guess I will hang onto the other stuff as many of you have suggested who knows, I am looking to move any how! Thanks again for all your help!  Smiley
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ebtnut

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« Reply #35 on: October 01, 2013, 04:21:44 PM »

Martha:  A few tips about soldering.  You need to heat the items (in this case the rails and joiners) hot enough to melt the solder.  This means placing the iron at the spot to be soldered, wait a little bit, then touch the solder NEAR the iron.  If and when it melts it will flow into the joint.  In the video, it is likely that the solder being used had flux already inside it, which is common.  I always use a little dab extra, partly becuase when that dab starts to bubble, it means that the metal is getting close to solder-melting heat.  As noted earlier, if you use separate flux, make sure it is electronics-safe. 

In the meantime, ahead of polishing your soldering skills, you should take a pair of needle-nose pliers and crimp the loose rail joiners as tightly as you can to the rails.  It wil help prevent open circuits.  A lot of folks recommend soldering power leads onto each length of flex track so that you don't have any worries about power feeding through the rail joiners.  The wires have to soldered to the outside of the rails so as not to intefere with the wheels on the inside of the rails.
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Doneldon

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« Reply #36 on: October 01, 2013, 04:22:02 PM »

Martha-

Your rail joiners should not be loose. Loose joiners will allow your track sections to separate (which you will control once you have the track glued in place) and will fail to transfer electricity from one rail to the next. The problem shouldn't be that your joiners work for both Codes 83 and 100; the difference is in the height of the rail, not the foot. (Rails have three parts from top to bottom: head, web and foot.) The best way to fix this is to squeeze the joiners just a little to make the opening a bit thinner. You can try pinching the joiners onto the track ends but it's tough to make them tight enough while they are actually on the rails. This is a fiddle with thing. You'll probably squeeze one or two joiners too much but you'll quickly get the hang of it. With good, tight rail joiners, you shouldn't need more than two or three feeders.

You can add additional power supplies in three way: purchase terminal rails sections, solder your feeders to rail joiners or solder your feeders directly to the rails. I wouldn't waste the money on terminal track sections if you are happy with your current configuration. I believe the best alternative is soldering feeders to the bottom (best) or outside flap of your rail joiners. To do this, clean the bottom surface of the rail joiner with a pencil eraser until it shines, blow off any residue, put a tiny dab of resin flux on the polished surface and on your wire end, touch your soldering gun/iron to the wire end, heat your wire end with your soldering gun/iron, touch the solder to the wire until a bit of solder flows into the wire, heat the rail joiner with your soldering gun/iron, touch the hot joiner with your solder until a bit of solder flows onto the joiner, keep the soldering gun/iron in contact with the rail joiner while you touch the wire end to the soldered area on the rail joiner, and remove the heat source while holding the wire in motionless contact with the melted solder on the rail joiner. I know that sounds like a lot of steps but it should take less than a minute per solder job. To solder your feeders to the rails, follow the same procedure except clean, flux and solder to the outside of the rail web and/or foot instead of the rail joiner bottom. The reason I prefer to solder feeders to rail joiners is that slow soldering jobs risks melting the plastic ties in your track. This is especially likely to happen if your soldering iron/gun is full of crud so it can't heat the rail quickly.

That's another other issue: Your soldering iron/gun needs to have a clean tip in order to transfer heat efficiently. I'm guessing that's the source of the difficulty you are having now. The way to fix this is to turn on your soldering gin/iron until it gets plenty hot and then rub the tip on a damp natural sponge or rag. After the crud is removed, put a little flux on the heated tip and then touch your solder to it until the tip has a thin coating of solder. It's not a bad idea to regularly wipe the hot tip on a damp rag or sponge from time to time while you are soldering but you don't need to do a thorough cleaning or add flux and solder unless the tip gets coated with lots of crud or loses its ability to heat your joints quickly. Don't use a synthetic sponge because your gun/iron will melt it making a stinky mess and a difficult clean-up job.

