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Model Trains FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about collecting, operating and repair of Collectable or Tinplate model trains.

This is a listing of frequently asked questions and general information concerning the collection, operation and repair of collectable model railroad equipment. I make every attempt to keep this information current and accurate, but I accept no liability from the use of this information. I do not endorse any of the products or companies listed here, although I often state what I have chosen to use myself. Any comments critical of a product or company is only an opinion from the experience of the author or a contributor to the FAQ, and is to be taken in that context. Many corporate names and products mentioned here are trademarks, so don't use them for profit! Your input is necessary to keep the FAQ accurate and comprehensive. Additions and corrections are always welcome. E-mail the author at:

tinplate@spikesys.com
(Christopher D. Coleman)
TCA #88-26999
LRRC #0032070

Note: This FAQ concentrates on 'traditional' tinplate trains with AC/DC motors and mechanical sequencers. Modern electronics and DC 'can' motors receive little coverage.

The official World Wide Web archive for this FAQ is at http://www.spikesys.com/Modelrr/

This FAQ is hereby Copyrighted © 1994-2002 Christopher D Coleman. It may be copied and distributed anywhere in either electronic or hardcopy format, providing it is not altered, changed or edited in any way other than format (DOS, UNIX, MAC, html, WP, etc) and no payment is extracted solely for its use. All other rights are reserved by the author. All other types of reproduction in part or in whole, or use in a for-profit manner are not permitted without express permission of the author. Those who choose to archive this FAQ are required to notify the author as to its archive location and to keep the most current copy on file. This is solely to keep the FAQ as current and accessible as possible. The author accepts no liability for the usage of this FAQ.

