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211  Discussion Boards / N / EZ-Command track voltage too high? on: February 03, 2014, 05:07:19 PM
When messing around with some old Bachmann passenger cars apparently designed for 12 VDC operation, which had excessively bright lights on my DCC layout, I found that my Bachmann EZ-Command DCC unit (Item No. 44901) is putting 19.4  volts AC (rms) on my tracks.  That seems strange, because the transformer that powers it is putting out 16.4 volts AC (rms), very close to its specification of 16.0 volts.  House voltage at the time was 120.7 volts AC (rms).

This concerns me somewhat, since I have read that some LED lighting kits are only good for 18.0 volts AC (peak), which is close to 16 volts AC (rms).  Worse, apparently Kato engines are only warranted for track voltages below 18 volts peak.  So far, I am only running Bachmann engines, which I PRESUME are OK with a Bachmann DCC unit.

So, I am thinking that I should settle on a control system before I go any further into engines and car lighting. 

Any other Bachmann DCC units that hit their track voltage specifications better?  Or, is there a relatively inexpensive DCC unit from another vendor that I should upgrade to?

212  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Help with used 65' Passengr Coaches and Combine on: February 02, 2014, 11:40:35 PM
Thanks for the disassembly info.  I got it apart and cleaned-up the contacts as well as getting them off the metal weight, which may have been creating an intermittent, high-resistance short circuit.  Now the light is pretty steady (but still too darn bright).

As for changing the trucks to change the couplers, I want to preserve the lighting, so I need trucks that have electical pickup that will work through the mounting screw.  Does MicroTrains have those?  If not, does anybody else have some advice on coupler changes using the existing trucks?
213  Discussion Boards / N / Help with used 65' Passengr Coaches and Combine on: February 02, 2014, 10:42:42 PM
At a recent model train show, I purchased a pair of used 65' Standard Coaches and a 65' Standard Combine (item numbers 74264 and 74164).  I need to do some work to make them acceptable for use on my layout.

First, I need to change the Rapido couplers to a knuckle type. Does anybody know how to best remove the cover on the existing coupler pocket and what number Microtrains coupler to use?

Next, I need to do something about the lighting in these cars.  It is very intermittent and, whenever it is working, it is very flashy.  I cleaned the wheels but that was not the cure.  It is also too bright and shines through the black roofs.  Can somebody tell me how to get the bodies apart?  I tried taking a screw out of one truck until I heard something inside the car drop loose, after which the lights stopped working in that car altogether.  So, I assume I will need to disassemble it to fix it, as well as to make the lighting more even and less intense in all of the cars.  I can see two tabs sticking through the car floors, but was not able to make that release the roof or whatever it is that comes off.

214  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Help with coupler tuning, please. on: January 14, 2014, 11:58:21 AM
Thanks for the information, but it really isn't that helpful, except perhaps to tell me that I should give-up on magnetic uncoupling in N-scale.

My problem is that I want to uncouple on a very compact "layout" that is under a Christmas tree with sidings running under a tea cart.  NOT a place to use a hand tool for uncoupling.  There is not room to get a reversing loop or even a wye that can turn a whole train around, so what I want to do is use a wye that is just long enough to get an engine, and perhaps a caboose, around from one end of a train to the other, with an magnetc uncoupler at each end of one leg of the wye because those are behind the tree and under the tea cart.

So, again, I am asking for help in making couplers work as well as they can magnetically, before I just give-up on the idea of being able to get the trains turned around on this "layout."
215  Discussion Boards / N / Help with coupler tuning, please. on: January 13, 2014, 11:58:48 PM
I bought a pair of Bachmann freight cars with McHenry couplers and a pair of Atlas cars with Accumate couplers to get a feel for whether I can successfully use them to remotely couple and uncouple trains.  NONE of them worked in any combination on a between-the-rails Kato permanent magnet uncoupler.  So, I bought a "Totally Hidden Uncoupler System" from S&L Industries and tried positioning their magnetic buttons under a piece of flexitrack for optimum effect on the various couples.  Of the 8, only 1 would actually move properly on the S&L uncoupler, and it would not move on the Kato uncoupler.  Also, I discovered that the magnetic pin on one of the Atlas cars had come out.  I found it on the layout track with a magnet and tried to reinsert it, which I seemed to get right, only to have it come out immediately the next time it went over the uncoupling magnet.  I did discover that only one end is magnetized, so I inserted the other end.  But, until I know how to keep it there, it won't help.  I measured the height of the pins above the rails on all 8 couplers, and found all but the one that works to be too high.  But, one of the non-working 7 was only about 0.003" too high, and the one that worked was actually 0.001" lower than standard (at 0.009" instead of 0.010").

