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Discussion Starter #1
No, I have not been committed to the Insane Assylum but probably should have been.

I just purchased a Bachmann 4-6-0 On30 Engine from Micromark for 199.95, about 100 cheaper than anyplace else I have seen it listed.

I was not going to commit myself so fast to a particular engine, but I could not pass this deal up.

That means I will be limited to 18" radius track which I am hoping will not be a big problem since I have not even considered a track plan yet.

I do know that the part against the wall will only be 36 inches wide so I will have to take that into account when planning for a continuous loop.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, that was a great deal!

Trainworld had it offered for about 250 and Wholesale Trains had it listed for 315 so I saved quite a bit of money there.

Dwight, when you were in On30 did you use HO track or did you use the On30 track and which brand of switches did you use?

Did you use DCC and if so, how did you wire the switches for DCC operation?
 

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I initially used Atlas HO track, but I didn't like the way it looked or performed. My solution was to build my own track and turnouts using the Fast Tracks system. If you don't wish to do that, I'd go with Micro Engineering's Code 83 flextrack and turnouts. Peco is Code 100, and I personally prefer the look of the smaller rail, especially for narrow gauge where light weight rail was commonly used.

I did use DCC. I used the Prodigy Wireless at the time, but it developed some problems, so for my current HO scale layout, I'm using an NCE system.

I've tried using DCC stationary decoders to control turnouts, but for my money it's too much of a hassle to use. To throw a turnout, you need to press a button to select accessory mode, enter the turnout's DCC address and press another button to select that address, press another button to select the turnout throw direction (straight or diverging route), possibly press another button to select that route, then press another button to escape back to train control. That's like a sequence of at least 5 buttons just to throw a darn turnout (not including entering the address, which is more buttons), and unless you have wired in some lighted signals or indicators, or have a working switchstand, you have no visible indication of which way the turnout is actually aligned if you can't easily see the turnout itself.

The wiring isn't all that much simplified imho, as you still need to wire the live frog through the switch motor, wire the stock and other rails to the DCC buss, and wire the switch motor to the DCC stationary decoder.

I faced the same problem on my current HO layout, and I have a LOT of turnouts, both existing and future. So I opted to go back to DPDT miniature toggles mounted on the fascia with a track diagram. The toggle works just fine, and even with no indicator lights, the toggle's handle provides a visual indication of which way the turnout is aligned. Throwing a turnout is as simple as merely reaching out and throwing a physical switch, not pressing a whole mess of buttons.

That's just my preference, but you seem like a guy who likes to keep it simple - like me. :)

(PS - the red buttons on the fascia control panel energize electromagnetic uncoupling ramps, so I would have needed a panel anyway).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the comment, Dwight,

I have been using batteries for my Large Scale and have never wired a layout.

It looks like I will have a pretty stiff learning curve.

I know about putting the buss wire around the layout and attaching feeders to every three feet or so of track.

I have no idea how to wire a turnout. i guess I will be asking a lot of questions. The good thing is I have almost 7 months to read and research before I get home and start construction.

I am really getting excited about doing scenery. I really think I can do it and make it look relatively good.!
 

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Just keep asking questions, lots of people to help here.

Turnouts can be easy, or a bit difficult, but all of this has been done.

Reverse loops are automatic with an "autoreverser" 2 wires to the mainline, and 2 wires to the insulated "loop", much simpler than DC.

Also, you can start by feeding power just to one point, running a bus and adding feeders can come later, it's basically to avoid oxidation in the rail joiners.

DCC is much friendlier and tolerant of power conditions than it was 10 years ago. All the detractors are usually parroting old information.

Greg

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I will probably use Peco switches. I see there are two types: Insulfrog and Electrofrog.

I have not found any good information on the Peco site to describe the difference between these two types of switches.

Any ideas?

I am leaning toward Peco On30 track but I notice it is about twice as expensive as HO track. Does it really make that much of a difference which type I use? I am not a rivet counter but I want it to look good.

Also Dwight suggested I use Code 75 flex track.

I was watching a video on YouTube of a guy laying flex track. He used some type of small gadget (about 2-3 inches in length) which he placed between the rails and quickly was able to bend the track to the radius he wanted without kinks. Does anyone know where such a tool can be located?

I went through every entry for Peco Track at Wholesale trains and found nothing like that except they did have some large templates for bending track
 

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Also Dwight suggested I use Code 75 flex track.
No, I suggested you use Micro Engineering Code Code 83 flextrack and turnouts. You can't easily mix different sized rail (different Codes), using, say, Code 100 turnouts and Code 83 flextrack without using special rail joiners - if you can find them.

I see there are two types: Insulfrog and Electrofrog.
I suspect the Insulfrog is an insulated frog which doesn't need to be wired in through the switch machine, and the Electrofrog is a live frog which DOES need to be wired in. While the Insulfrog may sound like an advantage at first (less wiring = less work), one of the main problems I had with the Atlas track mentioned earlier was that it had insulated frogs (sort of), and locomotives would stall when running across them.

