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Scottish Garden Railways

Large scale trains in YOUR garden or home

Scotlands first Garden Train specialist

Hints and Tips and Technical Bits

Last goods delivered to this station 03 March 2018

(Sound on this page is of Ex LNER B1 No.61264 leaving Perth)

First hint

This page is here to spread information and ideas passed between Garden Railway builders. Mostly people have discovered or tried these things themselves. If you have anything you think would interest others in the hobby from a simple one line tip to a detailed article please let me know and I will try to include it here.

(By the way I won't take any responsibility for any failures of these ideas or injuries you might inflict on yourselves while trying them out. Of course if they do work I will be happy to accept any praise, thanks or donations going.)

Fitting Bachmann couplings to non-Bachmann rolling stock With the cost of some couplings reaching new heights and more people using Bachmann rolling stock you might want to convert non-Bachmann stock to Bachmann couplings. Bachmann couplings are the least expensive around. They have a moulded in plastic "spring" or centering piece which fits through two uprights again moulded onto the Bachmann trucks or bodies. So, if you fit a Bachmann coupling on any other make it flaps around. To replicate the uprights and give a support for the spring I use a small paperclip, the all metal ones are best. I fit it under thecoupling retaining screw. If you flatten the narrower end first it will help (hammer on metal vice top maybe) then bend at 90 degrees about 2/3rds way along. Measure first to make sure the fitted clip will clear the axle. Next cut off the larger curved section of the clip. Unscrew the original coupling and fit the Bachmann one with your prepared clip under the head of the screw. (Put the "spring" through the loop first). You might want to use a thin flat washer as well. Screw the Bachmann coupling in place and try it's height against another wagon in your fleet. Repeat for the other bogie or use this wagon as a converter from Bachmann to another coupling style.
Using an old coach body

(Thanks to B Ponton)

A picture I think explains most of it.

The coach body was a Bachmann Jackson-Sharp, the cat is by Preisser. The rest is mainly wood. Should fill a corner of the yard nicely.

Old Bachmann coach

Fitting handrails

(Thanks to A Anderson)

This relates to the new Aristocraft Class 66 but may help with other new locos. The handrails come in a separate pack to be added by the new owner. This involves pressing the ends into holes in the locomotive body. First check that the hole is clear with no paint or plastic debris partly closing it. Clear the holes with a suitable tool like a small Philips driver. The railings themselves may well be painted and the problem here is the thickness of the paint makes pressing them home difficult. They might eventualy go in but the paint can crack and spoil the look of the part. You can remove the first few milimeters of paint using a pin vice. Put the end of the rod in the vice and twirl it, tightening gradually. This should remove the paint neaatly without cracking.
Adding extra coupling hooks to LGB rolling stock

(Thanks to A Anderson)

A lot of LGB rolling stock comes with a single hook. To make a more secure connection it is a good idea to have a hook on both ends. You need an extra hook, plastic spring and split plastic pin (sometimes supplied). The problem is getting the "half moon" pin into the hole. The TRICK is to line the semi-circle up over the one at the side of the hole (with the hook in place), push and turn through 180? and it will pop in perfectly
Lighting your buildings, street lamps and general railway outdoor lighting. Now that solar garden lights are more readily and cheaply available you have a ready supply of solar cells and lamps. The idea is to take the units apart, locate the solar panel on the roof of the building/disguised as a cold frame/in some other way. You then lead wires into your bulding and install the light part otr your own bulbs up to the same voltage. Result, lights every night, free with no wiring and the need for transformers.
Uncoupling LGB rolling stock

(Thanks to R. Toleman)

Uncoupling LGB rolling stock can be a difficult exercise particularly if your stock has double couplings. A simple gadget can easily be made from thin wire, garden wire or thin welding rod is ideal. Make a butterfly shape from a single piece of wire. It should be more than the height of the highest locomotive you have, maybe about 150-200mm and around 75mm along the ends. Make the ends meet at the centre and secure with tape. You then just put the uncoupler down between the loops on the couplings pushing down the hooks against the springs, twist a little and pull your wagons apart. Worth attaching a piece of bright ribbon to your uncoupler so it won't get lost in the grass.
More on wiring lights/power supplies When wring lamps maybe in buildings or LGB street lamps,wire them in parallel in pairs to reduce the voltage in the bulbs. They will look more realistic and the bulbs will last longer. Or use your original starter set controller (everybody has one) to supply a very large number of bulbs and you can just turn the controller to set the lights at any brightness you like.
LGB small (4foot diameter) points

