Thursday, March 16, 2017

Indirect Purchases

To me there are two main ways to spend money on this hobby, directly on trains of course and indirectly on support items. The difference in my mind between the two results in some strange behavior sometimes. For example I have no problem purchasing an engine that I like but to spend the equivalent on a couple of sounds decoders or DCC equipment gives me pause for some reason. I have more than enough engines and cars to my make the Wheeling District come to life so it's time to change that mindset.

My current DCC equipment is just a NCE Powercab, which will become underpowered as the layout expands. I haven't decided if I'll expand my Powercab with a SB5 Smart Booster and add an antenna for wireless or save up and just buy a complete PH-Pro Wireless system. In the meantime I added a throttle so Brendan & I can run trains together once Adena and Pine Valley are operational.

I scored a good deal for a wireless Cab04p Throttle on eBay last week and added a NCE UTP Cat5 Panel from an online retailer having a sale. The wireless throttle will be tethered for now until I can expand to a wireless system.

99% of the time I've had good luck with my eBay purchases but this throttle gave me a brief scare. Tethered it should work without batteries, so I plugged it into my Powercab's power panel but the Cab04 did not light up. A switch on top of the throttle lets you pick between two throttle addresses and changing the switch position did nothing as well. I'll admit I started to get very concerned that I was sold a nonworking throttle. I remained calm however and dug up my NCE manuals and quickly discovered the Powercab can only handle one additional throttle (which I knew) and it MUST be set to an address of 3. Because this throttle was used, who knows what it address it was set to.

After following the directions and reprogramming the Cab04 to an address of 3, I'm happy to say it works great!

One other really useful purchase I made recently for the layout was more in the tool category. I only had two good screw-type clutch clamps and the assorted size plastic spring clamps you can buy in a bag at Home Depot or Lowes.

As a side note, I do not recommend using the large cheap plastic clamps in the assorted size bag at all. The plastic is not strong enough for the spring and started cracking near the hinge. I've thrown all but two away after one cracked in half, throwing half the clamp at my face giving me a pretty good black eye this past fall. The small clamps in the bag are fine but the big ones are just plain dangerous.

One piece hit me right on the eye socket and the other luckily missed Brendan who was helping hold some wood.
I've always wanted some good clamps so I finally picked up a pack of Irwin Trigger clamps a few days ago. I don't know how I lived without these as they were indispensable in helping to build the final section of Pine Valley benchwork.

I love these clamps and would buy another 4 pack in a heartbeat. Plus they won't shoot your eye out!

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