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Offline Poor Skeleton  
#1 Posted : 08 May 2020 00:42:11(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Hi,

I wanted to share my experience of the behaviour of new models to see if it corresponds with anyone else's.

Whenever I have a new locomotive I, naturally, run it for a bit to check everything is OK. Often, things seem a bit "sticky" to start with, so I tend to run the thing for half an hour or so in each direction and I get the impression this does loosen things up a bit. At this point I'm usually pretty happy with how a loco is running. However, what I often/usually find is that after a little bit more running the electrical pick up rapidly deteriorates and it becomes increasingly difficult to get the loco round my layout without several nudges.

At this point, I usually spend some time cleaning the wheel backs and polishing the pickup wipers with 2000 grit emery and after that things are OK.

Does this correspond with anyone else's experience? Does anyone have any theories as to why this happens and the best way of dealing with it?

From what I've seen and measured, the contact between wheels and pickup wiper is never that great (a few tens of ohms seems to be a good result!) and I'd welcome any advice on how to improve things.

All the best


Chris
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Offline applor  
#2 Posted : 08 May 2020 02:38:06(UTC)
applor

Australia   
Joined: 21/05/2004(UTC)
Posts: 1,490
Location: Brisbane, Queensland
Apart from degradation of the track centre stud from humidity, my only other issue experienced is that the pickup shoe can start to oxidise causing poor electrical conductivity where the spring piece is mechanically attached to the actual slider (flat) piece.

I am not sure what you mean about contact between the wheels and the wiper - given the wheels are for neutral/earth (-) and the slider is for active (+) you don't want any electrical conductivity.
modelling 1954 Germany (era IIIa)
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Offline d_landen@yahoo.com  
#3 Posted : 08 May 2020 05:55:22(UTC)
d_landen@yahoo.com

United States   
Joined: 02/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 129
Location: West Texas
Hello

I have never had experiences like those you mentioned. Most of my locos are purchased used. I have not had issues with the locos which I purchased new and am only guessing about this.

Do you think there is some short of shipping film applied to this area. Oil or something to inhibit corrosion , which heats with use and causes the issues you mention.

I have had experience with the scraper actually coming out of place from behind the wheel. What would cause this but the scraper being locked to the back of the wheel and when getting pulled out when the motor moves the wheels. (The scraper and wheel move as one). The inhibitors might prevent this problem, but eventually cause other issues.

Just a thought.
Offline Carim  
#4 Posted : 08 May 2020 10:28:34(UTC)
Carim

United Kingdom   
Joined: 15/09/2014(UTC)
Posts: 433
Location: London
Could it be that your track was dirty and after running round a bit, the locos have picked up dirt on their wheels and this is now inhibiting their performance? Try cleaning the actual wheel treads themselves.

Carim
Offline Unholz  
#5 Posted : 08 May 2020 11:32:59(UTC)
Unholz

Switzerland   
Joined: 29/07/2007(UTC)
Posts: 1,202
Location: Switzerland
Originally Posted by: Poor Skeleton Go to Quoted Post

Does this correspond with anyone else's experience? Does anyone have any theories as to why this happens and the best way of dealing with it?

Yes.

Every time after I have let my small digital layout "rest" for a couple of weeks, I have to vacuum all the dust and cat hairs from the tracks and run a test train over the tracks for a couple of laps. In stubborn cases I additionally have to clean the rail surface with a damp cloth and also the center studs/Pukos in certain places with one of those little cardboard "nail files" from the beauty department (usually one side of these is rather smooth and the other one a bit coarser).

The analogue layout with its locos is far less sensitive in this respect.
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#6 Posted : 08 May 2020 13:11:16(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Thanks for all the responses. I should have mentioned that I am modelling in Z scale, so the comments about studs and pick-up shoes don't apply. By the same token I am very aware of the necessity for clean track. If the layout hasn't been used for a while, I will polish the track with a track rubber, then wipe down with IPA and finally vacuum up anything on or around the track. Before any running session I always run round the Marklin track cleaning wagon with its pad dampened with IPA. It's not a perfect, but the results are satisfactory for most locomotives.

