The California Wild Fire and Growth Exhibit

sams Nov 11, 2019

  1. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    More fun then work on the layout the last few days ! I really spent more time looking and taking pictures then I did then making anything stick. Except for the modpodge/water mix I had for the ground cover. So that is a finished product ready to paint and decorate some what.

    On top of that I placed an order of 2 locos and didnt know when I was going to get them based on the new circumstances we all have to deal with. I received them very early today and was very satisfied with what they have to offer. I am a new fan of Broadway Limited models. It seems the can be quite sensitive though ! The sound and solidity is legit.

    Random pics:

    My girl is handling this building. I told her she should have painted it before .... hahaha but she has quite a steady hand !! so well see when it comes down the to painting !


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    the collection so far. The paragon sound is incredibily goooood !!!

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    I had some cars that were being troublesome ... I customized them and now they work... go figure !

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    Hmm...

     
  2. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Child labor! But if you are paying them in Ghiradelli chocolate I think that's fair. :D
     
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  3. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Happy Easter Everyone !! Im here to report not so good news. the last few weeks I have received my 2 new Broadway Limited Import with Paragon 3 Sound decoder. I was so excited and was very impressed with how they look.

    The storm came fast. The second I put one on the track I was immediately exposed to What I believe would be a combination between bad track work/bad locomotive. I was immediately frustrated and a bit furious for what I paid for these things.

    It was so confusing because I ran my bachman steam loco and atlas with esu sound decoder and I mean I tested the crap out of the track while i was building it and I literally had 0 issues which Is why I moved on to upper level of track and some scenery. I broke down and ran it in sections and did my best to straigthen things out. They kept stalling on frogs of my "beautiful" atlas turnouts and even stalling on random sections of track I know have solid power coming from multiple directions. Track was clean and level...... still stalled for no reason !!!

    I spent days tweaking and cleaning every section of track on the layout and it improved up until I got to one section of track that is suppose to be under a mountain and I found even more issues. So I went ahead and cut everything out and said woo woo woo this I'll just replace everything. I had plenty of track and 2 new switches to put in. I've spent the last few weeks trying to work out the kinks. Today I gave up and told myself I need to ask for help or return these products and just say screw it. This has gotten to be the worst experience I've ever had in this hobby. back in the day with the DC locos you turn it on and run it.

    These models today are ridiculously sensitive. The BLI Paragon 3 will not even keep going. It just comes to a dead stop even if its at full speed. The thing also does not return to its original set speed so it stalls even more if your not right next to it to push and get it to a section of track it likes. Fucking stupid. lol

    These atlas turnout have me pulling my hair out. The new ones I installed like brand new out of the packaging. Caused problems and wont even switch. I mean I dont get it... They are on a flat surface they have power no glue on the track and plenty of "moving room" woo woo woo !!!! I made a huge mistake wasting time and money on these. DO NOT BUY ATLAS turnouts !!

    So I attached a few videos. If I can get some help that would be great. If not I'll just have to start completely over and find a way to get decent turnouts on my layout.... which I'm not looking forward to. Anyone want a job ? I'm even considering hiring someone to help me solve these problems. I'm fn' pissed !!

    Take care everyone !





     
  4. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    I hate to say this but it's BLI and not your original track work. Like you said, your Atlas with ESU and Bachmann steam ran just fine so it wasn't your track work or the (old) turnouts.

    One possibility to check is the black coating on the wheels. They may have to be worn off to get good contact at all times.

    What I would do at this point is try to get the coating off the wheels or return the BLIs and repair your track work. Get it back to working order so your Atlas and Bachmann run fine. Then call it a day.

    As for the new Atlas turnouts, what type are they? They are normally very robust.

    For future reference, check Mark's website on loco ratings. He has practically reviewed every loco made out there. In general BLI has a hit or miss reputation, mostly miss.

    www.spookshow.net
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
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  5. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the info on marks website! Seems very knowledgeable on locos. There are so many listed.

    Black coating !! I never noticed anything like that on the wheels. I'll check again later today but that is really strange. And I know they have issues but it seems after I fixed some of the track work they were fine except for a few switch tracks. All I can say is I'm over ATLAS period.. Like I've mentioned before in this thread I've even gotten other products like rolling stock and a locos from them and all I got was trouble. Very disappointed. This is a huge learning experience haha

    I'm going to either get Peco or Micro Engineering turnouts. With tortoise switch machines. I'm going to have to modify my bench work though, which won't be fun. I saw a video of someone that had a longer spring coil .... do they sell those somewhere ?

