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Picture of CSX Al
Posted
As everyone here knows I am a big Scaletrax advocate and use it exclusively on my layout. I have been using it since 2003 and have no complaints with it's performance. In the last couple of month's I began installing the included remote toggle switches that are supplied with the Scaletrax switches. I wanted to add the option of controlling my switch machines not only by the AIU/handheld but also to be able to throw the switch machines by flipping the toggle switch mounted near the switch on the fascia of the layout. I had about 8 of these toggle switches installed thus far.


Remote switch

The problem is that the "Remote toggle switch" doesn't always return to center and keeps power supplied to the switch machine. In April I had one of these remote switches do this and it melted my switch motor. Seen here:




At the time I thought I had bumped against the remote switch and it moved to the on position. I smelled the plastic burning quickly, as I was next to it when it happened. I called MTH and they sent me a replacement switch motor for the one that was damaged. At this point I had planned to change these plastic switches out for metal toggle ones.

Fast forward - went on vacation, work etc. and hadn't worked on layout since incident. Then on Monday I wanted to make sure a couple engines I was trading with a forum member were charged up I placed them onto the layout and powered up the layout. I walked away for a minute or two and walked back over to the layout to find smoke pouring up from one of my switch machines. I quickly pulled the connections off the switch machine with a pair of needle nose pliers I had near by. This was the result:






The solenoid got so hot the solid steel core even turned blue and the hole melted into the pink foam is about 2+ inches in dia.
I called MTH Tuesday morning and also sent them the photos and told them they need to put out a notice and a recall for these "Remote Switches".
I hope they do, but I wanted to warn anybody that is using Scaletrax, DO NOT use these "Remote Switches".
I feel this is a serious fire hazard.

I also want to point out that I use the accessory 14v power terminal on my transformer to power my switches.

If anybody else has had issues with these, please let MTH know. I was told that they haven't gotten many reports about these.


CSX Al
Gotta' run - got a layout to build

You can checkout photos, track plan of the layout and model photos & other projects at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~csxal/

or how to's at: http://token3rail.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 2186 | Location: Niagara Falls, NY | Registered:: June 03, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Eek Eek Al That is not too good. Has to be a stuck button at least. Accessory power supply could not have been fused too high, the supply wires look to be in good shape. I have had Atlas motors melt down even using 3 amp fuses on accessory supply. I'm hoping the new universal switch relay board from Atlas solves this problem. The board times-out after the switch motor is activated. Momentary source snap motors will over heat rather quickly if connected continuously which can happen with a stuck button, or in my case with ASC 3000's. I think that holding the button on the CAB-1 too long may cause the ASC to cycle through momentary time out more than once, enough to burn a motor.
The relay board would add some protection against this happening.

Mike CT
 
Posts: 2648 | Location: Western PA, (Beaver Valley) | Registered:: January 18, 2005 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of Rand Fredricksen
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Al, are you sure it was the control switch? My AIU had a relay stick when I powered it up with the same result. This is an issue with DCS v4. Thread in DCS forum.

Rand


Give me fuel. Give me fire.
Give me that which I desire!
 
Posts: 835 | Location: Wheeling, Illinois, USA | Registered:: May 18, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Al, not to make light of the situation, but your photos clearly illustrate how the pink foam migrated away from the heat source and did not contribute to the potential fire hazard presented by the switch machine meltdown. It appears that the plywood itself is far more likely to combust.
 
Posts: 1540 | Registered:: March 04, 2002 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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That's serious. Could have been a real bummer if it had gone up!

You might try adding a Capacitive Discharge device. I believe Fastrack switches have these built in. Miniatronics sells them. One unit can handle 10 switches. They cycle the power to the switch machine, so it won't get hot. I plan to add these to my layout as I wire my Atlas switches. They also work great if you wire in an electronic anti-derail circuit. That's another way to burn down a layout without a CD unit.

George
 
Posts: 468 | Location: Wadsworth, IL | Registered:: February 12, 2008 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of CSX Al
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Rand,

I'm sure it wasn't the AIU. MTH was able to get replicate the situation with the switch sticking when I called them the first time in April.


