When word came round last August that the hobby shop had just gotten in a large N scale collection, I went to see it, thinking I could use another passenger locomotive, or perhaps some more Kato passenger cars. You know, something with lights, that would look good in a darkened driveway. What I found checked both boxes: a Kato RDC (Rail Diesel Car). The prototype was manufactured by Budd, the same company that made those lovely stainless-steel streamliners, and served as a one-car passenger train for railroads working to economize their passenger service. Never mind that none of the railroads I model had RDCs, this one was in Budd demonstrator livery, so it’s easy enough to rationalize its presence in my railroading activities.(more…)
Installing a Digitrax Decoder in a Kato E-7
It’s a routine drop-in installation, with just one catch. (more…)
An Exercise in Patience
Last Sunday, I touched the power leads to the wheels of a Kato E-8, but nothing moved. All that happened was an ominous dimming of the power pack’s pilot lamp. Uh-oh. (more…)
Six Points for Gryffindor
“Hex Frog Juicer” sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel, doesn’t it? I’d be lying if I said my purchase decision wasn’t influenced just a teeny bit by the name. But, colorful connotations aside, that name is actually quite descriptive: the Hex Frog Juicer is designed to provide electricity to six turnout frogs. Just what Susquehannock Industrial Park needs! (more…)
Summer Yard Work
Once upon a time, Dave built some T-Trak modules. He spread a pair of passing sidings across several of them, and called them “the yard modules.” Those modules proved incredibly useful, and were included in every show layout. When Dave took a break from the hobby, Dana got the yard modules, and they went to so many shows that their foam-over-flakeboard carcases got all beat up. I built new carcases from oak-veneer plywood, and Dana and I installed the old track on them. They continued to go to every show. When Dana stepped back from his train-show activities, I got the yard modules, and here our story begins. (more…)
So…where was I?
I could, I suppose, claim that the tsunami of workplace overtime hours since late March left me with no time for hobby activities, but that’s not quite true. My evenings did become shorter, and so did my Saturdays. I had a choice: spend my remaining, precious free time working with trains, or writing blog entries.
Well, which would you have chosen?
The Command Project, So Far
Did you know that you don’t actually need a Digital Command Control station to run your decoder-equipped locomotives? Use the power pack you already have. Just turn the speed knob up all the way, and encode the commands manually by flipping the direction switch back and forth, at about 8,000 times per second. If you do the timings precisely enough, your decoder-equipped locomotives will respond appropriately. What could be simpler?
Handcrafting the Digital Command
For me, it’s back to electronics this week. If you’ve seen my past layout projects, you’ll know that I like built-in throttles. I did it with the GVC ten years ago, and again with Lynn’s railroad. That’s simple enough to do with a homebuilt DC circuit, but will the rise of Digital Command Control change all that?