Nothing will kill your enthusiasm faster than a train that doesn't run like its supposed to. Model trains are complex systems. If one little thing goes wrong, the entire system can shut down. Troubleshooting model train problems can take some detective work. When real trains derail, investigators have to look at all the clues to find what went wrong and what could prevent it from recurring. Model train malfunctions may be a lot less costly, but they are no less frustrating.
Many manufacturers include troubleshooting tips in the instructions and on their websites. Some also provide numbers to call for a service representative. Before you call or return the trains, it is good to know what exactly is wrong.
Troublesome trains can be caused equipment failure or just for lack of a little maintenance. Your performance problems are the first clue in diagnosing the problem. There are specific steps you can take to find and fix the problem no matter what your train is doing (or not doing.)
Your Train Won't Run at All.
If your train won't move at all, you probably have a failure in at least one component: the engine, track, wiring or power supply. Since a problem in any one will yield the same result, the biggest challenge is to find the weakest link. Check carefully, it may be a broken power supply or as simple as forgeting to turn on the light switch.
Your Train Doesn't Run Smoothly.
If your train slows down in certain places, stalls and stops a lot, or if it doesn't run as well as it used to, you need to do a little maintenance. If done regularly, these steps offer a big return on your time.
Your Train Won't Stay on the Track.
If your train derails, you have a problem with the train or the track. Our trains are much smaller than the prototype, so naturally they require a high degree of precision. Some small adjustments will have you back on track in no time.
Derailments, maintenance and problem solving are part of the hobby. You can't avoid it, but you can make the most of it. Be patient as you build and persistent as you maintain and you'll spend more time running and less time fixing.