    I'm going to need about 6"-8" to get up through all the foam and bench work. (I have a centered 2x4 beam directly underneath the switch so its at least 4" of wood before the foam)


    In the end I have a lot of back tracking to do here including waiting on parts. I'll report back when all is finished.
     
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  6. tonkphilip

    tonkphilip TrainBoard Member

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    Sams, I have an equal number total 40, of Peco Code 55 switches and MicroEngineering switches. I love them both but while Peco switches work perfectly out of the box, the MicroEngineering switches require some judicious filing to make them reliable. Also, the MicroEngineering switches are very prototypical in size but this makes them flimsy and they require very solid benchwork to make them operate reliably, I use 3/4 inch plywoood. The Peco Code55 are the opposite, they still look pretty but have a very rugged and thicker railroad tie system that makes them extremely rugged and reliable. This makes them more suitable for a foam based layout as they will work reliably even suspended in mid-air! They also have a very nifty spring that holds the switch-points very tightly. Generally, I fix the track very solidly each side of the Peco switch but let the switch float between the straight track. This ensures that the switch tie-bar is not obstructed by being fixed down too tightly. Another really solid track system is Kato when using their #6 switches. I have been using the Peco-C55 for 25-years and the Micro-Engineering C55 for about 6-years. For the Peco switches, I use mostly manual operation or the Peco under-switch solenoid machine. For MicroEngineering switches I use the Tortoise slow-motion machine as they need the delicate operation. - Tonkphilip
     
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  7. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the reply on that. I was told the same thing about the micro engineering turnouts. Also the fact that they dont have many styles to choose from as peco does. Referring to operation though. I was asking about the tortoise switches... Now I'm not sure if you read but I have some pretty thick bench work. One switch actually happens to fall underneath this 2x4 so it would be::

    2"(1.5") + 1/2" plywood+ 1" foam. = 3.5". which to me gives me no room to use the tension rod included. I've been told they sell a longer one ???

    I also have turnouts that are higher up on the layout... So I would HAVE to have the longer spring coil(tension rod) if that makes sense.
     
  8. tonkphilip

    tonkphilip TrainBoard Member

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    Sams, Yes, that is a good question on the thickness of bench work. I have 3/4 plywood benchwork with 1/4 inch basswood as track roadbed for 1" total. This works with a Tortoise but I chose to swap out the Tortoise wire for a slightly thicker one. For you, it should work fine with a 1.5 inches thickness. However, for a 3.5" thickness, you need a different approach! These might include: 1. Moving the switch or the 2x4 support; 2. Using a top mounted switch machine, perhaps hidden in a building; 3. Tortoise has a remote or side mounted mechanism that uses a RC type remote cable to connect to the turnout; 4. If you use Peco, their solenoid switch machine, clips underneath the turnout, so the switch machine could be recessed into the foam from the top. - Tonkphilip
     
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  9. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    @sams I assume you first tried cleaning the wheels and just didn't include that in your post. I don't know what BLI uses for wipers but they would be the next thing I'd check. Also if you haven't already, try wiping the wheels with LPS-1, No-oxide, or automobile headlight dielectric grease - symptoms seem similar to dirty wheels.

    I use Peco c55 switches and ME flex on 5/8 plywood. The Pecos are magnificently robust and choosing them was one of my better decisions. But if I were to start over I would use Peco flex to avoid the pain of modifying the Peco turnout rail ends to get them to join other mfg's c55 track. You might want to order one or two and try it out before buying enough for the whole layout.
     
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  10. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    One other thing you can do with switches is to make a mark at the halfway point on the roadbed at each tie end of the ties on either side of the throwbar. Then remove the cork or whatever roadbed you are using from between the marks. This insures that the throwbar is not encumbered by friction or glue that might have seeped under the throwbar during ballasting.
     
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  11. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Ok ... Walked away, took a breath, and changed my socks .. mental break was over and I decided to get back to work. I got a very helpful message from a friend on another forum and was inspired once again. This is not my first battle nor my last.

    See thread here:
    https://www.modeltrainforum.com/threads/the-california-wild-fire-and-growth-exhibit.184370/



    @tonkphilip I'm thinking to possibly use some of the top mounted switches. For me it wouldn't be an issue for "looks" because 3 of the turnouts are located underneath a mountain. I kept having to tell myself that. These are also turnouts that are mounted higher on the layout. Which again the top mounted switches will work.



