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Discussion Starter #1
This is a broad thread on the topic. Feel free to add whatever you like. It just to note that in O -- there's lots of operating gizmos available and this seems far less prevalent in HO. Feel free to tell "You are wrong... why remember the ___ "...

Let's start with the O gauge engines. There are two main suppliers in O -- Lionel and MTH. Lionel has a longer history and has supplied and endless stream of gizmos to the market on the engine itself, and MTH largely follows suit eventually. A typical engine has these features:

  • operating front/rear couplers
  • smoke
  • sound
  • function (motion, etc...)
  • if a stream engine possibly a "flickering firebox"
  • specialty or high end may include a moving bell or an "operating coal load"
  • one lionel item has a load based sound function through the tender connection to the engine
Boxcars may have sliding doors or hatches -- although I'm not aware that any of these are motorized.

Switches can be remote controlled -- this means some RF signalling not a remote throw over a wire which is also common. (or maybe MTH does it through the track)

All these various features (less the boxcars doors etcc) can typically be adjusted by a handheld controller (or more recently computer application)

Then there's operating log cars, dump cars -- MTH sold a Coors Light Silver Bullet set for example.

Well the list goes on, I'm sure you can add your own...

Now how much of this appears in HO?

Smoke is not prevalent on most engines, sound is very good to I think better really as there's more competition.The rest to me appears rare or there's not much market interest.

Now's your chance to blast me out of the water with contradictory examples -- GO!
 

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Jeez, I'm glad I'm an HO modeler!
I don't think I could handle all that smoke, sound, operating front/rear couplers, function/motion, flickering fireboxes, and moving bells.
 

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Even as an 11 year old with a brand new Christmas Marx
electric train, I thought those Lionel operating cars were silly toys.
Everything moved slam bang...vibrating cows and milk cans
did not offer thrills to this kid. I wanted more realism...
but then, uh, Marx did not really offer highly detailed scale models.

I'm sorta glad, though, that HO did not get involved with those things.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #4
There's a whole "signature catalog" awaited by all that has the latest gizmo done to the 9s. For example the moving bell or operating coal load.

Also I will say I could never remember which switch was what and the remotes overall, except for the "quill-able thumb" actuator on Lionel handset are by and large terrible.

To be fair, DCC just doesn't really compare in that you are stuck with command codes and industry common practice for them (note: "Bell" and so on on the handheld)
 

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In European HO you can get all of the above plus:

Remotely operating pantographs
Remotely operating passenger car doors (side entry)
Operating fans on Diesel locomotives
Independent control of all lighting
Built-in HD wi-fi camera

There may be more options for some steam engines but I don't keep up with steam.
 

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All that animation was a whole lot easier to do in 0 scale, simply due to the larger size.....and yet even people that grew up in the heyday of animated equipment thought that it was silly and toy-like, as DonR pointed out.....

But there must have been those that enjoyed it, because they sold a lot of it.......

I too am glad that it didn't spill over into North American HO......I wouldn't be interested......in my opinion, of course.....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh right, I forgot some things I'd seen. Ok pantographs that go up and down -- that's one. i think there was one where they'd put some small LEDs on them to make them look like they were sparking. And the "camera car" in various forms -- that's another. I can't say I've ever seen the fans.

So you say this is all on HO offered in europe? sounds pretty cool -- gizmo wise at least.

As for lighting, I've never seen each LED individually addressable and then some kind of user selected function to turn it on and off in various ways. Not prototypical of course but ... it's a gizmo!
 

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It's definitely a matter of taste. I have rarely seen one of those that doesn't look like a 30' era clockwork toy. Plus, I guess, if your interest lies in just watching, then the more you have to "just watch" ads value to the layout.

For me, the fun is kn actually RUNNING the trains similar to the real thing. I don't care if the coal loader actually dumps coal in my hoppers, because for me, the fun is in delivering the empties and picking up full, ones later. How they get filled is a matter of complete indifference to me. Ths only automation I want is switch machines that throw points realistically when I push a button.

But, FWIW, I have HO locos with working pantographa, boxcar doors that actually open, structure doors that move (by hand), and have seen log loaders, gravel loaders, cranes, and crossing gates that operate. There are also HO vehicle systems that make you cars operate like trains.
 
