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121  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 26, 2014, 11:09:44 PM
For those curious, this is my current roster of locomotives for layout use...

The six in the front row are all DCC-equipped.
122  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Vintage Bachmann Sears-exclusive train set on: September 25, 2014, 07:34:38 PM
That "railroad city" set seems nice, though I find it odd how it comes with a 36" circle of track despite including all those buildings and such. It would be interesting if Bachmann came out with a new version, maybe with the same freight cars but their more modern "prototypical" Santa Fe GP40-2, and with a 56x38" oval of E-Z track, maybe even continue using the old name "Railroad City!" (Hey, if Bachmann could continue making the "Overland Limited," why not do the same here?

But these aren't what I had in mind, I meant a big store-exclusive set including landscaping and such, very much like the sets Life-Like used to make.
123  Discussion Boards / HO / Vintage Bachmann Sears-exclusive train set on: September 23, 2014, 11:11:58 PM
A while back on eBay I saw an auction for a boxed train set from Bachmann that was a Sears-exclusive set. Now, Sears-exclusive train sets was nothing new then: I believe Lionel had several, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were Sears HO sets made by TYCO.
This Sears train set I found was made by Bachmann some time in the late 1980s, and also included landscaping material, very much like the store-exclusive Life-Like train sets of the 1990s (usually sold by J.C. Penny.) It makes sense Sears chose Bachmann to make this, as by this time TYCO was really shrinking in their train line and not doing so well, and Bachmann was much more popular then.
It was officially labeled as "Sears HO SCALE TRAIN SET NO. 49-91569," and item number 476. It included a double-oval 45x90 track layout that also had a dead-end siding. The train was hauled by a 2-10-4 "Texas" PRR steam locomotive and tender (I think the tender had an electronic chugging module as well), pulling eight freight cars, the crane car and boom tender (no caboose, it seems!) It also included a bunch of action accessories, like the "Gandy Dancer" handcar, electronic wayside steam whistle, railroad crossing with gates lights and bell, and lighted freight station. Also included were the Plasticville switch tower, signal bridge, barn, farm building set, water tank, gas station and school house, along with signs and telephone poles, a 17-piece bridge-and-trestle set, and a grass mat, trees, lychen and gravel for landscaping. It even came with two power packs instead of one (maybe to power all those accessories.)

This was literally a full model railroad in a single package, very much like what Life-Like used to often sell in the 1980s and 1990s. I think this might have been the only time Bachmann ever did a set like this, but I could be wrong. Too bad too, because even if it was pricey, it was still an easy way to start a very nice model railroad without buying all the parts separately. (But for me, my method for starting a railroad would be to buy a good train set, some additional cars and track, and the landscaping material and buildings and such separately; maybe even buying them all together if shopping online or something!)

I think it would be neat if Bachmann offered a package like this again as some online or store-exclusive thing, except this time it would probably be similar to the "Digital Commander" set, including their E-Z Command system and two trains. I mean, except for that locomotive and that admittedly crummy railroad crossing (with the unrealistically-strobing lights and super-fast bell with grinding motor noise), as well as the old-fashioned "sectional" track, pretty much everything in that set is still available!

Does anyone else have any information about this or any similar sets, if Bachmann made any?
124  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 21, 2014, 08:10:07 PM
Some more updates!

My attempt at a gravel driveway for the TYCO Lighted Ranch House, due to the slightly raised base that the house is on. It does look nicer that way...

Life-Like Snap-Loc commuter station. Since I now have two (one of them the elevated version) I thought I'd use the non-elevated version on my layout, removing the Power-Loc tab that goes on the bottom.

My TYCO 50th Anniversary boxcar now has E-Z Mate knuckle couplers to allow it for easy layout use.

Currently I'm using it on this small train, that has both of my auto carriers! And yes, that Santa Fe GP40 is DCC-equipped!

I also just installed a TCS T1 DCC decoder into this Walthers Amtrak Dash-8 locomotive! So now I have six DCC-equipped locomotives for use on my layout.

The full Amtrak train, now powered by DCC!

A word of note when installing a TCS T1 decoder into the Walthers Dash 8...

