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Impressive Backdrop Building For Your Layout – Very Realistic!

Tortoise Switch Motors – Pros and Cons

Brian’s question:

“I am considering installing some Tortoise switch motors on my HO layout. Is this a good solution for a DC layout using Atlas turnouts? As I am new to these motors I am not clear on how these would be wired and powered. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.”

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Where to get info on how to wire on DC

Armando is starting off in HO scale and asks:

“I’m a beginner and need help to connect three tracks, but will like to run them in different directions with out having short circuits. I’m setting up with Bachmann Ez track. Any advice would be great.”

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Double Heading Marklin Loco

HO hobbyist Ed asks readers:

“Is it possible to doubleheader a Marklin loco?”

Add your comment and see other comments below.

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What’s The Best Distance Between Track Feeders?

Jim R models OO gauge and posted this question:

“I am about to install Kato Unitrack and am confused with what distance to put the feeders apart? I read every 6 track lengths on one webpage, and then read of another guy who ran power drops every 6 foot, and of some else who had 10 foot of track with a single feeder. I don’t know what to believe.”

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Bus Accident Scene Something Different

Wayne sent in this fascinating photo to share. His photo of a bus accident scene was snapped at the AMRSS Glasgow exhibition and shows the Obervaz Swiss Hom model railway. Lucky escape for everyone inside!
bus accident model railway scotland

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Clean Track, Axles and Pickups – How Often?

Online Train Club Member Tom posted this question:

“Two weeks ago I unpacked my new Bachmann loco and ran it over several days for nearly 25 hours give or take. The loco wheels and pickups are already very dirty despite cleaning the track several times. How often should I clean the track, axles and pickups? I’m running DCC.”

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Online Train Train Club Into Its 9th Year

The online Model Train Club is into its ninth year, with resources the membership numbers increasing every month. Some members have been with the club since it started. The online club is keeping pace with the ever changing times and includes categories like ‘ELECTRONICS’ for members to access. The online club is by no means a replacement for joining your local model railroad club, however it does provide easy access to a giant resource library which members can access any time of the day or night, wherever they are worldwide. Current members are spread across the globe including: Canada, USA, UK, Australia, Germany, South Africa, New Zealand, France and in numerous other countries.

Watch the free video tour inside Club levels 1 to 3 here

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How to Wire Electrical Connection from Power Pack to Track

Stan has this question for those in the know;

“Let me begin by saying I’m relatively new to model railroading, and have a great deal to learn. I started out with a Bachmann HO set, that came with a very basic (I think it is a #44211) power pack, which has a red cable that connects to the power pack with what looks like a 3.5mm male connector, and an EZ track connector at the other end.

I have recently purchased a MRC 1370 power pack, which has screw down contacts, rather than female plug connectors, as on the Bachmann power pack.

How do you recommend I connect the MRC 1370 to the EZ track? I do intend to eventually use both power packs.”

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Train Tracks Across a Doorway… Is it Feasible?

OO scale train enthusiast Brian asks:

“Is it possible to go across a doorway using a hinged section?The electrics side is not a problem. I just wondered if the rails would catch on uplift? I am abit long in the tooth and disabled so crawing under it not an option. I am hoping someone has done this before.”

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1930’s American Flyer Cast Aluminum Zephyr

Tom is into Pre-War O scale:

“I have an American Flyer 9900 Burlington Zephyr set. I think this old beauty is from 1935-36. It is cast aluminum. I have the engine #9900 and 3 cars, #9911 REA car, #9912 observation car and the 9912 coach car. I have had this set since I was born.

Now that I am retired, I would like to fully restore it. I need things like decals, exhaust stack and a few other odds and ends. Can anyone give me a solid lead on who, where, I can chase parts? I would also like to find the 4th car which contained the whistle. Any help will be greatly appreciated.”

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Faux Switch Machines?

An unusual question from Lee:

“Where can I find fake switch machines to cover holes where tortoise switch machines have been installed underneath layout and spring wires from them are outside (not in center) of tracks?”

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Have A Safe and Happy Christmas

I hope you all have a wonderful time with friends and family (and your trains) over Christmas.

And… very importantly, a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who purchased products advertised on the Model Train Help Blog. Without your on-going support, this website would not exist.

A very Merry Christmas to all the Blog readers, online Model Train Club members, and to all those who purchased products through the Blog this year. Have fun working on your railroad… and have a safe and healthy 2019!

My very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Kindest Regards.

Robert

Santa at Station photo credit Anneli Salo.

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92 Year Old Loves His Trains

Steve Frenken sent in these photos to share:

N scale train display

Steve says – “My dad is 92, before his 90th birthday, I picked up his N scale train and unfinished layout and set up a display cabinet so he could see them. For the past 17 years, his layout was packed up from a previous move. He wasn’t able to finish the layout but still liked model trains. I made a case from scratch that would hold enough of the trains that my dad remembers. I used a modified trestle kit, cork oak bark, an old house and station that my dad had worked on many years ago and supplemented the trains with older sets from a variety of sources.”

N scale trains on display

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Model Train Sound Effects

Ho enthusiast Don asks:

“I am looking for a system to imitate rail yard sounds. Huffing & Puffing, bells, whistles. Something with a push button at the controls to sound the imitation noise of a train for my grandchildren to hear when operating the trains. Any such product out there? Seems like a no-brainer.”

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Hornby A4 Silver Fox Tender Needs Body Replacement

Bill P asks readers:

“One issue that is causing me some background concerns is that I have a near perfect Hornby A4 ‘Silver Fox’ in appropriate Jubilee livery. Sadly there is some damage to paintwork on the tender and I am keen to acquire a replacement as this is one of ‘key trains’. So, if you know where I could seek a body shell for the tender or locomotive & end advise would be appreciated. In the interim I will continue to monitor eBay etc.”

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Ideas for Making Roads

O scaler Daniel asks blog readers:

” I need some suggestions as to the best material to use for roads please. Thanks.”

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Using a Diluted Cement Mix as a Paint Wash – Will it Work?

Russell asks readers this:

“I have made some PVC pipe silos which are ready for painting and detailing. I will spray a gray color for the cement silos and paint on a metallic color for the rails, silo doors, elevator etc. After that I will try some washes with dry brushing effects and see how that looks.

I thought of using a heavily diluted cement liquid as a wash to make it more real and look weathered. Will this work? I know cement doesn’t affect plastic on a bucket so it shouldn’t affect the plastic parts – well thats what I assume?

I guess the alternative would be to just mix various shades of paint wash using a light gray, with a touch of light tan, and dab of black paint to darken it in places? Has anyone tried these various options?”

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How to Light Up a Building

This question comes from online Train Model Club Member Nicholas:

“I want to light up some buildings. What size/type of bulbs and electrical supply do I need?”

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

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N Scale Track Plans

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NEW TO MODEL TRAINS?

Scenery Techniques Explained

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.

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.

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