Creating and Troubleshooting Märklin C-track Contact Track (Automation Episode 2)

Hello and welcome to Model Train Fun! This 
is the second video in the automation series. We are getting ready to actually look at 
automation. The first thing we want to look at is: How to detect where my train is? In order to 
do that we are using a contact track. In this video I'm going to show how to take an ordinary 
C-track and turn it into a contact track. You might ask: Why don't we just use the Märklin 24995? 
Which is a set of contact track. Well first of all they're very expensive. Second of all even if you 
have those if you need track in between those track.

You need to do something with those track 
as well. You cannot buy any track like that. So no matter how you twist and turn it. You have to go 
ahead and turn your C-track into a contact track. How do you do that? Well in essence we detect 
trains by: Whenever there's a train on the rails it will short-circuit the two rails. What 
we just need to make sure of. Is we disconnect these two rails.

The cool thing about Märklin 
C-track is. It's actually made for this purpose. It's made for digital trains and it's made to 
be easily transformed into a Märklin… or into contact track. You just need to do 
a short break of connection on each track. You can do that with any track. You can do a 
straight track. You can do with curved track. You can do it with short track and so on. The only 
thing you cannot do it with. Is turnouts and double slips. You can do it with any straight of any 
length and any curved track of any length. As part of making it into a contact 
track we're going to talk just a little more. We're going to go into the areas of: How 
do I troubleshoot? What do I need to think about? Because what we really are aiming for with 
the contact track.

Is for the automation to be able to detect a consist of trains – the 
entire consist of trains. And detect it over a large area. I would like to know if my entire  
block is occupied or not. This is kind of the first step for that we'll see in later 
videos. How we take this further. Enjoy the video! Let's look at: How does the Märklin 
track actually work? So we can see how we can turn this into a contact 
track. If we look at the Märklin track. We have each rail is where we connect the brown 
wire. Which is the "0". We have that for each rail. On the center rail which you 
see from above as the small pegs in the C-track rail. That will be the red and that's 
actually the "B" for "Bahn". When we have a locomotive on top of that. The way it 
picks up the power is through the wheels through the rails.

Which is the brown. It 
will actually pick up one phase of the electricity. The "B" which is the red. 
It actually pick up the red. Then it will use the red and the brown to power 
the locomotive. What does that mean when we turn it into a contact track? Well – 
what we do is we disconnect the rails. You can see here on this drawing. I have on 
one side. I still have brown connected to the rail. But the other side I have not. So I 
have basically inside the C-track disconnected these two rails. Then I have only 
powered one of the rails. What does that mean? Well that means I got a "Powered Rail" and I got 
a "Detection Rail". The detection rail is the one that's not powered. The powered rail is the 
brown one. The principle here is: I look at the detection rail and then I try and figure out when 
does this become brown (which is also the "0").

So what happens when a locomotive or a car 
comes on the rail? Well when a locomotive or a car comes on the rail. The wheels and the 
axles of the wheels will actually complete a circuit between the two rails. So as you see here. 
Now the locomotive has been placed on the track. Which means that the powered rail over here 
will go through the wheels through the axles through the other wheel to the detection 
rail. And now the detection rail becomes brown. That means that I can basically put a wire 
on here and see: Whenever my detection rail becomes brown that means that track is occupied. 
Which is in essence what the contract track does. In the next video I will show you how 
to connect the contact track to the S88. In essence what the S88 does is. It's just 
a device that's connected to both rails – so it's both connected to the powered rail and 
the detection rail. When the detection track becomes brown – that's the track over here. Then 
it will say the train is detected or the track is occupied.

Do remember the way this happens is. 
It's the wheels of the axle… uh the wheels and the axle that actually complete the circuit. 
…and make the other rail brown as well. Let's look at how we do this on the 
C-track. In essence we need to disconnect the two rails for this track to 
become a contact track. This is a standard straight. That's the 24188 straight track I'm 
looking at. If we turn it around and look here. Then you will see here we have the "0". 
Over here we have the "B". So this is the brown and this is the red. If we look closely here 
you see here's the tab. Just here to the left of the tab: You can see there's a little 
bridge.