    I have not tried cleaning the wheels as shameful as that may sound. I honestly don't know how to .... ? lol My steam Loco I did "scrape" the wheels with a small hobby knife to get some of the gunk off. Should I not use a knife for this ??
    I did look at the BLI model wheels and they both looked very clean.
    Yes so I am using code 55 PECO track and plan on using PECO turnouts. It's a no brainer for me after researching them some more. I'm going to have to learn how to adapt the unifrog to my layout. I'm sure I can find a few videos on the tube for that.

    Yep I did exactly that. I have a pair on the way and we are going to see how they work.




    I've already considered and tried this. Still ATLAS switching was not working. With these its a hit or miss. One day they work the next they don't. It is a bummer.


    Thank you for all your replies. Much appreciated !



    Instead of working with turnouts and trackwork on the layout I decided to modify my benchwork to fit some tortoise switches and wiring. I went ahead and finished the fascia also. This helped with the way it bowed and sat on the stands. I should have done this from the beginning. I now know that I do things the hard way. SMH



    After applying some long 12' 2x4 and some bracing on the back. I now have a solid solid layout I can move around very easily. No more to do in that department!



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    Here are some sideways photos! I love these. To bad you cant run trains like this !



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    It looks like the way for me to go is mostly PECO tunrouts. I'm not sure If I should get small or medium radius.. I more than likely will go with medium. I'm going to have to look more into this though. There are a lot of options to choose from. Tortoise and PECO switching units are also going to be looked at here. I hope to get back to the trackwork soon. I miss running trains already !
     
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  12. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Not sure If you saw these but if not enjoy hahaha !!!!





     
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  13. tonkphilip

    tonkphilip TrainBoard Member

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    Sams, OK, I am very encouraged to see the progress that you are making! Particularly, strengthening the benchwork is always a good idea. Also, installing wiring and switch machines with the benchwork on its side, is the only sane way to do it, it also minimizes solder in your hair! For the Peco Code 55 switches, I really love using the Large size turnouts that have a 36-inch radius and a 10 degree frog angle. But, the Medium size have an 18 inch radius and also have a 10 degree angle, very similar to a #6 turnout and are still very reliable for me. You will find that the Code 55 Large size turnout fits in many cases as it uses the same frog angle as the Medium. I would not recommend the Small size Peco C55 turnout unless you are running very short trains and small locomotives and cars. On the turnouts, you need to watch that the track is properly aligned coming into the turnout without any sudden grade changes. Also, solder wires very carefully and minimize or eliminate ballast, glue and paint near the turnout moving parts to ensure reliability. Also, watch that the tiebar can move very easily. For Peco, most of my turnouts are operated manually using the built-in spring. For your top mounted switch machines in the mountain, Peco sells a base for the Peco solenoid switch machine that makes it easy to mount it by the side of the turnout. If you are space limited, you can clip the solenoid switch machine under the turnout, for perfect mechanical registration to the turnout. For controlling the Peco switch machines, you can use your existing Atlas turnout electrical controls or some other Momentary switch. Circuitron (Tortoise), also sells a Capacitor Discharge circuit board to give extra snap, and to ensure that you do not burn out your solenoid switch machines but this is definitely optional.

    Generally for N-Gauge, I do not recommend going below a #6 turnout or 18 inch radius turnout. In fact using an 18 inch radius minimum for all your track curves is a good idea. In reality for my track, I started with 9.75 in but found 11 inch radius much more reliable, pulled out some 12 inch radius and now have a minimum of 15 inch radius minimum which is very reliable. You can use pieces of Atlas Code-80 snap track to check the radius of your track or you can purchase Tracksetta gauges for multiple radii that fit between the tracks to double check the radius. I have one for 15 inch that I use to double check my trackwork minimum. To ensure that you have a smooth joint coming into your Peco C55 turnouts, it is much better to use the Peco C55 flex track, even if you have to use other flex track elsewhere. Generally, if you have short trains and small diesels, your track does not have to be perfect. But, as you add longer trains and locomotives, more perfection is required particularly with curves and gradients. One last thing, track cleaning is very important in N-Gauge particularly during construction. You can clean by hand. But, for me with lots of hard to reach track the TTX machine wet or dry, is unbeatable because its heavy weight cleans the track similar to hand pressure but it is expensive! A kitchen towel laid over powered track, is very effective for cleaning locomotive wheels. You are definitely going in the right direction, so keep us updated on your progress! - Tonkphilip
     
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  14. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I agree with everything the poster said except for this. Paper towel or cloth towel will shred and produce lint...which will invariably find its way up into the gears etc.. I would suggest using a new coffee filter with IPA on it stretched across powered track. IT works 100% better and doesnt produce lint. JMHO

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  15. tonkphilip

    tonkphilip TrainBoard Member

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    MT - That is a good idea to use the coffee filter.
     
