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Discussion Starter #1
Not long ago I received the following email from Aristo-Craft:
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THE ARISTO-CRAFT DOODLEBUG IS NOW
ON THE WATER ON THE WAY TO US!

Dear All,

The Doodlebug is a derivative of the Standard Heavyweight Combine and is powered with a fully decorated and lit interior. It is correct to scale and a charmer on its own, but to sweeten the deal, we have added a Free Standard Heavyweight matching Coach.

The Standard Heavyweight coaches have been a staple at Aristo-Craft for almost 20 years. They were based on a Jersey Central design and are scale length. The blending of the two items makes this pair an eye-opener on any layout and it will look good as a shelf model, too.

The MSRP is $300 and includes a free $242 MSRP coach, so the value is truly there. We don't know how long we can keep this value going. If you want a self-powered Doodlebug, we think this is the time to add this to your collection.

___ART21201C DOODLEBUG W/COACH PRR 300.00
___ART21210C DOODLEBUG W/COACH ATSF 300.00
___ART21205C DOODLEBUG W/COACH SO.RWY 300.00
___ART21208C DOODLEBUG W/COACH UP 300.00
___ART21209C DOODLEBUG W/COACH D&RGW 300.00
___ART21202C DOODLEBUG W/COACH B&O 300.00
All the best,

Lewis and Scott Polk
Aristo-Craft Trains


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POLK'S HOBBY | 698 S. 21st St. | Irvington | NJ | 07111



For a bargain hunter like me it sounded too good to be true.

The Doodlebugs alone were selling for around $200 (at the dealers) and the Heavyweights were selling for around $175 each.

I did not expect them to make it to the MWLSTS show in time to see them much less to buy them but sure enough St. Aubins got them in too late to have them for the show opening but sent a truck back and had them for sale on Friday including two Santa Fe sets I promised to buy if they could get them.

I have to admit that I was never very interested in the Doodlebugs as a single vehicle and could not talk myself into spending $375 for a Doodlebug and coach but for around $500 to be able to come home with TWO pairs of Doodlebugs and Heavyweight Coaches was more than I could resist.

Better yet, the new Doodlebug and coach have about a dozen lights per car. I don't yet know if they are lights or LED's but I think they are lights.

Whatever they are they are much smaller than the old light bulbs and are mounted on a center lighting strip.

The effect of the lighting is great - they look VERY nice in a dark room.

At first I did not quite know where to put them but they have found a new home on my shelf layout and last night I ran one of them for several hours as my "Sleep Train."

Lewis once again has discovered a way to separate me from my money.

Jerry
 

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It's a great deal, and I'll be buying one, so to add another coach to my HW "string".

Jerry, if you get a chance, can you take a picture of the lights in the roof of the coach since you say they are different. The old ones are bayonet base 18v like old automotive and Lionel bulbs.

Thanks, Greg
 

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Hi Greg,

I really hate to disassemble anything. All too often screws come out with plastic attached.

On the other hand I have now looked close enough to tell that there are 14 lights and they definitely are LED's (not filament). That suggests that there is probably a voltage limiting circuit.

For anyone that may have had similar thoughts of adding another motor block, Lewis confirmed that the Doodlebug has a FA-1 motor block but he also pointed out that it is recessed and it would be pretty difficult to add a 2nd motor block to the Doodlebug.

A very nice feature is that the Doodlebug has a MU connector at the rear (most likely for battery power) but for my purposes I will probably use it to connect the Doodlebug to the Heavyweight track contacts to double the track contacts from 8 wheels to 16 wheels (track contacts).

The Doodlebug/Coach run very well on my track with minimum flickering but for outside use, with 16 track contacts, it should be able to run on VERY dirty track. The set is rated for a minimum of 8' diameter curves.

One other thing I found interesting is that the LED's are what I would call orange - in both the Doodlebug and the Heavyweight (Santa Fe versions) but when running, the coach clerestory(?) light seems to be amber in the Doodlebug and white (clear) in the Heavyweight. This is probably a result of the seats in the Santa Fe Doodlebug being brown and the seats in the Santa Fe Heavyweight being blue resulting in a different reflected light color. At first I was not sure how I felt about the different colors but now it is insignificant to me. I did look at the 2nd Santa Fe set and the seat colors match the colors of the 1st set.

