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16  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: cant find modern buildings on: January 11, 2011, 05:49:55 AM
Check the website for  Look under model trains and select the right scale and look under buildings.  They have hundreds of structures by dozens of manufacturers from all eras. They usually list the dimensions of the structures, too.  That will give you a really good opportunity to see what is out there.  Hobbylinc is an excellent site and has a good reputation.  Most of their stuff is listed  at well below the manufacturer's suggested retail price.  If you can't find exactly what you want there, it's probably not made.  The Walthers website has some good stuff, too, but their stuff is more expensive.

It's easy to adapt a modern building and make it into something else.  All it takes it a little imagination, the right paint colors, a few signs and/or logos that can be found on the internet and scaled down to size, a computer, some photo and decal paper and a color inkjet printer.

A modern warehouse can be turned into a Home Depot, for example.  A modern gas station can be made into one for any oil/gasoline company.  A salvage yard building can be turned into a construction equipment rental company, etc.

Add some HO scale car and trucks (Model Power make great ones and I got some great ones cheaply from China on eBay) and some pedestrians you can make up anything you want from any era.

That's how I did it on my model RR layout, which represents a 1970s-era industrial park in California.  It can be quite a project, but it is a very rewarding one if you want to spend the time doing so.

I am assuming that you are talking about HO scale.

Depending on how much money you want to spend, Walthers has several modern buildings.  Pikestuff has some interesting kits, but be advised that you have to cut out the windows and doors.  You'll need the right tools for that.  Hobbylinc carries all the tools and paints that you would need, too.

When I want to find something, I usually look it up on the Hobbylinc site and then check Blue Ridge Hobbies to see if they carry it.  Blue Ridge Hobbies is the cheapest that I have found so far.  Internet Hobbies is also an excellent site.  Internet Hobbies and Hobbylinc has the fastest delivery time, but I have made purchases from these three vendors many times and I am very satisfied with all three of them.
17  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: What's the Right Turnout to Use? on: December 12, 2010, 12:06:33 AM
Okay, I figured out how to do the redesigned double crossover using 4 #6 turnouts.  Now I can crossovers in only two areas of my layout instead of 4.

Thanks...a lot!  Now I have some measuring to do in order to get the exact specs.
18  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: What's the Right Turnout to Use? on: December 11, 2010, 08:51:24 PM
Joe: Anyrails is definitely pretty cool!  Thanks for turning me on to it.  It is very easy to use.

I already redesigned one of my troublesome turnouts, saved the file and generated the parts list.  Three more to go.  I'll take my time and do this over the next few days and am not going to rush this.  If there is any slight difference in the distance between the center lines of the parallel tracks the at the crossover and the rest of the layout, I can handle that with flex track.  I am only talking a deviation of about 1/2" or less for all four crossovers and would have plenty of room to install some flex track.

Yeah, I realize now that I blew some money by going the EZ-track route originally.  There is nothing wrong with EZ-track, but it is for beginners doing simple layouts.  I have decided that a lot (if not all) of it is going to be replaced.  By the time that I finish doing this and dealing with a couple of curves (which are a lot simpler to fix than crossovers), a great deal of my track will have been replaced by Atlas Code 100 track.

I have no idea how you designed that double crossover though.  My E-mail address is if you want to send me anything.  If I could do that, I could completely eliminate that troublesome left crossover#2 at its present location and just have straight track there.

Thank you very much.
19  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: What's the Right Turnout to Use? on: December 11, 2010, 06:28:34 PM
Joe:  Your reply definitely caught my attention!  I am VERY interested and so I went back and took actual measurements,  I am looking at a total of FOUR crossovers (all EZ track) to replace.  I'll just set of the distance between centerlines and the length of the space that I have to work with for each crossover.  

Track 1 is the outside track, track 2 is the middle track and track 3 is the inner track.

1.  Right crossover #1 (from track 2 to track 1):

Distance between center lines of parallel tracks: 4 3/8"
Length of space to work with: 48"

2.  Right crossover #2 (from track 3 to track 2):

Distance between center lines of parallel tracks: 2 3/8"
Length of space to work with: 30"

3.  Left crossover #1 (from track 2 to track 3):
Distance between center lines of parallel tracks: 3 1/4"
Length of space to work with: 72"

4.  Left crossover #2 (from track 1 to track 2):
Distance between center lines of parallel tracks: 3 3/4"
Length of space to work with: 36"

These are the dimensions and available space for the four crossovers most at issue.  I have had MAJOR issues with all four of them.

