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Topics - Len

General Discussion / My Old Repair Shop
February 21, 2015, 01:05:43 PM
I was cleaning files off my old repair shop computer, and came across some pictures from when I first set up back in 2001 I thought you might find interesting. This is before I got the milling machine, resistance soldering unit, and a few other goodies.

Early repair shop layout:

Right side, with mulitscale test bench. Throttles and DCC systems are in the drawers:

Left side with workbench, Arduk tester for 3-rail stuff, and toolboard:

Better shot of the tool board:

Final floor plan with new benches for additional equipment. For some reason, I never took pictures of this layout:

Now I just need the weather to warm up, and my daughter and grandkids to move out, so I get this stuff out of the garage and into a spare bedroom next to the layout room.

General Discussion / Time for a "DCC" Discusion Board
February 19, 2015, 08:42:09 AM
I haven't said anything about it for a couple of years now, but I think it's past time for a new Discussion Board. Specifically:

DCC - A board to discuss EZ-Command, Dynamis, and decoder programming tips, tricks, and problems.

A couple of quick searches pulls up almost 60 pages of questions that repeat over and over related to EZ-Command, Dynamis, and decoder programing issues, that have nothing to do with how to install a decoder in a specific locomotive. They are scattered all over the existing boards, which is part of why they keep getting repeated. Someone doing 'N' scale isn't generally inclined to look in the 'On30' forum for the anwer to a Dynamis specific question. So a question that's already been answered gets asked again.

I believe creating a DCC discussion board, and getting the common questions and answers in there, will cut down a lot of the duplicate clutter on this subject.

Discussions on how to install decoders in specific locomotives, since they are generally scale specific, can stay in the specific scale's forum.

My 2¢ worth. Deposit 2¢ in the can nailed to the side before mounting the soapbox.


HO / Suggestion for #5 "Yard" Turnout
February 15, 2015, 03:16:39 PM
#5 turnouts are great for building yards, but...

The Backmann EZ-Track #5 turnouts are just too long. They're fine for hignspeed mainline crossovers, but they just take up too much space to be practical in a yard.

What's needed is something along the lines of what Atlas did with their Code 83 #6 switches. The "Super Track" version has a long diverging leg, for mainline use, while the "Custom Line" version has a much shorter diverging leg for yard use. Assuming you have space to use #6 switches in a yard.

Looking at the existing #5, what's needed in EZ-Track  is a version of the #5 that has a diverging route that ends around the 3rd long tie from the end. It wouldn't hurt to bring the straight route back to the 2nd long tie from the end either.

This would create a switch that lets people build practical yards with EZ-Track, instead of using other brands to build a yard on plywood and splice it into an EZ-Track layout.


I had an old Lionel loco with a bad "Sound of Steam" (SOS) sound board and speaker in the tender. The board hasn't been made in years, so I decided to upgrade.

Pull the SOS board and speaker out, then trimmed the lip on the speaker mounting bracket off. Use a bit of silicone sealant to mount the True-Blast speaker to the bracket, and let it set up over night. Use those foam mounting pads with sticky stuff on both sides to mount the board to the tender shell. Clip the connector off the wires and connect to the existing pick-up and return wires, your done.

Place on track and have fun. The whistle is fantastic!

Mr. Bach-Man,

Would you please pass on to the 'powers that be' they should make both types of power pack to track terminal wires available as seperate retail sale items? These would be the BAC00002 'Short Red Power Wire', and the the spade connector terminal wires included with the straight and curved "Terminal Rerailer" EZ-Tracks.

I operate a train repair shop and average two to three people a week coming in looking for one or the other of these items. Usually because someone pulled the wire, instead of the connector, when removing it from the track. Right now they can only get the BAC00002 on-line directly from Bachmann, which means their trains are down until it's received. Or that have to buy a complete 'Terminal Rerailer' package when they only need the wires.

I'm only one repair shop, and if I'm getting two or three people a week looking for these items I'm sure the demand nation wide has to be high enough to justify packaging these items for retail sales. Otherwise why would the on-line purchase of the BAC0002 be limited to 3 per purchase?

HO / 'Pancake' Motor Brushes
October 19, 2012, 06:39:25 AM
Are brushes for the old Bachmann 'pancake' motors still available?? I didn't see them listed in the parts section. Or should I just cut down some old Athearn open frame motor brushes and use them?

And please don't tell to replace the loco. It was mine when I was a kid, then went to my kid, and now my Grandson says, "My diesel"! The only thing wrong with it is the brushes have worn down to the point they don't make good contact any more.

Thomas & Friends / Mattell buys HiT Entertainment
October 25, 2011, 12:01:29 PM
According to this article:

Mattell Toys is buying HiT Entertainment, owner of the rights to Thomas the Tank Engine.

Considering how tight Mattell has been about licensing their other toys, will this buyout have any impact on Bachmann's production of HO Thomas & Friends equipment, currently licensed by HiT??

Thomas & Friends / Uncoupling Track/Ramp for Thomas
October 19, 2010, 11:09:42 AM
Are there any plans to produce an uncoupling track, or ramp that can be added to an existing track, for the Thomas couplers?? Or at least some kind of "wand" that is simple to use to uncouple cars??

We get asked this at the hobby shop where my repair shop is on a regular basis. I know there was a thread on making a ramp sometime last year. But that's not what our customers are looking for. They want something they can take out of a package, put in their layout, and it works.


