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For Christmas we bought my 5 year old son a lionchief Union Pacific flyer set.  We also purchased additional new track and some used track from eBay.

for the first few days the train operates fine. Roughly a week in we started having issues with the locomotive not getting power. The red light would still be on on the connection track but the light/sound would be off on the locomotive and unresponsive to the remote or lion chief app.  A slight nudge would seem to get the locomotive working.  I cleaned the track assuming that possibly the used track was the culprit. I also cleaned the rolling contacts on the locomotive.  This worked for a day or two and the issue came back.  Nudging then locomotive may get it to move a few inches, a few feet. Or maybe remedy the problem for a short period.

we fell into a routine of cleaning the track twice weekly. Something I’ve never had to deal with in nearly 30 years of running HO, on30 and N scale trains.

we also followed a tutorial from lionel and slightly bending the middle Rail connectors on the fast track as this issue seemed to happen 90% of the time of straight tracks.

fast forward to two weeks ago and the locomotive lost all sound. My wife contacted lionel who said we could Either send them the locomotive and expect it to be gone for 4-6 weeks, take it to a local hobby shop that does repair work but is over an hour away.  My wife ended up contacting amazon and they offered to replace the set.  So we received a new set and sent off the old one.


One week later we’re back at square one. With a new locomotive. Some new track. New power pack we’re having the exact same issues.  


Anyone have any suggestions on what route to take? What could be going wrong?  Is it a track issue? Quality control?  My son has loved the train and when it’s running properly he runs it approximately 20 hours a week.  O scale has been the perfect fit for him but kinda turning me off to the scale or lionel in particular  

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@SteveH posted:

This thread may also provide some help:  https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...1#154307983810467831

What would I need to add more power since I don’t have a traditional transformer that I could simply add more feeder wires to?

This is the power supply that came with it.

also I’ll experience the complete loss of power regularly on the section of track connected to power supply or adjacent sections. More regularly than on the opposite end of his “layout”

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Do you have a digital volt meter (DVM) with which you can check the voltage around the track at various points to see if it's getting power all around the track ? They are available for under $10 for an inexpensive one. I'd suggest that to start because it sounds like a connectivity issue. The center rail is positive and both outside rails are negative. You'd be looking for DC volts.

You could also try just putting three straight track connections together with the terminal straight in the middle and putting the engine and tender on it and connect the power. If everything operates correctly on that short section, that should tell you if the engine is working properly.

The DC wall power pack that came with the set (they make various ones up to 72 watts, but I don't know which one came with your particular set) should supply enough overall power to run your layout, but depending on what the DVM shows, you may need to add an additional power connection(s) to the track.

Unfortunately, it's not real easy to add another connection point with a barrel connector. You could get a barrel splitter and add a second terminal track section on the opposite straight to connect to. You could also cut the connector off and split the wires so that you have two positive wires and two negative wires and then connect them to the underside of the track about 180 degrees apart using special  connectors, but I don't know how handy you are.

I'd do the testing first and, if it shows low voltage areas, try shuffling and re-connecting track pieces and tightening up the connections as per the video and report back.

Last edited by Richie C.
@Richie C. posted:

Do you have a digital volt meter (DVM) with which you can check the voltage around the track at various points to see if it's getting power all around the track ? They are available for under $10 for an inexpensive one. I'd suggest that to start because it sounds like a connectivity issue. The center rail is positive and both outside rails are negative. You'd be looking for DC volts.

You could also try just putting three straight track connections together with the terminal straight in the middle and putting the engine and tender on it and connect the power. If everything operates correctly on that short section, that should tell you if the engine is working properly.

The DC wall power pack that came with the set (they make various ones up to 72 watts, but I don't know which one came with your particular set) should supply enough overall power to run your layout, but depending on what the DVM shows, you may need to add an additional power connection(s) to the track.

Unfortunately, it's not real easy to add another connection point with a barrel connector. You could get a barrel splitter and add a second terminal track section on the opposite straight to connect to. You could also cut the connector off and split the wires so that you have two positive wires and two negative wires and then connect them to the underside of the track about 180 degrees apart using special  connectors, but I don't know how handy you are.

I'd do the testing first and, if it shows low voltage areas, try shuffling and re-connecting track pieces and tightening up the connections as per the video and report back.

Thanks!  Sounds like it’s time to get a voltmeter and go from there.