When it comes to the motor pick-up wires, you must solder the red wire to the gray one, and the blue one to the orange one, instead of the other way around as shown in the pic. When you do that, it will mess up the direction of the locomotive on a layout, at least when you're using a Bachmann E-Z Command system.

At this rate, it'll soon be time for me to get the E-Z Command booster!
125  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 17, 2014, 09:25:21 PM
A little auto-carrier train, hauled by a modified Bachmann Santa Fe "Warbonnet" GP40-2 equipped with DCC.

I would've also gotten a Bachmann tri-level auto carrier car, but IDK how well it would perform on the layout due to its size, compared to the TYCO and Life-Like auto carriers seen here. TYCO's was first offered in the late 1960s, and was still made until 1993 (though beginning after 1986, it would only be included in train sets), and Life-Like's version was first made in 1982 and is still available today (but it still comes with X2F couplers. D'oh!) The Bachmann tri-level auto carrier seen here...

It first came out in 1976, and I believe was discontinued some time in the mid-1990s, when Bachmann began to cut back on operating accessories (too bad, I'd love to see a version of this come out with metal wheels and E-Z Mate couplers! Maybe Bachmann will see this and get the idea  Grin )

Showing several of the illuminated components of my layout!

Rare TYCO 50th anniversary boxcar! (Though this was actually supposed to be celebrating Mantua's 50th anniversary, not TYCO, but then again TYCO started out as a division of Manuta...)
Now why didn't Bachmann try something similar?!

Tried relocating the Atlas water tower near the Plasticville Suburban Station.
126  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 07, 2014, 11:59:15 AM
Hey; it's been a while, but I have some more updates! I've been busy this summer, but now I've had some more time to get back to my model train layout (as the recent Walthers sales flyer said, autumn is not only when kids go back to school, it's when model railroaders go back to their layouts!)

Pola/TYCO/IHC Exxon gas station! This is the IHC version offered in the 1990s.

Life-Like 50" Union Pacific boxcar I bought off eBay, with Kadee knuckle couplers and metal wheels!

This school is back in session!

TYCO Baby Ruth boxcar.

TYCO Burger King building kit! A.H.M. also used to offer this from 1984-1986, and then TYCO from 1986-1990. I might put some kind of glazing glass/plastic in the windows though, to make it look more realistic, and pave a road for the back entrance to the drive-thru. The reason I put it near the TYCO crossing gate is to mirror the location of a Burger King in Bridgewater, MA.

One of my current freight train roster lineups, with two ATSF "Shock Control" boxcars (one Life-Like, one TYCO) and two TYCO piggyback trailer cars.

Rail yard shot. I'm also getting another Bachmann DCC locomotive soon, and I'll also be upgrading my Walthers Amtrak "Pepsi Can" Dash 8 with a DCC decoder as well.
127  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Do any bachmann steam locomotives make steam in ho? on: September 01, 2014, 11:34:30 PM
My Bachmann Plus Consolidation 2-8-0 steam engine and tender had a smoke unit. It was a nice effect, but it would smell funny after a while, and then I eventually removed it when I learned the smoke would be bad for the track. Pretty simple to remove on this model actually.
128  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 20 years of E-Z Track! on: July 01, 2014, 11:22:16 PM


I'm pretty sure that these still constitute the full breadth of the steel alloy line. I suppose there was too little interest in the steel track once the better looking and better performing nickel-silver track came along.
                                                             -- D

Yup, that's pretty much all they have for the steel line. Bachmann figured more model railroaders would want to use the nickel-silver versions for building layouts (I don't blame them; nickel-silver does perform better, and it's got a huge variety of track lengths and configurations that make it ideal for elaborate tabletop layouts.)
I even seem to recall hearing a rumor Bachmann would soon only sell the steel track in their train sets and no longer offer it separately.
129  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: June 27, 2014, 11:43:20 PM
i've noticed you have a tendency to take shortcuts. it is better to do it right the first time. learn how to solder, and you won't have problems with your decoder install.

It actually worked for me. I just need to let the wire glue set after applying it for an hour or two, and it bonds it pretty well. I plan to also do this installation by that method as well...
(I got a second ATSF Proto 1000 F3A locomotive, with a different road number.)

