What's Right OR Wrong With Model Railroading???

BarstowRick Nov 25, 2018

  1. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    That will light up the board with incoming phone calls. All lines are open so feel free to call. :ROFLMAO::p:rolleyes:o_O
    WHAP in Nampa, ID. Funny, real funny John. LOL LOL and still chuckling out loud. Good one....well played.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  2. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    While involved with packing and unpacking to make a move to Nampa, Idaho from Big Bear Country. I came across a discussion, on another train website. Discussing the pro's and con's of common wire. I made copies and printed out the pages, placing them in a binder. A rather lengthy, interesting, hotly contested discussion. From both sides of the fence. It was interesting to note some of the problems others have had with the common. Which is unlike a ground. The two are not one and the same... at all. And shouldn't be treated as such. See DCC guys postings regarding this.

    Now electronic guru's will prof-undo on how it works and how slick it is. Those of us who have installed and recognize problems with it will almost always turn thumbs down. We will write off the guru's, as a lot of noise. So the discussion back then in 1999 was typical and hotly contested. Until one of the participants did an experiment and lost a power supply/transformer with Brake, Momentum and other types of memory features. The transformer a MRC unit, was stuck on full speed ahead having lost all the control features. Now that can't be a good thing.

    My experience with model railroading goes back a ways. After having put in a Cab A and Cab B with Atlas Sliders and noting the problems I had with it. After being shown what DPDT toggled switches can do for me. That layout didn't last three months. Since then, I've maintained the Common is not a good thing for any model railroad. Suggesting you don't mix the common with both a positive and negative current on the same wire. Instead wire in DPDT toggle electrical switches and shut off both sides of the current when in the off mode. Avoiding mixing Cab A and Cab B. Finding it to be a much smoother, predictable and consistent operation.

    Now John A., has a common wire system and I've operated on his layout and enjoyed it. Tthat's not to say he doesn't have problems with it. Operating one train by itself it works amazingly well. But operate two trains and the dispatchers need to be on their toes and throw the right toggles otherwise you can have melt downs, run a-ways and inconsistent performance. However, on John's layout I've never seen a common wire system run as well as his does. Salute!

    Okay, me where do I stand? You won't find me wiring in anything remotely close to looking like common wire.

    So, What's Right or Wrong with Model Railroading?
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  3. Josta

    Josta TrainBoard Supporter

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    In the defense of common wire at least on my layout, the Gulf & Pacific Railroad, a few years ago Rick and I did what we called an "acid test" on the performance of the common wire to settle our friendly argument on the pros and cons of common wire, and it performed flawlessly despite our best efforts to cause failure or erratic behavior. No discernible negative effect was noted on either locomotive during this test; the layout was wired per Linn Westcott's, book, "How to wire your model railroad"...very old school, Kalmbach from the '50s.

    Yes, dispatchers do have to be on their toes when running 2 or more trains, whether on DC, DCC, or the 12 inch to the foot scale equipment, so trains do not collide or, in my case, cross over to another train's electrical block (my layout is old-school DC with A and B blocks, ControlMaster 20's with four walkaround controllers). And the "melt down" was when I left the layout power switch on all night with the throttle cracked open slightly so low power was routed to my Union Pacific SD7 all night, overheating and causing the locomotive to be sent to Chrome Crankshaft. Another melt down was when the trucks of an Southern Pacific passenger E locomotive shorted out during an operating session by an operator inadvertently venturing into the next electrical block where it remained there for a while, undetected. Nothing to do with common wire; it was operator error. Even if I had DPDT switches, if the next block is set to another cab there would still be a short there. But if the DPDT was set to "off" then the short likely would not have happened.

    As far as the guy losing his power pack; I have not seen one DC power pack manufacturer recommend against common wiring. In fact, all of the wiring diagrams I have seen from the manufacturers indicate common wiring, so the guy simply must have wired it incorrectly and/or there was a short that he did not know about, which is why on the Gulf & Pacific Railroad we have voltmeters and ammeters to watch out for shorts.

