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Athearn Genesis F3, F7, and F9 Locomotives

Martin asks:

“Can someone explain the difference between the Athearn Genesis locomotive F3 / F7 / F9 models which all look similar?”

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How The Car Types and Brands Compare

Steve is starting off with HO and writes:

“”How do you rate the car types and brands in terms of detailing and reliability? Which brands or models stand out, and which brands should I avoid? US 1960s and 1970s era interests me. I will be avoiding plastic wheels and knuckle couplers based on what I’ve read.”

Readers are welcome to contribute thoughts below.

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How Run Down and Derelict Buildings Can Bring Character and Realism To A Backdrop Scene

See the full range of background buildings below.

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Soldering Tools and Components

Warwick asks:

“I am new to soldering and would like to know what to buy. I have space enough for a 8 x 4 layout in HO and expect I will need something suitable for multi-purpose use. What do you recommend?”

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Calculating Track Rise Based on Length

Michael asks:

“When creating slopes up or down how many inches do you rise or drop in a 12″ or 1′ run increments?”

This free calculator should be helpful to Michael https://www.modelbuildings.org/track-grade-calculator

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Discoloration of Atlas Switch Center Rail

Kerry writes:

“On my O gauge layout I noticed the center rail of the Atlas switch is discolored. The track on either side is ok. Any idea what causes this? I have six switches and they all exhibit this?”

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Model A Fire Scene

Including an emergency scene on a layout is always popular with visitors because it can add action, excitement and interest to a scene. It also provides the opportunity to include special effects, flashing lights, siren sounds, and lots of vehicles, TV crews, and spectators. This scene was snapped at a Brisbane Train Show.

Plans for burnt out buildings, fire/police/ambulance stations can be found at:




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Front Tender Wheels Derail

Leslie asks:

“I have an Athearn 4-8-4 DCC and the left front of the 4 tender wheels keep derailing. They are spring and swivel. Oiling made no difference. Thoughts?”

You can see and add comments below.

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Logging Flatcars

Rowan models N scale and asks:

“I have been looking online for 30ft to 40ft flatcars… not singles, but can’t decide what best for using on my logging layout. I will want to transport freshly felled logs to the sawmill, and cut lumber from the sawmill to a furniture factory in town. Ideas please?”

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Impressive Silos To Build

You can download these plans at https://www.modelbuildings.org/industrial-silos-pack-deal/

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DCC Narrow Gauge Trains

John writes:

“Please help me. I have just started with DCC narrow gauge. What type of controller should I get? I have just turned 66, and computers are not my strong point but I can get by. What is the best way to start? I have had OO gauge in the past. The reason I have to go smaller s a lack of space. I live in Halesowen. Is there a club near me ? Can any one help me? Regards”

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ECOS Detection of Trains

“Can someone give me a good explanation on how to wire up ECOS and detection of trains to have total automation using the system. I have all the hardware but the manual is not explaining it well enough for me.”

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2-6-4T Locomotive Wheel Size

Bert writes:

“I am planning to purchase a 2-6-4T locomotive. The flanges look out of proportion and could cause future problems on track and turnouts. I see two (2) options: 1. don’t purchase, or 2. change wheelsets. A third option is to purchase and ‘go with the flow’. Any and all comments are welcome.”

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Marshall 111 DC Train Controller

Kenneth asks:

“What is the purpose of the slide controller in the top left-hand corner of the Marshall 111 DC Train Controller unit housing which is marked with F on the left end and P on the right hand end? Hornby has advised that due to the age of the unit they cannot assist.”

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LED Light Strips

Alex asks:

“I am putting in carriage lights in my DC layout and have purchased LED light strips but what size capacitors is required to stop flickering while the car runs?”

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O Scale Railroader Not An N Scale Fan

William writes:

“Good grief! I just bought my first N scale train, (and my last). I’m a Lionel guy and this is ridiculous! The only saving grace is my Bachmann train came with an extra set of Rapido couplers. Why do they make things so difficult?”

You are welcome to share your thoughts and personal experiences below.

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Track Ballast Tones

Daniel models O scale and writes:

“I need some guidance on what color ballast to use on different areas of the layout. Thanks for all comments.”

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Mainline Direction of Travel

Rich asks:

“I’m designing a 6 X 12 layout (HO). I’m liking the idea of multiple long mainline loops with cross-overs of some variety. I’ll have a yard and an industry (coal mine), too. My question is are most layouts designed with a primary direction in mind? How is that established? Thanks.”

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