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1  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 21, 2018, 10:38:48 PM
Thanks; I think I'll try that. I seem to remember they did it that way in the "Building Your First Model Railroad" video.
And I will try to make some diagonal edges for the water bed as well, probably once I begin the actual landscaping process but before I apply ground cover.
I also recently set up a couple of those Bachmann uncoupling magnets near a couple of sidings, and so far I haven't had much trouble with them. Though I found to get cars to uncouple efficiently, once I've stopped the train with the couplers I want to disengage over the magnet (marked by the brakeman figure), I need to back up the train a very short amount at a relatively slow speed, but it works. Doing it that way kind of reminds me of how in the past that would be done with those springy uncoupling ramps for the old horn-hook couplers. (Bachmann made a snap-in uncoupling ramp for that purpose, as did their rival TYCO; AHM and Atlas made uncoupling track sections with the springy ramp built in.) But of course the big difference is that a magnet is used, and the knuckle couplers look far more realistic than those old horn-hooks. (As I've often said, I'll often replace the horn-hook couplers with knuckles on any older rolling stock I get, so I can run them on my layout easily and improve the realism.)
2  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 20, 2018, 04:56:04 PM
Will that be a stream or a canal under that bridge?

Something like a stream. With the finished result, the "water" won't be very shallow, and I may put a couple fishers in a rowboat at the "end". I'm thinking to use dark blue glossy paints on the bottom, maybe with a few bits of seaweed sticking up from them, and then a couple layers of blue shrink-wrap above it. This is to be my first layout where I've done something like this.
3  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 19, 2018, 12:32:01 PM
I won't be starting the landscaping process until March, but I have been gathering up the materials to use...

It probably won't be enough for the entire layout, but it's a start. I'll probably get a couple of cans of earth and dark green latex paints to use as well, instead of just relying on the Woodland Scenics undercoatings. I am also considering trying some Bachmann SceneScapes products (I already have some of their trees, left from the previous layout.)

I bought some cheap HO-scale plastic stairs from an eBay seller from China to use with these train station platforms elevated on the Woodland Scenics 1/4-inch foam. When I do landscaping, these styrofoam pieces will be painted gray.

Another styrofoam base under one of the train stations.

Just a shot of my Amtrak train passing on the ledge. Again, all rolling stock is Bachmann, while the locomotive is from Athearn. Yeah, it does look more like a stereotypical model passenger train in this show, but so what? This is supposed to be fun!

Both of my current train consists in action. My Bachmann BNSF GP40 (the first DCC locomotive I ever bought, which came with my E-Z Command control unit) is still going strong.

A nice close-up shot of the Amtrak train parked on the bridge next to the station.
4  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Can other model trains work on Bachmann EZ track and Bachmann couplers on: February 18, 2018, 10:30:35 PM
The E-Z Mate knuckle couplers are based off Kadee's knuckle coupler design that dates back to the 1940s. Originally, only Kadee made them, but in the late 90s when their patent expired, other model train companies began making couplers using a nearly identical design, including Bachmann. The E-Z Mate couplers will work with Kadee couplers, along with other companies' couplers like McHenry and Walthers. While Kadee's are the highest quality (and I use them on some of my locomotives and rolling stock), I have had nearly no problems with the other companies' couplers. Until last year, Walthers also made knuckle couplers sold under the Life-Like brand that could easily be installed in older Life-Like, AHM and TYCO rolling stock and locomotives. They could work with pre-1990s Bachmann locos and rolling stock as well, but you would have to drill the hole a tad larger to fit Bachmann's unusual coupler hole size of the time that had to be screwed in (maybe it was proprietary or something?)

As for E-Z Track, virtually any HO-scale two-rail train will work on Bachmann's E-Z Track. While my current layout uses Bachmann E-Z Track, I do run other companies' trains on them as well. (In fact, the train sets made by Athearn and Walthers include E-Z Track as well.)
5  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 11, 2018, 11:11:38 PM

Trying out some realistic railroad switching operations... (I will soon install uncoupling magnets under the track once the landscaping is done.)

