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136  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 30, 2014, 10:02:02 AM
Are you bummed over the news about Model Power?

Yeah I heard; it does stink. I'm hoping someone else will pick up the Mantua line, like maybe Walthers. (I was thinking of getting a DCC Mantua GP-20.)
137  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 29, 2014, 11:51:58 PM
So far things have been running smoothly with my upgraded layout.

An action shot.

The old Roundpost Junction school house, which has been closed for a long time due to it being too small for public school standards. A new school building will be built in front of it, and the old school house will be reopened as an annex to the new building (it will be a Life-Like "Union Avenue School" building kit.) The playground equipment will also be moved.

A grade crossing with Bachmann Plasticville crossing signals as a temporary setup. I will eventually replace them with working crossing signals of some sort.

The downtown section again.

A couple of structures on my layout that I fitted with lights. I will be illuminating a few more of my structures, to enhance the layout.

Trying out some two-train action. The second train is powered by a Mantua Burlington Northen GP-20. I plan to soon get a second DCC locomotive (probably a Bachmann FT-A Santa Fe diesel.)
138  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 24, 2014, 12:31:36 AM
Finally made the big upgrade to DCC!

It arrived in the post right before I left for work, so I brought it inside, then opened it up after my shift and tried it out! Here's the locomotive it came with:

I am actually impressed by it. It seems as detailed as a Bachmann Plus locomotive from the 1990s, but with a typical mid-range motor (sort of like the Model Power all-wheel drive can motors, but with a better chassis.) It runs very well anyways.
Plus, it's the first BNSF locomotive on my layout! (Though the BNSF is my main railroad on the layout, I have mostly used separate ATSF and BN locomotives prior to this.)

And for the heck of it, I also took this pic:

Newer Bachmann GP40 next to its' 1980s equivalent! Sure has come a long way, hasn't it?

My new control panel. The E-Z Command unit will only run the trains, so I pulled out a TYCO power pack (1970s style) for the switches and other AC accessories.) I'm keeping the MRC 280 power pack for if I ever need it again (and I'm sure I will, for any future DC runs and whatnot.)

The train's all hooked up!

I'm going to do some more toying around with the system pretty soon, and I will also soon set up an electrically-isolated siding for running a DC locomotive on the layout as well.
139  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Ideas to improve the Bachmann crossing gate... on: April 22, 2014, 11:28:16 PM
There have been several articles in recent months regarding  the "how-to' issue with this.  My thoughts are to replace the dummy lenses with red LEDs-the "water" type.  You can find them in several supply houses, like Mouser.  As far as the gates go, a mechanical linkage consisting of a tortoise machine and a length of phosphor bronze wire should do the trick nicely.  Sensors could range from using reed switches in a "start-stop" configuration using a triac.  to using proximity sensors.
Rich C.

I'm thinking of doing that actually with my Tyco crossing gate, and then installing a second signal and gate on the other side (maybe a cantilever signal with a separate gate, like I see at many real-life railroad crossings in my area.)
140  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 19, 2014, 10:48:53 PM
Here's another overview from another angle...

A big update is that this layout is finally going to be DCC! I ordered a Bachmann E-Z Command controller pack that comes with a DCC-equipped BNSF GP40 locomotive, and I will soon order a second DCC locomotive (eyeing a Bachmann Santa Fe FT...) and then maybe upgrade a few of my other locomotives, except they aren't DCC-ready, so I'll need to learn to solder first...

I figured E-Z Command would be the best way to start out before I eventually move up to a higher-end system.
141  Discussion Boards / HO / Ideas to improve the Bachmann crossing gate... on: April 16, 2014, 11:25:37 PM
I noticed that the Bachmann "operating dual crossing gates" first offered in 1976 are still being sold today. So far the only differences between the original:

...and the current version:

The new one uses nickel-silver track, has a more green base, and the gates and signals are painted in more prototypical colors, but that's about it.

Though it does look nice, I will admit it's a rather dated accessory now. But since technology has improved over the years, then I am thinking maybe the company should have a more updated version to compete with other companies' crossing signal and gate offerings (like MTH, NJ International and Walthers.)
Maybe they can replace the fake red lenses in the signals with red LEDs, have the gates motorized (or if not, make motorization optional but keep the old-style pressure sensor) and maybe include track sensors so an approaching train can trip the signals.
This would be better than Bachmann's attempt at such a product in the 1980s...

(It did have pressure sensors for activating the signals, but they only work with conventional track, and the lights simply blink on and off unconvincingly and the bell dings extremely fast.)

Maybe even make a dual-track adapter of sorts for those who want a two-track crossing, like Kato does for their N-scale crossing gate.

Sure, it would probably look out of place on a professional layout, but it'd be good for the beginner or novice, and would be rather easy to install, even with some wiring involved (maybe the controller for the lights could be built into the base!)
Since this accessory has been available for 38 years, I think such an update would be good for it.
142  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 16, 2014, 11:10:12 PM

Just installed this Life-Like flashing light storage tank...

...along with a Bachmann swimming pool for the Tyco Colonial House!

Plasticville split-level house. I still need to paint the figures (I have to get more colors of paints, for that matter!)

Grade crossing. It's not hooked up yet, as I need to get a good controller that's somewhat easy to use and will be DCC-compatible. The nonoperating plastic signal I will replace with a Griswold-style crossing signalfrom NJ International.