By "wiper" I am referring to the phosphor-bronze strips that contact onto the back of the pick-up wheels. (The system in HO may be different.) I have been suspicious that these may have a layer of lacquer to prevent them from oxidising. Certainly when cleaning up one loco which had started running erratically after its "running in period" I removed at least one tiny ring of transparent material that appeared to have come from the tip of the wheel wiper.

The question was prompted by my latest experience with the new class 85 loco (88889) which ran very well initially but then started stalling, always at the same (curved) locations of the layout. Of course, my initial suspicion was of dirty track, but no amount of cleaning/polishing improved matters and, after much experimentation, I concluded that at certain wheel alignments all contact between the wheels and the inner electrics was lost.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Chris
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#7 Posted : 08 May 2020 13:14:50(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: Carim Go to Quoted Post
Could it be that your track was dirty and after running round a bit, the locos have picked up dirt on their wheels and this is now inhibiting their performance? Try cleaning the actual wheel treads themselves.

Carim


Hi Carim,

Thanks for the suggestion. I did consider this and ran the locomotive over the Marklin/Minitrix wheel cleaning brush, but to no benefit, I'm afraid!

How is the layout extension coming along?

All the best


Chris
Offline Carim  
#8 Posted : 08 May 2020 14:55:26(UTC)
Carim

United Kingdom   
Joined: 15/09/2014(UTC)
Posts: 433
Location: London
Well, if cleaning the wheels doesn't help, I am a bit stumped. Confused Could there be a loose contact somewhere or are the brushes losing contact with the commutator as they get warm? Is this happening with every loco? I assume it is happening randomly around the layout and not just on curves or points. I get the occasional stutter if I haven't run a loco for some time, but ten circuits at full speed seems to sort that out.

I have spent most of the lockdown so far running trains and detailing a number of coaches. I have just applied a wire device from HOS Modellbahntechnik to stop my pantographs springing up and smashing into the catenary cross-spans. The extension is behind schedule as I was only able to get more wood recently; hopefully, I will be able to get the baseboard built in the next few days.

Carim
Offline DaleSchultz  
#9 Posted : 08 May 2020 15:36:17(UTC)
DaleSchultz

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,395
if IPA means Isopropyl alcohol - that may be your problem.
I have seen reports to never place it on your tracks.
Use a contact cleaner instead.
Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
Offline d_landen@yahoo.com  
#10 Posted : 08 May 2020 17:12:57(UTC)
d_landen@yahoo.com

United States   
Joined: 02/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 129
Location: West Texas
I thought it was rubbing alcohol which caused issues. Not isopropyl alcohol. Rubbing alcohol has an additive in it which leaves a film on the track which likely affects contact. I have been using 70% or higher alcohol for some time and have not noticed problems.

What would a contact cleaner be? The Modellbahnnol SR 24 stuff? This would make a good cleaner from what I have seen but I have yet to try it.

I think between the non-abrasive pads and the alcohol or SR24, the track should be in good shape. Sometimes I have contact issues at the switches which no amount of cleaning will correct.

Best wishes.
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Offline DaleSchultz  
#11 Posted : 08 May 2020 21:28:47(UTC)
DaleSchultz

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,395
Can't recall where I got this list, but someone did the research...

Best at top, worst at bottom:
non-polar cleaners.png
Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
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Offline Bogenschütze  
#12 Posted : 08 May 2020 21:30:38(UTC)
Bogenschütze

United Kingdom   
Joined: 10/09/2019(UTC)
Posts: 19
Location: England, Chichester
And there was me thinking IPA meant India Pale Ale.
"The train set I never had as a child."
Keith Bowman
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Offline Poor Skeleton  
#13 Posted : 08 May 2020 22:44:26(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: Bogenschütze Go to Quoted Post
And there was me thinking IPA meant India Pale Ale.


Here in Greene King country, it most definitely does!

All the best.


