Simple or Complex?

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Mountain
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Simple or Complex?

Postby Mountain » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:47 pm

Our modelling methods, which cover a variety of subjects in our hobby, the chief one being the means of control; do we aim for simplicity or prefer a more complex route?
Up until about a decade ago aimed to do everything to be impressively complex. Even in DC, I would try to get a controller that was better then the average. Even buying locos, I'd aim to get the latest model out. When DCC came along, I invested heavily. (I had money in those days! :lol: )
However, something happened. When the new DCC sound was first available in RTR form, I had to buy. I was well impressed but, I remembered sitting there in the bedroom and thinking along the lines of converting everything to sound... And suddenly something changed inside me. I saw that I'd lost the fun of model railways and it had turned into some sort of obsession to buy the best and get the most... It all suddenly at that moment became pointless! What was the point in buying into DCC sound? Why can't I enjoy what I have be it DC, DCC or anything else?
I needed a break from model railways. I bought a yacht. It is lovely. However, after a few adventures, I found my heart yearned for model railways. I had also purchased a Smallbrook Studio body kit for their "Clio" loco for 7mm narrow gauge. Then I left the good job I was in to start a business, which due to various issues never got off the ground.
So without an income or at times with a low hours part time income since then, 7mm narrow gauge suits me fine. And I've had so much fun with it, that I dont think I'd want to go back to where I was. Yes, most of what I have is stored away 00 gauge, which I plan to sell a bit at a time when I need to.
These days though, to have the satisfaction of building a waggon from scratch and run a loco from a simple DC controller. What more could I ask for? Bliss!!!
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

heda
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby heda » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:44 pm

I completely agree with you, there is very little scenic stuff on my layout that has been just bought off the shelf. all the buildings are kit built (my skills are not good enough for scratch building). The pleasure for me is the actual creating the layout. I built my Polar Express layout using a toy train set that I bought for less than £2 and lots of scrap material.
One of my other interests is slot cars (Scalextric) but very few of my cars are new, most of them are car boot buys or ebay scrapyard. I strip them down and rebuild and tweak them. Much more fun than just buying off the shelf. One of my best cars is a Ford Mondeo that is heavily rusted (rat rod), it's great fun to see it winning against the nice new shiny cars.
Dave

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Bufferstop
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Bufferstop » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:03 pm

Mountain that's a story I understand, I was working as an IT services manager, my principal job was to manage an IT network which had hundreds of users, many (very) part-time. I had a health problem that everyone told me was down to the job and sure enough it went away when I stayed away from the job. In the end it turned out to be nothing like they all suspected. Meanwhile I had this layout developing in the loft, about 16' x 12' with a central control panel and miles of spaghetti below the boards. As soon as I took early retirement I felt suddenly frustrated by the layout, I thought long and hard about it and decided that small and simple would be best. I started building an end to end layout in the guest bedroom, it could be dismantled and stored in one of the built in wardrobes in a few minutes. Simple single controller, and mechanical point control. For the first time ever I brought a layout as near to completion as needed, whilst leaving plenty of little jobs to keep my interest. Since then I've been able to develop the layout to be a bit bigger, but sticking to the same principals. DCC came along and whilst it would genuinely help with the slow running the layout could only take one moving loco at a time unless a second operator was present so it would have been a heavy investment for only a slight gain in operational needs.
So it stays DC with mechanical points and signals and the arm and leg that DCC would have cost has helped me assemble a fleet of locos that all mean something to me, and it seems destined to stay that way.
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
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Bigmet
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Bigmet » Mon Mar 12, 2018 3:52 pm

It has to be fun for the individual. I have the greatest respect for those who thatch model cottages and all that, but it isn't railway modelling. I'll have another wagon every time over any building. You cannot operate buildings in trains, or shunt them. They just sit there and do nothing.

A realistically ballasted track layout is where the 'fixed down' modelling pretty much ends for me. Perhaps a few pieces of railway infrastructure added gradually over the years and placed as appropriate to help set the scene. That's all I require for the highly enjoyable operation of trains to a timetable.

GWR_fan
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby GWR_fan » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:26 pm

The most enjoyable railway that I have had the pleasure to use was owned by an elderly gentleman who had training (among a multitiude of skills including owning a country pub) in carpentry. His layout boards were pieces of art. Once the track was laid he would then paint the entire board (track and all) with fencing brown paint. Then the rail tops were cleaned. Basically that was the layout and it was a very large layout, occupying almost two garage spaces. Additional boards could be inserted giving a variety of layout plans. There was a small engine shed, a turntable and several stations (nothing more).