    Any "inconsistent performances" or "run-aways" would also be due to operator error, which even I make my self by not setting the cab switches correctly as the train transverses the layout. The common wire system is very simple and does not make mistakes unless there's erroneous human input, although it is possible (given my very limited knowledge about DCC) that DCC is more "forgiving" but to me, the action of throwing the block switches for the train is like what the railroads did back in the '60s which is the time period modeled on the Gulf & Pacific. And finally, as they say with computers, "GIGO"...."garbage in garbage out".

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  4. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks John for the come back.

    No! Did you ask if I was re-kindling the common wire thing. I have no desire to restart that friendly discussion Pro &/OR Con. John is right we couldn't get it to miss-behave, or act like mine did. The "Acid Test" proved once and for all that a common wire layout can be built and work well. john's Gulf & Pacific Railroad, runs amazingly well. John is an electrical engineer among other degree's under his belt.

    That said, John's layout is so..so..so very ...old school that it needs to be preserved and advertised as the Railroad blessed with the know how of one John Acosta. Who knew what he was doing. It's not an Atlas spin off but rather something he wired as he shared above.

    A word about the transformer that crashed. It would be a number of years later I would loose two of the same style and make of transformers to a inherent or should I say apparent flaw built into the transformer. Stuck on full speed ahead with no way to reset it. No speed control or memory features. Needless to say I did what I could to rectify them. They were out of warranty. I bought them used and whoever owned them before me did not sent in the warranty card. Huuunh? One of the reasons you'll hear me say today don't buy used electronics. I know you are going to question that but that's my story, I'm the one telling it and I unfortunately am stuck with it.


    See! Proving what might seem wrong at first glance may not be wrong at all. In the right hands.

    You all, may not need to know but I miss operating on John's layout in the worst way. Homesick as can be. My toes haven't been called to that kind duty or service, sense I left Big Bear Country.

    What's Right or Wrong with Model Railroading?
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
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  5. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Being a model railroader is a lonely hobby. Glad we have internet now.

    Some interesting comments. The negative one's, although bad stories, I do not think indicate the kind of people who are model railroaders for the most part. My experience on meeting others is that they have always been kind hearted good people. (We can all get snarky on the internet though. :p)

    Years ago I hosted a train board meet up in Denver at a central location. I called it The Denver Gentlemen's Railway Society (All ladies are welcome too, I just like the old fashioned name.)

    It was fun.

    I am of half a mind to do another one. Anyone else in Denver these days?
     
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  6. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Traingeekboy, do it again. The Denver Gentlemen's Railway Society. Can't say I'm any closer to ground zero but who knows.

    I agree most of the guys and gals I meet in model railroading are extraordinary types of people. Generous with their remarks, free with advice, critical of nothing and everything, able to cope with others who don't see things their way, good with children, ornery when they need to be, loves a good laugh and fearful of nothing. Really? Did I say all that.

    The idea is to have fun and only you can interpret what fun is.

    And it is! Now that's what's wrong with model railroading! Now I know I didn't say that? :confused::D:oops:o_O
     
  7. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    We'll see if anyone responds. Maybe do it after the new year when things settle down.
     
  8. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds good to me. I and everyone tuned in here will be watching for news.
     
  9. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    What's Right or Wrong with Model Railroading?

    I certainly see a lot of things wrong in that most of it is a reflection back over better then 50 years in the hobby. To start with you could buy brass kits which were to expensive for a kid getting started. Never mind the expensive ready-to-run brass and plastic.

    I wasn't just any kid who liked wind up trains or three rail trains. I wanted something more authentic as in copying what the real railroads and what they were doing. Switching moves, sleek passenger trains, odd mixes of freight cars headed who knows where? Oh, don't get me wrong. I started with a wind-up Marx. Graduated to a Three Rail Lionel. My step-great granddad must have heard me ranting (I do that well) and bought me a two rail American Flyer. Similar to the D&RGW Flyer. He was a former Moffat Man, who went south to warmer weather and signed on with the Santa Fe.

