At 7 Dec 2006 19:20:47 -0800 "al" yahoo.com> wrote:
> Thanks for the response. I'm actually not interested in the
> ballast + track features "ready to go" sections - mostly because of the
> limitations in selection (e.g. it's tough to find a 12.5 deg crossing
> in the Atlas True-Track selection - which was actually the first major
> addition to our simple layout...)
True, there is some limitations in selections. OTOH, the 'plastic
ballast' has one really important feature you seem to need: bare snap /
sectional track won't stay connected to together very well, esp. after
you have taken it apart and put it together a few times -- the rail
joiners don't have good enough 'grab' and loosen over time. The
'plastic ballast' section have solid and secure locking clips. This
means that when snapped together they are solidly attached and won't
move around or come apart. Since you probably don't plan on ballasting
or even nailing down the track, you need *something* to hold things
together or else you will be spending all of your time 'repairing'
trackwork and not running trains at all much.
> Thanks for the tip on capacitance discharge switch machines... I
> found a great link here (for thos who might be in a similar situation
> as I am :-) http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/CDPSU.html
> My personal preference would be to use the Darlington transistors to
> control the machines...
> Related to that is the reason I don't want to go with DCC... i figure
> working with blocks, I could more easily control "crash scenarios"
> where at a crossing, once a train is over the crossing, I can dump
> power to the crossing block and prevent collisions... that said, I'm
> becoming more convinced DCC is the way to go...
> as for Code 83... Since I'm not into realism, the code 83 only seems to
> offer the advantage of better quality parts by default. One of the
> problems I'm having is clearance under an engine (as well as the
> couplers) So dropping to 83 would seem only to increase my problems...
There should not be anything under the engine, at least below wheel
tread level. This is the *same* for code 100 or code 83. The only
downside of code 83 is with some 'cheaper' locos and rolling stock have
excessively oversized flanges, mostly cheap junk anyway (except some UK 00
stock has 'deep' flanges, but you are not likely to see anything like
that). If the couplers are adjusted properly OR if you just snip off
the gladhands, you won't have trouble with code 83. Misadjusted coupler
gladhands will hang up on code 100 just as easily as it will on code 83 --
*exactly* the same.
I understand you are not into realism -- that is not why I mentioned
going to code 83. Code 83 does offer much better *quality* parts. One
of the most important things about any railroad (model or prototype) is
quality trackwork. If the trackwork is poor quality, all sorts of
things won't work well. The code 100 track is mostly meant as 'toy'
grade and is generally cheaply made and generally junk. The code 83 is
(to quote GMC) "professional grade" -- well made out of quality parts.
And there will be a wider selection of 'exotic' trackwork available
(more crossing angles, greater selection of turnouts, etc.).
> Thanks again!
> Robert Heller wrote:
>> At 6 Dec 2006 21:14:40 -0800 "al" yahoo.com> wrote:
>>> Okay, I read the FAQ (http://www.ndrr.com/rmr_faq
), surfer the web,
>>> etc. but have lots of questions...
>>> Background: A long time ago, I was given a Lionel set (x-mas) which I
>>> was wise enough to return for a decent HO steam loco and a collection
>>> of Atlas code 100 track (this was 1997). It sat in my basement in a
>>> box with the loco on top. When my 3 year old discovered Thomas and
>>> wanted to see "daddy's choo-choo" I pulled out the kit and set it up.
>>> My son and I are more interested in "making layouts" than scenary or
>>> realistic operation. This means we are tearing down the the layout I
>>> had set up on the floor, then I'm sketching out a new design then we
>>> both put the track together, and I spend a night or two (wife says 5)
>>> wiring it up. (typical layout lasts 3-5 weeks)
>>> I'm convinced I need a few things and am looking for input/guidance...
>>> 1) I want a "quick build" table. I think I'm settled on building a 4x8
>>> frame and use peg board (3 or 4 layers bolted together) Peg board to
>>> feed wires under the table rather than running them above the table on
>>> plywood (makes new layouts "quicker" as I can pre-wire switches and
>>> feed them where/when I need them
>>> a) I don't care about "running loud" or adding corkboard, or nice
>>> looking ballast systems. I'll only end up cursing lots once a month.
>>> Q: Does this seem reasonable? I'd like to build bigger (I'm convinced
>>> 5x8 or 6x9 are infinitely more flexible sizes) Eventually, I can see
>>> adding an "L" section (another table almost identical to the first)
>>> Thoughts about this? My son and I are more interested in "lots of
>>> switches, lots of cross-overs and long runs.
>> Sure. What you probably want to look at is the track+plastic 'ballast'
>> that is the current incarnation of sectional / snap track. This is the
>> regular sectional / snap track, with an added molded grey plastic base
>> with some kind of interconnection snap hook. These will hold your track
>> sections together very securely (much more so that just the rail joiners
>>> 2) I've had it with Atlas switches. I bought a Peco just to "take a
>>> look" and I'm sold. I don't care at all about being "prototypical" I'm
>>> just looking for smooth running (Current derail rate is about 20%% for
>>> the loco, 10%% for the tender, and 40%% for the coach we just bought - we
>>> don't run the coach anymore) I don't like the under table mounting for
>>> the Peco switch machine (becuase I'll be rebuilding it monthly) and the
>>> chance the points will line up nicely over a pegboard hole is 0%%
>>> Q: I've only seen the Tortise systems online (they also seem to mount
>>> below the table, but have mounting brackets I can "bolt onto the table"
>>> distanced from the turnout (Same questions for Switchmaster, or any
>>> other machine... I'm looking for recommendations here :-)
>> All of the 'under table' switch machines are designed with 'permanent'
>> layouts (with scenery, ballast, etc.) in mind. The 'non-prototypical'
>> switch machines are thus 'out of sight' under the layout.
