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106  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: good dcc starter pack on: December 07, 2014, 12:36:51 AM
If you want to go the train set route, I would recommend Bachmann's "Digital Commander" train set. It comes with two DCC-equipped locomotives so you can immediately take advantage of the technology. It comes with a 56x38" oval of nickel-silver E-Z track with a small stub-end siding, and it can be expanded with additional E-Z track to make a variety of layout plans.

Since I was upgrading an existing layout of mine to DCC, I went with one of those E-Z Command packs that includes the control system and a decoder-equipped locomotive (naturally I went with the BNSF version). I've been happily running DCC trains for almost eight months and I've been happy with it. (Bought some more decoder-equipped engines and upgraded a few existing analog ones.)
107  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 22, 2014, 05:26:39 PM
Why?  Thinking of switching to O scale?

No, but I noticed it wasn't on Lionel's website, and that made me curious because usually Lionel action cars and accessories stay out for a LONG time.
Turns out the O-gauge Lionel Rodeo Car was only made from 1962 to 1969. Fascinating... maybe that's why Bachmann decided to start making one?

Though I'm thinking some day when I get my own place, I may have both an HO layout and a Lionel "toy train" layout as well.
108  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 22, 2014, 10:53:12 AM
W, if you are asking about LIONEL HO, they've long since stopped selling/making HO freight cars.  There is a  Bachmann connection though-at the time, the same factory producing cars for Bachmann, also produced some for LIONEL.

Of course, if you hanker for "rare" "vintage" "hard to find" LIONEL HO cars, you can always find them for exorbitant prices on Flea Bay.

Yes, but I meant Lionel making the horse car in O scale.
109  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 21, 2014, 11:53:26 PM
Got a cool new piece of rolling stock today...

Bachmann's animated horse car! Not surprisingly, it was in "Silver Series" packaging. It's very reminiscent of Lionel's old horse car (do they even make it anymore?) Almost like something Bachmann would've made in the 1970s or 1980s, but with much better wheels and couplers! (Or maybe TYCO would've beaten them to it?)

Here it is on one of my trains.

Signs of Christmas are starting to show up on my layout too! The town tree was set up next to the church.

The downtown train station has been decorated for the holiday now, too!

My Christmas train so far.
110  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Building an E-Z track layout on: November 21, 2014, 01:25:55 AM
Nice retro bridge and trestle there! Who made that one: AHM, Life-Like, Model Power, TYCO or Walthers?

I'm also working on an E-Z Track layout for the local hobby shop's museum.
111  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 09, 2014, 11:08:52 AM
It's also worth noting that back in the '60s and early '70s, TYCO's locomotives were pretty decent. They had good motors (the diesels typically had Mantua's MU-2 drive) and could be solid runners. Only when TYCO was sold to Consolidated Foods Company and they came out with that crummy PowerTorque motor was when they began to go downhill. (From the mid '70s onward, TYCO's locomotives were a lot like the older Bachmann ones from the '70s and '80s, if not worse.) But they still offered a bunch of cool accessories and building kits, and quite a bit of their rolling stock looked cool too. Had I been running a model railroad in the late '70s or early '80s, I probably would've started with a Bachmann or TYCO set like that, but eventually get a better-quality locomotive for it, very much like with my model railroading.
112  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 08, 2014, 10:14:48 PM
A few more updates!

What's a layout with classic operating accessories without a log dump car? This is TYCO's version, made from 1968 to 1982, which operates electrically via remote control (like Lionel's version.) Mine is dated from at least 1978.

A few of my current train consists.

I removed that small siding that wasn't getting any use; plus it made for a cumbersome arrangement at the railroad crossing there. I'm going to get a couple of crossing signal controllers from Logic Rail Tech, and power a couple of my crossings this way (the one pictured, and another one using Model Power crossing signals.)

I got a new Life-Like Town Church building kit too! The old church was looking pretty crummy, like an old run-down building (it was one of the first building kits I attempted to assemble myself as a kid), so I figured it was due for a replacement. It's just the right kind of church for my community.

TYCO traffic light I just installed on my layout. I don't know if I'll wire it up yet, but it does look pretty cool. It even has a metal mast! I believe it has a small blinking incandescent bulb in it; it wouldn't actually sequence like a real traffic light.

Overview of the layout with that small siding removed.
113  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Bridges and ez track on: November 08, 2014, 09:50:32 PM
I remember from 1978 until 1996, Bachmann had a blinking bridge and trestle set for HO-gauge...

The track was built right onto the bridge. First offered with brass rails, then with steel. No nickel-silver version was made, unfortunately. It could be used on an E-Z Track layout by connecting it to two sections with the connector-tabs removed.
114  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 03, 2014, 12:45:01 AM

You always have something new. Will you ever run out of space?

