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AR1 Automatic Reverse Controller Mounts

Doug asks readers:

“I was wondering how to mount an AR1 to the table/control panel. Do you need to put it in a case (from where) or can you just screw it down?  Thanks.”

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Will Long Passenger Cars Uncouple Over Joints?

Ray has HO and asks readers:

“I heard that horn hooks stay coupled better on long passenger cars than knuckle couplers. Is that true?”

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How to Model a Decorative Fountain for My Layout

fiber light

Fiber light

Pam sent in this question for readers:

“Our new HO layout will have a small park with seating, ornamental trees and shrubs, and a flower garden. I’m in charge of the scenery, and Bill my hubby, is the boss of all the tricky electrical stuff. Just as well because I have no idea on anything technical. Anyway, I thought it might be nice to add a feature water fountain (not real water) in the middle of a small pond in the park. Has anyone made a decorative fountain that looks like it’s spouting water? I remember those fiber lights that were popular a few years back and wondered it they might work? I was also wondering what to use for the concrete fountain itself? Any ideas please.”

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Turning Trains

Here’s a couple of very interesting photos sent in by online model train club member Max of the Guilherand-Granges Model Train Show in France. Thanks for sharing.

Guilherand-Granges - Model train show-France3

Guilherand-Granges - Model train show-France4

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Switch Wiring Problems

John model O scale and asks readers:

“My problem is that SW2 switches as if it didn’t have external power, and it does, as the train passes over. If I remove the connecting track to the switch from the saw mill loop there is no problem. That solution doesn’t allow a return from the spur to the main line. What am I doing wrong?”

John, you can attach a schematic if you think it helps. Just add a comment under your post and attach the schematic there.

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The Easy Way To Make Scale Model Walls And Bridges For Your Railroad Layout

More info on how to make these walls and bridges here.

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Fixing Turnout Switch Failures

Ed who models HO scale asks readers:

“I am having problems with the switches pressed to actuate a turnout.  I’m finding them staying stuck in the depressed condition causing the turnout motor to melt.  Does anyone else see this problem.  Its happened to me enough times to get expensive.”

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Can I Join Two Track Brands Together?

Kevin asks readers this:

Gday. I’ve saved 2 HO scale starter sets to my eBay but are made by different makers. Will, or can I, join the two track brands together? That is if I keep buying different starter sets can I add them to make a bigger layout or should I stick to one manufacturer? All will be HO scale . Thanks

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Problem Poly Gear and Axles on Bachmann Engine

HO enthusiast Greg asks readers:

“I have a Bachmann 2 6 0 consolidation with bad poly gear and axles. I can’t locate any repair parts with out buying the whole drive system. Are there any upgrades or replacement parts from any other companies? Thanks.”

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How to Power Frogs and Switches

Chris asks readers:

“I need help with powering a switch frog. I get shorts. What is the best way to power the frog or sometimes switches too?”

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Converting To Knuckle Couplers – Worth The Effort?

Pete G who is into OO gauge asks:

“Swapping over to knuckle couplers is a big task so I’ve been told. Are they as good as they are made out to be and should I bother?”

Use the COMMENTS link below to add your answer of make a comment to assist Pete.

If you want to submit a question to the Blog Moderator for possible inclusion on the blog (read by 10,000 readers weekly) use the ASK A QUESTION link under this post. Approved questions get posted usually within 12 to 72 hours.

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NEW! Extendable, Adaptable Plans For Photo Realistic Scale Model Backdrop Buildings Now Available

Here’s an easy way to effectively extend the background scene behind a rail yard without spending a fortune on plastic models. The two red and gray brick buildings seen below can be constructed to resemble the images on the left, or you can extend the width of the buildings by just printing out another copy of the full color plans. You won’t need to download the plans a second time… you just print out a second or third copy to extend the building out as far as you want. The designs can even be combined to use a mix of red and gray brickwork (as seen in the third image below).

