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Triplex Locomotives

Mathew has this question:

“Hi guys just wondering if Varney ever made a triplex HO/OO locomotive? I picked one up recently and have no information other than Varney stamped on the trailing truck.”

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Manual Reversing Loop Question

Fred runs N scale and posted this question:

“I know that Kato makes a polarity reversing switch. I understand isolating the loop from the main, and stopping the train within the loop before changing the polarity. I just cannot grasp the actual mechanics and timing of throwing the switch. Also, how do I set the transformer to move the the train out of the loop and operate it on the main?”

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Locos Halting at the Same Spot on the Layout – Why?

Dale asks readers this:

“First, I’m just in the process of building a 10’X 16′ HO layout. I have an BLI Big Boy that, besides causing a short at switches, seems to halt and restart at the same section of track, mostly on curves, but not always. The condition is worse when pulling 26 cars. It also is running at about 1 amp. I’ve cleaned the track over and over, but it does not make a difference. The engine is only about two weeks old. Could the track itself have faults in it? I check it with the voltmeter and it always shows about 13v, sometimes dropping to 10v. I’m using an NCE Power Cab. with incline circuit protection with light emitting fuses. However, my smaller Pacific 4-6-2 does not hesitate even under the same load. Engine trouble? And, how do you prevent shorts at switch frogs? Thanks.”

If you have a model railroading question you would like published on this blog – simply follow the directions outlined when you click the ‘Ask a Question’ tag below. Priority will be given to well worded, well thought through questions that assist readers in clearly understanding the nature and details of the problem you want to solve. The best questions usually attract the best answers. Also, please check your questions for spelling and grammar prior to submission as we strive to provide the best quality experience for our readers.

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Distance Between Rails in a Boxcar Depot

Greg is into HO and asks readers:

“I was looking at pictures from boxcar depots from the 40s and 50s and noticed that the car are very close between tracks, and that there were multiple tracks between docks. It looked like the cars were lined up so the doors could be opened between cars and multiple trains could be unloaded at once. If so, what would the distance between tracks be? Was this a common practice? Any information would help in designing a switching layout similar to Union Station and the L & N Building in Louisville, KY in the 50s.”

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Hooking Up Electrical Wires to the Body of a Train

Richard models in HO and asks:

“On a Westside brass K5 4-6-2 motor where do I connect to 2 wires that run off the motor connection?”

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Running OO Gauge on HO Scale Code 83 Track

Jim sent in this question for readers:

“I’m looking at buying some OO gauge from England. Will there be any issues running on HO scale code 83 track? The locos will be DCC on the track as well as turn outs. Any help would great thank you.”

Do you have model railroading question you would like our Blog Moderator to consider for possible publication? If so, you can submit your question using any one of the ‘ASK A QUESTION’ links found on this blog. Please carefully check and proofread your question(s) before submitting. Questions need to be clear and have sufficient information providing enough details to prompt the best quality answers.

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Professional Model Builder

Rebecca asks this:

“My brother loves N scale, and has purchased models and equipment to customize. He is disabled, in a wheelchair and deaf, and tech-shy, so he does no email, but can communicate well by text. His manual nerve damage makes model building difficult. Does anyone know of a model railroad builder, especially in the Sacramento/NoCal area, who might be willing and able to do model work to his specs professionally?”

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Are HO Trains More Reliable To Run Than N Scale?

Mike has this interesting question for readers:

“I am wondering if N scale track is more likely to cause loco hesitation and stoppig than HO? I am ready to tear out and sell then go to HO. I don’t run trains daily but the layout is in a heated and cooled interior room and shouldn’t need cleaning from one week to the next. I have used everything but goo gone or WD 40. No I haven’t bought the expensive brass car.”