If it is possible that right crossover #1 could be made into a double crossover, I am all ears.  I could then eliminate left crossover #2.  

Or, I could relocate left crossover #2 and put it in another location where there is another space of about 30" where I could relocate it.  The center lines between tracks is 3 3/4".  This is by far the most troublesome of them all.  I think that I chose a bad original location for it since there is a downhill for the outside track just before you reach left crossover #2 at its present location.

Right crossover #2 can easily be relocated to the same area where left crossover #1 is...that 72" space.    

So as you can see, I have some options and plenty of available space.

I am not familiar with  Tell me more...much more.  I know that this means major surgery on my layout, but I want to get this exactly right this time.

Who knows, before this is over, I could wind up replacing several curves on this layout as well with Atlas code 100 track...or all of it.  There are several places that are ideal for using  flex track.  If that winds up being the case, so be it.  I am going to get this right this time.
20  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / What's the Right Turnout to Use? on: December 11, 2010, 03:02:03 AM
Once again, I am still trying to get some information about replacing and redesigning at least 2 of my unduly troublesome crossover sections on my E-Z Track layout.  I am seriously thinking of replacing certain sections of this layout with Atlas track.  Assume that I would be using Atlas Code 100 nickel silver track.  I would also be replacing the straight track on both sides of the crossover, probably with Atlas Code 100 flex track.

If you were designing a crossover between two parallel main lines using two turnouts in the middle of a long straight (well over 10', so there is plenty of room), which Atlas turnouts would you use...#4, #6 or #8?  The two lines are not next to each other.  They are approximately 5" apart.  Maybe it was a mistake for me to use 2 Bachmann #5 left hand turnouts each to make these two crossovers.  If you need exact center line measurements between the two tracks, just say so in your response and I will get them for you.

And why would you recommend that particular turnout?

Also, do you have any particular recommendations regarding the type of roadbed to use?

Thank you for your responses.
21  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: A Couple of Questions About Atlas Track on: December 11, 2010, 02:47:08 AM
the closest evuivalent to a bachmann 5 is an atlas 4 which is actually a #4 1/2.

how close is an atlas 4 to a #5?

i planned my layout using atlas software, and substituted #5 switches built from a jig for the atlas 4s in the plan. i found the difference to be minimal, with the 5s taking up slightly more length.

the geometry is the same between track pieces in the code 83 and code 100 lines. the geometry is also the same between the standard ez track and atlas pieces such as the 9" straights, and 18" and 22" radius curves.

atlas #4 and #6 switches are designed for tracks on 2" centers. using two switches to make a crossover or ladder track will give you those same 2" centers. i don't know what the dimensions for ez track crossovers are, but the tracks look much further apart than 2"....

A Question for JWard:  If you were designing a crossover from one line to another using two switches, would you use Atlas #4, #6 or #8 turnouts?
22  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / A Couple of Questions About Atlas Track on: December 08, 2010, 08:21:20 PM
I am gathering information before I make the decision whether to just remove several sections of Bachmann EZ-track from my layout and replace them with Atlas nickel silver track and cork roadbed.  As part of this information-gathering process, I need the answers to a couple of questions:

1.  What is the difference between Atlas code 83 and code 100 track?  As far as alignment of the track is concerned, would there be any problem connecting the Atlas track to E-Z track?  I don't see any problem..I would just use the standard rail joiners and remove the interlocking parts from the E-Z track... but I want to make sure.

2.  Does Atlas have a switch/turnout that is the equivalent to the Bachmann #5 turnout?  If so, do they have a remote version that can be wired to a switch on the other side of the layout?   If there is any one change that I am most seriously thinking about making, it is those #5 Bachman turnouts.

I am not going to remove all of my track...but I am seriously considering removing the 4' or so of EZ track leading up to as many as 6 #5 turnouts and possibly a couple of 18" and 22" radius curves...

