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Trains Stopping Intermittently With Peco Switches

Club member Marcus J models N scale and poses this question for readers:

“My Peco switches is causing me problems with trains stopping at times when they seem to short out. I fix it by slightly moving the throwbar on the switch to get the train running. It happens intermittently, so it’s not a constant problem but annoying enough to know I need the problem solved permanently. I’m sure someone out there will know what to do. Thanks in advance.”

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12 Responses to Trains Stopping Intermittently With Peco Switches

  • Henry van Wyksays:

    Hi Marcus
    Have a look and see if there is a spark where the two diverging rails are close together at the frog. If there is, then the wheels are causing the short circuit stopping your trains. An easy solution is to simply use some black nail polish and paint the metal rail pieces where they enter into the plastic frog.

  • Robertsays:

    It could be the back of the wheel flange is touching the switch blade that is not in use. Check your back to back measurement. It could also be a wide tyre (on older models) bridging across the rails at the frog. Are you sure it is a short or is it a case where a wheel is lifting while the other one passes through the insulated piece of the frog, this can happen with the deep flanges on older models. A short can be detected by the auto overload switch on the power supply, alternatively hook an auto bulb in series with your track circuit. In normal use there would be no illumination of the bulb, a short will make the bulb light up.

  • Michael Forgotchsays:

    I had the problem with my engine stopping but it was the tachometer on a new MTH engine.

  • JBHsays:

    If this is happening on straight track and not always on points then check the contacts in the switch. If just moving the throw bar on the switch clears the problem then it does not sound like a short circuit. Clean the contacts and if necessary move closer to each other to ensure good contact.

  • Frank Bsays:

    Hi Marcus,
    Please may I ask a couple of diagnostic questions ?
    1) Are these Electrofrog or Insulfrog Peco points ?
    2) Why do you think this is a short circuit rather than a loss of contact ?
    3) Are you moving the throwbar inward or outward to make the train run ? (To either make, or break, contact with the main rail ?)

    You will also find useful information in the free download instruction leaflets for Peco points from their website:

  • Don Jenningssays:

    Are your switching facing each other. like a single crossover?

  • Keithsays:

    Hi Marcus. Are your switches laying level or perfectly flat, sometimes the slightest distortion can cause contact problems. Also clean the back of the switch blade which touches the stock rail, this has happened to me also. If your using fishplates are they tight . Hope you get your problem fixed soon. Keith

    • Joe Graffisays:

      Keith is correct and this should be the first thing you check. N gauge is notoriously touchy. The slightest ‘tweak’ can stop an engine cold. If you use track nails to secure your turnouts, be sure the nail head is not distorting the ties. This is critical on HO and more critical in N. I model in HO and check each nail to be sure the track/ties are not distorted by the nails.

  • Dean C Kaulsays:

    Hi Marcus,
    I have been reading a lot afbouty PECO Electrofrog problems and DCC, so I am in agreement with Frank B’s comment. There are wiring solutions to the problem if we are talking about Elecrofrog and DCC operation.

  • Tim Morloksays:

    I agree with Keith. I have found on some of my HO scale turnouts if it is not total flat ( frog is arched higher than points) that the weight of an engine or car will cause the points to float breaking contact with the stock rail and even causing derailments.

  • David Krausesays:

    I have no experience with this, but have heard that PECO switches have shallower flangeways than other brands. If this is true, then wheel flanges could bottom out and lift the wheel edge off the rail … this would result in an open circuit for an instant. Davi

  • Arthur Mallettsays:

    Hello Marcus, Just on the of chance came across this web site and looking at some of the problems on the site, If you google Brian Lambert you will find the solution to your point fault including drawings of what and where to alter the points.Hope this reply will help with your problem, by the way brian and myself both live in united kingdom.
    Regards Arthur.

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