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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am returning to modelling after a long break (working abroad) I am planning a german layout, mixed passenger/freight with mainly Roco locos and carriages with some Fleischmann. I'm hoping to make it as hands-off as possible and plan to use Kadee couplings which I have used before and which worked well.

My question is, do I have to pick a particular Kadee coupler or will they all fit Roco stock?
 

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I don't know when it was, but it was a long time ago 20 years+?, Roco started fitting NEM coupler pockets to all their stock so you will be able to fit Kadee couplings with NEM swallow tail fittings. All you have to do is to choose which length of shaft you need.

You will also find that the owners of the Roco and Fleischmann brands have re-aligned the brands so that Roco is HO and Fleischmann N gauge.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Many thanks dwb for a swift and helpful reply and giving just the info I was hoping to receive.

I have previously (2005) used Fleischmann locos and stock and was surprised when I visited their site to find that all the locos I wanted (HO) were out of production and an emphasis on N gauge. Your second comment helps explain that. Roco it shall be.

Many thanks

Boslandew (also David)
 

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You should also check Piko and Trix and maybe ESU might have something to tempt you.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
When I started modelling I was very dissatisfied with the running of British outline locos. A demo in Germany of Fleischmann locos convince me of their quality, above all I look for the ability to move slowly, prototypically. Would you think that the brands you suggest offer the same standard of running?
 

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There are very few models today from any manufacturer which will not run smoothly at slow speed, especially if you use DCC. These days the choice of manufacturer will depend on the accuracy of the model and the amount of detail they add to it.
I suggested Piko and Trix as it widens the range of loco models available. Trix are Maerklin's HO DC brand. It contains a subset of the full Maerklin range. I have one Trix model - a Swiss Re 460 - chosen for its livery. I have several Roco Re 460s and I have to say that I prefer them. The Trix has a metal body but the mechanism is noisier than the Roco which is almost silent.

Piko has 'Hobby' and 'Expert' model ranges. The models in the Hobby range are less detailed whereas the Expert range compete with Roco and Maerklin. I have one Piko - a BLS 485. The pantographs are a bit cruder than Roco's but the loco looks the part.

ESU started out just over 20 years as a designer and manufacturer of DCC systems. They moved into making what they call their 'Engineering Edition' range of locos about ten years ago. These are high fidelity sound equipped locos and then some. The electric locos have pantographs which can be raised and lowered under DCC control. Diesel locos have smoke units and shunters have DCC controlled uncouplers front and rear. They have made a single steam loco. I'm a sucker for gadgets and have managed to save enough to have a couple of diesel shunters.

If you only model German railways because the standard of running of British outline models was so poor, you should take a look at what Hornby, Bachmann and others are producing today.

David
 

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Hello to both Davids!
I can take nothing away from what dwb says about the various brands but I will add that some Trix models (the newer ones) do have quality motors fitted and run quietly, the older models are often (always?) fitted with a round (ring field) motor that is superior to the old Hornby or Lima type but, having metal gears, is noisy. Thicker grease does help quieten things down but won’t eliminate the noise.
On my Prussian layout, Leberecht, I went for Kadee fitted stock as I am very happy with it on my American stock. While I will persevere with Kadees, I find there is a problem with European stock as it tends to be fitted with steel axles and weights in the vehicle body. Once these are changed out for non ferrous versions, things run much more smoothly.
The main Kadees you will want are a few 17, many 18 and 19 and probably none of the 20’s as these are extra long.
I have more modern outline stock including ESU and others fitted with digitally controlled couplings - for these, I have gone over to Rocos soft touch coupler, similar to the standard Euro coupler, I find these very satisfying.
Hope this helps,
John
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Many thanks for all the info, just what I need when getting back into modelling after years away, my last layout was built in 2004. If the running quality is there I'll be happy to try the brands you suggest.

I'm provisionally planning DC, my layout will concentrate on shunting so it is likely that only one loco will be moving at any time. My particular pleasure is in shunting coaching stock in an urban setting, each to his own.

