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Hi guys, just another NOOB, coming here with my hat in my hand, asking for help. I'm having an overload issue with this lionel train that belonged to my dad. It will run for 10-15 minutes, then the train just stops. The overload light on transformer then comes on. The light on locomotive is on, but the train isn't moving. If I move the switch on top of the locomotive, it will start moving again in reverse. I can then stop it and get it to run forwards again for another 10-15 minutes before it does it again. The tubular track is new. The transformer is 2 years old. I am using a piece of smart track for the power connection to the transformer, and have adapter pieces at both ends of it to cross it back over from fastrack to tubular. I have included pics of what I have, and will be very grateful to you all for any ideas or suggestions. Thanks.train1train2train3train4train5

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From the pictures, it appears to be a 6-8602 AC motored locomotive with a 2 position e-unit (yes, that cab number and design was carried on through with DC motors and whatnot, but I see all the markers of the original AC type setup). Now, as @Jetsafl stated, mating FasTrack directly to tubular track without the proper transition pieces is asking for trouble. Lionel offers FasTrack transition pieces http://www.lionel.com/products...ition-piece-6-12040/. Now, I don't see those being utilized, but it does appear that you are using the Menards transition pieces: https://www.menards.com/main/g.../p-1477981296131.htm

FYI, Tubular track commonly uses either the Lionel CTC or LTC lockons, but I don't recommend you immediately make this change as what you do have should work:



Also, a track plan such as the one you have pictured can benefit from multiple track connections to the transformer, but again, we are getting ahead of ourselves...

As for the overload condition, which seems to be the principle issue, there are a few things that immediately jump to my mind:

  • Looks like you are using Menards track - at one point, there were some pieces that had poor center rail insulators which would either be consistently shorted out, or intermittently short out. A good close inspection of each piece may be warranted (yes, it is tedious, but got to start somewhere!) to find the one or more pieces in need of repair. If the train is misbehaving in the same area, that can be a clue. You could also start with a small oval, and gradually add pieces over time as the existing pieces prove themselves.
  • The transformer is on the smaller side in terms of power capacity, but it should be able to handle just this locomotive without overloading.
  • The locomotive may be drawing excess current if it hasn't been properly lubricated and serviced causing the overload condition.


There is a lot to take in here, so don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions! Welcome to a great forum with lots of great experienced O gaugers!

Thanks guys. Yeah, those are the transition pieces I used. (Bought from Menards). Do you think, using the other pieces you've listed would work better? Would it be smarter to just swap over to a tubular track connection? Thanks for helping me out with this. This track is actually set up at our local airport. I am building a layout that the kids can enjoy while waiting for their flights to board.

@Dan Walker posted:

Do you think, using the other pieces you've listed would work better? Would it be smarter to just swap over to a tubular track connection?

Not the first step i would take...

@bmoran4 posted:

I don't recommend you immediately make this change as what you do have should work

I did give you some things to try, mainly reviewing the track pieces you do have and looking for the probable defect...

@bmoran4 posted:


As for the overload condition, which seems to be the principle issue, there are a few things that immediately jump to my mind:

  • Looks like you are using Menards track - at one point, there were some pieces that had poor center rail insulators which would either be consistently shorted out, or intermittently short out. A good close inspection of each piece may be warranted (yes, it is tedious, but got to start somewhere!) to find the one or more pieces in need of repair. If the train is misbehaving in the same area, that can be a clue. You could also start with a small oval, and gradually add pieces over time as the existing pieces prove themselves.
  • The transformer is on the smaller side in terms of power capacity, but it should be able to handle just this locomotive without overloading.
  • The locomotive may be drawing excess current if it hasn't been properly lubricated and serviced causing the overload condition.
@Dan Walker posted:

ok. Any tips on what I should be looking for as I inspect the track? I'm assuming it is just signs of arcing? Are there other telltale signs that  the connections are bad?

Welcome to the forum!

Has this engine and transformer worked with other track?

Does it happen when just running the engine, or when pulling a large number of cars?

Do you have any other engines that run on this track without the overload issue?

I am just trying to narrow this to a track vs locomotive problem.

  As to the Menard's track problem, I believe a few of them had center insulation that wasn't great.  If you look at where the center rail attaches to the tie, there should be a piece of heavy paper or card stock between the rail and the the little clamp pieces on the tie.  You can do a visual inspection.   Even better,  and definitely tedious, is to use an electrician's multi meter, and check for continuity between the center rail and each tie.  If the meter is a beeping,  you got something that needs a fixin.