I've got the control panel built on my train table! (The reason for the TYCO pack is because with the Bachmann power speed controller I got, the AC terminals don't work.) I will have a lot of drilling into the panel to do in order to hook up the remote switches for the turnouts (along with a lot of those 10" switch extension wires)...
6  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 10, 2018, 09:20:38 PM
One of the interesting things is recognizing some of the structure kits.  Among the ones you have is a one-story industrial building visible behind a silver or grey Virginian hopper in one photo.  I don't know who currently offers it, but it's original offering, based on ads in a bunch of old Model Railroaders I have, was by Ulrich back in the 1950s. 

It's amazing how many old structure models like that are still around, reissued or still in production by other firms who bought the tooling.

That industrial building was later sold by Life-Like from the 80s until this decade. Mine is the Life-Like version; it came new-old-stock in the 80s-style packaging, and I applied some weathering as I built it.
Yeah, it's amazing how several are those old structures are still around. Many of the old Pola building kits that AHM and TYCO sold in the 70s and 80s are currently being sold by Walthers under their Trainline series. And of course many of the Plasticville kits date back to the 40s and 50s! (One thing I really like about Bachmann is how they are making products that they've been making for decades, with several of them in new and improved versions (like the locomotives and rolling stock.)
7  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 10, 2018, 04:10:24 PM
Time for some more updates, yet again!

The longer Amtrak consist looks better when running on the outer loop and onto the second platform. It's worth noting that regarding the Amtrak dome car (currently the only piece of Amtrak rolling stock Bachmann makes!), Amtrak really does have a dome car that looks very much like that (complete with Phase III paint scheme) that they use on the Downeaster train in August and September. And since Budd made the car way back when, it doesn't look too out of place with the Amfleet cars (up here in New England, we just use the Amfleet I cars, which is what Bachmann's Amfleet models were of.)

Testing out the TYCO Freight Unloading Depot. I set it on a 1/4-inch piece of Woodland Scenics styrofoam cut to fit, and the clearance and height is just about perfect! I got a few nice big sheets pf 1/4-inch styrofoam to use as "building sites" for some railroad structures that will be right alongside the tracks (such as stations.)

The TYCO Lighted Signal Crossing in action. Even if the lights get their power from the track, it doesn't affect train operation very much, including compared to on the previous layout (I did give the rails a good cleaning with a Walthers Bright Boy track cleaner before setting uo the crossing.)

The TYCO hopper car unloading set all set up on the layout. I recently replaced the horn/hook couplers on the hopper with E-Z Mate Mark II couplers using Kadee talgo truck adapters. The doors on the bottom seem keen on staying open a crack, so I will probably use a thicker "coal" material than what came with the set.

I just carved the stream to go under the bridge!

A slope along side one of the curves. The bottom of it separated from the rest of the foam by accident, but I'll just glue it all together once I actually glue the foam base to the plywood when I am ready for landscaping.

The Amtrak train stopped at the train station near the stream.
8  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 10, 2018, 11:32:30 AM
LOTS of updates to mention!
Well, my mother and I both agreed that we should probably keep the layout as a 12x8 L-shape instead of a C-shape, due to the way the basement is designed, and I found I can still fit what I want on the layout anyways, thanks to moving some stuff around (that's another benefit of not jumping into doing landscaping and with using E-Z Track, according to "The HO Model Railroading Handbook - 3rd Edition."

An overview of the layout; it's easier to do such photos at different angles with this new location.

My Amtrak "Genesis" diesel pulling the Amfleet cars.

Working on setting up the TYCO unloading hopper car.

Running the track-cleaning boxcar just to give the rails a quick once-over.

I've finally got both ends of the track on both platforms connected!

My freight train running on the second platform.

This is why you have to be careful with double-track railroad crossings.

Here's a video I shot, too!

Since all this, I removed the small passing siding on the second platform as I found it unnecessary with the revisions.
9  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 06, 2018, 08:25:45 PM
An update on how I'll be controlling the layout...