    Now we are talking. But wait! Add ons? Cost WHAT? I have to work all summer to buy a freight car or caboose. Never mind the turns/curves were so wide I couldn't put it on a 4X8. Not going to happen. Sigh!

    Dad took me to a bicycle, sport shop, guns, bait and fishing shop to see something new in a smaller gauge. HO! I liked the Geep on the front end and the track appeared to be easy to put together. Cheaper? Athearn had just put out one of it's first rubber band drives often referred to as HI-Fi. Sorry, I don't hear any train sounds in stereo...harrumph! I didn't like the way the Geep performed. Jerky starts, it would surge and the overall performance just sucked. I continued working with my flyer until it ended up spending more time in the shop with those dastardly traction tires, spending more time off the locomotive then on it. No mechanical aptitude although I could fix the Lionel and Marx wind-up stuff. The American Flyer Steam Engine was a work of art and I wasn't about to mess with it.

    Finally the time came to make a decision. My granddad a Santa Fe Employee, found an HO Revel SW7, SP Tiger Stripe w/freight cars and caboose and bought the train set as a Christmas gift. Yes, you guessed it, I wasn't pleased!. Glad to have it and yes a step in the right direction. Noticed I said step... Although, gear driven it to did not start smoothly, halted and hiccuped when running slowly. Never mind I didn't have bench-work or a layout to run it on and the fiber's from the carpet found a new home in the trucks and motor gears. Aiiyiiyii !!

    Learning lessons from the school of hard knocks.

    I can go on to tell you how the MRC power packs although good for their day just didn't get the job done. Wire wound and subject to wires breaking, not the answer I was looking for. Pulse...really??? You are trying to pass this off as a good thing? Atlas Comon Wire...are you (expletive I better not use here) kidding me? Don't think many of us were just idly sitting by and taking this. Not at all. Letters to the editors of various wig wags (magazines), to the manufacturers and anyone else that would listen. To my surprise the phone rings and it's Irv Athearn. Ricky, what do you need? Really, he called me. I'm just a kid. I soon found myself building a friendship. To my surprise he actually made the changes that not just I suggested but others. Lot's of us!

    Times were a changing. Today, we are still demanding, wanting perfection, a better grade of toys. And, someone must be listening as we are finally getting throttles that perform well, locomotives with real sound, correct light packages, number boards that actually light up and DCC with all of it's advantages. What's coming next? So much that is Right About Model Railroading. What took them so long????????

    I think it's safe to say we've arrived and the hobby truly is our own. I don't see it fading away anytime soon. Maybe certain facets of it but It's here to stay for at least a generation or two. However, it won't look like what you and I see on our home or cub, well I was what some would consider a cub once upon a time. What I meant to say on our Club layouts. It will be the high speed trains of Japan and Europe. Oh there will be some hold outs but the future will be different and easier. By far more rewarding and exciting.

    You can agree or disagree with my observations. That's part of what's Right about the hobby and who we are. SO! What say you?
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
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  10. Znewbie

    Znewbie TrainBoard Member

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    I may get some flaming pitchforks aimed in my direction now, but for me, it's not really the trains as such that interest me. I now next to nothing about the history of the DRG (The period I'm depicting on my layout), but I do know a fair bit about the history of WW2, in which the DRG operated. My railway knowledge is primarily of the UK's steam era and the 'big four'. I chose to model the DRG because I only have space for Z-scale, and I lack the skill, patience and budget to build my own UK rolling stock.