-01 What's New In The FAQ?
After a long absence, the FAQ is back and updated. I'm hoping ...
-02 Collectable/Tinplate Trains
What constitutes a collectable model train?...
-03 Collectable Model Train Grading Standards And Other jargon
What are Grading Standards and what do they mean?...
-04 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: A
Which manufacturers are commonly collected?...
-05 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: B
-06 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: C
-07 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: D - G
DAYTON-...
-08 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: H
-09 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: I - K
-10 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: L
-11 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: M
-12 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: P - S
PRIDE ...
-13 Collectable Model Train Manufacturers: T - Z
T-
-14 Collectable Model Trains: Thomas The Tank Engine
Thomas, Thomas, I must have Thomas!...
-15 Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends System (g gauge)
All are Large Scale and have loop and hook couplers....
-16 Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends System (o gauge)
* Thomas the Tank Engine, with three ...
-17 Collectable Model Trains: Railscope
What the heck is Railscope?...
-18 Collectable Model Trains: Locomotive Types: Steamers
I'm confused what all the locomotive types are....
-19 Locomotive Types: Diesels, Electrics, And Turbines
Diesel engine or gas turbine is connected to a generator:...
-20 Collectable Model Trains: Cars: How are coupling and uncouplingdone?
Coupler designs and methods can be considered an entire field ...
-21 Collectable Model Trains: Cars: How do Lionel UCS track sections work?
The UCS (universal control section) and its predecessor the ...
-22 Collectable Model Trains: Transformers: What can I get in the way of power for my trains?
A basic review of higher wattage available power: ...
-23 Collectable Model Trains: Transformers: Does it matter that I useonly Lionel transformers on Lionel trains?
Essentially all trains using universal motors will run on ...
-24 Collectable Model Trains: Transformers: Can broken transformers befixed?
As to repairing your transformer, if the wiper or a ...
-25 Collectable Model Trains: Transformers: Can more than onetransformer be used together? (AC)
Connecting Transformers in series is bad news. Don't try it. ...
-26 Collectable Model Trains: Transformers: Why did they stop making powerful transformers?
Initially it was due to lack of demand during the 1960's ...
-27 Collectable Model Trains: Transformers: What's the deal with thosenew Lionel units?
The TrainMaster system is made up of several separate ...
-28 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: What is the difference between gauge and scale?
Scale is the relation or ratio of sizes between a model and ...
-29 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: G gauge still confuses me!
G gauge was originally defined by LGB as a GAUGE not a scale ...
-30 Collectable Model Trains: What kinds of track systems are available?
Different types of track systems in a given gauge are ...
-31 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: Why are three rails often used?
The principal problem with two rail track is that the two ...
-32 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: Where can I get Hi-Rail track supplies for tinplate?
Ross Custom ...
-33 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: How can I make my three tie track look more realistic?
The time honored way is to use balsa wood and stain and make ...
-34 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: What track systems are compatible?
Adapter pins are available to connect Gargraves to O or O-...
-35 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: What track system is right for me?
Most starter sets come with O-27 track as a purely ...
-36 Collectable Model Trains: Tracks: How many sections does it take to make a circle?
O-27 ...
-37 Collectable Model Trains: Switches: How do those Lionel "non-derailing" switches work?
Lionel switches equipped with the non derailing feature (...
-38 Collectable Model Trains: Switches: What about Marx switches?
Marx switches are wired to the opposite polarity so the ...
-39 Collectable Model Trains: Switches: I'm having power conductiontrouble beyond my non derailing switches.
99 times of 100 power conduction problems are in the center ...
-40 Collectable Model Trains: Switches: Are different brand switches compatible?
-41 Collectable Model Trains: Tools: What tools are good for a tinplater to have?
This is a basic list, see REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE TIPS ...
-42 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: How should I lubricate my trains?
For oil 3in1 MOTOR (not regular) oil is sufficient, but light ...
-43 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: My locomotive won't move.
There are many possibilities. First take your test light ...
-44 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: What are warning signs for your locomotive?
If your loco jerks as it runs or runs much better in one ...
-45 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: My locomotive whistle/horn doesn't work.
Lionel's whistles/horns use an often testy relay to trigger them....
-46 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: I'm all confused by whistle trigger polarity.
There are three kinds of whistle triggers available. The first,...
-47 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: My stock car cows will move fine in the corral but not in the car.
This is a generic defect and most corral sets suffer from it. It ...
-48 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: My milk car keeps jamming!
Remove the shell and milk can ramp cover. Early shells are removed ...
-49 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: My #394 beacon won't spin.
This too is normal. You can play with the vanes and sometimes ...
-50 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: How do those vibrator motors work?
There are two types of vibrator motors. The first is used on ...
-51 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: I have trouble with my locos reversing properly.
A sequencer is the device that controls locomotive direction. ...
-52 Collectable Model Trains: Maintenance Tips: Appearance
The best thing for keeping your old trains tidy is MILD detergent ...
-53 Collectable Model Trains: Modifications
Modifications are not covered here as where they change the ...
-54 Collectable Model Trains: Parts Suppliers: A-K Where can I get replacement parts for my train?
Both original new and used, as well as reproduction parts ...
-55 Collectable Model Trains: Parts Suppliers: L-R Where can I get replacement parts for my train?
Ron
-56 Collectable Model Trains: Parts Suppliers: S-W Where can I get replacement parts for my train?
Mike Sabatelle - not recommended, experienced order ...
-57 Collectable Model Trains: Parts Suppliers: Where else can I get parts without paying so much?
Some basic parts can be found at your local hardware or ...
-58 Collectable Model Trains: Motor Design: Is my tinplate train motor AC or DC?
What follows is a technical description of the situation in as ...
-59 Collectable Model Trains: Motor Design: The Universal motor in operation
Essentially all model engine motors are DC machines. The difference ...
-60 Collectable Model Trains: Motor Design: The Can motor in operation
Can style motors are used in N, HO, G and some Lionel offerings ...
-61 Collectable Model Trains: Layouts: How should I build my layout?
A person's layout is very much an expression of his ...
-62 Collectable Model Trains: Layouts: benchwork
Benchwork is any superstructure that supports trains or accessories....
-63 Collectable Model Trains: Layouts: Wiring
All too many tinplate operators think it is necessary to run two ...
-64 Collectable Model Trains: Track Laying
Always screw your track down! Many locomotives have gone from mint ...
-65 Collectable Model Trains: Track Laying: Is cork roadbed any good for Tinplate?
I used it on a small Super-O layout and there was no ...
-66 Collectable Model Trains: Track Laying: How steep can I make a grade?
Grade is rise over run. For example if a real railroad climbs two ...
-67 Collectable Model Trains: Track Laying: My loco stalls at the far end of my loop of track.
Dirty track is the first culprit. To remove light dust, oil ...
-68 Collectable Model Trains: Track Laying: How can I operate my signals without those pesky pressure plates?
There are a variety of electronic gadgets for this purpose. For ...
-69 Collectable Model Trains: Track Laying: I'd like some basic scenery. What can I do?
There are two basic methods for scenery support and two for ...
-70 Collectable Model Trains: Track Laying: What if I don't have the time to build a layout?
No problem, there are a number of firms which specialize in ...
-71 Collectable Model Trains: Operating Trains: Can I doublehead tinplate locomotives?
Yes, as long as you use similar locomotives. What I mean by this ...
-72 Collectable Model Trains: Operating Trains: How many cars can my locomotive pull?
This depends greatly on what type of trucks your stock has. ...
-73 Collectable Model Trains: Operating Trains: How can I make my locomotive smoke?
The first smoke mechanism Lionel used in 1945 simply allowed a ...
-74 Collectable Model Trains: How can I display my trains?
The most obvious method is to screw track to shelving. Trains can ...
-75 Collectable Model Trains: Collecting Trains: How do I know what to buy?
Buy what you like! If you don't like it don't buy it. What not to ...
-76 Collectable Model Trains: Collecting Trains: How much is it worth?
You can follow the grading standards in GRADING STANDARDS AND ...
-77 Collectable Model Trains: Collecting Trains: When was it made?
Determining when a given piece was manufactured is a field of study ...
-78 Collectable Model Trains: Collecting Trains: Is is in original condition?
This matters to some more than others, but is accepted as wrong ...
-79 Collectable Model Trains: Inventorying: How can I inventory my collection?
The simplest way other than just writing it down is to use a ...
-80 Collectable Model Trains: Inventorying: Is there a good method for identifying trains to be recorded in a catalog?
This depends on the make. Usually the best way to catalog them ...
-81 Collectable Model Trains: Meets (or shows): How should I approach attending a collectors train meet?
There are two types of meets, Open and Closed. Open meets are open ...
-82 Collectable Model Trains: Groups: What groups related to the collecting aspect are there?
The following is an incomplete list of major tinplate groups:...
-83 Collectable Model Trains: Magazines: Where can I get more information?
A good well stocked hobby shop can answer many questions, if ...
-84 Collectable Model Trains: Books: Where can I get more information?
BOOK









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