Chris
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#14 Posted : 08 May 2020 22:51:30(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: Carim Go to Quoted Post
Well, if cleaning the wheels doesn't help, I am a bit stumped. Confused Could there be a loose contact somewhere or are the brushes losing contact with the commutator as they get warm? Is this happening with every loco? I assume it is happening randomly around the layout and not just on curves or points. I get the occasional stutter if I haven't run a loco for some time, but ten circuits at full speed seems to sort that out.

Carim


I've measured continuity between pick-up wheels with no or poor continuity, so I'm pretty sure the problem lies between the wheels and the pick-up wipers.

As far as I can tell, just running a loco doesn't seem to fix the problem. I need to "do something" I'm just not sure which of the "somethings" I do helps!

All the best!


Chris
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#15 Posted : 08 May 2020 23:00:53(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: DaleSchultz Go to Quoted Post
if IPA means Isopropyl alcohol - that may be your problem.
I have seen reports to never place it on your tracks.
Use a contact cleaner instead.


I've tried a number of track cleaning materials, but IPA seems to be the most effective for me.

And to be clear, my "old faithful" locomotives are perfectly happy with my cleaning regime. It is only brand new locomotives that run perfectly for a while before developing pick-up problems. I should probably reiterate that contact between track and wheels is perfectly OK, continuity is lost between the wheel and internal electrics.

Its a mystery!

All the best



Chris
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Offline Carim  
#16 Posted : 09 May 2020 19:07:05(UTC)
Carim

United Kingdom   
Joined: 15/09/2014(UTC)
Posts: 433
Location: London
Originally Posted by: Poor Skeleton Go to Quoted Post
.... then started stalling, always at the same (curved) locations of the layout.


I should have read this bit before! I agree with your suspicion that there is an alignment problem with the wheels, contacts and inner electricals. Unfortunately, as I have no steam locos I can't offer an immediate insight into the problem. However, can the loco run without the leading & trailing pony trucks? Looking at the parts diagram (attached) it looks like there is an electrical connection on them (part 9 - and the corresponding one at the back). Do these have to touch a circuit under the main body block (the bit without a number that all the wheels slot into) ? It could be that if both are not touching the circuit on the main body, the electrical circuit is not complete - and these connections may have become twisted.

Carim


Marklin 88889 parts.pdf (1,089kb) downloaded 16 time(s).
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Offline blid  
#17 Posted : 09 May 2020 21:24:09(UTC)
blid

Sweden   
Joined: 02/01/2012(UTC)
Posts: 153
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
The way I recall the explanation about the different track cleaning solvents, it was what happened after the cleaning. The polar and semi-polar attracts the dirt, but not the non-polar not so much.
In other words; IPA cleans the tracks OK, but you have to do it again much sooner than if you use non-polar.
I am no expert and I don't use any solvents as yet - but I might use WD-40.
CS2, 60215, 4x60174, C-tracks, LDT HSI-88, TC Gold. OneGauge Marklin and MTH, CS1 Reloaded on LGB tracks. MTH 3-rail 0-gauge, DCS on GarGraves tracks. Z: Rokuhan tracks, analog or DCC+TC.
Offline Crazy Harry  
#18 Posted : 09 May 2020 21:32:58(UTC)
Crazy Harry

Canada   
Joined: 18/11/2008(UTC)
Posts: 362
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Originally Posted by: blid Go to Quoted Post
but I might use WD-40


Note the table in post #11 above specifically says 'WD-40 Contact Cleaner' which is different that the more common WD-40 in the blue and yellow spray can.

Cheers,

Harold.
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Offline Poor Skeleton  
#19 Posted : 09 May 2020 22:33:01(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: Carim Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Poor Skeleton Go to Quoted Post
.... then started stalling, always at the same (curved) locations of the layout.


However, can the loco run without the leading & trailing pony trucks? Looking at the parts diagram (attached) it looks like there is an electrical connection on them (part 9 - and the corresponding one at the back). Do these have to touch a circuit under the main body block (the bit without a number that all the wheels slot into) ? It could be that if both are not touching the circuit on the main body, the electrical circuit is not complete - and these connections may have become twisted.

Carim



I used to think those little spring things were for electrical pick-up, but having examined them it seems not. I think they're there to bias the pony trucks in the straight-ahead orientation and to apply some downward force.

