Keep paper models from warping

I use a lot of miniature paper buildings on my train layout. The usual knock on paper as a modeling material is that it’s prone to warp. But there’s a simple solution for that, and seven years of St. Louis summers hasn’t made it fail on me yet. Here’s how I keep paper models from warping.

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Using old transformers with new

I’ve covered phasing transformers before, which allows you to use more than one transformer on a layout. But I read something today that reminded me of an old question: Can you safely use a modern Lionel transformer, such as a CW-80 or new ZW, with postwar transformers?

Unfortunately, changes between new and old make it difficult. You can use one to power trains and one to power accessories, but you shouldn’t mix them on the same loop of track. Read on to see why.
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Taming Robocopy

A prolific commenter mentioned yesterday how much he dislikes Robocopy. Perhaps worse than I dislike Windows 7. And the nightmare scenario he describes sounds plausible. I’ve trashed directories with errant copy and xcopy commands, and I know I’m not the only one. And those are comparatively very simple.

I suppose one could put training wheels on a tool like Robocopy, but to me, that defeats much of its purpose. When I play the Robocopy card, it’s generally because I have a copy task that potentially will take several hours–if not days–and it’s going to run into errors, and I want it to just do the best it can, without asking me any questions, so I can walk away and let it chew on the problem for however long it takes.

I won’t say Robocopy is one of those things that can make or break a career, but it’s certainly allowed me to swoop in and save the day on several occasions, and that’s always good. So here’s how.
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Installing trucks on junker train cars

Sometimes a train car breaks, and sometimes you get a good deal on a train car that’s missing its running gear. Whatever the reason, sooner or later most hobbyists find themselves needing to attach trucks to the underside of their train cars, and if they’re like me, they soon find that using a regular nut and bolt doesn’t cut it–the nut works itself loose after a few times around the track, which leads to wobbly running, which leads to derailments.

There’s a solution other than expensive riveting tools, if you’re just interested in making cars run well, rather than restorations that are as historically accurate as possible. For about 15 bucks, you can get enough parts to do 50 cars.

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Laser vs. inkjet for color printing: The hidden factor

Ars Technica did a quick and dirty study on whether inkjets or lasers are more cost effective for color printing  and came down in favor of the inkjet.

The math works in their laser vs. inkjet battle, but it misses something non-trivial. Ink cartridges dry out. Toner cartridges don’t.
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What you really need to know about net neutrality

I ran across a former classmate’s name in Google News recently, and when I flipped through his back catalog, I found the very best definition of net neutrality that I’ve seen.
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