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Stop Turnout Stalling

Many Marklin Z-scale turnouts appear to suffer from the same problem: a tendency to stall small or slow-moving locomotives as they pass through them. There are a variety of causes, all of which I'll try to address on this page. After affecting repairs, I feel this problem is 100% solvable, although your mileage may vary.

In this article:

See also:

Feel free to write me if you have any additions or corrections to this page.

Cleaning Turnouts

Click to enlarge In my experience, dirt on the turnouts is the most common cause of stalling. Even if you're diligent about cleaning track, you're probably missing some key areas: most notably, the tops of the points and the frog contacts, shown in pink in this photo.

For the frog contacts, I use a small, triangular piece of dense (non-corrugated) cardboard to gently wipe the grime off. They're small, so this goes quickly.

For the fragile points, the Roco 10002 track polisher or Trax Stix can be used (both of which are discussed here), although the cardboard mentioned above also works.

Also, don't forget to keep those locomotive wheels clean!

Fixing the Wiring

Click to enlarge If you find that a particular turnout is routinely stalling your locomotives, it might not be transmitting electricity as it was designed.

Power is transmitted from one end of a turnout to the other through a series of thin contacts that connect the various components under the ties. Sometimes, these contacts break or become detached in one or more places. To determine the integrity of a turnout's internal wiring, use a multimeter with a continuity tester to make sure all of the spots in this photo have continuity. For example, all of the rails and contacts in blue should be electrically connected; likewise, all red rails and contacts should conduct.

Physical Obstuctions

There are three ways that the physical design of the turnout can cause stalling:

Alternative Z Turnouts

Several other manufacturers have stepped in and provided replacements for Marklin turnouts. To date, all of these come from small manufacturers, and I haven't seen any of these up close (except for the Wright Turnouts), but they all show promise. For more information on any of these manufacturers, see the Manufacturers page.

A few notes:

If you have any photos or personal experience with any non-Marklin turnouts, please feel free to write me with any details.

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