CSX Al
Gotta' run - got a layout to build

You can checkout photos, track plan of the layout and model photos & other projects at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~csxal/

or how to's at: http://token3rail.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 2186 | Location: Niagara Falls, NY | Registered:: June 03, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Thanks for posting the info, Al. It will be interesting to see how MTH handles it. Please keep us Forumites posted on MTH's reply.
 
Posts: 2173 | Location: Bristol, RI | Registered:: June 17, 2001 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of bluelinec4
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Wow thats pretty messed up. We had a sticky AIU once but we are using the DZ-1000 machines This just makes them chatter
 
Posts: 4478 | Location: staten island, NY, USA | Registered:: November 11, 2003 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of Rand Fredricksen
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quote:
Originally posted by George S:
That's serious. Could have been a real bummer if it had gone up!

You might try adding a Capacitive Discharge device. I believe Fastrack switches have these built in. Miniatronics sells them. One unit can handle 10 switches. They cycle the power to the switch machine, so it won't get hot. I plan to add these to my layout as I wire my Atlas switches. They also work great if you wire in an electronic anti-derail circuit. That's another way to burn down a layout without a CD unit.

George


I have the Miniatronics CD and only about half of my ScaleTrax switches will throw when I have it connected. It's sitting in a box.

I doubt if FastTrack switches have a CD built-in, I believe they are like Realtrax switches with micro-switches that cut power when the points move.

Dennis, the foam may move away from the heat but it certainly smells terrible. I had to evacuate the man cave until the gases dispersed.

Rand


Give me fuel. Give me fire.
Give me that which I desire!
 
Posts: 835 | Location: Wheeling, Illinois, USA | Registered:: May 18, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of beertrain
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Gee Al, that ain't pretty.
 
Posts: 671 | Location: I'm livin in Comfort, Texas | Registered:: April 10, 2007 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Rand Fredricksen:
quote:
Originally posted by George S:
That's serious. Could have been a real bummer if it had gone up!

You might try adding a Capacitive Discharge device. I believe Fastrack switches have these built in. Miniatronics sells them. One unit can handle 10 switches. They cycle the power to the switch machine, so it won't get hot. I plan to add these to my layout as I wire my Atlas switches. They also work great if you wire in an electronic anti-derail circuit. That's another way to burn down a layout without a CD unit.

George


I have the Miniatronics CD and only about half of my ScaleTrax switches will throw when I have it connected. It's sitting in a box.

I doubt if FastTrack switches have a CD built-in, I believe they are like Realtrax switches with micro-switches that cut power when the points move.

Dennis, the foam may move away from the heat but it certainly smells terrible. I had to evacuate the man cave until the gases dispersed.

Rand


Rand,

This may be a dumb question, but did you try increasing the voltage when using the CD unit? It is possible that the CD unit is sending less power on the output than the input voltage.

As for the Fastrack switches, I don't really know what they use. They are circuit board controlled. Remember though that Fastrack switches have built-in electronic anti-derailing. If the electronic anti-derailing is shorted on the Fastrack switches with a parked car or otherwise, they will chatter as a result of intermitent power interruption. This saves the switch motor much the same way that a CD unit is intended to operate.

George
 
Posts: 468 | Location: Wadsworth, IL | Registered:: February 12, 2008 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of illinoiscentral
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Time for that company that replaced Del-Aire ?


Michael
 
Posts: 2973 | Location: Park Ridge, Illinois | Registered:: March 23, 2001 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Seems like anytime a solenoid gets stuck the melting scenario is likely. Before I switched over to Ross switches I had 2 Lionel 042 remote switches burn up and my favorite was the Lionel plastic semaphore. That guy really was a smoking before I caught it, would have liked to have snapped a picture of the smoke pouring out of the semaphore.


Bill T.
Seattle & Yakima RR
 
Posts: 3184 | Location: USA | Registered:: December 25, 2000 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of bobdavisnpf
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It's a good thing the modern pink foam is so popular with us. Years 'n years ago, I darn near burned down my dad's house overheating white styrofoam... when it went up, the flames were up to the ceiling in a flash.

