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What happened to the power?

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  • Matt Parker
    After several weeks of redesigning and planning on my layout, I finally finished a full mock up of what the main part of the layout. In order to operate my
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 1, 2009
      After several weeks of redesigning and planning on my layout, I finally finished a full mock up of what the main part of the layout. In order to operate my trains during the construction phase, I install two turn-around loops with remote turnouts. I wanted to try it out to see how everything was working including the loops, tunnels, bridges and turnouts. I hooked up my power pack to the feeder track, placed one of my GP9's on the main line, and turned on the juice. All I got was very slow movement out of the engine at full throttle. "That can't be right." I said. "Somethings wrong somewhere." So I removed that engine and put on the GP35. Same thing, very slow movement at full throttle.
      I have to confess that I know very little about electricity and how if flows and my son who is the master electrician is away for a month.
      I thought that maybe the problem was the power pack so I switched to the other and it was the same thing. I then wondered if maybe there was a lose connection on either the pack or the feeder track. Everything seems to be in order. So why am I only getting a trickle of power to the track? I employe my volt meter and put the probes to the back of the packs and each one shows an appropriate amount of power output for the position of the throttle, 10v being at the top end as indicated for z scale performance. I also wondered if it was the wire I was using from the pack to the feeder. So I disconnected it and took the pack and the wire and connected them to the feeder track on my finished module. I plugged it in, gave it the juice and it powered all my engines around the 4 by 2 mod with no effort at all. So what is going on here?
      I reconnected my larger power pack to my layout feeder and as I applied the juice, I put the probes from the meter on the connections of the feeder where the wire joins. There's no power getting through, or at least barely enough to move the meter needle. I examined the wire and I can find no evidence of breaks and there is nothing touching to cause a short circuit. Keep in mind that I am getting very slow movement out of any given engine but it is only for about 5 feet in either direction. After that it quits. I'm beginning to wonder if the speaker wire I'm using to feed my track from the power pack is adequte. It seemed to work fine on the small mod.
      Can anyone give me an idea as to what is going on here?
      Some questions that may help define the problem.
      1. Is speaker wire alright to use in this application?
      2. Am I trying to power too much track with one power pack? I have approximately 70 feet of track with two reverse loops, 3 sidings or passing tracks, and 8 remote turnouts that are at this time are unpowered.
      3. Could the feeder track be defective? It's the same one I've had since I bought my starter set in September last year but it hasn't been used in almost 5 months.
      4. I have examined every inch of track and I can't find a break anywhere. Is it possible that there is a short occuring somewhere and I can't find it?
      5. Why do I get 8 to 10v of power at the back of the power pack at full throttle, yet nothing or very little at the feeder track?
      One final thing. I noticed that on my Tech 220, when I increase power to the track, the pilot light dims. It's bright at 0 output, but as I increase the throttle, it dims to almost out. I don't have a pilot light on the MRC 1300 but I suspect it would do the same thing. It doesn't do this when connected to my small module.
      Any ideas? I need to get this phase up and running to conduct more experiments before beginning construction.
      Thanks
      Matt
    • Thomas P. Scheuzger
      Sounds like you have a short somewhere. The dimming pilot light is a strong indicator of this. Since you have a multimeter, try this: Disconnect the power
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 1, 2009
        Sounds like you have a short somewhere. The dimming pilot light is a
        strong indicator of this. Since you have a multimeter, try this:

        Disconnect the power pack from the track and measure the resistance
        between the terminals of the feeder track. It should be infinite, or
        a a very high number of ohms. There is usually a capacitor between
        the terminals of the feeder track; this might throw off your readings
        as the battery in the meter charges the capacitor. If your feeder
        track has a capacitor, you might want to remove the feeder track from
        the layout and test the resistance between the rails directly.