I have observed this problem with my diesels as well, so it doesn't just affect steam locos. All that said, no-one else seems to share this experience, so I suspect I am imagining a pattern where there is none!

All the best


Chris
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Offline parakiet  
#20 Posted : 10 May 2020 12:08:02(UTC)
parakiet

Belgium   
Joined: 20/02/2017(UTC)
Posts: 23
Location: Flanders!
Originally Posted by: DaleSchultz Go to Quoted Post
Can't recall where I got this list, but someone did the research...

Best at top, worst at bottom:
non-polar cleaners.png


Just wondering: when you use IPA, that would evaporate. So there's nothing left on the tracks...
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#21 Posted : 11 May 2020 11:45:21(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: parakiet Go to Quoted Post
Just wondering: when you use IPA, that would evaporate. So there's nothing left on the tracks...


That's my thought, too. I have to admit to being a bit sceptical of the original article, which does have hints of pseudo-science about it.

However, I did find an article on the use of IPA in electronics production. It seems that, as a polar solvent, it is very good at removing some contaminants, but not all, and this is where a non-polar solvent can be more effective. The other problem with IPA is that it is highly hydroscopic and rapidly draws moisture out of the air. The IPA quickly evaporates but leaves the water, which is much slower to evaporate, behind. Perhaps this then accelerates oxidation of the surface?

In any case, I have ordered a can of WD-40 contact cleaner and will report back on whether I notice an improvement. For the record, I have used "Track Magic" in the past, but I didn't feel it was effective at all and returned to using IPA with which I have always had better results.

Fascinating though this all is, I'm no further forward with my wheel to wiper problems that were the subject of the original post!

All the best


Chris


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Offline David Dewar  
#22 Posted : 11 May 2020 15:01:38(UTC)
David Dewar

Scotland   
Joined: 01/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 6,922
Location: Scotland
I don't have Z so probably not much help however is there sufficient power getting to the track. As you appear to be doing a lot of cleaning I would not have thought that was the problem. Does this happen with all your locos.
Take care I like Marklin and will defend the worlds greatest model rail manufacturer.
Offline husafreak  
#23 Posted : 14 May 2020 00:10:52(UTC)
husafreak

United States   
Joined: 09/04/2019(UTC)
Posts: 183
Location: California, Bay Area
I have DeoxIT F5 fader lube and LPS1 greaseless lubricant on hand to try. I have been using isopropyl alcohol since day one but have seen some print and video that it is not optimal. So the DeoxIT products are D5 and F5, D5 has a higher proportion of cleaner and F5 more lubricant. I use it for my stereo stuff, quiets scratchy pots and cleans contacts. But F5 is not on the table, only D5. The LPS1 is what the mechanics at work use on Boeing jets electrical stuff. I've seen it sprayed on cannon plugs and volume knobs and switches many times. Also not listed. I'm going to try them on my track soon.
Offline d_landen@yahoo.com  
#24 Posted : 15 May 2020 02:49:37(UTC)
d_landen@yahoo.com

United States   
Joined: 02/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 129
Location: West Texas
Hello

I picked up some WD40 contact cleaner today. I will give it a try, see what happens. I believe I can collect some in a container and use my cleaning stick. I won’t spray it directly.

In the past, I stayed away from this kind of cleaner because of concern about what it may do to my scenery if it accidentally got onto something.

I also have some IPA which is 98% which I picked up at Frys. What makes up the remaining 2%. Is it water? Would this level of IPA also be very low on the polar chart? Not certain how this figures??? I believe this strength is sold for the electronic repair industry.

I was previously using 70% with no issues.

Will report more later.