Foamboard or corflute is the best construction material as it is cheap to buy in large sheets, and is very sturdy. Otherwise you could use card from an old cereal box (maybe double the thickness). Thin strips of balsa or even plastic power ties can be painted gray to add extra detailing if required. They look very authentic when constructed.

plans for scale model backdrop buildings

Downloadable plans for the buildings in this new series can be purchased separately, or if you want to save some money, combination packs of several buildings are currently available on the website at a discounted price. Full details here http://www.modelbuildings.org/Pack-K-Industries-Backdrop-Structures.html

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Back In The Hobby After 27 Years

Jack asks readers:

“I gave up model railroading around 27 years ago when we moved to a smaller house, but I kept 3 locos packed in boxes. We have relocated to my son’s property on a farm and he has a big shed where I can set up my trains again. I tested the engines but they are running sluggishly and one only goes intermittently. They used to perform well but that was a long time ago. What do I need to do to clean and lubricate them?”

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Fixing an Electrical Problem in a Locomotive

Craig sent in this question for readers:

“My LGB 251902-3 (2051S Cat#) will not pick up electricity from the rail.  My smaller Furka Oberalp works just fine on the track.  I have found that when I test the pick up plates, there is no circuit between the plates, meaning there is no voltage to the motors. It was working fine until just recently, but has been sitting on a shelf in my workshop for about 3 weeks.Any suggestions?”

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Is the Passenger Vehicle in this Video a Bus, a Tram, or a Train Without Rails?

When I first visited China back in the 1980’s the cities were over-run by bicycles – there where millions! These days bikes are a reasonably rare sight in most major cities. Motorbikes and buses are becoming less common too. This is because cheap, efficient, safe, environmentally friendly alternatives are now available.

China now has the biggest network of high speed bullet trains in the world, as well as extensive underground metro mass transit systems under most of its major cities. As an example by late 2020, Shanghai will have around 502 miles (808 km) of subway lines servicing 500 plus stations… and that’s just one city! The metro stations are spotlessly clean with marble tiles etc, and trains run every 3 to 4 minutes in most cases.

Above ground, traditional polluting diesel buses will become even more of a rarity when these new transit vehicles that run on “virtual sensor guided track” become widespread throughout China. Some people say its a type of train on a guided track, and others would claim its are a type of bus, or tram.

What’s your opinion? Remember there are no rails in the traditional sense, but it still needs a track of “almost invisible” sensors for it to run on, so it can’t leave the line of track like a bus could. It also has no Catenary or Pantographs; so in your opinion is it a bus, train, tram, or a hybrid with no name? Add your thoughts below.

The 32 meters long and 3.4 meters high people mover, can carry 307 passengers with a top speed of 70 kph.

Instead of track, this passenger vehicle runs along dotted lines on the ground, controlled by hundreds of sensors. It also use rubber tires, which makes the journey like riding the bus. It uses Lithium Titanate batteries enabling it to run 25 km after just 10 minutes of charging.

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How To Create Support & Protection For Portable Layout

portable model train layout

Dan asks readers this question:

“I am currently putting together my first portable layout to display on Canada Day. I am using two 2×8 foot pieces of 2″ styrofoam SM as the layout surface which will run two separate oval tracks. My current struggle is designing a frame that the styrofoam will sit inside of and hold all together plus provide a No Touch zone and derail barrier. I do not plan on adding legs at this stage as time is limited. I will be setting it up on some fold out tables at our town hall.”

To submit a question use the ‘Ask A Question’ link below any post. To add a comment or to answer a question use the COMMENTS link below the post.

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Problems With Peco Turnout Motor

Asa models N scale and asks readers:

I have Peco turn out motors. And I have attached to the bottom a switch that controls dwarf lights. When I hook it up to the ac side of my transformer it works fine. When I put the turn out track on it does not work at all. I pulled the little spring that keeps the points in place and it went back to work fine. I’m I doing something wrong or could my transformer be weak or is there something else I should be doing? I would like to keep the spring because it does a very go job of holding the points in place. the ac voltage is 20. ”

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Spot The Difference At This Model Train Show

Here’s another in our popular “Spot the Difference” series. This week it is crowd a scene from a model train show. In all there are 9 differences between the two photos.  If you find it easier to view the photos horizontally you can see enlarged images here…

model train show spot the difference

Add your answers by using the COMMENTS link below.

You can see enlarged images here…

 

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Clever Tips & Techniques

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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.

N Scale Track Plans

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Scenery Techniques

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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...

Watch These Club Videos

Club members access helpful new resources each month: diagrams, video tutorials, articles, track plans and more. Watch the tour videos here.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION

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).

Submit your model train questions here.

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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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