Electrical pickup issue

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Rabman

Active Member
#1
I installed a DCC Decoder in my old 0-4-0 Mantua locomotive.

The loco picks up rail voltage from the tender through the frame.

It is not working well as it is. I cleaned the wheels and connections points on the frame and truck frame. Didn’t clean at the ends of the axles as yet.

I did drill a hole in the frame at the top and stuck solder and the wire into it the better the connection to the frame.

I am wondering if there is a conductive grease I can put in the interface of the fram to top of truck frame to increase the conductivity.

I tried graphite powder and it didn’t seem to work.

Any thoughts other than replacing the trucks?

It works well when I jumper the power from the rail to the dcc Decoder black wire.


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Rabman

Active Member
#2
I took the trucks off the tender and soaked them in vinegar for 15 minutes and that seems to have cured the problem.

I guess I could have run the black wire to both of the trucks and connected the wire someway. Since its working, I will let the current install stand until it starts to not work. The old adage, if it ain't broke, don't mess with it.
 
#3
All I can think of is 2 things: Do clean the axel tips if you can get the wheels/axel out of the junction boxes on the tender, or get graphite in there. I believe the right side loco drivers are the return. See if axle grease or other things are possibly causing the loco wheels/axels to not make good conduct to the right side rail...( I believe the right side tender wheels are plastic )..M
 

Rabman

Active Member
#4
I was reluctant to try to get the wheels out of the truck frame. I don’t want to damage them.

I do have some powdered graphite I can try to get in.

I will check out the drivers as well. What is typically used to lubricate them?
 

CambriaArea51

Well-Known Member
#5
Been using this stuff to clean wheels and track,works pretty good.Puts like a protective layer on the wheels and improves conductivity.Quite a few of us use it in the club and noticed a reduction in the wheels on the engine getting that black film. You can get it at Home Depot and other box stores.
 

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trailrider

Well-Known Member
#6
Another possibility is to take some thin copper or brass strip, drill a hole in the center that the truck mounting screws can go through, and bend the ends of the strip so they touch the axles. This can help conduct the current to the bearing surface where the trucks pivot. You might also run a very thin wire from the strips to the metal chassis of the tender.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#8
Just looking at the tender's wheel is one side of the truck made of brass? Then I would replace the wheel sets.

If one side of the tender's wheels are plastic, then one set of drovers are electrical pick-ups. Clean them as well as you can.

Greg
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#9
I do have some powdered graphite I can try to get in.
On both the axle ends and the bolster. I will often make a paste with graphite and alcohol and smoosh it in with a toothpick.

I am actually surprised the solder worked. The frame is made of a zinc alloy pot metal called something like zmate. I would have drilled a hole, tapped it, and put in a screw to hold the wire.
 

Rabman

Active Member
#10
Just looking at the tender's wheel is one side of the truck made of brass? Then I would replace the wheel sets.

If one side of the tender's wheels are plastic, then one set of drovers are electrical pick-ups. Clean them as well as you can.

Greg
I think they are working okay now.
 

Rabman

Active Member
#11
On both the axle ends and the bolster. I will often make a paste with graphite and alcohol and smoosh it in with a toothpick.

I am actually surprised the solder worked. The frame is made of a zinc alloy pot metal called something like zmate. I would have drilled a hole, tapped it, and put in a screw to hold the wire.
I think I will try the paste idea. I am sure the solder is not fused to the frame. It is probably more of a better contact fit. I did tap and screw the Decoder wire in my 2-8-2 that I converted but it was more like drill a hole and force a small computer screw into the hole. I didn’t have a small tap or other screw so I thought I would give this a try. So far, so good. I will probably go back and clean it up at some point.
 
#12
I realize that you did not want to change the trucks but I wanted to share what I did on my Shifter. I just recently installed a WOW 101 steam sound decoder in mine and it is really awesome. But I did make some modifications to the locomotive. First, I replaced the bottom plate on the engine with one I made from a one sided PC board. Soldered phospher bronze wipers to it so that now all four engine wheels pick up power and the chasis is isolated from power. I thought this would be hard but turned out insanely easy to do. Second, for the tender, I made a new bottom frame from basswood. Bought some Walthers metal 33" wheelsets with metal axles. Took them apart and slipped some brass tubing over the axles. Then soldered some pick up wires to the tube. I alternated them so that each truck picks up power from both rails. And installed them into some old Athearn freight car trucks that look just like the trucks that came off the tender originally. The wires were run up into the tender through holes drilled in the basswood floor. Now the tender frame is also insulated. After I stuffed all the decoder, wiring and 28mm speaker in the tender, I filled all the rest of the room with salvaged lead wheel weights. She runs like a dream. All my turnouts are scratchbuilt with dead frogs and she has no problem navigating them. Also forgot to mention that the motor has been replaced with a MC94 can motor about 20 years ago. (just got my trains back out of a 20 year storage).


Jim
 
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Rabman

Active Member
#13
Jim thanks for sharing. The work I did with the locomotive paid off and it seems to be working. As the saying goes. If it ain’t broke, do $&@$ with it.
 
#16
It isn't conductive, however it is used to keep electrical connections clean. It keeps water away and doesn't attract dirt. I have used it on pickup trucks and other conductive areas on my layout. Put it on and wipe off as much as you can. In other words use very sparingly. It wont cake up and arch like other grease. I have had no problems with using it.
 





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