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About benshell
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  1. That's too bad. I had one of their structures, but unfortunately I missed the memo about its suitability for outdoor use. Mine warped badly in the California sun. And then later it got stepped on. But for indoor use they were a great value, and it would be nice to see the line continue.
  2. Thanks guys! And Chuck, yeah the redwoods were beautiful. The pool area still looks kind of empty without them. But the new citrus trees we planted will fill in some of that void, and I have also some other ideas for the future. And much less pool (and railroad) maintenance now is a huge win!
  3. Last year I had three large redwood trees removed (which were breaking the pool deck), and had to remove some track to make room for the crews. It took over a year to rebuild the roadbed (making some changes) and relay the track. It might have taken even longer, but once my new 2017/2019 MTH GS-4 arrived in July my motivation increased dramatically! I finally got the yard looking decent again--albeit with some under construction areas still--and then we've recently had some nice cloudy mornings, perfect for videos and photos! So here it is, pulling my Accucraft passenger cars that I bought 3-1/2 years ago (and preordered at least 2 years before that!), so it's taken awhile to get this train put together! But the wait was worth it. With the improved colors on the locomotive, the locomotive and cars match up pretty well. It's not perfect, but good enough!
  4. Hi Peter, The short answer is that this is going to be more complex than you'd like. For one train, you may want to consider a DC Thomas, and putting in a sound system with support for trigger switches, and then wire up some sort of wireless trigger controller. I've heard of people using something like this from Ram Products with Phoenix sound, although I haven't used it myself. http://www.ramrcandramtrack.com/page2.html#CONT2 Keep in mind one downside is that it's hard to find a whistle that sounds like Thomas' trademark whistle. I have a Thomas with QSI sound and a high pitched European whistle that's pretty close, but this was before Bachmann made a DCC sound system for Thomas. I know from personal experience that some kids with special needs can be especially sensitive to having things "right", As for a DCC trigger, it's definitely possible, but how it works would depend greatly on your DCC system. The DCC signal on the rails is an NMRA standard, but the layout control bus (throttles to control station) is not standard at all. What I use is a kit-built system from MERG, which uses a CAN bus (just like your car) for the layout control bus. My CAN bus is hooked to a computer, which reads and writes the CAN frames. I use custom software that I've been building to run trains from my phone (https://github.com/benshell/RunTrains), and I've been building this app with plans for more automation and guest interactivity in the future. In fact, one thing I want to do is exactly what you've suggested: I want to be able to hand sound trigger remotes to kids, and let them control the sounds as they like without affecting speed. One of the challenges I faced with my software is that typical DCC systems are built to only allow one operator to run a train, until they hand off the session, or the session can be stolen. But that doesn't work if you want one controller to trigger sounds and other to set the speed. Or with my current setup, all throttles can run all trains at the same time. The actual "throttle", from the perspective of the DCC system, is the server software on the computer. Keep in mind that the computer doesn't need to be too powerful; in fact a $35 Raspberry Pi would be plenty, and getting one of these setup as a mobile DCC system is a near-future goal. I'd be happy to talk about this further, but it does get quite technical. Do you have a DCC system already? How comfortable are you with electronics? Ben
  5. Bummer, but thanks for the update. Let me know when you have an estimate for arrival.
  6. Wow, that's exciting to hear. At this point, I'm actually kind of surprised that we may see them before the official 2019 catalog. With the additional of the Christmas lights version, it seemed that they might be holding off on all of them.
  7. All great answers. But also I wanted to mention that most people who run DCC disable the option to run on DC. This is so that if the DCC signal isn’t immediately detected as DCC, the locomotive won’t take off at full speed! So if you buy a used locomotive with DCC installed, you may need someone with a DCC system to re-enable the DC option CV.
  8. Well, I can't say I'm surprised... but I appreciate hearing this update. I'm hoping I can buy of few of these next year... maybe at the NGRC in Portland if they are here by then. My K4 needs passenger cars.
  9. I have an old Kindle Fire 7" HDX I use to run my trains with JMRI Engine Driver, but I wouldn't buy a Kindle again due to the difficulty in installing most apps (as Ray mentioned). Another thing to look for is 5 GHz WiFi. Most inexpensive tablets still don't have 5 GHz support. My old Kindle Fire does, but I'm not sure the new ones do. I think they are continuing to cut costs, and my old one did cost a lot more (over $200). If you only use 2.4 GHz WiFi then obviously this won't be an issue, but 2.4 GHz is becoming increasingly congested, and for me 2.4 GHz isn't even usable at all anymore. It got to the point where I couldn't even print to a wireless printer in the same room as the router. 5 GHz doesn't penetrate walls nearly as well, so I now have three outdoor WiFi access points for running my trains, as my track wraps around the house so there's no line of sight to the whole railroad. Now I'm struggling with lag during handoff between access points, so it's not a perfect solution. But 5 GHz is still much more reliable for me than 2.4 GHz was, so keep this in mind when buying a tablet.
  10. Great work Jerry! What a creative way to spruce up the dining car. The Accucraft cars look pretty plain inside and could really use detail like this. I don't know that I'll go this far, but I'm about to start figuring out how to open mine up to at least add lights and figures. I've got the LED strips already, but where did you get these figures? And if you have any other tips on opening or working on these cars I'd love to hear them.
  11. Hello, if you are still looking for that item? I have a NIB USAT Santa Fe Warbonnet ABBA, also I an 11 car Santa Fe Super chief passenger car set NIB. I can reached at 609-230-2002 Reggie

  12. Wow, great! You're very welcome. It sure is a great looking train. Be sure to post pictures!
  13. As of last month there was a chrome plated set with passenger cars on display and for sale at the Roseville model railroad club. I don't remember the asking price but it seemed very reasonable. I'd recommend contacting them to see if it is still available: http://rosevilleroundhouse.org/
  14. Nice work, Joe. What kind of paint is that? The picture is a little grainy, but appears to be very similar to factory color and sheen.
  15. I don't have any fine scale models--I have mostly 1:29th--but of everything I have including the USA Trains Big Boy the pickiest train I have is Bachmann Thomas with Anne and Clarabel. If I'm preparing for an open house and want to make sure everything runs perfectly, all I need to do is test with Thomas to ensure my track is squeaky clean, and Anne and Clarabel to make sure there are no twists in the track. These longer 2-axle cars with no springs or flex will derail on the slightly twist much more readily than the Big Boy. (And Chuck, I wouldn't consider the Big Boy to have semi-fine scale flanges... I haven't measured to compare, but I'm pretty sure they are much deeper than Accucraft 1:32 and other fine scale models.)

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