Rolling Stock

Orphans

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When it comes to sharing my love of the hobby with my non-railroading friends and acquaintances, I’m not shy about it. They all know where I’ll be on November Sundays. When an Amtrak crash makes the news, they ask me for details. They send me sympathy cards when a hobby shop burns down.

They also send their orphans to me.

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So…where was I?

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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?

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Lead Us Not Into Penn Station

GG1_523The 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…)

Decoder Management for Dummies

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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…)