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I have 21 new Fastrack command control switches on my layout.  One out of three (7 switches) needed "fixed" in one way or another.  And this does not include the derailments caused by frog points (bending tips has been necessary on many).  I'm down to one last stubborn problem.  One of my 060 left hand switches will only throw thru.  It will not throw out.  This occurs with using the Cab-1 control or the levered switch controller.  Any suggestions?  Thanks in advance.

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Have you disassembled the switch? I have had to do this, from time to time, to do some kind of maintenance to the rack and pinion gears. From removing minute pieces of debris, to cleaning up the teeth in the gears. This has included minute pieces of flash from the mold process and other maladies. They are a bit of an engineering marvel with all the moving parts, etc, but, and to quote Montgomery Scott, a.k.a. Scotty, “the more they overthink the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain.”

Steve

Some of mine did this and I had to swap the plugs that go to the micro switches.  If you remove the cover, then try throw the switch, you will see that the motor turns the gear which throws the triangle piece.  If the motor seems like it want to to keep throwing in the same direction, most likely the plugs will have to swap.  Do this with a good switch so you can see the process.  There could be other issues but this is a known issue with these.

Brendan

I bought nine command switches recently, and like you, fully a third of them had problems. As others have mentioned, I would check the rack, and the tightness of the little screws that hold the rack, the motor, etc. Often, these screws get too loose or too tight and cause binding in some way. Microswitches can also create problems. I've got one switch with an intermittent throw problem similar to what you are seeing. It is not a mechanical problem, and I think it is either a intermittently defective microswitch, or a problem somewhere else farther up the line in the electronics. About every 10th time, it will throw one direction, and then not throw back unless I throw it once by hand (turning the switch stand).

@Brendan posted:

Some of mine did this and I had to swap the plugs that go to the micro switches.  If you remove the cover, then try throw the switch, you will see that the motor turns the gear which throws the triangle piece.  If the motor seems like it want to to keep throwing in the same direction, most likely the plugs will have to swap.  Do this with a good switch so you can see the process.  There could be other issues but this is a known issue with these.

Brendan

Does anyone know of a source for the microswitches used in Fastrack Switches?

Like Chuck, in 20+ years of “modern” era trains I have had only one cherry switch fail.  That was a locomotive chuff switch which died from a short circuit.  If anything, the actuating lever might be bent incorrectly.  Unplug the switch and check it with a VOM to see if it opens and closes the properly.  Lionel has the switch for $4.25 but you could always find the number on the switch and look for it on the web.  

Ok.  I'm sorry for not responding earlier.  I've been working on it as I have time over the past week +.  Here's what I have done so far:

1.  I have disassembled the switch and checked for mechanical problems.  The rack and pinion seem fine as well as any other mechanical issues.  However, I did find a blue wire not connected to the mother board in the 3 pin Molex connected to the microswitch that is closed by the rack when the switch is in the out position.  It was torn off cleanly at from the pin in the microswitch.  An electrician/IT friend and I pulled the plug and found the pin to be broken in pieces.  We repaired it as best we could by soldering the loose end to the longest remaining piece of the pin.  We tested it for continuity and it was fine.  However,  the same problem described in my original post still persisted.

2.  Next, I swapped the plugs leading to the microswitches as Brendan suggested.  I had done this on another switch in the outer loops and it did fix the problem, but not this time.  Nothing happens when I tried to throw the switch and the auto derailing feature failed as well when I tested it. So I moved the plugs back and thru throws, but out fails.  When I throw out, it seems to start but quickly stops.

3.  I next swapped the plugs from the motor to its Molex plug as this worked in a prior fix.  Nothing worked when trying to throw the switch, so I moved them back.

4.  I next put a tape pad on the microswitch as cjack suggested.  I had done this on another switch earlier and this had solved its problem.  However, this did nothing as well.

5.  I am thinking the the blue wire remains the likely problem.  I purchased the switch from Mario's on September 8 so I contacted them.  I was told that they would not replace the switch and that I would have to contact Lionel.  I tried for hours to get through to Lionel's Service Department on Wednesday to no avail.  I would be placed on hold, music would play for quite a while and then a message would play saying that I had reached Lionel's Service Department voice mailbox, but it was full.  This happened all day.  I emailed them, but have received no response.

