Tag Archives: ZIP

How to lubricate a Marx motor

I found a video titled How to Lubricate with Labelle, and I thought I would elaborate on how to adapt Labelle’s advice to Marx trains. You don’t have to use Labelle oil and grease necessarily, though I do like their products.

Lubrication is a more controversial topic than it needs to be, but what I find is that when I follow the advice I’m about to present, the train runs cooler, more quietly, with more pulling power, and starts at a lower voltage. All of those are good things. With a single reduction motor, I can pull six of the metal 3/16 scale cars at 7-8 volts. An unlubricated motor might not even start at 7 volts.

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Repair a Marx reverse unit

When it comes to Marx repairs, the reverse unit is the end of the innocence. Motor repairs are rather easy; reverse unit repair can be as hard as you want it to be.

I’ll share some things I do that seem to make it go easier.

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The low-effort fix for a Marx motor

I had a Marx motor that wouldn’t run, and I fixed it with almost no effort. If you need to get a Marx motor running again but can’t put a lot of time and effort into it, I’ve developed a quick fix. It’s only temporary, but if you want to run trains today instead of fixing them, it can get you out of a pinch.

You need a screwdriver and one drop of Rail-Zip.

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Repairing Marx one-way couplers

Marx one-way couplers were an effort to provide trains that could automatically couple and uncouple. The design was exceptionally reliable, as long as the trains were carefully stored after use. It’s not uncommon today to find them in inoperable condition, but it’s possible to repair them.

Prior to World War II, every train manufacturer tried different ways to make trains that could automatically couple and uncouple, with varying degrees of success. None were particularly realistic, and Marx’s design was probably the ugliest, but did I mention it worked really well?

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Marx 999 repair and service

I had a Marx 999 that didn’t run well when I pulled it out of storage. When pushing it along the track a few times didn’t yield any measurable improvement, I decided I’d better take it apart and give it a thorough cleaning.

In this case, I worked on a Marx 999, but everything I did applies to any other O gauge train Marx made except for the very late 490 locomotives, whose motors don’t seem to have been designed to let you do any more than replace the brushes.

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Using PC ATX power supplies on a train layout

PC power supplies are exceptionally cheap and plentiful these days. If you’ve noticed and wondered whether you can use PC ATX power supplies on a train layout, wonder no more. You can.

Thanks to the miracle of mass production, even the cheapest, nastiest PC power supply gives far more power output per dollar than any train transformer. So if the lights and accessories on your electric train layout can run on 12 volts DC, which is a fairly good bet, you can get a lot of wattage for very little money by repurposing an inexpensive ATX power supply, whether new or secondhand. And on a wattage-per-dollar basis, they’re about twice as cost-effective as outdoor lighting transformers, which are another popular option for hobbyists.

All it takes to use these cost-effective ATX power supplies is a bit of rewiring.

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Use F.lux to help yourself sleep better

I was listening to a podcast when the talk went off on a tangent, to a utility called F.lux. Whoever was talking made it sound like it was just for one platform, so I went looking for an alternative for Windows, given that merely 90.53% of us use it. The answer was F.lux! F.lux is also available for Linux, for what it’s worth. So I downloaded it.

The concept is simple. The lighting on our screens can interfere with our sleep patterns, so F.lux adjusts the screen based on what time it is, so that it interferes less.

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The downside of streaming music

There’s a new rule when it comes to security and privacy: If a service is free, then you’re the product.

Actually, come to think about it, the rule isn’t so new. I’m the product when I listen to the radio. Radio stations exist to deliver a product–namely, an audience–to advertisers, and the audience is different when you’re talking top 40 versus urban contemporary versus country versus classic rock versus alternative versus adult contemporary.

But when it comes to streaming music, the game changes a bit.

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How to clean up a Windows server

From time to time, Windows patches will fail to install because a server doesn’t have enough space to install them. Finding the ginormous files are that are hogging all the space on the C drive is really tedious if you do it by clicking around in Windows Explorer, but there’s a better way.

Download the free Sysinternals Du.exe utility and you can find the behemoths in minutes, if not seconds. Continue reading How to clean up a Windows server

And… Home Depot confirms it’s been breached

In news that will surprise no one, Home Depot confirmed it’s had credit card data stolen.

I also learned that in an effort to defeat my usual security measures, people increasingly will buy cards local to them, so they can shop in the same zip code, or a very nearby zip code to the victim. They then buy expensive merchandise and/or gift cards. This tactic limits the market but increases the effectiveness if you happen to own the unlucky card that your malicious neighbor buys.

About the only way to defeat this behavior is to keep a close eye on your account statements, which means cutting down on credit card use probably would make it easier for you to notice fraud. And, of course, when your credit card company sends a new card, activate it as quickly as possible.

As for what happened, there’s lots of speculation but no confirmation as of yet. Now the start date has been revised back to perhaps sometime in April, and while the number of stores hasn’t been confirmed, the numbers I’m seeing range from 1,700 to all 2,200 of them.

As far as what’s going on, I think we’re in a situation much like the era of The Cuckoo’s Egg, where the world is changing faster than the security world and the corporations who employ it can keep up. In a few years I’ll look back on it in awe of what I learned, but for now, I have to admit feeling scared more than anything. I think we’ll get through it, but at this point in the battle, I still don’t know how.