Help a Newbie (rookie) troubleshoot!!

tbarto Dec 16, 2008

  1. tbarto

    tbarto New Member

    This is my second year with an HO scale model train. I bought an EZ track set up, supposed to work right out of the box. I only planned to pull it out during the holidays until my kids are old enough to respect the hobby. Last year and this year the same thing happens. The train will run fine for a couple of days and then it seems to lose power or something. It will run at full speed until it gets to the straight parts of the track (each side) It will almost slow down enough to completely stop. This year (last week) it was running just fine at 1/4 speed for about two days off and on (when we are home at night) and then all of the sudden started acting up with the sudden slowing on the straight parts. I cannot get it to work properly. To all you veteran hobbyists out there... Where do I begin to troubleshoot. Looking for ideas. I'm tempted to go get another full track and see what IT does.

    Rookie Tony
  2. Shannon

    Shannon TrainBoard Member


    Two important things. If you are using stranded wire make sure you have more than a couple of strands on the wire lug. If you are using solid wire make sure it is not nicked or broken at the lugs. You should use nothing larger or smaller than 16 to 22 gauge wire. anything larger or smaller will give the power to much resistance and will not allow all the power from your power pack to get to the track.

    The second thing is make sure your wheels on your locos are clean. Also make sure your track is clean. With the day to day traffic lots of dust gets on the rail head and the wheels and slows things down.

    What you talked about sounds like wiring problems to me.

    Let me know if I have helped,

  3. bgrgbldr

    bgrgbldr TrainBoard Member


    I have to agree with Shannon. Check the wheesls and clean the track. I kive in Hawaii and the humidity cases the track to oxidize quickly. The trains run great one day and the next they will not even start without help.

    Trains , Kids and Christmas is a winning combination.

  4. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    It depends on how old the loco is. It could be needing some lube on the gears. One thing to do is smell for ozone near the loco. Is it the track being dirty or is it the loco binding up? If it's sitting dead on the tracks do you hear the snap of electricity if you try to move it by hand?

    But first.... check your track!!!

    I'm with everyone else on checking track and wheels and possibly the loco wheel wipers if it has those.

    Just rub the track down with some isopropyl and a q-tip.
  5. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member In Memoriam

    First of all ... welcome to Trainboard, Tony!

    A good way to check for dirty wheels / rail is to turn off the lights and see if there are alot of sparking between the rails and wheels. If so, clean them as suggested above.

    If you are running the train with the track sitting directly on top of a rug or carpeting, you may be picking up lint in the locomotive's mechanism. You'll have to clean that out too.

    And, as already suggested ... lubrication is a critical consideration.

    Good luck, and Merry Christmas!
  6. Wolfgang Dudler

    Wolfgang Dudler Passed away August 25, 2012 TrainBoard Supporter In Memoriam

    Welcome at TrainBoard, Tony.

    Cleaning wheels with a paper towel and some fluid :


  7. Nuts4Trains

    Nuts4Trains TrainBoard Member

    Hi Tony!

    Welcome aboard!

    I agree with everyone else on keeping things clean.

    However, I have also had experiences like yours "back in the day".

    Sometimes it really is the engine that is the problem.

    I remember I had trouble keeping my engines running smoothly (HO scale).

    Then I bought my first Atlas engine. Ran beautifully over the same tracks that nothing else ran on.

    General rule of thumb, the better the quality of the engine, the better your enjoyment.

    When I started collecting in N scale in the 70's, engines were, well, garbage.

    I collected cars and buildings until the early 80's when I spend $80 on an Atlas (coincidence?) U25b.

    Flawless performing engine! I was hooked...

    If you have a neighbor who has engines in your scale, invite them over to "test run" on your track.

    If it still doesn't work it is something with the track.

    If it works, its your engine.

    Cheap test and you might even make a new railroading friend.

    Good luck!
  8. tbarto

    tbarto New Member

    Thank You!

    WOW!!! Abosolutely amazing feedback! Thank you EVERYONE for the replies. I can't wait to find the time to get to this during all this holiday madness. I can't believe all the help I recieved. Awesome. Thanks everyone again! The one about kids trains and holidays was a good one. Easpecially when I get home from work and see my three year old and a football has derailed him into the church under the tree:tb-mad: Ha Ha! Lots of fun! I plan to have some fun with this during the year getting this tip top shape for next year. Thanks again everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS!
  9. Big D

    Big D TrainBoard Member

    I agree with everyone in the fact that you should be sure to clean your loco wheels and your track. Get a track cleaning car. Mine comes from Walthers Trainline and it has an abrasive pad on it. It works great! I would also recommend looking into Atlas' new track cleaning car. Good Luck!

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