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Finding and Fixing Electrical Problems

Michael models HO and wants comments or suggestions from readers:

“I just received my new HO train and MTH commander and Z1000 power pack. My new MTH diesel engine runs fine on the Kato track and everything works (sounds, direction, etc). But when I place a box car on the track it seems to spark on the track and cuts the connection on the engine and become non operational. I used 18 gauge wire.  I feel clueless about what the problem could be? Any suggestions would be appreciated.”

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6 Responses to Finding and Fixing Electrical Problems

  • Dave says:

    It seems like the boxcar is shorting out the track. Take apart the boxcar and check it out.

  • Frank B says:

    To further what Dave said, use a test meter or continuity tester to discover if there is electrical contact between the wheels on the right and left sides of the car.
    There should be no contact. If there is, then the track is being shorted out.

    Please let us know if the wheels, axle and truck are metal.

    If the car has metal wheels and axles (and / or trucks), there is usually a plastic insulator on at least one end of the axle to insulate one side from the other. Look for an electrical path from the wheels on one side to the wheels on the other side, via the axle or truck. It may be necessary to change to plastic wheels.

  • W Rusty Lane says:

    Your wheels must be metal with metal axles or this wouldn´t happen. You should probably replace the metal wheel sets with metal wheel sets with one insulated axle. I´d be willing to bet that is what is happening. You can use an ohm meter to check continuity from one wheel on the axle to the next.

  • john byers says:

    If you have metal sideframes wheels & axles as Frank mentioned, it is also possible that one axle got reversed. Make sure the insulated wheel is on the same side on all the axles. If not, reverse it so they are all on the same side.

  • Norm says:

    The only way power shorts is cross conduction. If you run metal insulated wheels check with continuity meter. Has the weight moved?

  • Robert says:

    If you have bought a 3 rail brand wagon such as Marklin then you will have shorting problems on a 2 rail system.

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