Monday, December 03, 2007

A Glorious Timesink

People have been unusually interested in the train that I set up under the tree. As though this is some kind of bizarre thing that requires great talent and mystery. Like if I said I had a snowmobile or a hot, young girlfriend.

Anyways, as much as I like to say, "We here are Me, CherkyB have a thoughtful and coherent editorial policy. We do not do requests," in reality I do requests. Shhh. Don't tell management. I'll end up having to do another "CherkyB's Guide to [some crap one of you wants to know something about]."

I'm such a blogging whore.

So here is the train set:

Well, OK, that's only about half the train set. The half I haven't dug out yet cuz it's either missing parts, or I can't use it on the temporary setup around the tree (like bridges and electric switches), or I just can't deal with anything more that's broken yet.

Roughly 2/3 of the stuff comes out of the packing broken. Not cuz it got broken in the shipping, mind you, but because it got broken in the approximately 10 years it was set up in my parents' basement. The core package was purchased in 1976, after all. Most of the accessories came later, but during the presidency of one James Earl Carter, Jr., a man who almost single-handedly destroyed this great country of ours, and continues to try to do so.

Here is the train set as of Saturday afternoon. The engine is not the original from the set, as that has a broken truck that causes the wheels to fall off, and the guy at one of the largest model train stores in the word told me good luck finding that replacement part, and that my only hope was to buy a whole used engine at a train show (and there's one this coming Sunday, as it turns out), though I think I found one on eBay today for ~$20 with shipping, which is about what an engine of this quality costs brand spanking new. The crane car is also a later addition. I have just a couple of the model buildings out here, plus I've hooked up the electric whistle and the "Arco" fuel tank with flashing red light on top.

The kids love the flashing red light. I like it cuz I can easily tell from a distance if the crappy little transformer was left plugged in. I learned today that my transformer is completely inadequate to run a proper engine. I also learned that all three of my engines have many of the qualities on the "avoid this" list. Hell, I learned I have the wrong track, the wrong transformer, the wrong engines, the wrong cars, and the wrong couplers. The only thing I have that is "right" are the little metal connectors that hook the track together.

It's amazing that I've had so many years of fun with everything being so horribly, horribly wrong.

Now, out of the crate, two of the three engines and the trolley car didn't work. I got the engines working, excepting the aforementioned problem with the wheels falling off the diesel, but I hadn't gotten the trolley car working. When we were in the local hobby shop Saturday morning picking up some misc. track and electronics parts, HannahC fell in love with a new trolley car. It said "Main Street" on the side.

So we got the dood to open up the cabinet, and when he took out the box, behind it was the same trolley only painted in Christmas colors with "Happy Holidays" on the side. So we got that one instead. $23. Pretty cheap.

Later that day, HannahC was doing schoolwork, so I decided to take MaxieC out to the workbench to try to fix the original trolley car. We took it all apart and cleaned everything with Grease Grizzly and Q-Tips and lubed everything up with BreakFree CLP. Then I put it back together, and it didn't work at all.

Using my advanced electronics debugging skills, I got out the multimeter and did a little probing. I determined that it was making electrical connection with only one track rail. I then realized I'd put the axles in backwards. I always forget this with HO trains. Usually the wheels on one end of the axle are connected directly to the axle, and on the other they are isolated by a plastic insulator. That way, the engine needs to have wheel pickups on only one set of wheels, and it doesn't short across the rails through the axle. But if you put it backwards, only one side is connected.

After reversing the axles, it ran fine.

As of tonight, things are more elaborate. We have two more buildings (unpacked them), a pond (new), three trees (new), two sets of HO scale people (new), and a very high end sulfuric acid tanker car that has high end couplers that do not work with my old stuff (new).


Anonymous said...

Looks nice!

Rhonda said...

This is way cool for the kids and for us. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget moneypit.

Anonymous said...

It would look nicer with all my handpainted village houses and stores. I have about 40-45 done with another 40 or so yet to paint.

CherkyB said...

They aren't to HO scale.

Anonymous said...

Who you callin a HO

RIO said...

Trains are charming. Especially when they run over the tiny hobos left on the tracks.