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1  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: scam on: May 31, 2011, 02:53:19 AM
Yep, they're getting sneakier, got an e-mail a couple days ago from the "FBI", official seal & all. It said that a Nigerian lawyer was trying to find me, because a long lost great uncle had died and left me (his sole surviving relative) his estate valued at roughly $750,000.00. The problems with this are: 1) nobody in my family has ever been to, or came from, Nigeria. 2) Both of my parents, 2 brothers and a sister are still alive & kicking, no way i could be ANYONE'S sloe surviving heir   Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Sad too, because I could use that cash for my dream layout.


THE FIRST TIME THAT I GOT AN E-MAIL THAT SAID THAT IT WAS FROM THE FBI, I CALLED THE FBI AND THEY ADVISED ME THAT THEY NEVER CONTACT PEOPLE BY E-MAIL!  OTHER AGENCIES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DO NOT DO SO EITHER.  THEY USE REGULAR MAIL.  An easy way to tell whether an e-mail is coming from a person in the federal government is that the e-mail address has to end in ".gov".   If it doesn't, it's a fake.  

Assume that any e-mail correspondence coming from overseas is a fake.  Anything that tells you that you have "won" anything is a fake.  If you have any doubt, do a google search for the author and "scam" or "complaint" and you will usually find out that it's a scam letter.  You aren't the first.  The same scam has always been tried before on someone else before they try it on you.

E-mails from United Nations agencies and overseas barristers are also fakes.  Likewise for e-mails from foreign subsidiaries of well-known companies that do business in the United States.

Anytime that someone asks you for your bank account number, social security number, date of birth, etc....assume that it is a scam.  Reputable businesses do not ask you for this kind of information in e-mails.  The way that the scammers work is to tell you that they need this information in order to transfer the funds into your bank account.  Once they have this information, they can either go after what's in your bank account or go on an identity theft rampage in your name...or both!

Remember...if it seems too good to be true...IT IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!  I hope that this information helps you to avoid these crooks.


P.S. - Everything that comes out of Nigeria is a scam.
2  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Digitrax on: May 31, 2011, 02:30:52 AM
I had one or two Digitrax DCC decoders fry on me, but I thought that that was just me and my mistake.  After what I am reading now, maybe not.

I am curious.  If not a Digitrax DCC decoder for an old Athearn engine, what would any of  you recommend?  Would this other DCC decoder fit the Athearn harness made by Digratrax?  Would it be the NMRA 9 pin plug that you could just plug into the Digitrax harness?
3  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Wiring lights and accessories on: April 30, 2011, 09:21:49 PM
I asked a similar question on one of my threads on this site some time ago and Jim Banner told me that the wires that I use for my "bus" line under the layout that I run the street lights to should be bare copper wires.
4  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Parallel track with #6 turnout on: March 15, 2011, 01:11:15 AM
Try working it out using  You can work out track issues using 50 pieces of track or less with a free program.  You can work it out using Bachmann track, Atlas track, or whatever.
5  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: How can I make my Bachmann locos quieter? on: March 15, 2011, 01:07:21 AM
If you are using EZ-track, your hollow plastic roadbed will amplify the noise.  Cork roadbed or some similar material will dampen the noise.  The difference is like night and day.
6  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: turnout derailing on: March 15, 2011, 01:04:38 AM
At the end of the day, I became so frustrated with my EZ-track turnouts that I just got rid of them and substituted Atlas Code 100 turnouts.

It is also very important to make sure that your track is perfectly level.  Otherwise, the longer cars will have trouble at turnouts.

Problem solved!  I can enjoy my layout now and I couldn't before.
7  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Track cleaning questions? how do the pro's clean track on: February 18, 2011, 04:40:08 PM
I am sure that someone is always going to be able to tell you about a better way to clean your track.  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

At the end of the day. what it boils down to is what works for you with a minimum of hassle and what you are comfortable with.

For me, alcohol and a soft cloth works fine.  I tried and have that little piece of whatever it they call it (I think it's called "bright bar") to rub on the tracks like an eraser and it works, too.  I would NOT go with sandpaper, though.

Clean wheels on your engines are just as important as clean track.  I use the "paper towel" method for that (Place a paper towel weighed down across the tracks lightly coated with alcohol or another cleaner.  Put an engine on the track with either the front or rear wheels making contact with the metal track...then apply power  The resulting black tracks that you leave on ther paper towel is the dirt you just got off the wheels).

