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Question About 16V AC or DC Power Supply

George who is new to model railroading has this question:

“I am very new to the model train world and I’m hoping you can help me out. I recently purchased the HO Bachmann Echo Valley Express with Digital Sound (HO Scale). I now purchased 22 radius track to add a second oval. I also purchased a left and right #6 Remote Crossover Turnout. There is a note on the instructions for it that says: All analog turnouts (non-DCC) require 16V AC or DC accessory power supply for operation. Where do I buy this additional power source? Do I need more than one? And how do I set them all up? Any help would be very appreciative. Thanks!”

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Will Laying Turnouts Back to Back Cause Derailments?

Ken has this question for readers:

“I am laying HO track at 50mm centers and wish to switch between parallel tracks using Peco ST240 and 241 turnouts. I am running some NSWGR 6 wheel carriages and steam locos. Will laying the turnouts back to back cause potential derailments or running issues or should a short straight be placed between the turnouts? If a short straight is introduced won’t this increase the center to center distance between the parallel tracks?”

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Do Track Cleaning Cars Really Work?

Fred used the ‘ASK A QUESTION’ link to post this question:

“Has anyone used a track cleaning car on N scale? I’ve seen a couple advertised and am wondering if they are worthwhile. I am using unitrack, if that makes any difference.”

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Problem With Train Stopping On Crossing

William is hoping someone can advise him with his HO problem:

“I have a 19 degree Atlas crossing. My engines hesitate and some even just stop. How do I resolve this issue? It is getting frustrating.”

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Live-Wiring Peco Code 100

Nigel models OO gauge and asks readers:

“My question is – First-wiring up Peco code 100 tracks to make them live ready for DCC operation. How do I wiring up the rails on a 21/2 inch incline and down through the 3/4 inch plywood board, without splitting/damaging the incline? And what is the best way for the wiring? Please can you help me out-Thank you!”

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DCC Decoders

Steve has this question about his HO layout:

“I am getting back in to model railroading after a lengthy time and know nothing about DCC. Can I install any decoder into my DCC ready locomotives or are they Brand/style specific? I will have a small (under 100 sq ft layout), but want it to be/sound realistic.”

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Roadbed for Small Logging Railroad

Wayne asks readers:

“I am starting a small HO logging railroad, of the 1920’s-40’s era. The first section will be the sawmill and accompanying trackage, along with the engine house/yard area. I am planning on using 1/2″ plywood and then covering the flat and the slightly inclined portions with 1/2″ homosote. Do I actually need a typical style of raised roadbed, or is just the flat homosote OK? From pictures in books I have looked at, these areas seem pretty flat if there is even a raised roadbed underneath. Thanks.”

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Wiring 101

Steve sent in this question:

“Hello, I just purchased an atlas HO layout: senior twice around HO 5″. Is there a step by step diagram on how to wire this set up my grandson and I are getting frustrated?”

Maybe Steve could add some more detail to help readers who want to provide a quality answer.

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Cleaning Glue and other Debris from Railway Tracks

Nigel W posted this question for readers:

“I was gluing my ’00’ Gauge-1:76 Scale railway tracks down on my ‘Woodland Scenics-underlay’ In the mean while, getting glue and other debris on the rails. I would like anyone to advise me on the best way of cleaning the rails!

I was told to use a sharp knife to scrape the glue off, and then use {Isopropy-Alcohol} / also was told to use a sandpaper by someone else. Please can you let me know, what is the best way?”

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Auto Reversing Module

Gopal from India models N scale and has this question:

“I hope someone can help me in getting AUTO REVERSING/FORWARD module with a pause of few seconds for my ROCO N scale train outlay. Please help. Thanks”

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How to Remove Paint from Locomotive Shells

Club member Matthew R asks readers:

“I would like to know how to remove paint from N scale engine shells. The previous owner spray painted them and covered most of the details on the shell. I got them cheaply second hand off the net so shouldn’t complain. A messy job!”

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Beginner Needs Advice on Model RR Basics

Roger S posted this question for readers:

“I now have an HO scale train set inherited from my late Dad. Its not a big set, but considering I know very little about trains it’s probably a good starting point. I think he would be proud to know I am finally showing some interest in the hobby. The set with 4 locomotives hasn’t been used in probably 5 years. I’m not too bad at carpentry so thought I would set it up on a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood, which I understand is standard.

