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Engine and Track Problems

Jim models in HO scale and writes:

“Here’s a goodie – a problem half solved that created an even bigger problem. I had a 19 degree crossing (code 83 ) installed on the layout. I filed the track down to make everything run smooth.

Finally, I found a steam engine, a 4 – 6 – 2 that I liked. I started running it with some wood reefers. It seems every time that engine came to the crossing, it needs a push to get it through! UUGGHH! Only to discover that all of the other track I had on the shelf that I used to build this little 4′ X 4′ layout was all Code 100 track.

I found a new 19 degree crossing at a hobby shop, so bought it and removed the code 83, and installed the new code 100 crossing in the same location. Problem solved???

WRONG!!! The engine still needs to be helped through that crossing. WHY???? Otherwise, the engine runs just fine throughout the rest of the layout.”

Any thoughts to assist Jim please?

12 Responses to Engine and Track Problems

  • don kadunc says:

    Being at such a small angle, the dead space may by larger than the pickups can handle.


      I was thinking the same thing. There may be insulated frogs in the crossing that are opposite each other. Where does the loco pick up power? Can pick-ups be added to the loco or tender?

  • Jerry says:

    What is the design of your 4’ x 4’ layout? Is one side of the track looping around like a figure eight? If so, you may be reversing polarity of the track. The positive side might be connecting to the negative side of the track when attached to the crossing.

  • Frank B says:

    Please could you add a reasonably close-up image of the centre of the crossing ?

    My first guess is that there are insulated frogs on the crossing, short sections of track which are either insulated or plastic, thereby cutting off the current from the loco pick-up wheels.

    If there is a section of metal track that is insulated from the main rails, you could solder a connection to it, but beware of problems with short circuits as the loco wheels cross tracks.

    Otherwise, you can add pick-ups to some (or all) of the other loco wheels, so that losing wheel contact on the crossover is minimised by other wheels still remaining in contact with the live part of the track.

    This is just a matter of adding fine springy brass or nickel silver wires connected in parallel with the existing wheel pick-ups each side, lightly touching the inside the other wheels (or live axles if applicable)

    If the tender has metal wheels, it is also possible to add pick-ups to those also, with feeder wires alongside the loco coupling. If the tender wheels are plastic, it may be possible to find metal replacements.

  • Dale S. Ambos says:

    I have had the same problem with my 19 degree crossover. In fact, some of my diesels actually cause a short in addition to stalling. I’ve also kinda suspected that there are long dead spots, but the wheel bases are long enough that I thought that pickup would not be a problem, wrong. Also, are the wheels being lifted off the track?? My solution, although kinda costly, is to install current keepers in the offending diesels. This has solved the problem so far. I would be interested in some other suggestions.

  • David Stokes says:

    I know it”s fiddly and care is needed, but every piece of track within the diamond needs its own feeder wire to power and be insulated from the other 3 track pieces

  • Nigel says:

    Are all the wheels picking up current as they should? Take a look at where the pickups connect with the backs of the wheels – are all of them making contact and are the wheels clean? It could just be a case of bending the pickups slightly to give them firmer contact with the wheels and giving the wheels a quick clean.

    Good luck!

  • Pat says:

    I had this same problem too. I solved it by purchasing a peco electro frog crossing. It takes though some wiring skills and double throw control panel switches to make it work.
    Once I did the wiring, nothing stalled on the crossing.

  • Big Al from Cal says:

    I had a similar problem with an Atlas code 83 turnout. Using a meter, I found one of rails on one leg did not receive power. The contact in the crossing must not have mated well across the diamond. I soldered a jumper wire across the diamond and it fixed the problem.

  • Martin says:

    If its old track you may have rust where your rail joiners connect clean the ends of the track put new rail joiners on it should fix it rusted connections give bad power flow

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