My wife tested positive for COVID last Wednesday.  I have no symptoms but I am quarantining at this point.  It's an excellent time to progress on my layout, but this switch leads to the balance of the layout where I need to do considerable wiring for accessories and I hate to disturb any of it to tear up this switch section again and again.  I have also found that 3 of the remaining switches auto derailing features do not work.  I discovered in the first one I worked on that the blue and green wires to the activation points were wired incorrectly.  I reversed them and the auto derailing feature then worked, however the switch controller lights were then the opposite from what they should be.  What will fix that?

Honestly, I'm so sick of Lionel at this point that its taken all the fun out of building the layout,  These 3 switches bring the total failures out of the box to over 50%, not counting 2 that I sent back to Charles Ro (who, by the way, replaced them).  And this, as I said, does not include the frog point bends that I will have to do whenever I can run trains over them.

I would deeply appreciate any further ideas anyone may have.  Thanks for all the help offered so far.

Another update:

1.  As I said above, I have 3 problem switches where the auto derailing feature does not work.  In one of these switches (048) I reversed the lead wires to the track and that corrected the auto derail but the controller lights remained opposite from what they should be.  I tackled it again tonight.  First, I switched the two three wire Molex connections that come from the microswitches.  At that point nothing worked at all. Second, I switched the red and yellow motor wires in their Molex connection to the motherboard.  The switches now threw but the auto derail feature would not work.  So, lastly I switched the the lead wires back to their original position and VOILA everything works correctly!!!  I took these ideas from different threads on this forum, so to their creators and contributors, I give my hearty thanks.  I expect that the other two switches exhibiting the auto derailing problem and the controller lights issue (both 060's) will respond as well to the first two steps.  Step 3 (switching the lead wires) should not be necessary as I had not switched them in the first place.  We'll find out tomorrow.  I must say that in order for this to work, I believe some wiring (possibly on the motherboard) was screwed up at the factory.

2.  I then turned to the 060 switch that would not throw out.  Using ideas from other threads, I did the following.  First, even though the microswitch seemed completely closed on the out side, I taped the side of the rack to close any gap.  That did nothing.  Then I started to adjust the tightness of the screws to the motor.  I then had varying degrees of success.  The switch would throw both ways intermittently.  I loosened the screws to the point where the motor no longer gripped the rack ( as evidenced by a loud whrrrr) then adjusted the tightening down in small increments.  I was not able to attain any consistency throwing either way;  the response was intermittent and erratic no matter the adjustment.  Next, I thought there might be an interference issue with the Cab-1 controller.  I held my hand over the switch and adjusted the brown receiving wire inside the switch, but response was still erratic.  Sometimes the switch would try to throw but then stop, sometimes it would throw weakly, occasionally it would throw normally, and other times it didn't react at all.  I tried Lionel service all day today receiving the same "voicemail box is full" message every time.

Does anyone have an idea as to what to try next or what I should ask from Lionel if they ever answer or email me?  I can always buy another switch I guess; but why should I have to.  With the failure rate in my lot at over 50%, who's to say a replacement will work?  Of course, I would accept it if Lionel offered.

Any help or ideas would be deeply appreciated.





 

I have ran into similar issues, bought 4 cases of command switches just before COVID hit at a show from a reputable dealer. Almost half had malfunction issues  all needed the” derailing fix” done to them , one had a broken tab on the rail that makes contact on the actuator, and my last one has a jitterbug issue where it throws out without a issue but when comming back to keep it from derailing it starts to dance and makes a striping noise.  Customer service as of late has been bad on hold no voice mail no email response. It’s a shame issues like and others happen. The hobby is expensive and I get that, you know this go into it but at least the products functionality should be the least of your problems.

I feel your pain

Final Update:

1.  I can get no response from Lionel.  I did reach Mario's today and finally got to talk to Joe, the store manager.  He was very professional and is immediately replacing the problem switch so that I can move forward.  I would buy from him again.

2.  I have now repaired the other three switches and they all work fine thanks to forum advice.

3.  My concern is that problems will arise in the future with the 10 switches that I had to repair or even with those that worked out of the box.  I should have gone with Gargraves or Atlas.  Oh well, live and learn.  This has ruined the experience of building a layout for me;  I hope I can gain the enthusiasm again.  I will never buy another Lionel product unless I have to replace their junk.

Thanks for everyone who helped.  This Forum is a great place full of good people.

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