Yes it is very likely a connectivity issue.  Another possibility besides the track pins is the barrel connector could possibly be making intermittent contact.  But if not, and you want to add more power drops and/or if you don't want to cut the barrel connector off the transformer you could try jumpering from the terminal track section to other sections using spade connectors like this:

LionChief Power Jumpers

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  • LionChief Power Jumpers

That is an alternative, but you have to make sure that the track section you are connecting from is receiving full power, otherwise you are just transferring low/bad/inconsistent power from one section to another. Since it is the terminal section, chances are it is getting full power unless the barrel connection is loose, so that's a viable alternative.

These are the .110 female connectors that connect to the tabs underneath the Fastrack and are available on the internet from many sources. Get some 16-20 gauge stranded copper wire (you can use stranded pairs or separate red/black); cut one or two lengths (depending on whether you got stranded or separate wire) to the proper length to reach from the terminal section to a straight section about 180 degrees across; strip the wire ends about 3/16"; insert each end into the connectors and squeeze down with pliers; connect to the tabs on the terminal section and then connect to the tabs on the other section making sure you observe correct polarity, i.e., pos to pos and neg to neg. You may need to slightly pry the tabs away from the plastic with a small flat-bladed screwdriver in order to get the connectors to slide over them smoothly, but don't overdo it or you'll snap the tab off.

One other tip I like with Fastrack is to use simple 3/4" wide black binder clips on the underside of the track sections at each end to connect each section to the next. It helps keep the connections tight and prevents the sections from loosening up over time.

FASTRACK .110 FEMALE CONNECTOR

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  • FASTRACK .110 FEMALE CONNECTOR

Richie, thank you for the thorough explanation.  I agree with what you're recommending and would add a few more things:

The spade connectors with the red sleeve are a better fit for smaller (16-20) gauge wire.  In addition to online, they can also be found at auto parts, home improvement, and hardware stores.

Crimping them with pliers sometimes works, but in my experience crimpers make a better connection, matching the connector sleeve color to the corresponding color of the concave notches in the crimper jaws.  An assortment of connectors and inexpensive crimpers are often sold in Kits.

18 gauge stranded speaker wire is typically more cost effective and would be sufficient for a small layout only running one locomotive and a few lighted passenger cars.

Another tip is after you strip insulation from the wire end, give the strands a little twist, about 180 degrees or so without expanding the diameter, before you attach the spade connector and it will give the connector a better grip on the wire.

I appreciate the info and I apologize if the following questions sound dumb or like I’m trying to ignore the advice or take shortcuts.  

keep in mind that right now the track (I think 26 pieces) is set up on the floor of his room.  We need the ability to quickly set up or take apart the track to clean. Had hope of adding a switch or two, or crossings in the future.  The above suggestions seem like solutions if the layout is permanent correct?  

the power pack provided with the Union Pacific flyer is 36 watts and from reading other threads I see that lionel offers a 72 watt power pack. Would that be a better option if we want to continue operating on that many pieces or track, or should we downsize some?

I can’t help but feel a bit frustrated overall that lionel advertises this as a plug and play train but these solutions are bordering into the “build a layout” category. Which we simply don’t have the room to do currently.  

No apologies necessary and these items are not just for permanent layouts - they are equally beneficial on temporary layouts, as well, even if you add some switches or crossovers. In fact, they may be more important once those things are added.

Track cleaning can be accomplished with the track and layout in place - there should not be any need to take the track apart to clean it. You'll get dozens of opinions, but my go to is some 91% isopropyl alcohol from your local pharmacy and a clean rag and wipe the rails down firmly and also check the engine wheels, too. You shouldn't need to do this more than once a month, at most.

36 Watts is not a lot but, with 26 sections, you only have about 22 feet of track and it should work since you have no other power draws except the engine. If you wanted to step up, I would go with a basic AC transformer and not waste my money on the 72 watt DC wall wart. The AC will not only give you more than enough overall power for when you expand, but also have terminals to which you can attach accessories, like buildings, lights, structures, etc. Lionel is coming out with a new and improved CW-80 transformer later this spring and it should be a good match. A current MTH Z-1000 would also be a good choice.

Unless it turns out to be the engine (which I sincerely doubt, especially since you have gone through two of them) I consider track connectivity and adding more power drops to be a universal model train issue, no matter how starter sets are advertised, and not limited to Lionel; although their Fastrack can have specific issues as depicted in the instructional video. 

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