Apr 24, 2021
Thank you for the perspective..
You are SO right Doug. Back in the '70s, I formed the unconscious habit of briefly accelerating into certain sections of trackwork with certain locomotives knowing that I'd need to coast through a spot here and there. My Con-Cor (Kato) PA-1 was superb, my best unit, followed by my Minitrix U-28C and U-30CG.
Switching would have been great if...you know...we didn't have switches or all locos were like the PA-1.
I was blessed that most of my track was Arnold Rapido. The switches didn't look as good as other brands, but they had no plastic frog, so no dead spots. They were power-routing too and very well made. Sometime later, Arnold came out with a cheaper design that lacked the precision internal sliding contacts within the switch and they were terrible.
As pictured just below were the good ones. Trivia: The switch motors could be turned upside down and swapped (left machine to right switch, right machine to left switch) to make them flatter and less obtrusive. The steps on Minitrix U-Boats would sometimes hit the machines otherwise.
The crummy ones are seen below. See the open space under the frogs? Current flow with these depended on one tiny contact point and there was nothing to reliably hold the points to the stock rails.
50 years later, I finally bought some Rapido switches/track and you're right, the original versions are well-made and actually, Rapido track looks good because of the blackening. I built a small (3X4 foot) layout with the track just to experience it.
Appreciate what you guys are referring about occasional stutters and stalls. The SD35 requires 1/3 throttle to pass thru d crossover all the time besides needing a-prototypical speeds to get through the 3 turnouts. Too me, that's excessive for a product that carries a MSRP of almost $250. Moreover, would have spent a few hundred on a cheap Bachmann set and at that price would accept all this.
My first set, in 1965, no concern for prototypical speeds or switching operations, it was us versus the Aurora Cars friends and who could go faster. With layouts 2a and 2b in the late 80s, some turnouts and spurs but still focused on straight line operations. As what Hardcoaler mentioned, I did the same thing back then when approaching a "Tough" turnout. With this layout, a focus on moving rolling stock on spurs in particular order, possibly at some point even under program control is a goal.
Guess its a little more of disappointment after dropping over $1500 on this little 2x4 layout. Maybe I'm too old school, but to me that is a lot of money to have to run loco's at around a circle at 1/3 throttle or fly through a turnout when backing up to couple or uncouple cars. Also, when I see or hear "precision" not a toy, some degree of performance is expected.
I agree completely Mark and such worries often result in me not buying items that are of interest. I'm a frugal guy and have little patience with having to repair, return or reengineer someone's poorly executed product. N Scale has come a long way, but its advancements have sometimes made ownership a challenge. After demolishing my old layout and three years of delays in starting a new one, I hope that my reentry brings happiness and not regret.
I wish you all the luck in the world for success.
Unfortunately, myself included, we tend to focus on the bad, but even with the problems encountered, I've certainly have had great and rewarding moments. DCC and N gauge is a tough marriage to begin with considering the smaller surface areas and DCC's sensitivity to power. I'm a frugal person too. But, I wanted to make this layout as computerized and prototypical as possible with portability and DCC. And, since it s small, figured could spend a little more for better stuff.
One of the most frustrating things is the lack of info provided by producers which adversely impacts both modelers and resellers.
I think the information on the back of Kato turnouts is important to know before the item is purchased yet I searched Kato site for PDFs of those and they don't exist. I bought the D Crossover as part of the V7 kit and the V7 manual does not include the info as printed on the back if bought separately. Look, its somewhat understandable if its a high tech product that changes constantly but a turnout or crossover??
In the 80's marketing with 4 color print was expensive but today, its pretty much all electronic publishing to sites. Gee, I'm thinking, you got the digital camera out to take a front view of a building kit, just take the other 5 sides. Plus, dimensions are important, as before buying structures, I like making 2 D cutouts and play with placement.
This is where Woodland Scenics is one of the best. Used there stuff in the 80s-loved it. They include dimensions and multiple photos.. I bought the Depot and the Shanty. Both cases very happy with purchase. Also bought the post office but returned for a couple of reasons. Bought the 6571 Busch pine trees.. Expensive but beautiful trees. The Digitrax site, plenty of technical info for pre-sales decision making. Love the Atlas Signal Tower but I sorta messed it up a bit after trying to change the color of the windows and doors with microbrush. I had pre-painted all the parts before putting together and should have left it at that. Something always wanted on prior layouts... Yes, there have been a number of instances where things have been good.
Think in a hobby as diverse as this the more info you get out there the less returns and mistakes will occur and everyone will be happier.
One of the wonderful things about model railroading is that it combines a variety of interests and skills but of course the flip side is that it generates x times the clutter. So after 5 years of major decluttering various aspects of life I treated myself to engage in a little "controlled" clutter and return to model railroading.
Re-entry and the first time in N gauge has been eye opening, to say the least... Also, it is said that N gauge is the 2nd most popular scale but in attempting to do this small winter 1960's era layout, experienced a little challenge in finding vehicles and figurines, among other things.
