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46  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout for the new house! on: December 03, 2017, 12:45:46 PM
I was in the same situation a few years ago. I had a 4X8 layout with 18" radius. I moved to house with abasement and kept expanding the layout in the basement using 18" and 22" radius. I have gotten larger steam engines and passenger cars that either won't negotiate or look terrible going through the curves.
I am finally biting the bullet and am going to tear every thing down and start completely over with larger curves. I wish I had did this before investing a lot of time and money trying to stay with what was existing.
Don't take offence and this is just a suggestion, but you might want to think about completely redoing your track work now rather than latter since you have the space.

I could, but I mostly have eight-wheel diesel locomotives, along with steamers that run on 18-radius curves just fine, and rolling stock less than 72 scale feet that handle them really well (the longest are my Silver Series Amfleet cars, and they actually run on the curves just fine, even if they look more like Lionel trains when on the curves, but I don't mind that.)
47  Discussion Boards / HO / A new layout for the new house! on: December 02, 2017, 11:48:02 PM
Well, this weekend I got to see the new house my family and I will be moving into! The basement is pretty big and roomy, and I found in the area I'll be working in, there will be enough space for the 12x8' U-shape layout I am planning to build...

The entire layout will reuse my two existing plywood pieces and a new 4x8', with a few inches of extruded insulation foam on top of it, and will mostly be using nickel-silver Bachmann E-Z Track.
I'm already planning on where several action accessories will go, as indicated by some of the "regular" sectional track pieces. The "spaghetti bowl" yard on the top left will include stuff like the TYCO Operating Boxcar and Log Dump Car sets and the Life-Like Coal Tipple, and the TYCO manual piggyback loader/unloader will go on the spur on the bottom of the top inner loop. Near the center section next to a crossing there will be the TYCO Freight Unloading Depot (this time I'm placing it near a straight track line), and opposite of that the track will go over a ravine using Bachmann's E-Z Track Blinking Bridge (I saw one in action at a train show a couple weekends ago, and it appears to now use an LED instead of the old incandescent version.) On the bottom is where I will be setting up the Life-Like Logging Mill and AHM Thunder Mountain Logging Company (yep, I'm going to combine both of them!) The spur next to that using sectional snap-track will be TYCO's Operating Hopper Car unloading area. As for railroad crossings, I will be using a few operating ones, including Bachmann's E-Z Track Crossing Gate, along with TYCO's Crossing Gate and Lighted Signal Crossing. I will feature many different types of structures, including Bachmann Plasticville (of course), along with some others from Walthers, AHM, TYCO, IHC, Life-Like, etc. I'm also going to set up a drive-in theater on the bottom extension of the layout (the Walthers Skyview drive-in kit, which is named after the drive-in theater my hometown of Brockton MA used to have!)

I'm already moving my train stuff into the area where the new layout will be set up in the new house!

So there will be quite an interesting mix of old and new on this layout. I may not start the actual construction until after Christmas though, but at least I've got the exciting planning stages to go through! And it also helps I found a great little hobby shop in Hanson MA, near the bowling alley my brother's bowling team meets at every other Sunday, for me to buy stuff from for this new layout.
48  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: EZ Command Smart Interface on: December 23, 2016, 07:07:08 PM
That's too bad! The idea sure sounded fun.
At least I plan to get a second Bluetooth locomotive for my train layout; running my BNSF E-Z App GP35 has been pretty fun! (BTW, it seems the iOS version of the E-Z App is kind of messed up right now, at least on the iPod Touch.)
49  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Beginning DCC layout on: September 30, 2016, 09:52:14 PM
I've been using the E-Z Command system for over two years now, and it still works great for me.
If you want to start out with a track plan designed to operate more than one train on, I'd look into the old TYCO Layout Expander system. Just build it without all the gaps or additional terminal connections, and you'd have a great DCC layout to start out with! And it can be done in stages too. You can find it here:

(If only Bachmann did something like that in the 70s and 80s, too!)
50  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Amtrak ACS 64 Locomotive on: July 21, 2016, 04:58:50 PM
Finally! Good thing too, as Amtrak has now retired their last AEM-7s, and their only non-Acela electric power is currently the ACS-64s. They sure look cool, and I often see them nowadays when I'm at South Station in Boston.
51  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 40 years of the Bachmann dual crossing gates! on: July 12, 2016, 10:55:37 PM
Has anyone tried to upgrade them a little to make them work better ,or is it a lost cause?