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Pros and Cons of Raipro Operating System

Rick asks readers:

“I would like to hear any feed back from a user of Railpro systems. The pros and cons as I’m still in the planning and design stage of building a layout. Thanks”

If you have a question you would like the Blog Moderator to consider for publication, you can submit it using any one of the ASK A QUESTION links on this blog. Please check and proofread your question carefully before submitting it to ensure it is clear and has sufficient information with enough details to prompt quality answers.

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Can I Operate Locomotives Purchased in the USA on European Track?

Paul has this question for readers:

“I’m looking to purchase N scale locomotives on ebay in the United States. Can these be operated on European track? If not, what needs to be done to make them run on European track?”

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Tricks to Maximizing Layout Space for More Trains and Scenery

Plans for background buildings – Click Here

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Peco 3-Way Electro Frog Turnout (SL-E99) with a PL-10E Turnout Motor

Lou models in HO and asks readers:

“I just installed a Peco 3-way electro frog turnout (SL-E99) with a PL-10E turn out motor. The motor is fitted directly to the turnout and dropped into the base table through a 40mm x24mm hole. Before installing the motors to the SL-E99, I wired the motors and tested them before attaching them to the track. All worked well.

When I attached the PL_10E’s to the SL-E99 the motors would bind. One in “right” direction when I activated the switch and the other in the “left” direction when I activated the switch. If I gave the motor a little help when I activated the switch it moved the point rails in the proper direction. No problem going in the other direction, and without any help other than the switch motor.”

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MRC Sound Decoders

David has this question for readers:

“I have a MRC HO 1730 16-bit universal EMD 567 Diesel sound decoder coming in the mail. Can anyone tell me anything about this decoder?”

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House and Garage Plans To Download

Plans for 8 Houses & 4 Garages – Click Here

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Starting a Layout with 3 Modules

Steve is planning to build that is divided into three modules and would like some words of wisdom from those in the know:

“At long last, I am going to start an HO layout(s). When I was young, my dad wanted to have a layout – he bought a lot of components, but we never got around to it. My kids are grown and grandkids are coming, so I want to do a layout for them. I would like to do the layout in 3 components so that when the time comes, each of the kids can have a layout. The question(s) are how do I start and do you have any suggestions for 1 large layout that can be set up to be split.  I have an area about 12×15 for the layout(s).”

If you have a question you would like the Blog Moderator to consider for publication, you can submit it using any one of the ASK A QUESTION links on this blog. Please check and proofread your question before submitting it to ensure it is clear and has sufficient information with enough details to prompt quality answers.

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Altering Train Layout Configuration

Patricia has an N scale layout and asks:

“I have my dad’s train set which I have had since before his death in 2002.  It is on a 3’x8’piece of plywood with mountains and buildings.  The central part of the display is a mining town and this takes most of the display.  On one end is a very small New England town and the other end has a more modern residential area.  The mountains are along the rear 8′ length. My dad was very creative and he made the mountains. The two residential area are slightly elevated over the mining area and have a Styrofoam base. Because of the space the train occupies, I have been trying to think of a way to make the display take less space, possibly by moving the two cities upward to a higher level, but this would entail redesigning the track.  I have never actually worked on a model train set and I have no idea how to proceed. Also, there may be a time in the future when the train has to be moved again and I would like for it to be somewhat more portable.  We had to rent a U-Haul to move it to my house. Any ideas”

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Reverse Loop Switching

Don models N scale and asks:

“Some time ago I saw a circuit which used a double break in each rail, the small isolated piece of rail would then go live when a metal wheel hit it, which would trigger a latching relay to set the correct polarity on the loop track.  It proved almost impossible to cut and solder to that tiny bit of track. Any ideas or do most people use infra-red train sensing? Any other thoughts?  Thanks.”

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How to Install Guard or Check Rails

Andy models HO and asks readers:

“Guard or check rails are parallel rails on the inside of the wheel carrying rails; they help prevent derailments, especially on bridges and in tunnels.  I seldom see them used on model railroads.  Has anyone found an easy way to install them?  In particular, I’m looking for a way to add them to Marklin C track.”

6 comments  Ask A Question

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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