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I decided to put a loop of track around the tree this year. Put my 616 pre-war on the track, and powered it with a 1033 Transformer. The train seems to run fine but randomly will slow down to a crawl, speed up, or go back to the preset speed. I am wondering if this is something with the engine or the Transformer. Engine had recent maintenance, and the track is spotless. No high resistance joints or lack of continuity.  I hooked up a voltmeter to the Transformer terminals while the train was running and it seems to vary randomly from the set voltage about 1 volt high and low.

Anyone have any ideas?

Last edited by Train Nut
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Agree with checking engine, it is possible that something is binding. You shouldn't see a big voltage drop on a relatively small diameter loop of track like that. Has the engine been run recently, or has it been sitting since last year? I would check the lubrication, the grease, maybe it has gotten hard or something. (I am not really familiar with pre war engines). Testing the engine like the prior poster said might tell you something.

Thanks for the suggestions.  Track is super clean. Wheels and contacts just cleaned.  Tested continuity/resistance on all rails section to section. Cleaned a freshly lubed, new brushes, cleaned comuntator and grooves..

I ran today. Started off fine.  Then slowed down some. A few minutes later took off like a rocket! Ran that way a few minutes and the over about 10 minutes gradually  slowed down till it stalleds/stopped.  Nothing is binding.

Trainnut, I had this happen a few months ago, right after I too had "thoroughly lubed and cleaned" my engine.

Turns out, I accidentally got some non-conductive grease or oil on the rollers, and on the middle rail.

Took a long time to get that sorted out.

Start by spray cleaning the rollers with the proper contact cleaner, and letting them thoroughly dry for a day.   Then very very lightly lube the rollers on the sides only, with a conductive lubricant.

Get some 96% isopropanol alcohol, soak a clean section of undershirt with it, and really wipe down the center rail, hard and wet.  Let it dry, and then do it again.    After I did this, it took 15 to 20 minutes of running my engine, before the problem was gone. I think that if you got any grease or non conductive oil up inside of the roller (where the interior of the roller bears on its little axle) it takes some time for that stuff to work its way out.

Then, try the loco again.  If you still have the same type of problem, then thoroughly clean all of the wheels on your loco, and all of your outside rails, with the alcohol as well.  Be aggressive with the cleaning.

This solved my problem. 


I'm going to try a lot of these suggestions.  One question about the transformer though.  As I stated earlier I tested the voltage at the transformer with the train running.  Voltage was fluctuating +/- approx 1 volt from the from the median voltage. Shouldn't that remain near constant regardless what the load on the track is doing?

I finally got to do some troubleshooting today. And the winner is -  the transformer!!

It appears to be the transformer. I dug out my KW transformer and the problem disappeared.

I really have no idea what could have been wrong with the transformer. I know the 2ndary coil and contact was cleaned.

Thanks to all who offered suggestions.

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