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976  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: Stan Ames was RIGHT!! on: March 04, 2007, 01:55:26 PM
Not meaning to throw more fuel on this fire...

First, let me say that I'm in no way arguing the results of this demonstration. It certainly sounds impressive.

A few questions that come to mind:

First, Jim states the size and capacity of the batteries would be proportional to the amount of dirty track you have. Fair argument. From a practical standpoint, I have a few observations:

If your track is only "mildly" dirty, then this sounds like a reasonable alternative. Put a small battery in with the electronics and little glitches are a thing of the past. However, not seeing the "little" glitches, you begin to lose perspective of how dirty your track really is. Soon--and without your ever knowing--those "little" dead spots have become much larger dead spots, and your reliance on your "little" battery becomes more and more. Soon, your battery is insufficient, and you need a larger battery. And soon after, your track pick-up is so bad that your battery isn't getting properly charged, either. Just because you're compensating for flaws doesn't mean they're not causing problems.

Here's a parallel scenario--Digital video casettes (MiniDV and other formats) are designed for 100 passes before any signs of bad video start to appear. Sounds great, right? That's because the signal from the tape goes through a digital scrubber that corrects dropped information before it gets sent to the TV. Look at one of those tapes without any correction, and you'll see that they're marginal after four or five passes, and absolutely unusable after around 20 passes. It's the digital fix that keeps them going--much the same as the battery back-up.

Second, recharging the batteries. Say I know I have moderately dirty track, so I want to use a decent-sized battery with a good capacity. Which battery technology do I use? How responsive are the various forms of batteries to intermittent charging? What about the chances of overcharging? Without a current limiter in the battery charging circuit, you can't call it a "trickle" charge. Battery charging circuits aren't what I'd remotely call "one size fits all," so I'd need to specify which kind of batteries I want to use, and get a proper charging circuit for them. Gel-cells are historically fairly tolerant of through-the-track recharging, but they're the most unwieldy of all the batteries. The space that would be occupied by a low-capacity gel-cell battery could be occupied by a full brick of NiMH batteries with six times the life. At that point, I may as well cut the leads to the track altogether.

Which brings me to my third observation. If I'm going to go through all the trouble to install this system, including a block of batteries with enough capacity for running the train (because of the two reasons stated above), why would I want to bother with track pick-up after all?

The Cost-savings myth:
Yes, the DCC decoders are less expensive than the individual R/C receivers. How much varies, but let's call it an average of $50 difference. That's a significant difference. But, that's offset by the cost of the necessary components for track power--a $300+ power supply to be strong enough to run multiple locomotives, and the cost of rail clamps to ensure proper electrical conductivity between rails. On a 400' railroad, this could run upwards of $300. I'd have to equip 12 locomotives with DCC before I began to see a cost savings. (Remember--the cost of batteries is the same, because I want to equip my trains with enough battery capacity to carry me through moderately dirty track.)

There's nothing wrong with DCC, but it needs clean track. Compensating for the occasional dirty spot is admirable, but it's not a panacea. If you purposely buy a system to run on anything less than 100% clean track, just cut your wires and go battery. Think of it in terms of a computer. You can buy a UPS to compensate for the occasional power glitch. But don't expect to set your computer up in the middle of the living room with no wires attached and expect it to run long. That's what laptops are for. You can buy DCC with a power backup. You still need to clean your rails. There's no getting around it.


977  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: A few Bachmann bashes... on: March 01, 2007, 10:15:38 AM

I don't have much in the way of "unpainted" photos of the process, but here's a description of what I did to the wood ore cars:

Wasn't a whole lot to it--just filling the holes where I removed the original grab irons, adding the wood side extensions, and lowering the car a touch.


978  Discussion Boards / Large / A few Bachmann bashes... on: March 01, 2007, 03:22:27 AM
Okay, they didn't stay unchanged for long... I got the new B'mann hopper and two flat cars, and it wasn't long before they underwent some minor surgery.

The Hopper:

Out of the box, the hopper's a good model of the EBT's 2-bay ganister rock hoppers which they built in the 1930s. There are some quirky details that aren't "quite right," though, so I set about to correct them. The biggest was the lack of any kind of detailing on the underside of the hopper, and the incorrect air brake rigging.

This was remedied with some styrene, and a bit of brass rod and other bits to rework the brake plumbing. Curiously, some of these details were included on the 1:22 hopper, but not on this one.  Huh?

The car comes unnumbered, so I applied some dry-transfer numbers to the side. A little light weathering completes the car. I also added the air line that ran along the outside edge of the hopper.

I used the archbar trucks from the flat car to put under the hopper. The stock trucks are quite accurate for the 1930s hopper modeled, but not the original 2-bay hoppers that the EBT purchased from the Pressed Steel Car Co. in 1913. Since I model 1913, swapping the trucks seemed appropriate. (The other trucks are slated for another project.)

More of the hopper conversion can be found here:

The Flats

Both of these cars started life as a Bachmann flat car.

The first off the workbench was the gondola, patterned after an EBT gondola.

No good photos of the EBT's gondolas have come to light, so this is more conjectural than prototypic. (though gondola #78 was 30' long)

In 1913, the EBT had not applied air brakes to most of its fleet, so the air brake detail was removed from the underside.

The deck was painted with Folk Art "Barnwood" acrylic paint, and the gondola stakes cut to fit in the stake pockets.