That little bridge there is the one that connects this rail with this rail. If 
we look at it. That was that end we looked at. We can look in the other end as well. Here 
we see the same thing. You can see we have the "0" here which is the brown. We got a 
little bridge there as well. So what do I do? I take my wire cutting tool or my 
plier here. Then I just sever the bridge If we have the bridge here… what I do is: 
I put my wire cutting over the bridge here. Then I slide it over towards the tab 
here.

So it gets flush with the tab. Then I just cut it and I do that 
in both ends. So I put it in here. I flush it towards the tab and then 
I cut it. If it's a little too hard then you've got a hold of the 
plastic. You don't want to do that. In essence now they're severed. To make sure 
usually what I do is: I take a small screwdriver. Then I press on the bridge here. Here's the 
bridge that I separated. You see it's severed here. I'm just going to press on this. I 
can bend it down because then I'm sure nothing will catch on it. Because you could 
accidentally still catch the metal here. I do that at both ends. You 
see I got one here as well. I sever it and I press it down.

The good thing 
is when you've done this. Then you can see it's been pressed down with your naked eye. 
You can actually see that it has been severed. You see that here in both ends. The cool 
thing is that was a straight track. But if you look at every other piece of straight 
and curved track. It has the same thing. Here we have the the "0". Over here we got the 
"B". So this is the brown and this is the red. Here at the brown tab you see there's a bridge. 
Excellent! I also have the same thing in the other end.

So over here I got the "B". Over here 
I got the brown. By the way remember another trick to remember which of these is is red and brown. The 
one closest to the edge here is always red. The one furthest from the edge is always the brown. We 
have to snip the bridge over here at the brown. So I just just make it flush 
again with the tab. I snip it and I press it down here again. All right – I 
got that one. We'll take the other end. Go in… we'll snip it and then I'll press it down. Okay and you see it's pressed down. Excellent! That was the standard track. You 
can do the same thing for all the track. The good thing is all the straight track 
and all the curved track you can do this. This means that where I had the straight 
track and the… Oh let me zoom out a little here. Where you had the straight track and you have 
the curved track. Now I can put them together. And now I got like one long contact track.

That 
basically means I can make very long contact track. This is a huge benefit because 
one contact track will become a block – or maybe there needs to be more contact 
track? We'll look at that in a later episode… Here I have the two track 
I modified before and made into contact track by separating the rails – 
or disconnecting the rails. How did I do that? I snipped the little bridge 
and then I bent it down. However now I have these two track here. Which is 
the the curved and the straight. But I would like them to work as two different contact areas. I 
want the curved and the straight to indicate by themselves when there's train on there. So I want 
to know when a train enters here on the straight. Then I want to know it's on the straight. 
Then when it enters here on the on the on the curved – I want to know that it's 
on the curved.

The first thing I have to do. Is to decide which one is the powered rail 
and which one is the detection rail. What I usually try to do is: The one closest to me is 
the powered rail and the one furthest away is the contact rail… or the detection rail. 
However that doesn't always work. But you got to figure out some way to keep track of 
it. So I want this track up here to be the detection rail. Remember when we 
turn this around. That's this one up here. If we look here at the end. There is no 
tabs here on this end. However there is on this end here. I turn it around and this tab 
here which is on this side connects to this rail. So you see this tab connects 
to this rail. When I turned it around that's the one furthest away from me. So it's the 
one furthest away. I turned it around and that becomes this rail over here. And that's the tab for 
that.

If we look at the other end. There's also a tab. So remember the tabs that are furthest 
from the edge is brown. So that's also brown. So that each their rail. This one here is the 
rail now that's at the bottom of the picture. When you turn it around it's the one that's 
at the top of the picture. So the cool thing is the tabs are always closest to the rail that they 
actually connect to. Since I wanted this one up here as a detection rail and this one has the 
powered rail. That means I really have to connect up… This is my detection rail and this is where I 
connect my detection. So I take my detection wire and we have that here. You can see my detection 
wire is a connected to a spade. What is this? That's the 74995 here. That's  
these spade connectors.