What I would like is some advice on how to get all 8 couplers working.  First, I am thinking that I need to adjust coupler pin heights above the rails, but am afraid that I will dislodge more pins.  There is a pliers-like device for bending HO scale coupler pins - is that the best thing to use for N scale couplers?  Second, can I expect to successfully insert the pin into the Atlas Accumate and somehow keep it there, or should I replace the coupler?  If I need to glue it, what is the best glue.  Third, is there some sort of smoothing or lubrication procedure for couplers that will make them move more easily?

Any help will be much appreciated.

216  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Jackson Sharp Excursion Car on: January 11, 2014, 09:28:27 PM
Length, knuckle to knuckle = 3.91" = 52.1 scale feet
Length of car body = 3.46" = 46.1 scale feet
Height above rail = 1.02" = 13.6 scale feet.

Any other dimemsions that you want?
217  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Jackson Sharp Excursion Car on: January 09, 2014, 10:10:37 PM
Are you asking for the dimesions of the N-scale model, or the prototype car?  I have the models and can measure it for you if that is what you want.
218  Discussion Boards / N / Does my new engine have a problem? on: January 02, 2014, 02:39:48 PM
Looking for some advice on whether a newly bought Bachmann Spectrum N scale Baldwin 2-8-0 is showing signs of a problem.

Last Christmas I bought a Bachmann non-Spectrum N scale Baldwin 4-6-0 and a loop of Kato 13-3/4” radius track so that I would have a train to run under my very diminutive Christmas tree.  It is powered by an entry-level Bachmann DCC E-Z Command controller.  It works great pulling 4 Bachmann Jackson Sharp open sided excursion cars.  It starts at reasonably low throttle, runs reasonably smoothly as low as 13 smph, and cruises at about 40 smph at about 30% throttle.  Top speed is 83 smph.  It makes very little noise when running, mainly wheel clicks on rail joints.

This year I added a couple of turnouts and a 2 track “yard” where I can store a separate train.  I bought a Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0 and a couple of freight cars to begin building the new train. 

The way the 2-8-0 runs immediately seemed different compared to my 4-6-0.  It does not even start moving until the throttle is about where the 4-6-0 is doing 35 smph, and does not get up to 40 smph until over half (55%) throttle.  It also makes an obvious electric –motor-sounding whine/hum at any speed, with the pitch varying with the speed. 

It runs well enough with enough throttle, and has a top speed of 65 smph pulling 2 short freight cars.  But, at a constant throttle setting of about 55%, the actual speed around the track has varied with running time from 38 smph to 49 smph when measured on several occassions, usually starting low, getting faster, then slowing down again.  In comparison, the 4-6-0 varies only about 1 smph under the exact same conditions.  On the other hand, the 2-8-0 will comfortably throttle-down to  13 smph at the throttle setting that the 4-6-0 is going 40 smph and sometimes can do a pretty good job of 8 smph without getting jumpy.  It just won’t start at that throttle setting and sometimes may get jumpy when throttled to that setting if it has been running higher for too long.  There seems to be an optimum session run time of tens of minutes when it becomes fastest and smoothest.

I can tell from the exploded drawings that came with the two engines that they have different motors and similar gear structure.  (Of course, I know the gear ratios are probably different and that the different  drive wheel diameters will affect speeds, too.)  So, what is nagging at me is whether the noise and the speed and smoothness variations are anything to worry about.

With models this small, I am hesitant to just take it apart to look.  So I am first looking for advice from people more experienced with these models before I decide what to do, if anything.

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