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Author Topic: Newbie Question on Smokebox Switches?  (Read 5609 times)
Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« on: November 11, 2014, 08:32:01 PM »

What exactly does the NMRA STD/LARGE SCALE switch inside the smoke box door do?

Is it needed and/or can it be removed?  If removed, do I need to jumper anything?  I'm using an old Aristo-Craft Train Engineer set along with a DC power supply.

Also, I doubt I'll ever use smoke and plan on taking the smoke unit and switch out as well.  Any issues if I do that?

Right now I have the engine stripped down, getting ready for a repaint.  While I'm at it I'm redoing the leading truck mount to one I found elsewhere on the internet (the design does away with having to use the slot as a guide and uses a bent brass pivot arm) and I have filled up the area where the slot is with styrene for strength.

I have also reenforced the area just aft on the chassis (at the 90 degree bend). just behind the rear wheels of the leading truck.

My only "fear" now is that I hope I can remember where all the parts go and in which order they need to go on  Shocked

Bob D.
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Chuck N

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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2014, 09:02:56 PM »

Our trains run on DC current.  The direction the engine will go depends upon the polarity of the power going to the track.  There is a switch on your power supply to reverse direction.  LGB when  started the Large Scale that we all know and love they set a polarity for its power supply and engines for forward and reverse.  At sometime, time unknown to me, NMRA came up with standards for power supplies and polarity.  Before or after LGB, I haven't a clue.  Most Large Scale manufacturers adopted the LGB defacto standard.

If you run your engine with the switch on NMRA it will run in the opposite direction of most other Large Scale engines on the track at the same time.  This is not a big problem, unless you are running more than one train at a time on the same track.

Several years ago I bought a Thomas set.  I have a track plan where by changing the polarity on the track train "A" will move clockwise, or train "B" will go counterclockwise.  Thomas came with MNRA wiring.  My track plan wouldn't work until I reversed the wires to the motor.  There was no switch.

Some Bachmann engines have the switch and some don't.  It isn't a big problem, unless you are doing something other that running one train around the track.  If you are running more, you might have to rewire, or use the switch to get them to play together nicely.

Chuck

PS I have been in the hobby for over 30 years.  I do not know anyone who follows the NMRA standard for powering their track and trains.  LGB's defacto standard rules LS as far as I can determine.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 09:21:59 PM by Chuck N » Logged
Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2014, 07:10:41 AM »

Thanks Chuck!

So then, it's nothing more than a polarity switch.  Once I get it repainted and start putting things back together I'll decide if I want to reinstall the switch(es).

Bob D.
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Chuck N

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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2014, 07:35:10 AM »

Bob

You've got it.

My wish would be for manufacturers put in a couple of plugs and a track/battery switch and associated wiring, like Aristo did.  It would sure make life easier.

Chuck
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Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 08:01:30 AM »

Chuck,

Yeah, that would be great.

I don't know how deep I'll dive into the G-scale/gauge pool, but let's just say I haven't touched my O-scale stuff since the Ten-Wheeler arrived a couple of weeks ago, I feel like a kid in a candy store  Grin

I got out of HO for various reasons, one of which was I found myself counting rivets too often.  I got into O-scale to have some fun, but there's not much available that's accurate for Seaboard Air Line (rivet counting again?).

This time, in G-scale/gauge, I'm not going to let that happen.  I'm making up a fictitious RR so anything goes at this point.

I'm still debating the colors I want to paint the engine (always liked the GN Glacier scheme), I want something so that the decals I'll make can be seen (can't make white decals so they're out).  Most likely black decals on the engine and caboose (should come in today), rolling stock will probably stay as is.

Thanks again!

bob D.
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Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2014, 09:37:48 AM »

Bob,

I just noticed that no one seems to have mentioned the need to jump wires if you remove the switch.  You will have to jump the wires or your loco will not go!

All the power from the rails goes through the pickups on the wheels including from the front truck and ends up at that polarity switch.  I am in the middle of a move and my illustrations and other resources are not available right now, but here is what I can tell you.

You will have to decide which side of the switch you will use to do the jumping. This is critically important if you will be doing the same thing to additional locomotives in the future.  You must jump the wires in future locomotives exactly the same way or you will end up with them going in opposite directions.  As Chuck mentioned if you wire them in the NMRA position they will work in the opposite polarity from most other locomotives on the market.  With more than two locomotives each wired differently, it will be very confusing remembering which one worked one way an which one worked the other way.  You would not be able to double head locomotives. also it is a great way to end up with head on collisions!!

