Addressing Common Model Train Problems

There is nothing more annoying than to prod your electric model train across the railroad track. Taking care of faulty model trains would be much easier if you know what you are dealing with in the first place. Model trains like the ever-popular G scale sets depend on the rails to power them up. They will slow down to a complete halt if there is a fault somewhere in the connection.  If you notice sporadic train performance, there are several probable causes and effective solutions.

For beginners take note that it is quite common for model trains to run perfectly for a while and then gradually deteriorate. When this occurs do not immediately order repair parts for garden railway just yet until you know what is the cause of the problem. Surprisingly, most are amazingly simple to detect, correct and prevent.  Dust is a major cause of this problem and since it is such a magnificent insulator you need to ensure that you get rid of most of it as much as possible, which means regular cleaning.

Troubleshooting Voltage Drop

If you notice that your train frequently slows down or stops only in certain portions of the track then the most probable cause would be voltage drop. Train distance and joints in between sections of track serve to slow the flow of electricity. To correct this, you will need to tighten any loose joiners and if needed, run a second set of wires from the power supply to the troubled section of the track.

Large Layouts

 If you have a large layout a bus wire with feeders to multiple track sections is highly advocated.  Depending on the scale and the length of the run you can use no. 14 to no. 10 heavier wire. Smaller feeder wires gauge 18 to 20 may be used between the rail and the bus. Usually, feeders are connected every 6 to 12 feet.

In order to greatly reduce voltage drops, solder the rail joiners yourself. This will also help remove kinks, which are often the cause of train derailments.  Keep in mind to leave a few joiners open in order to allow for expansion and contraction of your setup.

Fixing Troublesome Model Train Sets

Model trains are considered one of the most popular hobbies today. Trains come in different shapes and sizes. LGB starter sets for instance are great for beginners as they already contain the basic train and track setup for you to jumpstart your hobby.  Like anything that comes with a lot of parts, chances are something somewhere will go wrong and require intervention. If you are new to the hobby and experiencing some issues on performance, check out these tips to fixing your troublesome model trains set.

Check the Track

All of the engine’s power originates through the wheels and if any of these does not come in good contact with the track, chances are your train will either derail or simply will not run at all. To check proper track placement run your train gently by sliding it back and forth to ensure all wheels are on the ground. Rule out a loose rail joint or poor electrical connection my moving the engine to a different section to rule out a loose rail joint or poor electrical connection.

Keeping the Electrical Connections Secure

Sets for garden trains come with their own set of electrical wires and connections. You can ensure the integrity of these connections by physically inspecting them from time to time. Begin with the connection between the wires and the track and then move on to the connection between the wires and the power supply. Check for anything that may be loose. Look and check if the wires are properly connected to the terminal for the track itself and not to the accessories. Look for splitting or frayed connections.

Cleaning the Track and the Wheels

If this is your first time setting up your model train, a physical inspection will do. For trains that have been running around for quite some time already dirty tracks and wheels can degrade performance and result in a rough sporadic ride, rarely a complete power loss occurs.  If you have not used the train for quite some time or if it is an outdoor garden train exposed to corrosion and the environment, dirt and debris may be enough to cease operations fully.  Remove these with some manufacturer recommended abrasive cleaners and liquid cleansers mostly available in hobby shops. Avoid using steel wool as the shavings can directly go into the engine and damage it permanently.

Guide to Troubleshooting your Electric Train Set

One of the most fulfilling hobbies around, model train sets has been a staple of many homes for the past hundred years. Layouts for model trains evoke a sense of nostalgia and history rarely found in other hobbies.  Sets like Eggliners for Aristocraft, LGB trains and garden trains are more than just hobbyists lingo but are household names.  If you have a model train or thinking of getting one, here are some troubleshooting tips for your electric train set.

Test Track

Establish a test track by connecting a separate feeder track and at least a couple of feet of flex track to your transformer in order to check the engine’s integrity. Once the engine is on the line, add some power slowly. If it does not run, then you have a faulty engine. If it runs quite slow it is possible the motor may be dirty or is about to give out soon.

Testing the Rail Connection

Wash your hands first and then slowly run two fingers along the track in order to check for rail connection problems. Some of the issues involved may be dust and debris and even glue left over. Feel the track and look for gaps and bumps. Check and see if there are any mismatched or disconnected rails. Problems with electric trains can sometimes be traced to mixing different rail codes or uneven surfaces, which cause loss of power and the ubiquitous derailment.

The Engine

Remove the shell of your G scale train and then look for dust and debris that could clog the motor, axles and the wheels. Remove or brush off any foreign particles found inside.  Poor train maintenance or lack of knowledge thereof often is the root cause of performance issues found in most electric train models.

Troubleshooting the Layout

Inspect and note areas of your layout where the engine seems to lose power and then correct them by adding supplementary feeder tracks. Power normally degrades as it travels the rails so the longer your track, the more electrical feeder points you need to install.

Preventing Model Train Derailments Effectively

Regardless of how well you have constructed your LGB model train layouts, there are boundaries to what model trains can do.  For instance, curved track sections of model train enthusiasts tend to be tighter than their real world counterparts. Blend that with long trains traveling at a considerable high velocity and chances are a derailment will occur.  While we cannot totally eliminate the causes of train derailments we can be successful of at least keeping it low.

Operator Mistakes

The most common cause of model train derailments there is nothing that can substitute for control and experience.  If you notice that your train often derails it would be advisable to make gradual changes to speeds, controlling top speed levels and coming to a full stop prior to changing directions.  Moreover, do check the routing of your switches before crossing them in order to minimize derailment episodes.

Mechanical Problems

Even when careful consideration has been brought forward to ensure correct speed and stops are followed, derailments still occur due to problems within the train or the track itself. A good rule of thumb to follow is if more than onegarden railroad stock car car derails at the exact same spot, check the track. If one car derails in two or more spots then check the car for problems. 

Train Track Issues

If the track is to blame the most common cause include misaligned rail joints, switches that do not completely close or fail to open, rough transitions at the top or bottom of the grade and debris in the track itself.  Clean your track regularly and get rid of any remaining debris especially after a storm (for outdoor setups). Check the switches for issues and inspect and align rail joints regularly.  Look for any bumps in the track, which cause frequent uncoupling of cars. Make sure that the couplers are of the correct height.

Train Issues

If you notice that the train or car derails regularly when there is nothing wrong with the track, then some adjustments may need to be done first to the wheels, couplers and even the weight of the car itself.