I've always wanted to try installing LEDs in the signals to make them actually flash. Not just with the Bachmann model, but with my TYCO crossing gate as well. I can wire them up to a crossing signal controller, and it would look pretty cool.
52  Discussion Boards / HO / 40 years of the Bachmann dual crossing gates! on: July 12, 2016, 08:35:03 PM
As hard as it is to believe, Bachmann's classic dual crossing gate operating accessory is 40 years old this year!

It was first introduced in 1976, when Bachmann first began to get into action accessories (to compete with rival companies like AHM, Life-Like and TYCO at the time.)

Over the years, it's gotten a few cosmetic updates, such as a more realistically-green base, nickel-silver rails, prototypical colors for the crossing signals and gates, and the ability to easily connect to E-Z Track. (Bachmann didn't start making an E-Z Track version of the crossing gate until 1997.)
Bachmann also made another version in the 80s and 90s that came equipped with a flashing lights and bell sound, but it wasn't very good (the lights would strobe together unrealistically and the bell would ding too fast with a grinding motor sound), and it was discontinued by the late 90s.

We have a couple of them set up on our big HO-scale train layout at the hobby shop I volunteer at, and even with the unrealistic bouncing gate problem, they still attract attention, and the owner will order some to sell to his customers! And visually they look pretty neat (especially since we live in an area where most railroad crossings have gated signals, due to the MBTA operating commuter trains through here.)

Just felt like sharing this interesting Bachmann milestone.
53  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: converting horn hook couplers to knuckle couplers. on: July 12, 2016, 08:26:34 PM
Another short term option for replacing truck mounted horn-hooks are the knuckle couplers by Life-Like. They have the small mounting hole, like most truck mounted horn-hooks, so are a direct replacement. They come in packs of 2-pair, P/N 433-1436 , and 10-pair, P/N 433-1427. They let you switch a lot of truck mounted couplers quickly, and cheaply. So you can take your time learning the skills to convert to body mounts.

Kadee also makes the #212 Talgo Adapter, , for installing their couplers in truck mounted coupler pockets.

While it does simplify switching operations, even after converting them to knuckle couplers, staying with the truck mounted couplers will still leave you with issues when running a train in reverse. So long term, you'll want to switch to body mounts.


Yep, I've used both the Life-Like knuckle couplers, and the Kadee talgo truck adapters (though with E-Z Mate couplers). They're pretty good for replacing couplers on Life-Like rolling stock and certain locomotives, and they work pretty well with old AHM and TYCO rolling stock as well. Sure, I have a lot of "older" stuff on my layout (like a lot of older Life-Like, AHM and TYCO rolling stock), but I prefer knuckle couplers over the old funny-looking horn-hooks. If I get a locomotive or piece of rolling stock I plan to run on the layout and it has horn-hook couplers, I always replace them with knuckle couplers before using them on the layout.
54  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: April 03, 2016, 01:35:04 PM
Yeah, working signals would be a pretty good idea. As for how I model my railroad, it's because in my area, the freight trains passing through are local, so I mostly base my freight trains off that, except the real freights where I live are CSX, and I model the BNSF Railway. Plus, since I use 18"-radius curves on my layout (due to space reasons), local freights are easier to model, along with passenger trains with 72-scale-foot rolling stock (like the old Athearn, Con-Cor, Life-Like and TYCO 72-foot Amtrak cars), although while those cars may not be that prototypical, I prefer to have a more prototypical locomotive pull the cars (like an Amtrak F40PH or P42 Genesis diesel.)
55  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: March 30, 2016, 01:33:14 PM
Pretty nice layout, defnitely more of the fun than ops style. What control do you use? DC or DCC