I got a typical modern Bachmann power pack and hooked it up to my E-Z Command unit, as this way you can operate ten digital addresses and one analog locomotive (I will still make an isolated siding to park any analog locomotives on when not in use, like on the previous layout.) I am still hoping to at least either get a decoder-equipped steam locomotive, or find out how to upgrade my IHC/Mehano Consolidation steam loco (which uses the same tooling as TYCO's old Consolidation!) I'll also use the Bachmann pack here to power the turnouts and any close-by electrically-operated "action accessories", but for any other lights or accessories requiring an AC connection I will be mounting older train set power packs under the benchwork for that (I've got quite a bit of those blue Life-Like power packs, and a few older Bachmann and TYCO packs as well.)

My Life-Like operating logging mill! This is a pretty cool manually-operated action accessory Life-Like made for a long time. A shame they didn't make a Power-Loc -compatible version or similar. In the 70s, Life-Like did come out with some rather unique action accessories that were different from what Bachmann, Cox and TYCO were making at the time.

The Amtrak train stopped at the Life-Like Snap-Loc commuter station.
10  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 06, 2018, 12:14:34 AM
I've been working on placing where roads and buildings will be going on the next stage of the layout...

Here is where the water bodies will later be carved into the foam surface.

Working on the residential section of the town as well.

One of the railroad crossings on the layout, with nonoperating Bachmann signals placed there for now. Once I'm ready to do landscaping, I will glue that edge of the foam sheet to the other one so they will be at an even height.

An overview of three of the crossings. One of them is going to be the TYCO Lighted Signal Crossing from the early 80s. (It's a lot better than Bachmann's similar product from 1979-1996, the "Dual Crossing Gates with Flashing Lights and Bell.")

Two more schools have been placed on the layout: the Atlas Jefferson High building (I might add on to it to make it a bit bigger, maybe attach the Plasticville school house to it or something) and the Life-Like Union Avenue School. Also, at where Aunt Millie's House is, the farm will be going there.

Life-Like Operating Coal Tipple. This is the version made from 1996 until recently that will accommodate roadbed track.

Overview of the progress so far. I ordered a few more E-Z track sections, which should hopefully come in this week. Other plans include the drive-in theater (of course), a coal yard and a logging mill, and a ledge on one or two of the corners (done using scrap pieces of insulation foam.)
11  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 04, 2018, 10:29:34 PM
BIG update: I've got the second part of the platform built now!

We had to lop ten inches off of the 4x8 so we could get to the oil tank more easily near the layout, but I was able to adjust my track plan to accomodate that..
So after assembly, I cut the extruded insulation foam there to fit:

I can also use some of the excess foam layers for hills and such!

I had also gotten this for the new layout:

Bachmann's Plasticville HO station platform. It has a lot more detail and painted parts than some other Plasticville kits, and it even came with the labels already applied! The two included figures were fully painted as well. It reminds me a lot of the train station platforms in my hometown of Brockton for the MBTA commuter railroad line running through here.
12  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 02, 2018, 03:43:36 PM
The piggyback loader/unloader only works with trailers/containers that have ridges on the top edges. The early TYCO truck trailers made prior to 1978 did not have the ridges, and such using them with this device is nearly impossible. The TYCO truck trailers were fairly short, but I imagine it could be used with one of those longer single-trailer flatcars provided the trailer has the ridges on the top. Here's a YouTube video showing how it works.
You know, given the Bachmann/TYCO rivalry of the 70s to the mid 80s, I'm surprised Bachmann didn't come out with their own equivalent! (After all, Bachmann's crossing gate does show quite a bit of similarity to TYCO's own crossing gate, which came first.)
13  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: February 01, 2018, 05:17:16 PM
OK, not only am I doing some track test-fitting on the initial 4x8 section of my train table, I'm also organizing where structures and operating accessories will be located, for the most part.

