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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Not sure what happened there, must have pushed the wrong button. I need my ten year old grandson to show me how.

It may not have been Digitrax, I have read so many articles about DCC over the weekend, I'm probably quoting the wrong name. I take your point about technical descriptions, there are good, bad and awful - it used to be the same with aircraft. I'm of the opinion that anyone writing a technical description should be required to have a member of the public sitting at their shoulder saying, "don't understand that, what does that mean?"

Thank you for the tip about Lenz - on my list of 'things to check.'
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Hello John Glad to hear about the new standards of todays systems. Judging by the universal approval, DCC is clearly the way to go.

I suspected you might say that about my 212. I bought it probably 25 year ago and it may have been second-hand then. I would not attempt to convert it with any confidence.

I have been looking at Roco loco's and they show the loco's I am looking at, DCC equipped, as costing €250 - ish. The household authorities have decreed, 'if you want to build another one, (there have been several before, we have moved around a lot) then spend the money and do it properly!!' What further recommendation could a lad wish for?

I'm going to London in November and hope to visit some of the models shops there to see various makes and models first hand. I'm in West Cornwall and there is an excellent model shop in Camborne but they don't do continental stock. I had, as I mentioned, been thinking in terms of Fleischmann but in view of your comments am encouraged to look much wider

Thanks again

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Many thanks for the info. My last layout was built in 2004 so I'm well out of date. I'm convinced by the arguments for DCC, I think I had considered it 'too complicated' but it obviously delivers the performance to increase realism. My old DC layouts faltered and stuttered despite my best attempts at continuity
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
One last question (for the moment) Some of the articles about DCC mention running at a quarter or half speed. I will be looking for a controller with a knob to increase/decrease speed as with DC. Do most control systems offer infinitely variable speed control
 

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...I'm going to London in November and hope to visit some of the models shops there to see various makes and models first hand. I'm in West Cornwall...
London is most wonderful in almost all respects, but like unto the Gobi desert when it comes to model shops. You won't find anything as good as Kernow Models until you are about 25 miles from Nelson's Column. Quite what to recommend for German HO in the UK I now have no idea: most UK customers I suspect buy directly from German retailers. The US HO specialist in Bodmin is very good for supplies such as Kadee etc.

Scan the UK: The UK Model Shop Directory
... DCC ...I will be looking for a controller with a knob to increase/decrease speed as with DC. Do most control systems offer infinitely variable speed control.
Current decoders offer 128 speed steps (by interpolation) which is typically sufficient for 'infinitely variable' control. Plenty of options in handsets and consoles for a speed knob. (And also sliders, buttons, levers, scrolls, touchscreen.) It's worth taking time to get 'hands on' with the various maker's kit, as finding at least one that feels natural in or under your hand is what you want, so that operation quickly becomes 'unconciously competent'. A hobby is supposed to be fun, so you don't want to be wrestling with the control interface. (And some of them are the most illbegot conceptions imaginable, but presumably some like them as there is a wide selection on sale...)

Then there is 'the other way'. You can set up the decoder so that the loco performance closely matches the speed range and inertia of the prototype. For shunting my class 08s fare about two-thirds of a mile per hour per speed step, so one '8 step button' push gets you 5mph, two pushes 10mph, etc.. With plenty of inertia this is very smooth, simple and predictable to operate. The system effectively drives the loco, (and you must get it right to avoid clouting the vehicles, no cheating by hitting the panic button to stop it) which it accomplishes far more smoothly than 'turn the knob' input ever will. But this isn't to everyone's taste.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Crikey, it sounds as if London has changed somewhat as regards models shops. I can remember coming down from Aberdeen for the day once in the seventies just to visit the model shops (one near Kings Cross??)

Your description of shunting sounds interesting and very prototypical although I can only guess what an '8 step button' is? I have no idea what DCC is capable of and I have no experience at all of inertia or braking. In my day it was strictly 'turn the knob.' Its going to be an interesting learning curve.

