Micro-Trains Z Track Switch Causing Stalls w/AZL Locomotives

B Varner Jan 21, 2017

  1. B Varner

    B Varner New Member

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    Wow! Fast Tracks. I can certainly see how they would be perfect. But........ While I am perfectly good with restoring/rebuilding a '32 Ford. I don't think I would feel comfortable (or in reality even desire @ this point) to put the effort at this time into restoring a Ferrari, or Fast Tracks turnouts in Z Scale. So, that raises the question, is there anyone who builds these and sells them completed? I am afraid to ask the price for a completed unit!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  2. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Supporter

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    A guy in Canada on ebay periodically posts for N, HO scale and has done Z. Approx $40 was his price. I lost his name and it has been rare postings (I think those were more of overruns).
     
  3. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    B Varner,
    Since nobody has mentioned it so far, welcome to Z. I think I can help with a few of your questions.

    The part number of the MTL tool is 988 00 032 (#920 old part number). It meant to be a coupler height gauge, but it also serves as a tool to check track gage and wheel gage, rolling stock height, air hose height (MTL couplers) and serves as a jig for mounting uncoupler magnets (again MTL).

    I have some Atlas track I've been playing with is week. The rail height is most compatible with MTL. With the other types the is about a 10 mil higher at the rail joint. The rail heel is narrower than MTL so as Jeff mentioned n his post in the Atlas thread, the MTL rail joiners will be loose. Atlas has announced that they will be producing turnouts, so another option will be available hopefully soon.

    I've never built a Fast Tracks turnout but I've seen a demo and talked with several users and it really doesn't seem to be any more difficult than building a model car. You mainly carefully put all the in a jig and solder. once you get good at it, it seems no more time consuming to tuning a prebuilt unit.

    I have to congratulate you and eliciting the most comprehensive description of issues with the MTL turnouts. But I would point out from time-to-time some get built that work just fine. Also Rokuhan is less than perfect: I'm currently playing with that short out the rails wheI change direction.

    Hope this helps,

    Mark
     
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  4. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mark,
    The first round of the turnouts (2012? Sacramento NTS), we discovered that the Frog switched faster that the tension wire points. This caused transient shorts, sometimes just enough to trip the DCC breaker. On DC, it would be very hard to notice. Later productions (within a year) were fixed.

    MTL is built sorta similar, but we've never run into the issue.
     
  5. Greg Elmassian

    Greg Elmassian TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, we had our share of burned points on the early Rokuhan turnouts on the BFY.... not a pretty site, and hard to pull them out of that huge amount of trackage.
     
  6. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Like Mark said, welcome. Using Fastrack switches is not for everybody, but it lets you glide over the frog not possible on commercial switches. It does requires understanding how the switches work, and its harder to install. Its not plug and play.
     
  7. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks for the input on the Rokuhan turnouts. I'm not putting much effort into them since they are the now obsolete '06 and '07 turnouts and they're on my test bench mainly for mechanical purposes. Wasn't NTS Sacramento 2011? 2012 was Denver.

    Mark
     
  8. jshglass

    jshglass TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Rob,

    I just started a new thread yesterday concerning this very same issue. An other user sent me this year-old thread. Seems like this is a chronic issue MTL should have fixed by now.

    I'm gathering I shouldn't waste my time tinkering with my MTL turnouts and should just rip all of them up and replace with Rokuhan. I'm new to Z and don't really have the mechanical knowhow to achieve results. In short, I'm just confirming that based on what I read there is not a handful of simple-fix options from which to choose, like when my AZL loco was dead from getting bumped around during shipping. Or do you recommend something?

    Do the Rokuhan turnouts have the same dimensions? I won't have to re-space everything, will I? Is the ballast the same height as the MTL snap track?

    Thanks,
    Josh in Philadelphia
     
  9. ztrack

    ztrack TrainBoard Supporter Advertiser

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    Josh, yes the tolerance issues are well known. We first identified it in 2005! As the others have said on the thread, there are ways to improve the MTL turnouts. I have personally had mixed results in doing so.