Sounds very basic but it was always a pleasure to run trains there, aided by the numerous conversations held with him while the trains ran faultlessly around the room. A beautifully scenic and landscaped railway is nice but for me simplicity is foremost in importance. The railway is to run trains.

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Mountain
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Mountain » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:38 pm

It is interesting you say that. My fondest memories were running my trains and other peoples trains on the Carmarthen &West Wales Railway Societies large 00 gauge layout. It had one room with a scenic section and this was only a relatively small part of the layout. Most of it went outside this room and was just track on a board. I think the layout was around 40-50ft long by about 25ft. The excitement was watching my Lima Western pull a rake of the 11 coaches that another member left in the clubhouse for anyone to use, at full speed! I also loved to bring my Mainline pannier and a pair of suburban B coaches to trundle along. It was fun! I think it was the size of the running area which was the attraction. I was told they used to hire the whole length of the building and had something like 100 ft in length to run trains, but the building was cut in half to reduce costs.
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

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glencairn
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby glencairn » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:05 pm

Simplicity is the name of the game for me. I have a simple, but enjoyable layout that I can run by myself. There is no complicated pointwork, or electrics. Just switch the electric on and 'away we go'. The layout runs to a timetable, or anything I please.

What I do like is running trains through the landscape, so scenery is important to me. Therefore a portion of my time is spent improving on older efforts I did. (Hopefully.)

With having five grandchildren (three boys and two girls) all interested in trains, accommodating them in the train room is a must. Thankfully, the simple layout means I can let my oldest grandson take charge of the controller. Another grandson loves setting up trains in the fiddle yard. The main thing is that I have tried to make things enjoyable for them (and thus me).

Glencairn
To the world you are someone. To someone you are their world.

GWR_fan
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby GWR_fan » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:28 pm

For years I had a relatively complicated outdoor largescale railway with over forty electrically controlled points, two reverse loop sections, an automatic tram/trolley shuttle plus a large turntable. The layout plan was designed for intensive operation and yet the most pleasurable part of running the railway was simply running a train around the continuous loop. All that intricate pointwork looked impressive but in reality was rarely utilised. The railway could be isolated into three subsections so three operators had complete control over their section. Isolated track sections protected each subsection should another operator stray outside their designated area. All wiring was duplicated to make operation failsafe plus multiple relays were added for isolated track protection. All to no avail as eventually all was ripped out. For reliability the KISS principle works all the time!!!!!!!

Ex-Pat
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Ex-Pat » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:34 pm

Bigmet wrote:It has to be fun for the individual. I have the greatest respect for those who thatch model cottages and all that, but it isn't railway modelling. I'll have another wagon every time over any building. You cannot operate buildings in trains, or shunt them. They just sit there and do nothing.

A realistically ballasted track layout is where the 'fixed down' modelling pretty much ends for me. Perhaps a few pieces of railway infrastructure added gradually over the years and placed as appropriate to help set the scene. That's all I require for the highly enjoyable operation of trains to a timetable.


I quite appreciate the above sentiments.

For me the absolute initial priority is faultless running at low speeds particularly through pointwork - thus electrofrog points are a must. That would be the requirement for either the simplest or most complex layout.

My only interest in DCC was an original misunderstanding that I would be able to bank trains up to Whitrope by just having one banking loco converted to DCC with the train engine remaining DC - I was soon put right to the effect that I could not run 2 locos that way on the same track (unlike with my first Trix Twin set way back in the 1950's!). So I remained DC.

As to sounds, I can imagine them. In fact I don't really care for them as I hear them at Exhibitions and look all around but don't see a loco moving - very disappointing! But, each to their own of course.

Buildings only come into play for me once the operational side of the layout has been completed. My lifelong interest in locos and locosheds dictates that the locoshed and coaling stage will be built first, then moving on to the station platforms and buildings.

Only when the buildings are finished will I consider the "green bits".

Byegad
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Byegad » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:31 pm

I started in N gauge long ago. I like the sound of some of the new dcc sound locos as they pull away, but I've never seen and heard a sound equipped locomotive at speed. By which I mean doing a scale 60-80 mph.