I've connected the wire too. That goes to the S88. I will 
cover the S88 in the next episode. For now I will just put it on here. Now we have that one 
here. That means when we turn it around. The detection wire is on the detection rail 
which is the one furthest away from us. However I also need to power this rail. How 
do I do this? Here I have the wires from the Central Station 3. I got the red 
and the brown. How do I connect these? I want this one here to be the powered rail. I look at 
this end. Huh – it's not this end because that's the end where we connect the detection rail. 
You see something sticking out. So it must be the other end. This is the end here where 
I can connect my powered rail. Then I might as well connect my red to this side as well. 
I will turn it around.

Then I will connect my rails here. I got first the brown one here that 
I need to connect up here. Then I got my red that I need to connect here. Again remember 
"B" is red. Red is the one closest to the edge. "0" is brown and it's the one furthest from the 
edge. Hopefully we got everything correct. When you turn it around… Well let's see. 
I got the wire twisted a little here… When you turn it around. This up here furthest 
away is our detection rail. I turn it around. Indeed that is our detection rail.

The one closest to me 
is the powered rail where I want it. If you look at it. That's this one here… because 
now it's on top. Okay – now we got the… this track here. It's powered and it's ready to 
detect when trains come on here. I want this one to work as a separate contact area – the 
curved one. That means I need to make sure if I put them together like this… Remember 
the one closest to me is the powered rail. The one furthest away from me is the detection 
rail. I don't want the detection rail to detect the same thing.

But I want the power 
to go through. How do I prevent the detection rails here from being 
electrically connected? I do that by using the Märklin 74030. If we look at: What is this? This is… Well 
it's hard to see in here… I have some that are already taken out of the bag. It's these small 
things here. These you can use to insulate connections from the track. 
You take one of these here. On the side you see… and disconnect it so you 
end up with a little thing like this. Let me just try and zoom in a little. A little thing 
like this. You can put that on the track. You see the track here. This is where 
it connects to the other side. The one closest to the center is the red.

The one furthest 
away from the center is the brown. And it's the rail… You can also see the rail "goes over" 
and it's right underneath the rail here… This one here is closest to the center which 
is the red. We have this little thingy here. You can see there's a hole here in it and 
there's a tab. The tab needs to be turned down. So when you put it on it goes on like this. 
It's away from you. Then you need to wriggle it on this one here. Such that it connects. 
Usually I… If you noticed I start. Let me just try again. I usually start with doing it a little 
crooked.

So it it goes in here. Then it comes on and then you can press it in. The cool thing 
about this is: Now when we connect these track – where there's red. There will be no 
connection. So I will connect these together. You do it gently… we turn it around and 
see: What do we have on the other side? What we see here is: I got the detection wire to the S88 – 
the gray one here. It's on the detection rail side. If we look at it. It's connected here and it 
bridges to the other track there. But there's no connection because this one is insulated. 
So that means now… let me just zoom out. What we got here is the bottom rail here is 
powered (that's the brown). The center rail is powered between the two rails (that's the 
red). Then we got the detection rail – it's actually insulated here between the rails. So 
it doesn't connect over here.

That means I can connect another detection wire over here 
on this detection rail. We turn it around… It means I want a wire on this one here. 
Let me try again… I want it up here on this detection rail where there's something here. 
That's this. That's where I want it. Let me just find another wire. We pull it here magically from 
my S88. Now I can put that here on my detection tab. It's here… Okay and you see it's 
connected now. What does that mean? If we put it down and we look at the 
wires here. Let me just arrange it a little… Here we can see we got several wires going in: 
We got the power going in from the Central Station 3. We got one detection cable here for the straight 
rail. I got another detection cable for the curved rail. The idea now is that when 
something is on the straight here.

Then the Central Station will detect that. When 
there's something on the curve it will detect that. One thing I forgot to say when I was 
putting the wires on is: Please do remember always POWER OFF. When you are playing with the layout and 
you are adding wires and so on. Don't forget to read the safety instructions. As you see here: 
I already have the Central Station powered on. Currently it's in STOP mode. Let 
me just get it out of STOP mode. Then I need to find the contacts so I can see 
if my contact track works. How do I find those? I pull down in the green menu here at the top. 
Here I got my accessory list. Then I click my filter. Then I go and find the S88 contacts. 
Then here you see all the S88 contacts. I only have a few connected and 
assigned in the Central Station 3.

