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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok this thread is about our son's new train set he got for christmas. Dad had a set when he was younger but in all reality we are beginners at this. Mom has gotten the bug too, so here goes. The track is laid down and tacked in place. it took some time as it had dead spots but we got it all working good. We've started to add scenery. The train surrounds a TYCO NASCAR Super Sounds race set.

1. The set he got is a Model Power set that has two locomotives. Although one is a dummy. What is the point of a dummy? It seems heavy and would drag down the powered one.

2. Which leads me to my next question. The set came with 4 other cars (not including caboose) and when hooked up all is good. But Dad found some cars on ebay he had as a kid and purchased them to add. Mom found some ones she liked and purchased those and our son found some he liked. We now have 17 cars in total (not including dummy and caboose) What we found is with the dummy the locomotive can barely pull 10, remove the dummy and it can pull 15 with just a little trouble off the start, but once it gets going it seems to don fine. So, what is a the limit for a locomotive to pull and, can two powered locomotives be used in tandem to increase capabilities?

3. Some of the train cars we purchased are of other brands, The Tyco and Lionel cars hook up fine. But the Roundhouse brand has some issues, as does the A.H.M. We also purchased a Marklin car not realising how different the couplers are. So can couplers be changed for better hook up?

4. Two cars are brand unidentifiable, one has its own hook up issues and the other needs an axle (we knew this buying it but it looked really cool and figured getting an axle for it would not be a problem...once we identified the brand. So how does one go about identifying brands?

Also, we realize there are many experts and serious enthusiast here. We realize many of our cars not be period and rail line correct. This is just a for fun set up that will be played with by kids

Thanks in advance for any help. I include a pic of our landscaped corner.
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
This is the set our son received for Christmas. Model Power with a oval layout. It was just casual thing to play with now and then until...
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Shortly thereafter while browsing a flea market/pawn store, dad saw these two cars that were part of his childhood train set and that's when it really started lol!

The piggyback car needs a hand brake. Its a Tyco, any ideas where we might find one?
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Discussion Starter #5
Once ebay was involved, Dad found another childhood car from his original Lionel set.

This is a great car, will hook up to any brand (except one, more on that later lol)

It is missing the hand brake wheel, any ideas where to get one?
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Discussion Starter #6
Another ebay Dad pick. This is a Roundhouse brand. This is where things start getting problematic. It will hook up with some, like the Lionel, A.H.M. Bachmann, almost every time. Sometimes Tyco and the (coming up next Unidentified silver car) but hates the Model Power cars
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Discussion Starter #7
Another ebay Mom pick. This is an unidentified brand car. It does not play well with others. Seems ok with Lionel cattle car, 50/50 with Roadhouse "ElCapitan" and 25/75 with Sante-Fe Hopper car that is coming up next.

Any ideas if couplers can be changed or upgraded?

Bonus question, Not familiar with what this car is used for in real life, what is it called and why do all the ones we see have those two open spots on the top rail on both sides?
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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Another Dad ebay purchase. This car is AHM brand. It has minor issues hooking up with some cars, not a big deal though. What is funny is, if it is at the end of the train it will derail. but if we put it directly behind the locomotive no issues. Does it feel left out in the back and feel special up front...lol...or maybe since its hooked to gray troublemaker car above can that be affecting it?
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
It is at this point that we feel the locomotive is at its limits, all these cars and the caboose. it will struggle and slip a little on take off but once it gets going it goes and a pretty good clip. We have video of it completing three circuits starting at 60, then 80 then 100 (full throttle) it wont pull them at 20 and at 40 it tries but wont complete a full circuit. We tried adding the video but could not get it to load. We actually disconnected the locomotive and pulled the cars by hand...WOW...it is actually quit a load and therefore we stopped adding cars on the track at this time. This brings up the question again, can two powered locomotives be used together to pull a heavier load? or are we just being greedy?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Still a few more cars purchased. Like this Bachmann Dad picked out on ebay At first we could not identify it, until we took pictures for this forum and we found it on the bottom once we blew up picture. Anyway this car is missing an axle. Any ideas where to get a replacement? we knew in advance it was missing an axle. The colors are nice and we have not seen another like it. So we took a chance a replacement could be found.
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Discussion Starter #11
Now this is a tricky one for us, our son, who loves construction equipment saw this and HAD to have it. An ebay purchase we never even paid attention to it being a German made car by Marklin. It is completely different underneath. Any hopes to get this working with our set up? Or is it confined to background scenery?
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Discussion Starter #12
The most recent one is another Son pick and another Model Power car. No issues as we haven't even run it yet and do not expect any as it was NIB.

But between this and the Caboose...
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Discussion Starter #13
The Model Power caboose that came with the kit. Ok we've stated we are only beginner/novices at this and this is just a play set for our young son to grow up with and have some quality family time. But, could Model Power have made the red anymore fake or plastic looking...lol. We are sure the more serious builders and collectors are laughing at us right now, but come this is real cheap looking lol. Our son, who is only 4 even looks at other cabooses...maybe he wants a new one and is just afraid to ask because Dad always says "we already have a caboose"..lol
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Discussion Starter #14
We have two more cars on the way, a Tyco unloading box car and another Tyco piggyback car with different trailers

But on to the track. After many frustrating hours searching for and troubleshooting dead spots this was the solution...yes you see that right the straight track is "bent" or warped. Not through fault of track or damage, no we had to manipulate it like this then connection was perfect throughout track and no problems since. is this "normal" or common, or just the result of lower quality track again its Model Power brand. We have read on here about soldering the connectors or joiners. How is that possible without melting the plastic ties? Or is the soldering method only used on brands with ties made of something other than plastic?