...but like I said, I am in the information gathering stage right now.  Although this move would require some major surgery on my layout, I want to get to the point where I can have some peace of mind with these turnouts and be done with it and I have pretty much gotten to the point where I just don't trust these E-Z track turnouts anymore.  I have already removed my layout background so I have easy access to all part of my layout.  I had to do that anyway to address my current E-Z track problem areas, so if I make going to make this move, now is the time.  Besides, Atlas track and cork roadbed is a cheaper to use, so the expense wouldn't be all that much.  The rest would just be cosmetic scenery restoration, but before I do any of that, I am going to make sure that my repaired track is working perfectly first.
23  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Is There a Different Take on Derailments at Turnouts? on: December 07, 2010, 06:04:45 PM
for a complex layout I feel E-Z track is not the way to go.

I have to agree.  In a couple of places, if I can't fix those areas in the next couple of weeks, then I am ripping out those particular sections of E-Z track and will substitute Atlas track and cork roadbed.  Even though most of my track will be E-Z track, I just want this to work and if that is what it takes, that's just what it takes.  This is ridiculous.
24  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Is There a Different Take on Derailments at Turnouts? on: December 06, 2010, 06:56:07 PM
A couple of things to add.  I have had success with the crossover switch, but before I discuss that one, I want to tell you that I believe that my original hunch was right about using kadee or other spacers (I used one gray one and one red one) between the trucks and the body of my Con-cor 72' passenger cars.  The use of spacers does have the effect of keeping the trucks level and maximizing the contact between the wheels and the track.

I also added one ounce of weight to each end of the Con-cor passenger cars for a total of 2 ounces per car.

So long as the wheels remain in full contact with the track, they pass over the crossover switch with no problem.  I tried it dozens of times successfully.

I did some slight sanding and filing at the frog area and the combined effect seems to have fixed this particular switch.  While I am still having a problem with one Con-cor passenger car, I think that this is due to the truck itself and I am replacing it.

Does anyone know what would be a decent substitute for Con-cor passenger car trucks?  Their coupler is attached to the truck opposed to the body of the car.

Now with all of that said, I know that there are a few areas on my layout where the track is NOT absolutely level and this causes the trucks to sometimes slip slightly off the track, resulting in a guaranteed derailment at the switch.  It will be a pain in the butt, but I know that I have to fix that.

I haven't addressed the other switches, but I am fairly optimistic that it is a combination of all of this that will ultimately fix the problem.
25  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Engine Derailments on: December 05, 2010, 10:11:41 PM
Thank you Jonathan.  This is VERY helpful.
26  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Is There a Different Take on Derailments at Turnouts? on: December 05, 2010, 08:39:28 PM
Thanks guys.  You have given me some things to think about.  The rails are straight reading to the turnout...whether they are perfectly level and FLAT is something that I have to check out.  One of the worst offending switches is a single piece crossover section that is about 18" or so long.

I am NOT running long trains.  I gave that up.  This can happen with trains of 3 to 7 cars.

Jim Banner...a question.  If I run a small flat piece of glass (or clear plastic...that Micromark clear-bed flat car comes to mind) over the turnout, is it supposed to pass smoothly over EVERYTHING where the frog and turnout rails are located?

I also have noticed that on the Bachmann turnouts, the bottom of the groove (or channel) itself where the wheels pass through definitely rises.   I don't know if that is a problem areas or not.  I don't think so, but who knows.  The type of derailments are almost always of two types...(1) if the cars are running on a track from left to right, it is the right rear wheels that derail (most common) and if they are pulling another car, the front wheels of the second car then derail like they are being pulled off of the track; or (2) the rear wheels of the second engine in a two-engine consist derails.  If the switch is set to go straight, the wheels that derail always are taking the turnout as if someone has thrown the switch after the front wheels of the car passed the frog.
27  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Is There a Different Take on Derailments at Turnouts? on: December 05, 2010, 05:24:20 PM
I have replaced all of my wheels on my rolling stock with the Walthers-Proto 33' metal wheels, so I really don't think that the wheels being out of gauge is the problem.  Plus, this problem happens at random to any car, including an RTR car.  I have dozens of cars and they are primarily made by Athearn, Atlas, Walthers, Accurail and some by Bachmann.  On some of them, I have replaced trucks and complete wheel sets.  I have used that little tool made by Micro-Mark on my plasic trucks to ensure that the wheels roll freely.  The same car that previously crossed a turnout one time can derail the next.  

Besides, how would one fix an E-Z track turnout if it is out of gauge?  Bachmann's rails on a piece EZ track fit in a fixed guide and it is impossible to get a rail back in the track it if comes out...that piece is ruined.