    I digress. My primary hobby is military modelling, specifically tanks and armoured vehicles of WW2. What I wanted to build via my layout is essentially a huge animated scene in which tanks and other military vehicles appear. The trains are what provide the movement in the scene. For me, it's a 2ft 4in by 2ft 4in moving 3D picture that I'm trying to 'paint', if you will- and whether it actually depicts a real location is neither here nor there, as long as it creates the impression of a real scene in miniature. It's a 3D animated impressionist picture!
     
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  11. Eilif

    Eilif TrainBoard Member

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    Coming at it from a different direction, and I'm attempting some measure of reality in place, rolling stock, etc, but in the end I think that phrase describes what I do as well.

    I use the wargaming idea of "tabletop quality" for the look I'm going for. I haven't the time, money or inclination to strive for the current standards of accuracy, but I want the "feel" of a railroad.
     
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  12. amckinzie

    amckinzie TrainBoard Member

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    What’s wrong, the whole idea of trying to get children into an expensive adult dominated hobby. True back in the day about 40 years ago I got a train set but times have changed. Model railroading as I have seen it practiced has nothing to do with the tyco train sets of old and is way more expensive. When at train shows I was always hesitant to let some random 8 year old run a train I spent at least $400 on just to hover over them to make sure they didn’t crank the throttle to 100 which did happen. Let’s face it people like to be around those of their own age they relate to them better. We would do well to get our peers into the fold instead of trying to turn a youngster onto something they would have to drop a grand on just to get running right. There is so much that Could be of interest to the “maker” crowd let’s move in that direction.
    I have been that junior member of a model railroad club and when I look back on it I realize that I wasn’t really a part of the in crowd just someone there to swell the ranks. Let’s only bring the kids in if you are willing to let them have free reign of your personal collection or not at all. At the end of the day it is an adult hobby with high standards and let’s stop bending over backwards trying to get kids who can’t afford it or have the room for it ( let’s face it grown ups we have trouble finding space ourselves) into it.
     
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  13. Eilif

    Eilif TrainBoard Member

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    I definitely hear you on not needing to have kids in with the adults, but I disagree that it's an all-or-nothing kind of equation. Surely it's ok -as many clubs do at shows- to hand the kid the controls to a $60 Bachmann rather than one of your most prized possessions.

    There's lots of kids who would enjoy participating in the hobby on a more limited basis in terms of scope and $. Here's a modular club nearby that's comprised mostly of teens and adults running DCC and having a great time with it. http://www.crew57.org/
    Sure it's not up to the level of most adult model train clubs, but if you want to grow the hobby and pass on your skills to the next generation, that's a great way to go about it.
     
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  14. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    On the kid issue. The future of anything we have today spills over on the children of today. More specfically, the kids are the future of the hobby. The CMR&HS model railroad club I belong to encourages having kids come in and operate trains. The club owns a bunch of older equipment. Cheap enough if broken can easily be fixed or replaced. These kids get to operate on the layout with someone there to act as a sponsor or tutor. We have some youngsters we can turn loose and let them go. They won't run their trains into waiting trains, check switches to make sure they are headed in the right direction. Check with other train operators to see if they can go around a train lingering at a tran station. Great kids to operate with. But that doesn't happen overnight and requires the patience of a saint to get them there.

    I've worked with various types of church groups teaching Model Railroading. I've learned that kids can be particularly attentive even the ones that seem slow in the classrooms. All of a sudden they are learning about something they want to do. Get my drift.

    I worked in a hobby shop where we sold a full spectrum of products. I saw kids take to model cars, airplanes, RC boats, slot car racing and more. They would take the time to stop, watch, listen and then recreate what they learned. Give a kid something he wants to do....and he or she may surprise you.

    Just my two cents and I take change.
     
  15. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Gifts.

    Since it is the Season for gifting...well...this could be what's Right or Wrong with Model Railroading.

    I got to thinking about the gifts we get at Christmas Time. It was once said by a very influential wig, "A Gift Perceived is a Gift Indeed." Meaning the person gifting understood what the gift-ee wants and has found a gift appropriate to the desires of the individual who will receive it.

