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I am running a Fastrack oval on the floor under the Christmas tree. In the oval I have a plug and play section with activation sections at each end. The Polar Express gateman is connected to the plug and play section. The conductor pops out each time the train runs through the first activator and slowly goes back in when the train leaves the second activator.

The problem is that the train slows way down going through this section. It happens with The Polar Express train, the new Hogwarts train, the PW 736 hauling anything, and a Williams Milwaukee Road switcher. I checked voltage around the oval with no trains running and the voltage is consistent.

Then I disconnected the gatehouse!!! Lo and behold, the trains maintained speed through that section and everywhere else.

I'd sure like to continue using my gateman. Any ideas from the group on why this is happening and if there might be a fix for it?



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This is not a malfunction, rather it is expected behavior. The gateman adds substantial additional load to your transformer/ track circuit. Since current (amperage) is proportional to voltage, available voltage is reduced as amp load increases (for a given voltage output) and the train slows down.
If this were a 145 wired traditionally, the easiest fix (beyond simply raising the voltage as needed) would be to put the gateman on a separate circuit utilizing either a common ground insulated rail or an isolated contactor like the 145C or newer 153IR. This would separate the track circuit from the gateman load. I am not familiar enough with the newer PnP system to know if any iteration of this wiring scheme is possible.

Last edited by Überstationmeister

Voltage drop and reduced current flow to the intended loads can also be caused by loose fitting track pins which increase the resistance of the track.  When more current is drawn by the locomotive and the gateman, the effect of this increased resistance becomes more noticeable.

If the transformer in use is already sufficient (~72 to 80 Watts), fixing the track connectivity issues would be in order, by adding more track power connections evenly distributed around the layout, wiring the gateman separately, and/or by following these recommendations from Lionel:

Last edited by SteveH

I’m using a PW 275 ZW

Early in the season I checked continuity and followed Lionel instructions for Fastrack connecting.
it sounds like what I feared. Tom Hanks, the conductor, is using up too much of my electricity.
The plug and play accessory doesn’t appear to have other options for wiring it separately like I can do with the non pnp Santa Gateman which works fine on the tubular track oval

i am using a 72w lion chief power supply for a different pnp section of track to supply power for a different accessory that is not track activated

so I may be stuck

thank you


For PNP accessories you can just cut the plug off and use the bare wires to hook it up to another power source.

Also, am I reading the above wrong or do you have both the ZW and the wall wart hooked up to the same loop of track?  I'm not an expert but one in AC and one is DC, I feel like that could cause issues to have both plugged in.

@Trainfamily Based on the information you've provided, this sounds like a classic case of high resistance track joints.  Even though your continuity checks may have indicated otherwise, measuring with a digital multi-meter and no significant electrical load may show good continuity.  When you add load to a high resistance circuit, the voltage drops.  That seems to be what is happening here.  Tightening the track connections and adding more track feeders around the layout are the best ways to remedy this situation.

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