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Old 10-31-2013, 10:39 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Oxon Hill MD
Posts: 2
Scales Modeled: HO
Question Yet another newbie with questions

Hey yall I'm getting into H/O and I have a couple of questions to start of with when planning a layout. So please don't bash me for bugging you.

First my area: picture a L flipped up where the horizontal is pointing out to the right and the vertical is on the left..

Left side is 8', the top is 9' and the width is 36" (I am leaving a 3" buffer around all outside edges)

Now the questions.

1. What is the absolute MAX grade a H/O can handle? Keep in mind that I am not going to run super long trains so the weight should not be an issue. And I am not too worried about being absolutely locked into a grade that is to scale, a little over is not a problem. For instance is a 5.4% a show stopper? Update - As of right now I am staying under the 4% rule but that is limiting me on how high I go.

2. Are there any issues with mixing Altas code 100 track, Peco Setrack Code 100 track and Peco Streamline Code 100 track?

3. Speaking of track. What in your opinion is the best brand to use?

4. Who makes the best DCC engines in your opinion? (Yea I know this is subjective but I just had a extremely bad experience with a Bachman N scale DC system.) I'm looking at the DCC modules and detail of the model. For instance I really like the idea of strobes and ditch lights along with head lights. Of course sound must be there as well.

4. I am leaning towards Lenz for the command system but I am not locked in yet.. I am a software engineer so I am looking at P/C connectivity as well.

As a matter of fact I have not decided on brand for anything yet. So any suggestions is welcome.

OK I'm sure I have asked enough to get a bunch of responses.

Thanks yall,
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Old 10-31-2013, 10:59 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 143
I'm also a newbi but will pass on what iv been told. Atalas code 100. They say code 100 isn't actually to scale but it helps hold the cars on. I bought some and for me it is a little tall but if trains stay on better i can deal with it.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:17 PM   #3
Brakeman Jake
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Quebec,Q.C.
Posts: 1,577
Scales Modeled: N scale
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First...welcome to the forum.Don't hesitate asing questions,this is what the forum is there for.

Grades...prototypes (and models also) try to keep grades below 2% for reliability.Still,3% is acceptable for short trains and 4% being extreme for very short climbs.You guessed right,5%+ is definitely to be avoided.

The only track I've used in HO (I model N scale) is Peco and I like it.

I only have Kato's and BLI's diesels in HO.Both brands are great,at least the ones I have.BLI's come sound equipped while Kato's don't,however they're all DCC ready and some are also sound ready but you have to install the decoder of your choice.

Command system...I have a Digitrax Zephyr Extra that I enjoy.Digitrax ffers everything you need to link with your PC.
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Old 11-01-2013, 05:50 AM   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 3,053
Scales Modeled: HO
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Max grade: Make it as low as you can. Then see how many engines it takes to get up it. I will not go over 2% on a main and 3.5% on an branch line and that is only for very short trains or MU power.

Code 100: you can mix brands of track. I use code 100. there are even rail joiner the help mix codes.

Track: atlas flex, Peco, Shinohara Turnouts.

Locomotive: BLI, Intermountain, (Yea I know this is subjective)

DCC system: Digitrax with JMRI

That is just my 2 cents
I still stop and watch trains go by.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:25 AM   #5
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Oxon Hill MD
Posts: 2
Scales Modeled: HO
Thanks for the info guys.

I forced myself to keep the grade at 4% but I think I will need to lower that some more since one of my runs is fairly long.

From what I am hearing I'll try to stick with the Peco and Atlas 100.

I haven't heard of BLI but I will find out in a few minutes, the same goes for Intermountain.

I'm sure I'll be back with more questions so keep an eye out.

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Old 11-01-2013, 09:28 AM   #6
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Royse City, TX
Posts: 1,932
Scales Modeled: HO
Code 100 is like today's 144lb mainline rail prototype. Code 100 also allows older deep flanged equipment to run.
Love anything RR
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:29 AM   #7
Yard Master
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jacksonville, Fl
Posts: 6,590
Think you'll find most HO modelers are using Atlas Flex track, there's
a big % who buy it as code 83 and maybe a bit more as code 100. I have
no problem matching code 100 to Peco code 100 turnouts.

I praise highly the Peco INSULFROG turnouts for a DCC layout. You just do not get
derailing problems with them on your layout. They are power routing,
so you'll need to add drops to both diverging tracks or those will lose
power when points are set against them.

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Old 11-01-2013, 09:54 AM   #8
Gang Labourer
Join Date: May 2013
Location: St. Catharines
Posts: 82
Scales Modeled: HO
Being a programmer as well I'm taking an opposite approach. I'm on the computer enough and don't want to see a computer at all when it comes to trains. Except for using the forum and making online purchases

For grade I went 3%

For track I'm using Peco flex track and peco streamline insul-frog turnouts. all code 100. I like the quality of Peco especially in the turnouts. I used Atlas last time and was going to stick with them again until I realized they are having major supply issues and some turnouts have not been available at the LHS for over a year.

You can mix track brands when it comes to flex or sectional track but I don't think any of the fast track or easy track brands will mix.

No experience with DCC yet.

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Old 11-01-2013, 10:47 AM   #9
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Illinois
Posts: 147
I'm new as well and just building my layout but have purchased most of the track and switches I will need. After literally months of research I went with Atlas Code 100 for track and Peco for all my switches. I liked the look of Code 83 better but liked the cost, availability (at my lhs) and options I had on the Code 100 better and I am not a proto-snob (kidding). I liked the Peco switches much better than anything else I looked at.

As far as grade I have a 15' X 12' L-shaped 'dogbone' layout and have used the Woodland Scenics 4% grade inclines at both ends. I don't have my permanent wiring in but with it wired temporarily the two engines I have (Athearn Genesis SD70ACe and a BL EMD NW2 switcher) both pulled 5 car trains up with no noticeable slowdown. The switcher will not be on either section of this track when I am up and running I just tried it out. It was a sacrifice I had to make so my design worked and once all the landscaping and scenes are in I don't think it will look as steep as it is.

I went with Digitrax Superchief. Overkill for my layout at the moment but I hope that some day my layout takes up a large part of my basement.

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