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4336  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: best type of track on: March 13, 2009, 09:09:26 PM
if you have the time and patience to do it. handlaid track is the best. but any track you lay is only as good as what you lay it on. the best track in the world will do you no good if you have a weak foundation.

nickle silver rail is better than brass or steel, it ocnducts electricity better, and is much easier to solder to.
4337  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Wiring Question on: March 10, 2009, 11:42:31 AM
wow bob, you think like i do.....

my old layout was designed for dc, and when i converted to dcc i left the dc wiring in place. the block switches were worth their weight in gold because whenever i had a problem i could easily isloate it without shutting the whole railroad down. it flies in the face of all the conventional wisdom about dcc simplifying things, but it is true. dcc often uses blocks, they simply call them power districts.

about the only concession i made to dcc was to eventually rewire the layout using heavier wire, 18 guage replaced 22 guage.

i would also recommend, since dcc is much more finicky about momentary interruptions in power supply, having feeders to the track no more than 6 feet apart. in dcc, redundancy is a good thing.....
4338  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Bachman DCC Decoder Installation on: March 09, 2009, 07:54:35 PM
on the pickups from the trucks. YES!! most locomotives on the market to-day pick up power off both trucks. dcc is alot more sensitive to disruptions of track power, whatever the cause. the power pickups on both trucks was always a good idea, with dcc it is a must!!! while in theory it is possible to run dcc off one truck, in practice one truck pickup will cause you problems eventually.

as for the replacement wheels, they are just that-wheels. athearn wheels have stub axles that the axle gears press fit on. you reuse the athearn axles and simply replace the wheels. it is very simple, twist off the wheels from the axles, twist the new ones back on. the only tool you need is an nmra guage, something you probably already have, and should get if you don't have one.

please note: some older proto2000 and stewart, and walthers diesels use athearn copycat drives, and athearn parts can be used on these engines.
4339  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Disable DC function on DCC engines: on: March 09, 2009, 11:33:52 AM
i don't know how disabling the dc function would make a locomotive run smoother......

on some dcc systems when you power up the layout some decoders will power up the locomotive at full throttle. nothing like a runaway to liven theings up. disabling the dc function prevents this from happening.
4340  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Double Whammy on: March 09, 2009, 11:29:16 AM
i have a couple of spectrums that do the same thing. the squeak isn't in the gearing, it seems to be coming from the motor bearings themselves. i would put just a drop of the labelle oil on each motor bearing. there are two, located where the shft leaves the motor frame, on e on each end.
4341  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Bachman DCC Decoder Installation on: March 09, 2009, 11:23:57 AM
some notes from my experience with older (1975-1995) athearns......

first, it is unnecessary to remove the prongs on the bottom motor clip if you switch the clips. use the top motor clip on the bottom and vice versa. then all you will need to do is cover the bottom clip with electrical tape. i had many athearns so i had a spare clip to keep everything together.

about the motor brushes and springs.... the motor brush is shaped to fit around the spinning part of the motor. getting the brush out of this alignment will detract from the performance of the locomotive, so be very careful of the alignment of the brushes. on some athearns, the top of the brush has a little slot in it so that you can align it with a screwdriver. the slot should be in line with the motor shaft.

athearn wheels are sintered metal. as with the rest of the athearn pickup system, it works well on dc bot is finicky on dcc. you may want to replace the wheels with nickel silver ones from nwsl or jaybee. the pickup from the trucks to the motor uses a metal clip from the top of the motor to the tops of the trucks. don't try to modify the clip. solder directly to the contact bars on the top of the trucks. the trucks also use the pivot point on the frame and a hole in the truck bolster for the other side of the circuit. this pivot point is another weak link in the circuit when using dcc. you may want to bypass it by soldering directly to the metal plate in the truck that picks up power off the wheel bearings.

