Getting started

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Spike
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Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:24 pm

Getting started

Postby Spike » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:18 pm

Hi
I have a good idea of the layout I want to build and the sort of things I want on there but stil deciding what route to go down to get me started.

Once i have the board all sorted would I be better off buying a DCC starter set with say one train with coaches/cars and some track and a controller or would I be better off starting to buy things separately.

My layout is going to be around 9' x 4.5' so quite large with me being able to stand in a cut out in the middle.

So would the controller you get in a set be able to run multiple tracks and layouts?

Thanks

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Roger (RJ)
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Re: Getting started

Postby Roger (RJ) » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:57 pm

You can run virtually any amount of track, up to about a double garage size - and maybe more, from a starter set controller as the track consumes no power. The limiting factors are the number of locos and accessories drawing power from the controller and the way you feed the power to the rails. For anything bigger than the basic oval, a DCC bus is recommended and in bigger sizes an accessory bus too.

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Mountain
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Re: Getting started

Postby Mountain » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:58 pm

For DCC, the same controller can be used for the whole layout. Ok, for very large layouts with many trains running at a time one will need either boosters or a new more powerful DCC system.
If it was DC, you would need a second or a third controller depending on how the trackplan is wired etc.
Now as DCC only has one control system (As in one controller though one can have many handsets linked with some DCC systems) sometimes the controller in the trainset will be very suitable, though as trainsets tend to be budget by nature, certain DCC controllers from trainsets may have limitations.
My advice is to find a nice DCC starter trainset and go with that. Then at a later date if you find you have reached the controllers limitations, you can then change to a new more powerful DCC control system, which will be easy to do, as you will have already wired the layout up for DCC control. You just simply replace the old for the new.

Spike
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Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:24 pm

Re: Getting started

Postby Spike » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:01 pm

Thanks for the advice guys, I was hoping that was going to be the answer about the train sets as it does make things alot simpler when starting out.

Dad-1
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Location: Dorset - A mile from West Bay.

Re: Getting started

Postby Dad-1 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:55 pm

I always hate questions like this - Why ? Because I don't know exactly what you
will really want, neither do you. I've been there and done that !

Value for money a train-set is usually a good buy, but any DCC system will be
from the bottom end, to get the price 'right'. My guess is that you'll be looking
at Hornby and their DCC system for sets is the Select. This comes in for a lot
of stick, but will operate multiple locomotives including sound. You can daisy
chain several together for multiple throttles and change the supplied (in sets)
1 amp power pack for a 4 amp version.

I have 5 of them and used 3 in a daisy chain to operate a large layout including
point operation. They do the job, but if you really get into the hobby it's almost
certain you will want a better unit and have to be prepared to pay somewhat more
for just a DCC system than a complete train set.

I'd say initially forget the more distant future, go with a train set. Learn what is
out there and what the eventual costs may be. I joined a club as at the time I
lived on the edge of a large town. Not everyone is happy in a club environment, but
it gave me a chance to operate DC layouts as well as experiencing a few different
DCC systems, some I could never justify on cost grounds, but it was all an interesting
learning curve !!

Geoff T.
Remember ... I know nothing about railways.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=32187 and Another on viewtopic.php?f=22&t=28436&start=60&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

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End2end
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Location: At the end....... and sometimes at the other end

Re: Getting started

Postby End2end » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 pm

I started with this...
Image
Sold both locos, the rolling stock and the track and kept the controller.
I also bought the companion controller to go with it so I can control 2 loco's at once "hands on"
Cheap, cheerful but will get you and upto 9 DCC loco's running at once.
Thanks
End2end
"St Blazey's" - The progress and predicaments.
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Mountain
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Re: Getting started