But besides that, time for some more updates!

TYCO Operating Pipe Loader (second version, made from 1982 to 1993.)

TYCO Machine Shop building. This was manufactured by Pola in Germany, and for a while after the TYCO train line's demise, IHC offered it. (TYCO sold it from 1977 to 1992.)

Three trains, rearin' and ready to go! The Bachmann Plus Consolidation steam locomotive is analog, and thus is on the isolated siding. The other two locomotives pictured are DCC-equipped, as you may know by now.

I also bought one of those Life-Like SceneMaster "Scene Essentials" sets, the farm one, to enhance the small farm on my layout. Only problem is, nowhere to put the crops!

The school has let out for the summer! I will probably temporarily disconnect the light until September (unless they decide to keep them on during the day to protect from burglary, or if fix-ups or renovations are occurring!)

Two kids preparing to camp out in their backyard. (The family dog came to join too!)

Overview from another angle.
130  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: June 25, 2014, 08:29:50 PM
Here's a neat accessory from Life-Like...

Operating gravel unloader. Back when it was released in the 1970s, it was called "Bob's Dumping Station." Today Life-Like only includes this in their "Freightline U.S.A." train set.
Uniquely, the "gravel" that came with it is bits of REAL gravel! Talk about authenticity...

I also performed a DCC hardwire upgrade on my Walthers Trainline BNSF Dash 8-40BW...

Progress photo. In lieu of a soldering iron, I used "Wire Glue," as I learned that it's a good solder substitute from some model railroaders.

I used a TCS T1 decoder, since this locomotive comes with a reversing headlight. Works pretty well, too, but the electrical contact is a little funny. But it was like that when I got it. I guess the wheels need extensive cleaning...
I programmed it as "6" on the E-Z Command controller. My other DCC locomotives are numbered "2," "4" and "5", which brings up to four DCC locos in my roster now!
I will be getting another T1 decoder to install in my Amtrak Dash 8 locomotive, as well as a TCS MC2 decoder to put in my second Proto 1000 F3A locomotive. (I will assign it the same address as my other Proto 1000 F3A, if I ever want to do a double-header unit.)

Current overview.
131  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: June 19, 2014, 11:40:30 PM

Life-Like Car Wash building. Atlas now offers this, but I went with the Life-Like version as it was a cheaper buy Cheesy

Walthers Trainline GP9M locomotive. It may not look totally realistic, but I like it because it kind of has a 1970s/1980s feel to it, but with a much better motor and drive (the exterior kind of reminds me of TYCO's old Santa Fe GP20.)

And here's a more "prototypical" Walthers Trainline locomotive. Note how this Dash 8-40BW has "SANTA FE" on the front but "BNSF" on the sides. This is supposed to represent an ex-ATSF "Superfleet" locomotive that had been updated to reflect the BNSF merger by simply painting over "Santa Fe" on the sides with "BNSF." (Sometimes the front would have its' logo updated as well.) Some railfans refer to these as the "Fakebonnets," and some locomotives like this are still in use today.
This is somewhat more upscale than the GP9M; it has a reversing headlight and a dual-flywheel motor. I plan to install a TCS T1 decoder in it to upgrade it to DCC.
I will say this: I'm a little miffed off at how Walthers discontinued the Dash 8-40BWs in the early 2000s. They may not have been as well-detailed as Bachmann, Atlas or Athearn's upscale equivalents (the detail is more similar to a current lower-end Bachmann model), but they are great runners, and a decent affordable way to have "modern" diesel power on your layout that would work with 18-radius curves (if I'm not mistaken, the Dash 8-40B and Amtrak's Dash 8-32BWH are the only eight-wheeled locomotives in GE's Dash series.)

Now I am running three trains on my layout! Since the BNSF Dash 8-40BW is not DCC-equipped yet, I park that train on my isolated siding when not in use.
132  Discussion Boards / HO / 20 years of E-Z Track! on: June 17, 2014, 11:41:06 PM
As some of you might know, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Bachmann's E-Z Track. While it was not the world's first roadbed track (Marklin and Kato made their own way back when), but it was still new and innovative to the North American HO train market.