>>> Q: I give up, I think I want to buy all "Insulfrog" switches and "do
>>> the wiring myself" (most flexible) but I'm convinced I have no idea
>>> here... For right now, we are running one loco. Eventually, we'll add
>>> another (we have two, one just sits in an insulated siding while the
>>> other runs). I'm torn betwen blocks (my preference) and DCC (quick and
>>> easy). I don't have the hang of all the wiring intricacies (Yeah, I
>>> bought the "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" book and it isn't
>>> all sinking in...) Can I just buy Insulfrogs and be content with doing
>>> the wiring myself? Is it ever necessary to go with Electrifrogs? My
>>> general track preference is to buy enough stuff to do "any layout"
>>> (Example: I have 4 wye switches, 6 each L and R #4 turnouts, and 2 each
>>> #6... and I'd like more #6, but I ain't buying Atlas...)
>> You need 'hot' frogs if you have 'short' locos.
>>> 3) Transformers - I have a pretty basic model that seems under powered
>>> (example, I throw a switch, and the LEDs in the signals dim :-( which
>>> I'm assuming is because the Atlas switch machines just dump current
>>> down a solenoid to generate the linear throw...and this essentially
>>> shorts the supply (yet another reason to dump Atlas). I like the look
>>> of the MRC Large Scale Power Pack with Large Throttle handle, but I'm
>>> not running G gauge... will it work with HO? Is there anything "nicer"
>>> than the knob units for HO?
>> The 'twin coil' style of switch machines all have huge (relatively
>> speaking) current draws if wired directly with a momentary contact
>> control. This includes Atlas, Peco, etc. What you want is a
>> 'capacitance discharge' unit to power these switch machines. This will
>> save you from scale "brown-outs". The G scale power pack is for 24V locos
>> (G scale uses 24 volts). H0 is 12 volts. No, you don't want the G
>> scale power pack.
>>> 4) DCC - should I just give in and buy a DCC setup now? (Seems like an
>>> awful headache mostly because I'd have to see if my current loco can
>>> accept a decoder... plus there seem to be like 5 different components
>>> needed for the system. I'd really like to have 2 locos running (so my
>>> son and I can "play together" but I'm happy enough moving one into a
>>> siding, then cutting power to the siding, then energizing the other
>>> siding with the other loco and moving it out onto the track.
>> There are debates on both sides. For a *new* layout, DCC is probably
>> the way to go. Most 'modern' H0 locos can take a decoder, many by just
>> pluging it in. DCC is *operationally* simplier and the wiring can be
>> much simplier -- toss ALL of those insulated rail joiners away (except
>> for a few for use with power districts and some for turnouts to prevent
>> shorts and for reverse loops).
>>> 5) Connectors (knuckles) - is it _really_ true that there just isn't
>>> any kind of standard whatsoever? (wow) The connector used by the coach
>>> we have lost it's spring (oops...) and is now useless. We stil have
>>> "the other one" (we only have one coach for the train), and I bought
>>> just about every Backman EZMate and Kadee connector just to understand
>>> what "Center Shank Medium" was or "#4 connector kit"
>>> Q: I take it I just can't "buy one" and standardize on that... it
>>> depends on the rolling stock?
>> The actual knuckle is standard, but shanks and center, over, and under
>> set vary and are rolling stock dependent. Such is life... *Some*
>> people standardize on Kadee #5 and hack the rolling stock to take the
>> #5 -- includes surgery to remove molded coupler pockets, adding
>> spacers, and so on.
>>> Q: also... the "under hooks" (the metal quarter circle under the
>>> connector that requires .015" of track clearance...) what the heck is
>>> that for? Can I err on the side of "bending it up" so the clearance is
>>> sufficient that it wont decouple going over the 30deg crossover? (I
>>> can't imagine using a decoupler, tho... I bought one "just in case" :-)
>> The 'air hoses' aka decoupling pins are only needed for magnetic
>> decouplers. There is a Kadee tool and guage to adjust them properly. Or
>> if you plan to *never* use a magnetic decoupler, you can snip them off.
>>> whew... sorry this is so long. If it isn't clear, I don't mind
>>> spending the $$ but want to make sure the investment will hold up. (a
>>> $22 Peco switch is a bargain compared against an Atlas switch, IMHO)
>>> Also, I'd like to be somewhat scalable for when my son moves on and
>>> maybe wants a more fixed layout and might actually want to put a
>>> building near the track :-)
>> You might want to dump the code 100 track and get code 83 track now.
>> And that includes Atlas code 83 'custom line' turnouts. Yes, the Atlas
>> code 100 turnouts are cheap junk, but the Atlas code 83 'custom line'
>> turnouts are very nice and work very will and have a powerable frog. I
>> believe you can get the plastic 'ballast' for this track for your
>> weekly / monthly empire 'rebuilding'. When your son settles on a
>> longer term rebuild cycle (ALL modelers have some sort of 'rebuild
>> cycle', but for mature modelers it is measured in years or decades, not
>> weeks or months).
>> Turnouts (esp. Atlas) can be had cheaply at Model RR shows, such as the
>> Amherst Railway show in Springfield this coming Jan (last weekend of Jan).
>>> Any advise would be greatly appreciated. (are there other hobbiests
>>> who are just track/layout geeks, and don't care much for the buildings
>>> and scenary?)
>>> Thanks so much
>> Robert Heller -- 978-544-6933
>> Deepwoods Software -- Linux Installation and Administration
/ -- Web Hosting, with CGI and Database
-- Contract Programming: C/C++, Tcl/Tk
Robert Heller -- 978-544-6933
Deepwoods Software -- Linux Installation and Administration
/ -- Web Hosting, with CGI and Database
-- Contract Programming: C/C++, Tcl/Tk