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This is a legacy powered layout , a 9' X 21' rectangle with three insulated power loops using  3 TMCC Direct Lockons and 3 power bricks and using Lionel Tubular Track  and switches throughout.    There are 18 switches and approx. 150 ft. of track. Construction work started in Fall of 2016 and it  took about 2 years to get all track and switches (mounted on cork roadbed) installed and powered.  There are some long parallel track runs (9 feet)   and  tracks crossing over others.  I installed ground wire next to the lower level tracks  using a standard 3 prong plug with no power wires attached and plugged into a terminal strip.   While debugging I moved the ground plug directly to a grounded wall outlet which did not help at all.

So the layout (less scenery and most structures was up and running  by Summer  of 2018.  Everything  ran fine.  No hesitation ,uncontrolled speedups or flickering lights at all.  Scenery  and structure work  commenced and everything was good. 

Now my wiring isn't the greatest.   I started to use color coded wire for switches , track and lighting but I wasn't consistent because of wire suppply shortages, etc.   To be honest  the underneath of the layout looked like, for lack of a better term, a Rats Nest.  But everyrhing ran fine.  No problems.   There was some ongoing wiring for a few switch  yard additions and ongoing structure lighting. But everythiong ran fine No problems and great slow speed startup and control.

Things changed about 6 weeks ago mid August 2021.  I hadn't run the layout for about a week.  When I started up all the hesitancy and speed up problems occurred.  At first I didn't know what was going on.  Then when I placed my hand over the locomotives they ran fine.  No problens .   So I am assuming it is a ground fault problem.

All the electrical wiring works fine.   No track,  switch or structure power problems.  MY question is WHAT  COULD CAUSE THIS???

How can I go from all running well for 3 years   (8/18 to 8/21) and then this problem occurs with no changes?  I 'm thinking my haphazard wiring somehow caused this.  But I do not know how or why.

This is what I have done so far. 

- Ran ground wire around the 2 concentric ovals and the upper level reversing loop.  The wire is laid alongside the track 1"  away.  There are still some sidings I haven't done.   This made absolutely no difference.  Leaving all this ground wire in place.  I then made some upside down  "L" shaped balsa wood girders so that I could string the ground wire directly over and about 6" - 7" above the track.  This works.  Locomotives run smoothly under the overhead ground wire,  but because of scenery and long runs of upper tracks mounted on plywood directly above lower tracks is impossible to do over the entire layout with ground wire running 6" - 7" above the track.

So thats my dilemma. Short of tearing out most everything and starting over, does anyone have any thoughts of how to correct this.  (wiring techniques... anything).    And how can things go from good to bad without any changes being made.

ANY thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

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@RichPRR posted:

How can I go from all running well for 3 years   (8/18 to 8/21) and then this problem occurs with no changes?  I 'm thinking my haphazard wiring somehow caused this.  But I do not know how or why.


Although it seems like nothing had changed before this problem showed up, I assure you that something clearly has.

Good news.  Your haphazard wiring probably has very little to do with this.

Because placing your hand over a locomotive makes it behave (run nicely) you definitely have a radio signal problem.  This issue, which you've been calling a "Ground Fault", actually appears to be a transmitting antenna problem.  Remember that the TMCC/Legacy radio signal propagates around the layout through antenna two segments.  One is an outside rail of the track, or better yet both outside rails; the other is "earth ground".

Now on to troubleshooting.  Your outside rails may not be connecting together at one or more locations around the layout.  If they're connecting, but not tight connections, this would affect whether a locomotive can pull enough power out of the track to run, but won't appreciatively affect the radio signal.  So this doesn't seem to be your problem.

On the other hand your earth ground connection may not be solid anymore.  Has any work taken place on your house's electrical system recently?  The work could even have been done outside your house.  The grounded outlet into which you plugged the power strip might have become disconnected somewhere inside your house, or even outside.  It could also be the power strip's earth ground pass-through which might have failed.

Otherwise, I agree with both Chuck and Marty above about next steps.


Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike

Thankyou Cjack, Marty and Mike.   M y ground wire is securely attached to my ground wire plug.  It goes from there to running alongside or on top of the track   which works where the ground is directly above the track.   Per your suggestions I am going to look into checking the Legacy base output.  The thought of the Base being bad makes this whole situation sensible.

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