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4336  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 'Ballasting' track on: March 30, 2009, 09:58:42 AM
i have never been able to have any luck with the dish detergent method either. i use the same 50-50 white glue-water mix as most people, but i presoak the ballast with rubbing alcohol  applied with an eyedropper. the glue is then applied from a glue bottle. the alcohol causes the glue to spread the way it should, and i flood the ballast until i can actually see the glue between the grains of ballast.

an alternate method, which works well for handlaid track, and will work for other track if you work quickly, is to paint the white glue and water mix directly onto the roadbed BEFORE you lay the track. once the track is down, you ballast before the glue dries. any touch up work can be done later by the first method i mentioned.
4337  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: What Brand Turnouts for track on roadbed - NOT EZ Track on: March 28, 2009, 12:45:17 PM
Have you ever seen the yard he made? Bronx terminal. If you go down the page, you'll see a next section marker. All pictures can be enlarged. Great site, details and ideas. For instance, Using easy off oven cleaner to remove paint from models, safe for plastic.

that is incredible. i wouldn't have the patience to custom build something that intricate. would like to see how he intends to gap all those rails, and where he is going to put his power feeders.
4338  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: HO Round Table or Transfer Table Which Way to Go? on: March 25, 2009, 08:12:57 PM
transfer tables are usually in heavy repair shop facilities where space is at a premium.
turntable were used in many servicing facilities, and still are in many of the larger facilities.

4339  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Tree Sizes on: March 25, 2009, 06:56:24 PM
since you know what size of tree you want, just buy that size. trees vary in size in different areas, and they vary in shape as well. i know for a fact woodland scenics makes tree kits in a variety of sizes.......
4340  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: great places to visit on: March 25, 2009, 09:37:56 AM
if you are in the area of the east broad top, there are 3 places relatively close you should check out.

1. altoona. railroaders museum AND horseshoe curve. nuff said.

2 cumberland, md. home of the western maryland scenic railroad. uses a 2-8-0 steamer and 2 western maryland gp30s.

3. romney, wv the potomac eagle runs excursions through a spectacular mountain gorge using a c&o fp7.

altoona and cumberland are also home to large locomotive shops and cumberland also has a hump yard.
4341  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: What Brand Turnouts for track on roadbed - NOT EZ Track on: March 24, 2009, 11:21:52 PM
ya got me.
4342  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: do you know on: March 24, 2009, 11:19:14 PM
roscoe snyder & pacific
pacific great eastern
atlantic & pacific (an erie predecessor)
ohio southern (not jim hediger's layout, this os is a part of ohio central.)
west virginia southern
grand trunk pacific (a CN predecessor)
missouri pacific
texas & pacific
border pacific
4343  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: First Turnouts, Now Switches - Who do you prefer? on: March 24, 2009, 11:06:58 PM
because i make my own track, my switchpoints tend to need alot of effort to move. i have used older twin coil type switch motors like kemtron or nj, but those are no longer made. the tortoise, made by circuitron, has the power i need and is ultra reliable as well.

as important as the brand name is the type of switch motor. i prefer those that mount under the table. they are a bit more work to install, but look much better
4344  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Decoder Problems on: March 24, 2009, 09:40:32 AM
part of the problem is that for some reason, digitrax command stations do not like lenz based decoders like the ones in the bachmann locomotives. i have a digitrax zephyr which can read back cvs while on the programming track. it is hit or miss with programming lenz type decoders. i have tried the workaround solution of a 1k ohm resistor across the rails of the programming track but it is still hit or miss. other dcc systems don't seem to have this problem, and i now let a friend programmy bachmann locomotives for me.

the irony is that the nmra standards for dcc are based on the lenz system. why digitrax chose not to go that route is beyond me.

if i am not mistaken, 3 is the factory default address on a decoder.
4345  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Start of a fresh layout on: March 24, 2009, 09:29:19 AM
quick question: is that an atlas turntable? if so you may still need an autoreverse unit as the turntable rails automaticly change polarity about halfway through the rotation. you can use an ohm meter or continuity tester to check exactly where this occurs.
4346  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Athearn GE U30-C not running on: March 24, 2009, 09:26:10 AM
athearn locomotives were about the most reliable in their heyday, the 1970s and early 1980s. all locomotives back then had their issues, but only atlas came close to the overall performance of an athearn. they are simple to work on, durable, and seem to have 9 lives....ernst made a regear kit for them which slowed them down to about 40 scale mph. like i mentioned before, they were the backbone of my fleet at one time, most of the other makes i owned were parked i liked the athearns that much......

i think it says alot that:
1. athearn locomotives are still running after 30 or more years of service.
2. the quality of locomotives to-day is such that older athearns are no longer considered to be among the best.
3. to this day, if you write to athearn they will send you parts diagrams for locomotives that they stopped producing years ago.
4. they still have enough value that other companies still make after market parts for them.
5. the overall design was sound enough that walthers, stewart, lifelike and possibly others produced locomotives on athearn clone drives. the parts from these were interchangeable with athearn....

