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Author Topic: DCC Controller Stopped Working?  (Read 2995 times)

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« on: December 16, 2014, 02:40:12 PM »

I have a very basic setup out of the box from Bachmann with the EZ controller and 3 Bachmann DCC engines.  I have 2 small oval tracks connected to 1 EZ Commander DCC controller.  It's been up and running for months and worked perfectly.  After about 3 weeks without use, I turned it on and engines won't run.  When I select the channel and apply throttle, the engine begins to surge forward, I hear the buzz of the engine starting, but then after about 1 second it just stops.  No sound, no electrical buzz, nothing.  I've tried all 3 engines on different sections of both tracks, same thing.  I've checked voltages and they are good around the entire track.  Nothing has changed since we used it last time. 

Does this symptom sound like a known issue?  Is there a way to 'reset' the controller and reprogram?  Would that help?  Again, 3 weeks ago I ran all 3 engines on both tracks normally.

My kid is freaking out and Xmas is 2 weeks away and I just bought 2 new Bachmann Engines for him so I have to get it working!!!


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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2014, 05:53:57 PM »

Give the service department a call during normal operating hours @ (215) 533-1600 and ask for Rodney. He will be happy to help you.

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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2014, 07:28:30 PM »

Thanks for the quick reply.  I did call the Service Dept and they gave me the info for sending it in. 
Before I do I really want to try everything to make sure it's failing.  I'm trying to avoid a Xmas with brand new Bachmann trains in my kids hands and no way to run them... 

Since my last message I've done this;
I unplugged the EZ Commander from the outlet and let it sit for a while.
Plugged it back in and reprogrammed my 3 engines.
When programming, the engines did respond and move a bit to show they communicated.
This time they (all 3 engines) did move... slowly getting 'stuck' every few feet until they stopped completely.  Before I got little more than a motor buzz...  I still can't get the lights to work.  Same with the 2nd track.

Is it possible that something as simple as a track and wheel cleaning is the problem?  The layout is in my garage and it is exposed to that environment.  I really never cleaned it in the 6-8 months it's been out there except to wipe the tracks down with a cloth for dust.  But maybe?  What is the best way or cleaner to use?

Many forum contributors and enthusiast articles speak of connecting power feeds to multiple locations around the track to ensure smooth power and operation.  Some even solder the tracks together.  Is any of that really recommended/needed with a simple oval on a 4x8 foot layout?  I have one feed from the EZ Commander that is daisy chained to the other oval.  I measure a solid 18V everywhere around both tracks with an engine on it.

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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2014, 01:22:37 AM »


1.) Yes, dirty rails and/or wheels can foul things up as you describe, especially the spotty operation of your locos after reprogramming.
That part sounds decidedly like dirty track to me.

2.) The idea that you can run one wire from a DCC system to a layout and have happy days is not even remotely realistic. It might
work okay for a while if the modeler starts with all new components, but the rail joints will oxidize sooner or later and operational
problems will erupt and multiply. Soldering rail joints and running many feeders from a power buss to the tracks are two effective
methods of coping with these conductivity problems.
                                                                                -- D

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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2014, 03:11:56 AM »

As Doneldon says, running two wires to a DCC layout and expecting it to run without problems is not realistic.

It's a DCC promotion ploy, unfortunately perpetuated by the model railroad press, that all you need to run a DCC layout are two wires.  Technically, it is possible so they are not lying but realistically you need to do as Doneldon suggests and either solder your rail joiners together into sections, I'd suggest solder every four pieces of track together and run a pair of feeders to each section, or solder a pair of feeders to every section, which is a bit unrealistic.  The best bet is to solder the track into three or four piece sections.  Anything larger gets unwieldy if you are taking it up and putting down all the time.  The reason you do not want to solder all the track sections together is to allow for expansion and contraction, so your rails will not buckle.

However, even for a Christmas layout, the best bet is to permanently fix the track down to a minimum 1/2" thick piece of either good one side or better yet, cabinet grade plywood.  This will not only keep the railroad from laying on the carpet, a very bad idea, or even on a hardwood floor.  Taking up and laying down your track is guaranteed to damage your track which is why it's best to fix it down to it's own "benchwork".


Roger T.


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