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Crossover Problem

Chris asks: “I’ve a problem with my HO Atlas (X) cross over in that I get a stall and will not go through. If I power through it sometimes works and others a hesitation. I’m running straight DC with equipment from the 1960-1970’s except for track (Peco & Atlas).”

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Resolving A DCC Problem

Franks is hoping someone can assist with this problem:

“I have 2 identical OO gauge BR 0-4-0 Class 06 diesel shunters. At present I have an oval test track. I have fit identical Decoders to both (laissdcc 2 function 6 pin). One runs perfectly well in the direction that the other trains with the same decoder run but one only runs the opposite way. It runs perfectly in forward and reverse but if I turn it round to run the same way as the other trains it will not go in either forward or reverse. Presently I am using a Hornby select controller as I am waiting for the return of my NCE powercab from America. I have tried altering the wiring in the loco all to no effect. Could this just be a faulty decoder or is it something to do with the loco or Hornby select. Any replies would be much appreciated. One very frustrated modeler.”

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What’s The Best Track Laying Method?

Brizee is new to the hobby and asks:

“Being a newcomer, what is considered to be the best method of securing N scale Peco Streamline Code 80 flexible track?”

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Laying Atlas 100 Super Flex Track

Joseph has this question:

“Guys. I need a straight answer please. When laying HO flex track does it matter how you lay it? It’s about split right now some say out side some say inside some say it don’t matter. Please help I’m really confused. I’m building a 20 x 12 foot layout and I’m looking for the right way and the best way to go about it. Thanks guys.”

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Replacement Parts for 1935 American Flyer Steam Engine

Raymond has this question for readers:

“I inherited my fathers 1935 American Flyer Passenger O27 Train set years ago.  I have a problem where the front and rear wheels are falling apart. They are made of white pot metal.  I cant seem to find any replacements for them.  Does anyone have any knowledge of where to purchase replacements?”

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Power to O Scale Outdoor Layout

Matt asks:

“I need some help with how to power my outdoor O-scale train.  I have probably 100 feet of track and I’m assuming the power source that came with my small MTH set will not be sufficient.  Can anyone direct me to some help?”

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How To Make A Fire Scene

model railroad fire scenemodel railway fire

 

Ron K has N scale and asks readers for advice:

“I want to model a small fire scene in a building complete with smoke, flames, fire trucks etc. Can someone give me some hints on how to make this look real?”

Ron, I included a couple of fire scenes I spotted at recent train shows.

If you would like to have your question published on this blog (10,000 readers weekly), use the ‘Ask A Question’ link below each posting. The best questions get published.

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Replacement for Gargraves Points

John asks O Gauge readers:

“Has anyone come up with a better check-rail for 0 gauge Gargraves switches (points)? The glued-in plastic ones come loose too easily.”

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Problem with Train Control

Art models HO scale and asks this question:

“I bought a diesel train to go along with my grandson’s bachman set. Do I need a different controller for this as it won’t work with the controller the original set came with?”

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Fixing Problem Crossovers and Switches

Derek asks readers:

“Bachmann nickel silver #5 switches and #6 crossovers look good, but don’t operate that well. I’m having problems with derailments when a train enters a turnout. The rails seem to move a fraction, just enough to create a gap. The frogs are okay. The first 4 or 6 engine wheels usually make it over the turnout without a problem. However, problems can happen when the wheels on the following trucks pass over the same spot. They often want to go in a different direction.

I thought I might have a go trying to fix it with my Dremel tool by grinding the stationary rails so as to create a small notch where they touch the moving rails. I wondered about strengthening the springs underneath the turnouts, but I’m not sure if this is a good idea or how to go about it.

I would really appreciate some advice from others who know more about these problems than I do. Thanks.”

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Loksound Decoder Problem

Graeme has this question for readers:

“Hi I have an N scale Kato sdp40f fitted with a loksound decoder. My question is when I want it to move off there is a 2-3 second delay before it moves, now this would not be a problem except I have it hooked up to two other locos which move off straight away. I’ve tried adjusting start voltage and cvs 2-5-6 as well as cvs 3 acceleration and 4 de acceleration but I can’t get rid of the delay before moving off any ideas on how to make it move off as soon as power is applied other than that it runs great the loksound was Kato factory fitted.”

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Chiltern Model Railway Exhibition

Chiltern Model Railway Exhibition

Roy sent in this photo he captured at the Chiltern Model Railway Exhibition in the UK. This worker looking over the rail certainly adds life to the scene.

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Rotating Beacon on Model Railroad Problem

model railroad wind turbine

Bob models S scale and sent in this question for readers:

“I have a rotating beacon that does not rotate. No sure how the fins on the top should be angled? The beacon is connected to 18v on my transformer. I have adjusted the vanes but still does not rotate.”

