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Author Topic: Please school me  (Read 2779 times)
kencunningham

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« on: November 08, 2011, 08:25:34 PM »

I have been searching the web trying to wrap my head around around all of the things that are involved in model railroading.  I have found that there is a dizzying amount of things that i need to learn before i take the plunge and start buying things without fully understanding how products relate to each other in the entire layout of a track system.  I have found some videos on utube that show how to install automated switches and the wiring that is associated with them, this has proven to be very informative because most of these products when found around the internet don't explain in a way that some who is just getting interested in model rr can understand exactly what they are used for and how they would be hooked up.

 I bought my son a Bachmann train set that i plan on giving him for Christmas.  Hopefully this is something that we will enjoy together as we "slowly" acquire all of the equipment needed for a robust layout.

I am thinking that the first thing to do would be to buy a DCC system.  His birthday is January 8, so this would be the first present he would receive as we begin to gather equipment.  Ill just come up with some excuse at a latter date to spend the money on the new engine, LOL

So here goes the questions,
1 What is the difference between DCC and DCS











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glennk28

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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2011, 08:45:13 PM »

DCC is the NMRA's standard digital command Control system, based on Lenz' technology donated  to NMRA.  It is and should always be interchangeable   DCS is a poprietary system by MTH.  The hobby will be dependent on the company staying in business, or at least not continuing to produce it.  Ask any owner of a GE "Astrak" system.  DCC technology is open to all.
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pdleth

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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2011, 08:53:09 PM »

MY biggest suggestion would be to keep it simple at first and as you grow in the hobby make it as complex as you want. Some good ideas can be found here
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kencunningham

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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2011, 09:29:32 PM »

Thanks to both of you for the replies.  I definetly believe in the start out simple philosophy.  My first hurdle is deciding on just what to get.  The Bachmann ez command seems to be a low cost unit to get started, having said that i also dont want to have buyers remorse later on when its time to upgrade.  So the answers to this question will hopefully get me oriented on which direction i should go from here.  Actually more like two questions.

I believe the ez is stated to be 1 amp?  In the real world, is this enough to run a dcc train with sound with maybe a reverse module and automated turnouts?

The modular type plug and play of the reverse loop module and the terminal tracks appeals to me, because it seems that it would be easier to incorrporate these into a track layout that will be changed.  The automated turn out seems to be the way to go at this point also.  So the qestion is, will i still be able to use all of these components with a different DCC system when it comes time to upgrade?
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Doneldon

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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2011, 11:54:29 PM »

ken-

The EZ Command has several limitations which render it suitable for small layouts only, or just children's layouts. It has no programming ability other than loco number (only 10 different ones) and which end of the loco is the front. It can control only a narrow range of effects. It will handle lighting competently but will reveal its weaknesses if you try to manage more than a few sound options. Last, and most critically, it has extremely limited power and it is terribly expensive to beef up. The one amp will run perhaps three newish locos but only one sound loco plus maybe a second loco without sound. One unreconstructed older locomotive, brass or otherwise, will likely exhaust its power. Which begs the questions, of course, of why have DCC if you can only control one or two locos at a time? Why not just stick with a much cheaper but quality DC power pack? DCC is about control of multiple trains on the same track. If you can't truly do that, forget it.

A more versatile system for not a fortune more is the Bachmann Dynamis. It is more powerful and offers full (every manufacturer's definition of "full" is different but Bachmann uses a reasonable one vis-a-vis the Dynamis) programming. However, check around before you choose a system. Every manufacturer has an entry level system, all of which are substantially more money than the EZ Command. Trust me, it's money well spent. Most important is for you to find a system with which you are comfortable and which is used by a friend or nearby model railroad club where you can tap other modelers' experience. You might also find that a LHS specializes in one or more manufacturer's systems and that can be an important consideration in selecting a system. Also, learn about the costs of expansion. Some more powerful boosters and add-on controllers (aka throttles, though not explicitly correctly so) are fairly reasonable;others are incredibly pricey. Regardless, I strongly urge you to make sure that everything complies with the NMRA standards. That will maximize interoperability and the likelihood of a long, useful life.
                                                                   -- D
 
« Last Edit: November 09, 2011, 04:48:20 PM by Doneldon » Logged
jward


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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 12:24:14 AM »

you didn't ask specifically, but since you did mention switches here is a bit of advice that may save you alot of grief later on.......the recommendations below are for HO scale, but the principles are applicable to any scale.

switches come in various sizes. the standard remote control and manual switches have a curved section of 18" radius. these are really too sharp to work reliably. especially when you try to back trains through them. the numbered switches (#4, #5, #6, #8) have much gentler curves and work much better. the larger the number the more gentle the curve. my advice is to use the largest number you can as this will allow you to run larger locomotives and cars. likewise, the temptation is there to use small radius curves to fit more track in. i'd advise using the largest curves you can for the same reason. i would also strongly advise 18" radius curves as an absolute minimum, 22"r or 24"r if possible.

one other thing to avoid are s curves. using an 18r curve to the right, with a 18"r curve to the left is asking for trouble. if possible put a full section of straight track between the two curves. 

on my own incredibly small layout, i have kept to 18"r and #5 switches. i have also limited the size of the cars and locomotives i use to about 55 scale feet (8") or less. the result is a railroad which runs well with few derailments.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Doneldon

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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2011, 04:52:38 PM »

ken-

Food for Thought: While the number of skills and knowledge bases one must learn are a bit daunting as one explores model railroading, those same varied skills, tasks, foci and interest areas are what make model railroading so interesting for so many years. There's always something new to learn and a different task to complete when the current one gets a little boring. That's what has kept me in the hobby for over 50 years.
                                                                                                                                                                  -- D
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pacchardon

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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2011, 08:04:54 PM »

Ken,
I started in this hobby only last April and tomorrow I am going to start wiring the power for the second part of my first layout which will bring it up to 92 sq ft. The first thing I did was to buy a some starter books. There are variety out there and they all give you the basics. After that it will be easier to get your arms around all there is.
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kencunningham

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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2011, 09:10:15 PM »

Thanks for the good advise everyone.  I was pretty sure the ez command would be pretty weak, but not sure.  Now that the differences in the turnouts have been pointed out, i see how a non numbered one would cause problems.  Thank you very much for that piece of advice, as it would have been a costly mistake to buy one that would only cause problems and have to be replaced right away.

