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  • What is a passing contact switch?
    What is a passing contact switch?

    A passing contact switch differs from a conventional switch because it does not perform a simple on/off function, instead, its purpose is to supply a short sharp burst of power to any component that doesn't require a continuous power feed, for...

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  • What is a diesel headcode?
    What is a diesel headcode?

    A diesel (or electric) locomotive's headcode was a four-digit code displayed on the front of the loco in the 1960s and early 70s to aid signallers to identify the train's type. This was a practice previously displayed with the use of lamps hung on...

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  • What is a solenoid?
    What is a solenoid?

    If you are building or own a model railway layout, then you have likely heard the word solenoid, a lot! and that is because modellers use them, a lot!A solenoid is a coil of wire which acts as a magnet when an electrical charge is applied. The...

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  • What is a 3D printer?
    What is a 3D printer?

    A 3D printer is a machine that literally prints three-dimensional objects. That sounds great! and it would be easy to deduce that you can now upload a photo of your favourite locomotive, building or tree, hit the print button, and hey-presto! a...

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  • What is a push-button switch?
    What is a push-button switch?

    A push-button switch is a switch that you press to operate something opposed to other types which involve moving (or flicking) the switch from one side to the other. A good example of a push-button switch is the bell that you would press on a bus...

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  • What does "DCC ready" mean?
    What does "DCC ready" mean?

    You may have noticed that in more recent years whenever you purchase a new locomotive that there is a little label on the box indicating that the model is DCC ready. If like many of us you still operate good old fashioned DC (analogue) models,...

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  • What is a dropper wire?
    What is a dropper wire?

    When using a bus wire (shared common wire) to distribute power around your layout, you will inevitably have to tap into the wire at various locations to install small stretches of additional wire to connect the main bus wire with the components or...

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  • What is a slow action point motor?
    What is a slow action point motor?

    Slow action point motors are an alternative to the more commonly used solenoid motors. Their name pretty much suggests what they do (they change your points slowly) and if you are considering using point motors for the first time on your layout...

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  • What is a facing point lock in railways?
    What is a facing point lock in railways?

    Facing point locks are commonly used throughout the world's rail systems, their function is to physically lock points in position therefore protecting trains from the points accidentally changing as a train passes over them. In the UK it is not...

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  • What is a CDU?
    What is a CDU?

    A CDU is a Capacitor Discharge Unit. It is an electrical component that can be included into a circuit and stores up an electrical charge, it releases the current in a powerful short sharp burst on the demand of an operator (you) by pressing a...

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  • What is a train tail lamp?
    What is a train tail lamp?

    Tail lamps on trains have been around since the 1800s, originally powered by oil and later by batteries, they consist of a red lamp or flashing light attached to the very rear of a train to warn other trains of their presence. The first rules...

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  • What do the colours of the levers mean in a signal box?
    What do the colours of the levers mean in a signal box?

    Mechanical signal boxes contain many levers that control among other things signals, points, crossing gates and facing-point-locks. Even the smallest of signal boxes can contain numerous levers, but the largest box in the UK at Shrewsbury's Severn...

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