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This is just the strangest thing that I have seen.

I am using Ross Track and Switches, and I have the following locomotives:

MTH SD70 - PS3
MTH Amtrak Genesis - PS3
MTH Amtrak Genesis - PS2
Lionel Polar Express Berkshire (2-8-4) - Lion Chief
Lionel Pennsylvania Flier (0-8-0) - Lion Chief
Lionel Thomas The Tank Engine (0-6-0) - Lion Chief
Lionel GP38 - Conventional
Lionel FT with Rail Sounds (2 each) - Conventional
Lionel General with Smoke only - Conventional

All of these locomotives run perfectly on the entire approx 34 ft long L shaped loop, with one exception:
The MTH Amtrak Genesis - PS3 sparks when going over one specific piece of 0-42 curve track.
If going fast enough it just sparks, and keeps going.
If going slower, it sparks and throughs the breaker.

I have attached my layout with an arrow pointing to the piece of track in question.
I have looked at the track and at the bottom of the Locomotive, but see nothing out of the ordinary.
Again, it is only this one piece of track where this happens

For what it's worth: My two Steamers struggle to get thru this curve without the rear drive wheels slipping over the rail, and to the inside of the turn.

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If this particular section sits un-even, it’ll cause all kinds of quirky issues,..the first clue that it’s NOT the Genesis having an issue, is the fact you say the steamers are having difficulty traversing the section. See if you can get down at eye level and look at the track to see any deformation as far as levelness is concerned. .....if you have a screw securing this section to your table top, is it causing the track to be sucked down into a dip on the table top?.....if steamers are lifting wheels, and slipping, something’s uneven for sure,....

Pat

@harmonyards posted:

If this particular section sits un-even, it’ll cause all kinds of quirky issues,..the first clue that it’s NOT the Genesis having an issue, is the fact you say the steamers are having difficulty traversing the section. See if you can get down at eye level and look at the track to see any deformation as far as levelness is concerned. .....if you have a screw securing this section to your table top, is it causing the track to be sucked down into a dip on the table top?.....if steamers are lifting wheels, and slipping, something’s uneven for sure,....

Pat

First thing is:
I have not screwed the track to the table yet, and when I do I plan to lave just a bet of a gap between the screw head and the top of the rail, so as not to pull the track into any kind of twist.

I agree that it has to be an unevenness issue, because of the issues with the Steamers, and that is why I mentioned that they struggled there as well.
I have thought that maybe that corner is being pulled a bit out of shape, but the odd thing is that it is only the first piece of track that makes up that corner. The second piece in that corner causes no issues.
I can back that PS3 Genesis thru that piece of track, cleanly, but the instant the first pick-up roller hits that first piece, from either direction, the sparks fly, and the breaker kicks out.
The other PS2 Genesis has no issues. I am running them in a lash-up, and when they are going fast enough to get thru without kicking the breaker, the PS2 shows no sparking at all.
I then ran them both thru separately, tje PS3 makes sparks and kicks the breaker, the PS2 has no issues whatsoever.

Can it just be a bad piece of track?

Last edited by RWL
@harmonyards posted:

Can it just be a bad piece of track?

sure can be, ....of course the easiest test for that is to swap it out, especially if nothing is screwed down yet,....or, if you don’t have extra track sections, trade it out with another and see if the problem follows the track...

Pat

That is exactly what I thought.
I can order the track, but in the meantime I could just move it as a test.
Thanks for confirming it for me.

RLW,

As with you, I put my entire track layout on my table without screwing it down, just to test how the engines would run on it.     I had several trouble spots with certain engines.  And I could not figure out why.

But, when I finally screwed all of the sections down nice and even, almost all of those problems disappeared.

After that, I had a large curved run of 031 track, that was brand new track.  K-Line.  All of my engines ran that curve just fine.

But, I had one Hudson Steamer that would very severely slow down and balk on that particular curve, not matter what I did.