Simple and effective.  That's all you need.
8  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Customizing Paint Scheme for OUR Roadname on: February 02, 2011, 07:34:32 PM
ACY: They now have decal paper for an inkjet printer that has a white background field for you to print against.  I have used it with decent results.

You are correct, of course, that the type of decal paper for an inkjet printer that I am referring to is not the ordinary decal paper.  On the ordinary decal paper, what appears to be a "white" background is actually clear.
9  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Recommendations for a new loco on: January 23, 2011, 05:43:26 AM
If you buy an Athearn that is DCC-ready AND quick-plug equipped you can just buy the decoder, take off the engine shell, take out the DC plug and plug the DCC decoder right in...

...and then your Athearn engine is a DCC-equipped engine.  It really is very simple and I would recommend the Digitrax 123D basic decoder.  They cost a less than $20.00 and I get mine from Tony's Trains.  They will walk you through the process.

If you buy the DCC decoder from the same vendor that you buy the train from, you could ask them to install them for you and many of them will...

...or you could ask them to show you how to do it.  They will tell you how to install a DCC decoder in an engine that is equipped with the quick plug no problem. 

Don't be intimidated by this.  It is very, very simple and it will expand the range dramatically of the engines that you can convert to DCC.

After you do this the first time, you will laugh at how easy it is.

Atlas does have engines that have DCC decoders installed, but they can be a bit pricey ($100.00-plus).

Converting an Athearn engine that is NOT DCC ready and quick plug equipped is a lot more involved and I won't go into that.  There are several outstanding threads on this subject and you should consult them if you ever want to do that.  I was intimidated by that for a year or so, but now I do it all the time.
10  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Newbie question - pls be gentle :) on: January 22, 2011, 11:50:30 PM
Try Blue Ridge Hobbies.  They usually have the best prices on the internet that I have seen.

I certainly have no problem with your going to a system with more capabilities.  My advice is to examine what your actual and future anticipated needs are first and let that drive your decision.  If you want to control items that use stationary decoders, etc., then you will need a system that has more capabilities than the Bachmann system.   If you just want to control 2-3 trains on a midsized layout, then that is within the capabilities of the Bachmann system.

I can control 2-3 trains on a fairly large layout (3 main lines on an L-shaped layout...1 leg being 6'x10' and the other leg being 9'x5') with the Bachmann system (including the 5 amp booster) with no problem once I installed 3 or 4  multiple terminals around each of the 3 main lines.  I don't have anything that uses stationary decoders on my layout at this time.

I have heard good things about the basic Digitrax system and I am looking into it for the day when I decide to upgrade, but for now, the Bachmann system will do.

In the final analysis, it's what you are comfortable with...both in terms of price and capabilities.  For me, the system also has to be fairly simple to use.

Good luck with your decision.
11  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Newbie question - pls be gentle :) on: January 22, 2011, 12:59:24 AM
Don't every worry about asking whatever question you want to ask on this site.  I have done so many times on a wide variety of subjects, learned a lot and how to do a lot of things from some very experienced model railroaders who are eager to share their knowledge and who have educated me and saved me a lot of time, money and grief.  If you don't know the answer...then don't be afraid to ask. 

There is no such thing as a stupid question.  My experience is that there are a lot of very good and knowledgeable people on this site who will respond to your questions and who will help you do things that are way beyond what you might have originally thought that you could do by yourself.

Regarding your question...although I may upgrade to a system like Digitrax that has  more capabilities at a later date, I have been pleased with the Bachmann DCC power pack and 5-amp booster.  If you have a relatively small and simple layout, this is all you need.

12  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: track and roadbed on: January 22, 2011, 12:45:45 AM
Check out the site to plan your layout.  It is very simple and easy to use.  You definitely need to know if your layout will work before you start laying track.  You can print out your layout .  The anyrails site will even generate a parts list and let you know exactly what you need to buy.

The big advantage of using cork roadbed is that the trains run much quieter than using track with hollow plastic roadbed mounted on either plywood or particle board.  The difference is like night and day.  It sounds like you are planning a large, complex layout and I would strongly recommend going with Atlas track and a cork roadbed.  Atlas track is extremely cheap and is on sale everywhere this time of year.  The turnouts are very reliable.    Cork roadbed is not expensive either and there are a number of fine products that are specially made for HO scale.
13  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Where to buy EZ Track??? on: January 22, 2011, 12:33:03 AM
Hobbylinc and Blue Ridge Hobbies are excellent sources for EZ-Track.

