The best ideas, as they say, are the simplest. And never has this been more true than with this bit of lateral thinking from an MRE group member.
I, and most others modellers I know, detest troubleshooting track power problems.
And figuring out which bit of track is causing problems is one of the most tiresome challenges. This is especially the case if your layout is any of a fair size.
Using one of the standard track testers, such a GaugeMaster GM-GM52, is proven but isn’t fun when you have to manually move it around every section of track when you more than a few.
Stuart Peter Hilton, put his thinking hat on and hooked up a Mini Digital Voltmeter display to the axel on a wagon to create a mobile track tester. With a little bit of work, the circuit will fit in both OO and N gauge although you need to consider clearance width for N – 9mm – track.
Stuart’s approach was to use the insulated bogey wheels of an Intercity on one side and then used fine copper wire coiled around the axle and up on each side then attached soldered the wires of the meter to each of the copper wire I will post the link of the meter
Hooking this wagon up to a loco and running it around your layout quickly reveals problems and enables rapid identification of problems. It’s even makes troubleshooting interesting, dare I say fun?
Also, because the read out shows exact voltages, you can identify voltage drops and where your track and wiring can be improved or is heading for a future problem.
Update: The original volt meter referred to in this article is no longer available, an alternative is now given in the link. This is also only applicable to DC / Analogue layouts.
Affiliate notice: Some links on this page will take you to carefully selected businesses, including Hornby, B&Q, Rapid Online, Amazon, eBay, Scale Model Scenery and Element Games, through which you can buy products mentioned. These links are made under their affiliate schemes which means that although the price to you doesn't change I get a small commission on the orders you place. Please see the disclaimer for more details.