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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. I used to be into model trains in the 1970s. It was a use for my electronic hobby and trains. Learned alot from some for in Gateway Model RR club then. I loosely modeled Southern RR then. I am considering building an HO layout now. Scared my wife when we went to the model train show in Raleigh NC a couple months back. She saw the prices on the brass locomotives and collectors stuff and panicked.

I will be learning about the new train controls, but probably use the same technology from when I modeled before to control the trains. Lots of DPDT switches, track segments and such.

I am slowly considering layout options for a 16x5 with a possible L shape added. So I have many options and a good space to use.

I will consider hand laid track (is that still done?) For the detailed display areas. I like running freight operations, but will probably utilize a folded dogbone and run a Southern Crescent Limited steam excursion at times.

I work in the computer field, but probably keep my layout manual.

I figure I can get something up and running for about $2000. Unless I find deals used someplace. Haven't seen trains at a garage sale in a long time.

Have fun!
 

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I would reconsider your train controls and investigate the advantages of DCC. You being in the IT industry it should be easier for you to better understand DCC than most newcomers to digital control.

Welcome aboard.
 

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I second Michael's recommendation. Don't even think
about starting out with a DC layout. DCC is far more
simple to wire and to operate. You have only a pair
of wires powering your entire layout, no switches, no
rats nest of wires. No awkward operations either.

Operating is as simple as your TV remote...you
press a button for loco A...start it running, after it's
going press another button for loco B...
maybe run it on the same
track as A but in opposite directions...you can do that
with DCC, but not DC.

A quick summary of DCC.

The controller puts a continuous 14 or so volts (modified AC)
on the track at all times. (your loco and car lights don't
dim or go out).

The buttons on the controller send digital messages
to decoders in the locos individually, telling each what
to do. That's why loco A can go forward, while loco B
backs up on the same track.

Once you get a DCC controller in your hand and run a
couple of trains you'll never think of DC again.

For DC multitrain operations you'll need 2 or more
power packs, a passel of switches, a lot of wire, and
a lot of tedious time to put it all together. By the time
you pay for all that the total would come close to that
of a DCC system.

Further, our members have decades of model railroad
experience including all phases of DCC. We are waiting
to hear any questions you may have.

Don
 

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Welcome aboard!

Hello. I used to be into model trains in the 1970s. It was a use for my electronic hobby and trains. Learned alot from some for in Gateway Model RR club then. I loosely modeled Southern RR then. I am considering building an HO layout now. Scared my wife when we went to the model train show in Raleigh NC a couple months back. She saw the prices on the brass locomotives and collectors stuff and panicked.

I will be learning about the new train controls, but probably use the same technology from when I modeled before to control the trains. Lots of DPDT switches, track segments and such.

I am slowly considering layout options for a 16x5 with a possible L shape added. So I have many options and a good space to use.

I will consider hand laid track (is that still done?) For the detailed display areas. I like running freight operations, but will probably utilize a folded dogbone and run a Southern Crescent Limited steam excursion at times.

I work in the computer field, but probably keep my layout manual.

I figure I can get something up and running for about $2000. Unless I find deals used someplace. Haven't seen trains at a garage sale in a long time.

Have fun!


trebbury;

Welcome to the forum!

I second MichealE's suggestion regarding DCC. You can eliminate all the effort of building a panel full of DPDT switches, and the mass of wiring connecting them to the track blocks/"segments". You connect two wires from the DCC controller to a pair of 14ga. bus wires which run under the table, directly below your track. The bus wires are connected by small feeder wires up to the two rails, at approximately 8-10 foot intervals. That's it for train control wiring. Even the bus wires, and multiple feeders, could be eliminated for a small layout. I mentioned them only because you have space, and tentative plans, for a large layout.

With DCC you can also have sound onboard the locomotives. You can buy locomotives with DCC and sound already installed, or you can install the decoders yourself. For someone with electronic experience, this should be fairly easy. You can control any locomotive anywhere on your railroad without flipping any switches to assign power to any blocks of track. You can even control turnouts and other accessories with your DCC system, through the use of stationary decoders if you wish. Many modelers prefer "Old school" operation of turnouts using a separate power supply (often one of those "Wall wart" phone chargers.) and yes, DPDT switches! :laugh: Just not as many! If you decide to go with DCC, I recommend the NCE Powercab controller. It's a complete full featured DCC system in one small hand-held unit. It's easy to hook up, program, and operate. It costs about $200. Less on sale or discounted.

As for handlaid track, yes, it is still done, though perhaps less commonly now. You can still buy wood ties and loose rail and spikes. so if that's what you prefer go for it. A little more common is scratchbuilding turnouts, and using flex track between them. I make my own N-scale, code 55 turnouts. There are also jigs available from a company called Fast Tracks for building turnouts. I don't use them due to their high cost ($100+ per gage), and the fact that I don't find them necessary. My method for making turnouts is in the first attached file. The others are just general information on a variety of model railroad subjects.

It's your railroad, of course, so you can stick with DC control handlay track, or whatever you wish.

Good luck, and have fun with whatever you choose.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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3rd on DCC. Don't do DC. You're basically starting over, so start a few decades ahead of where you left. (DCC isn't new, just better in most cases)
 

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Looks like you created your user name as your email address. Click on your profile, and user CP. I'm not sure you can change your username. Might need to create a new account.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all. I am going to try to get a couple of my old model railroad stuff from my brother. A couple of those were old when I got them in the 70s. And my old Athern RS2 may not have space for a DCC board.
 

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A couple of places you might look for used train stuff is craigslist and Facebook market. I've come up with a bunch of HO stuff for free and a bunch more that was really cheap. Yes, most of it's older but we're planning on customizing everything anyway. I just don't feel comfortable taking a knife to a $300 engine. There's also eBay but most of them are pretty proud of their used stuff.

We're doing DC because it's way cheaper than DCC (see above). Plus we're just doing simple loops on modules.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I like to concept of the DCC. And while it eases some complexity, it does create reliance on others. And I will have to decide how much old gear I'll be running.
 

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Strictly up to you

I like to concept of the DCC. And while it eases some complexity, it does create reliance on others. And I will have to decide how much old gear I'll be running.
Goose;

DC or DCC it's up to you. Both work, one has less wiring and more features, but neither is "right or "wrong". It's just a matter of which you prefer. I wouldn't worry much about fitting a DCC decoder into an older engine. The decoders are quite small. I think your trains are HO-scale, is that right? I model in N-sale and I don't have any real problems fitting decoders. If you want to learn more about DCC, before buying any DCC equipment at all, you might consider the book, "Basic DCC wiring" by Mike Polsgrove. You can order a copy from https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/products/books or www.amazon.com It covers the subject very well in simple text and color photos.

Merry Christmas

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Goose

Most DCC decoders are not on a 'board'...most
are smaller than a newer 'thumb drive' and can
be fitted in just about any loco, no matter the age.
Some older locos, however, do draw heavier current
than later models. You may want to look for a decoder
capable of 2 amp motor draw.

Don
 
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