Also, the connections on the bottom of that piece of fasttrack should be inspected.  The need to fit snug.  A loose connection there could be drawing extra current which would also cause a trip after a few minutes like you are describing. There's lots of ways to connect to tubular track,  a lock-on being tried and true.

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OK, Thought I would give you guys an update, since you were so helpful. I replaced all of the remaining Fastrack with menards tubular track. I used CTC clip ons (3 of them) to connect power to track. The widest gap I have now between clipons is about 12 feet. I ziptied all the track joints together today. I haven't run continuity checks yet, but it is my next step. Train will run for a bit, then stop. If I switch it into reverse,(via the switch on locomotive) it often starts back up again, but only for a short while (60 seconds or so). I get intermittent overload light on transformer sometimes when train stops. I'm wondering if part of the issue isn't the locomotive now. I have never cleaned it, and to the best of my knowledge it has never been cleaned. Do any of you have any links to good "how to" videos on how to clean and lubricate a 6-8602 locomotive? Thanks again for all your help.

12 feet between clip-on power supply is, in my opinion, way too far.   You should have power supply every 6 feet or so.

You have to remember that power doesn't just flow up and down the tubular track freely.  The metal track itself resists the power flow and restricts it. Long track sections like 12 feet can bleed the power down very significantly.

And, I have learned the hard way, that brand new track needs to be cleaned first.  Manufacturing processes can leave films and residues.

Clean the tubular track thoroughly, and this can help alot.   If you don't have anything handy, you can use 96% strength rubbing alcohol, and a good clean cloth with a tight weave, like an old undershirt, and run the wet cloth forcefully up and down the rails.  This alcohol is flammable, so make sure you rub it off as you go with a dry cloth, and let it dry. 

Using a weaker solution of alcohol, such as 65%, has too much water in it and can rust your tracks.

And, I'm not sure if you are running a separate set of wires to each clip-on or not.  You can't just run one set to the first clip-on, and then run another set from the first clip-on to the second, and another from the second to the third. You need a separate set of power wires running to each clip-on.

If you do all of this, then you will probably have eliminated the track as an issue, and then you can move on to separately eliminate the engine and transformer.

Definitely start that process by cleaning and lubing the locomotive.

And, not trying to upset you, but you definitely have a bargain-basement transformer, and no transformer lasts forever.

Mannyrock

Let's see if we can eliminate the track as a source of your problems.

Take the train off the track.

Disconnect the transformer from the track.

Set a multimeter to ohms or resistance.

One lead to the center rail, the other lead to one of the running rails. You should have zero conductivity (very high or infinite ohms). If you are showing some value, you likely have at least one piece of track with an insulating problem. Break the loop in half and retest. Keep breaking the track apart until you find the offending section(s). Tedious, but necessary.

Also, inspect the track joints. They need to be tight to minimize electrical resistance at the joints.

Clean the track, even if it looks clean. Do NOT use Goo Gone!!!

If everything checks okay with the track, then the engine is next.

Good luck!

Chris

LVHR

12 ft spacing is more than good enough to not have the problem you are describing.  I seriously suspect there is something wrong with the locomotive.

Same questions I had before, do you have any other motorized equipment, and does the same problem happen when you run those?

Do you or can you get alligator clips? ( yes I know the center rail lead is not hooked up in this picture)

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If so, turn the loco up side down on a towel or something soft, make sure it is secure.  From the transformer, clip the hot lead to a roller pickup and clip the ground lead to the metal frame.

I used blue instead black for the arrow for better contrast. 

Turn the transformer op to what you normally run at, and just let the wheels spin in the air for 15 minutes or however long it normally take for the problem to arise.  Since there's no load this is a guaranteed means to that the problem will show up, but if it does show up you can probably stop messing with the track.  As stated before if no other equipment is doing this on the track, it's likely not the track.  Another method is to set the engine up on rollers and let it run for a while. 

One caveat is I can't tell what type of reversing unit this machine has from the pictures.  From your description of a switch on the top, I surmise its an older style that tends to get gummy.  Since these are spring and gravity operated you may want to block it wood/books/etc and let the wheels face down while spinning. 

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Does the transformer get hot too?  Does the motor in the loco seem excessively warm, if you can't hold your finger on it, it is too hot.  Are there any hot spots in the track, test by feel.  Amazing how an AC powered train will work with track short issues up to a point, the transformer will just pump the amps into the problem.  Your unit at 18VAC and 80 VA is about 4 amps of current, so it could be feeding the loco and a track issue too.

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