At a show last year I asked an exhibitor if he'd really get his sound equipped steam loco going, he said yes and the loco duly rolled past at a scale 15-20mph. Chuffing like it was pulling away from a halt, but not at all sounding like a loco running freely.

So I'm not in any rush to go out and dcc fit even a small %age of my collection anytime soon.

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alex3410
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby alex3410 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:41 pm

you can adjust the sound decoders so that they do sound better running at speed, it can take a bit of faffing about but I am happy with the way mine sounds. That being said I have only got 2 and have no plans to get any more - it can get too much really quickly.

I went to a show over the weekend and one layout had maybe 5-6 sound fitted locos all running at the same time, it was just over the top and spoilt the experience for me.

I would always opt for simple but reliable running, my recent version of my layout has live frog points with point motors and its a huge pain getting them all connected up - its contributed to stalling progress on the layout (other things have as well) as I cant face the wiring and faffing getting the motors lined up so they work reliably. I have the outside loop done but can't face the goods yards etc.

I know the end result will run much more smoothly (especially with small locos) but I can't help missing the ease of normal manually flipped points.

Bigmet
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Bigmet » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:10 am

alex3410 wrote:... my recent version of my layout has live frog points with point motors and its a huge pain getting them all connected up - its contributed to stalling progress on the layout (other things have as well) as I cant face the wiring and faffing getting the motors lined up so they work reliably. I have the outside loop done but can't face the goods yards etc.

I know the end result will run much more smoothly (especially with small locos) but I can't help missing the ease of normal manually flipped points.

Motorising points is probably my least favourite essential task in railway modelling. My two top tips:

All yards have manually operated points by push rod. You have to be present at the yard location to shunt it, so mechanical point mechanisms are in reach, no need for the expense and work of motorisation.

Running line points that need to be motorised to allow remote operation. Build the layout locations with such points as panels that are only installed after building and testing off the layout. It is so much easier to be able to flip the panel over on a work bench so that what will be the under-board components are worked on in comfort. It's a little more up front planning, for a 100% easier job.

HarryR
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby HarryR » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:33 pm

This is a revealing insight on what people actually do, a must read thread for me.
Thanks to all the contributors. :) :) :)

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Mountain
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Mountain » Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:53 pm

Mentioning manual or electric points. On the real railways, electric points are used on main lines and manual point levers are used in shunting yards (Also manual coupling and uncoupling etc). At small country terminus stations the guard (Conductor these days) has the responsibility for operating the ground frames and uncoupling or coupling to allow a loco hauled train to run around its coaches. So this is a case of point levers in a ground frame, and manual uncoupling and coupling.
In model form, manual levers in a frame are ideal and should be set in the location near the group of points that are being operated.
Also in shunting yards, (Which for us often means behind the scenes) all points can realistically be manually operated if one wants to operate ones railway prototypically. Then on busy mainline stations and areas on such lines, all pointwork will be electrically operated. Stations in less populated areas usually have manual signal boxes, depending on the track plan and the signalling needed, though dont forget that on the Great Western Railway, along with some other railways, colour light signals have been in use certainly from the 1930's onwards, so certain locations may have had these early on so they wouldn't need a signalbox. It all depends on the location and the requirements of the location. A level crossing (If gated) needed manual operation either by mechanical ways via a big wheel in a signal box, or via a signalman or crossing keeper manually moving the gates as required.
It is all a fascinating subject which one could easily suggest an operators finger manually operating points, crossings etc is in keeping with prototype practice's even with today's railways.
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

Builder
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Re: Simple or Complex?

Postby Builder » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:41 pm

An interesting subject, different views always are i think. My interest is that railway`s are there for a purpose, to make life easier for people, without whom there is no railway? so for me ,it is part and parcel of the hobby, a railway has to have purpose, they were never built for fun, until modelling them arrived, that is! So i need to see some way of life,whether stations, factories,dockyards and deliveries to and from where-ever. And of course, life go`s on around the rail lines too, hence for me i enjoy the small diorama`s where the milkman is delivering, animals in fields,or the locals having a chat, fixing the car, and so on, but they hold the interest of onlooker`s who spend time to see all the detail, rather than the technical side of a dozen lines converging on one point, controlled by a number of operators! I am looking into a mixed operation with DC and DCC , which i intend to run a return loop with auto delay in DC, and a separate track in DCC running a probable end to end or a loading/ transport type layout. These on different levels, so one is background,and one in the foreground. My biggest problem is sitting on my butt, instead of getting on with it . :D :D


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