Now that I think some more about it, I am beginning to really think that the issue is the height of the plastic frog.  My engines (particularly the second one in a 2 engine consist) and cars visibly rise and/or wobble as they pass over it on almost EVERY Bachmann turnout.

How do I fix that?  Is it the top of the frog, the groove for the wheels or what?  If anyone has done do, please give me some specific instructions with details...and don't assume that I know anything.  A diagram would be most helpful.
28  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Engine Derailments on: December 05, 2010, 03:53:22 PM
Jonathan:   You stated that sometime the frog is slightly higher an it is it supposed to be and you used a straight file to file it down.  Can you elaborate a bit more on this?  Are you talking about the top of the frog itself or what?  Any pics or diagrams than demonstrate what you are talking about would be very helpful as well.

What size file are you talking about  and how much to do file it down?

I have been very hesitant about filing the plastic frog, but I know that this is an issue on some of my turnouts.  I want to know exactly how to file down that frog because a wheel is raising as a car crosses over it.
29  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Is There a Different Take on Derailments at Turnouts? on: December 05, 2010, 03:26:10 PM
I use Bachmann EZ-track on my layout and I still have not licked the problem of derailments at turnouts.  I think that the most maddening thing about this issue is how randomly it happens.  The same car can cross over the same turnout without problem for 3 laps and derail on lap number 4.  One car can derail consistently at the same turnout every time.  The problem seems to happen much more with longer cars, such as 50' freight cars and 72' passenger cars.  It can happen with brand new RTR cars or with assembled car kits.  It can happen with engines...especially the second engine in a 2 engine the issue isn't the weight of the cars or engines.  It can happen in the middle of a long straight.  I even modified my layout so that the turnouts aren't anywhere near a curve and I have two problem #5 turnouts.  One of the worst on my layout is a remote crossover  turnout (single piece) where the car switches from one track to a second track.

I have watched the cars as they cross a turnout closely and have observed that it is usually one set of wheels in a truck (usually a rear one) that is not making complete contact with the hits the frog and bingo!...the car derails.

Then I had a thought and I want to know what the group thinks about it.  Has anyone has had any experience using spacers (Kadee or others) as a way to keep the trucks and wheel sets level on the bottom of the cars so the it maximizes the  contact of all wheels with the track...especially as they cross the frogs on the turnouts?   We all know that the truck needs a certain amount of play horizontally and vertically as the cars navigate around the track..but that also seems to allow a certain amount of vertical wobble so that one wheel may not be on squarely on the track as it crosses a turnout frog.  It may be raised just a little bit...and that seems to me exactly what is happening.  Does anyone have any thoughts about or experience in this area or am I totally off track in more ways than one?

I have replaced turnouts and that solved some some problems.  I have adjusted the screws that hold the trucks to car bodies.  I have added weights to cars.  I have even tried thin strips of plastic on the inside of turnout frogs to keep the wheels close to the track as they pass through the guide and over the frog.  I haven't messed around with the frogs, but nothing so far seems to work consistently and I have a hard time believing that Bachmann's turnouts are that bad.

If the turnout frogs sometime sits a bit higher than the rails, should they be filed down?  What part of the frog should be filed?  Is there a demo video anywhere on the net on how to do this?  I believe this to be the case on my problem switches because I notice the cars (and engines) visibly wobble as they cross a switch, one set of wheels loses contact with the rails and the derailment happens.  I have also confirmed this using that clear flat car that Micromark sells.  If so, will someone please walk me through how to do this?  How far should the frog be filed down?    

It has been my experience that the derailment issue is the main problem with HO opposed to O scale or S scale.  Do I have start over and rip out all of my Bachmann track?

There ain't nothing easy about this issue and it is totally ruining any positive experience that I have having.  I have spent an awful lot on money on this hobby and still can't be able to have the basic experience of sitting back and enjoying simply operating my trains.  I still have to hold my breath every time my trains go around the track.  It is not a question of if a car will is only a question of when and which car will be be this time?  

That is not the way that this is supposed to be working out.
30  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: EZ Trax misc length packs. on: November 14, 2010, 03:23:39 AM
Dear Bill,

4-1/2" plus 2".  

Don't know if the 10 pc. straight assortment #44592 (which will have two 2" straights included) is widely available yet.  


It is now widely available.  I ordered and received the 10-piece pack from Hobbylinc last week.  It doesn't include the 4 1/2" half-length straight, so you would have to get that separately.  The 10 piece set does include the 2" piece.
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