Best wishes. Sorry Chris, no new suggestions on your experiences.
Offline husafreak  
#25 Posted : 15 May 2020 04:15:54(UTC)
husafreak

United States   
Joined: 09/04/2019(UTC)
Posts: 183
Location: California, Bay Area
What I think is interesting is that IPA that we all know and use has no lubricant, but I think these others like the WD40 cleaner and the ones I mentioned all have traces. Could that foul the scenery? Maybe. Could it help the locos? Maybe.
Addressing the original post I have found that most of my locos that run well out of the box continue to do so. Breaking in the motor brushes and bearings, gears, is a good thing to do, we all agree, but if they don't run well that probably won't get them running much better. Typically if I have a loco that is running rough initially, even if it warms up and runs better after a few minutes, will run rough when left to sit for months. So, I cant remember a loco that ran well out of the box then deteriorated by the end of an hours breaking in run. If it did I would suspect debris or a faulty brush or something that broke. probably not the contact wipers that pick up electricity from the wheels. That is a very simple and foolproof, time tested, design.
Offline Carim  
#26 Posted : 15 May 2020 12:07:55(UTC)
Carim

United Kingdom   
Joined: 15/09/2014(UTC)
Posts: 433
Location: London
Originally Posted by: husafreak Go to Quoted Post
That is a very simple and foolproof, time tested, design.


88889 has the new style of motor, so there might be some different behaviour from the old style of motor/brush combination.

Carim
Offline David Dewar  
#27 Posted : 15 May 2020 12:48:18(UTC)
David Dewar

Scotland   
Joined: 01/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 6,922
Location: Scotland
While I cant talk for Z gauge track cleaning with a rubber should be sufficient for good running on HO C track.. Also wheels should be cleaned from time to time.
Do all Z owners have this problem and does it happen with all locos. Would be interesting to see if there is a dealer or another member with Z close by to see how the loco (s) run on their track.
Take care I like Marklin and will defend the worlds greatest model rail manufacturer.
Offline husafreak  
#28 Posted : 15 May 2020 20:16:53(UTC)
husafreak

United States   
Joined: 09/04/2019(UTC)
Posts: 183
Location: California, Bay Area
Back to track cleaning as a potential fix for poor running. I was running my trains last night and noted one of my bell shaped armature locos, a 4-6-2 Prussian that had sit for a while, was not smooth. I nudged it once or twice to get it going again and then realized it was the perfect opportunity to try the electrical contact fluids I listed above. So a squirt of DeoxIT F5 on a small square of T shirt material and once around the track. Amazing! The loco immediately ran perfect, I even brought it to a very slow pace and it ran smoothly forward and reverse, this is pulling its tender and about 7 cars too. So I did the other loops on my test track which has 195/220/245 ovals and sidings/yard. Well this is the amazing thing. My inner loops are DC and the cleaner F5 or LPS1 seemed to work great. But my outer loop is DCC and I had a consist of two AZL locos running smoothly on it. After cleaning the track with F5 the AZL locos ran terrible, from smooth to stuttering, stopping, lights blinking. I was aghast! I then cleaned the track with IPL which I always used before and the loco ran fine again. So I tried the LPS1 and the same thing happened, the loco started blinking and having trouble moving. A second thorough cleaning with IPA had the DCC train running smoothly with no flickering lights again. This is really interesting, apparently the DCC loco's do not like lubricants on the track, even designed as contact cleaner. But the DC Marklin's seem to like it very much. Mysterious stuff. I've never cleaned or lubricated the wheel contact wipers on my loco's, and I am not sure using even fine grit abrasives would be a good idea, but perhaps the OP could try a cleaner/lubricant like I described on those contacts and see what happens.
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#29 Posted : 16 May 2020 01:09:35(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: David Dewar Go to Quoted Post
I don't have Z so probably not much help however is there sufficient power getting to the track. As you appear to be doing a lot of cleaning I would not have thought that was the problem. Does this happen with all your locos.


Hi David,

Most of my locos run absolutely fine, clean track, wheels etc. permitting. What I perceive, though, as a recurring phenomenon is that new locomotive run fine for a while, then stop running well with contact problems between their wheels and internal electrics. After a bit of fiddling they then run fine and the problem never recurs, but I'm never sure what I've done to fix the problem!

Cheers


Chris
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Offline Poor Skeleton  
#30 Posted : 16 May 2020 01:33:08(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: husafreak Go to Quoted Post
I've never cleaned or lubricated the wheel contact wipers on my loco's, and I am not sure using even fine grit abrasives would be a good idea, but perhaps the OP could try a cleaner/lubricant like I described on those contacts and see what happens.