I found out that brand new track has a chemical coating on it of some sort, and you have to thoroughly clean it off with alcohol or mineral spirits, or you will have running problems.  I did that, and the steamer increased its speed, but only by about a third.

Then I took a really careful  look at the steamer, and found that one of the connecting rods was very slightly bent inwards, so that on certain curves, where that rod was on the inside of the curve, the rod was rubbing against another rod.    I replaced that rod, and the steamer ran about 2/3rds faster, but still not all of the way to full speed.

Finally, I just pulled that section of track, and replaced it with thoroughly cleaned, gently used, NY Lionel track.

The problem totally disappeared.

I guess my point is, that you can't just assume it is "one" factor that is causing your problem.  You have to start at square one and work your way through all possibilities.  The folks on this board gave me several ideas about what could be wrong, and I found that is was a group of three of the problems.

Also, I had an Lionel 022 automatic switch that was constantly sparking when locos went over it.   And sometimes, it would just freeze up and not close all of the way.  I took that thing apart and cleaned and examined it many times, putting it back on the track over and over.  But, the problem continued.

Last week, it really started sparking bad, and I thought, Well, maybe there is just a stray scrap of copper wire stuck underneath one of the rails?    I got down low with a bright flashlight, and found that there was a stray steel connecting pin, that had somehow fallen on the turn out, and gotten stuck underneath the triangular metal frog.   It too me 20 minutes to fish it out with some small dental picks.   I finally got it out, and the problem  totally disappeared.

Is it possible that you cut some railing on your layout, and the metal dust has gotten up inside of your steamer?  Or maybe, a single fleck of copper wire from one of your wire cuts?

Hope this info may help.

Mannyrock

@Mannyrock posted:

RLW,

As with you, I put my entire track layout on my table without screwing it down, just to test how the engines would run on it.     I had several trouble spots with certain engines.  And I could not figure out why.

But, when I finally screwed all of the sections down nice and even, almost all of those problems disappeared.

After that, I had a large curved run of 031 track, that was brand new track.  K-Line.  All of my engines ran that curve just fine.

But, I had one Hudson Steamer that would very severely slow down and balk on that particular curve, not matter what I did.

I found out that brand new track has a chemical coating on it of some sort, and you have to thoroughly clean it off with alcohol or mineral spirits, or you will have running problems.  I did that, and the steamer increased its speed, but only by about a third.

Then I took a really careful  look at the steamer, and found that one of the connecting rods was very slightly bent inwards, so that on certain curves, where that rod was on the inside of the curve, the rod was rubbing against another rod.    I replaced that rod, and the steamer ran about 2/3rds faster, but still not all of the way to full speed.

Finally, I just pulled that section of track, and replaced it with thoroughly cleaned, gently used, NY Lionel track.

The problem totally disappeared.

I guess my point is, that you can't just assume it is "one" factor that is causing your problem.  You have to start at square one and work your way through all possibilities.  The folks on this board gave me several ideas about what could be wrong, and I found that is was a group of three of the problems.

Also, I had an Lionel 022 automatic switch that was constantly sparking when locos went over it.   And sometimes, it would just freeze up and not close all of the way.  I took that thing apart and cleaned and examined it many times, putting it back on the track over and over.  But, the problem continued.

Last week, it really started sparking bad, and I thought, Well, maybe there is just a stray scrap of copper wire stuck underneath one of the rails?    I got down low with a bright flashlight, and found that there was a stray steel connecting pin, that had somehow fallen on the turn out, and gotten stuck underneath the triangular metal frog.   It too me 20 minutes to fish it out with some small dental picks.   I finally got it out, and the problem  totally disappeared.

Is it possible that you cut some railing on your layout, and the metal dust has gotten up inside of your steamer?  Or maybe, a single fleck of copper wire from one of your wire cuts?

Hope this info may help.

Mannyrock

OK, I have done some experimenting.
I swapped out what I thought was the possible piece of bad curved track.
In the new location, this piece of track causes no issues whatsoever.

