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Does anybody know where I can get the overhead cable wires (I'm not sure what they are called) where the pantograph gets power from the overhead cables and the structures used to keep the cables in the air. Sorry I don't know the correct term.
 

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The term you want is "catenary". The topic comes up from time to time. As far as I remember, British pattern masts and wiring is not available off the shelf. If you are content with overhead wiring of any kind so long as it "ready to use", then check out the ranges from Sommerfeldt and Viessmann. You will find links to both manufacturers in the "Manufacturers & Distributors" page of the Forum's Links section - here

In passing I notice that Viessmann have published a 2009/2010 catalogue supplement, so see you all later!
<Edit>Rats! I thought the catalogue was for download. No, it looks like you have to buy it
</Edit>

David
 

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QUOTE Does anybody know where I can get the overhead cable wires (I'm not sure what they are called) where the pantograph gets power from the overhead cables and the structures used to keep the cables in the air. Sorry I don't know the correct term.
Another option is to do as I did when faced with a similar problem nearly 30 years ago. Go and have a look a the real thing, get hold of some raw materials - could be wood, plastic or metal - and make your own as best you can. Nowadays, I wouldn't consider using anything but brass sections for mast construction - but that is because my expectations have increased over the years, and any commercial product would be hard pushed to compete with what can be done with a soldering iron and a few hours work.
 

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You can also get kits for portals, that's the name for the gantry that spans more than one line, from N Brass Locos for both OO and N gauge. Their web site is http://www.nbrasslocos.co.uk/

I have found that Westminster Miniatures http://www.westminster-miniatures.com are very good at supplying Sommerfeld catenary, the proprietor Alan Blackwell is very helpful. The Sommerfeld range covers HO, TT and N scales, so you can use HO for OO, just. Only problem is that the catenary is a bit overscale, and the masts aren't really UK prototype. However if you are modelling the part of the old GC main line from Hadfield & Glossop to Manchester London Road/Piccadilly, then you can use either the Belgian or Dutch style gantries on double track. This also applies to the ER line through Brentwood, which like the GC route was also first electrified at 1500V DC in the 1930s. Westminster Miniatures also sell the Sommeerfeldt book on how to install cantenary. This manual is intended for the german market, but it does have english translations for much ofthe text and plenty of photos. They also do the Sommerfeldt catalogue which also has text in elglish.

You can buy the old Triang masts and catenary on ebay, but they are only suitable for running vintage Triang and Trix OHL locos as they are not prototypically correct and the catenary is grossly overscale. However they do work. Mine still does after 40 years. Don't bother with the more recent Hornby single masts, they are truly terrible and expensive on ebay. The Hornby double track gantries are better, they are the old Triang R580 ones but moulded in grey instead of green plastic, but are even more expensive on ebay than the Triang ones. If you do go down the Triang route, you can use piano wire, sorry don't know the gauge, it's a very long time since I bought any.

There was catenary and masts made by Trix, but that is very rare these days and is probalby left to the vintage RTR specialist collectors.

I saw the Peco catenary at Warley, it looks good, but I don't know if Peco have definitely said that they will release it in 2009. I thought they were testing the water at Warley to see if there was any demand for it.

You could always scratch build it, Jim Smith-Wright has published some articles on scratch building the masts, he was at Warley with his demo stand.

Are you going to collect current via the catenary? Even at 12V DC you get some quite impressive flashes at times. I do on my old Triang stuff, and it lets me control two locos independently without DCC, one from the Overhead, the other from the track.

If you are going to use DCC it is recommended that you don't collect from the catenary. No one has ever said why, but I suspect it is because the arcing can deprogram a decoder chip. There is also an extra complication if you have Ys or loops as the return path to the track changes "sides". I suppose you could use a reversing module to correct that, but I haven't worked out the theory to my own satisfaction yet.

Good Luck.
 

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QUOTE You could always scratch build it, Jim Smith-Wright has published some articles on scratch building the masts,

Check out the photos of Jim's work starting from this post. It's absolutely fabulous.

David
 

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QUOTE (GoingUnderground @ 16 Dec 2008, 07:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>If you are going to use DCC it is recommended that you don't collect from the catenary. No one has ever said why, but I suspect it is because the arcing can deprogram a decoder chip. There is also an extra complication if you have Ys or loops as the return path to the track changes "sides". I suppose you could use a reversing module to correct that, but I haven't worked out the theory to my own satisfaction yet.

Good Luck.

