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Discussion Starter #1
I have another question:

I like to scratchbuild just about everything and when I get going on G-scale I am thinking of scratch building a locomotive or two, but I don't know which power source to go with, track power or battery power. I am leaning toward the use of battery power since this will eliminate some wiring problems and since the technological advances in batteries, such as rechargeable, fairly light weight lithium-ion batteries up to 24 volts with long run times, I am seriously considering battery power over track power, especially since I have read about the numerious draw-backs to track powered locos, etc. also another plus to each loco being battery powered you don't have to worry if you have enough amperage running through the tracks to power all of the locos on that track, since each loco or train will have its own power source on board.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated ! Wow I have become a regular chatter box for an old geezer !

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A Steamed Elder
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Dick,

As a NEW user of battery power, I love it. When I first built my railroad with track power over 25 years ago, it ran fine-all LGB. As the years went on, the problems started mounting. Cleaning track all the time took away from the enjoyment and it still had intermittent problems. Last year I was convinced by many to go to battery and I've never looked back or been disappointed! It can be a little pricey if you don't do the work yourself. I have Jonathan from RC Trains do the install. I use Airwire.
 

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I'd suggest reading my FAQ section: http://www.elmassian.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35&Itemid=49

You need to make decisions on if you will be running long trains, running for extended times, doubleheading, MU, whether a battery car is ok, or each loco needs a battery, how many locos you will eventually have, and how much you want to spend.

Without knowing all these things, making a decision is really a waste of time, you may trap yourself in a decision you don't like later.


Regards, Greg
 

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Gary Armitstead:

Thanks for the heads up on battery power. I kind of surmized that battery power would be the way to go. Like I said I am a scratch build nut and would like to try my hand at building a battery powered loco using the lithium ion rechargeable battery and I think I will try using the motor out of a cordless drill, driver as they have plenty of power and some can be had new for quite a bit less than a new factory motor !
And I am pretty sure I can do all the necessary installations needed as I have some knowledge of electronics, etc.

I know this has nothing to do with railroading or G-scale RR, but I would like all of you to know that it will be a while before I will be able to get going full bore on my dreams and plans, as in about 3 months I am having cataract surgery, hopefully this will take care of one of my health problems. I will continue to monitor the forum and ask questions and again thanks to you all for your support and friendship, and again I am sorry about my rocky first time on here.

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G Baby.

It is a good idea to research this subject thoroughly long before you shell out the hard earned to get started.

Track power is an easy and simple way to get going.  
It will run just fine for a little while and then the real cost of parts and labour kicks in.
Rest assure you will have to properly bond each and every rail joint.  Most probably with metal rail clamps.
So add those into the cost factor right from the outset.
Next is the choice of rail material.
For track power the very least you will require is brass and possibly stainless steel.
Compare the cost of that with aluminium rail which is perfectly adequate for battery R/C.  You may need to reinforce aluminium as it is a bit softer than brass or stainless.
Next is the cost of a transformer - controller.  That may not be much as you have indicated you would like lighter style trains.

Add it all up and you will still only be able to control one train at a time on the track.

Now add up the cost of battery R/C and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it can be.
How inexpensive depends on what you want to do.
You could get a 2 amp on board controller and R/C for about US$120 with fantastic range and smooth control.
Small enough for many locos and still leave room for batteries.
Then you can add sound depending on taste..

By all means ask away with the questions.

BTW, I make the RCS brand.  The only battery R/C that is truly plug'n'Play with the new Bachmann K-27.
 

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Uh oh.  The dreaded question....

It really depends on what you value and how you run your trains.  It sounds like you've pretty much made up your mind, but as a track power user I wouldn't go any other way.  My layout is all Stainless steel with all split jaw clamps and even my original center loop that has been down since 2004 runs flawlessly.  

My most important priorities are:  

- Unlimited endurance (including fully lit multiple 10 car passenger trains and sometimes smoke units)
- Virtual maintenance / hassle free operation
- Precise multi engine control
- Minimal future incremental cost of operation. (not having to replace old/weak batteries)

If you don't want to mess with cleaning track because of oxidation, then SS is the way to go.  I want my engines to be able to run all day and I mean all day without having to stop and swap batteries.  For me, knowing that I was on a time clock (limited battery life) would bother me, but I'm just like that.  I also run double header steam trains with pusher steam engines and having a battery car behind my pusher is something I absolutely wouldn't want.  I also run multiple 10 car passenger trains and having to wire them together to a common battery or installing batteries in each one would be something I would consider a major pain.  To ensure you don't run short on amp capacity, you just get a power supply that has enough growing room that you will never need to trade up to the next larger model and you're set for good. 

