Brass Track Maintenance

W

Weavervegas1

Registered
21 Aug 2018
4
0
69
Weaverville, NC
I have recently installed a 60' track around my outdoor fountain pond. Every time I use it, it needs the track cleaned with the LGB cleaner pad. The loco and rolling stock are secured out of the weather, as is the transformer, and I don't understand why it always runs erratically after a rain, or even overnight with a dew the next morning. After cleaning, it seems to run fine for several hours. I'm using the transformer for a Bachmann Big Hauler set, and wonder if a more powerful amperage would solve this problem. The track has two power connectors, located midway around the track from each other, and fed by the one transformer.

Please help me solve this annoying issue.

Thanks very much!

Terry
 
Martino

Martino

Kit bashing, The UK narrow gauge, The GWR, Aviatio
I can’t speak to the more powerful amps, but when I used track power track cleaning was always essential. I used LGB blocks, green scotchbrite pads and various abrasives on the end of a drywall pole. Others will chime in too.

In the end, I went battery power, but most folks get great results from track power with regular cleaning.
 
Gavin Sowry

Gavin Sowry

Garden Railroader and Raconteur
27 Oct 2009
5,915
6
65
Hutt Valley, NZ
Welcome to the forum. First thing to know around here, is that you will receive a lot of well intentioned advice, but be aware of what is called 'thread drift' (where some wander off the question/subject). I can confidently predict, that within the first 10 posts on this thread, someone will try to tell you to do this, or do that, that does not help you, in fact will confuse you. But, we are all friends here.

Your problem, poor running.
Known probable cause, power pack.
Advice, yes, the Bachmann pack is probably too weak to run your line, given the 'length greater than the oval track on the lounge floor'. For successful track power operation, you need sufficient amps for the train, clean rails, and, clean wheels.
There is a wealth of information on this forum about keeping track clean etc. I am a user, and advocate, of track power, and have few problems, and hardly have to clean my brass rails. Check out my Taita Gorge Railway for a good read on how I've been there, done that, for the last 18 years.

103584_7864cfd735a414cce1364dd768f396c1.jpg
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
2,358
29
San Diego
www.elmassian.com
Moisture can actually lower the resistance between the rails and "sap" power from the transformer. 60' of track will do it.

You can prove this to yourself if you measure the resistance between the rails (with the transformer disconnected) when things are dry and things are wet.

But that should not be erratic running.... when it is erratic, is the problem in the same place?

Also ditch that transformer, they are junk, sorry.

Greg
 
Gizzy

Gizzy

Railways, Aviation, Caravanning....
26 Oct 2009
32,157
11
Cambridgeshire
www.gscalecentral.net
Clean track = reliable running.

And as others have mentioned, a good power unit is essential.

You are learning fast, as we all have!

BTW, welcome to GSC...
 
dunnyrail

MOTM

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
14,040
47
70
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
You may also have issues with your Track Joiners. Greg hinted at this. Best solution is to use Track Clamps, this certainly gets rid permanently of ine of he buggest issues. If your finances will not run to clamps you can bond each joint by soldering wire accross the gaps. Allow a little extra wire for the track to flex.
 
JimmyB

MOTM

JimmyB

Learning; but slowly!
23 Feb 2018
1,207
13
64
Weston-super-Mare
My layout is more modest, but like you I was using a small Bachmann controller, thought I didn't find I needed to do much track cleaning, however that was during this rather warm summer. I did find the LGB track pad useful for those areas where there was a "stutter".
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,346
8
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
It's down to preparation. When first laying down your line make sure all the track joints/joiners/power connectors are clean and bright where the surfaces mate, then apply some sort of oxidization inhibitor to these joints before putting it all together - such as Massoth/LGB graphite paste. If you can use track clamps, either over joiner or direct to rail, use those as well. They don't just improve/ensure better long term electrical conductivity they also hold track formations together better. You can physically "bond" the rails, as Jon has suggested, but that can add complications if you have just started your layout and want to alter and grow.

Check the loco's pick ups and wheels for dirt and contamination - that can cause uneven running. Believe it or not "smoke oil" makes a good crud remover. Dip a cotton bud (Q-tip ?) in so of it and clean around the full circumference of all wheels that pick up current and any pick up skates - now look at the cotton bud. Do not use abrasives to clean these parts as you will be "keying" the surfaces to collect more crud. Is your line laid on a hard surface/ballast or grass and how much planting is around it ? Keep it clean within the "four foot". Amazing how little of the green stuff is required to turn a solid runner into a stuttering wreck.

Most locos, dependent on load conditions, will pull around 1.5 amps. More locos at one time, more amps. Get a reasonably powerful one from the outset. I have a Crest that can put out a thumping 20 amps if needed - bit of overkill but the model shop had a good salesman when I started 15 years ago.

Now go invest in an LGB 50050 (Google it) and fit it to a short wagon. Max


.
 
Last edited:
wandgrudd

wandgrudd

Registered
24 Oct 2009
252
1
Robin Hood Country
I have recently installed a 60' track around my outdoor fountain pond. Every time I use it, it needs the track cleaned with the LGB cleaner pad. The loco and rolling stock are secured out of the weather, as is the transformer, and I don't understand why it always runs erratically after a rain, or even overnight with a dew the next morning. After cleaning, it seems to run fine for several hours. I'm using the transformer for a Bachmann Big Hauler set, and wonder if a more powerful amperage would solve this problem. The track has two power connectors, located midway around the track from each other, and fed by the one transformer.

Please help me solve this annoying issue.

Thanks very much!

