Wiring and Switching

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I just bought a lot of Kato unitrack and switches. I made sure the loop is continuous and that the polarity does not flip on itself. Everytime i run a train I have no problem. But as soon as I switch the track electronically, the controller flashes and the trains stop. If i unwire the switches and do them manually, I have no problems. Can you point me to something to read (I am not too techincal) where I can understand how to properly power and wire my tracks? Do I need more than one controller or more than one place to wire the track?

-- Jim Coley (jcoley2@optonline.net), May 26, 2001


Sounds like the switch machine is causing a current overload. What switch machines are being used? How are you activating them? Most solenoid type switch machines require a momentary contact switch for activation. You must disconnect power to the switch machine coils once the switch has thrown, or they will burn out. Or a coil type switch machine might be drawing enough amps to cause the DCC booster to trip out. In that case, a capacitor discharge circuit may work to relieve the problem.

Another possibility is that if you have a passing siding, throwing one switch at a time can cause a track short circuit if the switch points also route power to the siding. (I'm not sure how Kato switches are made to operate.) In that case, provide an insulated track joiner on each rail near the middle of the siding to isolate one end from the other.


-- Don Vollrath (dvollrath@magnetek.com), June 19, 2001.

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