Stupid Mistake 19-Invoking the wrath of the track gods

Pete Nolan Jan 26, 2005

  1. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    (With homage to Greg Easterbrook, who writes about the football gods on

    After 32 years of N scale, I must bow down in homage to the track gods. I was once an agnostic, laying down my accidents to chance; now I am a firm believer.

    The track gods do not suffer boasters. A while ago I boasted that my track work was so good that trains would run for 36 hours straight. Since then, trains never ran for more than a minute without being hit by a lightning bolt and jumping off the track.

    The track gods do not suffer long trains for long. Once I ran a 60-car freight a few times through my loop without incident, thus proving that I could run long trains; the track gods caused a massive pile-up on the next loop. And have continued since then.

    The track gods do not suffer Kato PAs. I fiddled with track for ages making my Kato PAs run perfectly, and crowed about my success; then I tried them in reverse. Zzzzt!

    The track gods do not suffer temperature extremes in the train room. To conserve energy, I've let my train room get cold when I am not around. Then I heat it up when I'm going to be in it for a few hours. This has caused two kinks, and one vertical dip in the last few months. But my heating and electrical bills were getting out of hand! I protested. Tough luck, they replied.

    The track gods are hyper-sensitive about cleanliness. They put little reminders in your ears, and in your voltmeters and ampmeters, when things are not clean. Then they stall a train when you ignore them.

    The track gods like BIG pile-ups, just to humiliate you in front of guests. Nothing will happen until your longest train is near the top of your steepest grade and then--Runaway! Downhill, our modern cars will reach lightspeed in a few seconds, then pancake because you put a switch just before the entrance to a bridge. If they are really feeling nasty,e runaway will pancake in the middle of a through truss bridge, thus leading to the tedious deployment of all sorts of long hooks, pushers, and many bad words.

    I have angered the track gods. Have you? And how do I appease them?
  2. alhoop

    alhoop TrainBoard Supporter

    If you're getting kinks, I don't think you have expansion gaps. I had kinks until I installed gaps every 3-4 feet. None since.

  3. LongTrain

    LongTrain Passed away October 12, 2005 In Memoriam

    Just chant the Kato Mantra while doing 40 laps on your Unitrack K1 test track.

    Mantra: "Sekisui Kinzoku Kato USA, USA Kato Kinzoku Sekisui" and all will be well.

    Sacrificing a Backmann Plus F7 as a burnt offering while you do so will not appease the Gods, but trust me, you will feel better knowing one more has been destroyed.
  4. SD70BNSF

    SD70BNSF TrainBoard Supporter

    Has Kirk Ready signed you up yet to do a column for NSR? I think he should, and you should hold out for big money [​IMG] I enjoy (and hopefully learn) your Stupid Mistake (tm) series.
  5. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill TrainBoard Member

    Gee Guys-

    Paranoid me thought all along it was the track gods ****ing with my head only.

    I have found that each time I elevate or shave or file or whatever at a particular joint to make a particular engine go over it with ease, it destroys the karma of two other engines which will then stall, slip or derail at the "fixed" spot. My Kato PA/PB does, however, operate perfectly on my upper level.
  6. Tad

    Tad TrainBoard Supporter

    I'm at that same point of the track gods messing with me. I have a couple of spots that only one set of locomotives have a problem with.

    The thing is, it's not the same set of locomotives that have a problem at each spot.
  7. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Like Icharus, you have flown too close to the sun and been dashed upon the rocks of your own temptation. The gods do not smile on human pride and ego. Remember, in their eyes, you are a mere ant waiting to grease the rails of intellect, smashed by the great mana train of infinite cars length.

    People will offer all sorts of scientific methods for fixing your track problems. They are unbelievers and will be brought down to submission in good time.

    There is only one true cure... burn incense and offer libations while grovelling on the floor and uttering livestock like moaning sounds. (Someone grab the video camera)
  8. ac60cw

    ac60cw TrainBoard Member

    I belive the track gods are big Uni-track fans.
  9. LongTrain

    LongTrain Passed away October 12, 2005 In Memoriam

    So I have heard [​IMG]

    They even protected me when I made stupid mistake #2,980,714 (I've had trains for 56 years now... [​IMG] )

    I put a new MDC Connie and 4 new MDC 50 foot passenger cars on the little Unitrack layout I had at the time, thinking I'd give them an hour or so of break-in running while I got ready for work.

    I didn't know MDC steam didn't require "break-in" running, and I forgot all about them and went to work. It was a long, hard day.

    Got home from work very late - 9pm or so - and there is a train running? :eek:

    Hmmm.......Straight out of the box equipment with Rapido couplers, wheels that have not been checked for gauge - nothing. [​IMG]

    Still running at the same crawl speed I set them almost 15 hours before. No wear, no heat, no damage. [​IMG]

    Of course, mine was a little 30x60 inch Xmas display that stayed set up in the living room in a piece of oak furniture for over 2 years.

