New Layout Powerblocks not isolating

 I have 28 blocks That are insulated at the center rail.  Atlas O switches and Track powered by a Z-4000.  I followed the outer rail to make sure it is continuous without skipping over to the other outer rail through switches.  There is nothing but empty track.  No cars, nutin  My problem is when I lift one handle on a Z 4000 I get a voltage reading on both displays as well as reading voltage with the meter throughout all the loops.  Appreciate the experience of this forum.

Original Post

Is this one continuous loop of track?  

Are you using a 50-1014 - 12 position terminal block? Using a 50-1020 is different. Each bank is Hot and Common - one high and one low - although the input terminals would give the impression that they are separated like the 50-1014.

The key points of isolation are where the 11 - block power district begins and ends adjacent to the 12 - block power district. Remove the variable #2 hot wire from the Z -4000. Power the variable one and check for voltage on the track. It should only be in the 11-block power district. If it is on the variable #2 district, there is a wiring issue.

 

 

Carl

Arctic Railroad

At this point I disconnected all feeders from the both of the  50-1014 terminal blocks.  Each terminal block is separately connected  to #1 & #2 transformer output    No load, the transformer handles worked fine independently increasing their respective voltage when the handle (s)  is (are) actuated.  .  I connected 2 track terminals that are next to each other  to 2 points on Terminal Block #1.   Everything appeared to be in order.  No feedback to the other voltage display.    Increase voltage on variable voltage #1 has no affect on the other handles voltage reading.  As soon as I connected another track terminal to Terminal Block #2 the voltages occur on the displays at the same time.  All other terminals are disconnected.  Is there something with the Atlas switches and how there rails are wired from the factory?

Gilly@N&W posted:

As I understand it, Atlas switches are internally jumpered. Having just gone through what your experiencing right now, I understand how frustrating this can be. Hang in there. You'll get it sorted-out.

I believe you are correct and aside from a wiring issue where the problem is. A diagram of the layout and insulating pins would help though I think Gilly has your answer.

Gilly@N&W posted:

As I understand it, Atlas switches are internally jumpered. 

atlas

Having just gone through what your experiencing right now, I understand how frustrating this can be. Hang in there. You'll get it sorted-out.

Looking at my diagram above, is there an issue with the way I insulated the center rails?  Should I also insulate both commons rails inside and outside next to the insulated center rail?

Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:

Disregard the dead spot issue referenced on the drawing.  It is another issue I am having with a dead spot on a switch.  Stephen H. with Atlas is supposed to get back to me on this.

I think Gilly has solved your feedback problem. As for the dead spot, I'd guess the engines are losing common there.

I think he is talking about where you cross between the inner and outer loops. Not sure what blocks are fed from where wiring wise, if that block only has one connection it would be OK. If you are connecting inner and outer tracks to different terminal strips that's your spot.

So glad to hear this fixed it.

Yes, you'll be able to transition from inner to outer loop. We do it all the time on our club modular layout. If you're running conventional, the only trick is to match the voltage on the two throttles. It doesn't need to be nutz-on exact. If you're within 1/2 volt or so between the two, you'll be fine. If you're running command control, set it somewhere between 16-20 volts.

Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:

Disregard the dead spot issue referenced on the drawing.  It is another issue I am having with a dead spot on a switch.  Stephen H. with Atlas is supposed to get back to me on this.

The center rail on the dead spot gets power from both ends of the switch, unless it's jumpered. You have it insulated on two ends - the turnout and one thru end.

Also, the outside rail should be the common. The insulated or unconnected innermost outside rails (the v near the turn-out) are not connected to provide installation of automatic non-derail. (Blue and Yellow in the Atlas diagram above)

B7A & B7B are providing hot and the B5 are insulated from the end where the dead spot is. B7A & B7B should also be proving common on the outside rail.

Does the first switch from B7A have hot on both ends on the center rail? It has to pass it to the dead spot switch, which is insulated from B5B.

