“Cute.” How I hated to hear that word used to describe trains, as I was growing up. Trains weren’t cute. They were big. They were grimy and smoky. They made noise. They hauled thousands of tons across the countryside. (Or, in my world, they were models that represented such things.) But I picked up a vintage Varney Dockside at the RIT show last month, and it’s… (more…)
You want to start a flame war on an online N scale discussion group? It’s easy. Just complain about Bachmann trains. You’re bound to attract a large group of people with strong opinions. It happens so often that I made up a meme for the situation.
The drama’s over. The locomotive I’ve wanted for over 30 years is here.
The engine was peeking out of a box under Paul’s table at the Batavia show as I walked past. I stopped, and gently pulled it out for a closer look. Paul looked decidedly uncomfortable. It was easy to see why.
It’s an American Flyer 316, an S gauge model of a Pennsylvania Railroad K-5 Pacific. Manufactured about 1955, beautiful die-cast shell, smoke unit, knuckle coupler, even an air-chime whistle. Nice engine, or at least it started out that way. Then somebody came along and plastered swastikas all over it. Paul picked it up with a bunch of other AF items, some similarly decorated, at an estate sale. He could offer no explanation for why someone would do this, and neither can 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 trouble began a few years ago, at the Syracuse show. I had just dropped a sizeable chunk of pocket change on a new NCE PowerCab, thus hurtling myself headlong into the world of Digital Command Control. With only two decoder-equipped locomotives in my entire fleet at that point, I had some tough choices to make. In order to get more decoders, I had to swear off buying any more locomotives for a while. It was easy at first, but then the GG-1 on the table winked at me. (more…)
I pop the shell off one of Dana’s Atlas SD-60Ms, remove the decoder, and clean the brush contacts, but the motor still doesn’t respond. “They ran great the last time I had ’em out,” he had told me, “but I can’t get ’em to move now. Can you take a look?”
If you’ve been into DCC for a while, you can probably guess where this is headed, but don’t shout out your answer just yet. Instead, let’s take this opportunity to explore JMRI—Java Model Railroad Interface. (more…)