I spoke today to Kernow models and they do sell a range of DCC systems so I'll be paying them a visit to see whats on offer and in any case expect to buy the basics such as Peco track from them . Unfortunately they do not deal with continental stock. However, we are going to Munich and Berlin (Covid permitting) in 2022 where there are shops with every item imaginable.
 

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Gaugemaster in Ford, West Sussex and right next to Ford railway station have a good selection of Continental model railway gear. They are the UK distributor for Piko. I was able to get some replacement DC wheelsets for a second hand item I picked up in a model shop in Germany while on holiday. I forgot that the 'default' choice for HO track electrics in Germany is AC due to the dominance of the Maerklin brand. If a toy shop - they still have them - is going to stock just one model railway brand, it will be Maerklin.

I think most DCC controllers have a knob for selecting the loco speed.

My suggestions for a DCC control system are
  • NCE Powercab - this is a very popular hand held system.
  • Roco Z21 - There was a time when the advice was to avoid systems from model train manufacturers. In my opinion the Z21 is an exception to this rule.
  • ESU ECoS. This is a console based system.

I have had a mono ESU ECoS for over 10 years and apart from the crude graphics for the locos, it still does its job very well. I bought a Z21 from Gaugemaster for my study shelf layout at the beginning of this year. I have not regretted my purchase.

I bought my ESU locos from Modelbahnshop Lippe in Germany. I got the Br363 in April this year. As the cost was over £135, it had to go through customs. MSL use DHL who subcontract UK deliveries to Parcel Force. The customs clearance process took about a week Parcel Force snail mail you an invoice which you then pay online. Once paid, the parcel gets delivered. The slowest part of the process is the delivery of the invoice with VAT and clearance charges on it.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Hello David

I've just had a look at the Gaugemaster website and they have an incredible array of models available including a very nice BR232 fully fitted. We are looking forward to a few days away when possible and I'm sure I could persuade my dear lady wife to include Ford in the itinerary.

I notice the NCE system does not have a control knob.Presumably this can be added as an accessory?

From other correspondents here I gathered that it may be necessary to buy from Germany and it sounds as if here is a well established system. We spent a month in Germany three years ago and spent a lot of time travelling around Bavaria (by train naturally with a BayernCard) and found that most large towns had model shops with extensive ranges.

First thing I have to do is buy a book about DCC to get to grips with the capabilities and the technical terms. there seem to be plenty of them. At the moment it is like learning a new language. Would it be reasonable to expect that if I bought a system and a fitted loco that it would be fairly straight-forward to get it running?

regards

David B
 

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Hi David B,
I’m pleased for you that your good lady is supportive of your idea - that’s a major hurdle out of the way!
I’m also pleased that you took my advice on the Fleischmann 212 in the spirit it was meant, phew! It’s not that common that I would call any loco by them, Fleischmann used to be my favourite company and a lot of their products are now available but branded as Roco!
Were you to go steam outline, I would recommend them highly.
Watch out for coaches - Roco tend to be full scale length at 303mm long, ex-Fleischmann are usually a linear scale of 1/93 and 282mm long. All other measurements being full 1/87 of course. Don’t bother with the “shorties” at 1/100 length and 265mm long, ugh!
This is for the majority of modern coaches that are 26.4m long in real life.
Anyway, DCC.
May I suggest that you make your purchase from your local hobby shop (lhs)? This is what I did when I set out on my modern digital journey. The feeling of quality backup should things go wrong, the advice freely given - all were invaluable to me. The few bob extra it cost me was more than made up for with help given.
The lhs is also where you can get your hands on experience with a system, hopefully they will let you play with several systems.
Having used several systems myself over the past twenty years or so, the only real advice I can give is that I think American systems are better for American stock, European systems are better for European stock. This is more of a feeling or observation than anything scientific.
Finally, I can’t help with your last question as it’s a bit of a “how long is a piece of string” but all being well and assuming you get to grips with the system quickly, then yes!
The loco should be up and running quickly - it’s all the other variables that may cause trouble.
Good luck,
John E.
 

