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Topics - CNE Runner

General Discussion / Alabama Train Show
April 18, 2014, 09:53:34 AM
Those of you living in the "Heart of Dixie" are now informed of the Gadsden Train Show to be held Saturday, April 19 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The show is held in Gadsden, AL at the Gadsden Convention Hall (344 South First Street, Gadsden, AL). The cost of admission is $5.00 for adults and kids under the age of 12 are free.

This is short notice, and on a busy weekend, but hopefully we can all support one of the few model railroad events in northern Alabama. I hope to see you there!


PS: I am posting this as a service to fellow hobbyists. I am not, in any way, affiliated with the Coosa Valley Model Railroad Association.
On30 / How about a Whitcomb 45T?
June 09, 2013, 03:04:23 PM
While perusing an old copy of Model Railroad News (which I believe is now defunct), I came across an announcement for Accucraft's new (in 2011) large scale Whitcomb 45-Ton model. It was love at first glance...unfortunately this locomotive isn't available in On30. Further inspection had me realize that the power 'base' for this locomotive could be the lower part of Bachmann's excellent Spectrum GE 45-Tonner...all that seems to be required is another On30 body shell.

I am currently kitbashing a Bachmann 44-Ton into a 'sorta - kinda' narrow gauge 45-tonner lookalike...lots of work; but the Boulder Valley kit is well designed. How cool would it be to be able to buy a Whitcomb R-T-R (of course any narrow gaug'r worth their salt will further 'bash/decorate the product to suit their tastes).

Check out this model at:

Please, please Mr. Bach-Man.

On30 / Bring back the Davenport?
April 25, 2013, 09:57:48 AM
Mr. Bach-Man - With the resolution of the drive gear problem are there any plans to bring back the Davenport? This model lends itself (actually begs for) superdetailing and is perfect for those small industrial railways.

General Discussion / Evan excellent company
October 05, 2012, 03:54:51 PM
I recently purchased several of the model railroad graphic programs offered by Evan Designs (Model Builder, The Advertiser, The Brickyard). While I highly recommend these programs, I recently had problems with Model Builder. An email sent to Dave Jamison of Evans (owner?) resulted in a reply within a couple hours! Together we worked through the problem (which wasn't the Model Builder but protocol settings on McAfee) and I am now completely satisfied.

Isn't is grand to deal with a company, such as Bachmann Trains and Evan Designs, who take customer service seriously? Check the Model Builder and/or The Advertiser out on their website at and support those manufacturers that support us.

HO / GE 45-Ton Maintenance & Body Removal
August 07, 2012, 09:37:38 AM
I have been noticing that my Bachmann GE 45-Ton locomotive hasn't been running as well as it did in the past. I cleaned the wheels by running it over an alcohol-soaked piece of toweling. This helped, but didn't completely solve the problem (BTW: the track had already been cleaned).

Under magnification, I saw copious amounts of fiber - wound around some of the axles and connecting rod attachment points. [I am of the opinion that the fiber comes from the same place that missing socks reside.] After an hour or so of 'picking' fibers out with tweezers, I got the lower running gear reasonably clean (I'll have to order a set of metric nutdrivers from Micro Mark to completely remove the connecting rods). My problem came when trying to remove the upper body shell.

According to the directions (from this website), one removes the couplers and their draft boxes (upper and lower halves) and the body should lift off. Not true. I did a search of this forum and lo' back in the Yampa Bob days (you would have to be a member of this group for some time to remember him) a poster had the same problem. Mr. Bach Man did some research and found that one has to remove the complete coupler assemblies...AND the four screws on the bottom of the base plate.

I mention this in case you have the same locomotive and want to check/clean/lubricate the drivetrain. It is amazing what can be learned by using the 'search' function.

General Discussion / Old Timers' Reminiscing
April 16, 2012, 04:23:17 PM
Thanks to Desertdweller for the suggestion of this thread. We effectively 'hijacked' the Track Cleaning thread on the HO board and [probably] need to walk down Memory Lane here. I'll start:

Do you remember: Athearn Hi-F drive? How about flex track that had brass rails, fiber ties...and the two were stapled together? Did you have Atlas controllers 'daisy-chained' together? The HO Model Railroad that Grows book?

For more on these 'memories' (and others) check out Track Cleaning on the HO board.

As I mentioned on the other thread, my dad and I actually constructed the Great Northern Pacific (as it was called in the HO Model Railroad...) - through construction of the fold-down yard. I remember our station was the Revell Mainline Station that is still available on eBay (nope, just slapped the thing together...including the gray plastic patience eluded that eleven year old). Dad managed to 'commandeer' an old kitchen table from one of the neighbors (one of those that had a porcelainized steel top) for our 'bench work'. This worked fine until we needed to do some wiring. Wiring was extremely difficult as we laid the 4'x 8' plywood directly on the table (no space and learn). 'Had many of hours of fun running that line. How many of you remember making trees out of twisted wire/clay/lichen?