    My daughter bought me a Lionel Model Railroad Calendar. Is that a gift Perceived? Since I was the one receiving it, I have to say YES! It will be hung up in my front room/train room along with the Lionel Thermometer.

    I'm not a great fan of Lionel, as others tend to be but I saw this as not only a token gift but a meaningful gift that said Dad I know what you want. She does! She can talk trains right along with the rest of you. Someone raised her right.

    My son gifted me a bunch of HO stuff, I had given him years ago. Why? I wasn't sure. At first I saw it as a slap in the face. Then my daughter said he just wasn't into the hobby anymore and had other hobbies. A life size ski boat, music as a musician and vocalist and more. He wanted you to have it back to have something to operate at the Club. Since we use turntables a lot on most model railroads, I think it's safe to say that turned the table. I now saw it as a gift perceived and a gift indeed.

    Over the years I've gotten junk and re-gifted to someone that didn't see it as junk. Junk in the eyes of one may not be junk in the eyes of others. You know the OLD saying so I won't repeat it here.

    A Chritstmas Story by Rick H. (Oh no, guoting Mr. Bill)

    As a youngster, guessing about 7 or 8 years old. I found in the store trash an Ives or Marx, tin plate, wind up train with three rail track. Everything was there including the broken locomotive. I asked the store manager if I could have it and he sent me joyfully on my way with the train in a box. He had showed me what broke but didn't have time to fix it. So I fiddled and farted, poked and prodded and suddenly the spring broke loose and sent small parts flaying every where. Not a good moment. My Dad's, Bosses Son Peter, came over and I asked him if there was anything he could do to help me fix it. It wasn't long and we figured out where all the parts went. His dad called him back home to help with something over at the mortuary. Most likely moving a casket. I continued to put it back together and finally got the spring put in so I could wind it up.

    With track on the floor the freight cars and caboose on the tracks, those funny little couplers that folded over the top of each other, all hooked up I wound up the locomotive (that's what my family of rails called a steam engine). Set it on the track, coupled to the tender and off it went. Way to fast for this kid. I called Peter telling him he had to see this. He came over and checked it out. Big smile on his face and an atta-boy.

    You'd think that was the end of the story but no.

    You see I had an American Flyer set that I wasn't allowed to play with. Not yet anyway and that was about to change. My mother who was always looking out for the less fortunate heard of a family in town that wasn't going to have a Christmas. She saw what was going on and came into my room singing: I have two trains and they have none, I'll share one train... I'm going to what???? If you grew up going to church you might recognize that song although slightly adapted to the occasion. Stammering in shock, You want me to give my wind-up to WHO? No not them they wet the bed? Uhh...err that's a different story. They will break it!! That's why they don't have any toys. MOMMMMMMMMMAAAAA! I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT!!!

    Mom's can be persistent and I ended up boxing up the train set, grudgingly wrapping it in the Christmas paper she gave me. I'd of rather pooped a klinker in the box.

    She prepared a Christmas Dinner and I with my beloved toy in hand and a turned down mouth got in the car headed for the Bert's house. Actual name not used here to protect the not so innocent. She had me help her load the boxes of food making sure I had the toy train set. Arriving at their apartment we brought in the boxes of food and set the table for them I had hidden MY train set under my jacket in hopes she'd forget it. I hear you laughing. We were about to go out the door and I heard coming from her lips the dreaded reminder, Ricky, (don't think about calling me that now) you have something for the two girls and two boys. Not a guestion? No, I must have forgotten it, I heard my self say, knowing I wouldn't get away with it. I swear she had eyes in the back of her head. It's under your coat, she admonished. I went to the car and sorrowfully pulled it out from under my coat and took it inside, presenting it to the oldest brother I knew he would take care of it but wasn't sure about the others and with reasonable cause to believe such. Only I didn't think like that back then. It was, They'll break it!!

