July 9, 2020

Design Train Repair – Fix Derailment Issues

Within the fascinating world of scale model railroading, nothing is more fundamental than keeping your trains on the paths. Likewise, nothing is more frustrating within the development of your model train styles than mysterious derailment issues. There are several things that can cause your trains to look off the tracks, so here are some tips to get locating and solving the problem which includes practical model train repair suggestions.

Tip #1: Check each railroad joint. Rail joints are a common culprit in train derailments, so make sure they are correctly fitted and level. After the track is spiked lower, use a fine file to even the top until you can slide your fingernail over it without catching.

Tip#2: Inspect Turnouts. Turnouts, or track switches, are one of most frequent causes of derailments and a common problem region in model train repair. If the track gauge is too tight, it pushes the flanges against the railheads and causes the wheels to boost up and derail. Too wide of a gauge can also cause an issue, causing the wheelset to climb up as well. Many turnouts are manufactured too wide, but this can be corrected simply by filling in the inside area of the guardrail till the gauge has a snug fit.

Suggestion #3: Weight the cars correctly. Many freight cars need some excess weight to function properly and stay on track. The NMRA has some recommended formulas to determine the optimum weight based on different car lengths (see further resource at the end of this article for the guidelines). Pounds in the car should be put close to the bottom, secured and centered to maintain their position.
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Tip #4: Check wheelsets. The wheelsets must be within the right gauge and be centered on every axle. If it is out of gauge, it could usually be corrected by twisting the wheel along the axle until it matches the gauge.

Suggestion #5: Do not overlubricate. Many modelers use too much lubrication, which can entice dirt to the equipment and cause derailments, or damage the color and result in additional model teach repairs. Use only the bare minimum of oil, and for couplers, use a powder graphite Teflon which will not catch the attention of dirt.

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