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I have  Fastrack Switch, about 5 years old, that will seemingly automatically switch from where it is set to the opposite.  Any idea why??

(and this happens w/o any cars or locos on it, so it is not the non-derailing function, unless that has become shortened somehow.  And what can I do to solve the problem (other than remove and replace- its fully installed and I don't want to disrupt it !!)

Last edited by Mike Wyatt
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When I was using Fastrack, I had a couple of them over the years that did that.  I traced it down to bad connections inside the switch, the crimp connections that Lionel uses are crap and they tend to develop poor connections over the years.  I had taken most of my Fastrack switches and soldered all the crimp connections inside the switch that were wired to anything or were depended on to carry track power through the switch.

I have experienced this and a couple of things can cause it. Especially on a well used installed switch that may not have had the "bulletproofing" modifications applied to it when it was installed.

#1 is that the raised terminals where the wires are soldered can press up into and short to the bottom metal cover. The fix is simple- slide some form of insulator between where those contacts are (cardboard or plastic thin sheet). Also be careful when mounting the switch to the table, if you tighten it down, that can press the metal back into the innards of the switch.

According to this previous post by you, I now think you are referring to fastrack switches

I personally use Fastrack switches myself on both my home and at the club layout. I have a love hate relationship with them. When they work, it's one of the best and smoothest running switches. When they don't work- and looks like you had your share of the known issues, it can be hair pulling.

I've seen 2 specific causes for what you might be experiencing.

One is that due to the metal cover over the bottom of the switch, the contacts internally inside the switch under that metal cover have nothing but an air gap between them and that metal cover. Sometimes from the factory those contacts and the associated wires are bent up and so when heavier weight or the switch is screwed down to the table presses the switch against that metal backing, contacts can and do short out. The fix was to then put some form of insulator between the metal cover and that line of contacts.

The second one and one I'm fighting at the club on one switch, is that because fastrack connection pins are not perfect and loosen over time and usage, I think I have an ground loss situation again, from flexing and weight of certain heavy trains (our table has foam base and cork roadbed) so there is tiny flex. The problem is, then Lionel Fastrack switches do have power and ground contacts in the terminals, however, factory they are connected inside by the thinnest possible PCV coated wire. So if you connect that to solve your problem and a derailment happens and burns that wire up, it releases HCI which corrodes everything in it's path. What I'm saying is, you can connect a wire to the terminal, however, knowing that the wire is very thin inside, ideally you either replace with heavier wire internally or provide a fuse, PTC, or some other safety current device in the path to prevent the damage if a short ever happens.

Burned up yellow wire from a miswiring incident.

Resulting damage to the metal plating from the gas released when the wire burned. This will quickly turn into a nasty rust spot. The picture doesn't do justice to what this looks like in real life.

#2  The second one is ensuring that all the connection tabs between the internal plates to the tabs of the track are soldered rather than relying on the folded metal tab connection alone. This could cause stray currents and intermittent connections that could also cause spurious switching. The below pictures do not cover all the points that need done- just pointing out how extensive this is and how many possible faults there could be. You may have to lift the screw wiring terminal sections, move the wiring harness to see them all and not skip any of those folded connection points.


Images (2)
  • mceclip0
  • mceclip1

After doing what I thought was everything, short of removing the switch, I tried squeezing the connection (side to side with a large flat-nosed plier), where the adjoining sections of track met the switch.   Voila!!  Problem solved!!! Thanks for all the input, I have saved it in the event of other problems should they appear.

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