Over the years, the major stumbling block to diagnosing and repairing A.C. Gilbert S-Gauge products in a timely and cost-effective manner, has been the absence of substantive information explaining their electrical characteristics at the component level. As a result, both professional service personnel and hobbyists have been forced to develop a "sixth sense" when it comes to diagnosing marginal electrical components. Usually, this "sixth sense" kicks in only after several hours of assembly/disassembly, cleaning, lubricating/relubricating, continuity testing, making mechanical adjustments, and selectively resoldering various solder joints.
For the hobbyist, this is definitely not part of the "joy of the hobby". As for the service professional, the inability to "peg" the problem during the first disassembly/reassembly cycle can lead to an increasing backlog of repairs. Until now, both have been forced to operate at an intuitive level, rather than from an objective reference point. Hence, the purpose of this manual.
The main feature of this manual, and the one in which most readers will be interested, is the expected resistance of a component. This value is given for each component in the inventory. When combined with the tips given in this manual, most hobbyists and repairpeople who are familiar with multimeter operation will have all the tools and information required to make a knowledgeable evaluation of a part.
A second feature of this manual is the full-size (within 0.1" of actual) color pictures of each part in the inventory. This will prove especially useful to anyone who is either not familiar with the A.C. Gilbert parts inventory, or who does not possess any of the references listed later in this section. In other words, a manual search for the part in this book is a perfectly reasonable approach to locating a part and its specifications.
A third feature of this manual is that it provides all of the information required to rebuild a given part (wire gauge, turns counts, layer counts, etc.). This information has been provided to complete the evaluation/repair cycle, should this level of effort be necessary, or desirable.
A fourth feature of this manual is that it contains a number of previously unpublished part numbers. This data differs in some respects from that which has been published in the past, and ranges from previously unknown numbers to corrections to previously published part numbers. This information was obtained from Bills of Material (BOMs) which survived the dissolution of the A.C. Gilbert factory. These BOMs were made available by Mr. Vincent Amato (Hobby Surplus; website: www.TrainRepairParts.com). Only a small fraction (less that 0.1% by my estimation) of the Engineering Data in these BOMs was transcribed into this manual to provide backup for the new part numbers (thatís right, the new numbers in this manual were not made up). The only reasons this information has never been published has been technology (weíre talking about a minimum 4-foot stack of paper here) and the absence of interest. If youíre interested in this level of Engineering Detail, contact Hobby Surplus and express it. Todayís scanning and CD-ROM technology would make this information an interesting addition to anyoneís A.C.Gilbert S-Gauge Reference library.
A fifth feature of this book is the E-Mail support the author intends to provide once it has been published. The authorís E-Mail address is on the Copyright page, on page "ii". The primary purpose of this support is to ensure that this manual is useable by individuals with widely varying skills and experience, before other manuals of this nature are published. Response time is expected to vary depending on the volume of messages this support offer generates. All queries must be accompanied by the page number/part number in the manual to be discussed.
However you choose to use this manual, you will find that it takes you far beyond the basic "continuity" test which is widely used to check the "integrity" of electrical components, and that the values provided here are much more precise and interpretable than anything that has been published before. But the most important benefit of all is the effect this manual will have on (1) the level of certitude you can now bring to bear on any repair job; and, (2) your ability to focus your time and effort on what really needs to be done.
Identifying a good component will allow you to focus on other electrical or mechanical problems which may be affecting the unitís performance (bad connections or alignments, worn bearings, worn bushings, broken or defective wiring or pickups). Identifying a defective component early in the repair cycle will allow you to take effective action to have the component repaired, and move on to other activities.
So, if you repair your own trains, or those of others, you will find that using this manual will considerably speed up your troubleshooting time. If you "outsource" all your train repairs, handing this manual to your repair-person will achieve the same results. And if you pride yourself on your ability to do it all, you now have all the information required to resurrect those burned out parts and restore them to full operation.
The information is here. How far you go with it is entirely up to you.