Your streamlined cabooses aren't actually streamlined. That's just the industrial look the Pennsylvania Railroad adopted.

Yeah, I don't have much space for new buildings now.
As for the cabooses, the 1970s TYCO catalogs call them "streamlined."  Roll Eyes

Well, I went to a model train show and picked up some good stuff today, including my first Proto 2000 locomotive!

Those who say Life-Like is cheap apparently was not including the Proto locomotives. Look at all that detail! It's even DCC-ready! (I just need to find the right decoder to plug into it... would a Bachmann decoder work?)
I also got an older Athearn SW-9 diesel, also in Santa Fe colors (naturally.)

TYCO Tru-Steel lighted bumper track section from the late '70s or early '80s. I think Bachmann should make a lighted version of their Hayes bumpers; they're especially handy when you have an isolated siding so you can know whether it's powered on or not. (I know Atlas also used to make lighted bumpers, and Life-Like currently makes steel and nickel-silver versions for conventional track. I'm not sure if MRC will bring back Model Power's lighted bumpers though.)
115  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 01, 2014, 09:12:07 PM
Some updates, including a new locomotive!

Mehano/IHC 2-8-2 Mikado in Santa Fe livery. This is the later version that had an improved flywheel motor, and the tender even had a knuckle coupler as default! (No having to do a coupler upgrade among getting it; yippee!) I wound up removing the front wheels though, as they were derailing on the turnouts, making it somewhat like some Mikados that were re-purposed for switcher use in real life. Very nice runner though! This was sold in IHC's "Premier" series. It's not DCC-ready, and though an upgrade is possible, I don't plan to put a decoder in it for the time being.

My Life-Like Proto 1000 F3A. As I said, these are also very nice runners, and this one is also DCC-equipped. Think of these as being Life-Like's answer to the Bachmann Plus and Silver Series lines. I think Walthers is bringing these back in the Walthers Proto line really soon (if they haven't already.)

Check out these two streamlined cupola cabooses. On the right is the classic TYCO version (upgraded with metal wheels and knuckle couplers by yours truly.) On the left is the later version made by Mehano and often sold by IHC (and included in later TYCO train sets.) This one also has metal wheels, but they were upgraded by the seller (bought it off eBay from ggnlars, the seller that often sells older rolling stock upgraded with metal wheels and knuckle couplers.)

I also now have the TYCO lighted signal crossing set up on my layout, replacing the TYCO signal man. Sure, the lights do alternate rather fast, but it's MUCH better than Bachmann's old "dual crossing gates with flashing lights and bell" from the '80s and '90s! (No motor noise, as the bell is clockwork-operated, triggered by a pressure sensor like the kind on Bachmann and TYCO's crossing gates.)

These two trains look straight out of the 1940s or 1950s!
116  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: October 09, 2014, 11:03:51 PM
Some more updates!

Just working on re-arranging the structures and fences along that area. Might also get a "real" farmhouse building kit for the farm (maybe the Pola/AHM/Tyco/IHC/Walthers one...)

Bachmann Gandy Dancer handcar! It does have a little trouble running on certain areas, but generally I treat it like an analog/non-DCC locomotive.

I now have a second locomotive for my main BNSF freight train! It's a DCC-equipped Bachmann Santa Fe GP38-2. I've set it to the same address as the BNSF GP40 to allow for double-header operation.

I upgraded a few of my TYCO rolling stock pieces with Intermountain metal wheels. It makes quite a difference in traction! I hope to upgrade more soon.

Since I love the look of trees in September and October, I thought I'd get some more autumn-colored trees, from Woodland Scenics and Life-Like. On my layout, these stay year round!

"Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!"
I had gotten these new Walthers Scenemaster figures of elementary school students today, and since two of them were in a fighting position, I couldn't resist! Man, do I not miss seeing that during my days of public school...

I also now have a light in my Plasticville Suburban Station!

Just a couple pieces of Walthers TrainLine rolling stock I recently acquired. The BN tank care I got today (same Walthers order that included the school kids figures.) They're pretty similar to Bachmann's current line of rolling stock (which dates back to at least 1996, when the "Silver Series" came out.)

Overview of the yard section of my layout.
117  Discussion Boards / HO / Bachmann in 1992 and 1996 on: October 06, 2014, 11:48:04 PM
A while back I acquired catalogs of Bachmann's products from 1992 and 1996. It's interesting seeing how the company was back then. All three of them have train products for HO, N and G gauges (no Spectrum stuff; that used to be cataloged separately.)