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  16. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Holy Crap !! I'm glad to post this update. As I'm typing, I am listening for about the 3rd day in a row now, continuous helicopters circling. My neighborhood is literally surrounded by national guard and police!! I wish I had Faster trains... :oops:



    Also hope everyone is doing well. The only question I have is what is next people... What other disaster can we find lol



    Besides that, I've been circling around and around my layout. I have learned so much about this hobby in the last few weeks I feel I should write a book about it. I feel it would be very very helpful for beginners. I don't know the first thing about writing a book though!



    This really took a lot of patience and some of the things I'm about to describe will probably make a few of you experienced modelers laugh. lol Feel free to talk about me at your hobby shop haha I'll take the beating. upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif



    Firstly if your in an open garage... DO NOT ! I repeat! DO NOT ! Were flip flops !!! I have about 25 mosquito bites to prove it. I got way distracted and came inside to scratch like a dog.



    Upon receiving my new parts (mostly peco code 55 Uni-frog turnouts) I also got the tortoise switch machines along with the extended spring coils that are thicker from fast tracks. My order for the Bi-color LED's came in with the DPDT switch and all the other wiring and fasteners I needed to complete the turnout problem I had been having. It was great I really was excited and couldn't wait to get started



    So... I did .... Since Covid took away my J - O - B . I've been telling my lady that I'm soooo tired when I get off work from the trains and she has almost slapped me and said "That woo woo woo isn't work Sam its a hobby" hahaha



    With all the Atlas turnouts removed and a crap load of track work to re-do I went ahead and dove head first into this pool. I started getting all the holes ready for the tortoises installing them pretty slowly. It took a minute to figure out how they really work. Online there are a bunch of videos explaining how to wire them and It took me a few to really get the just of how the actual switch works (along with DPDT interaction) and how the internal switchs work. Especially with the Uni-frog setup. These little tortoise things hold lots of potential. It was quite time consuming also wiring up each turnout and switch machine. I really didn't realize what I was getting into and boy did it feel overwhelming at the time because I was just trying to get back to what I had....... Running Trains ! .....



    I was so anxious to get back to it I pushed a little more but it definitely paid off. Each tortoise is hooked up to both sides of the turnout to control the frog polarity. I have attached terminal blocks for easy removal if needed and the wires from the terminal blocks go to my switch panel. I was able to install about 3 complete turnouts each day. When I got to the ones higher up in elevation on the layout I soon realized I had to get very creative. Like I mentioned It took me a few videos to get the hang of how these tortoises are installed. Most every video I watched the person had a plywood layout. Meaning not much of a gap between the track and where the tortoise is mounted. The whole operation of these things is tension and bending. One thing I didn't plan for on my layout was coils going through the 3/8 plywood and then through roughly 3" of foam. I never saw any one using the spring coils any further than just the plywood base.



    Once I had a plan of where the turnout went I drilled the hole for the tortoise and proceeded to install it. When I got to point of installing the coil I ran into issues. When going through so much benchwork the coil didn't have enough pressure to move the soldered points of the turnout. I had to be very creative getting this to work. It required bending and drilling a bigger hole for the coil to move. This took FOREVER !!!! It didn't occur to me until when I was almost done that there is a whole above the screw goes to lock in the coil..... I said to myself "awww S####" Never realized the coil stuck in that hole and then the screw holds it down ha. I had it bent over the side of the screw and wondered why the springs kept falling off upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif . A few now I left like that because it was the only way it would work with the higher turnouts.



    N scale turnouts are also soooo small. Thankfully Peco makes some quality stuff. To really get them working good I would solder the wire that comes out for the frog for more durability and also the points where they pivot to hold them in place. When your using the tortoise with these you have to remove the snap clip that holds the points and then drill a hold in the center plastic bead or use the outside holes. That is another thing about peco They give you options on where to put the coil. Badass. I really used all three holes depending on the location of turnouts on my layout. It became a life saver.



