awh1
I have a Trix HO electric loco with OEM chip installed. It has always been a good runner. Recently, however, it has started to hesitate on parts of the track. This does not happen on these track sections with any of my other locos, especially my Fleischmanns which are superbly reliable. I have three of these with sound.
I know that Ahjay is very insistent on cleaning contacts when running reliability arises. I have done my very best with this Trix, even though I cannot actually identify where the contacts are located. Just a matter of cotton buds with alcohol and cleaning the wheels on a track cleaner (Tidy Track by Woodland Scenics)
I have developed a theory that certain chips are more sensitive than others in picking up the DCC signals round the track. My layout has each section of track soldered and connected to the bus via DCC Concepts tags. It is quite possible that some of my soldering has been less perfect than others and this causes the DCC current to be weaker in some areas. (not enough to affect most locos - per above comment) but enough to affect sensitive or ageing chips.
Would I be well advised to remove the OEM chip and install a DCC Concepts Zen Black ( or even go for sound if anyone has ideas about what is good for an electric loco), or just persist with cleaning, cleaning, cleaning?
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Iain Morrison wimorrison
Might be worth checking the track voltage as it could be on the low side. You don't say what commands station you are using, so we don't know if it is variable or not, but I know of several cases where poor performance has been resolved by lifting the track voltage to 16v - which won't harm anything.
Iain Morrison
Modelling h0e using Z21 with iTrain automation and Railcom
There are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know
http://www.wimorrison.co.uk
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newbryford
Whilst the common thing is to clean wheels and track, many people forget about the operation of the pickups.
And not just cleanliness of pickups - wiper pickups are amongst the best collectors of fluff known to man.

Are they actually contacting the wheels properly?

Turn the loco upside down and look for the sprung pickups bearing upon the backs of the wheels.
Move the axles from side to side - H0 and 00 usually have lots of sideplay.
Do the pickups contact the wheels at both extremes of sideways movement?
You may have a loco that works Ok on straights but not curves - or vice-versa.
If not, then the pickups need adjusting (or sideplay restricting - but that's usually more difficult than sorting the pickups)

This works for most locos - but can vary depending upon the manufacturer/loco type [*]

I once had a Bachmann 08 straight out of the box with 3/6 pickups not working correctly and ran badly. It wasn't helped by the factory painting everything with grime weathering.  Once cleaned and adjusted, it was a sweet runner.


Cheers,
Mick

[*] Dapol 73s are bl**dy awful - they use a bronze bush on split axles with a contact to the bushes. This is often made very unreliable due to the amount of grease applied at the factory. 


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Bunkerbarge
newbryford wrote:
Whilst the common thing is to clean wheels and track, many people forget about the operation of the pickups.
And not just cleanliness of pickups - wiper pickups are amongst the best collectors of fluff known to man.

Are they actually contacting the wheels properly?

Turn the loco upside down and look for the sprung pickups bearing upon the backs of the wheels.
Move the axles from side to side - H0 and 00 usually have lots of sideplay.
Do the pickups contact the wheels at both extremes of sideways movement?
You may have a loco that works Ok on straights but not curves - or vice-versa.
If not, then the pickups need adjusting (or sideplay restricting - but that's usually more difficult than sorting the pickups)

This works for most locos - but can vary depending upon the manufacturer/loco type [*]

I once had a Bachmann 08 straight out of the box with 3/6 pickups not working correctly and ran badly. It wasn't helped by the factory painting everything with grime weathering.  Once cleaned and adjusted, it was a sweet runner.


Cheers,
Mick

[*] Dapol 73s are bl**dy awful - they use a bronze bush on split axles with a contact to the bushes. This is often made very unreliable due to the amount of grease applied at the factory. 




Very interesting but, from a newbie perspective, can you tell us how you adjust the pickups?  From what I can see they are simply a piece of flexible metal that, from its own natural spring, rides against the face of the back of the wheel.  Is it just a case of bending them in towards the wheel with a pair of tweezers?  Is that possible with them in place?

I'm always a bit apprehensive of making something worse the first time I have a play with it!
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AHJAY
If you can, bend at the existing joint. It is not so easy with them in place but usually they are on a detachable mount (if the wheels cannot be removed).
Gnerally add about another 15 degrees to the bend at most.

re changing chip - yes, Zen blavk has excellent brown-out protection so will undoubtedy run better, but before you spend, do all the other things because that is always at the root of making any loco run at its best.

ALSO - with trix and Roco, sometimes there is a connection between two chassis parts or chassis and body that is just a simple pressure connection thats made when the loco is assembled - these can oxidise and stop power flowing well. so look deep into the loco if you can - it may be an easy fix

regards, Ahjay
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awh1
What is so gratifying about a forum such as this is that even small fry like me get a decent hearing and solid expert advice.

I am going to try to add a couple of photos to demonstrate how difficult it is to discern the usual pickups against the inner wheels. Perhaps this is one of the type which Ahjay suggests could have connections between chassis parts/body - hence the photo.

I would appreciate an experienced evaluation on whether the connecting strips shown, between chip and loco lights, are readily replaced with Zen Black wiring

To amplify on one point, my power source is the DCC Concepts PSU through an NCE Pro Cab, which I believe is 5 amp. IMG_0041.jpg  IMG_0040.jpg 
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AHJAY
Pleased you are happy with responses. Sharing is what a forum should be about.

OK, this one may have springs - but is perhaps more likely to be a shaped phosphor bronze sheet that spans both wheels on one side. The axle ends or just inside the wheel are in contact with it. It is harder to get to without disassembling the bogie but that will not be all that hard to do. Sometimes it does not float freel y because of much buildups and a good clean part-by-part should resore it to original efficiency. (Either way, disassembly will help clean perfectly and...learning how to take it apart and reassemble the bogie will serve you well for the future.

You may be able to find a parts diargam that will confirm/help... I will have a look too.

regards, Ahjay
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Bunkerbarge
I am a great believer in two philosophies, first that we all have things to share and we all have things to learn and secondly we ALL started at the same point somewhere in our past and we should never forget that.

Oh and finally not to forget, It's a hobby!!
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awh1
Just to reconfirm how helpful participation on the Forum has been for me on this topic.
On another topic I noted that Ahjay and others use Deoxit Gold for enhancing contact.
I got some and tried it in this situation. It seems to have solved the erratic running - so I do not need to go back to resoldering droppers to tags under the baseboard!
One of my "superb" Fleischmanns also started playing up so tried the Deoxit Gold on that too and again a miracle happened.
One small query about this magic substance. I note spraying on is a bit indiscriminate and not just confined to pickups so a bit of peripheral wiping is required.
Do other users spray direct? or into a receptacle then gently dab?
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Briperran
Did they recommend a spray of the product ? As that product can be bought in a bottle with a small brush included as part of the lid.



Brian
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Iain Morrison wimorrison
You can even buy it in a small tube to dab on with a small brush/bud
Iain Morrison
Modelling h0e using Z21 with iTrain automation and Railcom
There are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know
http://www.wimorrison.co.uk
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awh1
Can't remember. But when I googled all I found on Amazon and Ebay were the spray product. Did not know it came in small doses with a brush. Perhaps you have answered my query though. Seems I should spray into a receptacle and dab from there.
Thanks for the input.
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AHJAY
Both tubes and bottles with brushes are clearly available on Amazon. You may possibly find it cheaper elsewhere though.
Remember that you need very little as the larger bottles are eye-wateringly expensive!

regards, Ahjay
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