There's some quite extensive experimentation there and, as usual, some confusing results!

I have to say, I'm reluctant to use anything even vaguely lubricating on my layout as not much of it is on the level and every last bit of traction is valued!

I have been experimenting with WD-40 contact cleaner (which makes a lot of noise about leaving no residue - so I guess we can safely assume is non-lubricating) over the last week, with inconclusive results. I'm not sure how effective I think it is at cleaning track, but I don't think I find it less effective than IPA, on wheels and wheel wipers, I'm not sure. I tried it on my "utility" Ludmilla, which has always been a bit finicky with no amazing immediate improvement. It did, however, start running sluggishly that session, though I think that was mechanical and not related to its earlier cleaning. Where it really did work was on a turnout/point/switch which one of my (four wheel pickup) locomotives was struggling with. I sprayed the section of track with the WD-40 cleaner and that cleared the problem straight away. I was able to do that as that particular point/turnout/switch is in the fiddle yard area of my layout. I wouldn't want to do it in the scenic areas!

I'm optimistic that the WD-40 cleaner will prove itself, I'll keep everyone posted!

Cheers


Chris
P.S. For the record my layout is all analogue, no DCC in sight!
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#31 Posted : 16 May 2020 01:42:15(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: Carim Go to Quoted Post


88889 has the new style of motor, so there might be some different behaviour from the old style of motor/brush combination.

Carim


One of the features of coreless motors, I understand is that they have very little mass and so very little inertia. The two diesels I have with coreless motors have flywheels and I'm pretty sure this helps with their smooth running and will help them coast over dead spots. The steam locos I have with coreless motors don't have flywheels and it's plausible this makes them more sensitive to dirty track/wheels etc.

My 88889 developed a mechanical fault and was returned to the retailer. I'm expecting the replacement on Monday and I'll report back then.

Have a great weekend!


Chris
Offline d_landen@yahoo.com  
#32 Posted : 16 May 2020 02:16:22(UTC)
d_landen@yahoo.com

United States   
Joined: 02/10/2013(UTC)
Posts: 129
Location: West Texas
Hi

Been thinking about this problem and maybe I have come up with a theory which you may find ridiculous but here it goes.

Maybe the problem is not the locos or the track. The problem may be your controller. Your controller works for a time but after a break-in run it is hot and failing. This could be due to shorting in other areas of the layout which the controller is connected to.

Switch to a different controller if you have one. Check connections to your track to make certain they are solid. Sometimes the wires to the track work loose and do not make consistent contact.

Just a thought, but is it worthy??
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#33 Posted : 16 May 2020 15:03:48(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: d_landen@yahoo.com Go to Quoted Post
Maybe the problem is not the locos or the track. The problem may be your controller. Your controller works for a time but after a break-in run it is hot and failing. This could be due to shorting in other areas of the layout which the controller is connected to.


Thanks for the suggestion, but it's not that, I'm afraid. I'm an electronics engineer by profession, so electrics is something I'm pretty comfortable with. Power is definitely getting to the track (I've measured the voltage) and I can also measure poor/intermittent electrical contact between the wheels and the internal electrical connections.

There's quite a lot of lateral play in the wheels to allow the loco to negotiate curves and this will put the contact wipers/brushes under more or less tension depending on their alignment and I think that's what affects continuity. What I still don't understand, though, is why a brand new locomotive seems to be fine and then this trouble develops after an hour or two of running and remains until I do an unspecified "something".

Thanks again for the suggestion, though.

All the best


Chris

Offline zoooctan  
#34 Posted : 25 May 2020 19:15:23(UTC)
zoooctan

Singapore   
Joined: 07/09/2019(UTC)
Posts: 16
Location: Singapore, Singapore
Hello everyone. Sorry I'm a bit late to this conversation but thank you Chris for starting it up. I've been modelling in Z scale for over 15 years and in both DC and DCC. I've had the usual issues with locomotives, dirty track, turnouts etc...but the one thing I've noticed regardless for all this time...is that for whenever a layout or track section is left unused for some time...and this could be weeks, months, maybe longer. It often (I'm no engineer or electrician for sure) seems to go "cold." Obviously many responding to this would say...clean the track...CLEAN the track...Clean...lubricant...track eraser.

