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I am trying to toggle off a couple of passenger sidings.  I have am having the following problem.  Here are the facts.

  1. Switch that feeds two legs that feed 2 or 3 sidings each.
  2. Track one is toggled of feed two sidings - everything fine
  3. Track two fees three stub end sidings.  
    1. when the passenger cars straddles the insulated connection it shorts....when the car is on either side all good also the trucks are sparking as it rolls over...once gets to once side or the other all good.  This is not happening on track one.
  4. another detail...there is a crossover back to the other track but there are insulating pins before the two swithes.


i have not had this before

Additionally, I would like to hear some comments on toggles with passenger sidings they seem to be more problematic than freight i guess because of the lights?  

I can draw a picture if that helps.

thanks.



Michael

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If you are using lighted toggles, they have to have a ground connection to light when turned on. Many connect to ground when turned off. When one pickup roller on a car reaches the "off" siding, there is a direct connection to ground through the car from roller to roller. Does this happen if the siding is powered? You can check the switch with an ohmmeter to see if that is the case. I have about 20 lighted rocker switches of which I only found one that wasn't configured this way.   I discovered this by accident, when I had an engine bridge the gap because I forgot to throw the switch. Took a while to figure it out. You may have a different problem, but it turned out to be mine.

@John H posted:

If you are using lighted toggles, they have to have a ground connection to light when turned on. Many connect to ground when turned off. When one pickup roller on a car reaches the "off" siding, there is a direct connection to ground through the car from roller to roller.Does this happen if the siding is powered? You can check the switch with an ohmmeter to see if that is the case. I have about 20 lighted rocker switches of which I only found one that wasn't configured this way.   I discovered this by accident, when I had an engine bridge the gap because I forgot to throw the switch. Took a while to figure it out. You may have a different problem, but it turned out to be mine.

Is the (hot) wire that feeds into the toggle switches powered from the exact same source as the rest of the track on the layout?

Have you used a meter to determine if there is a short in the isolated siding?

Yes same source....I have not tried a meter yet

Are you saying that when the car straddles the isolator on the power rail that the power shorts and trips a breaker or fuse?

Or,

Are you saying that you see sparks when a car straddles the isolator?

Yes both....if i let it sit straddled is shorts - using z4000, voltage goes down red light on etc.  when it rolls over wheels are sparking....just never seen a short be that dramatic.

@Danr posted:

The only way you can create a short like this is to have a center rail and ground rail touching.  Check your wiring.  If this is two separate transformer, flip the wall plug over to get them in phase.

I agree I have to have something crossed.  I do have a bus wire feeding 4-5 toggles I have to have inadvertanly  switched something there...because this thing was working.

not a separate transformer.

It might be a few days before I can get back to it...I appreciate the input.  I will let you know.

@John H posted:
@John H posted:

If you are using lighted toggles, they have to have a ground connection to light when turned on. Many connect to ground when turned off. When one pickup roller on a car reaches the "off" siding, there is a direct connection to ground through the car from roller to roller. Does this happen if the siding is powered? You can check the switch with an ohmmeter to see if that is the case. I have about 20 lighted rocker switches of which I only found one that wasn't configured this way.   I discovered this by accident, when I had an engine bridge the gap because I forgot to throw the switch. Took a while to figure it out. You may have a different problem, but it turned out to be mine.

Yes it does it with the power off to the siding.....so in other words when I go from power track to dead track it shorts when the isolation is straddled.  Either side I am fine - sparks on the wheels and Z4000 red light on....as soon as i move on either side back to normal.

That I don't understand...just going from live to dead track.  Double checked insulation pins....clear gaps.  was about to rewire from toggle back to transformer.....

I have taken the siding out of play so i left one section of track beyond the switch in question so I have taken all of the track downstream out of play.   I have taken toggle out of play and wired directly to transformer on that sole section of track so now have constant power on both sides.  Same thing happens, cross what is still insulated pins and it shorts.  Either side of insulation all good.  I have taken out the other siding out of play by disconnecting it  at the switch.

So I have a switch with one section of track attached and  still shorting

So it must be the switch?   I pulled it looked at it nothing seems to be out of the ordinary...nothing touching.....

will go back and look some more

Last edited by msp

Well, obviously something was crossed.  I think i got it.  I am just reruning from the toggle back to the transformer.  Yes the reason it  wasn't screwed down is i had just rerouted some of the track and this toggle was there with a different configuration.  I just move some track around.  In doing so I did something inadvertanly.  Anyhow - trial and error got me there ...alot more error....

I have put back the sidings - and will just go with a new power line back to the transformer and that looks like that will do it.

Thanks for all the input - and going through the fire drill.  Sometimes talking it out helps.

At the beginning of this episode, the best practice to determine the source of the problem would have been to use a voltmeter and go from the middle rail of the main line to the middle rail of the siding, to see if there was a difference in voltage. Then you could have traced that difference backwards towards the source(s) of the voltages.

Using a consistent system of color-coded wiring will also help in trouble shooting a suspected reversal of polarity such as this. The convention I use is black for the outside rails, brown for an isolated rail used to activate an accessory or relay, white for isolated returns, and all the other colors for "hot" wires.

Last edited by Arthur P. Bloom

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