I use DCC, to be exact, Bachmann's E-Z Command. I got it as the pack that comes with a decoder-equipped locomotive, in this case, a BNSF GP40-2, as I was basically upgrading an existing layout (it originally was analog/DC until a month after I began operating it.) Next month will mark two years since I moved up to DCC. It's much more interesting than analog train operation, I will say. I also have quite a few more DCC locomotives now, compared to when I first began using the E-Z Command system.
The E-Z App system is also very interesting. Once BlueRail Trains makes their plug-in Bluetooth decoder available next month, I'm going to buy one, along with a DCC-ready Amtrak locomotive (either another Athearn "Genesis" P40/P42, or a Walthers Mainline F40PH) and install the decoder into it so I can run an Amtrak train via Bluetooth as well!
56  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: March 22, 2016, 12:38:30 PM
Do you always like to run your trains fast?

Not too fast; I usually try to go for an even, medium speed. I often run passenger trains a bit faster than freight trains, as I usually see passenger trains travel faster than freight trains.

But here are some more updates, now that I've also been to the March 2016 Greenberg Train and Toy Show in Wilmington MA...

Updating the firmware in my Bluetooth-equipped Bachmann GP35. This also removed the problem with the noticeable hum caused by the decoder when operating, and also allows for better slow-movement operation.

The latest version of Bachmann's blinking oil storage tank, equipped with an LED light! I'm thinking of painting the tank to resemble the Rainbow Swash tank in Boston.

Walthers Trainline CSX hopper car. I thought I'd get this to support the freight railroad that runs through my hometown of Brockton MA.
57  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: horns on: February 11, 2016, 04:31:24 PM
I thought when it meant "3 air horns," it meant that you had three variations of the same horn: short, long, and railroad crossing sequence (two long, one short and one long.)
58  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Other Bachmann Railroad Crossing Discussion on: February 11, 2016, 04:06:09 PM
Oh yes, that "dual crossing gates with flashing lights and bell" from the 80s and 90s was SO cheesy. In fact, in the early 80s, Bachmann's arch rival TYCO made a slightly better version that used a single gateless crossing signal on the base, with a loading dock next to the signal. Inside the loading dock was a mechanical clockwork-operated bell that would be activated by the pressure of the train (similar to the crossing gate), and you would wind up the mechanism with a knob hidden underneath a crate. As the bell would ding, it would hit contacts that would cause the crossing lights to flash on and off. They would alternate, but they would do it rather fast, and again, the bell was rather high-pitched, but at least it didn't have an annoying motor noise. Still a lot more realistic anyways, and a much improved crossing than Bachmann's attempt.

I am actually thinking of modifying my TYCO crossing gate with LEDs in the signal, hooked up to a crossing signal controller.

If I build a new layout in the future using E-Z Track, I will probably use the E-Z Track crossing gate and modify that as well with LED flashers.
I do think it'd be a good idea if Bachmann made realistic scale-model flashing crossing signals, though!
59  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: DC Trains on a DCC track on: January 27, 2016, 08:16:33 PM
On my HO train layout, I set up an isolated siding designed for parking an analog locomotive while using my E-Z Command system. I used a single terminal rail joiner and a plastic insulation joiner on one of the rails, connected to an Atlas "Connector" switch that is wired to the terminal connections that go from my E-Z Command unit to the tracks (I use Atlas Code-100 nickel-silver snap-track with terminal joiners.) What I also did was put a Life-Like lighted nickel-silver bumper track section on the end of the siding, so I can easily tell whether it's powered on or not without looking at the switch.
60  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: January 21, 2016, 05:37:42 PM
Digital technology has made it's mark even more with my model railroad layout...

Yup, I got one of Bachmann's new E-Z App Bluetooth locomotives! Naturally, I went with the BNSF GP35.

Look at that detailing! I believe this is because the Bachmann originally introduced the GP35 as a "Bachmann Plus" diesel locomotive, hence the slightly better-detailed shell than, say, their GP40 or FT diesels.

Here I am controlling it with my iPod Touch 5G. It runs really well, even on areas where the track often needs to be cleaned (they say this is a big advantage with Bluetooth locomotives like these.)
Bachmann says an Android version of the E-Z App will come out soon; when it does, I can install it on my Samsung Galaxy smartphone!

Here's a video of it in action...
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