I am wondering why it is important to remove the switch??  I strongly recommend leaving it as it is.

I couldn't agree more on the fictitious railroad name idea.  It is fun to make up a name and have your own rules which you can break anytime you want to. My Missouri Western is fictitious and fun.  I even have a fake history, which places it connecting with real railroads.  I even use my narrow gauge Bachmann locomotives and rolling stock as though they are standard gauge.  Some visitors to my layout think the Missouri Western was a real railroad, until I reveal the truth!!  Your idea about avoiding white lettering and white in your logos is one that I use my self, My Missouri Western Logo is green with yellow letters and black edge striping for that very reason.  I also do white lettering, but have a decal maker do them for me. I use the white lettering on the steam locomotive tenders and for the numbers, but no reason why it could not be yellow as well!!


Welcome the world of Large scale and the forum!!!  Glad you are having a blast Cool

Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2014, 09:59:24 AM »

Thanks Bill!  I also had forgotten about jumpering the wires if I take the switch out, I'll probably leave it/them in.

There were narrow-gauge RRs in Virginia, I even have a 3 foot length of narrow-gauge rail an ex-coworker brought me from when they were clearing land for his house near Sunbury NC.  I think it was the Suffolk & Carolina RR, later renamed to the Virginia & Carolina RR, then P/O the old Norfolk Southern Rwy.

Yeah, a fictitious narrow-gauge RR in VA will do nicely!!!

Bob D.
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Joe Satnik


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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2014, 06:34:19 PM »

Dear All,

As a general rule, I would not take out a switch.  A switch adds flexibility, and if removed, you might misplace/lose it.  

If you don't like or think you don't need its function, re-wire it to do something else. 

To you Youngsters, re-wiring is the "old-school" way of making a "new app".

Leave a schematic (wiring diagram) of the original wiring somewhere obvious to bring it back to stock if you want to sell it.   

If my (2000 era Version 5 chassis) BH loco HAD a polarity switch (it does NOT), I would disable the NMRA side and use that position as "loco off". 

That would enable me to park my loco on a siding without having to isolate and switch off (one rail of) the siding.

I would also wire the smoke unit and smoke switch ahead of the polarity (now on/off) switch. 

This would allow me to park the loco, crank up the (track) power to the smoke unit and "cook smoke".

(Don't walk away while you are doing that, though.)

Hope this helps. 

Sincerely,

Joe Satnik

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If your loco is too heavy to lift, you'd better be able to ride in, on or behind it.
Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2014, 07:29:18 PM »

Thanks Joe, I'll leave both switches in their places.

I'm slowly re-assembling the engine, I installed mini plugs on both headlight and backup light so I can easily take things apart in the future.

Bob D.
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Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2014, 10:42:08 PM »

I got the engine back together, including the smoke box switches.

It was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, there's quite a few interlocking parts that have to go on in order.  Now all I need to do is add the name of my RR and an engine number.

Next to do is to remove the lettering on the caboose and re-letter it for my RR.

I think I'm going to call it the "PORTSMOUTH BELT LINE RAILWAY" unless I can come up with a better name.

BobD.
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Chuck N

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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2014, 11:10:46 PM »

Sounds good.  If you need a suggestion for custom decals for your new railroad, I suggest Stan Cedarleaf in Dewey, AZ.  I have used him for many special projects.  If interested, go to mylargescale.com.  He advertises there.  He also has an ad in "Garden Railways".

G-scale graphics also has a good reputation.  I haven't used him, but I have heard good things, also an ad in GR.  He uses vinal transfers and Stan makes decals. 

Chuck
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Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2014, 07:26:24 AM »

Thanks Chuck, I'll check them out.

I prefer decals over rub-on lettering, never had much success with that (maybe it's time to learn to do it right?).

Bob D.
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tac

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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2014, 12:42:47 PM »

Thanks Chuck, I'll check them out.

I prefer decals over rub-on lettering, never had much success with that (maybe it's time to learn to do it right?).

Bob D.

Del Tapporo's vinyl lettering will last longer than the models they are put on, if done exactly as instructed.  They are incredibly thin, but dense, and very strong and abrasion-resistant.

I know many who have them on their locos and rolling stock in Canada, where the climate is somewhat less than friendly for a lot of the year.