    We have had many customers switch to the Rokuhan turnouts for their reliability and ease of use. They are the exact same dimensions as the MTL turnouts. Actually fun fact, all Z scale sectional track is to the same geometry. This standard was created by Marklin and followed by MTL and Rokuhan. When mixing and matching MTL and Rokuhan track, remove the plastic roadbed joiners and use only the metal rail joiners. You will find the rail head aligns almost perfectly.

    Rokuhan offers numerous track sections that are not available in the MTL and even Marklin lines. More and more customers are mixing and matching so they can benefit from the various track sections. The only real issues is the appearance. MTL ties and tie spacing are more North American in appearance and do look better than the broader tie spacing Rokuhan and Marklin have.

    A couple of other thoughts. I do love the power-routing options of the Rokuhan turnouts. That is a great feature!

    Also, we are the Distributor for AZL and Rokuhan in North America. We do all QC for AZL in our offices and test run every single loco. We only use Rokuhan track and turnouts. If a loco has an issue in a Rokuhan turnout, we know it is the loco and not the turnout. We completely trust the reliability and tolerances of the Rokuhan turnouts.

    Rob
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  10. jshglass

    jshglass TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for this info, Rob. I actually sanded out the guardrails on my MTL turnouts and they are working just fine now. My engine will stall out if it's going at a snail's pace, but I'm not going to worry too much about that at this point in time. This is my first layout and I just want to get things running and build up some scenery. When I buy my first house I'll look into getting Rokuhan turnouts (or even Atlas if they prove superior) for my more permanent layout.
     
  11. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Supporter

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    Good to hear progress. If the loco is still stalling at slow speeds, reverse the loco and see if it stalls on the same truck. Also, does it always stall on most all turnouts? Only Left or Right Hand turnouts? If just one turnout, I would say there still is some binding.
     
  12. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

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    I get the impression that this is not all new stock even if sold as such, Micro Track switches are non power routing so they have power everywhere and the frog is powered by internal contacts, so does not depend on point rail for power, its position only determines were internally the frog power comes from, and the internal switch points are designed as self wiping. So essentially this leads one to say dirty track and dirty wheels, or contamination inside the turnout from an outside source.

    I have used alot of Micro Trains roadbed Track, my layout was 8 x 20 feet with a large yard. In the past I have never experienced this sort of performance from new product, but have, from used product both engines and track. My own experience after building my last 2 x 4 ft layout using Rokuhan track and turnouts, I had even better first time performance from this product. I can provide pictures of the inside of these turnouts and I know them well as I have modified some to power routing and installed LED lights in the road bed to determine track polarity at cross overs on both sides of an insulated joiner so I could see at at glance if the power packs were set correctly, for the cross over between to independent loops. The only things that I found caused me some grief over time were some frogs appeared to be higher than the rail, and some Marklin steam engines with leading pilot trucks or wheels would derail at the frog. I was able to fix these things with a file and a bit of solder, adding weight with small magnets, and adjusting wheel gauge on stock in some cases
     
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  13. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

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    There is one other issue here that has not been talked about. Keeping track clean. all our locomotives had metal wheels, but not our rolling stock, most of us stated with Micro Trains freight and passenger cars with plastic or Delrin wheels, This is an engineered plastic that is self lubricating so it has an oily surface and shines but it attracts every spec of dust and dirt that hits the track and over time builds up a grey mat on the tire surface of the wheel you can peel off like the skin of a grape with a utility knife. I and many others in our group discovered that if we changed out these plastic wheel and replaced them with Fox Valley wheel sets or those of other makers of steel wheels designed to fit Micro Trains trucks once we had cleaned the track well several times these metal wheels did not get dirty like the Micro Trains ones did and we had less problem with stalling engines and slower speed operation. Once we had no stalling problems and no more dirt on the track DCC was very attractive at least for me in Z scale. I have found keeping my 2 x 4 ft layout covered when not in use also helps and as I take it to shows I have also found I do not need to clean track before every show, just occasionally that I need to spot clean
     
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