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I’ve been having trouble with Lionel Fastrack sections losing power because of bad track section to track section connections. Because my kids and I are slowly building/evolving our layout I want to be able to disassemble and reassemble the Fastrack sections. I therefor do not want to solder the sections together. I’ve done the recommended cleaning and bending of the middle tabs but power lose regularly happens.

I want to used spade connectors to connect track section to track section. Most Fastrack only has the one male connection for the center and on connection for the outer rail. So you can connect two sections at most using those connection points.

I saw that the small Frastrack sections(photo below) have male connection points that could work if in installed on the end of a regular 10” section. I will have to bend the track tabs up install and the. bend them back down.

The question is where can I get some of those male tabs to install?  (I already have wire and the crimp on female spade connectors to attach to the wire.)F915CCED-B829-4CBD-A832-1E153F89590B

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You might be able to buy the male tabs directly from Lionel Customer service if you call and ask for them.

A couple of other options, try crimping the rails around the fixed end of any loose track pins using pliers to improve conductivity.

Solder a jumper wire long enough to bridge to the next track section onto one of the rail tabs.  Add a 0.110 Faston connector to the other end of the wire and connect to the tab of the next track section.

Last edited by SteveH

GG14449: If you need to daisy-chain the sections, why not connect three wires together using any technique that will fit under the track. Solder and shrink tubing is one option. Or maybe the WAGO connectors for 3 wires would work. I wouldn't buy special track sections just to have the wires exposed. And adding additional male tabs to go with the FASTON female connectors seems fragile and prone to errors.

@rtr12 posted:

Just a thought, but you might take a look at these from Digikey - Piggyback Connectors.  These are 0.110" which I'm thinking is what is on the Fastrack, if memory is correct here.  If not they're also available in other sizes.

Very cool.  Male and Female side by side would allow easy branching.  You are correct, the FasTrack tabs are the 0.110" size.  Another great suggestion!

@GG14449 posted:
Most Fastrack only has the one male connection for the center and on(e) connection for the outer rail. So you can connect two sections at most using those connection points.

If you just drop feeders from both, every 10-12 sections/track joints to a bus, that will put each piece of track just 5-6 connections away from a power connection. I've done some pretty large layouts with just two drops 20-25 pieces apart that work just fine.

Rob if we had finalized the layout design then dropping feeders would be the easiest choice. However, because we are still playing around with track designs that won’t work. I also am hoping to do this for my temporary around the tree layout next year(this years I spent hours trouble shooting the lose in power around the tree).

...am hoping to do this for my temporary around the tree layout next year(this years I spent hours trouble shooting the lose in power around the tree).

Am sorry to say, but this thread seems to highlight some serious shortcomings in FasTrack performance, of which I have not yet experienced in the many layouts I have built going back to at least 2008. It appears that maybe the track is not made as well as it used to be.

Last edited by ADCX Rob
@ADCX Rob posted:

Am sorry to say, but this thread seems to highlight some serious shortcomings in FasTrack performance, of which I have not yet experienced in the many layouts I have built going back to at least 2008. It appears that maybe the track is not made as well as it used to be.

Rob, that is a fair assessment.  Maybe 10-20% of the Fastrack pieces I've bought in the last year, some older stock, have loose fitting track pins.  If I shake a single piece of unconnected track, often the pins will rattle inside the rails.  Tightening the rail with groove joint (Channel-lock) pliers around the secured end of the pins does improve conductivity.  This is why I also advocate for track feeders hot and common every 6-8 track pieces minimum.

@SteveH posted:

  This is why I also advocate for track feeders hot and common every 6-8 track pieces minimum.

Wouldn't jumpers between each section mitigate the joint problem more effectively?

Like this:  Short jumpers between every ten sections and then longer ones at the junction of the next ten.  Mark the top of the roadbed at the tenth one so you know where to separate it if you have to remove the track.

John

Last edited by Craftech

Rob, all my Fastrack was purchased used so I expected there to be some issues but I also paid much less than retail for a large amount of track. As you know this can be an expensive hobby and many like me get entry into O gauge through the used market(I shudder at the thought of my young kids breaking a new $1000 locomotive while playing with the layout so getting $100 locomotives seems like a safer choice). Generally this has saved me a lot of money but also meant I have had to do extra work to get everything to work(so far I’ve only been really burned with a used purchased through Stout Auctions). That also means I’m learning a lot in the process which is nice. This forum and the helpful members have been key to any success I’ve had troubleshooting or repairing items.

