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Offline Jack_Peters  
#1 Posted : 10 February 2019 23:43:23(UTC)

Joined: 06/11/2018(UTC)
Posts: 11
My layout is 80% k-track, 20% m-track.

I understand that the first and foremost advantage of a circuit track like, 2299, 5146 and 24194 vs the 7555 reed switch is bi-directional, it can sense in which direction the train is moving.

I'm looking for feedback on several years of usage of either or both the circuit tracks, contact tracks and reed switches, failure rate, etc.

The issue of having to have a magnet on the loco or last car.

The issue of some consists having more than one contact shoe.

The ease of retrofitting older fixed track with a reed switch vs pulling up existing track to add in a circuit track switch.

Now that I'm using the correct terms, the contact track 2295 or 24995, what is the average length you use.


Edited by user 12 February 2019 01:57:32(UTC)  | Reason: I used the word "contact" meant to use "circuit" track

Offline rrf  
#2 Posted : 11 February 2019 00:03:41(UTC)

United States   
Joined: 15/11/2009(UTC)
Posts: 300
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland USA

I have a few years of experience with contact tracks such as the C-Track 24995. I ran across their biggest disadvantage this morning on my small test oval. I swapped out one train for a new one, which just happened to have a pickup shoe in the last car for interior lighting. This caused an unexpected trigger event and allowed the train on the other siding to start unexpectedly. Fortunately I hit stop before a crash ensued.

There is a second problem I've noticed recently. Sometimes the little switches stick in the triggered position. So far I've been able to disassemble and re-assemble the mechanism and make the problem go away. I'm not sure how far into the future that solution will continue to work.

I recently purchased some reed switches and magnets to play with. I have yet to remove them from the boxes. They obviously will not be susceptible to the "double event trigger" scenario. Though I've decided to use them as a way to distinguish between two groups of trains and trigger a route choice on my layout. For block control and my stations (both hidden and exposed) I am transitioning to circuit tracks.

That said, I am still a big fan of contract tracks. They have been an indispensable part of my Christmas layouts for many years and I intend to keep using them.

Hope this helps,
Mackenrode Wende Bahn
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Offline JohnjeanB  
#3 Posted : 11 February 2019 00:35:56(UTC)

Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,652
Location: Paris, France
Hi Jack

Like Rob I was a big fan of slider-activated contact tracks (like 24995), they are directional etc. However I ran in problems with these:
- when having multiple slider on a train may cause jamming of your train control (it works best when only one slider per train at front of the train.
- the slider may be lifted sometimes which may cause at slow speed a brutal train stop
- it does not provide for train security (if part of the train uncouples in a block the system won't know it.

Reeds are even worse (only my opinion) where the very short contact may sometimes fail to activate what is needed.
You also need to manage the magnets on some wagons which may be a problem if you re-arrange consists (especially on good trains).

In my opinion the best system by far is the contact track (Märklin system) where one of the rails is insulated and connected to a S88 or L88. Any car left in the protected section is detected without anything else to do.
A control unit such as CS2 or CS3 transforms these "occupancy signals" into orders (new itinerary, turning signals red or green, etc).
By far it is much simpler and very secure.
In my case I combined this with Rocrail (free PC-based control software) to provide control of my layout. All you need is a PC (in my case my laptop) and a crossover Ethernet cable.
You may see videos of the result near my signature.

My layout videos
latest vid
hump yard
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Offline Danlake  
#4 Posted : 11 February 2019 01:52:30(UTC)

New Zealand   
Joined: 03/08/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,548
Hi Jack,

I have used occupancy detection in form of contact tracks the last 8 years on my PC software controlled layout with almost none failure rate.

If I have issues with contact tracks it’s because I didn’t make sure I had large enough rail gap between the rails.

My second favourite is infrared sensors (Iam using Azatrax) on my M track part of the layout and almost as good performance as contact tracks.

In latest Marklin magazine they have an article about various feedback solutions and even they admit switch circuit tracks are not the most reliable and recommends contact tracks for C and K track.