    Pete's outfit is a real railroad. But then, Pete had his working every bit as good as my little St. Nicholas, Fayette, and Greenbriar. Oooooo... [​IMG]

    Spooky? [​IMG] [​IMG]
  10. jimbeer

    jimbeer TrainBoard Member

    Sounds like that Union general talking about the Southern boys across the field... "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist---" whereupon a red hole appeared in his boastful head!

    There are just some things you shouldn't say out loud:

    1. "I've never been in a car accident"
    2. "My trackwork is perfect"
    3. "I don't have any shorts on"
    4. "I don't have any shorts on my Model Railroad"
    5. "I've never dropped an expensive loco on the ground"
    6. "Things are going so well!"

    Pete, you've recognized the errors of your ways and are on the path to enlightenment. Continue your journey, burn any B-mann EZ-Track you can find, and give the track gang extra whiskey rations to encourage better performance.

  11. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks fo the compliment, Chris. I make my living in corporate-style writing and, fortunately, have more than enough work right now. I haven't published a "public" piece of writing in more than six years.

    Committing to a column would make my model railroading hobby into work--and I don't want to do that. I can't slam the pay scale of the MRR publications--for hobby pubs, they actually pay fairly well. As my modeling and miniature photography skills improve, I may submit some stuff to them. For now, it would be more of an accounting headache than it would be worth. I'd rather jot off some things and show them here. When I retire in 3 years 5 days, things will change. I have three book projects underway. I haven't read Sam Posey's latest book on model railroading, but that type of project could be in the future.

    All I can say is--I'll see.
  12. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    There are places where I installed the track without sufficient gaps. It's pretty easy to fix--I just haven't got around to it. When you install about 900 feet of flex-track (about 360 pieces, so far), you're bound to make a few mistakes in the cutting. I'm not too disappointed that I have only a few spots that need a correction. It's kinda like spritz-spritz, pry-pry, cut-cut, reballast, reglue, and I'm done. I probably made 1000 or more cuts laying this railroad down, so I'm not worried about a few spots--though the track gods certainly pointed them out to me!
  13. Fluid Dynamics

    Fluid Dynamics TrainBoard Supporter

    You're scaring me away from wanting a large layout! Is it really that bad? I thought layouts were supposed to be fun and relaxing.
  14. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter


    What a nice rhythm to the mantra!

    I have eight F7s ready for the next New Mexican bonfire. For those of you that don't happen to live in the USA Southwest, it's been a fairly wet year. Now, after our lengthy drought, a wet year (say 10 inches of precipitation) is a blessing and a curse.

    Since our reservoirs have come from perhaps 10 percent to 20 percent of capacity it's a blessing.

    The curse is the tumbleweeds. They are perhaps 500 percent more plentiful. They burn ferociously--tossing a Volkswagen-sized tumbleweed onto a fire is a bit like tossing a one-gallon jug of gasoline--you singe the paint (or stucco) off buildings for 100 yards, and cause nearby airliners to experience turbulence.

    So, a Bachmann F-7 on my New Mexico bonfire? Yeah, maybe that will appease them.

    [ 26. January 2005, 21:38: Message edited by: Pete Nolan ]
  15. LongTrain

    LongTrain Passed away October 12, 2005 In Memoriam

    Pete, you may or may not know it, but you hit the spike square on the head with your post.

    Our NTrak layout is awful right now. After 7 years of drought, we had 6 feet of water over Indian Bend road, a mere city block from where the layout sits.

    Simple math, really:

    From months of single digit humidity to 100% for a couple of days.


    Lots of 25 year old homosote roadbed.


    Kinks and gaps and humps and sags like you would not believe.

    Bottom line? I think you nailed it!

    PS - You can stop the Rain Dance now, OK? I drove through driving rain to work this morning, and it will be at your place tomorrow.
  16. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    Me? challenge the "Great Gods of Track". No Way man. Just because I put at least 3 _S_ Curvs in my layout does not mean I challange them. Just means I'm a glutton for punnishment.

    I'll have to go test but there is one duo of engines, (the GG always runs in matched pairs). that will derail on one of them. Uncouplings at another,
  17. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    The track gods have smitten me anew.

    (For you classic N scale fans, that's the same poetic meter as the opening line of Virgil's Aeniad)

    Trojae qui primus ab oris

    Well, I'm probably not the first on these shores (of Troy). My Uni-track is now malfunctioning. No, it's not the Uni-track, but the circuit-breaker in the Tech-4 250 that's gotten over-sensitive.

    I thought a great way to break in my steamers, and my recalcitrant diesels, was to run them all night on my Uni-rack test loop. It worked for a while, though it drove my cats crazy.

    Now they stop in the middle of the night. The Tech 4 throws a circuit breaker somewheres in its innards. No derailments--heavens, this is Unit-track! Restarting them just requires a simple reset of the Tech 4.

    Methinks the Tech-4 just gets bored somewhere in the night. Or it's just having a hissy-fit when the track gods throw their lightning bolts.
  18. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    I do not anger the track Gods..I please them by careful track laying [​IMG] Its those pesky gremlins you need to watch out for.
  19. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

    You mean the exploding Accumate couplers?
  20. Barry

    Barry TrainBoard Member

    nope - they struck me there too.

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