The 1992 catalog advertises the "King of the Rail" series train sets; each one including a chrome-finish F9 Santa Fe Warbonnet diesel locomotive, along with signs, poles and figures. There is the "Thunder Chief," with the loco pulling two freight cars and caboose around a 36" circle of track, the "Tornado" with the loco hauling three freight cars and caboose on a 45x36" oval of track with a bridge-and-trestle set, and the similar "Lightning Express," but with six freight cars, a 54x36" oval of track, and more signs, poles and figures. Some familiar sets are also included like the "Old Timer" sets, the "Smokey Mountain Express," the "Golden Spike," and the "Overland Limited" (featuring an 87x40" figure-eight track layout using a 90-degree cross track.) One set, the "Empire Builder" (featuring a figure-8 over/under track layout with the blinking bridge and dual crossing gate), curiously features a Mehano GP18 locomotive in Union Pacific colors (obviously this set initially came out before Bachmann began making their own high-quality locos.) 1992 is also when the Bachmann Plus line was introduced: several older steam locomotives like their older Consolidation and their 4-8-4s (like the Class J and the Daylight) were upgraded into the Plus series with much better motors and all-wheel drive, and new diesels included the F7 and B23-7. Many older steam and diesels were still being sold during this time, even their old DD40X and SD40-2 with "space age electronics!" Their rolling stock was still the old type with plastic wheels and truck-mounted X2F couplers, and they still had about as many operating accessories as they had in the 1980s (including long-discontinued models like their operating log car, action depot and operating caboose), and their "Snap=It" action accessories building kits. (I have the "Log Loader," but it's REALLY tricky to assemble.)
All track was mostly steel, except for their 30-degree crossing, which still used brass track. A number of their older Plasticville accessories and building kits were still available, and they also had the "Highlights" series of lighted accessories (basically the same as Model Power's light-ups, like the traffic lights, Exxon station signs, crossing signals and billboards.)
All their N-gauge stuff is unchanged at the time, and features nickel-silver track. The Plasticville O-gauge kits and accessories are still available, and the "Scenic Classic" building and landscape kits are still shown but with "DISCONTINUED" printed over them.
They also had their Magnum series of Spectrum power packs sold, along with their "Big Hauler" G-gauge train sets, along with some new locomotives also in the "Plus" series.

The 1996 catalog is similar in many ways, but also marks some new arrivals. A big new arrival at this time is nickel-silver E-Z Track (as the steel version had debuted two years prior), initially only available in full 18" and 22" radius curves, 9" and 3" straights, curve and straight terminal rerailers, 30-degree crossing, standard "old-style" turnouts and the older-style bumpers (still found in the track expander sets.)
By this time, most of the crummy older-style locomotives with single-truck pancake motors and truck-mounted couplers are only found in their "regular" train sets, and with the exception of the 0-6-0 steam engines, are no longer sold separately, in lieu of a much wider selection of "Bachmann Plus" locomotives, including the F7 with more new rodenames, the B23-7, SD45 and B30-7 (new for that year.) They still come with X2F couplers, as I don't think Kadee's exclusive patent had expired yet at the time. Also with the exception of "old timers" rolling stock, the older-style freight cars and cabooses with plastic wheels and talgo-truck couplers are only sold in train sets; similar separately-sold rolling stock is now equipped with metal wheels and body-muonted couplers (still X2Fs) and are billed as "Silver Series" rolling stock. (It's a lot like the rolling stock Bachmann makes today!)
Interesting train sets worth mentioning in the 1996 catalog are the Cannonball Express, including a 65x38" double-oval of E-Z Track with manual switches, and their Gandy Dancer handcar (the big selling point of the set), along with a chrome Santa Fe F9 diesel locomotive, three freight cars and caboose, and the usual signs, poles and figures. There are also "The Galaxy" and "The Meteor" starter sets, each with a freight train hauled by a chrome Santa Fe F9 diesel, a 47x38" oval of E-Z track, and including the signs, poles and figures. There is also the 1990s version of "The Thunderbolt," with the older Santa Fe GP40 (in Warbonnet colors) pulling five freight cars and a caboose on a 56x38" oval of E-Z track, and the usual figures, signs and poles. There is also "The Golden Star," similar to the above set but with the old Union Pacific GP40 and caboose, and including a bunch of Plasticville building kits, including the Suburban Station, Barn, Farm Building set, School House and Signal Bridge, along with a picket fence set, park assortment accessory set, and the usual figures, signs and poles. According to the blurb, it says the set "not only gives you a fantastic train, it also gives you an instant rural community! (I'm actually buying one of these sets off eBay for setting up at my local hobby shop's railroad museum as an operating HO layout for display and for kids to run!) The "Old Time Village," "Smokey Mountain Express" and "Overland Limited" sets are still available, but now with E-Z track (and the Overland Limited now has a 65x38" oval of E-Z Track, not as good an option as the 22" radius oval now included with the set!) All of these sets still came with their 1980s-style power pack.
But Bachmann didn't stop there with their train sets, they had also introduced the Silver Series train sets that include the Spectrum "Magnum" power pack, nickel-silver E-Z Track, and their higher-quality rolling stock and Bachmann Plus locomotives (though their "The Patriot" Amtrak set actually includes their Spectrum Amtrak F40PH!) One of them, the "Trail Blazer" (the one with the Conrail B23-7 diesel, three freight cars and extended vision caboose), we have at the hobby shop/museum and plan to also run this as well! (The locomotive works really well.) They still have the X2F couplers during this time though. Also, all sets are listed as including the illustrated "Bach Man" instruction manual (IDK if they updated it to reflect E-Z Track, or if it was the 1988 original with the stereotypical "perfect" comic family.)
In addition to the E-Z Track available, Bachmann still had "classic" (sectional) steel track available in 1996 for those still using it, but only in 18" radius curves and 9" straights, and manual and remote switches. Operating accessories in 1996 still included the classic "Gandy Dancer" handcar, crane and floodlight cars, the crummy diesel horn tank and the steam whistle shed, and lighted freight and passenger stations still available today. They also still had the tri-level car transporter available in 1996, along with the older version of their dual crossing gate (non-E-Z Track version), even that crappy version that had the "flashing lights and bells" was still being made in 1996! (Bachmann should really consider making some nice scale-model flashing crossing signals for the intermediate and advance hobbyists.) They also still had their blinking bridge and trestle sets (and non-blinking bridge), but these would not work with E-Z Track (the blinking bridge did come with track on it, so you COULD use it on an E-Z Track layout if you aren't using the trestles.) The usual Plasticville building kits, accessories and figures are also still available in the catalog, but they also have the Bachmann Plus series of building kits, along with introducing the "Silver Series" of Plasticville building kits.
In N-gauge, they introduced the Bachmann Plus line of N-scale F7 locomotives, along with a 16-wheel drive DD40AX. New "classic"-style passenger cars are also introduced in the Plus series, along with there being the Bachmann Plus series of N-gauge building kits. A G-gauge Spectrum locomotive is also introduced: the Two-Truck Shay steam engine!

