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Helix Ring Diameter

Jack asks:

“Should the ring diameter be the track radius times 2, plus 1/2 of the ring width? What is the vertical distance between rings, and is this from the bottom side of each ring?”

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No. 4 and 6 Turnouts

John K model in N scale and writes:

“I have decided on Kato Unitrack and now need to decide on #4 or #6 turnouts. Is there any preference and why?”

Post your comments below.

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Train Restaurant Needs Software Help

Maxime has opened a train restaurant in Siagon, Vietnam and desperately needs some advice to rectify issues she is having with the software that controls the train. If you can help I know she would be very happy. Here is what she has to say –

“I started a train restaurant in Vietnam 5 months ago. I did not have the knowledge to create my own DCC automatic system, so I hired a software engineer. It end up that the software he built is full of bugs and I am now looking for a new solution. I am wondering if one of your readers can give me the knowledge I need to build an mobile device App that will control the DCC to be able to send a specific train from the layout to a specific table, stop for 25 seconds and comeback to the station (kitchen). The software engineer did create it by adding a RFID card reader to the train to make it stop at the right table. However, I am looking to see if it’s any other solution that are more sustainable and less risk of breaking down all the time. Can someone advise me please. And, if possible how much do you think it can cost to build a software to control the train this way?”

Please add any suggestions below to help Maxine in her new venture if you can.

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Installing DCC

Ger has N scale and asks readers:

“I have a TOMIX ED 61 electric locomotive. I would like to install a DCC decoder. Any ideas of how to do this? Photos or how to instructions are very much welcome. Thank you.

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Consolidateing “Wall-Wart” Power Supplies

Ken writes:

“Greetings. I have somewhat of an elaborate HO layout (for a residential layout) with over 30 commercial businesses, half dozen residential houses, a campground and multiple streetlights. They are all powered by 2 adjustable 3 amp 3-24 Volt power supplies on 2 buses under my layout. Most of the lights are LED’s that draw around 20 milliamperes each, but some of the “grain of wheat” incandescent’s go up to 70 milliamperes. I figured I could safely wire up about 40 – 50 lights on each power supply, because I’m not even close to 50% capacity. But, one of my power supplies started humming yesterday and it felt much warmer than the other one. I don’t know if I got a bad unit or not, but I’d like to upgrade to a more heavy duty power source to give me more head-room and security knowing I’m under my load limits. Does anyone have any suggestions on what kind of power supply I should be looking for? I really like to be able to dial them back to around 9-10 volts in the evening so the lights are more pleasant around the track. Thanks in advance for your responses.”

If you can your thoughts with Ken, then I’m sure he would appreciate any advice he can get. Simple use the comments link below.

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Wheel Slippage on Grades

Ken who models in HO scale writes:

“Greetings, I’m trying to come up with the ideal track cleaning process that would protect my track from oxidation without causing my locos to spin their wheels at my overpass grade. I’m limited to space and my double continuous running oval has a ‘non-prototypical’ grade of about 4.5% – 5% at the trestle (but the trains look very cool climbing the grade). I used No-Ox ID as was suggested by some experienced modelers but it was a disaster! My locos used to pull 17-18 cars with no issue, and after the No-Ox ID my loco couldn’t make it up by itself! It was heart-wrenching! Should I just continue to use mineral spirits and clean the track weekly, or is there something else that will work better? Thanks in advance for your response.”

Suggestions welcome below.

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Watch How To Make This Industrial Background Building For Your OO, HO, or N Scale Model Railroad

You can download the plans for this model railroad industry building here https://www.modelbuildings.org/background-buildings

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HO Kato 37-6110 GE P42 Amtrak V Genesis Problem

David is having problems with his Kato locomotive. He writes:

“The wheels are trying to run on my Kato 37-6110 GE P42 but it will not run. Had it about a year (it ran fine). Steadily it did not run as it did before. I understand the trucks have both motors in them. Not inside the engine. Does this cause problems while in use? My layout has a grade of 2″ drop and travels 8′. The train does pickup some speed going down the grade. Is this the cause of the problem. Can it be fixed? How can I do that? Thank You for your HELP.”

You can contribute your thought below.

