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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I was encouraged to post in here as you might be able to help a newb figure some things out. I have been interested in doing a model train project for a while. Just never had the extra income and to be honest I probably still don’t have the time. I got ahold of a lot of stuff as a fella was cleaning out his brothers storage and wanted it gone. I know very little about the technical side of this hobby and I’m a little overwhelmed with all the stuff I now have. It was suggested y’all might be able to tell me what I have and where I might go with this project. I know it’s HO scale. To be honest if I bought a set it would have probably been N scale as I don’t have a lot of room and this was going to be a Christmas village type of project originally. I’m still sorting everything out. I was hoping to throw some pics up and see if anyone could tell me anything about what I got. I was going to start with the power packs/ switches and then locomotives and rolling stock. There is boxes of track. Some of it is flexi track. There are some turnouts as well. I think, from the little I know, I’ve got a bunch of transition era DC models. Thanks in advance for all the Help
 

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Making time to do it right should be a priority in your endeavor to make something with the stuff you got. It about not getting flustrated because you rushed through the setup only to find something doesn't work or you broke something trying to make it work. Sorting all the track to see what you have to work with is a good idea. Will be watching your progress, have FUN! 😉
 

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Bigger is better with transformers...more amp output means you can run more trains, lighting, and stuff.
Those with circuit protect circuits are usually in the bigger transformers and will not be a fire hazzard.
Avoid those small one or reserve them for isolated future use powering accessories. I would test all of them with a volt meter before using them. There should be a printed power output and amp draw specifications on the covers or somewhere...also look for the UL or underwriters laboritory label...assures it was tested for quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What should I do as far as maintenance and refurbishing these models? There is light rust on some. Some have loose pieces I assume I can tighten no problem. Bu5 what about the insides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Be careful with the blue handled Tyco transformer in the first photo on the left. I’ve had one of those get hot as a frying pan on me.
Please do not leave that thing plugged in.
In fact it’s a good practice to plug all your power sources to a strip with a switch and cut them off when you’re done running.
[/QUOTE
wow scary. Good tip thanks.
 

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Bigger power packs don’t necessarily mean better. It could be such. But could also mean older and less refined. That Railpower 1200 from MRC would be the one I’d use for train control.

ATSF #5989 is an Athearn blue box loco. They’re generally good reliable runners. May need cleaning but they’re easy to clean, easy to get spare parts at train shows, etc.

ATSF #2099 I’m pretty sure it has the manufacturer name on the bottom of the fuel tank. Might be AHM.

ATSF #8759 is either Model Power or Life-Like, and didn’t run well even brand new.

UP #4073 might be Mantua? Or possibly Tyco? I forget. Dates back to the 1960s at least. Quite reliable. My dad has one which still runs. I had to replace the tender with a Mantua one back in 1998 but it runs quite well.
 

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Looks like your standard mix of AHM/Athearn/Atlas/Bachmann/Model Power/Life-like/Mantua/Tyco locos and maybe more from the 60's/70's era of HO scale model trains.

That "hopper" you refer to on the black Union Pacific 4-6-2 Pacific steam engine is called a "tender". If it's heavy, that's because it's die-cast metal. Maybe an old Mantua model, or could be another brand. Hopefully an eagle-eyed HO historian can chime in and let us know for sure on each loco you have pictured.

You'll have to do some research on how to disassemble each particular locomotive. I'm sure they'll all need a good cleaning and relubricating on gears, bearings, linkages, and any other moving parts. The more mechanically inclined you are, the better off you'll be. If not, maybe search out a local hobby shop or a local club and find someone that could help you out. Most model train enthusiasts would be glad to help.

My biggest piece of advice for you or any other newbie is................. do not, and I repeat, DO NOT use steel wool to do any cleaning or polishing on ANY of your train stuff. Steel wool and model trains do not play well or work well together at all. :censored:
 

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HO locomotives get their power thru the wheels
in contact with the rails. It is absolutely necessary
that those wheels and the track rails be cleaned
of any deposits for best electrical conductivity.

Use alcohol to clean the rails with a rag.
It's easy to clean the loco wheels. Put a spot
of alcohol on a paper towel. Place the towel
on an powered track. Run the front wheels of
the loco onto the alcohol spot. Hold the loco
by hand and slowly run up the power, spinning
the wheels in the alcohol. Repeat with rear wheels.

The gearing in locos gels over time and hinders
smooth operation. Clean out the old 'lube' and
replace it with PLASTIC FRIENDLY 'grease'
and 'oils' such as sold by Labelle's at hobby shops.

When you set up your 'Christmas train' use a
solid base. Do Not put the track on carpeting.
The lint will jam the gearing.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So much rolling stock! The boxes are all pretty much trashed… and only maybe a third of this even had a box. So all these models have wheels that I would describe as flimsy or cheap. They are plastic and light weight. Is this something that one would look to upgrade or is it par for the course?
Office supplies Sunglasses Font Shelving Electronic device
Wood Font Eyelash Material property Rectangle
Rectangle Paint Bumper Art Automotive exterior
Rectangle Wood Box Wallet Musical instrument accessory
 

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Well metal wheels will cost you, give or take, about $6 per car. I use Bachmann ones and Kadee depending on which store I’m at. But that’s quite an investment for cars worth probably less than the metal wheels.
So it’s going to come down to which ones you really like. And then if it’s worth the cost of upgrading wheels and/or couplers or not. But the plastic wheels under most of those are utterly worthless. Even just upgrading to newer plastic wheels with metal axles would be an improvement for ones you want to run. Much cheaper than all metal, not as nice, I’m probably the only one who’d recommend considering that, in this situation. Normally I wouldn’t suggest it.

Everyone has the red ATSF crane. Those old timey passenger cars might be worth upgrading with couplers, metal wheels, interior lighting and some figures. Though whether to preserve the vintage original paint, or redo them however you want is something to be completed before gluing seated figures in there. They’re super old style, WWI and earlier era, but navigate 18” radius just fine, and would make a nice modern scenic/tourist RR type pair. Or as a display in a town behind one of those steam locos that may not be worth fixing? Meaning to say they may have a purpose besides being pulled around.
 

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So much rolling stock! The boxes are all pretty much trashed… and only maybe a third of this even had a box. So all these models have wheels that I would describe as flimsy or cheap. They are plastic and light weight. Is this something that one would look to upgrade or is it par for the course?
At the price you paid for all these goodies ;), it may not hurt to spend a little bit of money on the plastic wheel/metal axle combo that OilValleyRy suggested. Add some proper weight to them and they should roll pretty decent down the track.

Although they were fairly cheap, inexpensive train cars back in their day (and still not worth much these days), they're still a pretty nice little load of train cars for a beginner. :)(y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I know I saw a couple packs of couplers in one of the crates. I’ll have to see if there are any wheels and axles as well. The passenger cars caught my eye as well as a couple freight cars. I love the planters peanuts car.
 
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