Best Regards
Digital 11m2 layout / C (M&K) tracks / Era IV / CS3 60226 / Train Controller Gold 9 with 4D sound. Mainly Danish and German Locomotives.
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Offline PMPeter  
#5 Posted : 11 February 2019 02:34:39(UTC)

Joined: 04/04/2013(UTC)
Posts: 1,107
Location: Port Moody, BC
I have 3 types of sensors on my layout - circuit track such as the 2299 K track, reed switches and magnets, and contact track.

As others have pointed out, the circuit track can cause problems for train consists having multiple sliders. Over time they also become sticky and will not return to their neutral position. I have ripped most of these out of my layout except for 2 that I cannot get at inside a landscape mountain tunnel and they continue to give me grief.

I have found the reed switches generally very reliable as long as the trains are run consistently. I have found several "stuck" in one position or another if they have not been activated for a few months. It takes a very strong magnet pulled over the reed switch several times until you can here the clicking to get them operational again. The other key problem that I have is the positioning of the magnet below the locomotive. Due to different designs and clearances in the loco underframe the magnets will never be the same distance from the locomotive front thus causing different stopping locations of trains when using a software control such as Rocrail. This is almost impossible to tune out in the software. The other problem with the magnets is that they cause the movable parts of switches such as the 3 way 2270 to pull upwards and cause a short especially during slow speed operation. Wide sliders such as the Roco whisper sliders also bind up against the reed contact unless the plastic slider edges are removed.

The contact track method is by far the most reliable. It is also the best for computer control such as Rocrail since the stopping (or other trigger) location will always be triggered at the same time regardless of how long the locomotive is since it is always triggered by the front-most wheels. However, one drawback compared to reed switches is that you cannot easily relocate the contact track if it is in the wrong position for triggers. I generally make mine out of a single 2200 straight track or the appropriate curved track rather than making them in the flextrack. This gives me some flexibility if my location proved to be wrong.

So each has some advantages and some disadvantages. However, from 5 years of operational experience, if I had to do it over again, I would only use contact tracks.

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Offline hxmiesa  
#6 Posted : 12 February 2019 15:55:31(UTC)

Joined: 15/12/2005(UTC)
Posts: 3,264
Location: Spain
Yeah, it´s a big problem that the circuit tracks can get easily damaged, or "unreliable" after some time.
I rely on them quite a bit. Luckily the K-type of them is a little better than the M-track version.

I use them to destinguish between passenger- and freight-trains;
If the track is triggered just ONCE, I define the train a freight-train. -If more than one triggering, then it is a passenger train.
It´s not always true, of course, but it makes for a nice destinction of what gets to stop at the station platform.

For important signals (block-sections signal control) I use contact-tracks.
Best regards
Henrik Hoexbroe ("The Dane In Spain")
Offline David Dewar  
#7 Posted : 12 February 2019 16:58:29(UTC)
David Dewar

Joined: 01/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 6,983
Location: Scotland
I use C track circuit tracks. Had some on the layout for years and they work fine. Can be set for one direction or both directions.
Take care I like Marklin and will defend the worlds greatest model rail manufacturer.
Offline JohnjeanB  
#8 Posted : 12 February 2019 22:52:20(UTC)

Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,652
Location: Paris, France

I have a small restriction on Peter's remark: installing magnets on locos: I have some time ago destroyed a motor by having a magnet near a motor (the magnetic field is changed which can cause the motor to stall and then burn the rotor). I must say it was on an N gauge loco but I believe the risk is still there with DC motors

My layout videos
latest vid
hump yard
Offline PMPeter  
#9 Posted : 12 February 2019 23:06:54(UTC)

Joined: 04/04/2013(UTC)
Posts: 1,107
Location: Port Moody, BC
I have magnets on all of my locos and have not had an issue with any of them after 3 - 5 years - touch wood!!

I just checked the Maerklin magnet instruction sheets 7556 and it clearly states "Locomotive and Car Magnets" and all the instruction diagrams show the magnets being mounted on locomotives. So I don't know where this concern about burning out motors stems from.

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