ZW-L and track voltage

I had been running engines on my two loop layout pulling freight cars for months. Today I swapped them out for passenger cars.  I started the running session with my C&O Semi-scale Hudson (6-18043) it would struggle at certain points on the layout and fly at others. Although that may mean I need some extra power drops or possibly a signal issue, it got me curious and I did the voltage check. I replaced the C&O with my Hiawatha and it ran fine.Out of curiosity, I put my multi-meter on the tracks and discovered the voltage read around 14 v. I had added 6 passenger cars to each loop, being pulled by a Legacy steamer and a TMCC steamer.  I supply power by a ZW-L operating in command mode. A and D outputs set to a maximum of 18 volts. The passenger cars are light by incandescent bulbs. With the engines on, alone on the track voltage reads about 17+, both loops. I then started adding the passenger cars and i lost about 1/2 v per car so that by the end of adding 6, the track voltage dropped to 14v. 

Is this normal?  Will this adversely affect my Legacy or command engines?

 

Ed

Yardmaster

Bristow Pike

"It's always something."

Original Post
cjack posted:

What’s the length, gauge, and number of drops to the track loop in question? If Fastrack, is there any evidence of loose spade connections at the terminal track or tracks?

Chuck: O Gauge. No indication of loose spade connections. Two perimeter loops inside a 7x16 layout, and a yard w/ 5 spurs about 4-5’ in length. 

Dave,

Yes, running both, DCS and Legacy. Fastrack w/12 command switches powered through the tracks

Ed

Yardmaster

Bristow Pike

"It's always something."

Why not try another power drop in the area of the low voltage reading...use at least 14 gauge pure copper wire, one drop every 10 feet of track seems to work for me. I take the 14 gauge to the connection area, and then use the Lionel Fastrack jumper wire to the Fastrack which is 18 gauge but only a foot long. I only see a volt drop here and there on my 14 by 12 layout...three loops plus an upper level loop.

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

I read here on OGF that either stranded or solid wire is OK. Isn’t there a difference in conductivity and therefore capacity? Last number of years I’ve been using only stranded but occasionally it would be convenient to use solid. What say ye?

Wally

"Reflecting on four score, mostly with trains"

Stranded is more flexible without tending to break, including nicking it when stripping. Otherwise they are the same current carrying capacity by definition. In the past there was some talk about skin effect and erroneous info that more skin on stranded would be better, but that is not true unless the skins are insulated individually. Also the frequency of the power is too low for much "skin effect" effect. It may, again if insulated strands, help with the 455 KHz Legacy signal...but that doesn't propagate on the power drop anyway.

So no electrical advantage of solid or stranded.

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

ToledoEd posted:

Good suggestion.  I'll do that.  The bus wire is speaker wire.  Bad news is, the track is ballasted and secured to the foam...boo hoo.

post a picture we might have some ideas.

Well, intended to post a video of the problem, but when I put the engine on, it ran fine. I did add some oil to it as instructed in the manual. The streamlined C&O, yellow, (6-18043) has an oil port in the cabin.  I guess it needed the night to soak in?  Anyway, I'm not seeing the same problem even though the voltage issues I mentioned earlier, persist, it doesn't seem to be affecting my TMCC or Legacy engines now.  Thanks for the interest and suggestions.  

Ed

Yardmaster

Bristow Pike

"It's always something."

Ed,

what you really want to monitor is the amperage. You can see the effect on the voltage by adding the lighted passenger cars. (higher amperage required)

Does the 14v stay constant when you put the train motion?

The ZW-L has some dynamic power handling feature. Bump the voltage back up once you have the whole train on the track.

You should be able to roll it up higher than 14v with that load on it.

I would say that it is expected unless you have the throttle at 100% on the transformer. The ZW-L can deliver enough current to run that train at 17 or 18 volts.

If the car lights get too bright, run in at a lower voltage.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

The way I read the original post was that the ZW-L is set to 18 vac and the track voltage where all the cars and engine are droops down to 14 vac. So that would be a feeder issue to the tracks and possibly track connection issues.

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

cjack posted:

The way I read the original post was that the ZW-L is set to 18 vac and the track voltage where all the cars and engine are droops down to 14 vac. So that would be a feeder issue to the tracks and possibly track connection issues.

yeah, I got it, but the ZW-L is a different animal. Just asking...measure the track voltage when it's running

I agree, 18 gauge speaker wire could be a problem. it should handle 7-10amps

He could be around 8 amps - estimate 2.5 per engine with smoke on and 6 lighted cars at 3 amps

 

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Ed,

4 things I would check right off the bat, what exact wire size and kind are you using? Should be 14 Gauge Stranded quality wire, use the Lionel Spade couplers, or make your own from high Grade Brass Spade slide on couplers, wire equal to the Lionel Stranded.  Use Gold plated Banana Plugs at the Transformer and MTH style Terminal Blocks running your DCS Track Wire. Quality everything does make a big difference.