Stan Cedarleaf and I have been doing business for the last ten - twelve years, and his products are also of the highest quality.

Both Del and Stan are renowned for their custom products, and I commend them both to you.

tac
Ottawa Valley GRS
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Kevin Strong


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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2014, 02:37:53 PM »

I hate decals with the purplest of passions. I use them only when absolutely necessary. I've tried "following the directions" down to the last dot on the last "i", and it's still hit-or-miss when it comes to them actually sticking to the surface and settling down around details properly. Some people "have the touch." I--apparently--do not. (Mind you, I've come up with some rather dandy "fixes" for when they don't, but--sheesh! What a mess!) I can vouch for Stan's work (http://gold.mylargescale.com/StanCedarleaf/WebPageDecals/CustomDecalsx.html, and also Jeff Damherst at Shawmut Car Shops http://shawmutcarshops.com/ has done some custom decal work for me in the past. Both are good people to do business with, and their prices are reasonable. Jeff also does vinyl lettering--more on that later.

Dry transfers are getting harder to come by, as the chemicals commonly used to produce them have been banned in the US. At one point, Ozark Miniatures bought the artwork from CDS and a few other now-defunct dry transfer producers and was planning on re-launching production. That was a few years ago, and I haven't heard anything since. (There was also confusion as to whether they would be dry transfers or decals.) A quick check of their web site lists a whole bunch of options, but most are "out of stock," and described as both "dry transfers" and "decals" at the same time, so I don't know what's going on there. There's an outfit in Vancouver, Canada I use for custom runs of dry transfers (All Out Graphics - http://www.allout-graphics.com/). For one-offs, it's probably not the most cost-effective way to go about doing things. A single 4 x 6 sheet--enough for one car--would run you around $50. But if you could fill a 12" x 18" sheet with artwork for a fleet of cars (either for your own or yours and a friends' railroads), you can get multiple projects on that sheet, and your cost per project drops considerably. There's also a "home dry transfer" kit that uses a laser printer. http://www.pulsarprofx.com/decalpro/ I've heard good things about that process, but I've not used it myself. You do need a laser printer, and from what I've read of others' experiences, their shelf life is very limited once printed, so print off only what you need for that particular project.

I've been using more vinyl lately, and my experiences with it are definitely better than they were 5 or so years ago. First off, I think the vinyl sheets are thinner now, so the lettering blends in better to the surface to which it's applied. (I hate it when lettering looks like it's just stuck on, as the older--thicker--vinyl lettering did. Or worse, the heat-stamped vinyl lettering you get at the office supply store where each letter has a distinct "lip" around the edge that just looks horrible.) I applied some vinyl lettering to a new passenger car recently, and you really can't tell the difference between it, the car lettered with dry transfers, and the car lettered with decals. You can tell the vinyl only if you're right next to it, but from normal viewing distances, it's the same as the others.

I've also found that when applying vinyl lettering to a "wood" car, you can take some 60-grit sandpaper and scuff up the vinyl to help it blend in as well. (Scuff it in the direction of the wood grain onto which it's being applied.) The downside of vinyl is that you can't do really small lettering. I think the minimum height is around 3/16" or thereabouts. Jeff Damherst and Del Tapparo (G-Scale Graphics http://www.gscalegraphics.net/custom-lettering.html) both offer vinyl lettering, and both do very good work.

Because of the small size limits, the vinyl will work well for passenger car letterboards and numbers, or locomotive railroad names and numbers, but not for freight car data or "drain daily" or "keep off" type of stuff--the "fine print." So, I'm still not "sold" on the vinyl as a go-to medium, largely because most of my projects require "fine print" kind of work. It's certainly dead-nuts simple to apply and looks great once on the model. But you'll either have to "ignore the fine print," or use decals or other methods for that.

Good luck! I don't think you're going to go wrong no matter what method you go with, or who you have produce your artwork for you. They're all good people and stand behind their product--even when it's obviously "operator error" when things don't go as planned. (Did I mention I hate decals?)

Later,

K
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Seaboard Air Line Fan

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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2014, 03:29:55 PM »

Thanks guys!

While I've done plenty of HO and O scale decaling, I've never tried any G scale, yet.  There's an art store nearby that had a good selection of Woodland Scenics rub-on lettering so maybe I'll stop by there before I venture into getting some made.

Bob D.
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