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4321  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Good Idea or No? on: April 10, 2009, 08:38:39 AM
A couple of comments on the above posts:

To keep things in perspective, both the Plymouth and the 44ton are industrial locomotives. The real ones weren't designed for moving more than a couple of cars at a time. Locomotives like these are what Trackmobiles are designed to replace. By all accounts, the models outpull the real ones.....

As for sound decoders, does anybody even know what a Plymouth sounds like? I have been railfanning for 40 years and i don't recall ever seeing one in action. The only Plymouths I've seen are stuffed and mounted as displays......

You should be able to install a regular decoder in it. After all they DO make Z scale decoders which are VERY tiny.....
4322  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Securing track on: April 10, 2009, 08:24:27 AM
i am currenttly handlaying my track on pine subroadbed. that's a whole nuther ballgame. cork doesn't work that well with handlaid track. the methods i described before are how i laid track before.

i agree 100% with soldered joints. the trick iss to get everything perfect before it is permantently fastened down.
4323  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Amtrak - To strobe or not to strobe? on: April 08, 2009, 08:44:21 PM
i think part of the answer about the strobes also has to do with the fact that since the early 1990s all mainline locomotives are required to have ditch lights, which also flash but are much brighter than strobes. locomotives such as the hhp8 or acela were built after this requirement went into effect and thus do not need strobes. i believe that some of the amd103 genesis units also have strobes but i don't believe all of them do, they first hit the rails about 1993.
4324  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Securing track on: April 08, 2009, 08:38:52 PM
i am of the opinion that, regardless of what any magazine recommends, glueing your track is not a good idea. why? well, unless you are using a product like ez track where the sections lock together, you probably aren't going to lay good track the first time. track usually needs to have the bugs worked out, adjustments made. this is hard to do if it is already permanantly fastened down with glue....

if you nail the track down, you can pull the nails and make any adjustments before fastening the track down again....

that said, there are tricks to nailing track.
1. don't hammer the nail in. you could miss the nail and damage the rails, a sure way to get derailments.
2. if you must hammer, PLEASE use a nail set to avoid #1
3. be careful not to put the nail all the way in. leave the nail heads slightly above the tops of the ties. put them in too far and they bend the ties and cause the rails to go out of guage, causing derailments.
4. if you are laying your track on plywood, you can predrill the nail holes with a pin vise and a very small drill bit. i use a #62 bit, just slightly smaller than the nail shaft. this prevents bent nails, and also makes driving the nails with a pair of pliers easy.
5. if, after the track has been adjusted, you wish to remove the nails you can, after you ballast the track. glued ballast will hold the track in place. but make sure you have the bugs worked out before you do this.....

4325  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Mixing raidiai on: April 08, 2009, 07:47:19 PM
easements ease the transition of the cars into the curve. it is especially helpful if you are running longer cars with body mounted couplers. or mixing short and long cars with body mounts. without easements, the longer cars couplers tend to swing out abruptly as they enter the curve an can pull shorter cars off the track.
4326  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Couplers 101 on: April 08, 2009, 07:42:00 PM
no matter what style of kadee you use, it is a good idea to burnish the shank to knock down any mold parting lines or burrs that may be there.
4327  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Couplers 101 on: April 08, 2009, 01:22:32 PM
my experiences over 30 plus years of using knuckle couplers.......

kadee makes by far the most durable knuckle coupler. the number 5 is the couplers all others aspire to be. the 148 is relatively new, and overcomes the main drawback of the 5, which is the seperate centering spring, by the use of small whiskers on the sides of the coupler shaft. this makes them similar to all the plastic couplers with centering springs as part of the coupler.

as for the plastic couplers, i generally use whatever came with the cars until they fail. some knuckle couplers have a seperate knuckle spring similar to kadee. these are better than those with a plastic molded in knuckle spring. the latter tend to have a rather short lifespan.

adjusting the trip pins (glad hands) can be done by either of the methods mentioned above, but if you use standard needle nose pliers be VERY gentle when you bend the pins. it is WAY too easy to snap the coupler head off, even with the metal kadees. using the trip pin pliers minimizes this problem.

to adjust coupler height, you have two options.