        You mentioned a couple reverse loops - how did you wire them? I
        assume you used insulated joiners at one end of each loop, otherwise
        you'll get a short circuit. If you didn't use insulated joiners on
        one leg, I'll bet your problem goes away if you disconnect the loops
        on one end. If you have trouble understanding how this happens, draw
        your reverse loop on paper, including the switch, so that it starts
        and ends with a single pair of rails. Label each rail with a plus
        for positive and a minus for negative. Now trace one of the rails
        around the loop, and you'll find that as you complete the loop, the
        plus becomes the negative, and vice versa. That'll do it.

        You didn't mention what gauge speaker wire you're using, but I doubt
        that would cause the problems you're describing. If it's too small,
        you'll see a voltage drop at the points farthest from the feeder.
        Most layouts have feeder wires soldered to the rails every few feet;
        if you're trying to power 70 feet with one feeder track you'll have
        other problems down the road, especially as your track gets dirty,
        but this certainly sounds like a short circuit to me.

        Tom


        >After several weeks of redesigning and planning on my layout, I
        >finally finished a full mock up of what the main part of the layout.
        >In order to operate my trains during the construction phase, I
        >install two turn-around loops with remote turnouts. I wanted to try
        >it out to see how everything was working including the loops,
        >tunnels, bridges and turnouts. I hooked up my power pack to the
        >feeder track, placed one of my GP9's on the main line, and turned on
        >the juice. All I got was very slow movement out of the engine at
        >full throttle. "That can't be right." I said. "Somethings wrong
        >somewhere." So I removed that engine and put on the GP35. Same
        >thing, very slow movement at full throttle.
        >I have to confess that I know very little about electricity and how
        >if flows and my son who is the master electrician is away for a
        >month.
        >I thought that maybe the problem was the power pack so I switched to
        >the other and it was the same thing. I then wondered if maybe there
        >was a lose connection on either the pack or the feeder track.
        >Everything seems to be in order. So why am I only getting a trickle
        >of power to the track? I employe my volt meter and put the probes to
        >the back of the packs and each one shows an appropriate amount of
        >power output for the position of the throttle, 10v being at the top
        >end as indicated for z scale performance. I also wondered if it was
        >the wire I was using from the pack to the feeder. So I disconnected
        >it and took the pack and the wire and connected them to the feeder
        >track on my finished module. I plugged it in, gave it the juice and
        >it powered all my engines around the 4 by 2 mod with no effort at
        >all. So what is going on here?
        >I reconnected my larger power pack to my layout feeder and as I
        >applied the juice, I put the probes from the meter on the
        >connections of the feeder where the wire joins. There's no power
        >getting through, or at least barely enough to move the meter needle.
        >I examined the wire and I can find no evidence of breaks and there
        >is nothing touching to cause a short circuit. Keep in mind that I am
        >getting very slow movement out of any given engine but it is only
        >for about 5 feet in either direction. After that it quits. I'm
        >beginning to wonder if the speaker wire I'm using to feed my track
        >from the power pack is adequte. It seemed to work fine on the small
        >mod.
        >Can anyone give me an idea as to what is going on here?
        >Some questions that may help define the problem.
        >1. Is speaker wire alright to use in this application?
        >2. Am I trying to power too much track with one power pack? I have
        >approximately 70 feet of track with two reverse loops, 3 sidings or
        >passing tracks, and 8 remote turnouts that are at this time are
        >unpowered.
        >3. Could the feeder track be defective? It's the same one I've had
        >since I bought my starter set in September last year but it hasn't
        >been used in almost 5 months.
        >4. I have examined every inch of track and I can't find a break
        >anywhere. Is it possible that there is a short occuring somewhere
        >and I can't find it?
        >5. Why do I get 8 to 10v of power at the back of the power pack at
        >full throttle, yet nothing or very little at the feeder track?
        >One final thing. I noticed that on my Tech 220, when I increase
        >power to the track, the pilot light dims. It's bright at 0 output,
        >but as I increase the throttle, it dims to almost out. I don't have
        >a pilot light on the MRC 1300 but I suspect it would do the same
        >thing. It doesn't do this when connected to my small module.
        >Any ideas? I need to get this phase up and running to conduct more
        >experiments before beginning construction.
        >Thanks
        >Matt
      • MG
        I also suspect that, as Tom said, you have a short due to not having isolators on the loops. In the files section of our site
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 2, 2009
          I also suspect that, as Tom said, you have a short due to not having
          isolators on the loops. In the files section of our site
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/z_scale/files/ you will find a PDF
          file titled Loops.pdf that I did years ago with pictures and
          descriptions of how to set up the feed and isolators on a loop using
          Marklin track and turnouts or indeed any turnouts where the frog and
          rails are not switched by the turnout itself. The PDF includes the
          use of catenary if desired but that can be ignored if you have no
          catenary. It is just an extra connection between the transformer and
          the catenary and doesn't affect the workings of the loop itself.