Eventually (no promises about how soon) I will check the Doodlebug and coach for amperage drain. I suspect that with a single motor and LED lights it will be very low.

There IS NOT a plug-in interface for any decoders but I am sure that someone will soon be installing decoders into the Doodlebugs. Since the Doodlebugs are not actually brand new someone has probably already been doing it. I will probably end up putting a MRC decoder in them some day just because the MRC decoders were so cheap and my installation will do nothing more than to put the decoder between the track pickups and the Doodlebug wires that would normally have gone to the track pickups.

Both the Doodlebug and Heavyweights have two axle trucks so they look balanced. My comments only refer to the Santa Fe version. I saw the B&O and D&RGW versions but never took a close look at them. I think Lewis came up with a real winner with these sets. Heck, where else can you find a "train" for less than $300?

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Greg,

This is the best I can do for now. It is looking through the baggage door of the Doodlebug (upside down - looking toward the ceiling).




Regards,

Jerry
 

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Thanks Jerry!

Do you think there is a similar setup in the coach? Can you peek through the windows and see something similar.

One **** of a job, with you standing on your head looking at the ceiling
, thanks for all the effort!


Regards, Greg
 

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I'm surprised that AC has not mentioned this on there announcement of the Doolebug and coach. Really looks good. Later RJD
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Posted By Greg Elmassian on 10/05/2008 6:08 PM
Thanks Jerry!

Do you think there is a similar setup in the coach? Can you peek through the windows and see something similar.

One **** of a job, with you standing on your head looking at the ceiling
, thanks for all the effort!


Regards, Greg


Hi Greg,

It appears to me that both the Doodlebug and Heavyweight have the same lighting strip. It looks like it should be an easy retrofit to our older coaches and i am guessing that Lewis will eventually offer the light strip as an accessory - also hopefully including the MU harness as an accessory option as well (to add to the Heavyweight).

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Where can one order this set: Doodlebug + coach? Been to both A_C and St A's web sites and can not find this special online
Thanks
Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Posted By aceinspp on 10/05/2008 7:20 PM
I'm surprised that AC has not mentioned this on there announcement of the Doolebug and coach. Really looks good. Later RJD


Hi RJD,

As a former factory rep I would guess that Lewis wanted to give the dealers time to move their existing inventory of non-LED and non-deal products before the LED equipped and free coach products became well known.

Its tough for a manufacturer to walk the line between keeping customers wanting to buy the newest and best and helping their dealers from having old stock collecting dust.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Posted By Joe Bartolini on 10/06/2008 7:55 AM
Where can one order this set: Doodlebug + coach? Been to both A_C and St A's web sites and can not find this special online
Thanks
Joe


Every Aristo-Craft dealer should be able to offer this deal. Just be sure to ask for it and to specify the part number including the "C" at the end:

___ART21201C DOODLEBUG W/COACH PRR 300.00
___ART21210C DOODLEBUG W/COACH ATSF 300.00
___ART21205C DOODLEBUG W/COACH SO.RWY 300.00
___ART21208C DOODLEBUG W/COACH UP 300.00
___ART21209C DOODLEBUG W/COACH D&RGW 300.00
___ART21202C DOODLEBUG W/COACH B&O 300.00

They come packaged in a single box including both the Doodlebug and the Heavyweight Coach.

I bought mine from St. Aubin's at the Mid-West Large Scale Train Show in Springfield, Illinois this past weekend. They had just arrived at St. Aubin's. Since Aristo-Craft had sponsored the show I wanted to buy them from a dealer who was supporting Aristo-Craft (and me) by being at the show.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Jerry,

I saw that deal, too, and thought it was really good. That is interesting that they've put LEDs in the heavyweights. Maybe if you have time, you'd be able to post pictures of a regular coach and the new one with the lights lit? Just for fun, you know!

Later,

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Posted By markoles on 10/06/2008 8:55 AM
Jerry,

I saw that deal, too, and thought it was really good. That is interesting that they've put LEDs in the heavyweights. Maybe if you have time, you'd be able to post pictures of a regular coach and the new one with the lights lit? Just for fun, you know!

Later,

Mark





Hi Mark,

It may be awhile (perhaps someone else will get to it first). I've got a bunch of projects going that I am already too far behind.

Perhaps the best thing about the LED's is that they probably have a voltage limiting circuit that will keep their illumination constant while keeping them from burning out at MTS/DCC voltages - in addition to keeping the power consumption down for MTS 5 amp limits.

