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Flickering Lights (Minitrix Sm Coach)

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Bahner View Drop Down
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    Posted: 29 Jun 2017 at 8:08am
Hello - Hoping someone with experience has a solution for a flickering lights issue on a small Minitrix 'Old Timer' 2-axle coach.

Back story: I bought a Faller lighting kit and followed the instructions:

http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/ee141/Back2dubs/Bavarian%20Old%20Timer%20Coach%20Lighting%20Issue_062917_zpsuhzomgbc.jpg

To test, I thoroughly cleaned a 12" solid section of track on my layout as well as any and all coach contact points with isopropyl alcohol. No matter how many times I adjusted the contacts, the lights would flicker wildly. This kit is supposed to have flicker suppression, but no go in this case. I also tried a second LED strip from a second kit, but same result.

After many hours of trying to get this to work, I decided to go the more direct route and I soldered a small wire from each side of the LED circuit board's contacts directly to the metal contacts that then connect to the axles (effectively eliminating the copper pigtail connection that came with the kit). While this helped somewhat, the flicker is still present. Power supply is 12V to the track, so I don't think that would be an issue.

Is this a common issue when the axles are used as the power pickup point, or not? I'm wondering if soldering the wires directly to the bracket that holds the axles would help, but the problem is that the harness may be too small to solder to effectively. Another solution I saw from another thread in this forum is to connect all coach trains to each other so that the chances of a power pickup are greatly enhanced. I think this could be done, but would be somewhat visible since the little 2" long coaches don't follow close to each other.

Thoughts and suggestions much appreciated.
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Railwriter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Railwriter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2017 at 9:33am
One possibility that comes to mind is that the cars may not have enough weight to make good contact.  (I'm in HO, not N myself.)  

One way to test this is to press down the car while it is standing still.  If this improves the situation, adding some interior weight to the car -- to the extent that this is possible -- may help.

-- Ernest
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bahner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2017 at 10:45am
Originally posted by Railwriter Railwriter wrote:

One possibility that comes to mind is that the cars may not have enough weight to make good contact.  (I'm in HO, not N myself.)  

One way to test this is to press down the car while it is standing still.  If this improves the situation, adding some interior weight to the car -- to the extent that this is possible -- may help.

-- Ernest


Thanks for the reply, Ernest. I did notice that the flickering nearly subsided when I firmly pressed down on the coach. The problem is that my small layout has one incline a bit over 3 degrees and one of the locos, a little Bavarian 'Glasskasten', already has difficulty with three of these little coaches when they don't have the drag of the lighting contact rubbing on the axles. So, adding more weight just isn't an option, unfortunately, if I want to pull more than just one or two coaches

Ralph -
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Railwriter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2017 at 12:24pm
Ralph,

Then, I would suggest using more than one coach for electrical pickup, particularly if you are not going to change the consist of the passenger train.

Having wires going from one car to another actually does not have to look that out of place.  Consider that on the prototype cars, there were air and steam lines between cars.

You can use thin black and gray wires.  The two colors will make wiring simpler.  (Air hoses were/are usually black; steam lines were often gray.)

Remember, these wires do not have to carry a lot of current over a great distance -- so they can be quite thin, which will also look more realistic.

In HO, several manufacturers make current-conducting couplers.  I don't know about the situation in N, but suspect you may be able to find these in your scale as well.

Good luck.

-- Ernest
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bahner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2017 at 1:08pm
Looks like connecting the cars might be the only realistic option in this case, then. Maybe a very small connector for the wires between each car so they can be separated.

Not quite sure exactly how to wire them up together, but I would imagine 'like-for-like' as in 'connect all front coach contacts to each other, then all rear coach contacts to each other', while keeping the orientation of each LED circuit board in each coach the same. Sound correct?

Ralph -
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote el Gato Gordo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2017 at 3:54pm
 Hi, Ralph -

Looking at your photo, am I right in thinking that this kit picks up current on one axle, call it positive, and the negative contact is the other axle?  The copper contact rides directly on the axle, not on the wheel?  And the front of the LED strip is one pole, and the back is the other?

I agree with Ernest that wiring all the cars together in the consist would give better results.  I know you have cleaned and re-cleaned all the contacts, but I think the axles might be a bit of a problem this way.  It wouldn't take much of anything for the copper contact strip to lose momentary conductivity, thus causing your flickering.  Try cleaning again, with CRC 2-26, both the axles and the wheels. Then run the train for a while.

So far as wiring the cars together, just keep the wire small and wire plus to plus and minus to minus.
Cheers!
Gordon
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bahner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2017 at 4:19pm
Originally posted by el Gato Gordo el Gato Gordo wrote:

 Hi, Ralph -

Looking at your photo, am I right in thinking that this kit picks up current on one axle, call it positive, and the negative contact is the other axle?  The copper contact rides directly on the axle, not on the wheel?  And the front of the LED strip is one pole, and the back is the other?

I agree with Ernest that wiring all the cars together in the consist would give better results.  I know you have cleaned and re-cleaned all the contacts, but I think the axles might be a bit of a problem this way.  It wouldn't take much of anything for the copper contact strip to lose momentary conductivity, thus causing your flickering.  Try cleaning again, with CRC 2-26, both the axles and the wheels. Then run the train for a while.

So far as wiring the cars together, just keep the wire small and wire plus to plus and minus to minus.


Hi Gordon,

Yes, one contact side of the LED circuit strip ultimately picks up from one axle, the other side the other axle. The kit included a copper 'pigtail' piece that is pressfit onto the contact part of the LED circuit strip and a small metallic piece that attaches to the bottom of the carriage and contacts the axle. The connetion between these two metallic pieces relies on a pressure fit (for lack of a better term) when the coach is snapped back together, but I went a step further and soldered a wire to achieve a permanent connection on both sides from the LED strip to the metal pieces physically contacting the axles.

I'll try the 'deep clean' you suggested and let the coach run in for a while to see if there is any improvement.

Thanks,

Ralph -
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote el Gato Gordo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2017 at 5:24pm
Any luck with those lights, Ralph?
Cheers!
Gordon
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bahner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2017 at 9:24pm
Originally posted by el Gato Gordo el Gato Gordo wrote:

Any luck with those lights, Ralph?


Hi Grodon,

Since I'm at the phase of making mountains, landscaping and what-not, my track is not going to be clean and really usable. So, I'm going to tackle this coach lighting issue when the layout is completely finished.

I'll udate this thread once I'm there.


Ralph -
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