I started modelling German railways because of the quality of Fleischmann but stayed with it as I find DB offers the greatest interest. My wife is german born and on frequent visits to Berlin and Munich I have become fascinated with the extent and potential of railways in and around those and other cities.

Thanks again for the info

Boslandew
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
John, I was just replying to David when your reply arrived. I'm glad to hear your comments about Kadee couplings. I used them on my last layout (2004) and found it extremely satisfying to be able to uncouple reliably at any point on the layout.

Having looked at the Kadee catalogue I thought that 18's and 19's would be the answer so am glad to have it confirmed.

How do you find the problem with European stock shows itself. Is it with unreliable uncoupling? I had no problems previously but that was with small goods wagons on what was a very small layout.

Digitally controlled uncoupling is new to me, I really have little idea of the scope of DCC or what it is capable of. I have a lot of catching up to do being unfamiliar even with many of the terms and abbreviations in use now

Thanks again for the info

David ( Boslandew - I don't know why I bothered with an alias but I gather you can't change your ID)
 

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Hi David B,
I’m glad to help! My problem with using Kadee couplers on Euro stock is that I was trying to use them in the same way as with my US stock - with under-track magnets and “hands free” uncoupling. This is where, all being well, the stock being shunted pauses over the magnet, the Kadees open and the stock is then shunted to where it is required and the loco draws away, leaving the pre-uncoupled stock in place.
With steel axles and weights, the stock is drawn to the magnet and stubbornly refuses to cooperate! If a train is passing over the magnet with no uncoupling desired, the magnet creates “surging” and uncoupling happens, this is all very frustrating.
It is still possible to operate like this but it is not easy and frustrating because I know how it should be. I did two exhibitions like this and swore never again.

Of course, if you wish to only use Kadees with a pick or skewer to manually uncouple, this problem won’t affect you!
Cheers,
John
 

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...I'm provisionally planning DC, my layout will concentrate on shunting so it is likely that only one loco will be moving at any time. My particular pleasure is in shunting coaching stock in an urban setting, each to his own...
You will be able to convert to DCC when you realise the benefit for this type of operation, even if it is just one traction unit operating.

Where DCC scores for this type of operation is that the power is at maximum on all tracks at all times, and given it is German prototype, you will be able to confirm that the traction you are going to move is on power, as its lights are on. That means it always moves when the command is sent, and with the smoothest movement in and out of motion.

It's very seductive: I was sceptical of DCC twenty years ago (I too was re-entering the hobby after the typical career/mortgage/marriage/family interludicule) having been accustomed to cab control switched section layouts with electronic DC controllers which delivered refined performance. But there's no getting away from the fact that with DC the current is small and contact easily lost when starting and stopping. DCC overcomes that. And then the advantage in yard work of no need to isolate track with switches to park traction. I still get a kick out of being able to park locos anywhere, nose to tail, just like the real railway does. There's a whole lot more, but those two factors quickly won me over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You do make a convincing case. I have possibly been dissuaded in the past because of cost and complexity. My only experience of DCC was with Hornby Zero One about forty years ago which was not a very reliable. I do like the idea of having full power on at all times, that must make a difference with slow running. With the best will in the world on my largest layout, 23 feet plus a lower return loop to a fiddle yard with some twenty sections, despite my best efforts with soldering, there were lots of dead spots. I am planning a small loco depot and it would be nice to park locos nose to tail as you say.

Much food for thought. I think I need to do some reading about DCC. I have one Fleischmann loco remaining from my old layout. Would it be possible to update that to DCC? Is DCC normally used for operating point motors ( I can't get used to calling them turnouts)

Many thanks for the info

David (Boslandew)
 

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You can put your poor experience of Hornby Zero One behind you. DCC works. The downside is that it costs a minimum of a decoder per loco. I think that's about £25 a time these days? Don't know because I tend to buy sound already fitted at the moment.

On converting your Fleischmann loco - you will probably have to hardwire a decoder ie solder the connections. The complexity will depend on how the loco gets its current at present. Having two wires from the wheels to the motor will be easier than one wire + the chassis making the connection as in 'ye ancient Triang Hornby Jinty'.
Basically the two wires from the track go in to the decoder and two wires come out of the decoder and into the motor.
The fun starts with stripping out the DC RFI suppression, adding lights etc.

