How to avoid cleaning Lionel track

For some people, the only enjoyable part of cleaning Lionel track is arguing about how to do it. The rest of us don’t even enjoy that part. Recently I unearthed a decades-old secret that mostly eliminates the need to clean track. Sound too good to be true?

Read more

What to check when Lionel Magne-Traction doesn’t work

In the 1950s, Lionel started putting magnets in the axles of some of its trains to increase their pulling power and help the trains stay on the track as they highballed around tight O27 and O31 curves. They called this feature Magne-Traction.

In time Magne-Traction was replaced with rubber traction tires, but needless to say, if your locomotive has Magne-Traction, you probably want it to work. Here’s how to make sure it works.

Read more

How to lubricate a Marx motor

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.

Read more

Fare thee well, Super Civic. And thanks for everything.

Last week, at about 238,000 miles, we traded my wife’s 2002 Honda Civic. It was good to us.

She drove that car the night we first met. It was the car we drove home after we got married. We drove our dog home from the Humane Society in it, I drove her to the hospital in it, and we drove our two boys home from the hospital in it. When a car lasts 13 years, it gets to participate in a lot I guess.

Read more

Gene Kim on scheduled maintenance

The excellent book The Phoenix Project has a choice quote that stuck with me.

In this scenario, the Yoda-like character asks the hero to imagine a company that makes deliveries. If the trucks break down, the deliveries stop, right? So you change the oil, since not changing the oil causes trucks to break down.

“Metaphors like oil changes help people make that connection. Preventative oil changes and maintenance policies are like preventative vendor patches and change management policies. By showing how IT risks jeopardize business performance measures, you can start making better business decisions.”

Read more

The pizza procession

There’s a plaza over by our house that’s home to, among other things, a pet store, a license office, a Chinese food joint, a mattress store, a haircut place, a Radio Shack, another cell phone store, and a pizza joint. My wife was there last week, getting ready to pull out of the parking lot, when a funeral procession approached. She stopped to stay out of the way.

The pizza delivery guy behind her didn’t.

Read more

My Wright City adventure

My wife and I trekked out to Wright City this weekend for a surprise anniversary party for one of her uncles. It was in a park in Wright City. Wright City is a small town roughly an hour west of St. Louis on I-70. It’s most famous for Big Boy’s, a roadside hole-in-the-wall restaurant that predated the national chain by a couple of decades, and for the defunct Elvis Is Alive Museum, an old laundromat that a Baptist preacher converted into a tribute to the other Elvis (Presley, not Costello), where he spun theories about what Elvis did after faking his death.

I’ve driven through Wright City more times than I can count, since it’s along I-70 in between St. Louis and Kansas City, but up until this weekend, I’ve never stopped there, even for gas.

More on all that in a minute.

Read more

Reduce your RAID failure rate

It’s not often that you end up talking about computer hardware at church. It’s especially not often that you end up talking about a RAID failure at church. But one such conversation got me thinking again about ways to reduce RAID failure rate.

This past Sunday, I talked with the executive director, who told me five of the drives in the 8-drive RAID array failed all at once. “That’s not supposed to happen,” he said.

It isn’t. But I know why it did.

Read more

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux