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9 Impressive Scale Model Houses To Download and Build

Impressive Water Scene

Grant sent in this photo to share. It features an ariel view of a water scene on a layout displayed at The National Train Show in Salt Lake City, USA, in 2019. The illusion of different water depths adds to the realism.

model train layouts water scene

If you have a photo to share or a question to ask, send details to the Blog Moderator by using one of the many ASK A QUESTION links on this Blog. If you have a photo or drawing for publication the Blog Moderator will contact you advising how to email it.

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Replacing Existing Track on an Older Layout

Steve sent in this question and diagram:

“I am completing a layout started by my father over 50 years ago. He had used Atlas brass code 80 (black ties) flex track on cork roadbed, all nailed down, soldered connections. My redo will model mid-century passenger trains from California through the Rocky Mountains. I would like to replace it with a nickel silver track. The total run length is about 80′ (not counting yards). I have 34′ of Atlas code 55 & 35′ of Peco code 80, both brown tie flex track. Not enough of either to complete the changeover. I like the look of the Atlas 55, but code 80 is stiffer, but ties are farther apart. Which would have more options for matching turnouts?”

N scale track layoutThe red is lower track, green is transition grade, blue is upper level. N scale, each square is 1’ x 1’.

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Magnetic Uncouplers

Rob P asks:

“I’ve done too good a job in burying my uncoupling magnets into the cork roadbed and covering them with ballast! I’m modelling NSWGR prototype circa 1910. How do other modellers indicate where their uncoupling magnets are located on their layouts?”

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Losing Power with DC

Jim needs answers to this question:

“I lose power around my HO layout using DC power with a MRC 280 controller. I have added two lead feeds from the track to the controller to boost power but did not get the desirable results. Any advice would be appreciated.”

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Bachmann EZ Track Question

Dale sent in this question:

“Would the HO Scale Bachmann model trains EZ track, work for a Tyco late 70s early 80s model train HO gauge? I assume since it is all HO, it should work? Do you have a better recommendation for track? I am attempting to get our son’s old train set running for him…. and it is challenging, but hopefully appreciated once complete.”

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Confusion Laying Track

Nick writes:

“After spending a lot of time on updating myself with the model railroading methods used these days. I have obtained a lot of the supplies I need to begin my project. However, I believe I am now suffering from ‘information overload’ when it comes to the method I will be using to start laying track.

I was all set to nail my cork and track to the benchwork and I really like the use of foam board for some areas of my layout that I have seen many modelers using in the videos that I have watched.

Now I’m just staring at everything, not knowing what to nail, should I use caulk or liquid nails? I don’t need a lot of detail but if you would share your choice of track laying method you prefer I hope it might help me out moving forward with some confidence. Thank you.”

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Track Compatibility

Chuck has HO scale and asks:

“Can Bachman EZ track be connected to track that is used with trains from Bradford-Hamilton trainsets?”

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Cleaning My Ballasted Track

John from the UK explains how he cleans his ballasted track:

“First I Hoover all the ballast with the brush on the Hoover. I then spray the ballast with water, as if you are just ballasting your track.  Then I leave it for a few days to dry. I then clean the rails with a rubber eraser and Hoover the track again, and it will look as if you have just ballasted the track. It looks nice and clean.”

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Power Supply For Layout

Peter submitted this question, and it might be helpful if would add some more details in the comments area below:

“Can someone recommend or suggest a power supply to power accessories only on a layout?”

If you can assist Peter, please add your suggestions below.

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Operating Digitrax DCC System

Lloyd asks readers:

“I have an HO layout that I have not touched in 5 yrs. I have Digitrax as my system. Can anyone tell me how to operate the system to get it up and running? I had it running before my surgery but totally forgot how to get it started. For some reason, I can’t find the books for it.  Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.”

Send in your question to the Blog Moderator for publication. You can have a pho published too. Just let the Blog Moderator know and he will tell you how to email it.

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Engine Slows

Keith models HO and writes:

“My engine slows dramatically in two sections of the track.  I have cleaned the track.  I thought it might be out of gauge, so checked that.  It seems to be O.K.  This happens on both my engines, but more dramatically on the older one.  Has anyone experienced this?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.”

Add your comments and suggestions to help Keith using the link below.