One other track question, in one corner the track is not tacked down, it actually get a worse connection if it is.. So we let it fly, You can see it move up and down as train goes across it, similar to when you see the rails move on a real train. We tried posting a video but could not. Again is this normal or a result of our low quality set?
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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Thanks for reading some beginners questions that we are sure are silly and tiresome to some. Now hopeful the moderators will make this public soon, and we are no longer talking to ourselves lol.
 

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Sorry, just found this thread. The reason that some of the cars do not play well together is that you have two different styles of couplers. The black one piece plastic ones are X2F couplers, sometimes erroneously referred to as NMRA couplers or horn hook. The gray car with the metal beam sides in post #7 has knuckle couplers. This is the style of coupler that most modeler's use, as they look and act more like the real thing. Kadee was the originator of this style of coupler, although since their patent expired there are other companies making them. Kadee's are still the best, though. Kadee - The Coupler People
The couplers can be changed on the other cars, it's usually not too hard. There are a lot of good YouTube videos on the process. You will want to change the X2F couplers to knuckle couplers, not the other way around. You can make a "conversion" car with a Knuckle coupler on one end and an X2F on the other. That way you can use the cars as you convert them. The Marklin car is going to be more of a challenge, as it has what is known as tension lock couplers.
The knuckle couplers I use the most are the Kadee 148's. While you are on Kadee's website you will want to get a coupler height gauge. Kadee - The Coupler People
Also get an NMRA gauge. Standards Gauge -- Includes Metal Gauge and Instructions
One last thing: The NMRA has set standards for car weight. The standard is a base weight of 1 ounce, + 1/2 ounce for each inch of car length. So a 6" long car should weigh 4 ounces. Most train set cars are much too light, and that can contribute to derailments and being pulled off the track by other cars. I use these to weight my cars: 1/4 oz. Wheel Weights
Harbor Freight also makes 1/2 ounce ones.
It sounds like you cars just need a good tune up. Check out YouTube for videos on the processes and have at it!
 

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You won't be able to use the Märklin car even if you change the coupler. Märklin uses AC and a third rail pickup for their locomotives. The wheels on the Märklin wagon will short out the track. You will have to change to DC wheels that are insulated from one another to run this car in a train.

See those little holes in the ties? Those holes are for track nails. I recommend them. They are easy to drive with a tack hammer and a punch. Just snug them down to the top of the tie. You'll get a feel for it after you drive a few in.

Particle board though, is not the easiest wood product to drive nails into. I would also recommend you change your sub-roadbed to plywood. It's also much lighter than particleboard for the same size piece and will be easier to pack up and move.

Your electrical connection problems are related to a couple of factors. Kinks in the rail between sections, loose rail joiners, and dirty track at the connection point.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
flyboy2610,

Thank you very much for taking the time with your detailed answer full of information. Yes, we were very naive and assumed all couplers would be standard and compatible. There sure is a lot for us to learn in this aspect.

As for the weights of cars, that was something we thought of, however since our locomotive was having some difficulty pulling all the cars we had hooked up, we were afraid to add any weight. In fact we actually pulled the cars ourselves by hand as were amazed what these little engines can pull. Yet we had no idea there is a weight standard or guideline, something more you have taught us. Thanks again for all the information. it will not go to waste.


On a side note Updates since last post,

We did purchase a small lot of train stuff, that included a Tyco transformer, yes we know not top of the line, but it seemed to give our locomotive more power over the Model Power one even though both have the same 18V output. Before it would struggle to pull 12 cars and had very poor low speed performance. With the Tyco it is easily pulling 15 cars. It also has much better response and performs at lower speeds that it would not previously. In fact it is so touchy and so much faster we have to re-learn it all over again. We also have enough track for a second loop but not the room on the board. Might do a two tier set up. With this track, Tyco, we learned the little track connectors from Tyco are far superior to Model Power and have tighter fit. This was a problem with Model Power and we had to work through a lot of dead spots before we got it right. At this time though it seems we have a lot to learn about some finer points and will spend this time fine tuning things. Is any kind of lubrication recommended on the axles?
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
MichaelE,

Thank you for your response,

That is a shame about the Marklin car. Again naive on our part. Our son loves construction equipment and when he saw that car he had to have it. lol. It would seem for our low level abilities and knowledge it might be smarter for us just to buy another car and put the equipment in it instead.

We did know that the holes are for securing track. However at this time while we lay things out and make changes as we expand, we used the larger tacs as a temporary set up. All holes in wood were pre drilled 3/4 length of tac and then track was snugged up. They can not be pulled up by fingers but a small set of needle nose and they come right out. As stated before we plan to raise the train above the main surface that has a slot car track. Once raised it will be on much softer pine 1x4 and hopefully the stone looking track bed. Dad, being the carpenter that he is, decided on 3/4 particle board for is consistency and hardness over plywood. It also has a full 2x4 frame underneath it.

You are right about the track connectors or rail joiners as you call them. As stated in last post we learned how sloppy the Model Power ones fit. We even squeezed them together with needle nose pliers. It helped a lot but, the tyco ones are so much tighter fitting. When we get to permanent mounting of track we will use better ones than the Model Power.

Thanks again for the tips and advice
 
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