The complete TYCO Center Street 1982 building set! A friend of mine custom-painted the school for the former downtown museum HO train layout. I only have one building from the 1981 set: the Loew's movie theater, but that is all I need.

Another shot of some of the structures. I unpacked a few more after this photo was taken.

The fast food district. Again, I placed the Life-Like KFC and TYCO Burger King structures near a railroad crossing to mirror the real fast-food district in the neighboring town of Bridgewater MA (their Burger King was originally a train station, which would explain its' location right next to the tracks.)

Getting in some freight and passenger train action. I find that my five-car Amtrak train would be better for running through the entire length of the layout once the additional platforms are built and attached (otherwise I'll just have the locomotive pull three cars.)

Near here there will be a train station with a Bachmann Plasticville platform in-between the two tracks.

For my trial run I am using none other than my first DCC locomotive: the Bachmann BNSF GP40 that came with my E-Z Command control unit and wiring, which I bought almost three years ago when I was building the previous layout!

Where a left-hand turnout will be going that will direct the trains to the second platform I am currently substituting with my Life-Like E-Z Track blinking bridge. On the final setup, it will be going on the second platform over a ravine carved into the insulation foam.

Look, I can now set up the plastic electric windmills I've had for a couple years now! It seems these windmills and the railroad both seem to go together.
14  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: January 31, 2018, 06:46:13 PM
Big update today!

We got the first table standing up! Boy is it taller than the old one, but I like how I can now see the trains at eye-level when I will be sitting at the console, and I can store some containers underneath the layout during the construction period! As you can kind of see, space is a little awkward at the moment, but keep in mind, we just moved into the house over a month ago, and still have a bit of unpacking and organizing to do in the basement. I even took the opportunity to do some more track test-fitting and such.

Here is where two of my TYCO Prestomatic accessories are going. After the photo was taken, I extended the siding with the operating boxcar bin a bit. That blank E-Z Track siding is where the Life-Like Operating Coal Tipple will go (it will be the post-1996 version designed to also work with Power-Loc or other similar roadbed track.) For the TYCO accessories I will place cork roadbed underneath them.

TYCO operating crossing gate and piggyback loader/unloader terminal. Again, I'll place cork roadbed underneath the terminal, and make a slightly longer incline for the ramp to go to the small road I'll be making once I do scenery (that won't be until the second and third extensions are built.)

And for the heck of it, here are the Bachmann and TYCO crossing gates together. It really lets you see how similar both are. (Again, the TYCO gate is the early version with a more detailed base, a separate track section (I used a nickel-silver Atlas Code-100 track section on it for better electrical consistency) and better operation than the TYCO crossing gates from the mid-70s onward.) On the other side of the track across the TYCO crossing gate, I will place another crossing signal there (maybe an operating one.)

Nope, this isn't Bachmann. It's actually a Model Power Lock-It nickel-silver lighted bumper track section. I mentioned how Lock-It was Model Power's answer to Bachmann E-Z Track and could even connect to it (Bachmann wasn't pleased by that and filed a lawsuit!)

From the other side.

Unpacking my boxed locomotives and rolling stock, along with my E-Z Command setup...

Already able to run a train on this! I am substituting a couple of sections right now that will be replaced when the table is added onto. I am using the Bachmann DCC GP40 locomotive that came with the E-Z Command unit when I bought it nearly four years ago. Among running at first it seemed to struggle, but after a few laps it ran more smoothly (I guess it needed to be broken in after being in storage for some time; I may also give the track a quick wipe-over with my track-cleaning boxcar to be safe.
15  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: January 30, 2018, 11:25:51 AM
Well, whatever I use, it's for the most part pretty sturdy. I attached the thin plywood to the top because the existing particle plywood was at a lower height than the other sections I was using. Keep in mind I'll also be putting 2 inches of extruded insulation foam on each platform.

I've also now built the second platform...

And have started attaching legs to them!

I'm really getting close now. And for track, all I need now are three more left-hand turnouts and four more 18"-radius curves, and I'll have all the tracks I need!
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