At least running trains in so much as I can in our apartment. I haven’t run any of my locomotives in a long time, too long frankly, as they do need to be used every now and then to look for problems and keep them lubricated. Modern models don’t need lots of lubrication, and as often as not, when my intermittent running of them happens, I don’t need to add any, just running them keeps the lubrication that is already there from turning into a solid crud and jamming motors or mechanisms.
First step is to run the locomotive on rollers on my portable test track, just to make sure it is running properly. Run it slowly at first one direction, then build a bit of speed, then repeat in the other direction. The locomotives above are a Heljan Metropolitan-Vickers London Transport Electric No.8 “Sherlock Holmes” on the left, and a Rapido Trains Toronto Railway Museum LRC 6917.
I don’t have a layout per say. I have a partially sceniced test track that I built in the fall of 2010, and in late 2014 started making some “serious” efforts to scenic. As you can see from the pictures, that effort didn’t get that far. The layout isn’t based on anywhere or anything, it’s literally as much track and switches as i could functionally fit into the space
After some running on the rollers, the locomotives migrate to the test track layout. For me, this is twofold, to see if the locomotives will negotiate Atlas Code 83 switches, and to try to find dead spots on the test track. The locomotive testing on the left is a Bachmann British Rail Class 08 Diesel Switcher, on the right is the London Underground electric again.
I do not have a DCC system, it’s one of the things on my list of purchases to investigate, but there are a lot of options, and I don’t really know what my long-term needs are going to be. There are attractive features to the Digitrax, NCE and ESU systems that I have operated with at others people’s homes, and that kind of investment is not one to be made lightly, but a DCC system is a post for another day. I brought that up as my locomotives are a mix of DCC and Non-DCC. I have actually installed DCC into a few of my british locomotives for when I take them up to a friends layout in Barrie to run trains. Note there is a difference between “running trains” and “operating” on a layout. Running trains is just what it sounds like, putting something on the track and running it for the fun of watching it go, no switching or timetables or anything else, just good old-fashioned letting it run.
Steam locomotives bigger than a 0-6-0 tank can’t really run on my test layout, they are too long to negotiate the switches, so they only get to run on the rollers. This is a Hornby K1 which I renumbered to 62005, which is the sole preserved locomotive of this class, and a regular on the Jacobite steam service between Fort William and Mallaig in Scotland. As least running a steam locomotive on the rollers is a bit more rewarding than a diesel as you get the joy of watching the valve gear go!!
Buying a loop of EZ Track or something similar that I can set up on the kitchen table (boy is that like being a kid again visiting my grandparents in Scotland where I first ran a model train) so that I have a bit of a bigger run is something I’ve been thinking about since shortly after we moved into our apartment in 2011, and I still haven’t done it (at least not in HO. Surprisingly, I do have a loop of N Scale EZ Track for running my narrow gauge Talyllyn/Skarloey on!!). Ordering that loop of HO track is just one more thing for my to-do list whenever I find the time to place the order!!
Now, back to running trains, there are a lot more steam locomotives kicking around this apartment that need my attention!!