In my mind the primary advantages that stand out for battery operation was multiple users at the same time on large layouts and running in all different directions and reverse loops without shorting out.  Very handy and would be very difficult and more cumbersome with track power.  You can also save on not using split jaw clamps for the layout also.  One down side is your friends who run track power can't run their stuff on your layout because battery users don't bother with track power infrastructure. 

Globally, there is no right and wrong answer to this as there are so many different ways people run their trains and what they run.  Not sure any of this is of any use but...  

Good luck with your decision.

Raymond
 

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Well...

If you are going to scratch build everything then I would advise you to examine the home page below. Take special note of the section marked Kitchen Sink Engineering

homepage.ntlworld.com/sheila.capella/cabbage/default.html

I do not use dismembered drills but simple motors bought from my local web browser -far cheaper both in time and effort. (Circa £0.80p for a 3 pole SME and £1.50p for a 5 pole Johnson). I would advise against lithium polymer batteries, this is because they require some advanced controllers to stop them falling below the 3Volt line. I personally use 6Volt Sealed Lead Acid batteries and my son uses 1.2Volt AA NimH batteries in his locos -both are 16mm scale and run on the same track.

regards

ralph
 
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i advokate track-power.
nothing hinders you, to run battery-powered trains on powered track. but if you start out with battery-power, and later change your mind, you have to make some changes.
one disadvantage of using trackpower would be, you would have to build slide powerpickups on your locos.

it mainly depends, what you like to happen on your layout.
you want to see one or two locos moving? then battery-power is great. 
you want to see a bigger number of trains going around? then use track-power plus some automatic blockwireing.

my last layout had constantly eight trains moving, by an automated block system.
two trains on a three block single track loop, influencing each others stop and go, and influencing as well the other loop, where i had running six trains in two directions on a single track with six doubletracked sidings. (on three locos i just changed the wires to the motor)
steered by a LGB system, greatly expanded by homemade contacts and microswitches.

for my short trains and slow velocities power was no problem.
1 LGB and 1 Bachmann transformers from starter packs, 2 playmobil transformers, 1 H0 lima transformer, 1 no-name 40 year old H0 transformer and 1 fifty years old fleischmann H0 transformer did the job.
(with a combination of a multi-voltage transformer plus a LGB outdoor controller i still got problems)

to make it not too long. if you like trains go round, choose trackpower plus some automatic steering. if you like to be in command, use battery power or trackpower with remote control.

korm
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This question comes up routinely ... and we routinely have the advantages of the various control approaches stated (without much conclusion). Essentially, everyone is right in what they say and the bottom line comes down to what you expect your railroad to do; how you intend to operate.

A great many garden railroaders run in what I call a continuous display mode. In other words, a train is put on the track and is run ad infinitum around a loop (even if the owner has gone elsewhere to mow grass or clean the pool). In this style of operation, track power has some clear advantages as outlined by Raymond Manley - I would add one other advantage and that is the train will likely stop if a derailment of the locomotive occurs something not inherent to battery power.

Some garden railroaders, especially those who enjoyed operations in smaller scales, look for something similar from their large scale railroad. I have never considered a railroad for just running a train in a circle so I naturally gravitate towards the operations end of things. Multiple train operation with individual control of each loco, complex switching assignments and the like, are the province of either DCC or battery/RC. The traditional concept of cab control has been superceded in small scales by DCC. Despite its funcyionality, DCC depends on the rails for conductivity hence the growing use of battery power among the operations oriented crowd.

In our club ( www.ovgrs.org ), most of us model in one of the smaller scales and for that we all use DCC. But outside, after a short go with track power about 20 years ago, we all moved to battery/RC and have never looked back. I can safely say that there is zero interest in wiring outside for DCC and there would be club dissolution if traditional track power had to be wired.

The cost features can be argued from many many angles. On the whole I would suspect it to be a wash ... batteries and radios offset against more expensive track, clamps, wire, electrical switches, power supplies and control panels. As far as labour goes, there is no comparison. Battery/RC requires a one time effort ( a few hours) for each loco ... while track power involves running miles of wire and building complex control panels for block selection as well as ongoing track maintenance. Interesting that DCC involves the modification of the loco and in addition a good part of the labour of wiring initially and ongoing maintenance to boot.

As in many areas of large scale, there are rather minimal standards and accepted procedures. But your choice of control system is fundamental to many other things - from style of operation to tracklaying methodology (nobody has spoken to this but is perhaps a subject for another day). Some research into what is out there and some thought about what you want your railroad to do will pay long term dividends.

