Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kenner Sky Rail Project Part 6 - The Results

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. 

Although I was able to get the Sky Rail cars to operate after a fashion, I wasn't satisfied. I needed to be sure they would work on demand -- like when we gave our presentation to the Capital Miniature Auto Collectors Club.

Additional cleaning of the track and contacts didn't seem to make much difference, so I began to look for other factors -- and found them. As I've noted in earlier posts, it's a very fragile circuit that runs through the track. Pins don't fit snugly into slots, so contact is hit or miss.

And in this case, it was mostly miss. The problem turned out the be the "sky hooks" -- the brackets that attached the rails to the girders. The hook snaps onto the girder, and is basically held in place by the tension.

As the sky car passed over the rails, the weight of it pulled slightly on the track as it traveled. After a few circuits around the loop, some of the sky hooks (especially those connected to the top of the girders as in fig.14, left ) had slipped downwards.

Of course, they didn't do it at a uniform rate, which caused small kinks at the rail joints, which sometimes broke the circuit. Even when it didn't, the slippage sometime widened the gap just enough between rails to prevent the sky car's pickup shoe to maintain contact with the metal part of the rails -- which stopped the car dead at the joint.

The solution turned out to be simple -- and temporary. I had to make sure all of the sky hooks were perfectly aligned to ensure a smooth ride for the sky car and to maintain a good current flow. And I had to remember that I could run the sky cars around their loops no more than three or four times before the rails would get out of alignment.

So for the presentation, I double-checked the sky hooks right before the talk, and only ran the sky cars for two circuits before powering them down.

It was a huge success.

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