Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kenner Sky Rail Project Part 5 - Making Connections

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.

The layouts in the Kenner Sky Rail construction book all looked pretty attractive. I chose one with two closed loops. A point-to-point layout requires operator attention. I would have to stop the cars when they reached the end of the line, back them up through the line, stop them at the other end, send them forward and repeat. With closed loops, I could (in theory), just set the power level, and let the sky cars travel in endless circles around the track.

Building the model was great fun -- and frustrating. I discovered that Kenner had cheated a little with their beautiful photos. I could indeed match what was shown in the photographs, if I left the unphotographed sides incomplete. In the end, I modified the design slightly to get something that would look good at all angles.

Then came the test -- would the sky cars travel merrily along their rails?

Yes. No. Almost.

As the cars traveled along the rails, the shifting weight causes some of the contact pins to wiggle slightly. And that broke the circuit. Plus, with the longer, more elaborate loop there seemed to be some voltage drop in the far reaches of the layout.

I had carefully cleaned the track and the contacts on the sky cars with a number of cleaners. I started with Brasso, which took a lot of the grime off, then switched to DeoxIT Liquid, which is designed to improve conductivity as well as remove tarnish. The before and after video below shows the results.

So yes, it kind of works -- and with the presentation just days away, the only question remains is this: will it work well enough, and long enough?

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