My wife would not be understanding about this sort of thing. The first time, she'd suggest I go all-manual on the switches... the second time, she'd want the layout ripped up & put away til we can afford an outbuilding... and enough land to put it farther from the house.


Cheers,
Bob
http://npfrailway.com/default.aspx
"Hauling Glory to the Dead Beat since 1996"
 
Posts: 1569 | Location: Stampede Pass, WA | Registered:: October 22, 2005 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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White styrofoam was and still is a completely different animal than the pink construction foam. The white stuff is combustable.
 
Posts: 1540 | Registered:: March 04, 2002 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Eek Being wary of this is why I always unplug my layout when I am finished with it!


If at first you don't succeed....don't try sky diving.

Tim
 
Posts: 271 | Location: College Station, TX | Registered:: January 07, 2008 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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I had this same problem with the MTH toggles, burned up 3 switches. I removed all the toggles and bought an AIU. If you want to use a toggle I would recommend buying a good toggle and not use the MTH one.

I do enjoy the look of the track.
 
Posts: 10 | Location: McHenry Illinois | Registered:: September 03, 2007 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Al,

Too bad that it happened, but thank you very much for letting us know and for the pictures - they really drive the point home.
Thanks
Keep us posted.

Alex
 
Posts: 260 | Location: Missouri | Registered:: January 26, 2008 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of CSX Al
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George, I do plan to wire some metal mini toggle switches in place of the supplied MTH ones. I have and currently do control my switches with the AIU but wanted to add the function of toggles for when I am walking around the layout and if I am near the switch I want to change, it is faster to flip the toggle on the fascia of the layout then scrolling through the remote to find the switch in the AIU.

Alex I will keep everyone posted. I hope MTH steps up and puts out a warning and recall on these. I think they actually should send replacement toggles (NOT the current design either) to owners of Scaletrax switches. I have 40+ on my layout. I am going to pick up some Miniatronics ones.


CSX Al
Gotta' run - got a layout to build

You can checkout photos, track plan of the layout and model photos & other projects at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~csxal/

or how to's at: http://token3rail.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 2186 | Location: Niagara Falls, NY | Registered:: June 03, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of Rand Fredricksen
Posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by George S:
quote:
Originally posted by Rand Fredricksen:
quote:
Originally posted by George S:
That's serious. Could have been a real bummer if it had gone up!

You might try adding a Capacitive Discharge device. I believe Fastrack switches have these built in. Miniatronics sells them. One unit can handle 10 switches. They cycle the power to the switch machine, so it won't get hot. I plan to add these to my layout as I wire my Atlas switches. They also work great if you wire in an electronic anti-derail circuit. That's another way to burn down a layout without a CD unit.

George


I have the Miniatronics CD and only about half of my ScaleTrax switches will throw when I have it connected. It's sitting in a box.

I doubt if FastTrack switches have a CD built-in, I believe they are like Realtrax switches with micro-switches that cut power when the points move.

Dennis, the foam may move away from the heat but it certainly smells terrible. I had to evacuate the man cave until the gases dispersed.

Rand


Rand,

This may be a dumb question, but did you try increasing the voltage when using the CD unit? It is possible that the CD unit is sending less power on the output than the input voltage.

As for the Fastrack switches, I don't really know what they use. They are circuit board controlled. Remember though that Fastrack switches have built-in electronic anti-derailing. If the electronic anti-derailing is shorted on the Fastrack switches with a parked car or otherwise, they will chatter as a result of intermitent power interruption. This saves the switch motor much the same way that a CD unit is intended to operate.

George


George, I looked at the instruction sheet for the CD and sure enough, it says I could use up to 24V. I had been using the 14V accessory output from a Z-1000. This morning I connected the CD unit to the track output (19.6V) and it will indeed throw every one of the switches. But it won't throw three in a row, a common scenario in my routes. According to my ears the AIU quickly cycles through the switches in a route and after the first two switches fire the capacitor is discharged and won't power the third switch. I don't think a higher voltage will cure that.

