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Hello everyone,

I felt that this was an applicable electrical question...

I'm currently doing a "test run" of my new layout by setting in up on the carpet before I do my full build. I am using MTH realtrax with O-54 curves and turnouts. In testing my locomotives for problems with the design, I had two brand new O-54 switches fail causing a serious amounts of flying sparks. The locomotives seem fine, but the two switches (1x RH and 1x LH) now are not fully closing. This makes them unusable. I luckily have one replacement for each failed switch, but I cannot afford for further failures. Does anyone know about this issue and is there anything I can do to fix them or do I need to send them back to MTH for repair? Or worse yet am I just crap out of luck? 

I am new to the electrical side of things, but this does not seem like a good sign for things to come with my layout plans. This is the first time I have had MTH switches fail on me. Any advice would be appreciated.

Below is a link to the forum post where my layout design is posted. The two switches that failed are both in the front left along where the mainline crossover occurs. 

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/t...yout-design-thoughts

Thanks,

Marc 

 

Original Post

P,

Where do you have your lockon(s) placed? I'm not familiar with the power output of your transformer, but I found that trying to run my switches through "track power" would cause them to not throw fully. I got a second z-1000, to power just the switches and don't have a single problem.  You may find that switches closer to your lockon work well, and if you look at you positioning of the others in terms of linier length from lockon to switch, it could be they are too far down the line.

You could always just get a section of track, attach the switch to it, and the track to the transformer to test the switches prior to installing them. I would venture to say though, that they would all work flawlessly! 

Your other track, is it all brand new, or used? If used, I found that taking an Emory board, splitting it lengthwise, will allow it to fit in the space around the electrical contacrts, so I could clean then prior to connecting. A shiny clean connection makes a heck of a difference when it comes to the flow of electricity!

Let me know how it works out.

Chris

Thanks for the replies.

I am using track power for now. I have never powered switches any other way to date, but I am considering getting a AIU for my DCS system. 

I think I am not describing this well. What is happening is that the switches seem to be "stuck open" in that they will no longer fully close even when manually flipped. It seems like a connection is loose inside the switch. Basically the switch is not becoming flush and therefore can no longer go straight. I don't think the problem is not enough power, but actually something not functioning any more.

Thanks again,

Marc

Pittsburger posted:

Thanks for the replies.

I am using track power for now. I have never powered switches any other way to date, but I am considering getting a AIU for my DCS system. 

I think I am not describing this well. What is happening is that the switches seem to be "stuck open" in that they will no longer fully close even when manually flipped. It seems like a connection is loose inside the switch. Basically the switch is not becoming flush and therefore can no longer go straight. I don't think the problem is not enough power, but actually something not functioning any more.

Thanks again,

Marc

That is what was happening to me. I was operating them manually and the rails weren't closing. I found that operating them quickly and aggressively, the rails would close. After operating like this for awhile, I decided to see what was wrong. I found that the plug-in switch machine wasn't completely seated in the turnout. After correcting this with a little extra force to seat them, they worked fine. This was on brand new turnouts. The switch machine is a little more difficult to install on the new ones.

Pittsburger, 

I have a similar problem with one of my Realtrax switches. In my case I have found that the issue was caused by one the leg of the spring slips over the round post and then it no longer has the same amount of pressure as before. See the green arrow on the picture which I modified from Pittsburghrailfan. This causes the rails to not fully close in one of the directions. This was only happening to one of the springs, and so the rails would not fully close in only one direction. The other direction seemed to work just fine (not that this made the switch usable).

 

 

Attachments

Images (1)
  • Culprit Springs

Engineerjon has it correct. Those little springs either slip over the post or get bent. The springs are a one piece "U" shaped style. If bent, it is easiest to remove the springs from the switch and straighten them and to make sure they lie flat. If not flat they will slip over the post. If bent they will not fully close the switch. Wish someone would post the MTH part number for the springs as I could use a couple of new ones myself.   Joe

This sounds very likely. Between the pictures and spring info, I should be able to solve the problem. I was hoping to get to looking at them this weekend, but haven't had a chance. I'm a little scared to put a questionable switch on a region of track that will be seeing a train every 20-30 seconds during nearly any run session. I did realize one of the switches was one that I had bought used. The other was brand new as I had originally thought. The switches are funny things. If wires cross below the switch machine, it loses power. I've seen this many times. The field from the electrical flow seems to render them powerless. I wish things were always straight forward. 

-Marc 

Glad to hear that you got it corrected. The challenge however is once they show this problem, it seems to happen very often.  I would not place this switch in a difficult to reach area. 

Unfortunately I don't have a permanent fix to offer you. Luckily, mine has been easy to get to and so I haven't needed a permanent fix. 

Just know that if this happens once, it will happen again. 

So far so good with the switches. I am going to keep these both as backups. I have run into another problem though. One of the switches on my layout is flipping on its own, which if I am not watching could cause another serious derailment. Once flipped, it is electronically stuck. It will not flip back and if I try, it creates a "chirping" that lowers the track voltage and automatically flips back. If that doesn't make sense, I will attach a video of the occurrence. It only seems to happen sometimes, but when it does, I have to shut everything down. Sometimes it starts working after a little break. Other times I have to change out the switch motor or switch remote. Could this be an overload of the transformer or what? There are typically two locomotives, 8 switches, and 5 lit cars on the PW ZW I use. It just is very finicky. 

Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks,

Marc

Pittsburgh and engineerjon.......

The little springs coming off the plastic post  do cause problems with closure issues on the moving rails. 

I did find them popping off the plastic post occasionally .  I used my small flat soldering tip on low temp and CAREFULLY flattened the top of the plastic post after the springs were installed.

No problems with the springs popping off since.🍻

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