Sunday, September 24, 2023

Mystery Power Outage - A Turnout Fail

 So this happened . . .

I recently discovered while running my DERS-1b across this turnout that it would stall every time. After checking the wheels and rails for dirt, I used my "poor man's continuity tester" (a bulb & two alligator clips) to check that all rails were getting power.

Strangely, as you can see from the video above, one of the outside/stock rails was NOT getting power - at least not all the time. That's not too strange - I figured I might have to add a feeder to that rail - but what was really strange is that, as I would run the clip down the rail, it would get power and lose power. And it's all one solid piece of rail!

Thankfully, I was on the Wednesday Night AML Chat and showed the folks there (literally from all around the world) what was going on and I think it was Mark from Australia that first suspected a faulty rail joiner. Actually, BOTH rail joiners at each end of this rail weren't making solid contact - and thus not providing continuous power.

Turns out, as I would slide the clip along the rail, as I got closer to the rail joiner - and was pressing down - contact would be made.

So this is what having two rail joiners fail at the same time looks like. Who knew?

Well, I do now - and now so do you!

As a temporary fix, I tightened the rail joiners and all is well for now. But the longer term solution will be to add a feeder to this rail. And while I'm at it, I'll probably go ahead and add a feeder to the other stock rail (the closure rails already have a jumper soldered between them and the stock rails). And do the same thing for the other turnouts. . . Ugh.

I guess I should have just added feeders to the turnouts before installing them. But at least now I know what a failure looks like and can fix them as needed.

Hopefully this little writeup will help someone else out - and if you've ever had this happen, let us know in the comments!


  1. This is why I solder all my joints Chris. I also put feeder wires in the middle of the switch on both outside stock rails. Bill Shanaman

  2. Great thing to have the League of Nations at your finger tips, eh Chris!