I believe the best way to run additional feeders is with two wires under your layout with short feeders running up to the rails or rail joiners. The feeders can be tine wires. Your layout is small enough that you can run the supply wire with just some normal bell wire. Larger size wire is okay but not necessary for a small set-up like yours. Strip a small area off of your supply wire (all the way around -- a knife works well) and then flux, heat and solder following the steps outlined above.

There is a thermal protection feature in most power supplies which will cause the unit to shut down if your system demands excessive current. They restart automatically when they have cooled. It's analogous to the circuit breaker which opens when you have a short circuit. So ... the operation is probably normal. I am troubled a bit, however, because you aren't running a big demand with your power source. Are you certain it wasn't your circuit breaker which blew?
                                                                                                                                                                    -- D
 
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Martha


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« Reply #37 on: October 01, 2013, 10:30:09 PM »

Well I think I learned many things with these resent replies. One thing I know for sure and learned it after the fact is the tip of that soldering iron. I am sure that is why I am not having the sucesse I should be. I didn't know about cleaning the tip, wondered why there was a sponge included, now I know! the tip, well it ended up with this tiny long skinny metal like thing at the end. Hard as a nail and I eventually snipped it off with a wire cutter. So I think the tip is history and a second one came with it but of course can't seem to lay my hands on it so ..... I will need to get more tips and flux. I am sure that is probably another reason why I am having the difficult in a good solder. I know I didn't flip a house breaker with the control box, I just think they are old, I turn them on they sit for long periods and are quite warm to the touch on the bottom of them. and I'm not even running the train, so I need to stop doing that. doubt it's a good thing. Once it's all said and done. glued down, joiners crimped tighter, soldered, leads run if needed, I will be so happy. It's been a long venture one, I didn't expect to take so long but all in all its not been that bad. Once Jamestown is complete, up and running I will figure out a way to post it so those of you interested can view it, probably on YouTube. Tonight I finished detailing Jamestown Mountain. Has fire tower, deer, rocks, shrubs, snow, a miner and his three legged donkey (so I dropped it and it broke, can't find the leg!) its lighted, has twinkling lighted tree, its just cool and I am very pleased on how it turned out, it will be the third removable addition to the platform. thanks again for all the help. will keep you up to date on the progress.
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Doneldon

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« Reply #38 on: October 01, 2013, 10:47:55 PM »

Martha-

If I had to guess, I would say that the appendage you cut off of the tip of your soldering iron is solder. I don't know that you should assume that you need to install a new tip.

Although it's generally not a good idea to use abrasives on a soldering iron tip, you can try filing off most of what is attached to the tip. When you go too far you'll see bare copper. STOP THERE and file on the other surfaces of the tip until the whole thing is bright metal. Then flux and tin. Do note that your final filing or sanding on the tip should be done with fairly fine abrasives; you don't want a bunch of deep scars on the copper tip of your soldering iron.

You are almost certainly correct in saying that you didn't blow a circuit breaker in your service entrance panel. The power packs themselves have breakers inside.

It does sound like you're making good progress on the rest of your layout and as though it is looking pretty cool. I'm looking forward to seeing the final result. I must say, too, that you are showing great patience and tenacity with your project. I know you have had several frustrations and disappointments. I admire the way you've hung in there.
                                                                                                                                                 -- D
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Joe323

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« Reply #39 on: October 02, 2013, 11:59:35 AM »

I know I didn't flip a house breaker with the control box, I just think they are old, I turn them on they sit for long periods and are quite warm to the touch on the bottom of them. and I'm not even running the train, so I need to stop doing that. doubt it's a good thing.

What kind of power pack are you using?  if its the cheap train set type power pack I would replace it with a good power pack like a model rectifier corp (MRC) power pack assuming your set up is DC Those cheapo train set power packs do get hot and my experience with them is that they will shut down as a protection when they do get hot.