However, now the manifestation of the problem has changed.
When the PS3 Genesis gets approx. 2/3 of the way onto either piece of track, in this corner, it stops, then the circuit breaker kicks out.
I have shown the locomotive in the kick out position, from each end, in the pics below.

Attachments

Images (5)
  • IMG_1224: Full Curve
  • IMG_1223: Forward in from Right
  • IMG_1222: Backing in from Left
  • IMG_1226: View into Curve from Left
  • IMG_1227: View into Curve from Right

Well, as folks will tell you, I'm no expert.

But, I would start with the obvious.  The power line connections that run to that section of track, shown in one of the last pictures, look really bad.  I won't use the word sloppy because I know it is just temporary until you finish the track.  To me, it looks like a short waiting to happen.    It just may be possible that a wheel of your engine   (on the inside curve of the track), or the inside edge of one of  your rollers, is touching (or just brushing against) one of those metal power clips under your track, causing a short and the circuit breaker to trip,  or if your engine has an e-switch, causing a momentary loss of power which causes the e-switch to default to the neutral position and stop the engine.

I would totally disconnect those power wires and clips, and go 5 sections further up that section of track and just use a pair of alligator clips  to temporarily connect the power lines to the center and inner rail.    Then start your engine one section in front of those clips, running in the direction which is away from the clips and towards your trouble spot, at a medium speed, and see if it runs through that trouble joint without stopping or tripping the breaker.   

I have an engine somewhat like yours in the picture.  It has really heavy trucks in the front and back, with what seems like a lot of overhanging and underhanging metal.   This may be causing the problem.

Hope this helps.

Mannyrock

If you have more than one "O"-42 tracks, swap the one you're having a problem with now with another one.  If the problem moves with the track, then you know it's the track and not the location.  If everything works fine, then problem solved!

All ready did that as clearly described in my last post just above. There is a new manifestation regarding the two pieces of curve track at that inside curve.
Go up just a couple of posts, and you will see my description of the results.

@Mannyrock posted:

Well, as folks will tell you, I'm no expert.

But, I would start with the obvious.  The power line connections that run to that section of track, shown in one of the last pictures, look really bad.  I won't use the word sloppy because I know it is just temporary until you finish the track.  To me, it looks like a short waiting to happen.    It just may be possible that a wheel of your engine   (on the inside curve of the track), or the inside edge of one of  your rollers, is touching (or just brushing against) one of those metal power clips under your track, causing a short and the circuit breaker to trip,  or if your engine has an e-switch, causing a momentary loss of power which causes the e-switch to default to the neutral position and stop the engine.

I would totally disconnect those power wires and clips, and go 5 sections further up that section of track and just use a pair of alligator clips  to temporarily connect the power lines to the center and inner rail.    Then start your engine one section in front of those clips, running in the direction which is away from the clips and towards your trouble spot, at a medium speed, and see if it runs through that trouble joint without stopping or tripping the breaker.   

I have an engine somewhat like yours in the picture.  It has really heavy trucks in the front and back, with what seems like a lot of overhanging and underhanging metal.   This may be causing the problem.

Hope this helps.

Mannyrock

You may have missed the fact that the result is exactly the same coming into that curve from either end.
Which, I believe takes the track connections out of the picture.
Also, they are below the bottom of the rails, so I don't believe that anything can touch them down there.
The other thing is that the other, exact the same, locomotive, which is PS2, rather than PS3, has absolutely no issue with this curve.

So, is there any possibility whatsoever that there is something, no matter how small, sticking "up" from the center of the track and brushing the underside of the locomotive?  I assume you have not yet screwed it down, but if you have, is one of the screw heads just slightly high?

If not, I have exhausted my limited knowledge base.


I suspect your trackwork is fine. Based on your track diagram, if the train is going clockwise, all the turns EXCEPT for the problematic turn are RIGHT hand turns. The problematic turn is LEFT hand. Pop the shell on the Genesis and carefully check the wiring from both trucks where it goes through the frame. Look for bare wire and/or a burnt spot. Also check how snug the pickup assembly is screwed to the truck and that the insulating spacers are installed properly.

