A bit of a problem...
#16
The only thing harder to find that an electrical problem is an intermittent electrical problem. I can come up and help if you want me to.
Charlie
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#17
One other thought. can you take pictures of all of the new track work and post them. that way we can all look. I will bet it is something so obvious that it is being overlooked.
Charlie
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#18
Doc---I hope it's not something I did :dumb1: ,I'd hate to lose my visiting pass
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#19
Well, I cleaned-up any oil left on the recently ballasted turnouts (there was very little). However, as I mentioned earlier, with the CM 20 shut off, and my old power pack clipped the the rails of the newly-ballasted track, trains run just fine on those tracks. They are, however, among the ones which can be isolated from tracks that are always live when the CM 20 is turned on.

I do think, though, that it is time to start testing all sections that can be isolated by hooking up the old power pack directly to the rails (I suspect that they'll all check out fine, as they've all been isolated while this problem has been ongoing). After that, I'll test the always-live portions, which is where I think the problem lies. Even though they're separated physically by the kill-able sections, they are all connected, under the layout, by wires, so I'll have to make cuts in the wires until I can find which sections work and which don't. Stay tuned. :popbeer: :mistht:

Wayne
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#20
Best of luck, Doc. That can be a miserable exercise.

Tom
Life is simple - Eat, Drink, Play with trains

Occupation: Professional Old Guy (The government pays me to be old.)
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#21
Wayne, is the polarity reversed between the old section and new section? having said it all worked fine before ballasting I hesitate to even ask this, but just a thought.
Charlie
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#22
Charlie B Wrote:Wayne, is the polarity reversed between the old section and new section? having said it all worked fine before ballasting I hesitate to even ask this, but just a thought.
Charlie

No, the whole layout is wired together, with sections which can be killed by flipping a toggle switch on the layout's fascia in that area. The polarity is changed by the direction switch on the walkaround throttle, so whenever or wherever a locomotive might be on the kill-able tracks, when those tracks are energised, the loco will move in the same direction as all others that are moving, at that time, on the layout. (One of the reasons I eschewed DCC was to avoid my confusion when seeing locomotives moving in opposing directions, especially if they're on the same track.) :mistht: :mistht: :mistht: )

I'm gonna go cut some wires.

Wayne
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#23
Well, finally some small progress to report. I've cut 10 or 12 wires (whoever wired this didn't have a clue what they were doing Crazy ), and finally managed to isolate the upper level. Not all of those cuts were thought to be related to the upper level, and I haven't yet figured out how close I have to go to the original power source, as I'm trying to break it down into separate districts.

With the old transformer clipped to the rails any normally live rails on the upper level, I can run a test loco on all of the tracks on the upper level, with normal responses. This doesn't, however, include the upper staging yard, which is powered by a separate wire from below, but I'm quite confident that that area will perform just as well once isolated. So it's definitely not the new ballast work at fault.

That leaves the lower level, which I thought I had isolated with all that snipping, but apparently not, and the main, single level. The kill-able tracks in both of the latter areas all work as they should when the electrical switches controlling them are in the "OFF" position, and the old transformer clipped directly to those rails. If the transformer is attached to the non-killable rails which feed that electrical switch and the switch turned "ON", the locomotive reverts to "creep" mode, with little speed or throttle response, indicating that the problem is located in the track that's always live when the CM 20 is turned on. There are a lot of areas of such track, interspersed between those switch-controlled sections. Much more yet to do.

Wayne
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#24
Wayne,
i wish you a good luck to scent out this electric fault. So keep calm and proceed systematically.


(Last resource when nerves were run down and before going mad: take a car battery, a set of jumper cables and a fire extinguisher. Look, listen, smell where the holy smoke raises.
Last time i used this brute method i detected a tiny flat piece of metal so unfortunately embedded into the ballast, that it caused only a partial short. And because it was embedded into the ballast there was no chance to detect it by looking. At least i had luck that the high current melted the contact points of this §&?@! piece with a flash and and a bang. So only tip the jumper to the rails.)
Cheers Lutz
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#25
electrical switch and the switch turned "ON",

Any chance that switch is bad?
Mike

Sent from my pocket calculator using two tin cans and a string
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#26
Tyson Rayles Wrote:electrical switch and the switch turned "ON",

Any chance that switch is bad?

I don't think so, as the same thing happens with all such areas: basically, the tracks controlled by toggle switches have the toggle fed from the adjacent "hot" rail. With the toggle in the "OFF" position and the old power pack connected to the isolated rails, loco response is norrmal, indicating that that track is okay. If the toggle is "ON", the same connections give low speed and poor response, as the formerly isolated rails are now connected to those which are always "live". I'm pretty certain that the problem lies within one of those "live" areas, but there are many on the layout, so it may take some time (and a lot of snipping) to find the problem area.

Schraddel Wrote:Wayne,
i wish you a good luck to scent out this electric fault. So keep calm and proceed systematically.


(Last resource when nerves were run down and before going mad: take a car battery, a set of jumper cables and a fire extinguisher. Look, listen, smell where the holy smoke raises.
Last time i used this brute method i detected a tiny flat piece of metal so unfortunately embedded into the ballast, that it caused only a partial short. And because it was embedded into the ballast there was no chance to detect it by looking. At least i had luck that the high current melted the contact points of this §&?@! piece with a flash and and a bang. So only tip the jumper to the rails.)

Lutz, you had me literally laughing out loud as I pictured the scenario in my mind. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Wayne
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#27
Wayne,

I would do a magnet test to the stone you used. There is metal in some stones so that could cause the problem.

Dave
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#28
Thanks, Dave. I did a both a magnet test and one for conductivity, too, and no problem with either.

I'll continue isolating sections of the layout, as time permits, and should eventually get the problem area narrowed down. Then will be the time for the car battery, jumper cables, and fire extinguisher. Wink

Wayne
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#29
Wayne,

I hope you are making progress finding your problem. This may be the opportune moment to consider running a bus and dividing the layout into power districts.

You did good by snipping a few wires and eliminating the upper level from the equation. Now that you are only inspecting half of the layout, see if you can divide that remaining lower level in half, and so on. Each time you do this you reduce the amount of track you have to inspect by 50%. Eventually you will find the culprit. Then when you go to rewire everything a dremel tool (to cut gaps in rails) and simple on/off switches will serve to divide the layout into blocks. In this manner you leave all switches turned on if you wish the whole layout to be live, but gives you the ability to turn on/off sections for troubleshooting.

Dave
-Dave
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#30
Dave, the layout has been divided (sorta) into "blocks" right from the start, as the mainline through every town is doubletracked, with each track controlled by toggle switches. Also, most of each town's industrial area is similarly controlled. With the main power source shut off, and a separate power pack connected directly to those isolated areas, operation is totally normal. However, the single-tracked mainline between each town is all hardwired, beneath the layout, as a single entity, and it's the wiring to those areas that's being cut. The layout was originally done as common rail, so one rail is continuous around the entire layout, and I've been told that in that form, I'll have to gap that rail in various places if I hope to track down the problem.

I'm not sure that I want to get into that, and am considering simplifying things even more than that. In the meantime, I'm still working on it, but not to any particular schedule.

Wayne
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