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Some folks in these forums apparently think that we are all clairvoyant and merely a passing description of the issue will yield an immediate and insightful solution that they can apply and be on their way.  Apparently, we are to simply apply our extrasensory perception and divine the details necessary to suggest a solution or course of action.  In truth, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Except for very simple issues, knowing the exact make/model of the item in question, and the exact symptoms of the failure are vital to understanding the problem.  In addition, the actual operating environment is also critical, if you're running conventional mode or command mode, not to mention which command system are you using.  Many times such details as transformer, circuit protection devices, etc. will play a critical role in a problem and finding a solution.  The statement "My engine shorts out" doesn't cut it!

Frequently it's necessary to include pictures to illustrate the issue, or to provide details on exactly what you are seeing.  Again, we're not clairvoyant, and the fact that you see something that "obviously" is or is not the problem, without pictures, we can't see that!  The old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" is 100% correct.  Many times, a seemingly obscure issue is obvious when presented with the visual evidence.

Speaking of pictures, please make them useful!  A tiny distant shot, or one that is out of focus, is usually useless in doing a diagnosis.  If you're trying to describe an issue with an electronic assembly, for instance, having clear pictures of the configuration helps us to identify what we're dealing with.  With today's smart devices, most people have the capability in their pocket to take decent pictures that can be invaluable in problem diagnosis.

If you have a question or problem, please help us to help you by providing the necessary information to actually provide meaningful assistance.  If we have to guess, accuracy of the diagnosis goes way down!

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I have the same issues at home as well.

The (fill in the blank) is not working is a very common complaint!

Did you hear that noise?  (Well, obviously no.)  Where did it come from?  Is it still making noise?  Under what conditions did it happen?  (Sitting back down, turning up the volume on the TV so I REALLY can't hear it if it happens again.)



I mean, after all.....a picture IS worth a lot of words!

Your requests of those who suffer choo-choo maladies are not excessive.  They're reasonable, all. one of those guilty-as-charged, I can say that the exasperation of finding these gremlins leads one to seek immediate relief...approach a hobby's well-known oracle/sage, prostrate yourself (grovel), describe the malady in words of fewest syllables  using Dick&Jane descriptors, .....and seek divine wisdom....with minimal 'clicks'.  It's human nature.

And, BTW....In a similar vein regarding appeals to this forum...   I don't understand WTB or ISO requests that provide nothing more in thread title and/or description than a part number!!!  You're kidding, right? think our entire personal home inventory is based on part numbers....with instant recall?????????  So, it's up to ME to convert your crytographic alpha-numeric request into a verbal description....road name, car/engine style, genre, etc.???   C'mon, man!   Think like an an old phart who has trouble remembering the names of people he worked with for 31 years when encountering them on the street!!!   Gimme a REAL clue!

But, I digress.....

Good luck, guys.  Re the opening wary of the wall!


Just was reminded....  We (LHS) sometimes get phone calls with requests for vague problem-solving with the choo-choos.  We ask a few basic what size/scale are we dealing with?...N/HO/O/etc..  (That question, alone, can sometimes require a few additional suggestions for identifying!)   Anyhow, one of our folks working behind the counter (counter-intelligence, we say!)  finally had their patience wear thin with the caller, closing with "Tell you what!.....Hold the engine up to the phone so I can get a good look at it!!" 

Not the best resolution, of course. 

Exasperation works both ways.

Last edited by dkdkrd
@Norton posted:

My engine is broken. Whats wrong with it? 

Com' on, doesn't anybody know whats wrong?


Operator error !    You know there are so many folks who lack any technical / mechanical knowledge and are truly unable to put their problems into words because they are unable to spell and write a cogent sentence.  It is truly freighting.  I recently gave an old O-27 train and a big box of track to a neighbor for their three year old son and guess what ?  Dad could not put down a loop of track. Mom caught me at the mailbox a week or so later and asked me if I could get it together for them.  Geez, now I'm afraid they may burn their house down.  Guess I'll have to go add one of my fast trip breakers to their loop of track.     No good deed...................                        j

Last edited by JohnActon

My take on this is we have to "give people a break".  Folks that are new to the hobby, or those with postwar trains getting back into it, don't know how complex modern trains are.  I didn't, but now I can solve problems on my own that I didn't have a clue about 18 years ago.

If someone has a problem and doesn't provide enough information, let's just ask politely for what we need.  That's not too hard.


I figure if it gets said now and again, maybe one or two people will actually take it to heart.  I'm not holding my breath...

John, a suggestion:

Edit your signature and state the needed information, e.g.:

"If you are asking for help with a piece of equipment, provide the following information:  (1) Manufacturer; (2) Product number; (3) Concise statement of the problem; (4) Conventional or Command operation; (5) Brand of Command operation if used; (6) Clear, close photographs of the problem component/part."

I recognize that this will increase the size of your signature, but in fine print with the appropriate emphasis it may be helpful.  

With such a signature, you could make your first reply a request to supply the info described in your signature and delay any further response until the info is provided.

Last edited by Pingman

Let's remember that we are getting top-notch troubleshooting information for FREE.  Just for asking.  And unlike a lot of free stuff, it's worth a heck of a lot more more than we're paying for it.  Most people would have far less patience.  So if he needs to let off some steam, that's OK.

Unfortunately, a lot of folks who need the reminder won't connect the dots.

@Steam Crazy posted:

Peter, patience is a virtue, whether in model trains or any other endeavor. 

John in rainy and cold Shrewsbury, MA, USA.

This is a thumbs down. I know what you are saying, but you need to read these topics that John is talking about. Stupid posts; John or someone else asks for more information; crickets; other people try to interpret and offer suggestions; topic goes down multiple tangents; then OP comes back on and says “Thanks everyone, I figured it out.”  🤦🏼‍♂️

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