A contact that's gray means it's not 
occupied. A contact that's red means that the Central Station does not know what the 
state is. A contact that's yellow means that it's occupied. If you look here in front 
of me. I got the same track as before. I got the curved one here. I got a straight it actually 
continues on another curved here… out of the screen. Here is one contact and here's 
another contact. Now I would like to test if it actually worked what I did. The 
easiest way to test that is to take a freight car.

It needs to be a Märklin freight 
car or one with AC wheels. We'll talk about that in a second why is that. I will take my 
freight car here. Then I will put it on the track and see if something happens. 
You see here on the Central Station 3… oh… When I get it mounted you see my contact here. In 
this case "C1" turns yellow – which is cool 🙂 This was the straight track. This is the 
curve. Where does it divide? Let me just try and show it…. It's there it divides. You 
see the freight car is on the straight track. Now I move it over to the curve as well. 
You see something happened with the contact 2 – the "C2".

So you see now 
the the freight car it's bridging the two track. It's both on contact 1 (C1) and contact 
2 (C2). I will continue driving the freight car Now you see it got off the straight track and now 
it's only on contact 2 (C2). The cool thing is you can decide yourself how long does this 
area need to be. Where you where you will have the contact.

If I try and shift it a little 
here. Then I can add another track here… Okay – oh sorry… If that's also disconnected like the other 
track. It will keep on detecting that the freight car is there. I'll move this one 
over. So this is the straight track here. Then here's the curved track and as you can 
see there's another curved track that starts here. We look at the Central Station 
3 you see it's on the "C1". So on the straight track. I drive it to the curved 
track. You see as soon as I get on the curved track. It will turn yellow there. Then it will 
keep on yellow even though I continue on this curved track and further out on the other 
curved track. That's because I'm using one… Basically I did not isolate between these two. 
But I isolated over here.

So this is one contact and this area over here is another contact. 
Basically all the track in between the isolated areas is one contact. In that 
way I can make a really really long contact. There's a couple of things you need to 
think about. I'll put this into STOP mode again. Let me just take the track here… 
First of all what you must do is solder the wire to the spade connector. In 
order to get a good connection. I suggest you always do that. That would be a good tip because 
you will enhance the reliability. If you're using a temporary layout. Then use the spade 
connector here. If you're using a permanent layout then what I would suggest you do is solder the 
wire directly to the tab on the track here.

Because that will give a much more reliable 
connection. So if you have a temporary layout use the spade connector – but still solder the wire to 
the spade connector. If you have a permanent layout then I would solder the wire directly to 
the track. I have made a little loop out of all the track. All the track are contact 
track. So I have disconnected the rails. I have on the rail closest to the camera here. 
That is the powered rail. That is the outer rail all the way around in the loop. 
On the rail furthest away from me over here. That is the detection rail. That's the 
inner rail all the way around on the loop. What I have done is: You see there is some wires 
coming in here. They go into the center and then there goes one down to here behind the locomotive. 
You can see there's one that goes over here. There's one that goes over there and then there's 
one that goes over here.

So I have divided the little loop here into four parts. You 
can see I have placed a track here – four places. That's the four places where 
I have insulated the detection track. That means as you can see now. Here on the 
Central Station 3. You can see the locomotive is here on the straight here. That straight 
is "C1". So "C1" pretty much ends where the locomotive is. It has to go a little further then we 
will go into "C2". "C1" starts all the way up here from that track up here. That's where it 
divides…

It goes all the way in here that's "C1". From this track here and all the way up to 
this one – that's "C2". From this one and all the way over to this one – that's "C3". From this one 
and all the way over here is "C4". If we start the locomotive now and we look at the 
Central Station 3. You'll see that it will "hit" each of those at it as it goes.

But 
let me just start very slowly. Then you will see that it will hit the "C2" and it will not 
release the "C1" until the train has left the "C1". Here you see it it got to "C2"… Oh uh – I'm 
having a bad connection for my locomotive… Now it releases "C1". It's still on "C2". I'll 
give my locomotive a little more speed… it's always important to keep your 
track clean and the wheels clean. As you see it goes around now. Now it's 
on "C4" and now it comes to the "C1". …and then it goes to "C2". …and then it goes to "C3".

