Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Kenner Sky Rail Project Part 3 - Contact!

The instructions do mention the importance of
keeping the rails clean -- if you read the fine print.
(click on image to enlarge)
I've been tasked with getting my old Kenner Sky Rail set back into working order. It has to be ready for an event my dad's hosting, so time is short. Can a toy be brought back to life after a half century of neglect?

Read all the posts about this project here. 

An electrical circuit can be a fragile thing -- especially when dealing with toys. In the case of the Sky Rail, there are all kinds of ways to interrupt the flow of electricity. The rails are connected by long pins. If the hole isn't a tight fit, contact can be interrupted as the car travels along the track. And since the car often wobbles slightly as it travels, just running the thing will cause the rails to pull apart -- at least enough to break contact.

After decades in storage, the rails are coated with dirt, tarnish, and in a few spots, rust. All of which degrade power transfer to the sky car. And the copper pickups of the sky cars themselves are also dirty and tarnished.

I rigged up a little test track to see how well the cars ran. They ran poorly.

So the first step was to thoroughly clean the rails, the pins, and the contacts. I chose Brasso to get most of the grunge off the rails and the pins. I wanted to be careful not to strip any finish off the rails that they may have. I scrubbed the rails until they were smooth. then worked on the the pins.

The most difficult task was cleaning the copper contacts of the sky cars. If I could have disassembled them, it would have been simple. As it was, I had to scour away with a Q-Tip at a less-than-optimal angle.

Now it was time for a more ambitious test on a full-sized set up. Just one problem -- how to supply reliable power to the rails?

Two more pages from the instruction book. They make it
look so easy!

No comments:

Post a Comment