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My "Reason For Life" has told me that since I have not been that good this year, I am not getting much in the way of presents, which is fine by me, because rumor has it I am "difficult" to shop for. She has conned me into an increased work load about the house (and yard) in order to qualify for certain increases in my allowance, so that I may "invest" more in my hobby. I have a Connie and an Annie, both procured off e-Bay reasonably cheap. I would love very much to trick out the Connie (Annie too, but first things first), much like Ray has done with his DCS. In addition, I think that running gear from Barry's Big Trains would be awesome too. My question is it would appear very easy to add various features to either, or both locomotives, but at what point do you call it good? It would be easy to add three or four times the original purchase price with these enhancements (which I am likely to do), then an involuntary CDO (it is just like OCD, but things have to be in order after all) kicks in and I would then be compelled to keep the locomotives on display instead of running (neither engine has run since I bought them). Is this one of those issues where personal preference over rides fiduciary responsibility? I am pretty sure I can make a rational argument in favor of this to my "Reason For Life," but is this a common dilemma we face as part of our hobby?

Fil
 

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It all depends on what value each thing is to you. Some people would be happy buying a plastic big hauler for $15, putting Barry's chassis under it. Some people would agonize over adding improvements that exceed the purchase price of the loco. One common dilemma is adding sound and batteries to a loco, you can easily exceed the purchase price of the loco.

I determine how much I like the loco and put in the commensurate amount of cash.

Basically, don't agonize, do what makes you happy.

Regards, Greg
 

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If it's a loco you like and think it will be fun to run by all means up grade to get it to be good running loco. Later RJD
 

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I would run what you have, I would think they would do fine for quite awhile. Then, when they need some work you may have saved up enough dough in your 'secret stash'(all husbands need one!). I also raise train dough selling stuff on ebay that I no longer use/need or things I find at sales that I can make some money on.
 

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You raised two specific issues ... one was adding DCS and the other a BBT drive.

In the case of the DCS, this is a fundamental question of what your control system will be and has little to do with the loco itself. If it is sound you are after, it is available with any of the control systems available. The pros and cons of the various control systems will fill volumes in future and have in the past ... you just have to decide (and be ready to make the investment)>

The BBT issue is a bit harder. BBT makes a fine drive ... BUT ... The Connie is already a fine runner and the Annie a passable runner. Personally, I would wait and just run them. If and when the drivetrain breaks, i would consider a more robust drive. OVGRS members have many Connies and Annies in use each week at our ops sessions. Breakdowns are quite rare. I do agree however, that if your plans call for running the locos all day every day around a loop that you will eventually need new drives.

Regards ... Doug
 

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For your Annie?

Not sure I'd change it to the bbt drive as the drive it has is strong and reliable. Mine is 4 years old and is NOT the loco that spent weeks in pieces waiting for replacement parts this fall. If cost is a problem, you can find Aristo-Craft's trackside TE for as low as $130. I took the receiver out of the case and put it in the tender. You're going to laugh, but I power it with AA batteries. You can get battery holders at Radio Shack for just a few dollars. I run mine on plain alkalines, but rechargeable AA's are pretty cheap. I like Duracell's for shows as $7 worth of batteries from Wal*Mart runs it all day, except at the Chicago Botanic where they seem to last 1 1/2 hours pulling the "Chocolate Train" in the hallway. Now you have an R/C battery loco, and that is a great accessory to an otherwise track powered operation.

Perhaps you want sound? The Small Scale Railways card is less than a hundred, sounds great and goes in the tender easy.
 

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Fil,

Part of your question was about the cost to upgrade each loco and whether it was worth it. This is also a function of how many lokies you own or will own. Believe me if you have a large fleet and have only a couple that include all the features you deem necessary that those are the ones that will be run nearly all the time while the others mostly gather dust.

A smaller roster allows for inclusion of many refinements on each engine that for most of us at least would be unaffordable for a large roster. So the basic question is do you want quality refinements or do you want numbers. That's something of course that only you can decide. Either way I urge you to get your priorities set.
 

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All very good answers to your dilemma! I "tricked out" an early version Bachmann Big-Hauler (from a set) with a Sierra sound system and a BBT replacement upgrade to the drivetrain. The resulting engine is much better than what it was but do I ever use it now that I have Spectrum engines and Annie's that have much more detail and are just superior models? (Actually, it was a gift from my father to my daughter and I wanted her to have a good runner so that question is moot...) Still, the theory is sound!
Value is in the eye of the beholder. I would go with quality over quantity but before I upgraded my engines I would make sure this engine is the ONE that I really want to keep! Once you have determined that it is, go for it!
 

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I only own and run narrow gauge steam locos. I never have more than three of my own engines running at one time during operating sessions. Most friends bring at least one of their engines to operate or I let them run one of mine. I have a total roster of 6 engines with each being a different type such as Shay, Heisler, 4-8-0. 2-6-0, 4-4-0 and 2-8-0. All of them are Bachmann. I run battery power/RC. Every engine is equipped with battery power and a receiver but I only have three transmitters. I keep adding upgrades to each engine as money permits. Only two, 2-8-0 and 2-6-0, have sound at this time. Because of the high current drain I do not use the smoke generators. All of them have the original drive systems and I have had very few problems with them running. I usually operate an engine for about one hour and then switch to another engine with freshly charged batteries. I would recommend you think about how you will be running your trains and how many you plan to own before you start to sink a lot of money into a single engine drive and control system.

Big John
 

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I think it is a common dilemma. When I first got started in the hobby and money was tight I did the same thing and agonized over spending so much money on the electronics end of it, but as time went on more money freed up and it was less of an issue. If you like/appreciate all the 'bells and whistles' the fancy electronics can provide then you should definitely do it as it will really bring your engine alive and add even more to the experience of running your trains. Patience is one of the more difficult things in this hobby as you want it all now but the finances rarely allow it.

I agree too, do your home work on how you want to power your trains, what control/sound system you want to go with etc. Look into them all, that way you don't feel like you've missed out on something later. There is enough variety out there to cover all the different tastes from the very advanced to the very basic.


Raymond
 

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Short answer...Run them as is! You do not indicate if you have an operating RR at this point. Based on your questions about control, I make the assumption that you either have a very basic RR or still planning. Spend the early $$$ on the RR and get it running. These locomotives will perform nicely as is. Doesn't do much good to spend big $$$ on tricking out the motive power if there are no trains to run or places to run them. But if tricking out locomotives is your favorite part of the hobby, go for it. Enjoy it. Keep us posted.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You guys are right, I need to get up and running more than anything, even if it means building a temporary loop instead of my Garage Moment. I really have put off for too long doing anything with my infrastructure (Garage Moment included), which would help get me figure out the operating end. As always you all have been very helpful and I would be totally lost wihtout your sage advice.

Fil
 

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Shoot, good point and that was something I did mean to say... I agree, run them as is. I think both the Connie and Annie are great runners as is and they can run just fine under straight track power so put them on the track and get them running. Any desire to enhance them will/may come from running them as is.


Raymond
 
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