The only thing I kept from my original O-gauge (Lionel of course) set was the 224E locomotive and tender. I don't know what happened to the other cars.

HO / Battery power for HO locomotives?
March 28, 2012, 09:40:18 AM
I recently posted on the Free Rail forum a comment on battery powered locomotives. My point, in the post, was that I was under the assumption that battery technology hadn't advanced to the point that sufficient potential electrical power could be stored in such a small space. [I was aware of a chap that runs his entire layout on battery power - having a 9v rechargable battery in a tag-along boxcar.]

My point was that the battery(s) should be completely contained within the locomotive (or tender if steam) and be easily recharged. I was informed that such technology did, in fact, exist. My question is why hasn't Bachmann (et. al.) offered such a line of locomotives?

My post can be seen at:

To make the concept even more interesting, I challenged the Forum's R/C 'experts' to actually convert a Bachmann GE 45 Ton locomotive to battery power...said batteries shall be enclosed within the body shell of the locomotive and be fairly easy to recharge.

If any of these talented guys is successful, we can finally be free of track power: no more electrical gaps, no more wiring, no more reverse loop magic, and no more cleaning track & wheels.

Think about it Mr. Bach Man,
General Discussion / Look before you ask
February 12, 2012, 10:36:40 AM
I have decided to sell my old Bachmann GP-35 at one of our next train shows (the old girl is 'way too large for my layout). Our policy is to test all motive power before putting them on the table (or we sell them as "non-running" or "unknown" and price them appropriately). This particular GP-35 was my first DCC locomotive and always ran flawlessly.

As per our sale policy, I decided to test the locomotive on my DC-powered Monks' Island Railway. Unfortunately the unit did not move. I (again) read what little instructional material came with the locomotive - all of which indicated it contained a dual mode decoder. Now what?

Rather than ask a question that has been asked in the past, I decided to check out the EZ Command section of the Parts & Service heading on the Bachmann website (as per a suggestion by RichG). Glory this section were complete instructions on the EZ Command Two Function Decoder! A further check of past postings on the forum indicated that CV-29 should be set to '6' to restore DC operation (I honestly don't remember changing that CV value...but then again I have trouble remembering what I did the day before yesterday). Jim Banner posted to make sure the headlight was turned ON during the reprogramming so that it will operate in DC mode...'would have never thought of that.

My point is that there is a lot of help/information a couple of key strokes away. It would make sense to check out the archives (by clicking on the 'Search' button at the top of the page) before repeating a question that was asked (and answered well) before.

Many thanks for, once again, bailing out the CNE Runner guys.

General Discussion / Another Excellent Forum
January 18, 2012, 11:16:32 AM
I have always been impressed with the participants in the Bachmann forum. The amount of knowledge and inspiration I have received is priceless. Many forums, unfortunately, are inhabited by folks that are either rivet counters (and by default: in possession of infinite knowledge...just ask them), or individuals with an 'axe' to grind...looking someone upon which to 'grind'. If you've done the forums, you know to which I am referring.

Recently, I was urged to look at yet another forum - and am very glad I did. This one is called Free Rails and can be found at

Honestly, I believe there is something for everyone on this location. The participants are extremely friendly and supportive. Some of the posters are master modelers whilst others are beginners...everyone is willing to render assistance to everyone else. The participants seem to take a genuine interest in what each is doing.

Check the site out by 'lurking' a little and getting a 'feel' for the attitudes of the participants. I firmly believe that Free Rails would be a natural adjunct to the Bachmann forum...'see what you think.

HO / New Mantua 0-6-0T
January 02, 2012, 10:22:48 AM
I noticed an advertisement in the January issue of Model Railroader [p. 25] of a new 'crop' of Mantua locomotives that are coming in the Winter of 2011. This 'new' line of locomotives are equipped with MRC DCC & sound. Included among the offerings is the 0-6-0T tank switcher (393 Series).

We have owned Mantua 0-6-0T switchers in the past and have been less than satisfied with their running characteristics. Currently the Monks' Island Railway owns one of these locomotives - although it is not used...pending a trip to Yardbird Trains for refurbishing.

Do any of you know how well the new Mantua runs? Bachmann produces an excellent 0-6-0T in their Spectrum line...albeit a little larger than the Mantua unit (I would like the shorter Mantua version). How well does this Mantua compare with the Bachmann? I noticed TrainWorld/TrainLand selling the new version (w/DCC & sound) for $99.99. Is this unit worth procurring? I am hoping MR does a review on this locomotive in the near future.