          You will need a DPDT switch either hand operated or solenoid type to
          make a loop work but the same switch will do the job for both loops
          or indeed for however many loops you want to put off the main line.
          This also allows the use of only one loco on the set at a time. If
          you want to run more then one loco at a time then you also have to do
          block control and things get more complicated rapidly.

          If you enjoy doing switching operations then Garth also has a file in
          the files section named Live-overhead that uses a double loop and
          requires uncoupling and recoupling the loco to the train but seems to
          require power routing turnouts. I never did try to figure that one
          out completely as that was a bit more work then I wanted to do just
          to run a train through a loop. I do like to do switching operations
          in the yard when I feel like it. Most of the time I just like to
          watch the trains run around. :-)


          Manfred




          Thomas P. Scheuzger wrote:
          > Sounds like you have a short somewhere. The dimming pilot light is a
          > strong indicator of this. Since you have a multimeter, try this:
          >
          > Disconnect the power pack from the track and measure the resistance
          > between the terminals of the feeder track. It should be infinite, or
          > a a very high number of ohms. There is usually a capacitor between
          > the terminals of the feeder track; this might throw off your readings
          > as the battery in the meter charges the capacitor. If your feeder
          > track has a capacitor, you might want to remove the feeder track from
          > the layout and test the resistance between the rails directly.
          >
          > You mentioned a couple reverse loops - how did you wire them? I
          > assume you used insulated joiners at one end of each loop, otherwise
          > you'll get a short circuit. If you didn't use insulated joiners on
          > one leg, I'll bet your problem goes away if you disconnect the loops
          > on one end. If you have trouble understanding how this happens, draw
          > your reverse loop on paper, including the switch, so that it starts
          > and ends with a single pair of rails. Label each rail with a plus
          > for positive and a minus for negative. Now trace one of the rails
          > around the loop, and you'll find that as you complete the loop, the
          > plus becomes the negative, and vice versa. That'll do it.
          >
          > You didn't mention what gauge speaker wire you're using, but I doubt
          > that would cause the problems you're describing. If it's too small,
          > you'll see a voltage drop at the points farthest from the feeder.
          > Most layouts have feeder wires soldered to the rails every few feet;
          > if you're trying to power 70 feet with one feeder track you'll have
          > other problems down the road, especially as your track gets dirty,
          > but this certainly sounds like a short circuit to me.
          >
          > Tom
          >
          >
          >
          >>After several weeks of redesigning and planning on my layout, I
          >>finally finished a full mock up of what the main part of the layout.
          >>In order to operate my trains during the construction phase, I
          >>install two turn-around loops with remote turnouts. I wanted to try
          >>it out to see how everything was working including the loops,
          >>tunnels, bridges and turnouts. I hooked up my power pack to the
          >>feeder track, placed one of my GP9's on the main line, and turned on
          >>the juice. All I got was very slow movement out of the engine at
          >>full throttle. "That can't be right." I said. "Somethings wrong
          >>somewhere." So I removed that engine and put on the GP35. Same
          >>thing, very slow movement at full throttle.
          >>I have to confess that I know very little about electricity and how
          >>if flows and my son who is the master electrician is away for a
          >>month.
          >>I thought that maybe the problem was the power pack so I switched to
          >>the other and it was the same thing. I then wondered if maybe there
          >>was a lose connection on either the pack or the feeder track.
          >>Everything seems to be in order. So why am I only getting a trickle