Did you wire your FasTrack in Blocks using the 10 -13 Track Join Discipline, if not I suggest you do it, especially with FT.  Engineer the drops correctly.

Next make sure you have not limited the Max Voltage being delivered to your Engine/Track with your DCS HHRC.     I find guys doing this by accident all the time with their DCS, Legacy will be unaffected.

If your lighted cars have Incon Lights change them to LED's, Town & Country Hobby has all the different kinds for our Trains.

Good luck

PCRR/Dave

 

 

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

I will swap out the incandescent lights. Not sure I understand the block comment. I have 6 blocks controlled by LCS BPC2. I don’t seem to have any trouble there. I did run another drop which helped . Never considered the DCS limiting power. I’ll certainly look into that. Thanks for the help .

Ed

Yardmaster

Bristow Pike

"It's always something."

Don't know if fast track switches would make much of a difference being powered by track power,as they use led. On Lionel tube track switches they take quite a draw on power. I never use track power on those, but I think a lot of the draw is from the bulbs.  So don't know maybe it would help to use aux. power on your fast track switches.

  1. Dave, I am running both, DCS and Legacy. After the additional drop, power is now constant at 17.4 until I start up the engine, then the voltage drops. I’m thinking it’s the engine causing the voltage issue or at least the biggest contributor. Not sure what I can do about that. It’s a 1996 TMCC engine so maybe it’s just tired.
  2. Replacing the bus wire would be a major, major PITA. 

Ed

Yardmaster

Bristow Pike

"It's always something."

GWEEDO,

   FTCC Switches are ultra low voltage and only draw power for a very limited time to activate.   That is why you can run 99 of them via the Cab2, from simple Track power.

 

ED,

Try another engine and see what happens, if everything runs correctly with the newer engine then you found your problem.  You got to remember the older engines do draw more power to operate.

PCRR/Dave

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

That engine has an open frame motor which will definitely pull more amps.  If I remember correctly a lot of folks with that very engine have had can motors installed because of it's poor performance.  This is an engine long over due for an updated Legacy appearance. 

Marty Eibeck

Legacy Users Group Meeting Summary coming soon!

The Legacy Users Group in not associated with Lionel LLC other than the enjoyment of the Legacy System.

 

Below the Signature Line...

"Don't poke the Badger!"

 

ToledoEd posted:
  1. Dave, I am running both, DCS and Legacy. After the additional drop, power is now constant at 17.4 until I start up the engine, then the voltage drops. I’m thinking it’s the engine causing the voltage issue or at least the biggest contributor. Not sure what I can do about that. It’s a 1996 TMCC engine so maybe it’s just tired.
  2. Replacing the bus wire would be a major, major PITA. 

Ed,

Is there a smoke ON/OFF switch? Turn it off and check the voltage.

I can't find a manual for it. I'll have to dig through the supplements.

The smoke resistor could be shorting.

I passed on this beautiful engine a few years ago when I discovered that it had a Pullmor engine.  It would be a candidate for upgrades.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

MartyE, I agree.  I would snatch up a Legacy version for sure!  I'll look into a motor transplant...I'd like to try DIY. 

Carl(MOONMAN), thanks much for the docs and the tip on bayonet LEDs.  I'll try the smoke switch as well.  Like me, getting old has its issues I'm afaid. 

Ed

Yardmaster

Bristow Pike

"It's always something."

Ed,

   He is definitely right, if you have the smoke switch turned on you are definitely drawing serious power.  Turn it off and leave it off and try the engine again, and see what voltage draw, for the basic Engine really happens to be.  It may still be a little high but should go down after the switch is turned off.

Carl's tip on the LED's is right the money.

PCRR/Dave

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

I replaced the bulbs in one of the C&O passenger cars with LED bulbs from Town&Country Hobbies. I elected to use 'warm white'.  Here's a few pics comparing 2 cars, one with original incandescent and the other with LEDs.  I like the lower light LEDs but you'll notice they do not adequately light the entire car.  I'm on the fence whether to outfit the remaining 5 passenger cars with the LED bulbs.  Looks like LED strip lighting in the cars may be the way to go if I want uniform lighting.  On the other hand swapping bulbs is whole lot easier and cheaper and meets my goal of reducing power draw. 

 "It's always something."

LED:

LED lighting C&O

Incandescent:

Incandescent lighting C&O

Lashed up: Incandescent then LED

2 car comparison C&O

Ed

Yardmaster

Bristow Pike

"It's always something."

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