Thanks for any assistance you can render.
General Discussion / Beginning of the end for DCC?
December 24, 2011, 01:18:49 PM
While waiting for my connecting flight a couple of weeks ago I chanced upon a magazine entitled Model Railroad News. Since I believe in the old adage of "...any port in a storm" (and facing a 3-hour layover), I decided to purchase a copy.

The magazine seems to confine itself to articles relating the new products/services in the entire model railroad spectrum (i.e. N, HO, S, O, and G). While not in the market for new rolling stock (I have far more than I can ever hope to run) nor structures (just look under the bench at all the kits waiting in the queue), I was fascinated by an article entitled "The Human Interface II".

Basically the underlying thrust of the article is that DCC may be nearing the end of its life and may give way to newer [better?] systems. While the Monks' Island Railway is run on DC, I have plans to convert to DCC - after correcting a rather large track problem (of which DCC is not at all forgiving).

Check out the article [p. 86] and see what you think. The article mentions two 'technologies': Aristo-Craft Revolution and Ring's Rail Pro. As a neophyte in the electronics field, I was taken with the offerings of the Rail Pro system. Check it out and see what you think.

Food for thought,
I don't know if I mentioned, in one of my previous posts, that I have tried to clean the rails of the Monks' Island Railway with a CMX Track Cleaning Car. This is a well built, brass car that holds a cleaning solution and dispenses it on a piece of corduroy cloth (which rubs on the railheads). My problem is that the CMX car is just too heavy for my little GE 45 Ton locomotive to pull (the car weighs almost a pound).

I have been noticing the Bachmann Track Cleaning car and realize that it is a reincarnation of the old track cleaning cars we used in the 1960s (box car + piece of Masonite suspended beneath with two nails). This was a simple concept that worked well for continuously running trains. This type of car is not efficient for switching layouts such as mine.

My question is: Has anyone used the Bachmann car with a dampened piece of cloth? In other words...can the car be used with a 'wet process'? I realize any piece of cloth would have to be re-wet from time to time...this isn't a problem on my layout.

One of the hazards of model railroading is loss of interest over time. How long can one satisfy their 'creative juices' - watching trains endlessly 'chase their tails'? This problem can be greater on small shelf layouts with their limited trackage. I think I have a way around this problem...I'm sure others can contribute even more.

The Monks' Island Railway uses switch lists that are generated randomly (less cheating on the part of the Runner). I use 3 dice as follows: 10-sided = industries/sidings, red 6-sided die = load, and a white 6-sided die = IN or OUT. [If you don't have any dice, or if you need more than a 10-sided die, visit your local gaming store OR check out the random die generators on the Internet.]

To start, I have made a list of all the industries/sidings on the line and have arranged them in a column labeled "location" (in my case each was numbered from 1 to 9). A cast of the 10-sided die determines which industry/siding is of concern (zero is the Runner's choice). At this point we have now determined which industry is going to be effected by the move.

Now, using the white 6-sided die, I determine whether the load will be IN or OUT (1,3,5 = IN; while 2,4,6 = OUT). OK, we now know whether a car will be spotted to a specific industry/siding...or whether a car is needed at that location.

The actual load (IN or OUT) is determined by the red 6-sided die from our list of industries/sidings. This is an optional step that provides increased operation by the occasional transfer of an empty car from one location to another location requiring same...sometimes a real 'hair puller'. Keep in mind the type of car must be appropriate to the load (it is difficult to carry bulk gasoline on a flat car).

The entire system is based on chance and your collection (you could probably use as little as 5 or 6 cars...or the whole fleet). Once the basic system is set up it is capable of generating an amazing number of 'moves' (I won't go into the mathematics of randomization).

As I am writing this fourth draft, I have come to the realization that doing the topic justice would take a huge amount of Forum space. There are a few forms I have devised and would be willing to share with my Forum friends. Drop me an email and I will be glad to send you all the pertinent information I use on the Railway (use the email address on the Profile page). Please put "Bachmann Forum switching" (or something similar) in the subject line as I do not open emails from unknowns.

Trust me when I say I can keep you very, very busy on even the simplest layout. There is no reason to sit and watch your trains 'chase their tails'. Ideally my system only requires: MS Excel, 3 different dice, and some of your time. Please note: Regular notebook paper can be substituted for MS Excel, random die generators are available for free on the Internet, and everyone has some time to put to the hobby.

