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Maintaining Track for Smooth Trouble-Free Operations

Russell asks readers:

“My trains (HO) run pretty good but wobble a bit in places. They don’t stall much. I have rubbed the track gently with very fine grade sand paper and I think this has helped. A mate of mine here in Australia said I would be better off using rubbing alcohol. Now I don’t know what to do? Should I try both, or just stick with what seems to work already?”

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Trains Grind to a Halt a Few Days after Completing Track Work

Daniel is desperate for suggestions:

“Last week I was proud of myself for the job I did unaided on my track work. My layout is HO and I’m using Digitrax Zepher by the way. I wired everything myself (I thought I was really clever!!), and ran a couple of locos on the different routes and tested different turnout combinations. I powered things down and went to visit my daughter for the weekend.

frustrationYesterday I powered everything up again and NOTHING! I thought maybe a short when the track status blinked. I then searched for a stray track nail and double checked each connection, but couldn’t see any issues. I just don’t understand how everything was working perfectly one day and not working a few days later?

I disconnected and reconnected the track wires from different sections, but I still have the same problem. I just can’t understand why it worked then it didn’t. I’m almost tempted to go visit my daughter again for the weekend and try powering up again next week. Maybe it will magically work again? Help please?”

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Reserve Loop Wiring Advice

Ron Bailey sent in this question:

digitrak auto reverse“I am working on my OO gauge layout in my garage and will have a reverse loop. I have been told about the Digitrax AR1 automatic loop. I am wondering how to wire things as there are a couple of dead end sidings in the loop? A portion of the loop is the main line so I was curious how the reverse loop would operate with these sidings?”

Drawing credit: digitrax.com

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Guess The Model Train Show

steam locomotive engine at model train showBen sent in this photo he took at a model train show he visited.

As a bit of fun, readers might like to have a guess as to the location of the show.

Post your comments under his posting.


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Problem with Cars Derailing On Turnouts

Lana posted this question. To view the answers, or submit an answer, just click on ‘Comments’ under this post.

“My cars sometimes derail on my ez Bachmann track turnout. The problem doesn’t happen every time. Often the engine loco follows the set switch direction but a car behind travels up the switch curve. What’s causing this please?”

Have your question published. Send it to the Blog Moderator using the ‘Ask A Question’ link below any of the postings.

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Quick Model Railroading Tips Sent In By Readers

Gavin sent in this model railroading tip:

“I use small nails and heat them up and put them into the base of the trees. I can also change out my trees for different seasons as my layout changes from Spring to Fall and then winter.”

Dave contributed this tip:

“If the small part does make it to the floor, use a vacuum cleaner with a nylon stocking taped over the end to find it. The nylon will prevent the part from being eaten by the vacuum.”

You can post a comment on these model railroading tips by using the COMMENTS link below.

If you would like to post a question, or share a model railroading tip or two, just use the ASK A QUESTION link to send it to the Blog Moderator for publication.

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When You Need To Super-Elevate Track For Trains Moving Through A Curve At Speed

Super-elevation on real railroads is when the outer rail of the track is elevated so as to compensate the centrifugal forces that happen when a train passes through a curve at speed. Sound complicated? Let me explain it another way.

super-elevation train track

Super elevation is basically the difference in elevation (height) between the two edges of railway track (or a road). It is normally seen where the railroad (or road) has a curve; raising the outer rail (or the outer edge of the road) to provide a banked turn. This allows a train (or vehicle on a road) to traverse the curve at a higher speed than would otherwise be possible.


super elevation trains on curve tracks


Having such a system neutralizes the effect of lateral force. It provides better load distribution on the two rails and reduces wear and tear of rails and rolling stock. In addition it provides smooth running of trains (and more comfort for passengers), and if designed and operated correctly, should result in fewer derailments.

However, excessive elevation in curves can increase the risk of derailment. When running significantly under balance speed, or operating on over-elevated curves, a significant portion of the vertical weight of the car is transferred to the low rail. The wheels can lift off the higher rail.

The following diagram provides a good perspective on the process of super elevation on a real railroad. Super-elevation should happen gradually as the train proceeds over the length of the track entering the curve (entry easement). Maximum super elevation would be reached when the train is into the curve. The train would then ease back down to level as it comes out of the curve and proceeds along the length of track exiting the curve (exit easement). Following this process, the train is able to stay at speed whilst navigating the entire curve.

Superelevation should happen gradually

A smooth transition from a tangent to curve

super elevation trains model railroadsThat’s how the system works in the real world, so modeling the same process on a model railroad makes sense as it will add impressive realism to train operations.