Terry
Terry,

i suspect is its just normal dirt rain water isn't clean remember, leave a wagon out for a week and take a look at the splash back from the rain on the sides and the under side that will tell you the story of why you get a bit of erratic running its some thing we all suffer with.
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
22,075
41
Tamworth, Staffs.
As others have said..
Also, if you have the carbon brushes rubbing on the inside face of the wheels, then give that area a light cleaning as well..

If you invert a loco, you can use the continuity setting (a bleep) on your meter, to check that all wheels and skates down each side of the loco are picking up and connecting to each other. - Problems, clean wheel-backs, treads on tyres.. Check skates move up and down freely. Check carbon brushes move in and out freely.

Frequent running also helps to keep things moving.. Leave it for a few days and you mat have to clean the track.

Remember, if the wheels etc. are dirty, then cleaning the track will not solve your problems.. I would service the loco(s), then rub-over the track. Then work on other loco's before you run them. - Makes the job more manageable.

If the track is damp, the drywall sander, with a couple of layers of an old towel wrapped round it will remove the dampness, ans a remarkable amount of muck.

Welcome to the Forum, and enjoy all aspects of looking after and running your railway!
PhilP.
 
mike

mike

Moderator
Staff member
GSC Moderator
24 Oct 2009
49,413
88
Rossendale
www.lazygrangebay.co.uk
Hello..and welcome to the madness...
Could you tell us what power surplly ie ampage you are useing.
I suspect lack of power
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,380
0
North Essex
It's down to preparation. When first laying down your line make sure all the track joints/joiners/power connectors are clean and bright where the surfaces mate, then apply some sort of oxidization inhibitor to these joints before putting it all together - such as Massoth/LGB graphite paste. If you can use track clamps, either over joiner or direct to rail, use those as well. They don't just improve/ensure better long term electrical conductivity they also hold track formations together better. You can physically "bond" the rails, as Jon has suggested, but that can add complications if you have just started your layout and want to alter and grow................. Max
Completely agree with the above - having quite recently got my own track down at long last (after fifteen years of collecting and preparing...!), I was determined to do it "right" from the start - so every track joint has been clamped (mostly Massoth clamps, though others work just fine too), long sections of track (Aristo big curves, LGB/Piko 4-foot and AMS 6-foot straight lengths) used wherever possible to reduce the number of joints, a little dab of graphite paste in every clamp before connecting it up - and every rail-end thoroughly cleaned with a powerful descaler gel after removal of the push-on joiners, before fitting the clamps. My track is a mix of half a dozen brands, both new and second-hand sections.
So far, it all seems to be paying dividends in reliable and easy running, and hopefully will continue to do so.
I'm using DCC track power from a Massoth 12-amp Dimax 1200Z unit, and also have an LGB track-cleaning loco that gets a couple of laps of the circuit anytime I haven't run a train for a few days.

Good preparation, good joints and plenty of power seems to be the key elements......

Jon.
 
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W

Weavervegas1

Registered
21 Aug 2018
4
0
69
Weaverville, NC
I'm using a Bachmann 1 amp power supply, and it works well when the track and pickups are clean.
I thank all members who responded so quickly and helpfully, and will probably buy a PIKO battery powered track cleaner, which should be available soon. Expensive, but easier on this old man's knees than the LGB cleaning pad!

Thanks again!
 
Gizzy

Gizzy

Railways, Aviation, Caravanning....
26 Oct 2009
32,157
11
Cambridgeshire
www.gscalecentral.net
I will probably buy a PIKO battery powered track cleaner, which should be available soon.
Terry

you might need to check this carefully, as my understanding of this loco is that only the cleaning pad works on battery. The loco itself works on track power.

If you do purchase one, it would be interesting to see how it performs with tarnished track....
 
korm kormsen

korm kormsen

Registered
24 Oct 2009
2,410
0
be welcome!
in my opinion, the big hauler transformers/regulators are very fine

.... if you use them together with some sections of a christmas lightchain for illuminating buildings.
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,380
0
North Essex
I'm using a Bachmann 1 amp power supply, and it works well when the track and pickups are clean.
I thank all members who responded so quickly and helpfully, and will probably buy a PIKO battery powered track cleaner, which should be available soon. Expensive, but easier on this old man's knees than the LGB cleaning pad!

Thanks again!

OK, I would say that your highest priority would be to get yourself a new and more powerful unit. Regardless of the track cleaning issue, it's not going to be long before you find yourself wanting to run a loco that demands more than just 1 amp..... if you're planning on staying with analogue DC power, I would suggest something with 5 amps output as a minimum.

Jon.
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,380
0
North Essex
Terry

you might need to check this carefully, as my understanding of this loco is that only the cleaning pad works on battery. The loco itself works on track power.

If you do purchase one, it would be interesting to see how it performs with tarnished track....

Not sure where that info comes from, Giz? I was under the impression that the thing runs on battery OR track power, switchable, and the battery power does indeed do the loco propulsion when switched that way - I had also assumed that the track cleaning elements were simply "dumb" cleaning pads, not anything powered in any way....... but, I haven't seen any very recent info on the loco, so what I understood may all be out of date now!

Jon.
 
Gizzy

Gizzy

Railways, Aviation, Caravanning....
26 Oct 2009
32,157
11
Cambridgeshire
www.gscalecentral.net
Not sure where that info comes from, Giz? I was under the impression that the thing runs on battery OR track power, switchable, and the battery power does indeed do the loco propulsion when switched that way - I had also assumed that the track cleaning elements were simply "dumb" cleaning pads, not anything powered in any way....... but, I haven't seen any very recent info on the loco, so what I understood may all be out of date now!

Jon.
Thought I'd read it on here, but I could be wrong? Wouldn't be the first time!

If it is indeed 'bi-mode', then, to quote the Fat Controller, it will be a very useful engine.

Jimmy's post and linky seems to confirm this? Might have to buy one myself....