          >>of power to the track? I employe my volt meter and put the probes to
          >>the back of the packs and each one shows an appropriate amount of
          >>power output for the position of the throttle, 10v being at the top
          >>end as indicated for z scale performance. I also wondered if it was
          >>the wire I was using from the pack to the feeder. So I disconnected
          >>it and took the pack and the wire and connected them to the feeder
          >>track on my finished module. I plugged it in, gave it the juice and
          >>it powered all my engines around the 4 by 2 mod with no effort at
          >>all. So what is going on here?
          >>I reconnected my larger power pack to my layout feeder and as I
          >>applied the juice, I put the probes from the meter on the
          >>connections of the feeder where the wire joins. There's no power
          >>getting through, or at least barely enough to move the meter needle.
          >>I examined the wire and I can find no evidence of breaks and there
          >>is nothing touching to cause a short circuit. Keep in mind that I am
          >>getting very slow movement out of any given engine but it is only
          >>for about 5 feet in either direction. After that it quits. I'm
          >>beginning to wonder if the speaker wire I'm using to feed my track
          >
          >>from the power pack is adequte. It seemed to work fine on the small
          >
          >>mod.
          >>Can anyone give me an idea as to what is going on here?
          >>Some questions that may help define the problem.
          >>1. Is speaker wire alright to use in this application?
          >>2. Am I trying to power too much track with one power pack? I have
          >>approximately 70 feet of track with two reverse loops, 3 sidings or
          >>passing tracks, and 8 remote turnouts that are at this time are
          >>unpowered.
          >>3. Could the feeder track be defective? It's the same one I've had
          >>since I bought my starter set in September last year but it hasn't
          >>been used in almost 5 months.
          >>4. I have examined every inch of track and I can't find a break
          >>anywhere. Is it possible that there is a short occuring somewhere
          >>and I can't find it?
          >>5. Why do I get 8 to 10v of power at the back of the power pack at
          >>full throttle, yet nothing or very little at the feeder track?
          >>One final thing. I noticed that on my Tech 220, when I increase
          >>power to the track, the pilot light dims. It's bright at 0 output,
          >>but as I increase the throttle, it dims to almost out. I don't have
          >>a pilot light on the MRC 1300 but I suspect it would do the same
          >>thing. It doesn't do this when connected to my small module.
          >>Any ideas? I need to get this phase up and running to conduct more
          >>experiments before beginning construction.
          >>Thanks
          >>Matt
          >
          >
          >
          > ------------------------------------
          >
          > Z-scale: minimum siZe, MAXIMUM enjoyment!
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • Matthew Parker
          I did touch the probes to the terminals of the feeder track, but there was no needle movement. I then put the probes directly on the track and still nothing.
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 2, 2009
            I did touch the probes to the terminals of the feeder track, but there was no needle movement. I then put the probes directly on the track and still nothing. Both loops are connected to the same power source as the rest of the layout off of one turnout at each end. They are not islolated or insulated. Neither are any of my three passing tracks.

            At this stage, I won't be doing any switching in the strictest sense. Some consists of cars will be left on passing tracks without engines just for a place to put them and to switch loads for testing purposes. If you're refering to a yard of sorts, not yet. I'm also going to be running one engine or consist of engines on this part of my layout at any given time.

            I'm using MTL turnouts exclusively simply because I can't get Marklin turnouts here accept by mailorder.



            To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
            From: AFN47583@...
            Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 07:03:48 -0400
            Subject: Re: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?