    I believe it was the next day and I got a call saying it doesn't run, can you fix it? See, MOM I TOLD YOU! She drove me over and it was a simple thing of putting the spring back in. Fold over a few metal tabs and it was good to go. New Years! We happen to stop in with celebration snacks but to my horror the youngest brother, hammer in hand was beating the cow-pooie out of the locomotive. I wanted to teach him a lesson right there on the spot. Humm he has the hammer. I did the only thing that made since. I told him it was his and he could figure out how... he was going to fix it!! I learned later....he kept winding it tighter then it needed to be to make it go faster. FASTER?

    If you saw where this was going you also noted I identified the train as Marx or Ives. You also know the related value of finding one that actually works...sigh... today. You guessed it.

    Yep! I always get a sinking feeling, a nauseated stomach when I tell this story.

    However, no good deed goes unpunished. When I got up Christmas morning the American Flyer was set-up under the tree and I had full license to operate it. Get this! Anytime I wanted to.

    There might be a moral to the story but I will let you figure it out.

    So, What's Right or Wrong with Model Railroading?
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
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  16. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    With Christmas celebrations and New Years parties behind us. We can come up to air and breathe again.

    So, what did you get for Christmas that was just wrong or right with model railroading.
     
  17. Josta

    Josta TrainBoard Supporter

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    I can tell you what's wrong with model railroading.

    For Christmas I received a Broadway Limited Union Pacific SD7 from Trainworld for my DC layout.

    Frankly, the locomotive ran like crap. The headlights and annoying interior light would come on, interior light off and it'd move down the track a few inches, then the interior light would come on again even though the locomotive was still moving. Coming to a stop, the headlights on the other end would come on momentarily, then go off. It would also stop occasionally as if it were a dead spot on the rail but the headlight remained on. Whose dumb idea was it for the annoying interior light anyways; it is so bright the engineer/fireman would've been blinded. The cycle repeats itself; trying to return it to get a P2K SD7 like I had before....it ran like a dream.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
  18. Josta

    Josta TrainBoard Supporter

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    UPDATE on the BL UP SD7: Trainworld promptly refunded my money and they were really good about it. And a NOS P2K SD7 with the same road number (#776) as my previous one just popped up on eBay! I had modified the previous one, (which got damaged when I left the power on the layout to the locomotive on all night) for directional lighting, and for the numberboards to light up as well, for my DC layout.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's never fun when the prize, that crown jewel you ordered turns out to be less then. Happens to me as well. This could be one of those things that's Wrong with Model Railroading? However, the problem was resolved and now we can move on.

    I found to my delight a B Unit I've been looking for and got it for a very reasonable price. More on this later as I need to test track-it, flash some pictures and see if it full-fills my every fantasy. Okay, not every fantasy but the ones in the realm of model railroading.

    Glad to hear it worked out.
     
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  20. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    What's Right or Wrong with Model Railroading?

    How about failures? That opens up pandora's box of tricks and horrors.

    We were talking about a particular brand of model railroad equipment that was suffering failures as in appearing to die. I don't know of a brand of model railroad equipment out there that hasn't died either while it's out there alone or in tow with other motors or locomotives. One could assess at either the hand of the owner or some inherent built in failure point. Don't think the boys and girls that run the 1:1 foot scale don't suffer from the same problems.

    Watched a engine super from Barstow try to fix a diesel that had been side tracked in Victorville, Ca. A problem with wheels slipping. Apparently the throttle was stuck on full speed ahead with no way to drop it back. Sound familiar?

    Most of the time in our model railroad world it's all about the tabs. Are they making a consistent connection allowing the current to arrive at the electric motor? Not so different from the large scale world as most of how a diesel motor is run is done with computers, what used to be relays and still is.

    Nothing gets away without needing routine maintenance or a rebuild.

    We could say that's what's wrong with model railroading but I prefer to look at as what's right with the whole dammed mess. No, I didn't say that! Did I? :censored::cautious:o_O
     

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