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There are also HO vehicle systems that make you cars operate like trains.
There was a thread a while back (maybe here, maybe not) where some one was going for "total automation". The automobiles moved on the roads, the people moved on the sidewalks, the dogs barked, the chickens clucked... whatever. The comment that stuck with me was something to the effect of, "That's not model railroading. That's modeling life."

If that's your thing then by all means...
 

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There was a thread a while back (maybe here, maybe not) where some one was going for "total automation". The automobiles moved on the roads, the people moved on the sidewalks, the dogs barked, the chickens clucked... whatever. The comment that stuck with me was something to the effect of, "That's not model railroading. That's modeling life."

If that's your thing then by all means...
Phew definetly not my cup of tea! A good ole steamer running with a quite and static surrounding is good enough for me😎
 
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Wunderland uses a lot of automation. I haven't seen an update from them in awhile so I don't know what they've been building lately.

You should see the computer control room.
 

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As for lighting, I've never seen each LED individually addressable and then some kind of user selected function to turn it on and off in various ways. Not prototypical of course but ... it's a gizmo!
There are a lot of realistic lighting effects that can be supported by some decoders, involving many LEDs on separate functions.

Separate front and rear headlights.
Oscillating headlight beacon effects (e.g MARS lights)
Flashing beacons.
Ditch lights - with alternating flashing effect when blowing the horn.

I've also seen white & green classification lights, separate number board lights, and ground/step lights implemented.

All of these would require separate functions, and all of these are realistic for north american locomotive lighting (although few if any locos would have ALL of them at the same time).
 

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A friend of mine a few years back got one of the MTH HO scale SD70M-2s that had the operating front and rear couplers. First thing he did was rip that garbage out and replace them with standard Kadee couplers.

They just didn't couple as well as Kadees and the DCC operating couplers on the locomotives is IMO kinda gimmicky anyway. If you actually operate your railroad realistically, as my friend and I fall into that particular group, you'll quickly be aware that the majority of coupling/uncoupling actions during switching are done somewhere between two cars in the train, not the engine. Plus if you are running multiple unit consists, then you would have to be flipping over to selecting the trailing unit in order to uncouple, then back to the lead/consist address to move. The amount of times you'd actually be able to use the uncouple function on the locomotive are relatively small.
 

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Then there's operating log cars, dump cars -- MTH sold a Coors Light Silver Bullet set for example.
...
Now how much of this appears in HO?
Mostly on toy train sets only. Not modern detailed models.

I had a sawmill structure that would send some plastic logs sliding down onto a log car when you pushed a lever, and tip the log car over into a log dump/pond when you pushed another lever - back when I was about 10...

Not my video, but this is the same one that I had:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
That's pretty cool. I like it. If you had a crane and some flat cars on the other side, you could send the thing into a endless loop sawing, loading, moving, transferring, back to the mill platform -- back up onto the log platform -- and cyle it again. ... at least with digital control.
 

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To me one of the differences in HO is you build/kit bash your own animation. I our club for example we have a coal loader and a dumper. Both were scratch built. I see more guys make their own flatcar and gondola loads then buy them already made. Even though more stuff is out of the box and ready to run in HO now a days,modelers still put their own twist on the equipment from weathering to graffiti decals to changing a number or two to make it their own.
 

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In European HO you can get all of the above plus:

Remotely operating pantographs
Remotely operating passenger car doors (side entry)
Operating fans on Diesel locomotives
Independent control of all lighting
Built-in HD wi-fi camera

There may be more options for some steam engines but I don't keep up with steam.
MichaelE;

I would like to have DCC operated pantographs. I had planned on using those surplus tiny motors once used to vibrate pagers. I'm curious about how European manufactures do this. Is there someplace where I can get more information on how it's done? Does any manufacturer have this feature in N-scale.

Traction Fan :)
 

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MichaelE;

I would like to have DCC operated pantographs. I had planned on using those surplus tiny motors once used to vibrate pagers. I'm curious about how European manufactures do this. Is there someplace where I can get more information on how it's done? Does any manufacturer have this feature in N-scale.

Traction Fan :)

I'm not aware of any manufacturer offering this feature in N scale. There are very few even offered in HO, and are expensive when you find one.

I don't know how they are operated. Could be a solenoid, a servo, or a stepper motor. I've never seen the shell removed from an operating locomotive to know what mechanism they use.
 
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