Unfortunately it is something that is often over-looked at the planning stage, or put in the “too hard basket” during construction. Fact is; the process is not that difficult.

The way most hobbyists tackle it is to use strips of basswood, or something similar, and lay a series of splines along the outer curve edge. Sanding the transition into the super elevation can be somewhat time-consuming, so the following should help to simplify the process.

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How To Prevent Dull Solder

solder trackErin D asks readers:

“I am new to soldering and wondered why my solder finish is kinda dull and even a bit grainy in appearance. Is that how it should be or am I doing something wrong?”

Send in your question to our volunteer Blog Moderator and have it published on this Blog. The link is directly below.

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Adding Weight To Tank and Passenger Cars

Online Model Train Club Member Larry has this question:

“I saw somewhere something a while ago about the weight of HO cars and I can’t remember if they said they need extra weight added? That’s okay for flat cars or box cars because you can add a load and disguise the weights. I wondered how to weigh down a tank or passenger car? How much weight would I need to add?”

trackwork model railways

To submit a question for publication, simply use the ‘ASK A QUESTION’ link under any of the posts.

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Members Heartbroken By Loss Of Their Life’s Work on Club Layout Destroyed By Senseless Vandalism

Bill Sowerby, exhibition manager of the Market Deeping Model Railway Club in the UK is seen here clutching one of the damaged structures.Vandels destroy model railroad layoutModel railway wrecked by vandals

Four teenage boys have been arrested, and bailed, following the vandalism at the Market Deeping Model Railway Club. Well-wishers and fellow model train enthusiasts have already donated over £80,000 in just two days. Sir Rod Stewart who said he “feels the club’s pain” donated £10,000. Fellow model train enthusiast Pete Waterman who also generously donated said members’ had “lost their life’s work” and that they would be “heartbroken” by damage.

Read the full story at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7052557/Police-arrest-four-teenage-boys-model-railway-wrecking-spree.html

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Rod Stewart donates £10k to model railway enthusiasts after shock vandal attack

Well done Rod Stewart.

Rod Stewart donates £10k to model railway enthusiasts after shock vandal attack


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Switch Wiring Question

Ren T models in N scale and asks:

“Can I wire a red & green LED signal status light to DC Bachmann turnout control switch? I want a green light for mainline direction and and a red light when the switch is not in position to direct trains off the mainline?”

Send in your question for publication. There is a link below.

View the comments, or add a comment to Ren’switch wiring question. There is a link for that below too.

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Should I use Code 75 or Code 100 Rails?

Should I use Code 75 or Code 100 Rails

Jacob from Ispwich in the UK wants to know:

“I am planning for OO gauge which I read is like HO overseas and want to know if I should go for code 100 or perhaps code 75 rails? Not sure?”

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Correct Flange Distance?

Online Model Train Club member Roger S asks readers:

“What would be the right distance between truck flanges in N scale?”

Submit your answer, or view the answers to Rogers question on flange distances by clicking the COMMENTS link underneath.

Submit your own question to the Blog Moderator for publication by using one of the many ASK A QUESTION links.

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Adding A Residential Street Scene To Your Layout

The modelbuildings.org site has a range of plans for making a residential street scene including 3D UK and USA style houses as well as a range of space saving scale model houses in low relief for positioning against your backdrop.

The feedback on these 8 scale model houses has been excellent with many readers telling their friends about them. The designer of these 8 plans certainly spent considerable time perfecting the accurate and intricate details… and it shows.

The 8 scale model house plans are available now for 70% off the individual listed price.

Verandas and posts can easily be made using balsa wood and then be painted. You can print out extra windows and doors and glue then behind cut out doors and windows to give an added 3D effect, or you can cut out 3 sides of a door or window and leave it slightly open… again adding to the 3D realism. Ground cover is obviously not included, but most in the hobby will want to do this themselves anyway.

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LED Electronic Resistors

LED Electronic Resistors

Andy G asks this:

“I have a few 3 volt street lights (LED) that came with separate resistors. Does anyone know how to wire resistors to lights? Thanks in advance.”

Send in your question by clicking on the ASK A QUESTION tag below.

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Using LED as Indicator if DC Control is On

Koot models in HO and queries:

“Do I install the LED in series or across the two power leads going to the track to indicate power on?”

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Isolating Heisler Drive Line 

John has thus question:

“I have an HO brass Heisler and need to isolate the drive line. It consists of a square brass tube and a square rod smaller than the inside of the tube. I can’t seem to find anything to allow the slide and keep it insulated. Any suggestions please?”

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