Bryant_ Dunivan_Dead_Spot

 

Carl

Arctic Railroad

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There is direct power coming up from the area of B7A.  Voltage up to the snake tongue.  No voltage at the snake tongue ore the small strait piece at the entrance of the straight.  I learned the outside rails are jumped together.  I am sure I will have issues with that.  I  have insulators on the inside rails for a Custom Signal installation.  The jumpers kind of defeat the purpose of the insulators.  One forward, 2 back.

Did you delete your sparking post?

I believe that's what Gilly was speaking about - keeping the handles at the same voltage when crossing from one power district to the other. It is called bridging. It adds the voltage value of the two handles when they are not close.

If that is not the case, then, a wire is crossed to a direct short.

Either one will create some big sparks and can possibly damage equipment.

You can proof your wiring without power on. Perform continuity  ( Ohms or infinity symbol ) testing with a multi-meter. You have to remove the transformer connections at the transformer and then, test on the track.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:

There is direct power coming up from the area of B7A.  Voltage up to the snake tongue.  No voltage at the snake tongue ore the small strait piece at the entrance of the straight.  I learned the outside rails are jumped together.  I am sure I will have issues with that.  I  have insulators on the inside rails for a Custom Signal installation.  The jumpers kind of defeat the purpose of the insulators.  One forward, 2 back.

The end opposite the B7 should be getting power from B5. Else you need a jumper from the B7 end.

I don't think it's two steps back. Wouldn't the rail just before the switch work as a trigger rail for the signal just as well? B5 curve.

Move both insulation points back and just the curve.

Most do not use the actual switch rails for points of isolation or triggering. 3" before or after is better practice. You can cut the rails with a rotary tool or hobby saw to keeps things close the switch.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

The photo attached shows the power connections (blue) from each terminal of an MTH Terminal Block. It also shows the center rail insulators (red).  My thought was that the voltage would travel all the way from power connection (point 13) up through the 2 switches.  I don't have voltage all the way through the top switch.  Voltage and continuity end at the snake looking piece to the center insulator on the entering side of the switch coming down.  I would have thought the center would be jumped all the way through on the straight.   Also, I cant figure out why I need to insulate the common outside rails going into the bottom half circle between power points 14 & 16.  They are fed by MTH terminal block #2.  The power for the track outside of that is coming from MTH Terminal block #1  Each MTH terminal block is separately fed by the 2 variable outputs of the Z-4000.    I thought common mean't just that?  Any insifght or help would be appreciated.

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Moonman posted:
Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:

There is direct power coming up from the area of B7A.  Voltage up to the snake tongue.  No voltage at the snake tongue ore the small strait piece at the entrance of the straight.  I learned the outside rails are jumped together.  I am sure I will have issues with that.  I  have insulators on the inside rails for a Custom Signal installation.  The jumpers kind of defeat the purpose of the insulators.  One forward, 2 back.

The end opposite the B7 should be getting power from B5. Else you need a jumper from the B7 end.

I don't think it's two steps back. Wouldn't the rail just before the switch work as a trigger rail for the signal just as well? B5 curve.

Move both insulation points back and just the curve.

Most do not use the actual switch rails for points of isolation or triggering. 3" before or after is better practice. You can cut the rails with a rotary tool or hobby saw to keeps things close the switch.

I figured worst case scenario would be to use a Dremel and slice a gap right before the switch entrance  on the inner (non common) rail for detection.

Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:

The photo attached shows the power connections (blue) from each terminal of an MTH Terminal Block. It also shows the center rail insulators (red).  My thought was that the voltage would travel all the way from power connection (point 13) up through the 2 switches.  I don't have voltage all the way through the top switch.  Voltage and continuity end at the snake looking piece to the center insulator on the entering side of the switch coming down.  I would have thought the center would be jumped all the way through on the straight.   Also, I cant figure out why I need to insulate the common outside rails going into the bottom half circle between power points 14 & 16.  They are fed by MTH terminal block #2.  The power for the track outside of that is coming from MTH Terminal block #1  Each MTH terminal block is separately fed by the 2 variable outputs of the Z-4000.    I thought common mean't just that?  Any insifght or help would be appreciated.