***No, it is theoretically possible to do it (and it is done on trolley and electric only layouts) but its advised against because:
(1) Operating catenary HAS to be way overscale to take the load of the model pans and unlike with DC there is absoutely no operating advantage in doing so, so why would you bother

and

(2) as you surmised, if you use catenary for the power pickup on DCC, you lose all the directional flexibility of operation DCC gives as reversing loops/any reverse capable trackage like Wyes would become a no-no .....and the loco's could only ever be placed on the track one way (ie the electric locos would all need 100% consistency in wiring and then in being placed on the track ....or a short will happen).

regards

Richard
 

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There is actually one benefit from powering from the catenary.

It is ideal for isolated stopping section from electric push trains. A train being pushed stops in a station at a different place to one being pulled.

But as Richard says, its a lot of work that is not really necessary in today DCC environment.

As for masts, Somerfeldt use brass masts, and when you accidentally knock them, you are more likely to damage yourself rather than break the mast.

Richard,

I thought that the sommerfeldt 0.5mm catenary looked great, better than the 0.75mm normal range. Do you think that that is to thick as well?

Cheers

John
 

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QUOTE (john woodall @ 16 Dec 2008, 17:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Richard,

I thought that the sommerfeldt 0.5mm catenary looked great, better than the 0.75mm normal range. Do you think that that is to thick as well?

Cheers

John

*** In model terms, its as good as RTR gets and isn't at all bad, but in scale terms, its approximately "double reality".

Richard
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 16 Dec 2008, 08:06) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>***No, it is theoretically possible to do it (and it is done on trolley and electric only layouts) but its advised against because:
(1) Operating catenary HAS to be way overscale to take the load of the model pans and unlike with DC there is absoutely no operating advantage in doing so, so why would you bother

That is true if you use the pantographs straight out of the box, even Sommerfeldt ones, the spring pressure is quite considerable. However my club, Nottingham MRS, has two layouts Deepcar and Carstairs, which have scratch built catenary and the catenary wires are much finer than proprietary ones, as you can see in the links to pictures on our web site of Deepcar: http://www.nottingham-modelrailway.org.uk/dbl76.jpg and http://www.nottingham-modelrailway.org.uk/tommystn.jpg and of Carstairs http://www.nottingham-modelrailway.org.uk/carstpics.htm All our OHL locos run with the pantographs up, but with the spring pressure much reduced so that the pans don't push up the catenary wire or bend the masts as they pass below.

The catenary is wired in to the common return but the pantograph locos do not depend on it as the catenary doesn't extend into the fiddle yards. It did once but got in the way, and was taken down.

As to why would you do it, well why not? We always try to emulate the prototype don't we. After all electric traction is more prototypically correct than steam, unless it's live steam, or diesel.

If you want to see Deepcar, it will be at our show in Nottingham in March next year, see our web site for details http://www.nottingham-modelrailway.org.uk

QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 16 Dec 2008, 08:06) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>and
(2) as you surmised, if you use catenary for the power pickup on DCC, you lose all the directional flexibility of operation DCC gives as reversing loops/any reverse capable trackage like Wyes would become a no-no .....and the loco's could only ever be placed on the track one way (ie the electric locos would all need 100% consistency in wiring and then in being placed on the track ....or a short will happen).
All you need to regain the operational flexibility is automatic switching within the loco of the return path to the track from the left to right side of the loco, or vice versa. I suspect that an electronic circuit to do that could be built with rapid switching to avoid shorting, but I'm no electronics whizz, but I did devise a theoretical circuit to do it with relays, but space inside the loco would be a problem, and I suspect the relays wouldn't act fast enough to avoid a short. Hence the need for electronics, but there's little enough space inside a loco as it is. However the problem wouldn't arise if your layout didn't have any Ys or return loops, or you bonded both running rails together so it didn't matter which way round the loco was facing. Only snag with the second option is that you could only run OHL locos unless you had Maerklin stud contact track and used that in lieu of the catenary for non OHL locos. Where there's a will there's a way, even it its only to cause excessive complication.

Keith.
 

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*** Hi Keith

Yes, its all possible as I already said but its not a "plug and play" sort of issue & advice in my post is for the general reader who needs pragmatic answers, not the accomplished modeller, who will always do it his own way. Given the thread origin, adding complexity isn't all that useful.

The problem exists even if there are no reverse loops as the constraint then becomes that the loco must always be placed on the layout facing the same way physically. Not an issue except that its a pointless excercise.... The average modeller just isn't all that disciplined and doesn't really gain from the added complexity anyway.