…and then it goes to "C4". As you can see here 
one of the benefits of the contact track. You can have an entire section of track detect 
whether or not it's occupied or not. Right now it's just a locomotive drive 
around. But it will actually also detect the cars. Now we saw the loop working. What 
do we do if things don't work? To me there's two methods of doing it. 
If you look at the Central Station now. All the contacts are free so they are not 
yellow. They are gray so they are not occupied. If we look at the track here in front of us. 
I got a contact section 1 (C1) that goes here till this track. Then I got a contact 
section 2 (C2) that goes to this track here. …and then I got a contact track 3 
(C3) here. So one way of testing is to take a freight car with AC wheels. 
You put it on and then you see that… oh. Then you see it becomes yellow – in this case "C1". 
When you drive it over you can see that "C2" becomes yellow.

Then you can see "C3" becomes yellow 
here at the end. So in this fashion for example. If I put it down on "C1" and "C2" also 
lights up. That means I would have forgotten the insulator for example. That's one way I can 
test it. Just using my Central Station and driving a car on the track.

However it's not 
always enough. So another thing you can do is you can use a multimeter – a "Digital Multimeter". You 
need one that can actually detect short circuits. In this case I got here a little option down 
here. You can see there's something with a sound. If i turn it over here in this mode here. 
That's a "Continuity tester". You need a digital multimeter with a "continuity 
tester". Here I've got the two ends. What you can see is… If I put that out here… 
When I touch these two you see it turns… It both gives me a visual indication with 
red up here. But it also gives me a beep. What I can do with these ones. Is I can test the 
track. Remember that the track closest to me is the power track and the track rail… Sorry 
the rail closest to me is the power rail and the rail furthest away from me is the detection 
rail. So if I put these two on the power rail here. Then you can hear there's a connection. 
…and I should get that even when I do it far away.

I need a connection all the 
way through. That means the power flows through all of them. Then I need to make sure 
if I have my "C2" here. If I look between the two rails there should be no contact – or there 
should be no short circuit. We can hear there's no beep. There's beep on the power rail but not 
on the detection rail. So that's a good thing. The other thing I can do is. I can put it here on 
the detection rail. Then I can test with the detection rail next to it. So here is "C3" out here. 
You hear there's no connection. I can also test "C1" which is over here. Let me just do it like 
this so I can touch "C1" …and there's no connection. So you can use your digital voltmeter…  
multimeter to detect whether or not the powered rail is powered for all the contact sections. 
Then you can go in on each contact section and then you can take from the detection rail 
and see if it connects to anything else.

It's not allowed to connect to the power rail and it's 
not allowed to connect to the sections next to it. What could be wrong if I detected 
that there was a connection somewhere? Well first of all the most common thing I usually 
do is: I connect the detection wire to the wrong side of the track. In this case here. If 
I'm looking here at the top. I see the track from above. My detection rail is the one furthest 
away and the one closest to me is the power rail. That means when I turn it around and you can 
see here. I have turned it around then it's in this end here to the left I have 
connected the wire to in this case. Which is the one that sticks out here. So when 
I turn it around that is actually the power rail. I should have connected it to the other end. 
This is typically the most common mistake I make.

I connect the detection wire to the power 
rail instead of the detection rail. What happens if the detection wire is connected 
to the power rail? It just always shows occupied. The other thing that often can go wrong 
is that if you look at the wire itself. …and the spade connector here and the connection 
to the track. If there's a bad connection. If you haven't soldered.

It has even bigger chance for a 
bad connection. Solder the wire to the spade connector on a temporary layout and then make 
sure that it connects securely to the track. On a permanent layout I would advise you to just 
directly solder the wire to the track. Do make sure you got a reliable connection and 
I highly encourage you to solder the connection. Another thing that can go wrong is that… Maybe when you disconnected the rail… If you 
look down here at the green. Here on the track to the left. You can see here I bent down 
the bridge and this one is disconnected. If you look over here in the red. The bridge is 
over here on the other side. You can see that has not been disconnected. That's another 
common mistake I often do. Together with choosing the power rail instead of the detection rail which 
was the first up here.