Rand


Give me fuel. Give me fire.
Give me that which I desire!
 
Posts: 835 | Location: Wheeling, Illinois, USA | Registered:: May 18, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Al:

This can happen with any snap switch. I use atlas switches and today have probably burned (8). I operate all my switches through ASC 3000's with no manual push buttons. The problem has been there for some time I think I have learned how to hit the buttons on the CAB-1 just right so that the momentary power does not prolong. Thursday evening when the club was here working on my layout our youngest member was having a good time with my layout. This is an Atlas switch motor at 18 volts/3 amp fusing. Not as impressive as your melt down, but melt down just the same. Probably in less than 5 seconds.






Hot enough that the switch motor sticks to the cork.


The 3 amp fuses could become 2 or 1 amp, but I think the melt down would still be there just not as bad. I'm hoping that the Atlas 6924 universal switch control board with time out feature will eliminate this problem.
 
Posts: 2648 | Location: Western PA, (Beaver Valley) | Registered:: January 18, 2005 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Rand Fredricksen:

George, I looked at the instruction sheet for the CD and sure enough, it says I could use up to 24V. I had been using the 14V accessory output from a Z-1000. This morning I connected the CD unit to the track output (19.6V) and it will indeed throw every one of the switches. But it won't throw three in a row, a common scenario in my routes. According to my ears the AIU quickly cycles through the switches in a route and after the first two switches fire the capacitor is discharged and won't power the third switch. I don't think a higher voltage will cure that.

Rand


Rand,

I think you are right here. While the unit is supposed to be able to throw up to 10 switches, it appears it can only handle 2 consecutive switches through an AIU route command in your case. That would mean you would need more CD units, which gets expensive fast, or you would need to limit routes to 2 switches to allow the CD unit to recharge.

Thanks for the update, because I haven't bought these yet. I'll need to give more thought to how I plan to use them.

From what I am reading here, it appears that no one has had a problem when they use only the AIU without a secondary momentary control. That might be an option for me, or I might consider the DZ switch machines.

George
 
Posts: 468 | Location: Wadsworth, IL | Registered:: February 12, 2008 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of Rand Fredricksen
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I also find that the position indicator on my RealTrax is not illuminated and the non-derailing does not function when using the capacitive discharge unit. I wonder if I can find another use for the thing.

There is an option from Atlas to ensure only momentary power, but $20/each...

Atlas O Non-Derail Circuit Board

I might buy some as I would like the non-derailing feature on a few of my switches.

The DZ-1000 would be another option, but just as expensive and the switch would have to be modified.

Then again, at this time I get non-derailing functionality on my ScaleTrax by not attaching a switch motor. Cost = $0, remote control = index finger.

Rand


Give me fuel. Give me fire.
Give me that which I desire!
 
Posts: 835 | Location: Wheeling, Illinois, USA | Registered:: May 18, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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We've did some testing and it seems that a Capacitive Discharge doesn't work as good as AC on some switch machines. A customer was having a problem with his Atlas switch machines and when we removed the CD circuit the switch machines worked better. So I tested the Atlas switch machines on my layout with and without a CD and they worked better without the CD. It appears they operate better with AC than DC.
 
Posts: 428 | Location: Sparta, NJ | Registered:: September 13, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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You can purchase Momentary Contact Toggle switches at any electronics supply.
 
Posts: 1540 | Registered:: March 04, 2002 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of CSX Al
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Mike, Sorry to hear about your switch machine melt down. Mine was a case of a poorly designed ( cheap plastic toggle ) switch.
Dennis, I found these switches at Hosfelt Electronics for $1.49ea. and they are metal. I will be installing these to replace the MTH ones.

Momentary Off Momentary Toggle Switch


SPDT MOM-OFF-MOM
6 amp @ 125 VAC
Center off
Mounts in a 1/4" hole.
Solder lug terminals.
Hardware included.