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Crikey, it sounds as if London has changed somewhat as regards models shops. I can remember coming down from Aberdeen for the day once in the seventies just to visit the model shops (one near Kings Cross??)...
Sadly so. Kings Cross Models was my go to specialist model shop, right alongside platform 1, at that time I went through KX at least once a fortnight, mainly in connection with my employment. Victors and a couple of others not that far away. At least I was nearby and aware when KX models shut down and could scoop up a whole lot of kit parts at good prices.
 

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I'd be careful using Kadees with European rolling stock. Most continental rolling stock will have close coupling mechanisms fitted - these mechanisms extend the coupler shaft when going through a curve. This way, you can couple rolling stock buffer to buffer, but still use smaller radius curves. This doesn't always work well with the Kadee coupler heads, which tend to sit in between the buffers and can get stuck on them in a tight curve. You might need to experiment a bit before committing. Some people also recommend fixing the coupler mechanism in place, but then you lose the advantage of being able to close couple, and it may not work that well with smaller radius curves.
 

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Take a look at Lenz. That's the way to do it.
Having been a Lenz user (and still am on my workbench with the 100 system), I'd say take a look at NCE. That's the way to do it.
The Lenz system has very old-fashioned throttles (even the newer ones) with convoluted ways of doing things, all limited by the hardware design. Conversely, the NCE throttles are basically purpose-designed with dedicated buttons. Much much easier to use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Gentleman, good morning and thank you for your helpful comments.

John, Thank you for the info about coaches, I had forgotten about coach lengths and will make certain I get the right lengths. As to using my local model shop, it makes a great deal of sense and I have already spoken to them about DCC systems which they stock. Within reason I'm not too concerned about saving pennies (there's a rash statement I will probably regret) and think it of great advantage to go back to a friendly dealer for advice sooner than mail order.

As to buying the right system I appreciate impressions as much as the science about systems as you suggest. I have just bought Nigel Burkin's book about DCC and am engrossed already. I do want to get just the right system and am prepared to spend time researching and European system, European stock makes sense.

34C Sorry to hear the Kings X shop has gone, is nothing sacred?? It reminds me though that there is a fantastic model shop alongside Platform (Gleis) One at Munich Hauptbahnhof, definitely a port of call during our visit next year. Is Victors still there? I can remember watching in envy as one chap went through their entire stock of 'N' gauge German coaches until he found the 12 he liked.

Alex, thanks for the thoughts. I have used Kadee couplings with my old DC layouts with Fleischmann coaches and found they worked so much better than the hooks on the coaches as sold. My layout is planned as end-to-fiddleyard and I have space enough that any off-scene curves can be 24 inch radius. On scene I will only be using large radius points and only slightly curved track so don't expect too many problems. I'll certainly remember your comments if I expand ( the household authorities haven't yet been approached about my plan for taking the layout through the wall and into my shed!!) To be honest I'm so out of date that I was not aware of other coupling/uncoupling systems that give the ability to park stock anywhere. Yet more research needed

GPP I was planning DC until persuaded two days ago of the benefits of DCC so am slightly overwhelmed by the variety available. I would say knew what I was looking for but even the first two chapters of Nigel's book tells me I don't simply because I don't know what DCC is capable of. More research but then I think that's part of the pleasure. First impressions said, 'NCE looks interesting!'
 

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Unless you intend to split/join coach rakes you only need Kadees on the outer ends of the rakes . With regard to DCC the free Decoder Pro program from JMRI takes away most of the msytic of programming decoders, it may work directly with a dcc system or you might need a separate programmer module, a SPROG
 

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Gentleman, good morning and thank you for your helpful comments.

John, Thank you for the info about coaches, I had forgotten about coach lengths and will make certain I get the right lengths. As to using my local model shop, it makes a great deal of sense and I have already spoken to them about DCC systems which they stock. Within reason I'm not too concerned about saving pennies (there's a rash statement I will probably regret) and think it of great advantage to go back to a friendly dealer for advice sooner than mail order.

