This section is intended as a helpline with simple steps to sort out model railway problems . 


A few simple tools like pliers, wire cutters, and a set of small screwdrivers, and a set of small files would also be a good investment and available from most good model shops.




This section covers electrical problems which may be while building your layout or developed since running it. 

Just follow these simple guidelines and the problems should be found and fixed.



 All trains will not run

  1.  Check mains supply to the control system.
  2. Check low voltage to the track  with a multimeter or track tester 
  3. Is a track pin or metal tool laying across the track causeing a short
  4. Switch off the complete system at the mains and then back on.


acknowleadgement to Gaugemaster for the image

 This track tester works on OO, HO and N Gauge track and enables you to quickly test track for DCC or DC power as well as also helping you to locate faults at track joints, points etc.

To use, simply place it across your track and the multi-coloured LED will either display Orange for DCC power, or Red and Green for DC power with the colour indicating the positive or negative. The polarity (or train direction) of the rails is shown on the product.

Available mail order from 'Gaugemaster' 

Only one train will not run

  1. Try different locos on the same track to check the track supply
  2. Check under loco to see if you can see anything loose or missing
  3. Has the magnet attracted any track pin to the chassis
  4. Is there any smell of burning.

Point motors fail to work correctly

  1. The supply to most popular point motors 16 volt AC (not 12 volts DC)
  2. Are you using the correct type of switch ?  The supply to the point motor must only be momentarily so either use a push button or biased switch or 'stud and pin' only. If power is applied to the point motors they will burn out and have to be replaced.
  3. The wire between the supply and the point motor must be larger than the normal size used as full current to the point motor is important for it to operate fully. We recomend using standard mains supply cable.
    Gaugemaster CDU                           suitable cable        
  4. Finally; to ensure the system works efficiently and safely always use a CDU (Capacitor Discharge Unit) which as well as ensuring the points get the full power will also protect the point motor from burning out as once the supply has discharge from the CDU it will switch off. When the operating switch is returned to the rest position it will then and only then recharge. This product is a 'must have'

Train runs slower in some sections of track

  1. This may be because of volts drop in sections of track away from the track feed point. This can be fixed by feeding the track in several places from your control system. The longer the track length the more feed points required. This applies to both DC and DCC.

Train not running smoothly

  1. If you can get at all of the track a simple track cleaning rubber will remove the dirt from the top of the track.
  2. If you have hidden track and difficult to get try this product.



CMX track cleaning taker - available in popular gauges 

Highly recommended


Another important item to keep clean is the locomotive wheels as they are the electrical contact between the loco and the track. The wheels can easily cleaned by using a cleaning brush which are available from most good model railway shops.

Both Gaugemaster & Amazon are currently sell it on-line.



 Many thanks to 'Sams Trains' for this excellent video



These problems usually arise when constructing your layout.

Lets also have a look at a few common problems when running the trains and ways of solving the problems. 



  1.  Make inclines gentle otherwise trains we never climb the hills
  2. Keep curves as large as possible to reduce wheel rim friction
  3. Remember to leave access to ALL of your track for maintainance
  4. Keep top of rails clean to ensure smooth running of locomotives
  5. As some older loco have traction tyres remember to check them




Loco valve gear locking up and sticking

  1. Turn locomotive upside down so you can view from underneath.
  2. Rotate the wheels by hand looking to see if any of the rods are touching. If yes then gently bend to increase clearances 
  3. Check the driving wheels slide freely from side to side so the loco can go round curves. Lubricate sparingly if required



Trains derailing is one of the most common problems but can be easily sorted out by following the following tests



 If all trains derail in the same place check the following

  1. Run finger along the track to feel for any obstruction like a track pin
  2. Also run finger across rail gaps in track to see if there are any 'steps'
  3. If a step is found the rail on one side of fishplate is not in fishplate
  4. Are there any lineside items too close the track


If only one train derails check the following

  1.  Check the coupling between rollingstock - are they incorrectly linked
  2. Are the bogies moving freely and not catching on chassis
  3. Are all wheels free running
  4. Only run loco around the track and if OK start adding stock until the train derails. This will identify which part of stock is the problem.



 Can you spot the error in above picture ?