            I also suspect that, as Tom said, you have a short due to not having
            isolators on the loops. In the files section of our site
            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/z_scale/files/ you will find a PDF
            file titled Loops.pdf that I did years ago with pictures and
            descriptions of how to set up the feed and isolators on a loop using
            Marklin track and turnouts or indeed any turnouts where the frog and
            rails are not switched by the turnout itself. The PDF includes the
            use of catenary if desired but that can be ignored if you have no
            catenary. It is just an extra connection between the transformer and
            the catenary and doesn't affect the workings of the loop itself.

            You will need a DPDT switch either hand operated or solenoid type to
            make a loop work but the same switch will do the job for both loops
            or indeed for however many loops you want to put off the main line.
            This also allows the use of only one loco on the set at a time. If
            you want to run more then one loco at a time then you also have to do
            block control and things get more complicated rapidly.

            If you enjoy doing switching operations then Garth also has a file in
            the files section named Live-overhead that uses a double loop and
            requires uncoupling and recoupling the loco to the train but seems to
            require power routing turnouts. I never did try to figure that one
            out completely as that was a bit more work then I wanted to do just
            to run a train through a loop. I do like to do switching operations
            in the yard when I feel like it. Most of the time I just like to
            watch the trains run around. :-)

            Manfred
          • Matthew Parker
            I ve been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power as the rest of
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 2, 2009
              I've been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power as the rest of the layout and it does make sense that I'm trying to feed the power back into itself through the turnouts. They are not insulated or isolated in any way. As for the speaker wire, I have no idea what gauge it is, my son gave it too me months ago and said it would be perfect for my layout. Maybe I should get different wire?
            • Loren
              Matthew, If your speaker wire is the clear sheathed kind you might find at Radio Shack or some electronics store, then your speaker wire is good enough to
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 2, 2009
                Matthew,
                If your speaker wire is the clear sheathed kind you might find at Radio
                Shack or some electronics store, then your speaker wire is good enough to
                power anything you may have in Z scale.

                Loren

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Matthew Parker" <echo31a@...>
                To: <z_scale@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 7:18 AM
                Subject: RE: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?


                > I've been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the
                > problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power
                > as the rest of the layout and it does make sense that I'm trying to feed
                > the power back into itself through the turnouts. They are not insulated or
                > isolated in any way. As for the speaker wire, I have no idea what gauge it
                > is, my son gave it too me months ago and said it would be perfect for my
                > layout. Maybe I should get different wire?
              • de Champeaux Dominique
                ... So if I ve properly understood that s it: without any isolation the (+) rail comes back on the (-) stockrail, thus the short. In my opinion you should cut
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 3, 2009
                  >I've been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the >problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power >as the rest of the layout and it does make sense that I'm trying to feed >the power back into itself through the turnouts. They are not insulated >or isolated in any way.

                  So if I've properly understood that's it: without any isolation the (+) rail comes back on the (-) stockrail, thus the short. In my opinion you should cut a gap on each rail leaving the turnout, straight and curve (thus 4 gaps as a total), and feed the loop with an inverter that allows to change polarity when the train comes back to the turnout.

                  Dom
                • Edward Scullin
                  MattThe wire is not the problem.  The reversing loops must be isolated.  I  do not know where the actual placement of the isolating gaps should be. There
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jul 3, 2009
                    MattThe wire is not the problem.  The reversing loops must be isolated.  I  do not know where the actual placement of the isolating gaps should be. There others here that can help you.Ed ScullinRoanoke VA

                    --- On Thu, 7/2/09, Matthew Parker <echo31a@...> wrote:

                    From: Matthew Parker <echo31a@...>
                    Subject: RE: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?
                    To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
                    Date: Thursday, July 2, 2009, 7:18 AM
























                    I've been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power as the rest of the layout and it does make sense that I'm trying to feed the power back into itself through the turnouts. They are not insulated or isolated in any way. As for the speaker wire, I have no idea what gauge it is, my son gave it too me months ago and said it would be perfect for my layout. Maybe I should get different wire?

