I remember running my Christmas round the tree train with a life like train set pp and having it shut down after a few minute due to heat.  Once I replaced the pp it would go for hours without trouble.
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Martha


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« Reply #40 on: October 09, 2013, 11:54:14 PM »

hello there, been busy with "Jamestown". I think I have most of the bugs worked out on the train layout. I do have a question for you. is there a "trick" to keeping the caboose on the track? Seems too light weight, is shorter than the other cars and they have those tiny plastic wheels and couplers and the slightest bump or on some curves it will derail. It doesn't do it each and every time but it does it more often than not. The box car and tanker cars seem to be heavier and stay on the track, they are also a longer wheel base. I could just eliminate it however to me a train going down that ole track isn't a train without that caboose at the end. So any suggestions would be appreciated. I am working on the lighting now for the town, oy, that is so tedious and I am trying to tie it all in to only a few quick disconnects, which is working out quite nicely (the quick disconnects). Taking it down after the holiday is going to make it so much easier and better to store. Will keep you updated on the progress, you seem interested and I like sharing the progress with people who understand the time and effort it takes to set things up like this.
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Catt

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« Reply #41 on: October 10, 2013, 06:38:41 AM »

Martha,you might try adding some weight to the caboose to see if that helps.I would recomend that you put it as close to the ends of the car as you can get it.I would also suggest that you add equal amounts a little at a time till you obtain your goal.One last tip check to make sure the trucks are not contacting the underframe or the caboose steps.
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ebtnut

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« Reply #42 on: October 10, 2013, 11:03:24 AM »

To amplify Catt's note, make sure the trucks are swiveling freely.  Sometimes the screw or pin that holds the trucks to the frame is too tight.  Adding weight is also recommended.  If the caboose comes off at the same place each time, look for some irregularity in the track - a misaligned rail joiner or maybe a kink in the rails.  Also make sure that the uncoupling pin that hangs down below the coupler is not too low, where it might snag on a turnout. 
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Doneldon

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« Reply #43 on: October 10, 2013, 09:32:36 PM »

Martha-

The NMRA (National Model Railroading Association) has a long list of approved practices, specifications and requirements, including weights of rolling stock. For HO, the rule is one ounce plus a half-ounce for each inch of length. Standard cabeese are around 28-30 feet long which translates to about five inches. That means a standard caboose would need to weigh about 3.5 ounces. If you have one of the real short ones (like a four-wheel caboose), the weight should be about 2.5 ounces. However, in my experience, a little extra weight is better than a little too little. That's especially true for cabeese because they can get tossed around at the end of the train if it's going along too briskly. In any event, add weight as low in a car as possible. You can use anything for weight. Handy possibilities are surplus hardware, BBs, fishing weights or pennies. Pennies are the cheapest option after random hardware. Whatever you use, glue it down.

Metal wheels, in addition to keeping tracks cleaner than plastic, add weight down low where it does the most for stability. The axles should rotate freely in their trucks and be in gauge. The usual practice with attaching the trucks to the car body is to make one loose enough that the car can rock a little and the other tight enough that it turns freely but does not rock.
                                                                                                                                                 -- D
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Martha


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« Reply #44 on: December 01, 2013, 10:33:14 PM »

Ho Ho Ho.  I Finally have my Christmas Village up and running. I doubt I would have if I didn't find this forum, so good to my word.  Here is a link to my youtube post. If this link does not work, search youtube My Christmas Village Jamestown. http://youtu.be/oUJ_GeMuWbo be sure to use jamestown in the search.

Be Sure to watch to the end.

I know things I did wrong, I know things I will redo next year, I know I want a Steam chugging locomotive not the diesel I have now. Love that chug chug, steam release bell clanging critter. Yeah can you tell I am NOT a model railroader! I do thank all of you for the support. I wish you all A Merry Christmas or whatever you may celebrate at this time of year. and Peace on Earth so our troops can come home. Happy New Year. Thanks once again.
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