Suggestion... You probably know this better than I, ensure DCC, locos and track meet your expectations before spending too much time and money on other things. I started in Oct 2020, Due to pandemic and DCC parts backordered, so I did scenery and so on, didn't get DCC till mid March. Running DCC loco's on DC, especially slow speed operations is painstakingly about as much fun as ....
If you are still in specification, and are interested, let me know what kinds of things you are looking at.
Have you ever removed the trucks?
I hope my comments on the old N scale days were taken in a humorous vein and I agree that, these days, locomotive stalling, even at very slow speeds, should really not be a worry and, for the most part, it isn't, especially with metal frog switches, modern locomotive design with all-wheel pickup, etc.
After over 50 years, the makers should have that stuff down pat.
And Mark, I don't know why but I was picturing you as younger but it's good to learn you are one of us N scale oldsters.
I have not. Like you, I struggle with removing body shells and am afraid of breaking something. Someday when I'm feeling adventurous, I'll take a look. Maybe the wires to the trucks can be flexed/repositioned a bit.
I wish they'd do something different with shell retention other than the bulge/dimple thing,too. The shells are pretty delicate these days.
In DCC, a generous friend gave me his MRC Prodigy Advance system, a Kato NW-2 and an Athearn 4-6-6-4. I've messed around with these on a test track on the floor and am blown away at how well they run. The 4-6-6-4 also has sound and it's super cool. I'm hoping that these will continue to provide a positive experience in my introduction to DCC. All else is DC, stemming from many years in the hobby. I'll have a modest one-main railroad, so DC will be fine.
I've chosen Kato track for it's ease of installation. Maybe I'm getting old and lazy, but I'm ready for ease and durability. I'm aware that the No.4s have their flaw with the points and I'll have to learn about notching the stock rails. All mainline turnouts will be No. 6s. I bought a selection of Kato track to experiment with. I'll have a crossover too and at the back of the layout where it would be trouble to access. I hope I escape the headaches you suffered from, else it'll meet its doom.
Glad that Woodland Scenics stuff is still top-notch. It's been 30 years since I last bought anything but a handful of locomotives and rolling stock.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I still miss the days when removing an N Scale body shell was a risk free piece of cake. Painting was a cinch too. These days, an extra angstrom of paint thickness prevents reassembly.
Once you get a shell off the first time...file down the nub on the frame...about halway. That will make any future shell removal a lot easier. Spoken from the 'Lessons Learned Department'
On the old Atlas/Mehano hood units (GP40, SD45), I used to file down the four "latches" that hooked into the shell so the shell would be easier to remove the next time (and there was ALWAYS a next time with them ). Some of those were real bearcats to remove.
Oh, no problem. I guess all the frustration over the last 3-4 months (some my own doing) took its toll with this issue. Know some of my posts reflect venting but this stuttering on 1 path or route broke me. The apparent solution found only by willful damage to a loco. There is so much focus and written on power distribution and maximizing it with multiple feeds focusing on track and that's definitely good and necessary. Thinking more about this, inspired by many of the people who have commented here, the one thing that I stupidly overlooked (assuming 2 brand new locos work as "brand new to spec" is the electrical conduction quality from where wheels strike track to the point it enters decoder. Its all part of the path. Because not only does the F3 run smoothly thru d crossover and #4 RT turnouts, I mean wow, stutter free thru the Kato #2 wye and its unpowered frog, Most importantly, though, another key fact is that at any given throttle setting, the loco is significantly faster than earlier. Before, with either loco, near full throttle performance looked mediocre at best almost like something holding back the locos and so assumed feeders and base power was at fault. Since n scale is fighting physics, the smaller pickup contact areas, coupled with wear from friction and dirt buildup over time and considering DCC, I gotta believe that this area is the cause for a number of loco performance issues. If I was comfortable with removing the SD35's trucks, I would pull them immediately to inspect but since have option to send back, will do so.... Maybe they can do something about the noise too.
Born in mid 50's.... does that make me part of the group?
With you all the way especially with the hand rail and stair details makes it challenging at best.
I love those NW2 and SW7 size and look loco's hoping BLI creates CNJ. Even with all the issues, I'd stay with DCC.
So, you are going to run the mainline under DC and all other layout parts DCC?? What did you decide on power distribution-- Kato feeders, solder? Glad to hear you chose Kato.. I have 2 #4s and locos don't seem to have problem with point and understand it was corrected by some time ago?? I think you will be OK since you have known loco's and their performance levels. Overall, been pleased with Kato performance and that's most important.
Forgot to ask, what decoder will you be using with the Double crossover and are you planning on powering it via track or some other way?
The layout will the wired for two inputs - DC or DCC for the entire railroad, no mixing of the two at any one time. I have one reverse loop and have successfully test wired it with both DC and DCC. It's used only once per run and is manually controlled with a toggle switch. Turnout control will be old skool, direct wired with toggle switches.
Oh, most definitely.