note that athearn's electrical contacts in the trucks are of a metal which is not easy to solder to. before attempting to do this, completely disassemble the trucks and use a couple of alligator clips as heat sinks so that you don't melt the plastic parts of the truck. an alternate method would be to drill and tap those contact plates to accept a small brass screw, and solder your wires directly to the screw.

as far as adjusting cv's goes. if your decoder supports speed tables, you can tweak those to get your locomotives to run together. i did mine by timing the locomotives over a 6 foot (2 lengths of flex track) section with a stop watch, calculating the speed difference as a percentage, then adjusting the speed table of the faster locomotive by that percentage. you always want to match your locomotives to the slowest one that you intend to use in a consist.

the athearn dcc conversion isn't the easiest if you want good reliable performance. but if you have the time and patience, you can make a decent  dcc locomotive out of them.
4342  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: zephyr on: March 08, 2009, 06:10:01 PM
i have seen the zephyr advertised in a number of places for around $150.

unless your locomotives are dcc equipped, you'll want to pick up a couple of decoders as well.

4343  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: I need work on: March 06, 2009, 08:30:06 AM
word has it that 40 or 50 bnsf sd40-2s have made their way to altoona on the norfolk southern for storage. i will be going there to-morrow and will try to get pics. even with all these locomotives stored, things are not yet anywhere near as bad as in the early 1980s. here in the northeast the railroads had locomotives parked by the hundreds, and for years they had gondolas parked anywhere they could find room. so far, that hasn't happpened here.
4344  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: I need work on: March 05, 2009, 09:20:01 AM
this is yet another sign of a deepening recession. not only freight cars get idled, locomotives are stored too. first to get parked are the rentals which were roaming everywhere as recently as last summer. next the railroads start to park their older, or unusual locomotives, if it is severe enough of a downturn, even the best and newest get parked for short periods. and the scrapyards start to do a booming business cutting up surplus railroad equipment. we haven't gotten quitee that far yet, but there are long lines of surplus locomotives both on norfolk southern at conway, pa and on csx at cumberland, md
4345  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Turtle Creek Decals on: March 04, 2009, 06:47:38 PM
i will have to check on that. but i do have photos of their two locomotives.
4346  Discussion Boards / Thomas & Friends / Re: thomas schedule on: March 04, 2009, 05:04:36 AM
i notice a number of places on the list are narrow guage. shouldn't those be "skarloey days"

other than that, how many thomases are there out there? do they travel? are they all operating locomotives like strasburg has?
4347  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Any Luck With Scenemaster Magnetic Knuckle Couplers on: March 04, 2009, 04:49:00 AM
about the trip pins. don't cut them off, carefully bend the pins up a little so they ride above the rails. kadee makes a coupler height guage that will help you greatly in adjusting this and other minor problems with coupler height.

as for conversion of older truck mounted couplers, i don't think it really matters much which brand you use. the coupler mounts on the trucks are too low. they will work fine with each other but since the height is low they won't work well with cars with body mounted couplers. you'd have better luck cutting the couplers off the trucks, and mounting  the new couplers in their boxes on the floor of the car.
4348  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: dcc system on: March 04, 2009, 04:32:28 AM
i use the zephyr and i haven't had major problems with it. it is a robust system with the ability to use your dc power packs for additional throttles. that gives you a 3 cab system for the price of a 1 cab system.

i got mine for $135 several years ago.
4349  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Turtle Creek Decals on: March 04, 2009, 04:19:52 AM
the dashing turtle is the model railroader layout. the real turtle creek engines are painted green and have a yellow turtle on the cab.
4350  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Reverse Loop - How to without another store bought gizmo? on: March 04, 2009, 03:59:02 AM
if you have a situation where the reversing section is entered and exited through the same switch only. such as the tail track to a wye, you can use the contacts on your switch motor if it has them, and a snap relay if not. the idea is that when the switch throws to let you enter, the relay or contacts align the track polarity. and when you throw the switch to let yourself out, the contacts align the polarity with the main track.
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