Another overview showing the new stuff...
143  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Bachmann EZ DCC system on: April 12, 2014, 12:13:42 AM
I am thinking when I upgrade to the E-Z Command system and build Stage 2 of the track on my layout, I will have one siding be connected to an Atlas Connector switch so I can power it on and off when need be, and put a standard DC locomotive there, while I keep the DCC locomotives running in most cases.
I have a BUNCH of standard DC locomotives, but my Life-Like Proto 1000 F3A is DCC-ready!  Grin
144  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 12, 2014, 12:11:11 AM
Update time again!

I've done some more detailing on the layout.

An entrance to Roundpost Junction!

The Dickerson Station and Honest Larry's Cars are in business now!

Life-Like Supply House in the background, with the Tyco Crossing Gate and Atlas Gateman Tower.

Farm with apple orchard. I thought the Plasticville barn was going to be large, but it's in perfect scale!

Trees growing around the tunnel.

Tyco operating box car dump station and freight unloading depot, and Life-Like dumping station and lighted yard tower.
145  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 02, 2014, 08:42:59 PM
Here's a few more updates...

I am experimenting with ballast. Maybe once I vacuum up the excess stuff, it won't look as messy.

Landscaping on the second sheet of plywood. There is going to be a farm on this side, too (I will be getting Plasticville barn and "farm building with animals" building kits.)

Already adding some scenic details to the existing plywood section as well.
146  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: HO Train Set Request on: April 02, 2014, 06:47:08 PM
That would make for a decent starter set, particularly if someone wants to start out with a train set using a diesel switcher locomotive.
Bachmann did have a set like that in the late 1970s: the Yardmaster, but it was with a blue-and-yellow Santa Fe switcher, pulling a boxcar and hopper car and caboose, and it only had a 36" circle of track instead of a 45x36" oval (which is what you have in mind, though the E-Z track equivalent would be 47x38").
Of course in the late 1970s, the Bachmann locomotives then were not the best quality compared to what they have today  Grin
147  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 01, 2014, 12:14:26 AM
Finally finished applying the landscaping (except ballast) to the original existing plywood!

As you can see, it is already looking much better than the old layout.
Though once the landscaping on the second sheet of plywood is done, I still need to get some new buildings! Probably a mix of old and new (definitely some Plasticville!)
148  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: March 30, 2014, 07:18:30 PM
& I would also put in a YARD AREA as well since your into the building stage of your layout.. Most people building a Layout include an area to store there Trains & Rolling Stock & as well make it more fun in operating sessions because you can switch out rolling stock & make up other trains as well....

Keep up the good work....

As a matter of fact, Stage 2 of the layout will have some sidings to make a small rail yard!

Placing some of the buildings onto my layout now. I'll get around to weathering them soon.

Finished another end of landscaping; there is only a little left on the first sheet of plywood now that needs to be decorated, along with the rest of the second sheet.

I have also now hooked the track and blocking control to my MRC Tech-4 280 power pack, along with wiring up two of the switches. I ran one of my locomotives on the completed loop on the original existing plywood and it worked pretty well.
149  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 1970s style ho scale layout on: March 30, 2014, 07:06:50 PM
You would be better off getting a Bachmann 2-8-0 instead of the Tyco.  That is if you plan to run it. 

For running on my layout, I do plan on getting a Bachmann Consolidation. I know Bachmann made a nice Santa Fe 2-8-0 Consolidation locomotive in the "Bachmann Plus" line in the '90s. (Or maybe once I get more cash I'll get the Spectrum version instead!)

And jbrock27, when looking for track on eBay I always look closely at the pics to see if it really IS nickel-silver. Usually I would tell by the color of the rails:
Gold, copper or rust-colored: Usually brass
Completely silver: Steel
Pale-gold and shiny: Nickel-silver

At least with Bachmann's E-Z Track it's easy to tell the nickel-silver sections from steel!

Though if you're simply replacing the track from an old train set (doesn't matter if it's Bachmann or Tyco or whatever) and you want to still use snap-track, then just get this:

If the set came with just a circle or a 45x36 oval of track, this is a decent upgrade; you get a nice 54x36" oval with passing siding, except the switches are manual (you can upgrade them to remote switch machines though.)
It connects using terminal joiners; just hook them up to your set's power pack (if it still works, or a new and better power pack), put the locomotive and cars on the track, and you're ready to go!
150  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: March 30, 2014, 12:28:02 PM
Re: the TYCO crossing gate-I used to have one-did you replace the section of straight track that came with it or are you saying it came with nickel silver?  The reason I ask, is, to my knowledge, TYCO never produced n/s track-only steel and brass.  So if the crossing is stock and has not been modified, you may want to check to see if it is n/s by placing a magnet on the rails Wiley.

PS  And before the "S" curve police arrive, let me point out to you that it looks like you have one coming off the left handed snap switch that runs near the post, diverging to the interior of the layout.

Yes, the early Tyco crossing gates had a removable track section, very much like the older Bachmann crossing gates did. So I took advantage of that and replaced the brass track section with nickel-silver, to be consistent with the rest of the track there. Beginning around the mid-to-late 1970s, those Tyco crossing gates had the track built right onto it (likewise with similar crossing gates from Life-Like and Pemco; Bachmann still had a removable track section on their crossing gate until it was modified to work with E-Z Track.)

And I am aware of the S-curve, but in most cases I will slow the train down there as I go through, as it's often wise to slow down a train when it's traveling through a switch.
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