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136  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: June 04, 2014, 10:33:08 PM

Life-Like Hotel building. This has been available since 1980. I bought the kit new from Walthers!

A.H.M./TYCO Pizza Hut building!

A nice shot of the town section of the layout.

Getting in some more Amtrak action!
137  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 30, 2014, 10:31:38 PM
OK, I will leave it as it is. But anyway, here's a few more updates...

Wild deer are now on the layout, too!

TYCO Lighted Factory building from the 1970s.

Nice shot of a couple of my trains from the control panel. Both of them are Bachmann locomotives!

Action overview with the factory on the layout.
138  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 26, 2014, 02:20:36 PM
OK, so I removed the smoke unit from the Consolidation, due to the advice I've gotten that smoke and HO DCC do not mix (even though the track is nickel-silver, it's better not to take chances.) I also did a bit of cleaning and lubing. BUT, the wheels are a little lose, and that can make for some inconsistent electrical contact. It was like this when I got it. I remember the old version of the Consolidation from the '70s and '80s had this problem, along with the older pancake-motor USRA 0-6-0 steam locomotive. Anyone have advice for this?

It also looks like it would be very tricky to put DCC in it anyways; I may just keep it as a non-DCC locomotive and park it on that isolated siding when not in use on my layout. But I plan to upgrade my Walthers TrainLine locomotives next, since they are rather easy in terms of hardwire DCC upgrades. (Was that their intention?)
Currently I have three DCC-equipped locomotives: the Bachmann BNSF GP40-2 that came with the E-Z Command controls, a Bachmann Santa Fe Warbonnet FT-A, and my Life-Like Proto 1000 Santa Fe F3-A (blue/yellow colors.) Not a bad start, if I say so myself.
139  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 22, 2014, 11:31:41 PM
I tried experimenting with an elevated track on my layout...

While an interesting concept, it was rather cumbersome to try and fit on the layout anyways. I may revive it for any future layouts...

I have now connected the two spurs to the rest of the track! One of them is electrically-isolated, using an Atlas Connector switch, terminal joiner and plastic insulating joiner. This way I can park a non-DCC locomotive on the layout with ease.

Current overview.

I will also be getting another decoder to upgrade one of my Walthers TrainLine locomotives (the TCS T1.)
140  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 18, 2014, 06:01:28 PM
A siding or a spur?  There is a major difference.

A siding is double connected and serves as a meeting place for trains and is named in the timetable.  It is a "running line".

A spur is a single connected track that serves an industry or as a single ended track in a yard.  It is not a "running line".

Sometimes the source I'd read would refer a spur to a "siding," and then the above type would be a "passing siding."
But what I am planning to make is a spur (the electrically-isolated one.)
141  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 18, 2014, 12:30:39 AM
For clarification, I'm sure that Joe meant "Leaving a non-DCC equipped loco idling will burn out the motor eventually since it will overheat."i] Eventually [/i]should probably be interpreted as pretty soon.
                                                                    -- D

Yeah, that's what I figured. This is why I typically don't leave non-DCC locomotives on the layout, particularly now that I have three DCC-equipped locos to play with. BUT, I will have one of my sidings electrically isolated, so I can turn the power to it off and on, making it easy to park a non-DCC locomotive there! (I will be using an Atlas Connector, terminal rail joiner and insulated plastic joiner for this trick.)
142  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 17, 2014, 06:49:01 PM
Leaving a non dc equipped loco idling will burn out the motor eventually since it will overheat.  As to the smoke it will not damage the loco but it leaves an oily mess.

Which is why I am going to add an electrically-isolated siding for that purpose!

As for the smoke, I imagine once the stuff is used up in the engine I won't add any more smoke liquid for some time...
143  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 16, 2014, 11:50:12 PM
So I installed a Life-Like lighted bumper on a small siding...

Griswold crossing signal! I'm planning on getting a controller/detector for this crossing (maybe a Logic Rail Tech "Grade Crossing Pro")...

My newest locomotive: an early 1990s Bachmann Plus Santa Fe Consolidation steam locomotive and tender! It runs pretty well, and the smoke unit works pretty well, but I find it best to not let it sit still for long, because when run off a DCC unit it continues to smoke... is that bad for the locomotive or the layout?
144  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 15, 2014, 08:37:02 PM

Showing some multiple-train action. My sidings are starting to come along; now I just need to buy another left-hand switch!
145  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 14, 2014, 11:26:51 PM
Got another DCC-equipped locomotive!

Bachmann FTA Santa Fe Warbonnet diesel.

I also upgraded my Proto 1000 Santa Fe F3A loco with a TCS A4X decoder, and it so far works pretty well! (But I need to replace the bulb though...)
So now in total I have three DCC-equipped locomotives on my layout. Now I'll probably get set to work on upgrading my Walthers Trainline locomotives (need to get the decoders for them first!)
146  Discussion Boards / HO / "How to Run a Railroad" by Harvey Weiss on: May 10, 2014, 10:08:12 PM
My local library has a pretty interesting vintage model railroading book from 1977: "How to Run a Railroad," written by Harvey Weiss. It was apparently written with children and teenagers in mind whom are starting out in model railroading.

