I have a two level Fastrack layout with drop downs approx. 6-8 feet apart. Two tracks on the upper level have a dead spot. I mean completely dead with switches in this section that stop working. There are three 0-72 turnouts. Trains on either track come to a dead stop before the switches. The length of the dead area is about six feet. The Z4000 does not show a short anywhere, but it does show a 5-8 volt leak. I've gone over the tracks with a magnet looking for screws, nails, anything metal that would cause this. I've checked the wiring. It all appears solid. Could it be one of the Fastrack switches, and if so, how can I tell which one? It's beginning to look like I'll have to dig up all the landscaping!
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You can try a test load at various points along this section of track. Something like a car headlight bulb with alligator clip leads attached. Set the track voltage at about 12 vac and test away. If you find a suspect area say along the center rail, then measure the voltage drop across it with a dvmm to narrow it down. The center rail is the most likely suspect.
It's actually surprisingly common for the internal crimps in Fastrack switches to develop high resistance. Why Lionel insists on depending on bent metal to conduct amps of electricity through the switches is a constant source of amazement to me!
My first mission in this kind of situation is to remove the back of the Fastrack switch and solder all the crimped joints that carry any kind of current of signal to the switch. Here's my thread on what I did to the switches.
Thanks, gunrunnerjohn All of the switches are wired to an AIU. I'm going to tackle one of the switches and see if that helps.
Rod, I'll try that, too. Thank you for the help.
Thanks everyone for the help. Rich and Rob nailed it. The Fastrack center rail had no power. I soldered the middle rails and viola! Power! Now I'm going to drill a small hole through the plastic roadbed to add a drop down. I'm extremely happy that I used the OGR Forum for an answer to my problem.