Regards ... Doug
 
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My Layout is Exclusively Battery Power....I began that way, and don't have any plans to use track power...I spent months researching all angles, and found the perfect fit for me with RCS and Battery!

see my signature

cale
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, guys you have certainly given me a lot more to think about and consider. However since I am planning on modeling a section of the MKT shortline, it will undoubtly not be  very large, I am thinking possibly an L or elongated U layout, L shape possibly 40ft. on the long section and 25 ft to 30 ft. on the short leg and if an elongated U around the same dimensions only in a U configuration with an elongation at the bottom of the U and the width to be between 3ft to 4 ft on the straight legs with a turn around at the end of each leg.  I am planning on running only one train at a time, since this will be a single track just as on the MKT origional line. I know that a one train at a time operation does not sound like much, but I am not a young man anymore and I don't know how much longer the good Lord will let me ride on lifes pass before he cancels it, hopefully long enough to realize one last dream.
Everyone I know thinks I am crazy for even wanting to undertake such an endeavor this late in life and considering my health problems, but for some reason I have this overwhelming urge to do this, I can't explain it, just like I can't  explain why, lately I have all of these child-hood memories flooding back, stronger than ever before !
I have another question ! I have been trying to educate myself on the news forms of train or loco control. I don't under stand what is ment by the term I see quite often as, up to 9,999 loco adresses and since I am going to run only 1 train at a time is this type controler really necessary ?
I need some help and advice !

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Dick, there was a thread a number of years back about getting started in large scale railroading that emphasized “Just do it!” Set up a loop of track on the grass or patio, run trains, have fun, and go from there. Setting up initially with track power is a quick and easy way to start. Later when your layout becomes more complicated, you might want to consider DCC or battery power. The power supply can always be used to bench test locomotives or power switches and other accessories.
 
With the huge choice of locomotives sold commercially you might be better just buying one. In most instances scratch building a car or locomotive can be time consuming, frustrating, and can cost as much or more than one you can buy. I understand there is a great pride and joy in building or kit bashing something yourself, but perhaps that is something to deal with later.
 
Locally I belong to an association that includes 200 model railroaders in all scales. In the crowd there are a number of people who have their dream layout in dusty boxes. They have never had the pleasure of running their own trains and never will because they spend all their time planning and building kits.
 
If you like steam locomotives, buy a Bachmann Anniversary set, an oval of metal track, and “Just do it!”
 

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Having recently switched:

Battery is a little more expensive, you have to buy batteries and an RC controler, but I'm not looking back!
 
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If you like steam locomotives, buy a Bachmann Anniversary set, an oval of metal track, and “Just do it!”


that was the best advice, you got till now!
do it, and then add little by little, what you feel is needed next.
 

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Now there's advice you can use! Why didn't I say that?
 

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Dick,  I still recommend reading the archives and be prepared to read alot.  (and Greg's page)

Rest assured that installing a rail clamp is quick, easy(is not rocket science) and once installed you can forget about it and won't give you issues later.

Also, track power is not just throttle control on your transformer.  There are digital control options similar to battery for control multiple engines and trains, but that are also way more advanced than what's out there for battery (although I don't think advanced is what you are really looking for).  But for that type of control, just like battery(for every mfg other than Aristocraft) requires engine modification.

Also note that only Aristocraft trains come setup ready to run battery power.  Every other make of engine will require the engine be modified to run under battery which will make you dependent on rewiring it yourself or paying someone else to do it.  For track power you can take any mfg engine out of the box, put it on the track and you are up and running.  You can't get much simpler than that.  For setting up the track under track power, if your loops are small enough you likely only need one power feed to the rails at one spot if you use SS and clamps and as I said before, you don't have 'all that' maintenence.

So again, be sure to read the archives.  You generally don't get as many track power folks reply to these threads. 


Raymond
 

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G-baby saw you come into chat last night, and quickly leave "come on in" Nobody will bite you just a bunch of us old farts having a good time there. Sometimes have to have a little bit of a thick skin but generally you can enjoy yourself, and ask away whatever you want. Alot of the time topic switches from trains to "Oh Man '" what the heck does this have to do with trains, but we have Mikey that usually reigns us back into the trainworld. So come on in and join the fun and "EDUMACATION" Also on your above question Track power or Battery i do both run small guage inside with track power, and outdoors can go either way out there with the "big stuff" But if you are going to want to run outdoors exclusively you probably will want to go with the "battery mafia" and go battery and r/c. because of weather and track continuity!! If you want to RUN your trains and not do alot of maintenance go battery. Thats my opinion "sticking to it" The Regal check out my webpage and my you tube videos link to you tube through webpage http://blueregal.angelfire.com/ Oh and lastly if there is anything i can do to help you let me know always willing to help a new guy i know what it feels like to have ooooooooooodles of questions and not really know where to turn for answers, if i cant help you maybe i can point you in the right direction to get the help you need!
 

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I just read Kormsen's reply.  I agree, that is probably the best suggestion so far!  Low cost and very simple to get started and go from there.   Great idea.  :)

Raymond
 
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