Not getting much response on the LS forum, and my grandson is getting upset about not being able to play with his train, so I'll try the Thomas folks for help:

What is the minimum radius required by the new LS Thomas/Annie/Clarribel train?

I tried running my grandson's new set (he's visiting for the week) on an existing LS layout with LGB R1 curves, and Annie & Clarribel kept derailing. It looks like little pins on the bottom of the car are blocking the wheels from turning far enough.

His old Lionel LS Thomas set ran on this layout just fine.

Large / LS Thomas/Annie/Clarribel Minimum Curve?
February 10, 2010, 10:59:20 AM
What is the minimum radius required by the new LS Thomas/Annie/Clarribel train?

I tried running my grandson's new set on an existing LS layout with LGB R1 curves, and Annie & Clarribel kept derailing. It looks like little pins on the bottom of the car are blocking the wheels from turning far enough.

His old Lionel LS Thomas set ran on this layout just fine.

HO / 44597 Power Terminal w/Gaps Question
December 05, 2009, 05:36:38 PM
Just curious, what does this get me I don't get wiring a DCC reverse loop with standard terminal tracks and plastic insulatiing rail joiners??

At $29.00 a pop, I hope is something majorly significant.

On30 / Any plans for 'Excursion Cars' on On30??
August 29, 2009, 01:45:20 PM
The new HO excursion cars look really nice. Are there any plans to do an On30 version of them? A set of the yellow ones would look really nice behind my yellow & black "Bumble Bee" 2-6-0.

Williams by Bachmann / GP-7 Upgrade Truck Screws
May 27, 2009, 12:06:32 PM
I finally got the upgrade trucks for my dummy GP-7 and ran in to a minor problem when I went to install them.

The original trucks use a 3.5mm screw to hold the pilot/footplate casting in place. The hole for this screw on the upgrade trucks is sized and tapped for a 3.0mm screw.  Fortunately, I own a set of metric taps and was able to drill the hole out and re-tap it for 3.5mm.

But if the new upgrade truck sets are going to have a different size hole than the originals, they should really include a couple of 3.0mm flat head screws for making the change. Since most people don't own, or have a simple source for, metric taps.

I'm thinking about using a WbB reversing board to drive the motors and lights of a water wheel on a flour mill and nearby sawmills circular saw.

Looking at the diagram of the board in the FAQs, in understand the AC in/DC out connections for the front/rear truck connectors.

A couple of questions about the other connectors:

Is the "Slave Motors" connector:

AC or DC output?

Are the "Slave Motors" and "AC Out" connector:

Fixed (e.g., does the voltage stay constant past a certain level input) or are they variable outputs?

If fixed, at what voltage?

If variable, what is the voltage range?

What are the current handling ratings for these outputs?

I really wish manufacturers would provide voltage/current info for inputs/outputs on all electronic devices/PCB sold for use in O scale. It would save a lot of nasty smell assaults on the nose when a current rating gets unknowingly exceeded.

HO / How goes the "Free the 2in Straights!" Project?
August 15, 2008, 08:32:16 AM
Been away a while, and just wondered if there's any word of late whether the 2in straights will ever be made available without having to add another 90deg crossing to the junk box to get them?

Any word on when the Power Upgrade trucks for the dummy diesel units will be available? Clicking the 'Order Parts' link shows nothing for O scale. Walthers, Horizon, and Heartland have them listed, but with a "To Be Announced" release date.

I know the focus has been on getting locos, cars, and sets in to the pipeline. But I've got several four and six wheel truck dummy units I like to get upgraded in my lifetime. Any info on availability dates would be appreciated.

Thomas & Friends / Gordan HO Set Transformer
February 06, 2008, 11:46:22 AM
I picked up a Gordan HO passenger set, a couple of extra coaches, and some extra track for my grandson. He loved it, until he wanted to pull four cars like Gordan some times does in the videos.

Even with an extra feeder to the far side of the loop, the rinky-dink transformer that came in the set just didn't seem capable of getting the job done.

So I ran back to my LHS, picked up an MRC 1370 transformer on sale for $29.95 and hooked it up. What a difference in Gordan's performance. Plus there are accessory power outputs for building lights, switches, etc., when he's ready to expand some more.

Why can't Bachmann put a decent transformer in these sets to begin with? If nothing else, maybe do an OEM agreement with MRC to put 1300's or 1370's in the set the way Walther's Trainline does in theirs.

HO / Spectrum 2-6-2 'Prarrie' Wanted
November 02, 2007, 04:12:59 PM
Will someone at Bachmann please look into making a Spectrum quality 'Prarrie' 2-6-2 for those of us in the 4x8 layout crowd?

All that's really available these days is that outdated, "Toys-R-Us" quality, "smoking & lighted" travesty on wheels in a Backmann box that calls itself a 2-6-2.

Williams by Bachmann / Williams Warranty
November 02, 2007, 10:48:13 AM
Will Bachmann honor the original Williams life time warranties, or will this be another situation like Lionel and K-Line?

In that case Lionel declared original K-Line warranties void, and stated warranty support would only be provided for "K-Line by Lionel" products when they came out.

Williams by Bachmann / Parts Availability
October 23, 2007, 12:21:22 PM
Any idea when parts, e.g., reversing units, motors, power upgrade trucks to convert dummies to powered units, etc., will be available?