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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nebraska
    Age
    51
    Posts
    487

    Micro-Track Switches

    Good evening...I laid out a small oval of Micro-Track with a couple of switches. I have a MTL GP35 that I am running on it and these switches seem to be problematic. The loco kind of hops a little through them, stalls sometimes, cars have derailed, etc. Do these switches need some tweaking or modification to be reliable? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    2,117
    Blog Entries
    1
    Some the GP's have had some gauge issues with them but I have not heard of rolling stock. Rolling stock wheels are cast so very consistent. However, all locomotive axles are press on to the plastic gears so tend to vary. A few thousandths over/under can sometimes get us into this.

    As for the turnouts, the black guard rails on the outer tracks are a bit too close to the other rails. Some have completely cut them off (wrong) and most of us have either filed or disc ground the side that faces the rail to about have the thickness.

    It may also be a points alignment issue, picking the axles as they go into the turnout.

    You did not mention if you observed any specifics nor if there was a particular direction that was the culprit.

    To find the trouble spot, take a known loco or rolling stock and lightly roll it thru. Get a good working lighted area and possibly a flash light to observer closely. Is it the frog area or the points?
    .

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Akron, Ohio
    Age
    79
    Posts
    758
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave View Post
    Good evening...I laid out a small oval of Micro-Track with a couple of switches. I have a MTL GP35 that I am running on it and these switches seem to be problematic. The loco kind of hops a little through them, stalls sometimes, cars have derailed, etc. Do these switches need some tweaking or modification to be reliable? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
    This may NOT be your answer, but on some of the early turnouts, pieces of rail were at different heights. When I found this I used 600 to 800 sand paper held tightly to a block of wood and sanded the rail tops.

    ...don

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    United States.
    Posts
    53
    Dave, I know exactly what you are describing concerning Micro-Trains turnouts. I use their manual turnouts and had the same "hopping" issue with a few of them, but no derailments or stalling problems through them though.

    To solve this, the first thing I did was to check, and re-check all my track work to make sure everything was properly aligned and joined. Next, I used my Micro-Trains Z scale tool (#988 00 032) to check track width & wheel width. Then, I ran my engine's through slowly to identify exactly where on the turnout the issue was and I did the same thing Don mentioned...I lightly sanded/filed the rail tops all they way across the turnout just a little bit. The problem areas in my case were the guard rails and frog area - wing rails. Now, my engines roll through like warm butter...

    Don't blame the locomotive and Don't blame the rolling stock... :p
    TrainBoard Attached Thumbnails TrainBoard Attached Thumbnails MTL Manual Turnout 1.jpg   MTL Manual Turnout 2.jpg  

    CSX - GLDV
    -PuppySnacks- 1:1+1:220

  5. #5
    Boy does this sound familiar. I had problems with my MTL switches as well. To overcome these problems I took my Dremel tool with a very fine grinding wheel, and I ground down the points of the guide tracks so that they were slightly slanted upwards.
    Next I bent the points out slightly with a pair of tweezers so that they would make better contact with the main rails and there was no chance of snagging flanges as they crossed over the points. I also ground down the tips of these points for the same reason.
    The stalling issue can be caused by power transfer over the joiners. I had to slightly shim my switches so that the joiners made better contact. I didn't have this problem on all my switches, just a few.
    These remedies seem to work very well for me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    France
    Age
    50
    Posts
    1,166
    Guys isn't it a problem to file one's turnouts' railheads? I've always been warned against this, because filing railheads create micro-cracks (no word game!) that favor gathering of dust and dirt....

    Dom

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ddechamp71 View Post
    Guys isn't it a problem to file one's turnouts' railheads? I've always been warned against this, because filing railheads create micro-cracks (no word game!) that favor gathering of dust and dirt....

    Dom

    Hi Dom.

    I don't know if that's true or not. I've had no problems with mine but I would suspect that if one doesn't clean the tracks or turnouts regularly, problems might develop.

    Ken

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    New York
    Age
    54
    Posts
    406
    Using a file on rails can cause fairly deep scratches, depending on the file. What I've done when filing is necessary is... after the filing is completed, go over the rail with a 400 - 600 grit sandpaper, then smooth / polish with an 800 - 1000 grit paper. This will gently bring the surrounding rail height down to scratch level.

    We really are talking about very small amounts of metal being removed and by using the 800 - 1000 paper you'll get a nice, smooth surface. Final step for me is alcohol-soaked balsa squares to remove all metal dust.

    John
    Ztrains.com | Z Scale (1:220) Model Railroading

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Akron, Ohio
    Age
    79
    Posts
    758
    Quote Originally Posted by ddechamp71 View Post
    Guys isn't it a problem to file one's turnouts' railheads? I've always been warned against this, because filing railheads create micro-cracks (no word game!) that favor gathering of dust and dirt....

    Dom
    I think this is an "old wives" tale. Sounds logical, but I have never seen anything technical on the subject. I used to have access to a scanning electron microscope, but no more. If someone has that ability, post some photos of new track, filed track and sanded track. I have had no trouble what-so-ever on my sanded track and I am NOT a good track housekeeper.

    ...don

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Fontill, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    816
    Quote Originally Posted by Don A View Post
    I think this is an "old wives" tale. Sounds logical, but I have never seen anything technical on the subject. I used to have access to a scanning electron microscope, but no more. If someone has that ability, post some photos of new track, filed track and sanded track. I have had no trouble what-so-ever on my sanded track and I am NOT a good track housekeeper.

    ...don
    I started with the dremel cutting disc to held at an angle to the rail for initial work and then after a few accidents switched to use a fine jewelers file for the initial work and crocus cloth for the final clean up.

    This is the type of sanding material used by engine fitters doing clean up for matching surfaces such as piston sleeves on diesel engines etc. and I use one and two inch wide material glued to a hard wood block and only move or work it in the direction of travel over the top of the rails and it does a better job of polishing the surface and the cloth holds to-gether better than than sanding paper. I used it in my marine work for polishing steering cylinder piston rods to clean up surface damage to rod surface that was chewing up rod seals. So it gives a very nice polished surface that is friendly to the lip on shaft seals operating in hydraulic oil. It is commonly found in machine shops.
    regards Garth Hamilton, VE3HO
    http://ve3ho.ca

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