Postby Mountain » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:35 am

I did buy one of those sets and sold it to a friend to get him interested in DCC. It is a fun little set. The controller is easy to use but a little limiting as one can quickly exceed the nine allocated locomotive addresses and one only has access to the more basic programming CV's. Its simplicity though makes it a delight to use. The locos are a little basic in that they are designed to withstand abuse from children. The wagons are made from a cheaper form of plastic somehow. Nevertheless it makes a rather nice starter set to test DCC.
I would be more inclined to buy a Hornby DCC set as though I have never used the Hornby basic controller myself, it has 99 loco addresses which will take most of us a great many years of dedicated collecting to exceed that! I am not saying that one may not outgrow the other aspects of the controller, but 99 or more loco addresses is a great start to a controller which should last you a while before you will need to upgrade. Mind you, Bachmanns starter controller is so delightful to use, if you do not get any more then 9 locos then it is more then adiquate to use.
Where better DCC controllers are needed.... When one enters into DCC sound. (One can still run a DCC sound loco on a basic controller but one would not have access to all the sounds depending on how many functions the sound decoder has and now many functions the controller can control. For example, I have a Lenz DCC system which was one of the most advanced in its day, and I bought the top of the range one (The Lenz set 01). It had access to more functions then I thought that I would ever use.... Until DCC sound decoders arrived on the scene. I bought a DCC sound loco (A class 37) to try out sound and found my Lenz system could access all the sounds except for three, and I could decide which three sounds I didn't want to access through the DCC programming. Everything else I had full access to.
Most basic controllers will have access to about three functions so one may only have access to one or maybe two sounds (As the first and sometimes the second functions are normally allocated to turn on the lights).
You will soon get the hang of DCC.

Believe it or not, though I have really enjoyed DCC, I have gone back to DC with my 7mm narrow gauge as I just liked the simplicity of a single knob to control the trains and simple clunky switches to allocate track sections, without all the extras and the need to program etc. I enjoyed wiring and having something so simple that I can fully understand it. With DCC I don't have a clue how it works inside. I just know the theory of how it works and how to use it.

Spike
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Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:24 pm

Re: Getting started

Postby Spike » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:14 pm

Wow some great advice there.

Well been doing a bit of measuring in the garage and once its cleared out properly I should at max be able to have a layout that is around 10x6 foot.

So on to building the base board. I am carpenter by trade so no problems there but seen many different ways to build the base board, some look a little OTT to me but I was thinking of using 1/2 inch ply joined together with a 2x1 frame work to keep the weight down, then all I need to do is figure out the size of the hole in the middle for me to fit into, I think that will be determined once it is put together.

I have seen people using cork on top of their plywood or what ever they have used, are trains really that noisy, it will be in the garage so noise is not a problem or would I still be better off with some sort of insulation on the top?

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Mountain
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Re: Getting started

Postby Mountain » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:45 pm

Sound insulation is only really an issue (And it is due to personal preferences as to if one wants sound deadening or not) when one uses a thin ply board for the top. I doubt half inch will need any deadening.

Dad-1
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Location: Dorset - A mile from West Bay.

Re: Getting started

Postby Dad-1 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:00 pm

Spike,

Last bit first. Many of the good railway modellers on here don't use cork.
I've never thought my trains are that noisy and it's another interface between
track and base. Every interface is a place for things to go wrong and it takes
time to lay and adds costs.
I have yet to find ANY sensible reason for using unless you're going to have
fine scale track where the sleepers are so thin you have no ballast shoulder.
With either Peco code 75, or any manufacturers code 100 there is enough
depth of sleeper to create an acceptable ballast shoulder.

Remember when making a nice sized garage layout that someday you may have
to dismantle. Make it in such a way you can strip down and out without totally
destroying boards and track. That based on my local best buddy who thought he
was in his forever house, but has moved and had to totally destroy everything
except a few buildings he hadn't permanently attached.

One thing you probably haven't got you head around yet are points. At a basic level
they come as Insulated, or Live frog. Any train set will have insulated frogs on any
included points. By far your best move will be to only use Live frog from the very
beginning. Usually these are from Peco, but more later as you plan ahead.

I would suggest some time spent reading through several, many if you have time,
of the layouts under construction. It's an area full of ideas, inspiration and sound
common sense. Even a few mistakes and why.

Geoff T.
Remember ... I know nothing about railways.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=32187 and Another on viewtopic.php?f=22&t=28436&start=60&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Spike
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:24 pm

Re: Getting started

Postby Spike » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:00 pm

Thanks again for the good advice.

The size I am making the layout can be taken down and up ended and walked out the garage if needs be, as i have units and shelves on the walls it fits inside these so even at the max size of 10x6 it will still go out the garage door.

