American Models S Scale Amtrak Passenget Car Lighting

I thought I would share what I did this week to eliminate flickering in the AM Amtrak set I picked up last year at a bargain price. The set seems to have had very little run time, so it's in great shape, but every one of the 4 cars flickered constantly.  I couldn't figure out the cause after trying the easy fixes....cleaning wheels, ensuring pick up wires were making contact, etc.  So I decided to try replacing the light board with the lighting regulators from Hennings which include a capacitor...

http://hennings-trains.shoplig...regulator-2-pcs.html

and an LED light strip...

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0...2Fitm%2F401224166798

Unfortunately, it still flickered! So I turned my focus to the trucks, wheels and pickup wires again. Then I cracked the problem.

On these cars the current passes from the pickup wires through the truck screws.

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However, the pickup wires are loosely coiled around the screws, so the screws need to be in pretty tight to make contact consistently. But when you screw it in tight enough to compress the pickup wire coil and thus achieve constant contact, this presses the top of the truck against the flat bolster

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Therefore, the truck becomes rigid and loses the ability to "wobble."  As a result its wheels cannot stay in contact when starting up a grade or going through curves. 

My solution: Don't use the screw to carry current. This allows you to back the truck screw out which gives the truck enough degrees of freedom for the wheels to stay in contact with the rails. For power to the light regulator, I drilled holes in the floor and through the truck so I could feed a superflex wire through both holes and solder it to the pickup wires.

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The result....no flicker at all. Hooray.

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Original Post

Chuck,

Thanks for sharing that with us.  Excellent post and solution.  Great craftsmanship too.  

Does the wire through the floor hamper rotation of the truck in either direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise)?  Is the hole in the floor the same diameter as the hole in the truck or larger?

This reminds me of the "Tiger Tails" we used to add to our Aurora slot cars.  They have spring activated arms underneath that touch rails in the road and then mechanically connect to a metal substrate on the bottom of their plastic chassis.  It works, but cars run just that little bit extra fast when a small bit of flexible wire is soldered between the contact arm and that substrate.  Fact is most AF engines will also perform a wee bit better or more when a wire is similarly soldered to the pick-up shoe box on their side-frames and soldered to the top of their yoke post which connects to the wire running to the reverse unit, or run it directly there.  That added wire makes removing side-frames a bit less convenient in that they don't completely separate from the engine, but you'll notice many L/AF engines already have such wires to help ensure positive rail pick-up and reduce/eliminate resistance created through an otherwise completely mechanical connection.  So the next time you plan to win a train race...

I saw your posts on the Electrical forum on this topic.  This fix may have stabilized the original lighting, but hope you like the LED upgrade that you ended up with in the process.  

Keep up the good work and info.  

Dave

David Horn

Precision Flyer Repairs

Specializing in S-gauge train repairs, upgrades, and DCC conversions

Member NASG, TCA, BAAFC, and founding member ACSG Old Dominion Division 

 

Sgaugian posted:

Does the wire through the floor hamper rotation of the truck in either direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise)?  Is the hole in the floor the same diameter as the hole in the truck or larger?

Thanks Dave. No problems with truck rotation. Superflex wire is the key. Over time I may need to re-solder these connections given the movement they are subject to with each turn.

Yes, it's the same diameter hole, 7/64" which gave me plenty of room to feed the wire through yet it did not create any visible bleed through of light shining down on the track.

Sgaugian posted:

I saw your posts on the Electrical forum on this topic.  This fix may have stabilized the original lighting, but hope you like the LED upgrade that you ended up with in the process. 

Dumb question, why in the world wouldn't he like the LED lighting?

Rusty Traque posted:

Chuck, I hope you had an easier time getting the roofs off than I did, what a pain in the posterior...

It is a pain for sure.  Once I had one off, I even tried filing off the nubs that click the roof piece into the floor of the chassis.  Didn't help much.  Still a pain to pull off, and any type of prying with a screwdriver will damage the plastic.   

Chuck,

SuperFlex is the way to go.  Use it all the time.  Did you use 22 AWG in this case or 24?  Thanks.

Dave

David Horn

Precision Flyer Repairs

Specializing in S-gauge train repairs, upgrades, and DCC conversions

Member NASG, TCA, BAAFC, and founding member ACSG Old Dominion Division 

 

Gunrunnerjohn,

It wasn't a question.  It was a statement.  As in "I hope you get well soon", doesn't mean "Will you get well soon?"    

Dave

David Horn

Precision Flyer Repairs

Specializing in S-gauge train repairs, upgrades, and DCC conversions

Member NASG, TCA, BAAFC, and founding member ACSG Old Dominion Division 

 

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Sgaugian


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