I will soon get around to scanning both catalogs and uploading them to this site (loads of good vintage train catalogs and instructions are up here!)

Still interesting to see what Bachmann was like in the 1990s. Not much seems to have changed since then in some ways. Worth of note is how the locomotives and rolling stock in train sets are different than what was sold separately at the time, though today's lower-end Bachmann train sets use the same higher-quality locomotives sold in the base Bachmann line (i.e. with all-wheel drive and can motors, as well as optional DCC), and cheaper versions of the rolling stock with plastic wheels but still with body-mounted knuckle couplers. There doesn't seem to be any "Silver Series" or "Bachmann Plus" equivalent offered today, but I suppose this may be what their newer GG1 and NS "Heritage" locos may fall into if such a category still existed.
118  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Will we ever see a Bachmann PRR E-44 ? on: October 06, 2014, 10:10:13 PM
Too bad; it would be interesting to see Bachmann make an E-44 in HO-scale. Or if not, Athearn, Atlas or Walthers would also be likely candidates.
An E-44 locomotive can also be seen in the original 1971 version of "Everybody Sleeps" on "Sesame Street," near the end when a freight train speeds through a station (possibly on the Northeast Corridor line, as a lot of stuff on the show was filmed in the New York area) without even waking up a sleeping man on the platform!
119  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 28, 2014, 10:19:30 PM
Anyway I like the way your layout is processing Wiles however I am wondering 2 things

First do plan on ballast in your track and second have you thought about putting a back drop?

I DID ballast the track in some areas. But maybe I'll do other areas too.
I'm also thinking about a backdrop as well...
120  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 28, 2014, 07:23:48 PM
Yes, I would not put DCC in a TYCO diesel. Not only would it be kind of tedious, but I don't plan to run TYCO or early Bachmann diesels on my layout. I do have a few as collectibles, but that's pretty much why I buy them.

My locomotives for layout use are generally modern Bachmann (as well as any Bachmann Plus/Silver Series engines from the '90s), Walthers TrainLine, Life-Like Proto 1000 (some are now sold as Walthers MainLine or Proto locomotives), newer Mantua (now sold by MRC), and probably Athearn as well in the near future. A good Bachmann example:

This Bachmann Consolidation steam locomotive. It has nice detailing, and can often be found on eBay. But it has a cheap pancake motor, two of the wheelsets have traction tires, the tender has plastic wheels, etc. In 1992, they upgraded it to a "Bachmann Plus" locomotive, replacing the crappy pancake motor with a much better 5-pole motor with a worm-gear flywheel, and it also had all-wheel drive, and the tender had a body-mounted coupler and metal wheels added. I obviously went with the latter, as I wanted the higher-quality version for my layout. (But I removed the smoke unit among learning that it would be bad for the rails.)

One thing I like about Bachmann is how many locomotives they had in the 1970s and 1980s are still available today as much improved models.
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