Re: [z_scale] Re: How Smooth Is A Turnout Anyway?
- jcubbin@... wrote:
>First, I don't think he was kidding by much on the speeding up the lok
> I read that article but I'm running a 8895, 2-6-0, no tender and it
> really takes a performance hit through the turnout. At first I thought
> it was perhaps because I had modified the turnout by removing the
> solenoid but I don't think this is the case.
> As I said it really does lurch at bit at slow speeds, I know you were
> only kidding about speeding the train up to avoid this, but that seems
> the only way to prevent the power drop.
> This is a pretty unpleasant situation as it tends to blow the rhythm of
> the lok. Is this just something that Z folks have to get used to?
to get through the turnout. The most of the Z loks have electrical
pickup on only two axles, usually the first and the last drivers. First
check to make sure that the pickup wipers on the inside of the wheels
are actually touching the back of the wheel as it moves from one side to
the other. (they do have a bit of sideways play built in) I have had
loks where the wipers were not bent out far enough to contact at all
times. If that is OK, and the wheels are perfectly squeeky clean then
the only option is more speed or to add more wipers as some people have
done. On the smallest loks adding extra wipers to the center driver
wheels is difficult but will give better electrical pickup.
- I wasn't really kidding about speeding up slightly through turnouts. The
problem is the turnouts are usually found in switching yards, where the
speed is supposed to be slow.
For an example of adding extra wipers to the wheels to improve
conductivity, see my review of the FR 8851 upgrade kit at:
One of these days, I'll fuss around with my turnouts and try to add
"conductivity" where none existed before. I agree with Ole Rosted, in that
we shouldn't have to make all these modifications in order to have decent
turnouts. Since these are our only practical choices at the moment, I
suppose it's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.
I've got to wonder why both Peco and Micro-Trains make Z-scale track, yet
neither manufacturer has ever made any turnouts.
- Ole Rosted wrote:
> On Wed, 28 Feb 2001 21:11:30 -0800, you wrote:
> This way of making turnouts is ridiculous and what I have been talking
> about the last three years here.
You know that you are having a lot of fun with this "problem" of
building a switch. You have gone into several new technologies that you
never dreamed of learning.
It is learning these new technologies that slows down your quest for
that perfect Z scale turnout. We have often wondered how we will spend
our time after retirement and model railroading leads us down so many
different paths that it seems we can never get to any real model
railroading. We have to learn carpentry, electricity, electronics,
computers, painting, casting, engineering, photography, machining,
focusing, planning, and if you want a Master Modeling Certificate from
NMRA you must even learn journalism.
And to you John,
Turnouts in all scales are the Achilles heel of model trains. If you
examine award winning model train photographs that include turnouts, you
will see turnouts that do not even come close to looking realistic.
Examine MR's 24th MR photo winner and look at how the turnout on the
lower right corner is attached to the rails leading to the RS-3.
It may very well be that the rail joiners used here is a consequence of
having a "floating turnout". I have often read that Atlas turnouts work
with a greater degree of reliability when installed in a manner to allow
the turnout to "float". That is: not being permanently attached to the
road bed. Their only connection to the rails on the layout is through
the rail joiners.
I am not trying to criticize the photograph. I just intended to point
out how the hobby has embraced the inability of model railroad
manufactures to build a better switch at a reasonable price. There are
many exceptions to this rule, and there are products offered that are
much more realistic but may be a bit more expensive and have a greater
degree of difficulty in installation than Marklin or in HO scale -
Atlas. Someday, we in Z, may have a manufacturer who will give us a
track and roadbed combination much like Kato which could bring smoother
operation but at a higher cost and with much less flexibility in track
Manufactured switch construction in this hobby has not been improved
upon since the 1940's. One positive change for the modeler has been the
introduction of plastic ties. The former fiberboard ties attached with
staples had a tendency to curl up because of moisture. (If you remember
that, then you are OLD!)
Almost all other changes to the popular manufactured switches has been
to simplify the process of manufacturing. ie: the use of the plastic
frog. And never forget the stamped metal one piece points with the ever
present super prototypical rivets. (Another feature of far too many
prize winning photographs and layouts. I think that the appropriate
comment here is for me is to "get a life")
Again, I am not trying to criticize the modeler. Just want to point out
how many in this model railroad hobby has criticized the difference in
32 inch wheels and 33 inch wheels on our model trains but totally accept
turnouts which show little resemblance to the prototype.
Another reason for the sloppy adherence to track standards is the
problem with electrical circuits. With my almost total ignorance of the
principles of electronics I do not understanding why we have any
electrical problems with our turnouts. I follow the rule that the
electrical path must follow (or lead) the path of the train. While
attempting to do this, if I run into a short circuit, then I must
install a gap. (Having been a bookkeeper for over 40 years has made me
There is also this talk of DCC compatible turnouts and non compatible
turnouts. If I understand this, it is a problem of a momentary
short-circuit. For non DCC power, a momentary short-circuit seems to be
acceptable but, for DCC it is a train stopping catastrophe.
I have always believed that even on a non DCC power system a momentary
short-circuit would not be acceptable. This short-circuit could cause
track supplied lighting circuits to blink. What about static sounds in
train sound systems? Don't ignore the pitting of your wheels. Our Z
scale wheels are much too small. Short-circuit pits are not scale
sensitive. Pitted wheels collect dirt and dirt interrupts electrical
So, John, if you want smooth, slow operating trains over your turnouts,
you may have to join Ole in his search for a more perfect Z scale
switch. (I am falling down on my participation in this quest and I have
to apologize to Ole for not being more active.) Do not join the rest of
the model railroad society and accept mediocrity. Go to
This should set you on a path focused toward a more "perfect" track. I
have spent only 50+ years in this quest and still have no trains
running. Or you can accept the frailties of Marklin track and get on
with having fun operating trains. (Not that Ole and I are actually
enjoying ourselves trying to find that "perfect" Z scale turnout.)
Jeffrey MacHan's Val Ease Central uses Marklin products and operates
continuously before large crowds without problems. There are many other
Z scale layouts performing before large crowds at train shows that use
Marklin product so Marklin products are reliable. They just require a
little TLC. (Tender Loving Care)