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A fortuitous collaboration between Iowa Scaled Engineering and Scale Sound Systems has brought to N-scalers the smallest commercially available stay-alive on the market.


While not a stay-alive in the traditional sense (these will not provide multiple seconds of sound+lights+motor over dead track), the Run-N-Smooth PowerKeeper will provide a noticeable and much needed insurance against rail and wheel oxidation, mild dirt/grime and slight tracking imperfections. With N-scale’s smaller wheel-to-rail contact area combined with it’s lighter weight, reliable DCC signal-transfer is of greater concern than the larger scales. Even track and wheels that look clean can have inhibiting oxidation formed overnight by the oxygen in the room. With the Run-N-Smooth PowerKeeper, you can kiss stalling, annoying sound drop-outs and flickering lights good-bye!


The Run-N-Smooth PowerKeeper is a micro-size stay-alive module that improves the running quality of N-scale and space-constrained DCC locomotives. With integrated protection circuitry and micro capacitors, the Run-N-Smooth PowerKeeper provides a simple, easy and safer alternative for small installations.



  • 16 Volt limit with integrated protection circuitry
  • 940uF typical capacitance 
  • Two positive-anode solder pads (one on each side) and one negative-cathode solder pad
  • Ultra small at 4.65mm H x 9mm W x 10.3mm L
  • Safe, tantalum polymer capacitors


These can be a no-mod, drop-in fit for some factory sound-equipped locomotives, such as the Atlas N SD35 and SD50. In some instances, a bit of weight filing is all that is needed to slide the Run-N-Smooth in, such as the FVM GEVo. Very good soldering skills are required for tapping the pick-off points on the ESU Loksound Direct Micro decoders. I do recommend the full motor+sound+light pick-off when using these. Some installations will require adding a pre-wired SMD-LED attached directly to the shell’s light-pipe since the R-N-S will block the on-board LED; this is recommended practice for better looking lights anyway.

Iowa Scaled Engineering Run-N-Smooth PowerKeeper

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