The trackset i bought my son is the Overland set ( its buried in the back of the closet with a ton of stuff stacked on top to stop those prying eyes).  This track is the black plastic roadbed track.  I'm thinking that i should not buy any track like this and only use this track with the train that came with it?  Should i just go with nickle silver code 83 with cork road bed for the layout that will be built?  Opinions please.

I have been looking at engines and the ones with sound are real pricey, so i sure want to get one that is of really good quality.  Well you know how it goes, you get what you pay for.  I sure could use some advise on a solid unit to get.  I would prefer one marked as NS, CSX would be my second choice.  I'm looking at spending less than 300 dollars if at all possible.  I would appreciate your opinions on this.  Sound decoders that  change the sound of the engine as you throttle up is what i want to get.
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jward


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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2011, 09:36:59 PM »

since the only bachmann diesels with sound are too old to be used on either ns or csx, you'll have to buy another brand if you want sound, or do the conversions yourself....

i am not that familiar with what is available with sound, but i can tell you what types ns currently runs.

the most common locomotive on ns right now is the c40-9w. this is actually a c44-9w which has been downrated in horsepower at ns's request. they have over 1000 of them. the c44-9w has been produced in ho by athearn.

the emd sd40-2 is probably the second most common type. they have over 300 of them, models are made by athearn, bachmann & kato.

the gp38-2 is also common. models by athearn, bachmann and kato.

the sd70ace is the newest locomotive in the fleet. while relatively few in number, there are more arriving every day, and there should be 75 by years end. athearn makes these.

other common types are sd70m-2, sd70m, sd60m, sd60, and gp40-2 as well as c40-8 and c40-8w.

i can send you photos of the real ones if you wish.....

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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Yardmaster
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2011, 11:24:24 PM »

If you are interested in DCC start with a basic EZ Command controller. It is absolutely the easiest way to learn the basic theory of DCC and how it works. It will cost you about the same amount as buying a new DCC equipped locomotive. If you decide to move on to a more advanced system you can always use the EZ command system for DCC accessory operation, etc....
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Doneldon

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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2011, 12:47:05 AM »

ken-

There's not much wrong with the black track that getting rid of the steel rails wouldn't solve. Steel isn't a great conductor in the first place and its ready tendency to corrode/oxidize/rust renders it a very poor material for model railroad track anywhere other than, perhaps, the middle of the Sahara Dessert. Oh, the rusty sides can look great but the operational problems outweigh that about a hundred to one. One must wonder about the thinking behind the black roadbed, too, but at least that can be painted. Of course, with the better looking Bachmann gray roadbed or the even better competition roadbed with a mottled appearance there's no reason to consider painting roadbed, either.

Basically, the black roadbed with steel rail is a disaster suitable only for a cheap component in train sets which is often quickly replaced while affording the manufacturer an opportunity for a little more profit on the replacement.
 
I, for one, would have a whole lot more respect for Bachmann if they acknowledged what a lousy product the black track is and offered to replace it with gray track for free. My guess is that the company doesn't allow itself to see how adversely the black/steel track reflects on the rest of the product line which is really quite good, with reliability and quality for a reasonable price. Come on, Bachmann, get clean and sober on this.
                                                                                                                                                            -- D
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Jeshimon

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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2011, 04:07:25 PM »

Well you know how it goes, you get what you pay for.

You don't always get what you pay for, but you always pay for what you get.
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2011, 09:40:40 PM »

I mostly agree with Doneldon but would change his first sentence to read "  There is not much wrong with the black track that caring for the steel rails wouldn't solve."  

Bare plain steel will rust if its surface is exposed to oxygen and moisture.  To prevent this, the steel can be galvanized (zinc plated) to exclude both the oxygen and the moisture in the air.  With their steel track, Bachmann has already done this for us.  If we want to use it (and save a few bucks while we are at it,) we must help keep the oxygen and moisture away from the steel.  That means never sanding or scraping the tops of the rails in order to preserve the galvanizing in this key area.

After many hundreds of hours of running, the zinc may start wearing off the tops of the rails.  We can slow this process by a very thin coating of light weight oil.  And if/when the zinc finally wears through, we can still prevent rusting by continuing to use this oil.  As it happens, Bachmann makes such an oil.  Their E-Z Lube Conductive Lubricant spreads out in such thin layers that it has little if any effect on traction yet protects the rails from oxygen and moisture in the air.  At the same time, it improves contact between pickup wheels and the rails.  It works on brass, nickel silver, aluminum and stainless steel rails as well.

For the record, I learned about using oil on the rails over four decades ago.  I heard about it from an Englishman who had too little room inside his cottage for a layout and so built one outside in his garden.  In England.  Land of much rain and dampness.  And he used bare, uncoated, ungalvanized steel rail.  Left to itself, the rail would rust overnight.  Oiled regularly, he could run trains on nice days and leave the track in place on wet ones.  He convinced me and I have been using oil ever since.  Singer Sewing Machine Oil (the old formulation,) Wahl Hair Clipper Oil,  and Labelle 108 and now E-Z Lube Conductive Lubricant.

Jim
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 09:44:00 PM by Jim Banner » Logged

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