Chris

LVHR

@BobbyD posted:

I may have missed this. Does it do the exact same thing if you pick up the locomotive and rotate it 180 degrees so it is now facing in the opposite direction?

Now that is very interesting.
I did as you suggested, and as led to do by lehighline's comments on right vs left turns.
When running in the other direction, it sparks at all of the outside corners, and finally kicked out the breaker.
However, it is smooth as silk, going thru that inside turn, which I tried, both, forwards and backwards.

So, now to remove the shell and to see what I find.

@lehighline posted:


I suspect your trackwork is fine. Based on your track diagram, if the train is going clockwise, all the turns EXCEPT for the problematic turn are RIGHT hand turns. The problematic turn is LEFT hand. Pop the shell on the Genesis and carefully check the wiring from both trucks where it goes through the frame. Look for bare wire and/or a burnt spot. Also check how snug the pickup assembly is screwed to the truck and that the insulating spacers are installed properly.

Chris

LVHR

Check out my response to Bobby just above.
Seems to bare out your theory about the right vs left turns.

@lehighline posted:


I suspect your trackwork is fine. Based on your track diagram, if the train is going clockwise, all the turns EXCEPT for the problematic turn are RIGHT hand turns. The problematic turn is LEFT hand. Pop the shell on the Genesis and carefully check the wiring from both trucks where it goes through the frame. Look for bare wire and/or a burnt spot. Also check how snug the pickup assembly is screwed to the truck and that the insulating spacers are installed properly.

Chris

LVHR

OK, I took off the shell and have run the loco, very slowly thru the track in the opposite direction, making Left Hand Turns, and here is what happens.

1. GOING FORWARD: The front truck goes into the first Left Turn with no issues, but the instant the the front wheels of the rear truck touch that piece of curve track the breaker kicks out.

2. GOING IN REVERSE: The loco goes thru all of the Left Turns with no issues, until it gets to that inside turn which is a Right Turn, and the rear truck goes into the turn with no issues, but now, as soon as the rear wheels of the front truck tough that piece of curved track, the breaker kicks out.
NOTE: This is, exactly, the same condition as when I had the loco going the other direction, and baking it up into that inside turn.

CONCLUSION: Going the other direction, counter clockwise:
FORWARD: Everything is opposite. All of the outside, left turns spark or kick out the breaker, but that inside turn causes no issues.
Reverse: same as before. Goes thru all of the outer, Left Hand, turns but kicking the breaker in that inside turn.

I have looked very closely at the open chassis, but can see nothing out of the ordinary.

@lehighline posted:

The turn is causing a short. The harness may be stretching and pulling. Take a real close look at the wiring for the pick ups and the ground screw on BOTH trucks. Try running the engine slowly with the room lights off. You may be able to see a spark at the offending location.

Chris

LVHR

I have found where it is sparking but can not quite determine the cause.
It is at the right side of the rear motor, toward the front, maybe 2 o'clock, with 12 o'clock being center front.
It does appear that the motor shell is making contact with the flat stationary truck support frame piece, just above the truck, and that is causing the sparks.
I see tiny weld marks at the base of the motor can, under the support frame, along with the gray spark-spray, on the bottom side of that same Frame, hat appears when there has been a lot of arching.
Could the motor can be hot, and arching when it touches the grounded frame?
Here are pics of the area and sparks:

Weld marks on motor can;
Inked20210510_150612_LI

Spark Spray:
Inked20210510_150309_LI

Sparking in the area noted above:
Inked20210510_151656_LI

Attachments

Images (3)
  • Inked20210510_150612_LI
  • Inked20210510_150309_LI
  • Inked20210510_151656_LI
@AlanRail posted:

you found the problem a short between the truck and frame.

assembly issues or production problem. The tolerances are very close so sometimes . . . . a spark!

Solution: either slightly bend the metal away so the short  goes away or cover it with an insulative material.