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Florida East Coast – Ortner Hopper Cars

Keith writes:

“I’ve been modeling on and off since my teens, with my dad.  I was brought up in South Florida and we had a layout above the garage that was pretty amazing for the small space we had.  Being brought up in Florida, I saw the Florida East Coast RR for all my life; going train watching with my dad and at crossings all the time.

This railroad has an amazing history and I’ve collected and built models from different periods.  I’m working on building Ortner cars from the 1980s and 90’s at the Cemex plant in Miami.  They had hopper cars with white lettering that I’d like to recreate. 

My question is, what color to paint them?  I think the color is a caboose red, but I am uncertain and would love some feedback and even checking the colors, some opinions. Thanks everyone.”

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Minimum HO Turn Radius

Frank writes:

“I’m a novice HO model railroader. I usually set up a simple oval under the Christmas tree annually. I’m bored with that. Furniture confines me to 5′ x 7′ area. I want to add a couple turnouts, a 2nd oval, and sidings for some wild west buildings. What is the minimum HO turn radius for 4-4-0 and a 4-6-0 1870-80’s steam locos and that era freight cars?”

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GP9 on 16 Inch Radius Curves

Lance asks:

“I know 16″ is tight but will a GP7 or GP9 handle it?”

Add your thoughts under this posting.

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Insulfrog Vs Live Frog Peco Points

Ray models OO and asks:

“Would I use Insulfrog or live frog Peco points on a digital layout? Any pointers appreciated.”

You are welcome to post your comments below this post.

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Demonstration – Making A Small Scale Model Railroad Shed From Cardboard

You can download this plan from https://www.modelbuildings.org

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What Do Timed Voltage Pulses Have To Do With DCC Model Train Operation?

Tony sent in this short article to share:

Thanks to the invention of the transistor in 1947 and largely because of the US space program and the cold war, we live in an entirely different control world today. Analog control systems are mostly museum curiosities, and the world has gone almost completely digital. We now control complicated spacecraft with the tiniest of signals over billions of miles of space. And believe it or not, the basic element of the control system is so simple that it’s almost unbelievable. A simple on-off signal does all the work! That’s right! After a hundred years of increasing complexity, we have left all of that behind and are working at the level of the most basic control systems ever invented.

OK, caught in the act! Digital control isn’t really THAT simple, but the on-off nature of the signals it uses certainly is. What is different about today’s control from the analog world, is that instead of looking at what value of the signal, they now detect the duration or timing of the signal. One of the greatest features of solid state (transistorized) electronics has been the ability to generate exceptionally accurate timing, which all digital control systems use extensively. In fact, the entire underpinning of Digital Command and Control is the generation of precisely timed voltage pulses. Digital electronics also makes it easy to count pulses and store them and execute actions based on the counts. This is precisely what DCC does.

At this point, we could degenerate into a detailed, multi-volume dissertation of computer system organization and theory to explain how this all works, but unless you actually are interested in the gory details of that side of control systems it would be much better to just make a statement about the end effects of a command rather than the theory of computer processing and microcontrollers.

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Make This Crossing Shanty For Your Train Layout – Watch How

You can download the plans and construct this model railway crossing shanty to N scale, OO, or HO scale size https://www.modelbuildings.org/railroad-structures

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40 Scale Model Intermodal Shipping Containers To Make to HO Scale, OO, or N Scale

You can download any or all of the 40 PDF plans to your computer at https://www.modelbuildings.org/shipping-containers

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Best Turnouts For DCC And Can I Run DCC And DC On The Same Track

Ed has these questions for readers:

“Let’s start with I am very new to this. I haven’t had a train layout since I had been eight years old and my father did it. I’m now 68. I’m looking to set up a new layout and I’ve been doing some research. I want to start with DC trains but then eventually do some DCC so I want to build my layout for both. My first question is what would be the best turn outs to use for DCC so I don’t have any dead spots? My next question is can I run DC and then change over to DCC when I am ready? I don’t expect to run both at the same time just one or the other. Thanks for any help.”

Please add your thought to assist Ed below.

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Make This Farm Barn Complete With A Grain Silo For Your Scale Model Railroad Layout

Watch this step by step demo showing how easy it is to construct a barn complete with silo for an HO scale, OO gauge, or N scale model railroad. The plans can be downloaded from the Farming Category at https://www.modelbuildings.org/farm-buildings

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