It is definitely an interesting read. Being from 1977, this means you won't find any DCC systems, roadbed track, sound modules, or anything other typical modern model railroad entities. We also see the stages of the author's model railroad layout he builds, using mainly AHM and Tyco equipment, custom-built structures out of cardboard and balsa-wood, and an interesting trackplan designed in a 3-1/2x7 sheet of plywood! The book primarily seems to work with HO-gauge, but also mentioning O and N-scales at times. However, a lot of this is still relevant today, and is why my library is still keeping it.

There are some interesting things worth mentioning. The book mentions in starting out:
"It is possible to buy all the parts separately, choosing the amount of track and the type of cars and locomotives you want. But there is such a wide variety of sets on the market you can usually have a large choice, and at the same time get a somewhat cheaper price, by buying the complete, packaged set. In some cases, the store may let you substitute one part for another. The set I bought came originally with a diesel engine. However, I preferred a steam engine. The store was able and willing to make the swap for me."

It appears his layout started out with the 1973 version of Tyco's "Twin Diesel Freight," going by the rolling stock utilized, and replacing the F7 Santa Fe diesels (powered and dummy) with an AHM Chicago & Northwestern 0-4-0 Shifter steam locomotive and tender, along with a couple of AHM switches.
He also advises to not get a passenger train, saying that freight trains provide more opportunities for railroading action. (I prefer freight trains on model railroading anyway.)

Two vintage pieces of Bachmann rolling stock are shown here, along with a Tyco caboose.

LOT of AHM and Tyco stuff in the background of the hobby shop there.

An older Bachmann terminal track with the early "Simplimatic" plug-in receptacles.

Stock photo of the Plasticville freight station.

Elaborate is right! I would recommend starting out with a single train myself. This is the 1975-1976 version of Tyco's "System 200" train set; complete with remote switches, blocking control, a "Spirit of 76"-themed locomotive and caboose on one of the two trains, and various classic Tyco operating accessories (some of which I actually have on my layout!)

Stock photos of the long-discontinued Plasticville Auto Body Shop (the N-scale version is still available) and the Plasticville Barn.

Now some pics from the layout!

Pretty interesting stuff!
147  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 09, 2014, 07:37:06 PM
Some more updates, in time for tomorrow's National Train Day!

This locomotive's body was a little beat, so I thought I'd swap it out with a different shell...

Now it's been updated with the BNSF "Heritage" paint scheme! I may probably upgrade this one to DCC.

Amtrak comes to the layout! The Amtrak Dash 8-32BWH in the "Pepsi Can" paint style of the early '90s is also a Walthers TrainLine locomotive. I'll probably upgrade this one to DCC as well. The passenger cars are mostly Life-Like, along with a Tyco coach.

Train parked at the station.

From another angle.

Several of the locomotives in my current roster. So far only the BNSF GP40 is DCC-equipped. I plan to upgrade one of the Walthers GP9Ms, both Dash 8s and the Proto 1000 F3A. I'm also getting a Bachmann Plus Santa Fe Consolidation steam locomotive!
148  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Ideas to improve the Bachmann crossing gate... on: May 03, 2014, 06:24:21 PM
I never thought about it but they do look way out of scale. I wonder how N scale ones would fit with HO.

That was another thing I noticed about it.

Or how about Bachmann keeps that dual crossing gate as is, but also releases their own line of operating crossing signals that are of a more accurate scale and can be wired to a controller, sort of like NJ International's offerings. So anyone who wants a nice railroad crossing from Bachmann can get such signals!
149  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 03, 2014, 06:22:14 PM
Here's a few more updates!

Life-Like Mt. Vernon Manufacturing Company building kit. It's designed in a modular way so you can build it any way you want; I just simply reversed how it appears on the box/stock photo.

The new school campus! The front building is a Life-Like Union Avenue School building kit from the 1990s (it seems to have used the same mold as Life-Like's Mainline Station kit from the same era), and I put the Plasticville schoolhouse behind it for additional classroom space, and the playground in between.

Late '70s Life-Like semaphore. It has the bulb in the bottom, and uses fiber-optics to light the indications, and has a lever for moving the banner. After this photo was taken, I wired it up and it is now active.

Early '90s Tyco Chattanooga Choo-Choo locomotive, tender and rolling stock. The loco and tender are actually made by Mehano (it's a modified Mehano Mikado 2-8-2 that AHM/IHC used to offer), and it ironically runs much better than Tyco's own Chattanooga locomotives did (the way it's built and powered reminds me of a newer base-line Bachmann locomotive, with the weights and the can motor.) That second boxcar (red white and blue one) has one of those rollers with little rock-like materials that simulates a "chugging" sound when in motion, just like those older Lionel "chugging" tenders. Tyco made an electronic "chugging" boxcar in the '80s that was battery-operated and sounded more convincing (it had speed-synchronization too), and I am trying to find one of those to use.

Yes, on my layout, steam and diesel locomotives run together!
150  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: May 02, 2014, 12:12:07 AM
one thing i've noticed in your overview photos is that your entire layout is built on unsupported plywood sheets. do you intend on keeping it this way or building some support framework underneath. unsupported plywood has a tendency to warp and sag, which would quickly render your layout unusable.

I did put some supports under the plywood to keep it all at the same level, actually.

And RAM and Doneldon, with some of the buildings, I do paint the interiors of some buildings black so far when I plan to illuminate them. I also did that with my Life-Like flashing storage tank, as I wasn't too thrilled about how the whole tank would blink on and off. So I got out my black model paint, and now only the very top blinks like it's supposed to.
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