I would hope than when purchasing new Fastrack you wouldn’t have these problems out of the box. I think that repeatedly disconnecting and connecting the sections loosens things up over time  and that is how these electrical connection problems get created.

I have found that it's very important to separate Fastrack without pulling it at an angle. I start to separate it with a utility knife, then you can use a table knife in the center to separate it evenly. It's very hard to do this with just your hands. As soon as you put an angle on it, you expand the rails. Over time and many disassemblies the problem just gets worse. You may have the same type of problem with spade connectors. I have had to crimp the female ones after using them a few times.

@Craftech posted:

Wouldn't jumpers between each section mitigate the joint problem more effectively?

Like this:  Short jumpers between every ten sections and then longer ones at the junction of the next ten.  Mark the top of the roadbed at the tenth one so you know where to separate it if you have to remove the track.

John

John, your suggestion could be interpreted two ways.

If you're suggesting that each section of track have its own connection to the tabs underneath, then yes that could provide much better current flow and less voltage drop for each piece.  As a practical matter, not everyone wants to go to these lengths, if fewer connections work for them.

If one plans to daisy chain connections from one piece (or section of ten pieces) to the next, then this is certainly better than nothing, but each successive (series) connection adds resistance which also contributes to voltage drop.

For better current flow, less series resistance, and less voltage drop, its better to either use bus wires or a star wiring scheme.  These 2 latter methods are parallel connections and are less dependent on solid connections at every point along a chain, to the same extent as are series connections.

@SteveH posted:

John, your suggestion could be interpreted two ways.

If you're suggesting that each section of track have its own connection to the tabs underneath, then yes that could provide much better current flow and less voltage drop for each piece.  As a practical matter, not everyone wants to go to these lengths, if fewer connections work for them.

If one plans to daisy chain connections from one piece (or section of ten pieces) to the next, then this is certainly better than nothing, but each successive (series) connection adds resistance which also contributes to voltage drop.

For better current flow, less series resistance, and less voltage drop, its better to either use bus wires or a star wiring scheme.  These 2 latter methods are parallel connections and are less dependent on solid connections at every point along a chain, to the same extent as are series connections.

As I read it, the OP's issue was connectivity between FT sections, not voltage drop, resistance or wiring methodology.

While hard-wiring FT sections together from underneath (tab to tab at each section end) with 14 gauge wire is tedious and labor intensive, it is virtually bullet-proof at solving connectivity issues; can be restricted to only those sections where one is having a problem; and is negligible in terms of overall resistance and voltage drop. I'd solve the connectivity issues first and then move on if there are issues with voltage, wiring or power loss.

I use the center male tabs only for power drop connections and solder those as well. For hard-wiring and soldering problem FT sections together, I use the flat tabs at each section end and use a Dremel to grind down the plastic "bulkheads" where necessary so the track lays perfectly flat when done. 

@GG14449 posted:

Rtr12 those piggyback connectors look like an interesting option. Am I correct that the “62003-1CONN QC RCPT/TAB 18-22AWG 0.110” would be the right item to use for this purpose?

I believe they would work. Looks like SteveH above, verified the 0.110' size so I think these would give you one wire going into the Fastrack tab and one more tab to connect an outgoing wire for the next Fastrack piece. I was thinking of the cheaper one (1217083-1 - 35 cents), but the one you selected (62003-1 - 39 cents) would do the same thing (or any of those three should work).

The piggyback connectors I'm familiar with are like the 62112-2 - 51 cents.  I am not sure what the perpendicular piece on the other two on the one end is for (single tab on one and double on the other)?  I've not seen a piggyback connector like these before? Maybe someone else can comment on the purpose of that added piece?  Don't know if another female connector would fit on those or not, but I guess it might or could possibly be adapted to fit somehow?

@GG14449 posted:

... It looks like the piggyback connectors rtr12 posted have one female connection and two male connections. ...

See above, I am not sure they have 2 male connections? The male connection I was sure of is the one below the female connection (bent down and back, parallel to the female connection. I'm really not sure what those other tabs perpendicular to the female connector on the far end are for?