If you have a question(s) you would like to get published, just send it to the Blog Moderator by clicking the ASK A QUESTION link below. If you want to include a photo or drawing, you simply need to notify the Blog Moderator when submitting your question. He will reply and tell you how.

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How Do You Uncouple Stubborn Cars?

Ross sent in this question:

“Hi to everyone. Just wondering the best way to uncouple stubborn cars during an op session? I’m very new to things, but already not a big fan of the Kadee magnets, which I’m finding a bit inconsistent when I want to keep my fumbling hands and elbows away from the scenery. I saw one guy on video using a pick thingy sharpened and flattened at one end. He wedged it between the coupler jaws and opened the couplers with a little twist. What do people use?”

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Is There A Quicker Way To Clean Freight Car Wheels?

Mervyn asks:

“I’ve airbrushed and weathered most of my 136 freight cars and have got them looking good. A lot of work but worth it. I now want to remove any grime and gunk build-up on the car wheels. From experience, I know it will take at least 15 minutes to clean all 8 wheels on just one car by swabbing an Isopropyl Alchohol soaked Q-tip against the wheel tread and rotating the other axle wheel. I calculate about 34 hours of repetitive work. Is there an easier/quicker way?”

If you have a question you would like to have published, you can send it to the Blog Moderator by using the ASK A QUESTION link below. If you have a photo or drawing to include, then you can easily advise the Blog Moderator when you are submitting your question. He will reply and tell you how to do it.

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60 Ideas for Background Industries

You might be interested to know… the webpage featuring the 6 newest buildings in the range also includes an interesting list of around 60 ideas for industries that could be developed against the backdrop of a model train layout. The list, which is by no means complete, might stimulate some ideas. If you have any ideas for other industries, you can publish them in the COMMENTS under this post. Here is the webpage link with the list of 60 industries  CLICK HERE

Now Available Individually, or in 3 Special Buy Packs

The newest series of plans is proving popular with OO, HO, and N scale model makers, so new options are now available for customers. The 6 downloadable plans can still be purchased individually. Added to this are 2 new special buy packs featuring 3 buildings in each, and a below half price pack featuring all 6 buildings in the series…the best buy!

There’s also a couple of helpful step-by-step video construction tutorials on the webpage and some scale charts to use as a guide to sizes. For details of the 3 special-buy packs CLICK HERE

scale model railway industry buildings

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How To Slow My Athearn RTR SD40

Tom writes:

“I have an Athearn RTR SD40 which won’t slow down. I’ve tried speed table programming without success. It has a soundtraxx Tsunami decoder. Anyone else had this happen?”

Add your comment, and view answers sent in by others by clicking ADD A COMMENT below.

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DCC Locomotives Go In Opposite Directions

Roger is puzzled with this:

“After installing a decoder in my Atlas C425 it goes in the opposite direction to my other DCC loco. Strange, I thought both DCC ready locos would run the same way?”

If you have a question you would like published, send it to the Blog Moderator using the link below. If you have a photo or drawing to include, then simply advise the Blog Moderator when submitting your question. He will tell you how.

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LED Lighting for an Old Style Country Train Station

Victor writes:

“What lighting should I use for above the doors of an older style ’50s country train station I’m going to build? I want the lights facing downward, and be in keeping with the scene. Would yellow 3mm LED’s above the doors under the overhang work? I know I’ll need to allow space for wires and resistors. I’m fishing for ideas if someone can help.”

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Engine(s) Drawing Too Many AMPS

Allan writes:

“First I would like to say I’m actually asking this on behalf of my Dad. (he doesn’t know that I am doing so) I don’t really know much at all about this specific issue or the entire hobby to be honest with you.

So the issue is that three of his engines are drawing 3X the amps that they used to and therefore and either are not working properly or at all. Now I believe he was told to (or suggested to) add a second power supply to the layout being that the layout was quite large. Now, Dad (Bert) has done so now but that did not fully correct the issues he was having.

So my question to anyone that would like to offer some advice is …. What is it that’s causing this high amperage issue in these engines and how can it be rectified? The brand name of these engines is Athearn I believe and please forgive me if I have miss spelled this. All three of these engines previously did run perfectly fine. At that time apparently, they were drawing 1 amp and are now drawing 3 amps each.

Thank you very much in advance for any help or direction in this issue. Thanks again Allan (& Bert too).”

Add any comments or suggestion you have below.

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