CSX Al
Gotta' run - got a layout to build

You can checkout photos, track plan of the layout and model photos & other projects at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~csxal/

or how to's at: http://token3rail.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 2186 | Location: Niagara Falls, NY | Registered:: June 03, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of JohnS
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the use of tortiose switch machines will alleviate this problem. they do not need momentary switches as they reach their limit and stall. the power draw is so low that they don't even get warm


John S
Ocean County Society of Model Railroaders
http://www.ocsmr.org/
 
Posts: 521 | Location: Manalapan, N.J. | Registered:: November 25, 2007 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Al, that's what I used when I build my yard panel many years ago. I've never had a problem with the NJI twin coil switch machines.
 
Posts: 1540 | Registered:: March 04, 2002 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by JohnS:
the use of tortiose switch machines will alleviate this problem. they do not need momentary switches as they reach their limit and stall. the power draw is so low that they don't even get warm

I also recommend avoiding the problem with tortoise switch machines. They can be run with very low power. Plus they look cool when they slowly move the turnout.
 
Posts: 60 | Location: Coventry, CT | Registered:: February 07, 2008 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of CSX Al
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I do have some tortiose switch machines on the layout. I use them near the front of the layout. But the others I use the Scaletrax ones. One problem with the tortiose machines I have found is that if you have to use a heavier throw wire for thicker roadbed areas, the switches have to be wired as non derailing. otherwise the wire is too still to allow the wheels to push the points open.


CSX Al
Gotta' run - got a layout to build

You can checkout photos, track plan of the layout and model photos & other projects at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~csxal/

or how to's at: http://token3rail.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 2186 | Location: Niagara Falls, NY | Registered:: June 03, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Al, I've been giving this some thought . I have 22 of these to put in and am not too happy about this. I'm wondering if a properly sized blinking light ( similar to a blinking X-mass light ) could help here. Maybe it could be installed inline and mounted on the control-panel where it could be seen. Then when the switch is thrown it lights up while the switch is being held. If the thing hangs up then it would heat up the element in the bulb and constantly "Blink " indicating a problem. It would also some-what limit the power heating up the turnout motor. What do you think?

BTW thanks for posting this !

Gizzmo
 
Posts: 623 | Location: Tuckerton NJ | Registered:: July 09, 2007 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
Picture of CSX Al
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Gizzmo your Welcome! I just scrapped all of the supplied MTH toggles. I ordered the ones from Hosfelt and they should be here today or tomorrow. I think it's not worth the risk to use those plastic toggles from MTH they are too unreliable to take a chance.


CSX Al
Gotta' run - got a layout to build

You can checkout photos, track plan of the layout and model photos & other projects at:
http://home.earthlink.net/~csxal/

or how to's at: http://token3rail.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 2186 | Location: Niagara Falls, NY | Registered:: June 03, 2004 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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Guys,
I am sorry for your troubles. When one companies product does not work as advertised it can affect all the rest. We had that situation in the late 80's when a company called right of ways' switches, which had basically tried to copy our line, did not work as they should. Some folks thought that ours were the same. Frown I assume others who are trying to make a choice of what switches to use are reading these posts. To them I would offer the following: Our most popular switch by far is our #5 switch (our product #100DM, #101DM). We will have a price increase come October, but right now it is priced ready to run WITH the DZ1000 switch machine at $69.95. The same switch machine that some are recommending to replace the Atlas/MTH machines. Atlas #5 now priced at $84.95 according to their website. Cost to upgrade to a DZ1000 machine (discounted from us) $19.00. Total price $103.95. Eek $69.95/$103.95 (Oh and tortois machines +- $16.00) I have not looked at the cost of the MTH switches but if you have to add $19.00 or $16.00 and do the work of installing them yourself..... food for thought. Thanks for your time. Ross Custom Switches, proudly made in America! Happier railroading,


Steve
President/CEO
Ross Custom Switches
 
Posts: 448 | Location: 45 CHURCH ST NORWICH CT 06360 | Registered:: February 06, 2002 Reply With QuoteEdit or Delete MessageReport This Post
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