I would say the second most common I do is: I had forgotten to snip the rails 
or I didn't do it proper. …and I didn't bend it down proper. So maybe there's still something 
touching something. You may have to go back and double check that. And remember you have to 
check it on all track within the contact section. Yes – the fix is cut the connection. The 
other thing that might not be as obvious if you look at the the C-track. Here's a close-up of 
it here. The rails are actually not touching each other from track to track. However if the rail is 
not put on precisely on there. Then you have some track that can accidentally touch each other. 
So it could be that if you look up closely there's no a gap in between the track.

The 
C-track is actually made and prepared to be contact track and made and prepared to 
support digital. So this gap is natural. However there can be cases where you can't find it. How 
do you fix that? Well typically what I do is "Grab another track". So if there's two track that fit 
too closely together and you've got touching rails – well why not just use them in a section where 
it could actually benefit you that they touch? So within the same contact area.

The other 
thing is you can make them not touch each other. If you don't have any other track you can 
either gently apply a screwdriver in between here. Be careful you might break your screwdriver (or track). 
You can gently try and push the rail. Or you could try and shorten the rail a little. However I 
would highly encourage you to grab another rail. One of the benefits of the contact track is 
that the entire contest actually triggers the contact area. If you look at the schematics I 
have here. That's the schematics of the C-track. So what you have here: the dotted line here 
in the center so that's the red or the "B" for "Bahn". Then I got the two rails here. I got 
the black rail here which is the detection rail. Its not powered but it's divided into three 
sections here. Then at the bottom I got the brown rail which is the powered rail. 
So what happens? Well – as soon as you put a train on the track.

What it will do is. 
It will bridge the powered rail with the detection rail. So you see here the detection 
rail because becomes brown as well. If I move the train forward. Then as soon as the 
first wheel hits the second contact area here. It will detect that it has arrived. That 
will continue when the train drives in. It will also continuously detect that it's 
in the area all the way until the last wheel. As long as the last wheel is still in the contact 
area it will still detect it's there. Until the the consist has left the contact area. 
So the benefit here is that from the first wheel to the last wheel we get a continuous 
contact. That also means: If for example that by accident my train was longer than I thought it 
would be and it's sticking in into the previous contact area. It would actually know this. If I drop 
a freight car or anything like that.

It would know this. So that's one of the benefits of the contact 
areas. However there are also some things you have to consider. Because the first wheel and 
the last wheel can cause a problem. If you got dirty wheels or you got dirty 
track. Then when you only got one wheel on there and if it's dirty there's a bigger chance 
that it might actually trigger twice on the wheel. So think of it this way: If there's a dirty 
spot on the wheel as soon as that dirty spot hits it will disconnect.

Let's assume this first 
wheel up here is dirty it rolls down and now the dirt touches. That means that it will not 
lead the power across here from the power rail to the detection rail. Then it will look like 
it's free for a very short while and then it will be occupied again when the wheel turns 
further around. The same thing with the last wheel. So this is one of the things you have to 
consider when you're doing the contact track. There's also other things that can be less obvious. 
Oh – yeah.

So how do you actually fix this? Well to me the best advice is clean the wheels and clean 
the track. Make sure it's clean all the time. By the way – is that really a big bother? No not 
really. Because you would like it to be clean anyways to make sure that you get good contact. 
Such that whenever you are doing automation your control station always can tell the locomotive 
what it needs to do. And I have heard some people post a trick that actually is about changing 
the S88 sensitivity. I never tried this and I'm not sure it really works? The other thing you 
have to think about is: If you got a long car or locomotive… You see here on my drawing here 
to the right. I got here a very long car. Let's assume this is a passenger car with bogies 
on each end. Now I made my contact track so short that the car actually can span across the contact 
track.

