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In depth idiot
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OO and HO works very well in the garden, particularly for running full size trains. Keep the curves and any gradients as gentle as possible. I would go DCC for two simple reasons: the higher (and adjustable) voltage AC will be more reliable than DC, and there is no need for any sectioning to run multiple trains on the same track. A low wood construction little heavier than for indoor layouts, (ideally in tanalised timber) is more than adequate as a track base, and has the advantage of being easily adjusted for level; and both readily altered in layout, and removed should the need arise. (I read about people putting in tons of concrete and brick construction to support maybe 50 kilos in total of track and trains, and wonder.) Low hedging with small densely leaved evergreen shrubs provides very effective 'landscaping'.

Edited to add: traction tyres (and thus Hornby tender drives) are next to useless if the rails are at all wet. What you need is weight in the locos. The central motor, all wheel drive and pick up, diesel types are typically heavy enough. Most UK steam models can usefully use extra weight.
 

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In depth idiot
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The digital command control (DCC) system is as safe as the usual DC. Good practise with the mains power connection and equipment properly installed in a dry building is necessary for both, particularly as in your case when young children are involved. Basically you replace the typical DC transformer/controller 'box' with an equivalent DCC system 'box': but here are the big differences; full track power is on at all times, and every loco has to have an addressable microprocessor 'decoder' on board. The DCC system than allows you to call up a loco by number, and control it individually. Other locos on the same piece of track will not move until instructed to do so by a DCC system command. The flexibility in operation this confers has to be experienced. Just for a start, you can park locos in a siding without isolating sections, put a second loco on a train as a pilot or banker, have lights on whether a loco is moving or stationary (great confirmation that a parked loco is on the juice BTW).

Lots to think about, there is a lot of good introductory information about DCC in the section of that title on this site, with much more information for when you have the time for some reading.
 

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In depth idiot
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QUOTE (Michael363672 @ 23 Nov 2007, 19:35) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>1. With the digital are they all compatiable or if I have hornby do I stay hornby

2. Can any train go digital. I have the eurostar set and the orient express set just standard plus a few other odd trains

3. Whats the best way to get it off the ground and how high is best
Look for DCC products with the NMRA conformance stamp: that's your assurance of basic compatibility. You don't need to use the same make of DCC control system as the model trin manufacturer.

Any 12V DC model from Hornby, Bachmann, or Heljan can be fitted with a DCC decoder. Many now come with a socket, to enable a decoder to be plugged in. If there is no socket then it is a small wire soldering job. It's easy with bigger locos, small locos in particular can be a bit of a challenge to find space for the decoder, if you go DCC start on something larger to build your confidence before tackling something where internal space is limited.

When it rains hard, the splash carries a lot of dirt around 9 inches into the air. Keep the tracks roughly a foot above ground as a minimum when first built. That way you still have some leeway if subsequent height adjustment is required. I used 2' lengths of old 3"x3" fencepost four feet apart, and pieces of 6" x 1" gravel board four feet long, with a second piece 3'9" long of 3" x 1" nailed on underneath to make a T shape, as a stiffener. A metal plate on each post, with a screw into the stiffener so that the track base was about an inch above the post top , made it easy to do any height adjustments required (clay soil with swelling in wet weather, shrinkage and cracking in dry). When I sold the house and moved it took me an afternoon, and a nice fire that evening, to dismantle and dispose of the posts for what had been a 40 yard run. It had been up nearly 8 years and the posts in the ground were all still OK, and they were all salvaged from old fenceposts blown down in the great gale of 1987.
 
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