1. use the kadee washers, or some similar product, on the truck bolsters to raise the car off the trucks just a hair. this works for low couplers. for high couplers you have to find a way to lower the coupler mount. that can be difficult if the coupler box is cast into the car floor.

2. kadee (and i assume others as well) makes couplers with offset shanks which raise and lower the coupler height without the use of washers or modifications to the coupler mount. the ones i often used  were kadee, numbered in the 30 series. there are several varieties there with overset or underset shanks that should fit most applications.

4328  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Dual Cabs A/B units is there a difference. on: April 08, 2009, 01:03:54 PM
What you have is probably two locomotives 'piggy-backed' or running 'front-to-rear.' I call them A/B units also no matter the shape of the 2nd unit. 


to a railroader, the term b unit mean a complete locomotive, not equipped with a cab. the proper term for the following unit in a consist is "trailing unit".......oone can avoid much confusion by keeping this distinction.

training units can be pointed in either direction, a switch inside each unit tells it which direction to go in response to commands from the lead unit. which idrection it is pointed varies from railroad to railroad. some prefer the last trailing unit in consist to be pointed the opposite direction from the leader to minimize turning the consist at the end of the run. others, like amtrak, prefer to keep the trailers pointed in the same direction as the leader, so that they can add or subtract units from the consist as needed.
4329  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: costom turntable on: April 08, 2009, 11:35:30 AM
thanks bob for the link. i had been thinking of building something like this. it doesn't look TOO hard. having seen the issues my father went through with a heljan kit 30 years ago, the one i believe the walthers turntable is based on, using the altas table as a base seems like the way to go.

btw, dad eventually gave up on a turntable, sidelines his steam power, and primarily runs gp7s, which are in theory bidirectional......
4330  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Layout questions for 26" and 28" radius e-z track curves on: March 31, 2009, 06:23:32 PM
regardless of what the nmra standard is, 2 5/16" seems a little excessive on such wide radius curves. my own experiments with 24" and 26" radius curves showed that 86 foot cars could pass on adjacent tracks with as little as 2 1/8" centers......

as with the nmra vertical clearances,  the numbers they give are on the generous side, and you can experimant to see how much you can cut things down......
4331  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: "Parking" a train on: March 31, 2009, 06:18:50 PM
if you are using dcc, you should be able to stop  the train and switch to another locomotive address. only the locomotive(s) currently addressed should move.
4332  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Layout questions for 26" and 28" radius e-z track curves on: March 31, 2009, 10:22:15 AM
here is an alternate way that may work with the atlas software.
1. lay out a curve with 24" radius snap track.
2. add a curve of flex track on a 2" center outside the 24" curve. this would be your 26" radius curve.
3. add another flex track curve outside of the previous one, also on a 2" center. this is your 28" radius curve.
4. delete the 24" snap track curve.

note that the atlas software, while a very good program, has a tendency to shift things around. you may have to rotate things back into the alignment you want.....
4333  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Support Your LOCAL hobby shop? on: March 30, 2009, 04:59:29 PM
i have a somewhat different take on the local hobby shop. i have friends who have tried to keep afloat running a local shop......

first of all, regarding prices. the big boys, trainworld, mb kleins and their ilk, are selling their stuff for less than the wholesale price my friend can get that item for. how do you compete with that?

another thing to consider. most people will buy their major purchases online, yet when they need locomotive parts or screws or some other thing the big boys refuse to stock they turn to the local dealer they snubbed for the big stuff. you can't make a living selling spare parts. also, if you ever want to install signals on your layout, just try mail ordering them. any dealer who sells them online is probebly not going to discount them enough to cover shipping.....

i try to support those dealers who will have what i need, or order it for me.....
4334  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 'Ballasting' track on: March 30, 2009, 04:34:44 PM
oh, one thing nobody has mentioned but is ALWAYS a good idea. make sure your track power is turned off, especially with dcc, which has power on the rails at all times. water & electricity don't play well together.....
4335  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Mixing raidiai on: March 30, 2009, 10:07:56 AM
the tight radius issue with flex track can be easily resolved with track guages from ribbonrail. these are metal and designed to fit between the rails of your track. they come in a variety of radii, you don't need a whole set just the radii you intend to use. by using these you can be sure that your 18" radius curves are in fact 18" with no kinks.
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