General Discussion / Birmingham (AL) Train Show
May 10, 2011, 09:27:58 AM
'Sorry for the late notice...I wanted to make sure the show was going ahead in spite of the tornadoes our state endured. This is the Smokey City Rails train show to be held this coming Saturday, May14 [9am - 4 pm] at:
First Baptist Church of Zion City
1104 Gene Reed Road
Birmingham, AL 35235
According to the flyer, the admission charge is $6; children 8-12 $2; children under 8 are free.

I hope to see a couple of you there.

By now you are aware of the devastating tornadoes that destroyed large portions of the South. Fortunately Monks' Island was spared any damage - excepting the several thousand sticks on the front lawn. We were lucky...and we know it.

The staff, and management of the railway realized that the victims of the April 'twisters' needed help...and needed it quickly. Every available piece of rolling stock was utilized/respotted/emptied and filled with whatever items the islanders thought prudent. Here we see the uncompleted Sweet Haven Cannery being utilized as a shipping point for the outgoing supplies.
The Cannery (a Blair Line craftsman kit) is approximately 3/4 complete; but was pressed into service as an assistance assembly point...the refrigeration units sure came in handy!

Yes, that is a beer reefer...anything that will hold assistance is being used. I took this picture on the return run to Molena Point with outgoing cars for the ferry. We are shipping assistance as fast as we can traverse the island (and the ferry can dock). The Plymouth is apart for maintenance, so we are using the GE 45-tonner to traverse the island...and the Trackmobile to spot cars on the Sweet Haven end.

We'll get through this if the Monks' Island Railway has anything to say about it.

HO / LEDs Dimmable?
April 20, 2011, 02:53:40 PM
I'm sure you have noticed the plethora of LED replacement 'bulbs' at your local home store. The Monks' Island Railway uses two track light units (with 3 lights in each track) for lighting. Both of these tracks are run through a dimmer switch ('really makes switching interesting when simulating just-before-dawn with the lighting). A problem with these halogen lights is the considerable amount of heat they produce.
My local Lowe's had a demonstration setup of various bulbs and their LED replacements. I was struck by the tremendous difference in generated heat between the halogen bulbs and their LED replacements.

Some of the LED units were marked 'dimmable'...unfortunately the bulbs I require (GU10 I think) were not. My question is: Are all these LED replacements dimmable?

As always I await your wise guidance,
Sadly there are very few model railroad shows in the upper half of Alabama...this is a good one.

The show will be held in the Gadsden Convention Hall [344 South First Street] on Saturday, April 9 (9:00am - 4:00pm) and has an entry fee of $5/person over 12 years of age (under 12 free).

If you attend, look for the bearded 'Robert Redford lookalike' wearing a Hawaiian shirt and say 'Hi'.

General Discussion / Blue Point Turnout Controller
March 28, 2011, 11:09:17 AM
Jward - I hope you found this answer to your post on the Carl Arendt thread. After reading some of my (and others) remarks, I felt we were 'hijacking' the thread and decided to start a new one.

To answer your question, I have had two experiences with the Blue Point turnout controllers to date: on the first go-around I used a lawnmower choke cable to activate the controller with good results; last year I finally got the chance to use the Blue Point cable kit and found it easy to install and use...albeit somewhat expensive.

The only problem I have experienced is controlling a turnout near the front of the layout. The cable has to make a considerable arc...although there are directions that tell how to shorten the cable included with the cable kit. Check out the early track 'plan' for Las Cajas II below:
Notice that most of the turnout controllers would be very close to the front of the layout. I have found that the use of rods and clevis' (available at any R/C store) work the best in this application.


PS: The layout pictured is not my own creation - but taken from Carl's website. I am still in the process of constructing a lightweight train board.
In another thread I suggested keeping an expanding file - rather than whole issues of model railroad magazines. We all know that one can become inundated by the sheer volume of even a couple of years worth of periodicals. My answer was to cut out articles of interest and file them in an accordion file. Another poster suggested that I scan these articles and save them as PDF files.

The problem I had, with saving as PDF files, arose when an article ran several pages in length (as most do). One can save them as individual files (and thus have a hard drive clogged with files), or merge the files such that each file shows all the pages of the article - in one file location. Adobe Reader is not capable of completing this task (or at least the free version isn't). However there is an inexpensive, easy-to-use program that is. Check out the 4Videosoft PDF Merger at the following website:
The website gives you the opportunity to download a trail version to see if it meets your needs. I was so impressed with this program that I ended up purchasing the regular version.

I hope this helps,
While reviewing a suggestion from a poster on my "Grassinator" thread, I was amazed at the valuable information contained in this blog. Check it out at:
I am sure there is something to learn here for all of us. Thanks for the second time RichG.