(thanks to Stephen Watt)

It has been know for some non-LGB rolling stock to have problems negotiating LGB first radius points. This idea might work for you. Using some very thin brass fold along the rail side of the check rail on the curve part of the point. This tucks down behind the moulding and the idea is to prevent the opposite wheel riding up onto the plastic V of the frog.

There are several tried and tested ways of laying track in the garden. This is a new one which might be worth a try.

The trunking is galvanised and comes in various straight lengths. To form a curve it can be notched on one side. The raised sides keep the ballast in place and wires can be attached to the many slots using cable ties

(Thanks to Dave Baran)

Electrical trunking

Track layed on trunking

Improving Bachmann Coaches

(Thanks to I Farmer)

You might have some of the latest version of the excellent Bachmann Jackson Sharpe coaches? The ones with the brass electric pickups for the lights.

The ideal way to improve these coaches is to fit LGB roller bearing pickup wheels. However there is a cheaper option

If you look at the bogies you will find a moulding for plunger style current collectors. LGB locomotive pickups will fit these mouldings and the carbon collector will bear on the back of the Bachmann metal wheels. The brass connectors can be unscrewd and removed and the wires soldered to the BACK of the plungers.

This will offer much less resistance and allow the coaches to run better.

I can supply LGB pickup wheels or plungers (a packet of 8 will do 2, or at a stretch 4 coaches)

Bachmann Heisler problem (and maybe other locos)

(Thanks to several websites, forums and Bachmann service department)

The Bachmann G scale Heisler is DCC ready. This means you can add a digital decoder without a complete rewire of the engine. Once you have deciphered the Bachmann instructions this works. But (yes there is a but) this loco is fitted with a noise suppression circuit in each bogie. This is to prevent electrical interference. It might do this before you fit a decoder but as soon as you fit a decoder it causes the decoder to overheat and stop working. The cure is:

1. Remove 5 screws and ease the base plate off

2. Cut the 4 wires to the board ( 2 red and 2 black)

3 Unscrew the board and remove it.

3 Solder and insulate the wires red to red and black to black.

4 Replace the baseplate

5 Repeat with the second bogie

Make sure the bogies both run in the same direction

Apparently this can be a problem with the Bachmann 0n30 2-8-0 if you don't use a Bachmann decoder.

It may be the case with other locomotives as well.

Maintain your trains

A general point worth remebering. Illustrated here by experience with a Buddy L 2-6-2

(Thanks to Ian Watts)

Ian writes:

My Buddy 'L' loco has developed a lot of play in the axle journals/bearings, most likely due to lack of lubrication.  This is due to totally underestimating two things in garden railwaying. 

First is the loads involved - both from the self weight of the loco and the weight on the drawbar.

Second is the distance travelled.  I reckon that, at a conservative estimate, in 8 months of operation, and only 3 months on the full garden layout, my locos have each already travelled 4 actual (twelve inch to the foot) miles!

For the Buddy 'L' loco, with 50 mm (2 inch) driving wheels, that equates to approx 40,000 axle revolutions.  That's what needs lubrication

Store your tools.

Look out for magnetic tool bars. Screw them to the edge of a shelf above your work bench. Your tools are then within easy reach

ROCO Z21 - Accesssory decoder problem

  I have supplied a number of the versatile Z21 DCC control system made by ROCO. Bu we have found a clitch in the current firmware. This was using Massoth 4 output modules but it may well apply to other makes. You set up you layout diagram using numbers 1-4, 5-8 etc. programmed into CV32-38. The trick is then to allocate these numbers to points, signals and other devices with the CV number PLUS 4. So 5 is 9, 6 is 10, 9 is 13 and so on. This might just save what is left of you hair when your points won't switch.

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