Derailments of model trains toys can be a frustrating problem to figure out, especially if they happen in the same place, but not during every pass. In some cases, the derailment is a one-time event caused by dust or dirt on the track. Clean the area and replace the cars and engine back on the track, allowing it to run a few times. If the derailment doesnít happen again, there is probably no need to trace the cause of the derailment.
In the case of a derailment that continues to occur, especially in the same place, you need to figure out the root cause of the problem. There are several things to consider, such as changed scenery or new or different cars or engines. Try to determine where the problem originates as it might not be at the site of derailment.
Consider the scenery in the area of the derailment. Look for very small pieces of scenery that may be stuck in the track of your model trains. Carefully inspect the track to ensure that all the nails are hammered down all the way and be sure that the nails have not worked their way loose. Be sure that small tools are not left on the tracks.
Change cars to see if one specific car is the cause of the derailment. Run the engine by itself to see if it derails. If you can figure out which car keeps derailing, inspect the car thoroughly. Look at the wheels and couplers as these can be the culprit. Couplers (magnetic or regular) that are mounted too low can cause derailments by rubbing against the tracks.
Be sure that the wheels are set correctly for the width of the track. Shimming or replacing wheels or couplers would be the solution to prevent this car from derailing in the future. A shim placed correctly may improve the height ratio, keeping the cars from derailing.
The wheels might be a cause of derailment. Check to be sure that the wheels are clean. If the wheels are dirty, clean the dirt with a small cloth. Do not overlook the dirt on the wheels as it can blend into the colors on the flange.
To ensure which car is causing the problem, check the car in front of and behind the car that derails. Some cars have longer coupler housings than others, so you may have to adjust the coupler to tuck it a bit further under the derailing car.
Check the cars for correct assembly. The body needs to be correctly centered on the frame and there canít be anything rubbing against the wheels. The wheels should move freely by hand and the couplers should slide back and forth easily.
If the engine seems to be the derailing problem, inspect it carefully. Turn the engine upside down and examine the wheels, the truck housing, and the coupler. A bit of filing of the truck housing or shims on the wheels or coupler could fix the problem. You may have to try several things before the model trains run correctly again.
Another item to check is the curve of the tracks. If the curve is too tight, a derailment can occur. Generally, a six axle engine requires a 22Ē curve radius. If the train derails around a curve that is the correct radius, look several feet before the curve, checking for a small gap in the rails. Inspect for nails that may be loose or not pushed all the way down. Check the track for levelness. A small dip can cause derailments. Also check under the track to ensure there isnít any debris or dirt that is causing the derailment. Transitioning from one model trains table to another needs to be smooth to prevent derailment. Likewise, transitioning to a grade in the track needs to be smooth. A slight variation between tables or the grade could be enough to cause the trains to jump the rail. You may need to shim the table legs to level the tables.
Dips and bumps can cause derailments. A common cause for dips and bumps is a loose or partially driven nail. Check carefully to be sure that a nail hasnít come loose and worked its way under the track. Check to be sure the nails are through the wood and not the tracks rails.
A National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) track gage can be used to ensure that the rails are the correct space apart. Incorrect rail spacing has been known to cause derailment. In some cases, you may need to replace the track or bend the switch point clearances to allow the wheels to pass by without rubbing and derailing.
If you have tried several solutions but your trains still derail, trace it backwards from the point of derailment. Inspect all connections, rail joiners, rails, and scenery for failures, looseness, or dirt and debris. You may have to replace items to correct the derailment. Eventually, you will find the problem and once again be able to enjoy smooth performance from your trains toys.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about model trains toys. Click here to download a free trains toys guidebook filled with hobby tips, ideas and information.
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