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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys
At 49 yrs young I’ve returned to 00 gauge! And my the hobby has come a long way ? But i find myself still being drawn to analogue.
After all that was my childhood! I remember watching my dad teaching me how to service a locomotive with tips and tricks along the way.
When i stand in front of my basic but growing layout it takes me back to when I was young ? .
I’m lucky enough to have two model shops no more than 300m away selling both new and second hand .
Reliving my childhood has never been so good.
 

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Probably cheaper than any other 'keeps you young' formula!

But I find myself still being drawn to analogue. After all that was my childhood! I remember watching my dad teaching me how to service a locomotive with tips and tricks along the way...
The loco mechanisms remain 12V DC, and it is essential these perform well whatever control system is used, so all you learned earlier remains relevant.

Alternative control systems such as DCC have caught on for a reason. On my return to the hobby at much the same age as you are now, I was sceptical of DCC as the DC layout worked very well, but friends persuaded me to try it. The intention had been to trial DCC for a year or more alongside majority DC operation - I had a switched section layout which made this simple - but a couple of hours operating three decoder fitted locos over the weekend, and my order for 60 decoders went in on the Monday.

As you may have noticed, the selection of locos (and stock) has expanded dramatically; and the ability to park as many locos as will fit on any vacant length of track with no isolation required, still puts a smile on my face.
 

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But i find myself still being drawn to analogue.
Me too, when I rejoined the hobby after I retired, I decided to leave DCC alone when I built my layout. DCC is out there, and it's amazing what it can do, but I didn't want to go that way, which probably puts me in the minority these days.

Don't discount the possibility of using DCC, but it is, after all, a hobby, so you just go in whatever direction you want and enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Me too, when I rejoined the hobby after I retired, I decided to leave DCC alone when I built my layout. DCC is out there, and it's amazing what it can do, but I didn't want to go that way, which probably puts me in the minority these days.

Don't discount the possibility of using DCC, but it is, after all, a hobby, so you just go in whatever direction you want and enjoy.
I agree it’s very impressive but it’s expensive
 

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I agree it’s very impressive but it’s expensive
Also, if you have a collection of older models, conversion to DCC, while possible, is not as simple as just fitting a chip.

I shudder to think how long it would take to convert my 50+ three-rail Hornby Dublo locomotives to DCC. Life is too short to take on a project like that....

(as an aside, I am told that a momentary short circuit can shut down a DCC layout, which could be a problem with what happens to a three-rail pickup when the locomotive is negotiating pointwork, because the centre rail is at the same height as the running rails - you can see the ammeter needle jump for a fraction of a second every time a locomotive goes over a point - it's not a problem with analogue though - the sheer weight of the things keeps them going until they've passed over the offending rails)
 

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...as an aside, I am told that a momentary short circuit can shut down a DCC layout...
It can, and this is necessary to limit damage due to the high current potentially available on DCC systems. I wouldn't consider the LENZ/NMRA DCC system for H-D three rail. This 'shut down' is no problem on a 2 rail layout, the incidents causing this are typically a derailment, or running a train onto a point in the trailing direction, not set for that route: and it's very helpful that the system shuts down. On a well designed and carefully operated layout these are rare occurrences.

Now, Marklin provide their own proprietary equivalent digital command control system, and as Marklin is still three rail, I imagine they have some way around this problem. While my ignorance of the Marklin system can only be described as boundless, it would be possible for the points to have some electronics which manage the short locally at high speed; the same principle is used in DCC to rapidly correct shorts on 2-rail return loops to prevent system shut down as a a train runs round a return loop.

I agree it’s very impressive but it’s expensive.
And as ever it's for the individual to assess the value for money. Costs more, but you get a mountain of capability for the money.
 

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Picking up on a few points:

Also, if you have a collection of older models, conversion to DCC, while possible, is not as simple as just fitting a chip.

I shudder to think how long it would take to convert my 50+ three-rail Hornby Dublo locomotives to DCC. Life is too short to take on a project like that....
Whenever anyone raises the 'ad-quantum' argument (I've got 'too' many to convert, 'too' costly etc), I always encourage people to take a pragmatic look at their collections.

A three-rail HD layout represents models as they were many years ago, complete with all their functionality and usability. Effectively a 'nostalgia' museum layout.
DCC is all about increasing realism, something which can never be achieved with HD 3-rail, so why would one even want to convert it to DCC ?

You are quite right that converting HD 3-rail to DCC is not as simple as fitting a chip. Most of these locos collect power through the chassis block on one side and the centre studs for the other side. The motor was usually electrically connected/integral to the chassis block so the need to isolate it to have a decoder sit between it is virtually impossible.
Most HD locos are heavy current drawers, so you'd probably have a hard time finding a decoder capable of delivering the current required - they tend to be more expensive.

For those with large collections of more contemporary models, you need to realise that you don't need to convert everything and you don't have to do it 'right now'. Think about a phased approach:

  • Locos which fit your current prototype area/regional interests
  • Locos which fit your current prototype time-period interests
  • Locos that actually work
  • Locos that conform to your current modelling standard expectations
  • Locos that are actually worth converting

Once you apply the above criteria, you'll find that you won't have large numbers of locos to convert - you'll have a small selection of high-priority items. The rest can come later if required.

(as an aside, I am told that a momentary short circuit can shut down a DCC layout, which could be a problem with what happens to a three-rail pickup when the locomotive is negotiating pointwork, because the centre rail is at the same height as the running rails - you can see the ammeter needle jump for a fraction of a second every time a locomotive goes over a point - it's not a problem with analogue though - the sheer weight of the things keeps them going until they've passed over the offending rails)
It is true that a momentary short can shut down a DCC layout, however, there are reasons for this and there are mitigations which can be applied.
Most layouts I have seen have shorting problems due to poor wiring practice. A good start is to wire live frog turnouts properly: Live Frog Wiring - Model Railways On-Line
Mitigation can include separate 'districts' where multiple buses are used that are electrically isolated from each other, but NOT by using the dreaded 'lightbulb' solution. Addressing track laying and running qualities also helps to prevent derailments which can cause shorts.

I think the issue of 3 rail centre pickups brushing across rails when traversing turnouts is only an issue where a loco has two centre pickups (most of them do) and one touches a closure rail while the other touches a live rail, effectively shorting out. This supports the point of view that HD 3-rail is not worth converting - it was never designed for DCC and couldn't be expected to work with DCC. Enjoy it for what it is.
 
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