The deck was washed with dilute black paint to give the deck a weathered look. The wood sides of the gondola were also washed, and matched surprisingly well. I wasn't expecting such a close match, but I'll take luck when I can.

The second flat car got an identical treatment in terms of backdating the brake gear and moving the brake staff to match EBT practice.

For this one, I added "end gates" which the EBT used on a handful of flat cars for pulpwood and other timber commodities.

I wanted this car to look a bit older and worn, so I weathered it a bit more, drybrushing some of the barnwood paint on the sides of the car and sanding off some of the lettering prior to washing the car with dilute black paint.

The trucks on both of these cars are Delton/Aristo-Craft archbar trucks.

More on these cars can be found here:
Gondola -
Flat -


979  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: This is an experiment/test on: February 24, 2007, 11:52:10 PM

Get yourself a SuperMouse for your Mac. You'll never go back. Left, right, center, and side buttons, not to mention up/down and left/right scrolling with the thumbwheel. It's optimized with OS 10.4, but all but the two side buttons work with 10.3. My wife got tired of me stealing the one from her G5, so she bought me a Wacom graphics tablet with a 3-button mouse. Since I'm using 10.3, that's all the functionality I can use anyway.


980  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: Diameter Curve Question on: February 20, 2007, 03:38:24 PM
The 2-8-0 can fit around a 5' diameter curve, but you need to use the furthest hole on the drawbar. I can't remember if you need to modify the coal pile on the front of the tender or not... TOC will likely chime in shortly with the definitive answer.


981  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: product questions on: February 20, 2007, 03:36:20 PM
There IS a large scale EBT Mike coming from Rich Yoder models...

Yep, there is. Yours for $3,000. Not in my budget at the moment, so I continue to apply subtle pressure for an inexpensive plastic version.


982  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: Product Suggestion: Disneyland / Disney World Railroad on: February 11, 2007, 11:17:23 AM
Don't forget that Hartland and Accucraft have also done some of the Disney locos as well.

There's also a big difference between a company producing a model of an actual Disney loco vs. painting their most ubiquitous locomotive in a Disney-esque paint scheme. (Not unlike the difference between a proper Bumblebee C-16 and a 4-6-0 painted in the same colors--no offense, Bachmann.)


983  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: Painting cars etc on: February 10, 2007, 03:12:04 AM
My problem with the "cheap" Wal-Mart (etc.) paints is that they don't cover. As someone once told me,
"If you love to paint, buy Sears paint. If you hate to paint, buy something that works instead." I've had very good results with Krylon and Valspar's "American Traditions" paints--I use them for everything that needs spraying.

I don't know of a written tutorial on painting techniques beyond what has appeared in various magazines. Most modeling books don't cover using spray cans, but if you insert "spray can" for "air brush," the techniques are very similar. Of course, brush painting by hand is the same for any scale--though much easier to do in large scale.

For example, this car is mostly painted by hand, though a hit the underside with flat black (not that it's visible). This is the Bachmann flat car that I turned into a gondola.

This car was done with a spray can (American Traditions' brown primer). The effects are virtually identical.


984  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: New 1.20 trucks on: February 05, 2007, 02:45:13 AM
I'll bet $2.00 and a brick watch that no one can pick a car out of a consist that has a axle set with a wheel that wobbles.

For the most part, I agree wholeheartedly--which is why it's not high on my list of worries. On the other hand, I have an off-kilter wheel on my combine that gives it ever so gentle a sway back and forth. If you've ever watched an EBT train rolling down the track, the effect is quite prototypic. (And if you haven't, think of a rowboat on 20' swells.)

Still, it doesn't change the fact that a quick spin test would eliminate the perception of poor quality, regardless of how it actually effects the operation of the model. A little positive PR goes a long way. (Call it "spin" control.)


985  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: New 1.20 trucks on: February 04, 2007, 02:13:57 PM
Unfortunately, the Spectrum wheels still are occasionally wobbly. I've got one wheel on each of my two cars that's off-kilter. It's not enough for me to worry about, but would it be too much to ask of the folks assembling the trucks to give each axle a spin test?  Huh?


986  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: New Board! on: February 04, 2007, 02:10:15 AM
Fixed it, Bruce. Thanks for tellin' me.


987  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: New Board! on: February 03, 2007, 01:51:37 PM
Tinibert, check the current GR for Rich Yoder Models. He's doing a brass model of the EBT's mikados. There are a few of us who have been relentless (to put it politely) in our efforts to have Bachmann produce one in plastic. It's become somewhat of a running joke between a few of us here.

As for the grass-eating train, perhaps a "yard goat?"



("Yard goat" is slang for a switching locomotive.)
988  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: New 1.20 trucks on: February 03, 2007, 01:41:05 PM
I second the motion for selling the trucks individually. I swapped the Vulcan trucks for archbar trucks under my hopper, too, and am going to use the hopper's trucks under a box car. I'll want to swap future hoppers as I get them in the future, and unless I can find a willing trade partner, I'll have to buy a flat car for each hopper just to use the trucks.


989  Discussion Boards / Large / Re: New Board! on: February 03, 2007, 03:49:16 AM
Glad to see the change, too. Now, let's see if my profile info got entered properly...

"Preview" and "Edit," too.

Now, about that EBT mikado...


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