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Hello Everyone:

I upgraded to a KW transformer recently to provide enough power to run two older locomotives (736 and 2034) on separate tracks, as well as power a bunch of accessories on fixed voltage.  Everything is working fine except a section of insulated track, to which are connected a gateman, crossing gate, crossing signal, and whistling freight shed.  The insulated track section is located just past an O-22 switch and is separated from the switch by a short section of non-insulated track.  When the locomotive enters the section, there are sparks around the wheels and it slows down slightly.  If cars are attached, all of them spark at the wheels. When the train passes through the insulated track section, the sparks stop.  All of the attached accessories mentioned above work fine when triggered by the train.  There is a lock-on in the insulated section with all of the connections at the #2 post; nothing on post #1.  There is a track power lock-on just outside the insulated track section on the non-insulated track.  I have cleaned the track on the insulated section, as well as all the wheels on the locomotive and cars, and checked for loose screws or stray metal on the track (which is screwed down over top a cork base).  When testing the insulated section with the locomotive removed, using a lighted caboose, the issues start as soon as I roll the caboose into the insulated track section, and end as soon as the caboose is removed from the section.  Seems like everything is hooked up right, but something's not right.   I'm at a loss and open to any suggestions.  Thanks much.

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Since you mention a lockon, we'll assume you are using tubular track.  A couple of questions:

  1. By insulated section, do you mean one of the outside rails?
  2. How long is your insulated section?
  3. Did you insulate that rail from the metal ties?
  4. With nothing extra connected, does a train run through the section okay?

If you did those things, check each accessory and make sure that the wire from your insulated track is always connected to the common connection.  Connect them one at a time until you find the problem.

Had some issues with track from factory, MTH standard I think, anyways the center rail which is always insulated, actually had been compressed so much that is was making a slight contact on the ties. Took awhile to figure this one out, lol.  An insultated track has one outside rail also insulated, so it could be either rails.  Check with an ohm meter for continuity...

Last edited by MR_P

Thanks much for the replies and suggestions.  Yes, am using tubular track with insulated outside rail with fiber pins and the heavy old Lionel cardboard material around the rail at the ties.  The insulated section is two straight lengths of track.  By nothing connected, do you mean disconnecting the accessories and then running the train through the section?  I can try that as well as disconnecting all of the accessories and adding them back in one at a time.  I can also check with Ohm meter; haven't done that yet.  All of the accessories are powered from the "D" fixed voltage terminal on the KW.  The locomotive makes it through the insulated section with only a slight slowdown, but the sparks are clearly evident. 

The “U” terminal should be connected to your outside rails. It should also be connected to the common terminals of your accessories.  If you disconnect all of the accessories, your locomotive should move through the insulated section without slowing at all.  Now reconnect the accessories, one at a time, until you find the one that causes the problem.

@Teeg posted:

All of the accessories are powered from the "D" fixed voltage terminal on the KW.  The locomotive makes it through the insulated section with only a slight slowdown, but the sparks are clearly evident.

That's normal operation for the load you have there at the 20 volts you are using. If you want to reduce the arcing, use the insulated section to trigger a relay where the high current is switched.

@Teeg posted:

Thanks again for the replies.  Rob, I'm a bit electrically challenged; how do I use the insulated section to trigger a relay where the high current is switched?  Also, would connecting the insulated track lock-on to a transformer with a lower fixed voltage likely eliminate the arcing?

Pretend the relay is the track operated accessory(which, now it becomes), just run the train through and watch how the train now turns the relay on instead of the accessories.  Connect all of your accessory wires to one normally open contact of the relay instead of the track clip, the other contact to the "U" post(which is now substituting for the insulated rail).  The relay now provides the "U" outside rail connection to your accessories instead of the sparking rail.

@Teeg posted:

Also, would connecting the insulated track lock-on to a transformer with a lower fixed voltage likely eliminate the arcing?

It won't eliminate, just reduce in correlation to the reduction in current.

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