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Do You Need Independent Bus Wires, and Boosters for DCC Wiring?

Ray with HOn3 asks:

“I have wired my new layout based on lots of advice I could find. I have one track that is 12mm gauge and a separate track on same layout that is 16mm gauge. So far neither loco will run. Should I somehow run 2 independent bus wires? Should I get a booster? I am trying to use a basic NCE unit. Hopeful.”

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Skytop Observation Car

Tony models HO and posts this question:

“Does anyone know where I can purchase an HO Skytop observation car? It can be new, used, prefer unpainted (need yellow/grey scheme) or any other condition. I let mine out to get painted, now it’s mysteriously vanished…I am devastated.  Thanks in advance.”

Hopefully someone can suggest a supplier for Tony. This blog does not do buy/sell/swap so personal contact details are never published.

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Middle Rail Rollers

Tom has an O scale layout and asks:

“I have a couple of loco’s that the rollers has developed a groove and now does not want to run. Why is this happening?”

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Shay Logging Engine

Toni asks:

“Where can I buy an HO scale shay logging engine for my museum layout? They don’t seem to be available anymore in HO. Saw some extremely bashed on e-bay for over $500. Wonder if they even run. Any ideas? I do have a little grant money. Thanks.”

Hopefully someone can suggest a supplier for Toni. This blog does not do buy/sell/swap so personal contact details are never published.

 

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Loco Only Operates for a Short Time

This question from Dwayne:

“I only have one loco and it will only work for a short period of time. I am 17 and really new to the hobby, so have a lot to learn.”

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

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Using Hard or Soft Pastels for Weathering

weathering chalksGordon asks readers:

“I looking at buying some pastels for weathering and I saw some advertised as soft acrylic pastics, some are described as hard pastels and some say chalk. I’m just not sure which is best for weathering plastic, wood, and card buildings and the track. I’ve also heard that people apply Dullcoat first so the pastels have some to grip to. Is that right, or would a simple paint base coat do the same?”

If you have a question you would like published, then please use one of the links below each posting to view the guidelines. Then submit your carefully worded question to the Blog Moderator for consideration.

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Turnout Switching Compatibility

Ed who models N scale asks readers this question:

“I know I can connect my Atlas code 80 track to my Kato Unitrack. I’m running my mainline with Kato and going to Atlas for an inner loop and yard. My question is in regards to turnouts. If I have a Kato turnout connected to an Atlas turnout, Can I somehow connect both to a single Kato (or Atlas) switch so that a single switch will control both turnouts?”

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Planning Super Elevated Curves

Ross M sent in this question for readers:

“I am planning an HO layout with super elevated curves of 28 inches to 30 inches in radius I think. My question is how much higher would the outer rail be than the inner rail?”

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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Quartering a Locomotive – What is it?

Jim C posted this question:

“I overheard someone at the train show taking about “quartering the wheels of a locomotive”, but didn’t get the chance to find out what he meant. I’m just curious on what quartering is, how is it done, and if its worthwhile? From what I overheard, I gather it has something to do stopping a loco from swaying back and forth, but I’m not sure?”

Add your comments below.

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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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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...

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).

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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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