N scale layout- HELP!!

cvalentine Jan 16, 2019

  1. cvalentine

    cvalentine TrainBoard Member

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    Hello,
    I am reaching out for some help. I was given the 8ft.by 12ft. layout I have pictured. It is a DC layout and needs some attention to get it back up and running, especially the switches. I have included a picture of the control panel, what I see when I flip back the board that hold the control panel knobs and switches and then a picture of 9 on the turnout switches at one end, I guess I am looking for some advice and suggestions on where to start as far as getting the switches to work. When I push the buttons on the control panel I can hear clicking and I can flip the control panel back and see the parts moving that are doing the clicking. I have seen a couple of the actual switches down at the one end go back and forth but not consistently. I am looking for a direction to head in to get the switches working and where to start. I LOVE TRAINBOARD as I alway get a down to earth answer and one that is easy to understand. Thanks.
    IMG-1978.JPG
    Curt
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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    First question is what is the age of the layout? The next question is how accessible are the turnouts as far as being able to clean and maybe apply a bit of a light lubricant to the sliding parts? Are the turnouts Atlas?

    If the layout has a lot of age probably has some built up dust in the turnouts that barely move. If they are Atlas and not too old the switch machine can be replaced cheaper that the turnout can be. Those that are not moving at all probably have the switch machine burned out. Probably going to take two sets of eyes to determine the issues for those turnouts further away from the control panel. Somebody watching and listening when the control for the turnout is activated.
     
  3. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    Wow! Glad I'm not you.. That control panel looks like the very definition of German engineering (why use 2 parts when 10 will do?). To your benefit, it does look like it was built by someone with years of experience and a ton of knowledge, with the parts layout and the careful routing and lacing of wires. You will need someone that understands electrical engineering to help you get started, but it is entirely possible that when you get it running it will be good.
     
  4. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Your best bet is not here on Train Board! What you have shown us is so complex that it would take pages and pages of back and forth postings and pictures just to get ONE problem solved. It's not like you're dealing with a "standard" locomotive or DCC system that other people have. That layout is one of a kind.

    The best thing to do is to find a local N-scale club near where you live or find a proficient N-scaler nearby. They will probably have to come to your house and take a look in person. You can probably start by posting on the various forums and groups that you are looking for N-scale help in zip code xxxxx to diagnosis a hand me down 8'x12' layout.

    BTW, it looks like a great layout with a lot of potential so I would not give up. Definitely worth the effort to bring it back.
     
  5. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    That's the first time I've heard of that! It's so funny, but true! :D
     
  6. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    Nicely routed wires, good solder joints, etc. I'd say odds are excellent that the infrastructure is in working order. Potential trouble spots will be at the ends of the wires, i.e. where they terminate at switch machines, track feeders, etc.

    Anyone who wire-wraps their cable bundles is obsessive enough their work should last decades.
     
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  7. cvalentine

    cvalentine TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the information and being told I was in the wrong place. Like I said I was looking for some help and direction and I got that from most of the replies. I don't know how old the layout is. I have had it in my classroom for 3 years. I do no some of the issue is cleanliness of the turnout and dust. I do believe I could change out the plastic mechanism that is right by the rail and see if that make any difference. I do like the idea of finding N scale club or people if you will to help try and figure it out, or maybe the middle schoolers I have can do it. I just thought this would be a great thing for MS/JH kids to learn about and work on. I am guessing the layout to be 10+ years old but I don't know. I have had two of the track runnning anbd I just think it still has some great time in it yet. Thanks. Any other thought or directions would be appreciated.
     
  8. cvalentine

    cvalentine TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the information and being told I was in the wrong place. Like I said I was looking for some help and direction and I got that from most of the replies. I don't know how old the layout is. I have had it in my classroom for 3 years. I do no some of the issue is cleanliness of the turnout and dust. I do believe I could change out the plastic mechanism that is right by the rail and see if that make any difference. I do like the idea of finding N scale club or people if you will to help try and figure it out, or maybe the middle schoolers I have can do it. I just thought this would be a great thing for MS/JH kids to learn about and work on. I am guessing the layout to be 10+ years old but I don't know. I have had two of the track running and I just think it still has some great time in it yet. Thanks. Any other thought or directions would be appreciated.
     
  9. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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    The idea of involving the kids is a good idea. Trying to look at the turnouts I cannot tell what they are as far as brand goes. If they look like this link to Atlas then there is a ready source of parts.
    https://shop.atlasrr.com/c-710-n57.aspx
     
  10. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Wait! You didn't say you have this in your classroom. This will be a GREAT project for the kids to get involved. They can learn about construction, wood working, electricity, etc. You can make it into a multi-year project. Let the kids discover how it works and all of you can benefit from eventually resurrecting the layout. Once the word gets out, it's possible that one or more of the parents might be into model railroading and they can be a mentor.

    I bet years from now those kids will always remember your class as the one with the model railroad in it!!! :)

    BTW, I just re-read my earlier response and I hope you didn't take it the wrong way. If you did, I apologize as I was not trying to convey that this is not the place. The thing is, to troubleshoot something so unique and complex at the same time via internet forums will probably lead to frustration and disappointment really quick. It's like describing a sound you are hearing from your car and no one else has that model!

    I'm sure people here will do the best they can but this really sounds like a hands on, in front of the layout, to diagnosis issues. Just trying to describe where each wire goes alone is a nightmare.
     
