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Running Quality of Locomotives

Hans writes:

“Is there any technical or other explanation for my observation that DC controlled HO diesel locomotives run so much smoother than steam locomotives, particularly when I want the steamer to run very slowly such as when switching cars. I’m talking about technically modern models.”

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Ballasting Tips

Allan sent in these tips to share:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this hobby… it’s not a race to complete the layout. I know from experience to at times restrain my enthusiasm and sometimes wait a few days to let my mind think things through or for things to settle into place. Are you ready to nail down the track or would some more testing be sensible before taking the plunge? The same could be said for ballasting. Personally, I would run the trains for quite some time before ballasting. It’s easier to iron out any gauge issues, track bumps, kinks, electrical dead spots, or other operational issues prior to ballasting. Removing ballast is not an easy task, so it’s better to know of any pre-existing problems before gluing the ballast in place. That way you’ll know that any problems occurring after ballasting will likely be a direct result. What’s the old saying – more haste less speed! I hope this helps someone.

ballasting train track

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Bus Wiring and Drop Feeder Wires

Graham plans for N scale and asks:

“What gauge/size of wire is recommended? My layout will be 8′ x 3′ when complete and I will be powering my track from a DigiTrax controller if that helps.”

You can add your own comments and suggestions (or read the the comments posted by others) below.

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DCC Model Train Operations For Beginners

This video gives a basic introduction for beginners who are interested in getting started with a DDC model railroad. For more details http://www.dccmodeltrains.org

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Dead Spots on Track

Burton who models in HO asks:

“I run a DC setup with 8 blocks 2 of which cross on a 45 degree. I had one dead spot 12 inch long and now have another on the same block about 8 inch. My voltmeter says I have a short but I can’t find/see anything. The track is ballasted. Any ideas?”

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Kato Power Pack / Atlas Turnouts

Ed models in N scale and asks:

“I’ve got a Kato unitack layout set up and I would like to add a yard using Atlas track. Does anyone have any ideas on how to operate the Atlas 3-wire turnouts using a Kato DC Power Pack? Is there an accessory that fits to the side of the power pack much like the Kato turnout controllers that would allow me to operate the Atlas controls? Suggestions please?”

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Wiring A Lionel Switch Tower

Gary asks readers:

“I am trying to wire switch tower to an isolated rail. I am hooking #1 to power, # 3 to common and #2 to isolated rail. It does not work. I have checked all of the connections, but I can’t solve it. This hookup seems to be the preferred method. I would appreciate some suggestions. Thanks.”

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Setting Up A Model RR In My Garage

Bob writes:

“I live in NY, where we might get three of four snow storms each winter, and the temperature typically ranges from 30F’s in the winter to the 80F’s in the summer. I have an insulated 2 car garage, with the garage door being the only wall uninsulated. The second story of the house is also over the garage. I would like to use 1/2 the garage for an HO layout. Would the weather or anything else present any problems?”

Please add your comments to assist Bob below.

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Advice Painting Plastic Model Structures

Steve models N scale and asks:

“I am assembling a Walthers Santa Fe Station for my layout and I do not like the pre-colored molded parts. The building has brick textured walls with indented grout joints. I am thinking I need to paint the walls with a realistic brick color and let dry. Then paint a lighter color on the walls, rubbing off of the brick surface. This should leave the paint in the grout joints. Am I on the right track? Any advise as to type of paint?”

Contribute your comments below.

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Mixing Code 80 and Code 55 Track

Justin models N scale and asks:

“I have started my layout using code 80 but thought of using some code 55 on the spurs. Could I encounter issues doing this?”

Post your comments or suggestions under this post… and read what others have to say too!

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Engine Fetish

Russell writes:

“I have to admit that I have a bit of a fetish for buying new engines. I already have far more than I realistically need on my N scale layout (I’m too embarrassed to say how many). Am I the only one with this predilection? Please tell me I’m not alone?”

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How To Make This 5-Piece Background Structure Tutorial 1 Step By Step

This background structure is interesting because it has different dimensions to it. It can be made to HO scale, OO, S,, or N scale. To see this and the other 5 buildings in this series go to


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Insulated Track Use

Dan models O scale and writes:

“Can insulated track be used for accessories using 154c contactors? If so, how do I wire a 2324 Switch Tower Building using insulated track pieces?Thanks.”

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Track Confusion

Bill asks: “What does the numbers of the turnout mean?”

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How Many Cars Can An Engine Pull

Bill asks:

“Hi there just wondering, I don’t have a big layout so am not in any position to set any records, but I am kinda curious of how many cars can be pulled around a big layout with one or more engines. Has anyone put this to the test or set any records? If so how many cars, scale, how many engines deployed, and what model numbers, any gradient and curves etc? I doubt I would be the only one who finds this stuff fascinating?”

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Running Tsunami-Equipped Locomotives With Digitrax Controller

Geoff asks:

“My tsunami-equipped engines seem to run faster than the others at the same throttle setting. How can I get the faster HO engines to run closer to a scale speed on the same setting? I have a Digitrax throttle and You are correct I don’t generally run it any faster than on half throttle.”

You can add a comment or read the comments and suggestions below.

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28 Authentic Wild West & Mining Town Plans To Download and Construct For Your Model Railroad Layout

Download plans at https://www.modelbuildings.org/wildwest-mining/

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Plastic Safe Lubricants For Model Trains

Ananda writes:

“I have a few older Hornby locomotives and some old Marklin locos and would like to know if there is a plastic safe lubricant that can be used on the motor bearings that will not damage any plastic gears if it gets on them by accident. Thanks for any help.”

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