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Problem with Digitrax Decoder

Richard has HO scale and wants to hear from others:

“I have two Digitrax decoders that I have sent back to the company for repairs at least 5 times.  They said there must be something I am doing wrong and they refuse to help me, but I have two other engines which are running fine on the layout as well. Each time I get the decoders back they test fine on my Ulrich Decoder tester, then when I hook them up to the engines they stop, and the red light on the testor comes on. Am I missing an hv number or what am I doing wrong?”

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Helix Question

A readers asks:

“I don’t know how wide the pieces need to be for 2 HO scale lanes on the same helix, just exiting at different levels.”

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Problem with DCC Programming

Steve sent in this question for fellow train buffs:

“My son recently purchased what he was told were HO DCC locomotives. One is a Bachmann that is DCC equipped and is working fine. The other is an Atlas FM Trainmaster that we can’t seem to program to run. I tried loco 3 setting as well as the road number. The lights will come on, but it sounds like a dial-up modem. So my question is, did Atlas offer this locomotive in DC? I looked for information on the web, but only found information on it in DCC with sound. Any help would be appreciated.”

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Problem with Chattering and Oscillating Servo Point Motors

He is a question posted by Barrie:

“I have a problem with the servo motors that control the turnouts on our N scale club layout chattering or oscillating when an old type DC loco is run on the layout. This doesn’t happen if new type locos are run or the system is run as DCC (Our N scale Layout has been wired to operate as DC or DCC). The club N scale layout has a HO/OO layout directly below and when they run some of their old DC locos it causes their turnouts and ours to chatter. I think it may be RFI generated by the loco motor and the minute sparking that occurs at the loco wheels while running. We have used about 70 model aircraft type servo motors to control all the turnouts on both layouts. These turnouts are wired back to electronic control boards around the layout that can each handle 8 servos.

Each servo is then operated by single pole single throw switch on the main schematic panel which is wired back through the electronic control board. The N & HO/OO turnout systems are separate and each is powered by a 5v & 12v computer type power supply.  The turnout power system is also electrically separate from the track power supply.  Any suggestions how we can overcome this problem would be appreciated.”

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How to Stop Wheel Flanges Catching

Raymond has OO gauge trains and has this question:

“With some of my older loco’s I have problems with the wheel flanges catching on the sleeper chairs. As some of the wheels are impossible to change, is there any safe way I can reduce the diameter of the wheel flanges without too much trouble?”

There is a link below every posting to have your comments or answer published. There is another link below each posting where you can submit your questions to the Blog Moderator.

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Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help hobbyists “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.



Micro control technology can be used for:

Rolling stock and scenic lighting effects, street lamp lighting, lighting up of structures, emergency vehicle flashing lights, replicating a campfire or arc welding, tall structure tower lighting, block occupancy detection, turnout operation, motors/servos, solenoid, infrared, right-of-way signal lighting, current sense, crossing gate & signal operation, semaphores, flashers, turntable control, gate arms, draw/lift bridge control, fast time clock, DCC testing, scenery sound control, wireless controls, and lighting fixture day to night control. Read more...

The good thing is; a micro controller can be programmed to perform one, or just a few, simple tasks over and over again.

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Why DCC is so popular

A simple DC (Direct Current) transformer will give you a nice chugging locomotive going one way on your model train track, however, with a DCC unit you can have the flexibility of having an entire train-switching yard happening right in front of your eyes! That is the adaptability that is available with this coming-of-age technology in the hobby!



By using the Digital Command Control, you are opening up a whole new range of possibilities. A continuous electrical current is sent to all of the many things you have installed on your train layout, however, now you have a digital receiver installed in each various items. You can therefore control each and every one of them with the selectable controller and enhance the operation and, more importantly, the look and feel of your system.

The technical side of the DCC is, actually, not as complicated as you might think. In reality, a DCC system is usually easier to wire than a straight DC system.

More dcc ideas...

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Submit Your Model Railroading Questions!

Before you submit your model railroading question please add some feedback, answers or comments to other postings on this model train blog. What goes around comes around... so if you can help others in the hobby, someone else may help you.

Important - Please add plenty of supporting details to any question you submit (eg. scale, solutions you have already tried etc.) , as the clearest and best questions usually get the best answers. Also, please check your spelling and punctuation as all questions need to be approved by the blog moderator prior to publication. Approved questions are normally published within a week (if not sooner).

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Preference will be given to articles that help others progress in the hobby, maybe suggesting an idea for their layout, a quick tip or two... or perhaps a little bit of good advice based on your model railroading experiences.

We are all in this hobby together, so the more we can do to share ideas and help each other, the better.

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Deciding the Era and Location

The choice of scenery you decide on all depends on what era and location you are depicting with your layout. You will need to do some good research on the railroad and its surroundings to make sure you get the scenery perfect (if that’s what you want).



If you are depicting a historical train setting or a certain era, you will want to use old photographs to determine how the scenery should be built and laid out. Remember to think through all aspects of the scenery. This is one of the best areas to really showcase your talents, so take your time.

More scenery ideas...

It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.



Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

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