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.