There are two camps on whether points should be DCC controlled or not. I think it depends very much on how you intend to change them.

If your DCC controller requires you to enter the number of the point to change it, that is usually enough to put your right off and stick to manual or other traditional methods or maybe a signal box simulation using signal levers from DCC Concepts.

If your DCC controller has a graphic display option or route setting, then you will probably use that.

Controlling points with DCC also requires decoders which is an extra cost.

For an MPD, using DCC is almost non-negotiable. During lock down I have been building this small shelf layout as somewhere to store/display my collection of Continental locos:


I deliberately set out to use off the shelf components to make progress - my loft layout has been stalled for maybe three years? I am using Rocoline track with 'bedding' because Roco make DCC controlled solenoids which fit under the bedding space so no drilling of the baseboard.
What I did not expect was that the points would be live frog and that the track with bedding already has the frog wiring switch built in. This means that I am powering the whole layout with just two wires! I don't know how long the fish plates are going to be good enough to maintain this, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

I have chosen to use the Roco Z21 for this layout. At present I use the Z21 app on my Android phone to control it. It works very well.

David.
 
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Seconded.

Don't let your Zero1 experience in any way have influence when thinking about current DCC. Same principle, vastly superior implementation. It's like comparing the off road ride experience of a ride on lawnmower to a Range Rover.

High grade decoders from Lenz ('Standard+') and Zimo (MX6xx series) are under £20.

.... I have one Fleischmann loco remaining from my old layout. Would it be possible to update that to DCC?s...
If the model runs well enough on DC to be acceptable to you, it will run satisfactorily on DCC provided that a decoder that can deliver sufficient current is installed. This requires a decoder with a continuous current output rating significantly greater than the 12V DC stall current measurement, for best results.

... Is DCC normally used for operating point motors...
Entirely a matter of choice. Personally I have all my yard points operated by push rods, actuated by a slide switch wired to switch the crossing. Reasoning: you have to be present to shunt a yard, so having the point switches in front of you as a 'signal box overlooking the yard' is natural. And it is cheap, and I am all about saving money.

Here's an old review of an interesting HO loco ideal for yard use. Small decoder choice has expanded since, with improvement to performance, and you can have remote DCC controlled uncoupling now...
 

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Re the magnetic attraction of metal axled wheels when using Kadee magnets that can be largely offset by using an electromagnetic, Kadees own is somewhat clunky and Rapido make a better one albeit usually scarce in supply. An alternative is to fit an undertrack magnetic to a hinged section of baseboard immediately under the track that is raised and lowered by a servo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
A lot of info there, gentlemen, for which many thanks. I started out by planning DC as of old and am glad I joined this forum because I am persuaded by DCC within 24 hrs. Zero One should I think have been called Frustration One.

Having said that, I have done some reading and my first thought is that it sounds very complicated but only, I think, because I don't understand most of the terms used. Some research should take care of some of that. I used to be a pilot and the Digitrax manual is as complicated as a flight manual.

I tend to agree with DWB about point operation. I see the throttle as belonging to the loco and points to a signalman so it makes sense to separate them. Also prefer to see the point switch panel to see at a glance where the points are.

I'm planning a small passenger terminus but with the emphasis on shunting, making up trains in line with a prototype I have in mind. Plus a small good yard. It will be about 16 feet X 2 feet plus fiddle yard. I can't ever see having more than two locos moving at once.

Thank you for the comment about fitting an encoder to my Fleischmann 212 diesel. I think I will become more familiar with DCC before I tackle that. This is going to be a fairly major retirement present to myself so I'm planning to bite the bullet and buy locos already DCC fitted, probably a DB 218 or two, a DB 260 shunter and a DR Class 130 Ludmilla to start with.

As regards uncoupling I had thought in terms of electro-magnets. With a shunting layout its got to be reliable.

One further question. I understand that DCC only needs one power connection to a layout. Will tracks still be isolated by the points? (Peco electrofrog) Does it matter with DCC?
 