Alex, thanks for the thoughts. I have used Kadee couplings with my old DC layouts with Fleischmann coaches and found they worked so much better than the hooks on the coaches as sold. My layout is planned as end-to-fiddleyard and I have space enough that any off-scene curves can be 24 inch radius. On scene I will only be using large radius points and only slightly curved track so don't expect too many problems. I'll certainly remember your comments if I expand ( the household authorities haven't yet been approached about my plan for taking the layout through the wall and into my shed!!) To be honest I'm so out of date that I was not aware of other coupling/uncoupling systems that give the ability to park stock anywhere. Yet more research needed

GPP I was planning DC until persuaded two days ago of the benefits of DCC so am slightly overwhelmed by the variety available. I would say knew what I was looking for but even the first two chapters of Nigel's book tells me I don't simply because I don't know what DCC is capable of. More research but then I think that's part of the pleasure. First impressions said, 'NCE looks interesting!'
To add to the comments about coach lengths, a couple of cautionary notes when buying Roco material. The coach length thing mainly concerns the post 1950 prototypes, the 26.4m express wagons, which even translate to todays prototype rolling stock.. As John said, in times gone by Roco made many 1:100 models - they didn't look great and were mainly for modellers working on the carpet with radius 1 and radius 2 curves. Meanwhile Fleischmann, Trix and Maerklin models of these 26.4m prototypes made the compromise by moving to the scale around 1:93. These wagons looked much better than the 1:100s and in a rake of say 6 wagons, you could get away with it. However, mix them up in a train with full scale, full length 1:87 wagons and they don't look so great.

Fast forward to today, with Roco having absorbed Fleischmann (who now produce solely for N) and the anomalies re-appear. If you look online at the moment, you'll find good prices from retailers for Roco express train wagons, with 5xxxx catalogue numbers (e.g. 54451), and likewise you'll find other Roco models of the same prototype wagons with 64xxx and 74xxx catalogue numbers.

You need to be aware that the 5xxxx wagons are, in fact, made from the old Fleischmann molds and are therefore 'shorties' at 1:93 !!!!! It is true that many retailers do put the wagon length information in the technical details for the model. It is likely however, that Ebay sellers might not...

This is probably scrambling your mind, but just re-emphasisng you must be careful....You can always pm me for any specific advice on locos/wagons/etc.
Best regards
6991

PS Many H0 modellers use Fleischmann close couplings (6515 is the catalogue number) - indeed, I do myself - and they are available in packs of 50. They work very well with most makes of rolling stock (Piko, Fleischmann, Roco, Liliput, Trix, Brawa, Tillig, etc, etc) including locos, passenger wagons and goods wagons. They look better than 'hook and loop' and they are easier to use, ironically, than the Roco close couplings. I suggest there would be a major outrage in Europe if Roco ceased manufacturing this one, ex-Fleischmann product.
 

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I cannot agree more with 6991 about the Fleischmann 6515 coupling.
I find it to be the perfect “close coupling“ item in that it holds vehicles tightly together and still allows stock to negotiate reasonably tight curves. I have found that with some Roco coaches, their NEM pockets (these are the things that accept the various European couplers including Kadee 17-20) can be rather tight and would benefit from a touch from a file to allow the coupling to be exchanged.
Also, it’s more economical to buy them in bulk but beware price differences.
Example;
Old price £52 but when they next come into stock?? A friend told me £74!
Current price €47ish
Obviously, there’s now shipping and import duty to account for but for when you’re over there, possibly? They still have one shop in Detmold.
There is always Mensels Lokschuppen in Düsseldorf.
€50

As mentioned above, I will use Kadees at the end of each rake so Locos can be changed easily as you cannot shunt with the 6515, well not without slamming into the stock anyway!
Cheers,
John E.
 
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