I mean, yes cleaning does help. Of course it does. But I've always wondered if it was something more than that. You know what I mean? I mean, it's z scale. It isn't that hard or it doesn't take that long to clean the track. Sometime it polished like it's brand new...but it still "takes a while" before the locomotive(s) seem to come back to life on them. I draw (a very bad) analogy to starting up a car engine..or in this case...a sleepy electrical circuit. Yes I know this may sound like pseudo Science..but I've always had it in the back of my mind that "clean tracks" aren't the only reason. Like there was something else to them.

Then up until over the last year or so, I've seen one or two articles and Youtube videos talking not about clean tracks but conductivity. That tracks may not even neat to be dust free..so much as they need to be conductive to the electrons. Now I know this may not be directly related to what you experience, but I just wanted to throw this out there as a fellow z-scaler. And this seemed to make sense to me.

Among some solutions posted are conductive lubricants and even a very fine amount of graphite from a pencil. I have to (quietly) admit, that I have started to try the pencil thing in some areas, and for now - it hasn't made it worse and in some cases, it does seem better. I'll report back when I have something more quantitative than qualitative.

Just curious if others have experimented with this or just had an opinion about things other than clean track.
My experience...you need to warm up the track!

Gavin
Offline Poor Skeleton  
#35 Posted : 25 May 2020 22:59:33(UTC)
Poor Skeleton

United Kingdom   
Joined: 09/10/2015(UTC)
Posts: 200
Location: England, Cambridge
Originally Posted by: zoooctan Go to Quoted Post

My experience...you need to warm up the track!

Gavin


Hi Gavin,

Thanks very much for your post and comments. As a professional electronics engineer of nearly forty years, I like to think I know a bit about electricity, so I am wary of anything that doesn't seem to have a sound scientific basis! Terms like "conductivity" also have a very specific meaning in physics, so I am also suspicious when they are being used with other, perhaps less specific, meanings!

All that said, my own experience does concur with yours in large measure. As I mentioned in one of the other posts on this thread, my usual regime after a period of non use is; clean the track with a track rubber, clean the track with IPA (solvent currently under review), vacuum the track, run round the Marklin track cleaning wagon several times. Usually after this, things run passably well, but definitely improve more after a period of "proper" running. This also correlates with my experience of exhibition running where it is not unusual to suffer a few "dirty track" incidents within the first hour of running, but where running later in the day is usually flawless.

One thought that occurs to me is that the wheel profile is not flat but conical, so there is little contact between wheel and the top surface of the rail and most of the contact must be on the inner edge of the rail, which receives little of no attention from the track rubber or cleaning cloth. (This does make me wonder if a convex rather than flat track rubber would be more effective.) However, it's plausible that the locomotive and wagon wheels do have a cleaning effect on the rails after a period or running explaining this behaviour.

Another thought is that IPA, I have recently learned, is hydroscopic so draws atmospheric moisture out of the air and onto the track. In addition to this by cooling the track it must cause more moisture to condense on the track. This must be even more profound where you are than it is here in the UK. In any case, it seems again plausible that it will take some time for this condensation to evaporate from the rail surface and that this process is accelerated by running trains.

I have heard some other modellers talk about "wet" running which, I believe, involves cleaning track with a slow to evaporate and conductive fluid (sorry I don't have more details!) and also about the merits of rubbing graphite on your track. I can absolutely see how this would help, but as not much of my layout is on the level I avoid anything that might affect traction!

Something quite separate from this I have observed is that locomotives' running seems to improve after being "warmed up". This seems to be more related to the mechanics freeing up, but is something I am convinced is real - though it does seem to affect bogie locomotives much more than steamers! (I have a theory as to why this is, too, but I'll spare you for now!)

Cheers!


Chris
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