I ran into an almost unexplainable shorting problem in my layout that I resolved but I am not sure how or why. I have a 9' by 12' layout where I use K-Line supersnap track. The layout uses an outer loop running around the perimeter and two inner loops for a 3 train setup.   All three loops are isolated from each other. The shorting problem started in the outer loop which includes 2 supersnap switches. I use a kind of star configuration for the track power where wiring is attached at 3 points and then meet to send a single wire that runs to a ZW transformer. Everything worked fine for years but just the other day when I was running a passenger train I noticed the green light on the transformer dulling and then the circuit breaker tripped. It was as if one of the cars or engine had derailed but in actuality there was no derailment.

I removed all the cars and engine so there was nothing sitting on the track. When I turned on power the green ZW ligh began to fade and the circuit breaker in the transformer tripped. To ensure it wasn't the transformer, I removed the wiring to the ZW (A/U) and there was no short indication. I then removed wiring from the track and ran just one set of wires from the transformer to one point to the track and the shorting problem re appeared. I began isolating sections of track to which the shorting disappeared. I did notice at one section where the track met a switch they were not quite pushed in together so I proceeded to ,push them together. When I tested the complete track circuit the shorting problem disappeared. I then set up the track power wiring to the three original point around the loop still no shorting problem. As of 2 days later every seems fine.

Maybe there is something in one K-Line track section that is defective and I can replace it but at this time I am leaving well enough alone but what happened? Any ideas so I can avoid the problem in the future.

JohnF

Original Post

From your description, there's not much to go on other than you took the right approach to tracking it down. Evidently, moving wires and track was enough to undo the problem.

It could have been a loose connection that developed over time. Or it could have been some sort of electrical debris on the tracks that became dislodged by your efforts to locate the problem.

Anyway, sometimes luck is the best medicine. Just keep an eye on that green light for further developments.

Did you happen to notice if that track joint was hot to the touch when it was "shorting". It is possible to have a "high resistance joint" which may cause the problem you described. Sounds like you found and corrected it.

I've never come across K-line super snap track, though I have heard of it. Does it have metal ties and fiber insulators like classic tubular track? The reason I ask is, if it does, another possibility is a punctured insulator.

Years ago I bought brand new Lionel O gauge track, and was having shorting problems all the time. I'd  keep taking the layout apart and isolating the short to different sections. Eventually, I figured it out, and each time I would loosen the tabs a little and it would test OK after that

Thanks for the replies. I will check on the insulation but where the K-Line supersnap track join there appear to be metal points that connect track to track for power transmission in lieu of pins. The shorting issue happened again but when I squeezed together several sections of track (it happened when the engine went over a section of track and the shorting started again) the shorting stopped. I may replace a whole section as I have extra's to see if there is a faulty track.

JohnF

Take your ohm meter to each piece and make sure there's no connection between the center and outside rails. Then keep checking the sub assemblies as you put things back together. It's a pain in the butt, but it's better than guessing and searching for a random problem. But then that probably goes without saying at this point.

Hi John.

On my SuperSnap layout I have had two places where shorts have appeared:

1. Where the SS track mates up with O gauge tubular track, the metal contact under the center rail of the SS track was barely contacting the black tie of the tubular track. I forgot to remove that SS contact. The result was a low grade short that was a challenge to track down. If you have tubular and SS track you might want to check those connections. I use track pins on all my connections.

2. Sometimes the switches developed a short. This seemed to occur after a lot of use. I think the SS switch which was screwed down became a little loose after use. There must be something in some of the SS switches that can cause a short if the switch becomes a little loose. Once I screwed the switch down again and there was no short and then everything was fine. This happened a few times with several of the switches.

Ed Kazarian

John F posted:

Unfortunately I don't own an ohm meter but I may know someone who does. In the meantime I will replace several sections of track to see if that resolves the problem. Thanks for the suggestion.

JohnF

You can buy them for around 6 bucks. That is WELL worth the price for the aggravation it will eliminate.

https://www.harborfreight.com/...ultimeter-63604.html

RoyBoy

RoyBoy posted:
John F posted:

Unfortunately I don't own an ohm meter but I may know someone who does. In the meantime I will replace several sections of track to see if that resolves the problem. Thanks for the suggestion.

JohnF

You can buy them for around 6 bucks. That is WELL worth the price for the aggravation it will eliminate.

https://www.harborfreight.com/...ultimeter-63604.html

Yep, you need the meter for this issue.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

I have an Assc Degree in Communications Electronics-trained to component level repair. 

Which means I can troubleshoot and repair anything that communicates electronically. 

And because if changes in technology and the fact that very few people want to pay for component level repair, because board replacement is cheaper and faster-I find the only consistent time I use my Education is on my O Scale trains. 

 

It it amazes me how many people in this branch of the AC train hobby do not own Meters. Especially with the costs of today’s Engines.  

That little gremlin causing a short in your rails could be the reason your DCS gets fried. 

 

 

1drummer posted:

I have an Assc Degree in Communications Electronics-trained to component level repair. 

Which means I can troubleshoot and repair anything that communicates electronically. 

And because if changes in technology and the fact that very few people want to pay for component level repair, because board replacement is cheaper and faster-I find the only consistent time I use my Education is on my O Scale trains. 

 

It it amazes me how many people in this branch of the AC train hobby do not own Meters. Especially with the costs of today’s Engines.  

That little gremlin causing a short in your rails could be the reason your DCS gets fried. 

 

 

John F,

 

Drummer is right.  If you have a layout, you should have a meter.  Without it, you can't even measure track voltage.  Your engines, locomotive and cars are not the way to see if things are right and wrong.  They will usually tell you, you  have a problem with the indicators of smoke, smell and sparks.  Pretty expensive diagnostics.

 

Analog is nice, but digital is better.

Bryant

TCA 18-73717

I solved the problem of track shorting and I am almost embarrassed to say what the problem was. Off the main run I have a number of sidings where I store cars (mostly passenger). I though I had checked the rolling stock but not carefully enough. One car was slightly off the track and when I cleared it the shorting disappeared. 

The moral is to double check certain things such as if anything is on the tracks take them off.

JohnF

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