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DCC only needs one power connection to a layout
That is true but needs some qualification ...
  • With DCC the power can be live all the time. You don't need to add isolation switches disable power to parts of the layout.
  • With dead frog points, the power follows the point setting, so when the point for a siding is set to the main line, power goes off in the siding and the power to any loco in that siding goes off along with the lights, sound... To maintain power a separate feed is required to the track which is isolated by the point.
  • With live frog points you have to isolate the rails beyond the point to prevent shorts when the switch blades are against that path which means you have the extra wiring for the rails beyond, same as for the dead frog point. With the live frog point you also have to switch the power to the frog as well.

What most people do is install a 'power bus' around the layout and connect individual sections of track to the power bus using 'dropper' wires.

As a layout gets larger, the number of wires increases and it may look complicated but it's still just one circuit.

Peco electrofrog points will need a single pole change over switch to route power to the point frog.

If you fancy building your own mechanical signal box replica with levers, check out DCC Concepts signal levers - Cobalt Signal Levers and Accessories - The Ultimate Signal-Box Lever They also make parts for creating mimic control panels if that's your thing.

David
 
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I am returning to modelling after a long break (working abroad) I am planning a german layout, mixed passenger/freight with mainly Roco locos and carriages with some Fleischmann. I'm hoping to make it as hands-off as possible and plan to use Kadee couplings which I have used before and which worked well.

My question is, do I have to pick a particular Kadee coupler or will they all fit Roco stock?
I can't comment on fitting to Roco stock, but I have fitted them to British outline stock. I also find the Bachmann Ez-Mate version to be very cost effective and works well with non-NEM pocketed stock: Fitting Knuckle Couplings - Model Railways On-Line

On the topic of going to DCC, just do it. No-one builds DC layouts these days - too much faffing around. You'' quickly experience the benefits of DCC and wonder why you didn't adopt it years ago (negative Zero One comments acknowledged).
 

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...Having said that, I have done some reading and my first thought is that it sounds very complicated but only, I think, because I don't understand most of the terms used. Some research should take care of some of that. I used to be a pilot and the Digitrax manual is as complicated as a flight manual...
That's probably Digitrax, not DCC!

I have purchased a lot of technically sophisticated equipment in my career, and my first checkpoint when there is a choice of product is obtain the manuals, read them, and rank the suppliers in order of documentation quality. Twenty years ago Digitrax put themselves out of contention within 15 minutes, and I have never looked at their line since.

Take a look at Lenz. That's the way to do it.
 

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Thank you for the comment about fitting an encoder to my Fleischmann 212 diesel. I think I will become more familiar with DCC before I tackle that. This is going to be a fairly major retirement present to myself so I'm planning to bite the bullet and buy locos already DCC fitted, probably a DB 218 or two, a DB 260 shunter and a DR Class 130 Ludmilla to start with.
Hello David B,
I share your pain over the old Zero-1, I fitted some of my US locos for it and they used to “sing” because the frequency of the juice the motors were supplied with!
No longer as typical quality decoders now put out around 32khz so motors run silently.

I would suggest it’s a good idea to start over with all your locos ready fitted with DCC or even sound. It is of course, expensive but you really do get what you pay for.
For example, I have an ESU class 265 of my own and I borrowed the same firms class 361 - both shunters/trip locos. The play value was incredible!
Anyone can only experience this much fun by shelling out some £400 each but I cannot recommend such models highly enough.
Unfortunately, such models will really show up the age of your Fleischmann 212, sorry! Although Fleischmann did fit sound to some of the last models they did, it isn’t considered a particularly great model. Unless it is fitted with a decoder socket, it could be a pain to convert. It’s worth keeping of course but only really as a momento of your previous modelling.
Equivalent models from Roco, Trix, ESU and maybe more, will be much nicer, more accurate models and much better featured.
I can’t recommend the Brawa model, not only have I not tried it but the Brawa models I have tried, I find fussy, delicate and prone to damage. Plus, the fully featured models are super expensive.
I hope this helps,
John E
 
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