Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SoundBytes March 26, 2013

On a more personal, lighter side of SoundTraxx, we wanted to share a couple of trips that George and Jarrette went on that we think would be fun and interest people in the model railroad community. First was George’s trip to Ohio where he visited the Warther Museum. Next was a quick, one-day visit in Phoenix where both George and Jarrette toured Jarrette’s old stomping grounds in the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, and then took in a good NHL head-to-head meeting between Jarrette’s Phoenix Coyotes and George’s Dallas Stars.

George’s Vacation Trip to The Warther Museum, Dover, Ohio
George was out visiting the in-laws in Ohio a month ago. While there, they took him to a really cool museum in Dover, Ohio. The Warther Museum is a testament to the wood carving talents of Ernest “Mooney” Warther, and his love for trains.
While not a traditional train museum, this was one of the more interesting museums George has been to. These wood and ivory carvings done by hand were every bit as detailed as any models available today. These models were designed to move, showing the intricate workings of the steam locomotives’ side rods and valve gearing. Even the valve handle on the trainline air hose moved, and was hand carved! All of the text written about each loco, as well as the roadname, was carved out of ivory, and then an equivalent recession was carved into the side of the tender and wood base. The text was then inserted inside, with almost no visible imperfections.
The workmanship and attention to detail that was put into these models is nothing short of astounding. Mr. Warther had carved the Lincoln Funeral Train with the interior fully detailed, including a carved side door key hanging on a hook over the sink!
If you are in the Columbus area, this is a trip well worth the time. You can find out more about the museum, and the cutlery business Mr. Warthers started, at http://warthers.com/

A Visit to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale, Arizona
On Friday, March 8, George and Jarrette headed to Phoenix, Arizona. They arrived late Friday night, just in time to get some dinner and rest for the full day planned on Saturday.
Saturday morning came quickly and they headed off to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (http://therailroadpark.com/) in Scottsdale, Arizona. This park houses a 10,000 sq. ft. model railroad exhibit hall housing three model railroad clubs in O, HO (http://scottsdalemrhs.org/) and N scale (http://www.sun-n-sand.org/Pages/default.aspx). There is also live steam in 7 ½” gauge and 15” available for rides around the park grounds.
After a lap or two around the 15” gauge train, George and Jarrette settled in for the afternoon at the Scottsdale Live Steam Club’s 7 ½” gauge tracks (http://www.scottsdalelivesteamers.com/) where they rode and ran trains and caught up with some friends.
This was George’s first time actually running a live steam loco, and he was really proud in that he kept the loco working at an even speed and did not build up too much steam and allow the safety pop-off valve spew steam in the air!
Next they were off to watch some National Hockey League hockey action at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. They had great seats behind the visiting Dallas Stars’ goal.
After a great game, the Phoenix Coyotes pulled off a 2-1 win in a fun-filled evening.
After a great day in Phoenix, it was back home to Durango, Colorado, on Sunday.

Dealer Spotlight: North Idaho Model Trains, Sandpoint, Idaho
North Idaho Model Trains is located in Sandpoint, Idaho, and is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Sean and Wendy. North Idaho Model Trains is an Internet and word-of-mouth success story!
What began as a hobby (many, many years ago) for Sean turned into a business as he realized that there are many fellow model railroaders in need of technical assistance when it came to DCC, sound, and lights.
In this digital age, their business serves everywhere and anywhere. As a full-service dealer, they offer almost everything needed to complete your trains and layouts, including SoundTraxx decoders and Blackstone Models locomotives and rolling stock, as well as accessories and landscape material. Their specialty is installing SoundTraxx decoders using LEDs to help their clients achieve the most realistic looking and sounding model trains available. Many modelers send them their favorite model trains from all over the USA, Canada, and as far away as Australia, to have upgrades completed. When they had an opportunity to expand the business to Australia, Sean and Wendy jumped at the chance. A family friend, Pat, approached Sean about the need for model trains supplies at reasonable prices in the “Land of Oz,” and so they partnered up with Pat to expand North Idaho Model Trains’ services across the globe.
As a modeler and railfan, Sean enjoys their home in the woods, which shares a border with the UP Railroad, and is within viewing distance of the BNSF ‘High Line’ mainline. It’s a train fan’s paradise!
You can call them in the States at (208) 360-7990 or check in at their website at www.northidahomodeltrains.com, as well as on Facebook. In Australia, contact Pat at 0432524783. They will be happy to help you with your next install.

Tech Tip: Soldering
One of the key skills used in decoder installation is soldering. It is a seemingly simple task, but yet there are many aspects to this fine art that will help ease the installation.
The first step is having the proper tools for soldering. Many modelers may have solder guns for plumbing work, or a resistance soldering station for use with brass model work. While these may be effective tools for the given tasks, they do not work well with fine electronics. There are many different soldering irons available out there, but it’s best to have one for electronics with variable temperature control and a fine tip for precise work.
Next are the key ingredients, such as solder and flux. Again, as with soldering irons, there are many different types of solder and flux. The best solder to get is a fine (.032”) rosin core solder to give more control over the amount of solder in the joints. Smaller diameter solder means less solder on your joint and a more professional appearance. Flux is not a necessary thing to use (with rosin-core solder), but it is highly recommended to help make a better joint. It is very important to use the correct flux for electronic work. Flux designed for plumbing and brass model building (such as Tix, a popular brand) have high acidic composition and can attack components on the decoder circuit board, ultimately causing random component failures. We cannot stress enough the importance of using solder and flux that is designed specifically for electronics.
The process for a good, reliable solder joint is simple. First is to tin any stranded wires involved. To tin the end of a wire, twist the wire strands until they are tight with no stray strands. Add a little bit of flux to the wire with the end of a small screwdriver, a toothpick if using paste flux or a small brush or needle if using liquid flux. Then with a hot iron (Around 700 degrees Fahrenheit), take the solder and just touch a bit to the tip of the iron to form a small liquid ball of solder. (This is not a case of “if a little is good, a lot is better!”)
Simply touch the wire end to the tip of the iron and the flux will draw the hot solder into the joint, securing the end for joining to the PC board or other wire. You do not need to hold the iron there for more than a second or two, or you will begin to melt the plastic wire insulation, exposing more of the bare wire. Excessive exposed wire can be accidentally touched in places inside the model that could cause shorts or eventual decoder failure.
To make the joint to the PC board, take the wire into the hole on the PC board tab and bend to help hold it in place. Again, apply a bit of flux to the joint. Then place a small bit of solder to the tip of the iron and touch to the joint.
Just hold the iron to the joint for a second or two; the flux helps makes quick work of the job. You can trim any excess wire protruding from the joint if desired.
One good thing to have handy when soldering is a wet sponge. This is used to help keep the tip of the iron clean and free of excess solder. After soldering your connection, brush the tip of the iron along the wet sponge and it will cool the solder and draw it off the tip, leaving you a clean tip for the next joint. Excessive solder not only can make the joints look bad, but it can also cause premature wear of the soldering tip. When done soldering after your install, it is best to put a bit of solder on the end of the iron to help preserve the life of the tip.
For more details on soldering, check out our document “SoundTraxx’ Guide to Successful Soldering” at http://www.soundtraxx.com/manuals/soldering%20guide.pdf