It sounds like you are planning a large layout.  If you haven't laid it out yet, check out the site.  It's great for planning a layout using virtually any kind of manufacturer's track of any scale and is very simple to use. 

You may want to consider my experience before you spend your money.

First, EZ-track mounted on either plywood or particle board is incredibly noisy.  The roadbed is hollow plastic and it amplifies the noise made by the trains.  The difference in the noise between a track with a hollow plastic roadbed and cork roadbed is like night and day.  Second, you might want to read several of the large number on posts on this site about model railroaders (including myself) experiencing derailment problems with EZ-track turnouts. 

I am in the process of replacing all of my EZ-track on my large layout with Atlas track and cork roadbed.  I am not going to condemn EZ-track, but I strongly feel that if you are planning a simple layout, then EZ-track is fine.  If you are planning  a large and complex permanent with several turnouts... I do not believe that EZ-track is the best candidate for that.

The type of track and roadbed that you use on a large complex layout is perhaps your most important decision.  Do it right the first time or you may find yourself doing it over after becoming really frustrated like I did.

In the end, it's your decision and I wish you the best.
14  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Woodland Scenics Mold A Scene Plaster. What Am I doing wrong? on: January 20, 2011, 11:00:56 PM
The hydrocal powder is what you need.  It comes is a package the same size as the old half gallon milk cartons.

The hydrocal powder is white and that's the color that you will get when you mix it with water.  After you use it and paint it...and when it inevitably chips or cracks at a later'll see that white color again and that really hi-lights the cracks and chipped areas.

If you want to avoid that problem, the trick is to use one or a combination of the Woodland Scenics earth colors to mix with the water and other words to color it.  That way, when it later chips or cracks, the white won't show.  It will all remain the same color.

Believe me, it's worth it to make that extra effort at first.  Hydrocal inevitably cracks and chips.
15  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Bachmann EZ Track Dead Zones on: January 11, 2011, 10:10:32 PM
First, let's talk about how to identify the problem and then resolve it.  

If you have more than one engine, run each one separately around the track.  If they both stop at the exact same spot, then your problem is most likely with the track...although it is possible (but less likely) that the wheels are dirty on both engines and you have hit a dirty spot on the track.

My experience is that the combination of dirty track plus dirty engine wheels equals dead spots on a layout.  I don't use sandpaper or abrasives either.  Alcohol and a smooth cloth is very cheap, effective and simple way to clean track and can go a long way toward either solving the problem or at least identifying what it really is.

After cleaning the track, a simple, quick, cheap and effective way to clean the engine wheels is to lay a paper towel moistened with alcohol (moistened...not soaking wet...sprayed on would be best) and put the engine on the track on top of the paper towel.  Move the engine so one set of wheels is making contact with the bare metal track, hold the engine in place, turn on the power pack, apply power to the engine and let the other set of wheels run in contact with the paper towel.  You will need to set a weight on both sides of the track placed on the paper towel to hold it in place...otherwise, it wil just spin out from under your engine.  I use a couple of other engines as weights.  You'll probably see a black track on the paper towel.  That's the dirt you just got off the wheels.  Do this several times and then reverse the position of the engine and do the same thing with the other set of wheels.  Now your wheels are clean.

You should clean your engine wheels at least once a year...more often if you run your engines a lot  That's just a part of normal good maintenance.

If you still have dead zones after you have cleaned both the engine wheels and the track, then the problem is a track connection...especially if the layout has been moved around.  Identify the exact dead zones by slowly running your engine around the track and notice what piece of track the engine is located on when it stops.  Then you will know that the connection between the last piece that has power and the first piece of track that does not is your problem...

...and then you can fix it either by substituting another piece of track, trying to tighten the rail joiners or soldering the connection.  If you use solder, apply it with a soldering pencil only on the OUTSIDE of the rails.

If you do this, you can kiss all of your dead spots on the track goodbye forever.  The people on this site have given me a lot of great advice over the years and I am just doing my part by passing some of it on to you.  That's how we all learn.

Good luck, happy railroading and Happy New Year!
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