I wouldn’t mind some tips on how to clean and maintain the various components: locomotives, rolling stock, and the track etc. Thank you.”

The ASK A QUESTION link is under every post if you have a question you would like published.

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Installation of a DCC ZEN Series Stay Alive High Power Capacitor

David’s question:

“Has anyone installed one of these DCC capacitors to a stock standard ‘out of the box’ Athearn Genesis locomotive? Is it an easy installation or do I have to dismantle the loco and (I dread this) solder wires to a pcb?”

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Train Bench Top Materials

Jim who models HO asks:

“Has anyone ever used Plexiglas as a top for their bench? It won’t dry out or warp causing track problems later. And what about peg board?”

Beginners guide to HO scale and OO gauge trains with 18 “space saving” track plans – details here.

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What Causes Scale Model Trains To Derail

Bill sent in these thoughts to share:

I find that derailments can happen if cars are not properly weighted to NMRA standards. For example, if you have an underweight car between properly or overweight cars on either side and a dirty section of track causes the pulling and or pushing locomotive to stop and lunge and thus the varying momentum of rolling stock, caused by this weight issue, can result in derailment.

Long standard gauge coaches running on a layout built for mountain climbing tight radius “Mine” trains with relatively short rolling stock can cause derailments.

model train derailmentImproper truck adjustment. From my experiences both trucks should swivel with one having less play than the other. Failure to maintain these and you are inviting problems.

Proper height adjustment of couplers. Again I am reminded of problems I have had with coupler “pins” catching on turnout points, resulting in….derailments.

The reason I know about all these issues is because I have at one time or another, ran into these issues. So I mention them from first hand experience and am still learning from my mistakes.

I have also found that even after all my learning mistakes, I am still not done.

I am reminded now about several Labelle boxcars (which are constructed of basswood without any weight to them), that I had built to NMRA standards, gluing weights from end to end and right down the center of the wood floors. Initially they all ran great and then I started having derailment problems. After several attempts of trying to duplicate the issue, it came down to one particular car. Intermittently the weights were sliding off to one side around certain curved track sections causing the car to lean to one side, pulling the trucks and couplers up and down causing an imbalance and derailments. Point being, unless I wanted to park this guy at the end of the line forever, I would have to “Open a door” and carefully try and re-glue the weight in proper position. (not a lot of fun for those of us that tediously build these cars!)

Maintenance, maintenance, seasonal or periodic maintenance of locomotives, rolling stock, track and all other components of a layout including sight check of trees (growing) to the point that they can derail locos and or rolling stock, and testing of all electronics, DC or DCC is a never ending must!

I am sure I am missing other potential derailment causes…would enjoy others’ thoughts on the subject!

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Rolling Stock on Fleischmann Track

Adrian who models with HO trains asks readers:

“First of all thank you for adding me to the group. I am very much a Newbie and have purchased a Fleischmann DCC starter set which I have extended. I have a number of Fleischmann wagons and some Bachmann and Athern wagons which I purchased off ebay. I have a problem with the Bachmann and Athern wagons derailing on the points, The Fleischmann rolls through nicely. After comparing what maybe different I found the wheel diameter to be smaller and flange to be less on the Bachmann and Athern wagons. I think this may be the root cause? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.”

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Using WD40 on Model Railroads – Right or Wrong?

wd40 on model trainsBenjamin W sent in this question:

“I’d like to know if WD-40 is suitable for lubricating the engine gears? Also is WD-40 ok for oiling trucks on the freight cars and track? I’ve had a go and it appears to be working ok for the moving parts and smoother runs on my track, but am I really using the right product and going about it the right way?”

Add your comments below.

53 comments  Ask A Question

Solving The Problem of Dim Lights in Passenger Cars

Club member Michael M asks readers:

“I want to improve the lighting in my passenger cars? The lights are very dim and not easily noticeable unless the room is completely dark. I seem to recall reading somewhere that capacitors store DC current, so presume they will provide a constant voltage to the lighting? It is all a bit confusing. Can anyone help.”

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

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Everything DCC

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Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers



A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help the model railroader “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.

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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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