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Brand New! Just Released! 15 Background City Buildings To Download and Build

2 New Series Of Scale Model Railroad Background Stores Just Released

Now available not 1 but 2 new series of background shops available to download and make for OO, HO, or N scale layouts. Watch this quick tutorial that demonstrates how easy it is to make the jewelry store and travel agency from series #1. CLICK THE VIDEO BELOW TO WATCH THE DEMO.

PDF plans are now available for download at https://www.modelbuildings.org/background-shops-scale-models/

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Can I Fit a Decoder on My Own?

David Thompson author of the DCC Help e-book contributed this article to share:

Can I Fit a Decoder on My Own?

Yes, you can! Installing a decoder on a locomotive is not a very difficult task, once you get the hang of the basic concepts involved in its operation.

However, it is advised that the first time you operate on a DCC layout; you get a decoder-fitted train to work on the model.

This will give you some time to learn about the working of the equipment and get familiarized with it before starting from scratch. Once you attain the knowledge and get familiar with the working criteria, you are all set to try the installation on your own!

In a nutshell,
• Decoder is like the working muscle in the DCC layout.
• It is responsible for assigning an address or loco number to the train.
• It also detects the signal incoming from the command station on the track rails and decodes it into the requested action for the locomotive.
• The decoder commands and powers up the motor for controlling its speed and basic direction settings.
• Optional commands that can be controlled by a decoder include controlling the back EMF and momentum and updating the speed table.
• The decoder also acts as a switched outlet and functions to power up the additional equipment like the driving headlights, any special light effects, and the sound.
• It is packaged as a chip, ready to be installed in the locomotive with a ‘plug and play’ action. Many locomotives also come with the ‘DCC fitted’ option, which means the decoder is already installed in them and they can be used as it is by the user. Such systems are ideal for beginners. Advanced users can program and install the decoder themselves as well for defining more custom functions and features.
• The price for the decoders depends upon the number of features it offers.
• When selecting the decoder, it is a good idea to go for NMRA compatible models so that they can work in conjunction with any throttle or command station you are using. Also, look at the power consumption of the decoder before adding it on to your locomotive.
• You can easily install and fit a decoder on your own, but opt for assistance from a friend or a technical professional in case you are confused about the different steps involved. You can also seek online help in this regard, there are a number of resources available that guide on the model and type of decoders that you should go for.
• There is no specific decoder that can be termed as the best choice for your locomotive. Different versions and brands seem to work for different people. So, at the end of the day, it is all about what you seek from the equipment and your own requirements that make the layout work like a charm for you.

For more help on DCC go here

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Easy Way to Make Unpaved Areas

Neil sent in his quick tip:

“I discovered an easy way to make unpaved areas of ground surface such as gravel or sand. I now use differing grades and colors of sandpaper and adhere to your surface. I wish I had found out earlier. That’s life I guess.”

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Refurbishing an Old Switch Engine

Phil writes:

“I have an 0-4-0 B N HO scale switch engine from the early 60’s I cleaned and lubed. It is running now but is noisy. The part that confuses me is it runs better and is quieter when going backward. Any ideas why?”

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2 Minute Demo on How To Make This Background House Scale Model


Plans are now available for download at https://www.modelbuildings.org/background-buildings

Download, print, and construct these plans to OO, HO, or N scale.

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Brushes for an AHM Trolley Motor

Bruce asks:

“I am searching for brushes for an AHM trolley motor. The originals burned – sizes are 2mm x 3mm and a guess of about 5mm or 6mm long, and of course, with springs. I searched eBay, googled the world…but cannot find any sources. The question: does anyone know where I can find some? Thanks in advance for your help.”

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Recommend DCC Decoders

Train Club member Palitha asks:

Can you kindly recommend DCC Decoders and speakers for the following DC engines –
1. DENVER & RIO GRANDE GP40 Diesel Locomotive Atlas #7038 HO
2. H0 Fleischmann

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Bud models HO and posted this:

“My train components crossing a crossover are diverted to the second track after the engine and some cars have crossed OK. Even though the crossover looks OK to the eye I still have an obvious problem. Any thoughts?”

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Adhesives and Glues

Kent asks:

“I found an old kit with paints and 1,1,1-trichloroethane glue and paintbrush cleaner. It is in “Bachmann bros. painting fluid and glue”. Is there a replacement for this?”

Post your answer below.

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Andrew models in N scale and writes:

“If I want to change my current Kato DC layout to DCC and use a Bachmann E-Z controller but still use the Kato point switches, how do I power them and what do I need to do?”

Add or view comments below.

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Preferred Track for Beginners Layout

Andy sent in this question:

“I am planning an 1800×1200 (6×4) N scale layout of logging & mining operations. It has been almost 40 years since I last had anything to do with Model RRs. What is the preferred track type for use that is available in Australia? Thank you in anticipation.”

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Engine Maintenance

Frank asks:

“I have several HO engines that have been in storage for a number of years and now will not run. Are there any recommendations as to how to clean or lubricate them and is there information explaining cleaning and maintenance issues?”

Add your suggestions and see the comments by others below.

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Insulated Turnouts

Mike sent in this question:

“What is the difference and advantages of insulated vs uninsulated turnouts for DCC?”

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Signal Pilot to Control Railroad Crossing Lights

Ed models HO scale and asks readers:

“Can anybody tell me where or how to get a manual for a signal pilot to control railroad crossing lights? The one I have is in German and I don’t read German. I need all the info that I can get.”

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Electrical Block Detection

Paul models HO and asks:

“I am still building my 5 module layout and plan to use electrical block detection in the future. I will run DCC NCE and operate a complete loop with an isolated section for each module as well as a siding. I want to include lights to indicate if the track is occupied or not. I would appreciate any thoughts on what I’ll need to make all this happen. Thank you in advance.”

Have your question published. See the link below.

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Loco Speeds For Consists

Jamie is into N scale and posted this question:

“Is there a decoder that can regulate the speed of a loco in a consist? I only have two engines… an Atlas and a Kato… but the speeds don’t match well. I don’t want to risk damaging them. Any suggestions?”

To add a suggestion or see the answers, click on the COMMENTS below.

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Fascia Material

Anthony posted this question:

“The edge of my 4ftx8ft layout is untidy so I’ve decided to add a facia of some kind to smarten it up. What material would you recommend I use without breaking the bank?”

Send in your question for publication (use the ASK A QUESTION link below), or add an answer/suggestion (use the COMMENTS link below).

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Which Adhesive To Use?

Lester has this question:

“I decided to build a retaining wall on a longish section of my layout and want to use the right adhesive. I imagine it will need some clamping to the wood while it dries in place, but I am concerned that contact cement might grip too quickly and not allow enough time for me to adjust and check the positioning. By the way, I thought foamboard might be the best and cheapest material to use for making the wall. I would be interested to hear any ideas. Thanks.”

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