                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Matthew Parker
                    Yes thanks Ed. I solved the problem of my loops by disconnection one section of track in each loops. My engines now run at the speeds they were intended to.
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jul 3, 2009
                      Yes thanks Ed. I solved the problem of my loops by disconnection one section of track in each loops. My engines now run at the speeds they were intended to. Now all I have to so is insulate and attache wire and controller boxes for each hoop to transfer power.



                      To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
                      From: sculline@...
                      Date: Fri, 3 Jul 2009 07:26:43 -0700
                      Subject: RE: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?







                      MattThe wire is not the problem. The reversing loops must be isolated. I do not know where the actual placement of the isolating gaps should be. There others here that can help you.Ed ScullinRoanoke VA

                      --- On Thu, 7/2/09, Matthew Parker <echo31a@...> wrote:

                      From: Matthew Parker <echo31a@...>
                      Subject: RE: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?
                      To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
                      Date: Thursday, July 2, 2009, 7:18 AM

                      I've been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power as the rest of the layout and it does make sense that I'm trying to feed the power back into itself through the turnouts. They are not insulated or isolated in any way. As for the speaker wire, I have no idea what gauge it is, my son gave it too me months ago and said it would be perfect for my layout. Maybe I should get different wire?















                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]









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                    • Matthew Parker
                      Yes you ve got it. I was thinking along the same lines so I went out today and purchased a twin contol box for loops and it gives complete instalation
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jul 3, 2009
                        Yes you've got it. I was thinking along the same lines so I went out today and purchased a twin contol box for loops and it gives complete instalation instructions on the back, but instead of cutting gaps in the rails is show using insulated joiners. But I can get them here. So I guess cutting the gaps will work the same way as the joiners. I just have to follow the directions on the back of the package. That reminds me, I have to pick up some more wire.



                        To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
                        From: ddechamp71@...
                        Date: Fri, 3 Jul 2009 13:53:36 +0000
                        Subject: RE: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?








                        >I've been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the >problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power >as the rest of the layout and it does make sense that I'm trying to feed >the power back into itself through the turnouts. They are not insulated >or isolated in any way.

                        So if I've properly understood that's it: without any isolation the (+) rail comes back on the (-) stockrail, thus the short. In my opinion you should cut a gap on each rail leaving the turnout, straight and curve (thus 4 gaps as a total), and feed the loop with an inverter that allows to change polarity when the train comes back to the turnout.

                        Dom









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                      • Matthew Parker
                        Thankyou Loren for that. I was so hoping that my son was right about speaker wire being all that I needed herre. Yes it is the clear sheathed stuff. To:
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jul 3, 2009
                          Thankyou Loren for that. I was so hoping that my son was right about speaker wire being all that I needed herre. Yes it is the clear sheathed stuff.



                          To: z_scale@yahoogroups.com
                          From: ljsnyder@...
                          Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 21:54:37 -0700
                          Subject: Re: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?







                          Matthew,
                          If your speaker wire is the clear sheathed kind you might find at Radio
                          Shack or some electronics store, then your speaker wire is good enough to
                          power anything you may have in Z scale.

                          Loren

                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: "Matthew Parker" <echo31a@...>
                          To: <z_scale@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 7:18 AM
                          Subject: RE: [Z_Scale] What happened to the power?

                          > I've been reading other responses to this and I am thinking that the
                          > problem could in fact be at my loops. They are running off the same power
                          > as the rest of the layout and it does make sense that I'm trying to feed
                          > the power back into itself through the turnouts. They are not insulated or
                          > isolated in any way. As for the speaker wire, I have no idea what gauge it
                          > is, my son gave it too me months ago and said it would be perfect for my
                          > layout. Maybe I should get different wire?









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