Nothing ruins a good operating session like constant stalls (and/or derailments), even is one is just watching a train go 'round and 'round. This is especially true if one is running sound-equipped locomotives as the sound also goes off when the loco stalls, and is usually out of sync when the loco is nudged and starts up again. That is actually the main reason I decided to build my own track. It's also probably the main reason you went to batteries and R/C in your large scale stuff. You can eliminate most stalls and derailments by using a good quality track with live frogs, wiring those frogs peoperly through the switch machine, and laying track carefully to avoid kinks, etc.

I was watching a video on YouTube of a guy laying flex track. He used some type of small gadget (about 2-3 inches in length) which he placed between the rails and quickly was able to bend the track to the radius he wanted without kinks. Does anyone know where such a tool can be located?
I believe the tools are called sweeps. Fast Tracks sells them for On30 ranging from 12" radius up to 40" radius and almost everything in between...

http://www.handlaidtrack.com/Fast-Tracks-On30-Scale-Curved-SweepSticks-s/2242.htm

They also sell straight sweeps.

I believe the one on Youtube is from a company called Tracksetta out of Britain...

http://www.anticsonline.co.uk/1702_1.html
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My mistake. You did recommend the Micro Engineering Code 83 track. I found it available from Micromark along with #5 switches. It looks like good track. I did not see a "Wye" listed.

The track tool I saw on YouTube for aligning curves is MLR Mfg Track Alignment Tool. It is for HO and HOn3 track. I would expect that it would fit over On30 track as well. From the demonstration it seems to work really well in making good curves with flex track. In fact, now that I think of it, I think I have one of these tools back home when I was experimenting with HOn3.

Micromark also has listed what looks like a manual switch machine for about 10 dollars each but then you have to get a mounting kit which seems to cost another 5 dolars each. No wiring needed.

They might be useful for switches towards the back of the layout. I will probably switch the ones I can reach by hand. I do not need the headache of trying to wire a bunch of switch machines.
 

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Micromark also has listed what looks like a manual switch machine for about 10 dollars each but then you have to get a mounting kit which seems to cost another 5 dollars each. No wiring needed.
Even that machine has a DPDT switch built into it for wiring live frogs. If you're bound and determined NOT to wire your frogs, perhaps the Peco Code 100 track and turnouts with Insulfrog might be a better route for you. If you end up getting a bunch of stalls, you were warned. :) Having no experience with Peco Insulfrog turnouts, I can't say this WILL happen, but considering my experience with the Atlas track, which is electrically similar, I CAN say it MAY happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I wish one of you guys with some experience lived close enough to me in Shelton Washington that I could make visits to your railroad or invite you to mine.

I know of no other model railroaders in my area. There is an HO club in Olympia but so far they have not responded to my request for membership information.

I really need to see some of this stuff actually done so I have a better idea of what I am dealing with.
 

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It's not all that tough, don't let it seem like a huge mountain to climb.

I had a friend start in DCC, and I talked him through his first installation over the phone, and he had his NCE system up and running a train in 15 minutes.

You can start as simple as you like, just run the train, it has a decoder in it already.

Hook up a circle of track, connect 2 wires to it and run trains.

Greg
 

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JB,

We are in the same boat. I am just down the road from you in Lacey. I have started and stopped a couple of times with layouts. I know Paul Birch is over in Gig Harbor and there is the Kitsap Live Steamers over there too.

I am not really drawn to clubs, but have been giving the baby scales more thought lately. My issue is time management. One of many hobbies includes wasting time. But since fall is closing in on me, I think I will be focusing indoors, until spring.

Fil
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Fil,

I am currently living in Germany. We return in April 2016 from our Church Mission.

It would be nice to keep in contact and maybe we can assist each other when I get back.

I am really getting excited about starting this On30 DCC layout.

Greg,

Thanks for the encouragement. I still have lots of time to learn. I will remember you when I finally get back home and start building.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Regarding Cork Roadbed -- several questions.

I plan to have no grades on my railroad. I plan to have a base of 1/2 plywood with a 1 1/2 inch foam surface on top of that.

Can I lay track directly on top of the foam or do I really need the cork roadbedd?

How easy is it to work with the cork? Can it easily be bent into 16 inch radii? Do you just bend it or do you have to cut it into sections?

For On30 would I use the HO or the O cork roadbed?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Don

What type of foam do you use?

Do you just glue the track to the foam?

Then you mentioned using HO cork. I am confused whether you actually use cork or just the foam.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I just ordered some rolling stock from Wholesale Trains: short caboose, 4 Maintenance type boxcars (I have a plan for them - I am going to remove the trucks and use them in a logging scene as trackside buildings. The trucks will then be used on some other items I am planning to order that comes without trucks. 2 passenger cars (I really wanted a Combine but cannot find one anyplace), 3 log cars and 3 mining cars. The mining cars will be put in storage for awhile but I wanted to order them before they became impossible to find.

With that order and a previous order of six unlettered box cars from MicroMark my basic rolling stock necessities have now been met.

I have a radical idea for lettering these unlettered box cars. I will outline if after I have given it some additional thought. It will probably make you purists cringe but I think it will work well.
 

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I think that track directly applied to foam would tend to cut into the foam, remember that the ties are open below and those relatively sharp edges will concentrate the weight on a small area.

I'd have a thin layer of something, like that cheap thing luan plywood.

Greg
 
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