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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone. I am new to the hobby and have weighing out the decision on how to start this journey. First things first, RAIL POWER -or- R/C? which one is cheaper yet more reliable. AND COMPLETELY OUT OF LEFT FIELD... I bought a G-Scale Dummy GP-38 engine and tore it apart. I'm pretty familiar with R/C cars and was honestly wondering how difficult it would be to put a battery, ESC, and brushed motor in one of these things. it seems like a cheap alternative (if you're willing to do the research and operation). Has anyone heard of this being done before? <<I DO like being considered a pioneer)
 

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Largescale uses R/C for track power DC, track powered DCC, battery and live steam.

There is a battery/RC section on this forum with lots of info.
 

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how difficult it would be to put a battery, ESC, and brushed motor in one of these things
Quite easy. The problem I ran into is reversing the ESC. Most r/c cars (at the time I was looking) were designed to go very fast in one direction only. Quite unlike a train!

Wheels and gears are likely to be your biggest problem. The dummy probably has plastic wheels - you want metal ones if you expect it to last.

Some folk switch to battery to avoid the hassles of cleaning their track to let to power flow. I like it because you end up with a different operational relationship with the engine - you are running a locomotive, not controlling a layout. A subtle but meaningful difference. [And you can run as many trains on the same track as you want!]
 

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Most evreyone has their own favorite method of operation and lots of times their own twists on that. This type question has been asked many times before with lots of opinions. My best advice would be to try and make contact with some largescalers in your area and arrange visits to both track and RC layouts. Then you can make your own decision on what is the best path for you. Kevin Strong who is a frequent contributor to this forum has a book called "Garden Railway Basics" that might be worth reading.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the advice guys! I will look into everything that you suggested. a couple questions remain, would a low speed, high torque motor (suched used in a Rock Crawler) be a good decision? and yes. It has plastic wheels. How are those not going to last? does the rail really wear down plastic material that bad? most likely I would have to add a bunch of weight to theses dummy engines. I'm very close to surrendering and buying and actual G-Scale loco and just have these dummy's as trailing units.
 

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The answer is YES, over time the metal rail head will wear off the flanges of plastic wheels. This is especially true if the curves are tight, less than 8' diameter. The reverse is also true. Steel wheels can wear down the rail head. I know someone who runs a train all day, almost every day. He is running a short 0-4-0 engine on a loop with 4' diameter curves. He has to replace the curves every couple of years. This is not a common problem, but it can happen.

Chuck
 

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Having a great deal of experience with RC models, I'd suggest while its plausible it won't be economical in the long run and you'll have issue with finding the appropriate components necessary to do it right IMO. Its kinda like re-inventing the wheel.

Brushless motors don't make much cense, typically we run 4000-6000 rpm inexpensive brushed motors with gear-reduction of some sort or another. Battery current demands are notably less than RC models (typical current demands 1-2Amps). 12.0-14.4V is common for battery powered trains, some need more voltage dependent on the electric motor in play to realize the desired speeds.

Used G scale locos with motorized trucks are plentiful, add battery , RC car ESC with REV and RX/TX and your off and running.

I use my model aircraft Li-Po batteries in my trains too, this allows me to maximize my play time/investment with said batteries prior to the atypical three year degradation and or lifespan of Lithium technologies.

Michael
 

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RAIL POWER -or- R/C? which one is cheaper yet more reliable.

This is really going to depend on your long term plans, as well as your definition of reliability.

Battery power and R/C control work well with aluminum track, which is about half the price of brass track. Track adds up fast, especially if your railway is large.

Avoiding track power works well with live steam, allows you to run on any railway (if you take your train to another track), and eliminates having to clean track.

If a stopped train due to dirty track is your idea of "unreliable," then battery is a great solution. If a train that won't run because you forgot to charge the battery is your idea of "unreliable," then battery might not be such a good solution.

"Rail power" gives you the option of DCC, which allows all kinds of extra control, such as turnouts, control of sound and lights, all from one handpiece.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow. All great points guys! Thank you so much for the information. I suppose I won't try to re-invent something that's already been perfected. Well then I guess my next question is... If I don't wanna do powered rail... (Which I don't)... What is a good Deisel Locomotive that has Great range and long battery life. I know it won't be cheap but I just wanna see if they exist. All I can find is the cheap Christmas tree ones which would undoubtably loose signal the second it goes around a corner. Hense why the set only comes with a 6' loop. Is there any links you guys know of to such locomotives? or a cheap way to convert a rail power to Remote control? I don't mind spending the money, I just wanna get it right the first time. And that's cheap track, non powered rail, expensive R/C locomotive. Thanks for all the help so far guys!
 

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Welcome to the world of "G". There are a lot of options out there. Think about your future plans. I use track analog DC power. I have been in this hobby for more than 30 years. I have too many engines to convert to a different system, for everything. I have converted several engines to battery and R/C. That is so I can run my trains on layouts that don't have track power.

Start simple, get your train running. Spend a year or so getting familiar with what options are out there. Then make an informed decision.

For me cleaning track isn't a big problem. You need to clean the debris off any way. I use a pole sander with a green Scotchbrite pad and I'm good to go.
 

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I have both. I have track power, so I have to keep my rails clean, but I scratchbuilt a Railbus to run on RC. it uses a circuit board from a Nikko Rc to power the Aristocraft power truck I put under it. works fine, can't pull another coach with it but it's fun to run. Also have a couple battery powered loco's, that have a fixed speed.
 
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