Last edited by rtr12

Two of the 0.110" Faston Piggyback connectors suggested by @rtr12, (1217083-1 and 62003-1) are individually Cut from a Tape Reel that resembles this different product when uncut.

Tape & Reel

Looking closely at the product image for the 62003-1 below, the design intention is for removal of the tape band before installation on a wire.

The part of the connector with the Green arrows is intended to be crimped around the wire insulation.

The part with the red arrow is where either solder is applied or can be crimped around the bare end of the wire.

62003-1-mu



The third option 62112-2 is from Bulk stock, so doesn't have the tape part that's indented to be removed.

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@SteveH posted:

Two of the 0.110" Faston Piggyback connectors suggested by @rtr12, (1217083-1 and 62003-1) are individually Cut from a Tape Reel that resembles this different product when uncut.

Tape & Reel

Looking closely at the product image for the 62003-1 below, the design intention is for removal of the tape band before installation on a wire.

The part of the connector with the Green arrows is intended to be crimped around the wire insulation.

The part with the red arrow is where either solder is applied or can be crimped around the bare end of the wire.

62003-1-mu



The third option 62112-2 is from Bulk stock, so doesn't have the tape part that's indented to be removed.

You will need one of these:

AC998F0F-7337-4657-AAC7-53F6B3CACD10

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SteveH the Wago lever nuts also look promising. To be clear I would use a spade connection on the Fastrack section that would to a wire in the wago lever but. That would allow me to then wire directly to two other wago lever nuts with their own spade connections on two other Fastrack sections correct?

Would attaching a detaching the wire connections to the wago nut lever cause any problems over time?

@GG14449 posted:

SteveH the Wago lever nuts also look promising. To be clear I would use a spade connection on the Fastrack section that would go to a wire in the wago lever nut. That would allow me to then wire directly to two other wago lever nuts with their own spade connections on two other Fastrack sections correct?

Yes you could certainly do that.  You would have lots of options using Faston piggyback connector and Wago lever nuts.

@GG14449 posted:

Would attaching a detaching the wire connections to the wago nut lever cause any problems over time?

I'm not aware of any significant long term re-use issues with the Wago lever nuts.  Each wire socket in the lever nuts has a spring loaded contact that firmly squeezes the inserted wire.  Raising the lever, removes the contact spring tension from the wire.  Lowering the lever re-applies the tension.

Maybe over some hundreds of uses it may wear out or break, maybe not.  Despite their small size, they seem very well made.  I have had no issues with them.

So far on this forum, I have seen only positive reviews on the Wago lever nuts.

I finally got around to making some of these wire connections. I didn’t solder them(just crimped) but they seem to work fine. Bending back the wire to connect to the extra spade is a little awkward. Also, for anyone like me using a variety of Fastrack keep in mind that with older track there isn’t the cutout space for wires that these photos show. For that older track I’ll have to cut/drill a space in the Fastrack for the wire. And obviously with “special” Fastrack sections there isn’t even a spade to connect directly to on the bottom.D357D7E6-2403-4DCF-AAAC-57BFCD92FF2D48025B98-F8B8-4CC6-B215-0801FD71C0BC58A8B50C-DE3E-4918-A009-2A6A9AEEE52E

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@ADCX Rob posted:

Am sorry to say, but this thread seems to highlight some serious shortcomings in FasTrack performance, of which I have not yet experienced in the many layouts I have built going back to at least 2008. It appears that maybe the track is not made as well as it used to be.

Original Poster GG14449:  I cannot believe what I’ve just read through in this thread about the problems you’ve had with your Lionel Fastrack. Not to mention the tedious and time-consuming solutions suggested which may or may not correct the problem(s).

I’m with Rob. I laid my Fastrack down once when the layout was first built just before Christmas, 2011, and have NEVER had any problems with it, including loose connections. One of the reasons I went with Fastrack over 10 years ago was that the sections lock tight together.

It sounds like you have either put the sections together and taken them apart so many times, that they have become very loose. Or, that the newer Fastrack is not made as well now as Rob suggests.

If you’re going to continue putting the sections together, then taking them apart repeatedly, then I would just switch to Lionel’s regular O gauge track.

Last edited by Yellowstone Special

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