    The last turnout I had to install was on the bridge. What a Doozy. haha I carefully drilled holes and took extra caution not to ruin the existing stained wood I had put together. Installed the tortoise and wow Wont you know it the bridge was just to high for me to get any action at all with the tortoise. I spent almost half a day just seeing if I could get it to work. No luck!! Break time. wooo...



    After reflecting on what I was doing and pounding quite a few provisions I got a hair up my @$$ and came up with a plan. I told myself why not just move the tortoise up higher... How the hell am I going to mount it to the bridge without ruining it ?? Hmmm. So I did just that. I cut out some of the existing supports and made room for it. I drilled some small holes and installed some short screws. It worked! Like butter it worked. Well I had some cosmetic issues now haha A nice sexy bridge with a big green monster hiding underneath it. It was like Scully from Monster Inc was there. upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif upload_2020-6-6_12-28-41.gif



    On to make my switch panel. I thought I could use some plexiglass I had from when I had my fish tanks and the first hole I made... CRACK !!! right down the middle. It basically went over my shoulder and ran into the woods. I found that LEXAN is a wonderful material. The DPDT toggles were not to bad to put together. I had some fun doing it actually. Though it was very time consuming it sure gave me a good hand in wiring. I used the bi-color LEDS Red/Blue which is very pretty. I had to be careful to not get things to hot with the soldering iron. I did burn out a few toggles lol.



    My track, when it originally was done or so I thought, was not level in a lot of places. These new BLI locos especially the SP 602 since it is such a long wheel base. Did not do to hot on my tight little layout. This was for two reasons and the other I'll explain later. The track needed a lot of leveling. Especially where I had some turnouts installed. I used bass wood and other little pieces of balsa to conquer this task. Slowly running the train and seeing where the wheels popped up. Adjusting if necessary. Its Ironic because the smallest radius turn on my layout is the one that has no issues lol. SMH man. I did a good job on that one. haha I understand now why people use plywood. The whole foam thing is nice but man did I have a lot of un-level track because the sheets I cut probably were not that square. Lesson Learned !



    Cleaning... Well I thought I was cleaning. I missed some spots though. All these issues I've had with these new locos have been very frustrating. I just bought them and have barely used them. I get my work done as stated above and am ready to do some full on test runs of the track. Just so happens not much has changed except for my internal clock. haha I feel I've aged with this project more than time should allow. I cleaned the track and made sure every connection was solid and I just continued to get these issues. I was done. I had it, and wanted to send the units back and as I have already sent an Atlas loco in recently for repair and also returned another Atlas loco because the motor blew. I was done and felt like I had accomplished nothing.



    The next day I had a bright Idea. So bright you could see the light gleaming from my forehead. It was so bright I felt it was a little warm actually. Probably could have fried an egg on it.



    I cleaned the Wheels !!
     
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  17. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    It was like god came down and said some vodoo to the little toy train. Magically the things ran really well. No stalling on the frogs. No intermittent stalling on straight track. No sound problems. I was a happy camper. I figured hey these Locos are brand new I dont have to clean them. WRONG !!! lol



    It was very humbling to know that you should probably just clean the wheels. Just try it you know, it only takes a few seconds and it is very rewarding. This has nothing to do with the loco being a runaway train. Yesterday I was running the SP 602 and I tried to brake it. Well this little sucker kept flying down the track!! Anything I did on the control panel it ignored. Come to find out this a common flaw with the Paragon 3 decoders. But hey at least now its running ! ha



    Good Stuff: Now I am finally back to running and operating on the layout. I was even inspired enough to start painting the ground cover and fascia of the layout. I went ahead and did some ballasting. I had to redo a new bridge which I am glad I did because it looks way more authentic. All this in a months time. I'm back on track and can't wait to wrap this thing up!



    Enjoy the Photos and Videos Peeps



















    ^^^^^ My Fav. Wait for the Mini Caboose !!! aha





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  18. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    OK....I see a face in the rock !

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    And dont tell me I am the only one...:p:p:p:p
     
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  19. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    @mtntrainman !! What !!! I see no face.. This has got to be one of those cloud ideas lol
     
  20. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    :p:p:p:p:p:p:p:p:p:LOL::LOL::LOL::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
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