 I don't have voltage all the way through the top switch.  Voltage and continuity end at the snake looking piece to the center insulator on the entering side of the switch coming down.  I would have thought the center would be jumped all the way through on the straight.  

The switch closest to 13 is stopping the power. Check continuity (power off) across track joints moving from 13 to the snake pair. On the switch, across the two center rails and then, thru center to turnout center. I mentioned before, the switches expect power from the adjoining track on all three ends.

Also, I cant figure out why I need to insulate the common outside rails going into the bottom half circle between power points 14 & 16.

it sounds like a clumsy way to create a passing siding to kill power to park a train. It may be to keep the center tail receiving DCS signal, when you get there.

You need one terminal of an On/Off switch to go to common on the MTH terminal board. Then, you need to connect the common wires from that space to the other side of the On/Off switch. That will permit parking a train there and turning off power.

You are doing well for your first layout wiring. Be patient, this is how to learn. The advice you receiving is shortening the learning time for this not so basic wiring.

You are close. A couple of jumpers on the snake switch center rails and you will be close.

Will you want to kill power to any of the yard spurs? Do the same as the passing siding. Switch the common On/Off.

Get the layout track wiring up and running properly with the switches working. Take a break, and then go for the signals.

The layout does a lot and has good "play value". Plenty of space for scenery, buildings and such.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Bryant Dunivan 111417 posted:
Gilly@N&W posted:

As I understand it, Atlas switches are internally jumpered. 

atlas

Having just gone through what your experiencing right now, I understand how frustrating this can be. Hang in there. You'll get it sorted-out.

Looking at my diagram above, is there an issue with the way I insulated the center rails?  Should I also insulate both commons rails inside and outside next to the insulated center rail?

I think I have this figured out.  One of the problems with this switch is that it is an older version.  The center rail on the straight part is not jumped all of the way through.  Seeing this, I removed the insulator from the curve where it joins the top switch.  I put a power terminal on the joint.  I now can pass a train without power interruption.  Also, since the center straight has a gap (no jumper) between the end of the snake tongue and the long straight center going up it should serve the function of an insulator for the wiring recommended  DCS.  Does it sound like a reasonable statement?

I have 3 stacked switches.  Each switch is not a block.  If you look at the drawing above, the insulator I removed is between the curve and the switch below 5B.    Because of the gap in the center rail of the top switch, the 2 switches are on separate blocks.  At this point the 2 remaining stacked switches do not follow the 1 block/1 switch scenario.  My gut at this point is to proceed and see how it works.  Bummer is that I won't know until I get back from vacation.  I leave Friday.  Hopefully I can get this off my mind for a while.  My wife gets tired of me thinking this aloud.  It won't be much fun for her if I take this to England with us.  Thanks for your help.  We'll be back soon.

Ok, that's the area that I thought you were speaking about. Now, 7B and 5A are on each end of that switch.

I did not mean to imply that 1 switch in one block is to be followed- rather, a switch should not be a junction of multiple blocks.

Yeah, just try it when you get back. It's all on Handle #2 of the transformer, yes?  So, for conventional operation it won't be an issue. Definitely not an issue for constant voltage DCS.

Have a safe and smooth trip. The weather has been getting better, there, also.

 

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Thanks for your reply.  I have not wired in DCS yet.  I want to make sure I can run conventional without the bells and whistles of a Legacy or DCS control system.  A big problem is that I have an older switch.  There is no continuity from one end of the straight center rail to the other end.  I removed the insulator so I could run through the switch.  I've read about people putting jumpers in, but soldering is not one of my strengths.  The good new is that the switch is removable at present.  It will allow me to do a fix that will be less visible.  It would have been great if all the center rails were made without gaps in power flow.

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Mark BoyceTheHeat


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