  11. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    On the far left side of picture #1976 is what appears to be a capacitor-discharge type unit that would be used to supply power for the turnouts/switches. If so, it's possible that the capacitor has deteriorated and is no longer able to provide sufficient power. Some of the other electronic parts may be failing, as well. Some info on C-D units below, plus Circuitron sells such a device should a replacement be needed.
    http://www.circuitous.ca/CDPSU.html
    http://www.circuitron.com/index_files/ins/800-5303ins.pdf

    [​IMG]

    Also, the rheostat type speed controls are no longer the best choice.
    Unless you plan to run DCC-equipped locos, you might want to consider purchasing two new dual power packs, such as this one:
    https://www.modelrectifier.com/product-p/0001278.htm

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. cvalentine

    cvalentine TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the help. I know it is a nightmare trying to figure out ALL those wires, but then I think HOW can Model Railroadiz be a night. Yep, about three years ago a guy that subbed at our school got to talking to me and learned that we had a common thread in model railroading. Long story short he gave me the layout after his dad had passed. I always wanted a train in my classroom to then share with kids and hope to turn them on to the hobby


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  13. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Man, makes me want to go back to school and be in your classroom. Sounds like a outstanding project for some school kids. You said you had a few tracks running, is this true? If so I am sure that you could get parent's, maybe a local hobby shop, just area model railroaders to maybe get involved and make it a community project, just maybe. Can you take some pictures of the buildings and such I just can't see them and the layout although old looks very interesting, and just maybe we can help a little bit. Maybe not, but worth a try to get us involved if possible :) A few pictures at different angles will at least be interesting even if we can't help. What class do you teach anyway to get to bring your layout to school with you :) Kind of like taking your dog to school, but way cooler, well that may not be true, but really cool.

    More pictures please! Especially of the turnouts, and anything we can help with maybe. I can hear the students years from now. I graduated from ABC school, and we had a freakin model train in our classroom :) And also, surely they will never forget the teachers name that brought a model railroad to class :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
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  14. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Absolutely! When I was in wood shop in high school, the shop teacher, Mr. Shulman (see, I still remember his name!), had a personal ongoing project. He was building a kit plane...out of wood...powered by a VW Beetle engine. Every class he taught had a part in the build and it took several years. Kids who had his class were wow'ed by this personal project of his.

    In my (approx.) 10th reunion I asked around if Mr. Shulman ever succeeded and finished building that plane. HE DID! They even test flew it! As if the story wasn't interesting enough, the high school was in NYC and as typical high schools there, was in a multi-story building. The wood shop was "conveniently" on the 5th floor. :) They had to remove the windows (very large as the building was built in the early 1900's) and used a crane to get the major components down (wings, fuse, tail, etc.).

    OK, a railroad layout may not be as dramatic as a real airplane but I will bet that the students will remember it for the rest of their lives. I certainly did about the airplane.
     
  15. chandlerusm

    chandlerusm TrainBoard Member

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    That's a fairly large capacitor... if there are no burn marks, signs of bulging or leakage, it's likely good if it's only ten years old. 30 or more... I'd look at that as the FIRST problem area but modern caps are generally pretty long lived. Sniff test it - any lingering burnt smell?
     
  16. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, close up photos of the turnouts would help a lot. Also, where are you? I know if I'm close, I would be there to help (as I'm sure most of the people on this board would). All you had to do is say "kids in the classroom" and you got me interested. Also, can you flip the photo of the layout?
     
  17. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    I flipped this photo for the teacher. Here it is I think in the right orientation. Man that's a hard work to spell, thank you auto correct! I'll have to look through my old DC locomotives and see if there is something I can donate. They might not work completely, another project for them, but better a student learn from them, than just sitting in storage, and me ignoring them :) Let me know and I'll see if I can find something. Seem's like maybe WE have a school project on OUR hands too :) If your interested in us helping that is? Hey I got the name "Trainboard School Model Train Layout Project", what do you think? Should we, can we, is it possible? And we can all pitch in with info, maybe donate old track, locomotives, etc... I'd still like to see some more photo's up close of certain areas, especially the electrical stuff, as someone might be able to help here with it. Not me, as I am not real good at that part of the hobby, but some close up photos would not only help us, but be really cool to look at!

    IMG-1978.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  18. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    It looks like turnouts are numbered 1 to 14 starting at the right and going left. 0ne through five are single TOs and 6/7, 8/9, 10/11, and 12/13 are the four crossovers, and (I’m guessing) 14 is the single turnout where the red line ties into the blue loop on the lower left of the panel. Can anyone identify what the black units are that are attached to the white board at the back of the control panel? Maybe some sort of electrical connection to the snap machines out on the layout??? They all have an arm sticking out to the side that looks like it might be for a mechanical connection of some sort, but that wouldn’t be necessary, if the turnouts have Snap machines driving the points, would it??


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    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  19. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I see the problem ! There are a couple of derailments on there !!! :whistle:
     
  20. cvalentine

    cvalentine TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for all the information. Wow I am elated in the ideas, thoughts and suggestions. I will do what ever I can to get some help. Yes I have noticed the numbers underneath the control panel. It is too bad teaching stuff I have to gets in the way of train time. I am located in North Central Iowa. My name is Curt Valentine.The school I have the layout in is called Southeast Valley Middle School and is in located in Burnside, Iowa. Burnside is about 20 minutes south of Fort Dodge, Iowa. I would love to get connected with who ever I could for help. I will try to get some closer pictures as well. Thanks


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