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My son and I are in the process of building a permanent layout but in the mean time we have our Atlas track setup on the carpet.  I know that is not ideal and the fibers can get in the train parts but this is temporary so my son can run some trains.  We have an 072 curve setup with several 40” sections setup as straights.  When we run engines (Lionel and MTH) the engine will run several laps and then stop.  The stop point is not always at the same location.  You have to push the engine a bit then it will go again.  Is this due to the track separating a bit due to the movement from the carpet?

Does it matter if the black connectors are in the center of the track or the brass ones?

Track is powered by a Z-4000 transformer.

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As with any temporary layout, you have 2 problems, and specifically to Atlas or a few other brands of track, you also have a 3rd problem.

The first problem is that track to track connections using the rail joiners, as they get used can become loose and not make a tight connection to the rail- required to transmit the power from one section to the next.

The second problem is the number of power entry points, where rather than depending on every joint to be perfect, you distribute power entry points around the loop so that no one section of track is more than so many joints away from a power feed.

Last, because Atlas and a few other brands of track fully 100% isolate all three rails, your power entry points may ONLY be powering one of the outer rails. This is where Fastrack or tubular track has the ties or bus bars in each section of track that connects the outer 2 rails, but in Atlas and Gargraves- there is no connection. You need to make that either by using your power entry points or wires so that both outer rails are common.

And why that matters- especially with MTH in some cases- is that MTH has 2rail/3rail capable wheels in some cases- meaning that if common pickup is only one rail, there is a greater chance of finding a dead spot.

Again, being honest, you typically are fighting a bunch of things on a carpet temporary layout.

The track tends to flex as heavy locos and trains roll across it and the carpet compresses under the weight. That again puts flexing and movement at each track joint, and depends so heavily on them being tight and springy to continue to make contact with the movement.

Since you asked, the black joiners in theory have an oxide coating, that while is conductive, may not be as perfect as brass. I'm not saying you cannot use them or they are bad, I'm just saying, there may be a tiny difference. It's more about them being tight to the rail than anything so again, if you had a choice between a loose brass one, and a tight blackened one, the tighter one may be the better choice.

But again, the biggest problem beyond rail joiners being loose, is the number of feeds and further those feeds also feeding BOTH outer rails at regular intervals with either bus or star wiring for power distribution.

For simplicity sake, far too often it's one power entry- and it works all the way until it doesn't is the result in the end.

We are using the terminal joiners and not the power track section.  I have a few more sets of the power rail joiners.  Should I add more around the track and put one on the middle & outside and another on the middle & inside?

Yes, exactly what I was saying, both outer rails and 3rd rail need power wires.

Also, doing that around minimally the opposite side of the track, but more is better- example 2, 3, or 4 power entry points.

Last edited by Vernon Barry

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