(sorry about the low resolution)
It was ideal for floor-based train layouts or playing, but could also be used for tabletop layouts if needed be.
Back when it came out, it was more limited. Only with steel rails and black roadbed (as steel was still commonly used in train set track back then), and only available in full 18" or 22" radius curves, 9" and 3" straights, standard left and right remote turnouts, non-prototypical bumpers and 90 and 30-degree crossings, and that was it. I think around maybe 1997 or 1998, the nickel-silver version was introduced, along with a much wider variety of track configurations and sizes. This version of E-Z Track was more ideal for tabletop layouts, and still is today. (I've seen a number of online E-Z track layouts that can be rather elaborate!)

It proved to be very successful. Even Athearn and Walthers wanted in, and they began including the track with their train sets (though the Athearn sets appropriately come with the nickel-silver version, and the Walthers TrainLine sets typically include the steel track.) Some other companies like Atlas, Life-Like, MTH and Model Power came out with their own roadbed tracks to compete. Model Power's was discontinued after a while, due to a lawsuit from Bachmann, as their Lock-It track system was apparently designed to connect to E-Z Track, and I imagine Bachmann didn't want a rival company's track to be able to connect to their own without the need of cutting or adapters. Though the others had their own innovation in some way (Atlas's True-Track had a removable roadbed and Code-83 rails, Life-Like's Power-Loc could connect without the need of rail joiners, etc.)

I remember with Robert Schleicher's "The HO Model Railroading Handbook," the initial 1979, 1983 and 1992 editions only mention traditional HO track, so the 1998 edition had extensive new content added to reflect the roadbed track, along with other newer stuff like DCC, the use of a foam base instead of plywood, etc. There's even a nice 7x8 layout showcased in the book that uses weathered nickel-silver E-Z track!

Any comments?
133  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: older HO scale 2-8-0 on: June 17, 2014, 11:10:47 PM
Is it this one?

Available in Reading, Great Northern and Santa Fe roadnames. It was pretty nicely detailed, but it did have that crummy old-style pancake motor...

In 1992, they upgraded it with a better-quality can motor with a worm gear flywheel, and a metal chassis and all-wheel drive, and released it in the Bachmann Plus line. Even the tender had a metal wheelset installed! I have one of those...

Pretty nice runner, but it does have that loose axle as mentioned (I've seen a couple other older Bachmann steam engines like that too.) I'm keeping it as a DC-only locomotive that I'll run from time to time on my layout. I also removed the smoke unit, as I learned that the smoke would be bad for the tracks on a DCC system...
134  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: June 08, 2014, 11:20:08 PM
Some more updates...

Got another Center St. series building kit for the layout:

The Miracle Furniture Company store! This one is branded by TYCO, and has a small hole in the bottom so I can feed a light bulb through it (I'm thinking of illuminating the interior.)

Did some weathering to the TYCO Piggyback loader/unloader. It did make it appear a bit more realistic...

The school is still in session for two more weeks, after which it will let out for summer vacation! (I will temporarily remove the school bus, and move the figures to different parts of the layout, until September.)

New motive power meets old! (Both are Bachmann, for those who don't know already.) That Bachmann Plus Consolidation steam engine I will probably not bother to install DCC in, as it doesn't even have any wiring!
135  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: June 05, 2014, 10:43:15 PM
It must also be said the Tyco  trains  were engineered  to the level of toys  and not to the level of  model railroad equipment .

Also keep in mind, Bachmann's trains used to be like that as well. In the 1970s and 1980s, Bachmann and TYCO products could be considered a joke compared to higher-quality stuff from Athearn, Atlas, Walthers, etc. (No surprise, since Bachmann and TYCO used to dominate the consumer HO model train market during that period!) Fortunately, Bachmann then came out with the Spectrum line, and then the Plus and Silver Series, and then they updated their base line with better-quality motors and bodies to make their locomotives less toy-like (though I do have a newer BNSF caboose that does have the old-style plastic wheels.)

But why don't you save the whole "French troops" thing for PMs or something, guys?  Smiley
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