my dad and i ran the wheels off our respective fleets, and they sure earned their keep. i also worked for a time for a model railroad display and the athearns we had ran for about 10 hours a day 7 days a week when we were set up. we were constantly repairing other makes, while the athearns ruled the road.....
4347  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: What Brand Turnouts for track on roadbed - NOT EZ Track on: March 24, 2009, 09:02:14 AM
i agree that the handlaid ones are the cheapest. it isn't hard to make your own. in fact, my cost of materials is well under $5 apiece. if you intend on building a sizeable number of them, you might want to invest in a jig from fast tracks.

even if you don't want to buy a jig from them, they have templates you can print out on their site wich take the guesswork out of building track.....

for ties, you can buy them precut, but i make mine from matchstick, which cost next to nothing
4348  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Athearn GE U30-C not running on: March 23, 2009, 08:14:35 PM
that rusty contact bar is the weak link in the athearn drive. you can either sand the rust off it, or replace it. i usually soldered a wire from the contact on each truck to the motor clip. if you do this, be sure you remove the motor clip from the motor before soldering to it, and also be very careful when you remove this clip as there is a spring underneath it that likes to fly across the room. lose the spring, and the motor doesn't run until you find it.
4349  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Athearn GE U30-C not running on: March 23, 2009, 07:16:29 PM
since i once had a fleet of probably 40 older athearns i can help here....

first, when you move the flywheels you are also turning the motor, and the worm gear that powers the trucks. you should notice the locomotive slowly move as you turn the flywheels. if not the flywheels are loose. but you'd have been able to hear them rattle after you stopped the engine if they were.....

the biggest flaw in the athearn design is/was the electrical contact between the wheels and motor. one side of the circuit consists of the metal bar above the worm gear on the trucks, and a spring steel contact bar that clips to the top of the motor and should rub the metal bar on the trucks. the other side of the circuit comes through a metal tab on the trucks that serves as a bolsteror pivot point, the weight of the metal frame is supposed to be enough to provide good electrical contwact but doesn't always live up to its promise. the bottom clip on the motor has tabs which also contact the locomotive frame.

you will want to be sure all of the above are in contact with the parts they are supposed to contact, and clean.....

to disassemble an athearn truck you must first remove the truck from the frame.....start by prying loose, with a small screwdriver, the plactic clip covering the worm gear on the top of the truck. remove this, and the worm gear adn set them aside. be careful of the metal bearing and thin washer on the worm gear, these can get lost easily.....

next, you should be able to lift the locomotive frame clear of the truck. once clear, examine the truck closely. there should be one or two small plastic clips on top that hold the truck together, along with a much larger one on the bottom whichruns the length of the truck between the wheels....remove those and set aside.

at this point your should be able to tell if you have inside or outside bearings in the truck. if it is the later inside bearing truck, you will be able to see two vertical metal plates on the truck. the wheelsets ride in slots in these plates, with square metal bearings similar to the ones on the worm gear. if you have this type of truck, the wheels should come right out.
if you have the outside bearing type, the truck sideframes will be metal. you will have to carefully seperate the truck halves to remove the wheels.

once the wheelsets are removed, check each one to be sure they are snug in the axle gear. if they are not that's where your problem lies. replace that gear......

the jerkiness you describe sounds to me like your locomotive has dirty contacts as well. polish them with a very fine sandpaper or emery board, being sure to keep any dust out of the gears. at this point, i usually make some modifications like hard wiring the motor. if interested in this let me know and i'll tell you how i do this. also, the athearn wheels are made of sintered metal, and tend to get dirty quickly. replacements are available from jaybee and nwsl, both types are nickel silver or nickle plated and drasticly improve wheel contact with the rails.

you will also want to take the time to lube your locomotive while it is apart....

reassembly is the reverse of disassembly....
4350  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: normal covered wagon lashups on: March 23, 2009, 06:44:11 PM
here is what i remember, supplemented by what my research on emd locomotives shows.....

the most common as built configuration for f units in general was a-b-a. many roads that bought fts in a-b sets often went back to emd for single a units to make 3 unit sets. usually, these were f2 or f3 models. i do not believe emd sold single fta's, but they did with all other f unit models.

many ft a-b sets had a drawbar between the units, as such they stayed together pretty much for life unless the railroad modified this drawbar or replaced it with couplers. very few if any other f units models came with drawbars....

the ft's were for the most part, traded in early on gp20s or gp30s, by the end of the 1960s they were all but extinct....the other f units lasted on certain railroads until the early 1980s, which are the ones i will base my personal observations on.....

i was fortunate enough to catch the f units in service on the b&o, western maryland, penn central/conrail, and the clinchfield. at this late date, they were considered just another locomotive and were mixed freely with other types. by this time, b units were relatively scarce, as the railroads found their lack of a cab to limit their usefulness.

it should be noted that other builders locomotives were not always compatable with emd. the baldwin sharks, for example, only ran with their own kind. only the b&o mixed them with other baldwins on a regular basis.

some alco fa's and fb's could be used in multiple with emd, but these seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
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