One point of comparison that just occurred to me is that I had to quit running MTS on my night train because the MTS voltage kept the D&RGW 3080 series coach lights (with filament bulbs) too bright for my bedroom. In contrast the lighting from the Heavyweights with LED's was pleasant to watch in the darkness - neither too bright nor too dim.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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You can see the circuit on the board in the picture.... power comes in from the left... goes through a full wave bridge rectifier circuit (the 4 diodes), then through a current limiting resistor (to limit inrush current to the capacitor to the right), and the cap also helps keep the leds from flickering, by storing some power. Each LED has a current limiting resistor on the circuit board near it.

There is no limiter, so the possibility exists that operation at high voltages might be too much. I would think Aristo would engineer this to handle 18 volts minimum, and probably 22 or even 24 volts, since they sell power supplies with this voltage.

Regards, Greg
 

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Note that you could add R2 and an additional led to D2 for more light on that circuit board.
Most likely a surface mount resistor between 1000 to 1300 ohms if full track voltage is on the capacitor.
 

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Posted By Joe Bartolini on 10/06/2008 7:55 AM
Where can one order this set: Doodlebug + coach? Been to both A_C and St A's web sites and can not find this special online
Thanks
Joe

Hi Joe,

Jim at G Scale Junction is doing this at a good price. You can see his advert in October Garden Railways, or just give him a phone call.
 

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With the economy going south fast, I'lll bet this isnt the first "great deal" we see in the coming year
 

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Discussion Starter #18
As an update, I've now put 4 - 6 hours on one Santa Fe Doodlebug set and I have to say that I am very pleased with them.

There are two things that came up:

1. While my shop layout (shelf layout) is flat it is not perfectly flat. There are very minor humps where one wire shelf overlaid another wire shelf as I built the layout. The curves are 8' diameter which is the minimum for the set. I noticed that at a couple of places around the room that the "train" would handle the circumference of the room without any problems but (since the "sleep" layout runs on a 15 minute timer) there is no way to predict where the train will stop. IF it stops right at a hump in the track or in a curve the wheels might spin without going anywhere. On a normal layout it would be easy for the operator to back up a bit and get over the little hump with a head start and a little speed as it reaches the hump.

2. after about 4 hours I noticed the cars were slowing down and the drive wheels had a tendency to slip - sometimes even on flat track.

Issue #1 was resolved by replacing two of the drive truck wheels with wheels having traction tires from one of my FB-1's (same motor assembly). Now the "trains" have plenty of traction and I can even run them around the layout at minimum speed without any slippage of the drive wheels.

Issue #2 was resolved with a drop of oil on each of the axles of the Heavyweight and non-driving axles of the Doodlebug. Apparently a bit of friction built up over several hours of (indoor) use.

I anticipated losing track contact by replacing two solid wheels with wheels having traction tires but while there now is a very slight flickering of the lights of the Doodlebug it does not seem to affect the running of the train. Still, I intend to eventually MU the Heavyweight to the Doodlebug thus adding 8 more track contacts to assure trouble free operation even on quite dirty track.

The first set is now parked while I start running the 2nd set. I started the 2nd set out with the axles oiled and wheels with traction tires fitted so I anticipate no problems with the set. One set will be used for clockwise operation and the other set for counter clockwise operation to simulate east to west and west to east operations.

Jerry
 

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I'm still waiting for mine to show up.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Posted By vsmith on 10/08/2008 7:11 AM
With the economy going south fast, I'lll bet this isnt the first "great deal" we see in the coming year


That is probably true but to give Lewis Polk the credit he is due, I received his email about the Doodlebug "deal" back on Sunday 8/10/2008. Realizing that at the time he said THE ARISTO-CRAFT DOODLEBUG IS NOW ON THE WATER ON THE WAY TO US!

it is obvious he planned this sale a long time before the US and world economies started falling apart.

Even better I'm running the Doodlebug and Heavyweight with one motor and twenty eight (28) lights with a 2 amp starter set power supply! For a little while I even ran Two Doodlebugs with Two Heavyweights - two motors and fifty six (56) lights with that same 2 amp power supply as I drove one Doodlebug set onto a siding getting ready to run the other Doodlebug set on the mainline.

Lewis was saving us money long before we knew how much we needed to start saving money.

Thanks Lewis,

Jerry
 
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