So if I do this there will be a gap. That means as soon as the bogie pass – the first bogie 
passes this. You'll get into a situation like this. Where it's not detected as being there. Then 
the train will keep on driving. Then the second bogie will hit this contact area. So if you got 
a very long car and locomotive then this could happen. How do I avoid this? Well – don't make 
short contact sections. When we get further into the automation. You'll also see there's many 
other benefits by making long contact sections. So this will typically not happen. I'm just telling 
you this just to be sure that you're aware of it. Don't make short contact sections always 
make them long. I would say make them at least as long at the as the longest car you have.

The 
other thing that could happen is: If you got a consist. You see it here to the right. I got a 
consist of freight cars for example. The first one has AC wheels the next one has non-Märklin or 
DC wheels. And the last one has AC wheels. If we have a standard Märklin car. What it 
does is it will lead the power from the power rail to the detection rail. However if you're 
using two rail systems – so non-Märklin systems. You do not want to actually short circuit 
the two rails. Because the two rails are two different kinds of (electrical) power. 
It's – well in quotes "plus and minus" or "black and red". It's only really a unique item 
of the Märklin track that they're both brown – and that's because we got the center rail which 
is the red one.

So in this case where you see here. I have a short contract track again. 
When my consist comes along. There's one freight car in here that has non-Märklin wheels. 
It means it will not short it… So how can I fix that? Well first of all what I would advise 
you to do is place these in the middle. Because then you would still get the first wheel and last 
wheel detection. Such that we detect the entire consist. Then if you avoid short sections 
then it's not a problem because there would typically always be some other AC cars in there 
as well. However if it's all DC or non-Märklin. What I would advise you to do is replace the 
wheels with AC wheels.

There's also the possibility of altering DC wheels such that 
they will actually short the track as well. That was actually a pretty long video about 
a simple thing. The only thing we have to do in order to make a standard C-track – either 
straight or curved of any length – is actually to cut the bridge on the track underneath in 
both ends. Remember it has to be both ends. To me this is not damaging the track. 
I haven't seen any issues with the track after I've done this. Even though I'm not 
using them for contact track. To me I don't see any problem with doing that. Because 
I've had some people asking me "Don't you damage the track?".

No you do not. The other thing 
is: What's the advantage of the contact track? First of all it is a pretty reliable when you 
get it going. You need to make sure though that the wheels are clean and the track is clean. 
In order to make sure you got good contact. But you want that anyways when you're doing automation. 
Because when you're doing automation it's very important that every single command goes to the 
locomotive. Every single command goes to the to the turnouts and so on. So you need to be focusing 
on reliability and focusing on that it's clean. I like that the contact track actually can 
be an entire contact area.

And it can keep track of the entire consists. So I 
know if my entire length of track – if it's unoccupied. The train is actually away 
from the track there's nothing left behind. There's not a freight car that was accidentally 
dropped. It's not accidentally sticking into the previous track and and so on. If you look at other 
methods like the circuit track or the reed switch.

They are actually points. So you just know when 
a certain point of the train has passed another certain point. For circuit track 
it detects when the slider passes. For reed switch it detects when a little 
magnet you put on the train passes the reed switch. The advantages with the contact 
track is it doesn't care which direction you drive. It's direction independent. You don't need to have 
a slider on both ends …or magnet in both ends …or anything like that.

So it becomes much easier 
to do. The other thing is: As I can take any track and make into a contact track. That 
means that I have a great deal of flexibility on my layout. Do remember when I say any 
track. It's any straight and any curved. Not the other track. So not the uncoupler track. Not the 
turnout track. Not the double slip and so on. However that also matches what you do in 
real life. When you're defining blocks. So To me it kind of adds up. That's why I like 
the contact track.

And I can create contact areas. Which in essence we'll see in some of the 
future videos – will become the contact blocks. But like any any sensor method there's also 
disadvantages. To me the biggest one is that it needs AC wheels because it needs to short- 
circuit the two rails. So if you go and buy freight cars from other manufacturers. Then you 
would have to replace them with AC wheels or maybe you only care about the locomotive. 
But then you don't get the benefit of tracking the entire consist. But again 
it depends on your method of automation. So to me that's the biggest disadvantage with the 
contact track. If you have any tips or tricks please leave it in the comments below. If you like 
this video give it a thumbs up. Hit the "Like" button. Please do subscribe to the channel and 
I hope to see you again in the next video. Enjoy ;-).

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