I will be creating up stands at the edges for a scenery paper to be installed on but again that does not mke much difference only to when its raised up the bottom will be 14 or so inches from the roof beams. I think all my years as a chippy and a site manager are paying off with the planning of the size and the layout options. its just everything else I am new too. there is so much info out there of different ways to do things its finding out whats best and why.

I will look into live frogs for the points and the electrics side I have not even looked at yet, I am more still in the designing and sizing of the layout board stage at the moment.

The track design will come once I have all that sorted and made so i have actually somethig to work on as opposed to fresh air.

Bigmet
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Re: Getting started

Postby Bigmet » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:53 am

Spike wrote:...So on to building the base board. I am carpenter by trade so no problems there but seen many different ways to build the base board, some look a little OTT to me but I was thinking of using 1/2 inch ply joined together with a 2x1 frame work to keep the weight down, then all I need to do is figure out the size of the hole in the middle for me to fit into, I think that will be determined once it is put together...

There are proven alternative techniques to the much used sheet of ply with 2x1 framing, that you might want to at least be aware of. The most exciting is the open frame technique, as this allows scenic features that drop below the track level. In short a heavyweight frame is built a planned distance below where the track level is to be. Upstands from the frame support a ply track base little more than the width of the track formation. (One of the essential enablers for doing this is having a layout design!) This way you can incorporate features like a viaduct carrying the railway across a valley.

Make the operator space as large as practical, never less than 2 feet wide.


Spike wrote:...I have seen people using cork on top of their plywood or what ever they have used, are trains really that noisy, it will be in the garage so noise is not a problem or would I still be better off with some sort of insulation on the top?

If you are going to use only modern models, they are a lot quieter than those in the past. But if track is fixed down on a large 'drumskin' of ply, this sound is amplified. An advantage of open frame is that the ply 'drumskin' is much smaller and this reduces the amplification. Personally I like the sound current all metal wheel stock makes, and haven't bothered to insulate, just relied on the narrow track base. (I have to put up with the racket when my late 1950s Triang Princess runs, noisy motor driving directly on an axle, wowgrrr,wowgrrr,wowgrrr,wowgrrr!)

Spike
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:24 pm

Re: Getting started

Postby Spike » Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:37 pm

Bigmet wrote:
Spike wrote:...So on to building the base board. I am carpenter by trade so no problems there but seen many different ways to build the base board, some look a little OTT to me but I was thinking of using 1/2 inch ply joined together with a 2x1 frame work to keep the weight down, then all I need to do is figure out the size of the hole in the middle for me to fit into, I think that will be determined once it is put together...

There are proven alternative techniques to the much used sheet of ply with 2x1 framing, that you might want to at least be aware of. The most exciting is the open frame technique, as this allows scenic features that drop below the track level. In short a heavyweight frame is built a planned distance below where the track level is to be. Upstands from the frame support a ply track base little more than the width of the track formation. (One of the essential enablers for doing this is having a layout design!) This way you can incorporate features like a viaduct carrying the railway across a valley.

Make the operator space as large as practical, never less than 2 feet wide.


Spike wrote:...I have seen people using cork on top of their plywood or what ever they have used, are trains really that noisy, it will be in the garage so noise is not a problem or would I still be better off with some sort of insulation on the top?

If you are going to use only modern models, they are a lot quieter than those in the past. But if track is fixed down on a large 'drumskin' of ply, this sound is amplified. An advantage of open frame is that the ply 'drumskin' is much smaller and this reduces the amplification. Personally I like the sound current all metal wheel stock makes, and haven't bothered to insulate, just relied on the narrow track base. (I have to put up with the racket when my late 1950s Triang Princess runs, noisy motor driving directly on an axle, wowgrrr,wowgrrr,wowgrrr,wowgrrr!)



Thanks for that.

with me "hanging it" from the roof rafters and on a pulley system I am going to be limited for depth but I will certainly look into the open frame way of doing things.