I am pretty sure that it is more like a short between the rear can motor and the black frame.
The weld spots are on the base of the can motor, and as I think about that, I see what you are saying.
The can motor is part of the truck.

If I knew how to get the truck off of the frame, I could easily Dremel out a bit of that frame.

Time out!

The motor should be at ground potential! Pull the screw for the pickup. This could be a challenge, as you usually need to disassemble the truck to get there. The screws in the truck are not the easiest to get to. It usually takes a small Phillips head screwdriver into the slots in the frame coming down from the top. Sometimes the pick up is mounted  with the screw that also holds the motor to the truck. Go carefully here, so you can put things back to gether! Don't ask how I know this...  Anyway, with the pickup off, tape the ends of the leads to the truck so they don't short anywhere. Leave the leads to the motor connected. Put things back together w/o the pickup, but with the leads taped. Run it. See if you still have sparks. (Nice picture of the sparks, BTW!)  If you don't, the problem is in the way the pickup is assembled.

Chris

LVHR

@lehighline posted:

Time out!

The motor should be at ground potential! Pull the screw for the pickup. This could be a challenge, as you usually need to disassemble the truck to get there. The screws in the truck are not the easiest to get to. It usually takes a small Phillips head screwdriver into the slots in the frame coming down from the top. Sometimes the pick up is mounted  with the screw that also holds the motor to the truck. Go carefully here, so you can put things back to gether! Don't ask how I know this...  Anyway, with the pickup off, tape the ends of the leads to the truck so they don't short anywhere. Leave the leads to the motor connected. Put things back together w/o the pickup, but with the leads taped. Run it. See if you still have sparks. (Nice picture of the sparks, BTW!)  If you don't, the problem is in the way the pickup is assembled.

Chris

LVHR

Thanks Lehigh
I will look into this tomorrow.

I think you have found the symptom, not the problem.  It should not do that in any way shape or form.  I think you have a wire that is being pulled at the same time or something shifting in the truck, like the connection to the pickup and that truck turns.  I think there is a screw that holds the eyelet to the pickup roller section that might be loose.  As you are making the turn, that screw is not tight and is allowing the eyelet to slide or shank of the eyelet is too long and is hitting the truck, it could be the front or rear truck and you just happen to be seeing it on the front.   Your fix may be temporary as it will then show up somewhere else eventually. I would check the screws in the trucks and then I would take the shell off, but some clips to give it power and move the trucks around to see what pulls.

I think you have found the symptom, not the problem.  It should not do that in any way shape or form.  I think you have a wire that is being pulled at the same time or something shifting in the truck, like the connection to the pickup and that truck turns.  I think there is a screw that holds the eyelet to the pickup roller section that might be loose.  As you are making the turn, that screw is not tight and is allowing the eyelet to slide or shank of the eyelet is too long and is hitting the truck, it could be the front or rear truck and you just happen to be seeing it on the front.   Your fix may be temporary as it will then show up somewhere else eventually. I would check the screws in the trucks and then I would take the shell off, but some clips to give it power and move the trucks around to see what pulls.

I agree. It does not seem right to me that the frame touching the motor can should cause a short.

From that description, I'd say that you may have an internal short between a motor brush and the motor case.  You should have NO CONNECTION from either brush to the motor can.

That is kind of what I was thinking John.
Not necessarily a brush, but something shorting to the motor can.
I see no bare wires, and it is for sure the can is shorting to the bottom frame, so  something has to be shorting to the can.

I am taking it to JR Junction, my local train dealer.
They repair MTH locos, and I have gotten to know Phil, the owner, a fair bit over the last several years.
I can show them the pics and then let them fix the problem.

Last edited by RWL

You should be able to test this by unsoldering the leads to the motor and then putting a VOM separately across each motor lug and the side of the can. If all is well, the resistance will be infinity. If things are as GRJ suspects, the resistance of at least one of the combinations will be very low. In which case, you need a new motor.

Chris

LVHR

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