Dirty track? Not a problem with this loco

“Hi Al. One of the most frustrating and demoralizing events in model railroading is when your short wheelbase or sound equipped loco halts be/cause of poor or dirty track.

Fortunately, manufacturers are now beginning to equip locos with “keep alive” or “stay alive” modules that make this problem a thing of the past.

Attached is a photo of a “stay alive” equipped 4 wheel Plymouth switcher that will run all day through any track configuration with absolutely no power loss.

Truly a pleasure to operate even at speed step 1 while watching the couplers mate.


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here

And talking about sound, I got this in from John:

“Hi Al,

I always look forward to you mails and reader hints and tips.

Some years (!) ago one of your readers suggested a method to bring sound to a layout.

He provided details including ebay link and his setup instructions.

Here is a picture of the unit, which I duly bought.

I put the setup instructions in safe place!

Now that I wish to install the unit on my layout, I am unable to find the instructions and am hoping that one of your readers may be able to help.



Well, over the years there have been many posts about adding sound – here are some of them:





Hope these links helps John out.

A huge thanks to Hall of Fame member, Mark, for the heads up on the ‘stay alive’ modules.

That’s all this time folks – but please don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get going on your layout. Course I’m biased, but it will save you a lot of time and money.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.



11 Responses to Dirty track? Not a problem with this loco

  1. Jules says:

    Your bit on ‘Stay Alive’ sounds great. But there’s ere’s no details or pictures of the unit. How about a proper write up please of this unit with pictures and how it works.

  2. j. says:

    Ditto. To what modules are you referring? Where can they be obtained?

  3. Brian Margetts says:

    Stay alive units can be bought on ebay and come with wiring instructions.
    try to find the size as the ones I have are approx 10mm long x5 mm diameter plus wiring there may be smaller ones out there but make sure you have the room as it can be a tight fit inside an already crowded loco shell especially if its been hard wired
    Hope this helps

  4. Mark Loos says:

    Hi Guys. These are commercially available by major mfr’s such as Soundtraxx, ESU, Lenz and others. For a complete and detailed article, google “Keep Alive Compatibility” by Mark Gurries Using these small, relatively inexpensive, devices will enhance your operating sessions immensely! ps this is not an excuse to get lazy and not properly clean your track, however I am now down to running a track cleaner about once a year just to remove “crud bumps”. Cheers! Mark <

  5. John Reynolds says:

    The little loco in the video is a new on from Walthers…
    The DCC version comes with the “Stay Alive” or “Keep Alive” factory installed and is a DCC only loco and will not run on DC (Analog)
    The DC (Analog) version does not have the “Stay Alive” in it
    Hope this helps..
    John in California

  6. Jim Saccento says:

    And don’t forget to keep those loco wheels polished. I still use my Kadee wheel cleaning brush occasionally.

    Also, remember the Roundhouse Box Cab Diesel track cleaner? I recently found a train store in San Jose California that had the sanding disks, I bought the last 2 packs since the Box Cab Diesel is no longer available. The Box Cab was painfully slow running, so I simple ripped out the gear box, and just drag it around the layout behind a SD-9. Still works great.

  7. Robert Rolfe says:

    I am with the first reply, how does it work? As far as I know track must be cleaned at times and someone else also stated this will not replace getting lazy and not cleaning your track. Still want to know how it works.
    NV Bob

  8. Robert Rolfe says:

    Last reply, I forgot about the- speed step 1 while watching the couples mate- somehow I do not think that it was on the video, however I am old and may have missed it or what ever. Al you have a Great thing going, please keep with it, even for those of us that are not that updated on all this new stuff can still get a few ideas.
    NV BOB

  9. Peter Pocock says:

    While our little trains are reliant on collecting power from the track, we will never be able to operate “without” clean tracks. It is a case of cleanliness IS godliness. The stay alive will get you over insulated frogs and over the little bumps caused be dust on the rails, but there is no substitute for removing the dust and oils initially. The emerging technology of independent battery power will render all else obsolete in no time I think. It would not surprise me if some folk will use plastic rails (heaven forbid)
    Down Under in WA.

  10. Phil says:

    I bought 6 of these units some time ago direct from China, took 7 days delivery and total cost £10.99.inc postage.
    Found them on Ebay, more you buy cheaper they where.

  11. Lee Barry, CEO LZPMRR says:

    In Z gauge the owner of Z Track magazine and a few others have invented a track cleaner that is wired permanently to your lay out. Don’t know how it would work on larger scaled, more powered size of model railroads but seems to work pretty good in “Z”, provided the idiot doing the wiring pays attention to what he is a doing. Any questions should be addressed to a Rob Kluz, American Z Line (AZL). Of course an idiot like me needs a better foolproof system. ps: that’s all I’m gonna say about that. Please contact Rob Kluz

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