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Engine Slows

Keith models HO and writes:

“My engine slows dramatically in two sections of the track.  I have cleaned the track.  I thought it might be out of gauge, so checked that.  It seems to be O.K.  This happens on both my engines, but more dramatically on the older one.  Has anyone experienced this?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.”

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12 Responses to Engine Slows

  • Kim Fokkensays:

    I have a 4 x 10 ho layout and I have power distribution going to 5 different locations on track. If you have hookup to track from controller to 1 location, maybe signals and power may be weaker in places.

  • Kevin Chingsays:

    Hi Keith Your problem may be to rail joiners if you runa couple of bus wires around and add droppers to the track at one per length then this will fix the problem.

  • nelson t stahlsays:

    I would try putting an extra feeder line in the dead areas. The further away from your transformer the bigger a line you need, I run 12 gauge under my layout and run 8 inch 22 gauge feeders from it to the track.


    I had this happen and it was because I had a NEC throttle and minipanel on the rails at the same time.

  • Herveysays:

    Keith it sounds as though you have a voltage drop. Your older loco may have a less efficient motor and that is why it is affected more. Check the voltage in the area where you are experiencing these issues and compare the readings with the voltage adjacent to your feed wires.
    If there is more than half a volt difference add feeder wires to bring the voltage up to where it should be. Track is a very poor means to transfer electricity over any distance. Copper wires are much more efficient.

  • Jerrysays:

    Make sure the track joiners have a good electrical connection between the tracks also if necessary put another set of wires on that section of track for additional electrical contact.

  • Geoffsays:

    It sounds like a power issue. Since you’ve cleaned the track, and it happens to both engines, what’s left is whether the power is getting to those two sections. If you’ve got a volt meter, try checking the voltage in those sections, compared to sections which you know are ok. Or if you have a wagon with lights, try assessing the brightness of the lights when the wagon is in those sections compared to the known working sections. A third option is to hold a piece of wire, or use a piece of wire with clips, to make a temporary connection to those sections and see if that solves the problem.

    If it’s easy to lift the track, do so and check the rail joiner connections are clean – sometimes making and braking the join can clean it. Otherwise, you will need to make a new power connection to those sections – either run new set of wires from the controller, or maybe solder a piece of wire from the good section to the bad section. But it would be best to confirm that it’s really a lack of power to those sections before trying to fix it by adding wires.

    Good luck!

  • David Stokessays:

    Solder power supply wires to every piece of track using 18g or equivalent, then attach droppers to bus wires of at least 12 gauge.
    As your layout is alredy operating, to do this drill an appropriately sized hole through the baseboard beside both rails of the track, no more than a metre apart (or closer if the track pieces are shorter), sold the 18g to the rail making sure the rail is clean and using a good flux. Rinse with a little bit of water to neutralize the flux when finished. The attach these to the bus wires. I run one read for one rail and black for the other. My bus wires come from stripped out house wire. Wrap and sold the droppers to the bus.

  • Ross Donaldson Litmansays:

    If you want to by-pass the solder routine and determined the track connections are the problem, clean the track connections around the track connectors and loop once some 38 gauge silver or gold wire (from Joanne’s for about $1-$2). That will tighten the connectors without raising the track noticeably and solidify the electrical connection. Worked for me when I found I was melting ties and had problems controlling a couple of solder flows.

  • Mel Sloansays:

    I had the same problem. Use an Ohm meter and check to see if there is a resistance on each side of your suspected rail jointers. Check both rails. I found a little solder at the joint solved the problem.

  • Ralphsays:

    I agree with Kevin here on “rail joiners”. You may have to solder some of them.

  • Stuartsays:

    I agree with the comments made by other members here. I have a large layout using DCC and to overcome such things I run and supply ring around it picking up the tracks at short intervals. Ensure you use a suitably size cable to prevent voltage drop, by using a ring system this doubles you track supply cable size. It’s especially useful to pick up sidings we’re not only cable joints can cause problems but turn out also.
    Best of luck

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