Spike
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:24 pm

Re: Getting started

Postby Spike » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:18 pm

Another question

Whilst having a look through eBay for different things I came across track bundles that seemed ok. I take it the general track is the same whether using DC or DCC just different in the way they operate? I am not talking running DC locos along side DCC locos I am just on about the track itself in the curves and the straights etc

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Mountain
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Location: Somewhere in Wales, UK.

Re: Getting started

Postby Mountain » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:12 pm

There are a few ways of looking at things in regards to track. Actually five I am thinking of.
▪ The first is to buy new sectional track which will generally give reliable running and do the job but will be costly.
▪ The second is to buy new flexible track (Code 100) which can be mixed with sectional track from a trainset which will reduce costs (As flexible track tends to be cheaper in regards to how much track you get compared to how far the track will go) where one can run nearly anything in 00 or H0 gauge and all should work fine.
▪ The third is to buy new finescale flexible track which usually comes in code 75 form (The lower the figure the lower the rail height. Different railheights can be mixed but it may need converter tracks or converter railjoiners or packing up from underneath and soldering). The good side to this is the track generally looks more realistic though it depends on what prototype you are looking at, as some of todays heavy duty track used on mainlines looks more like code 100 then code 75, but for the steam era, code 75 will look the part. The main downside to this is that you will be restricting yourself a little when it comes to the choice of locos and rolling stock which will run on it as older locos and stock generally have deeper wheel flanges which may struggle to run on low profile track. It is why many if us stick to code 100 track as we can run almost anything on it in 00 or H0 gauges... Actually I can run my 7mm narrow gauge items on it but thats another story!
▪ The fourth option is to buy secondhand bundles of track. This has both downsides and upsides. The downside is that often secondhand track may have kinks or not quite sit flat etc which can lead to derailments. Also older steel railed track can need more maintenence in regards to keeping things clean, though it depends on the enviroment your layout is. Nickel silver track (Which is what will usually be found today) does tend to be better for damper and harsher conditions and can even be used outdoors. However, the upside to buying secondhand track is you can get some real bargains and if you have the patience to do some testing and replace or repair any track pieces that give you problems, you can end up with all the track you need at a bargain price. Most modellers prefer to get new track though for one reason. New track is more likely to provide reliable running.
▪ The fifth option is a mix of all of the above as you see fit. (I had to include this option!) My general advice through experience is that in the past I have had lots of old track which was past its best (Steel sectional track which back then was sold new, though my steel track was past its best), and I also had new nickel silver flexible track. Now the new track I used on my main running lines and the old track I used for the lesser used sidings. That way I had the best of both worlds until I could eventually aford to upgrade the sidings to newer track. The old track was then passed on to others to assist them build their layouts.

For me, if you have the money to do so, I would buy new and mix code 100 flexible track with sectional track. Use sectional track for the sharper curves and some of the points if needed (As sectional track points are good at space saving though they have different angles to the points sold in the flexible track range). Flexible track (Not the points) needs to be cut to length so one has to buy seperate railjoiners. A pair of track cutting shears is the easiest way to do this and any burrs can be cleaned off with a small file.
The reason why this is a good mix is flexible track when curved sharply tends to push outwards which can kink the ends of the rails where the railjoiners are. Flexible track is cheaper so on the straights of gentle curves it is ideal to use. It is also great at making things look realistic as sectional track can have a very rigid look to it when assembled.
Another consideration to make is do you go with live or dead frog points? (Peco call them electrofrog or insulfrog points). It is rare to find a sectional track range with live frog points. Now the advantage of live frogs are that they eliminate the chance of a loco stalling as it crosses the frog of the points (The frog is the central part of the point) when they pass at low speeds. However they do take more wiring and extra switches (Or with DCC one can buy frog juicers) to make them work. Insulfrog points can usually be layed as they are and generally don't need any extra wiring unless they are used in certain track formations (E.g. two points back to back or at a headshunt situation etc). In general, todays insulfrog points (Especially Peco) have a much smaller insulated area so are much less likely to have loco stalling on the frogs then they used to, and also locos these days tend to have far more pick ups, so stalling is less likely. So while a live point is superior, a dead frog point is a little easier to cope with for a beginner. Mind you, live frog points are not that difficult to wire up so don't be put off at the thought as there are plenty on here who can offer advice...


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