Model Train Set – How to Prevent Derailments

Have you become aggravated because your model train cars derail periodically?….

and then, after fixing that section of track only to have it happen again on a different section the next day!

If you are like me and have spent a lot of quality time putting together your model train set, this can be very frustrating.

Well the good news is, you don’t have to give up your hobby because there are some rather simple steps you can take that will get you back to enjoying your train set, and have you looking like an expert on how to prevent derailments!

For model train enthusiasts (especially beginners), it’s quite the dream to have a smooth running train set. Stick to these steps and you’ll find it’s not that hard to achieve.

Here are several tips on how to prevent derailments:

Level Track….. This may sound obvious, but you would be amazed at how many people (beginners) who don’t have a level track. Be sure every piece of track is aligned and fitted together properly.

This is the #1 cause for derailments! Check each piece verifying the gap is as minimal as possible.


The pros actually solder the joints and then use a small file to obtain a continuous smooth track. This will prevent any expansion and contraction issues from arising.

Track Gauge….. incorrect track gauge is another cause for derailment. If to tight the train wheels will climb up and off the track.

Too wide and the wheels can’t span the track properly and will derail. So be sure to check the gauge on joints, turnouts and frog assemblies.

If you need to adjust the gauge, simply heat the rail with a soldering iron, and let it cool after moving it to the correct position.

Switch Points….. Brand new switch points are often blunt on the movable section where it strikes up against the rails.

Sometimes this will cause the wheel to get snagged and the car will go off track. Take a small file and smooth the switch points (movable part).

This will allow for a smooth transition. Always check the gauge as well.

Couplers….. New carriages often come with unpolished couplers. Inspect them, take care of any rough edges, and if necessary adjust them for proper centering.

Wheel sets….. Another cause of derailment. Inspect the wheel sets by checking their alignment, gauge and that they are moving freely.

Also verify that the carriages are not crabbing which pushes the wheel flanges into the rail.

Add Extra Weight….. Freight cars are notorious for being to light, which prevents the wheels from making good contact with the rails.

Adding some weight to the cars will cure this problem. Try to add the weight as low and as close to the center of gravity as you can.

Lubrication….. The slightest snag in a wheel or coupler, or any parts that need lubrication can just as easy cause a derailment.

Don’t use any more oil than you need to as it attracts dust and can damage the paintwork.

It really just boils down to a little maintenance. Now you know how to prevent derailments and enjoy your model train set the way it was meant to be.

So use these steps (especially if you’re new to this hobby) to learn all about your model train set and you’ll get even more enjoyment out of it.

If you are a model train enthusiast like me, or new to the hobby and would like some more info, Get a FREE copy of my “Model Train Buyers Guide”, The only book of it’s kind on the net, shows you exactly how to do it……. Learn how to=>> CLICK HERE!

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