Its never going to be an easy issue for the 2 rail DCC modeller nor will there ever really be any layout based or visible advantage. You could certainly make internal switching - the circuitry isn't at all hard to do but it'd need to be electronic not relay based for reliability. All seems a little OTT unless you like maiing work for yourself or your "hobby joy" is electronics not trains, as its an invisible fix to a problem that need not exist.

More prototypical huh... I hope you are using axle hung motors and appropriate braking circuitry on those loco's :) :)

Are there images / is there info anywhere on the possible Peco Catenary?

Kind regards

Richard
 

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Richard,

If you love your hobby you do what you want to do. Some railway modellers join MERG, I'm not a member incidentally, if they want to apply electronics to their layout. That doesn't mean that electronics is their hobby, just that they like scratch building the electronics bits as well.

If you're saying that the OP should avoid complexity, they perhaps they shouldn't bother with masts and catenary either, just run the OHL locos with the pantos down. However, if someone likes OHL locos and infrastructure enough to have gone to the bother and expense of erecting masts and catenary then they may well want to use it, especially if their locos have working pantographs. So putting the loco on the track the same way round isn't an issue if that's what it takes. I speak from personal experience over 45 years ago when I got the Triang Steeplecab loco R254 and the 15ft catenary set R315 for Christmas. Yes it was R315 for Series 3 track, I am that old.

I've seen some OO layouts on the exhibition circuit that just have masts and others with masts and the occasional bit of catenary in place, and I always feel those are an opportunity missed, but that's just my personal opinion.

On DC you don't have to place the loco the same way on the track every time, a SPDT switch will easily sort that out for you. It also sorts out Return loops and Ys. You can't get simpler than that.

My modelling interest is London Transport which uses 3rd & 4th rail. I have looked at actually using the 3rd and/or 4th rails for current collection and even converted a SPUD to collect from them, but decided my engineering skills weren't good enough to make it work reliably. But I know I'll regret not using the conductor rails at some point.

On DCC and return loops and Ys, I did say that I didn't think relays would do the business because they're too slow and the solution would need to be electronic. You could argue that going DCC is a distraction from the main business of railway modelling - if it works OK on 12V DC why faff around with DCC and make work for yourself fitting all those decoders to locos and turnouts and then programming them. I personally don't buy that argument which is why I'm going DCC.

I always use axle hung motors and rheostatic braking. Doesn't everyone?

I believe that there was something on the Peco site about their catenary before Warley from reports on another Forum, but I can't find it there now. However it was at Warley, all 2 single masts of it if I remember right.

If it's what you want to do, then do it. It's your layout, your time and your money.

Keith.
 

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*** I'm not suggesting anyone avoid anything - I think you missed my point or perhaps think I was having a go - I wasn't and don't bother with such things.

As I stated clearly, I was addressing my original reply not to you specifically, but to the average modeller on the forum. The initial question was simple and to me the thread deserved a simple answer.

I have no idea why you bothered mentioning your age but suspect we aren't so far apart in age or time spent on the hobby... I've owned trains in one way or another for half a century in fact.... I was not talking / didn't mention about DC, but DCC.... and that subject and related electronics I know backwards.

You and I may well do things our own way and enjoy it, and I hope we always do... I know my own approach is very much my own in many things - that choice is what makes the hobby as good as it is - but complex answers to simple questions don't help the average forum member who I try to help.

I'm not about playing word games - just assisting forum members where I can.

kind regards

Richard
 

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Richard,

I think we'll have to agree to differ about whether to use the catenary for current collection or not and what makes for complexity and what doesn't.

Does anyone on the Forum with an OHL layout use the catenary for current collection at all, and do you use DC or DCC?

Keith.
 

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QUOTE (GoingUnderground @ 16 Dec 2008, 16:17) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Does anyone on the Forum with an OHL layout use the catenary for current collection at all, and do you use DC or DCC?

Keith.

SL has hand soldered OHLE that represents the Belgian prototype. It is purely cosmetic & does not extend over the storage loops. being a highly portable layout it would be far, far too much hassle.

We do, however, run with the panto's up & although SL normally runs with DCC, it can be run with DC as an option.

Incidently, the Viessmann catenary uses metal masts which clip into the bases, so that tempory removal for maintenance is very easy - probably the most cost-effective in terms of "out of the box/scale" ratio - a choice of lattice, concrete or H section masts too, although the Sommerfeld does give more choice as regards prototype.
 

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Richard Johnson Posted Today, 12:32 PM
*** Hi Keith

Yes, its all possible as I already said but its not a "plug and play" sort of issue & advice in my post is for the general reader who needs pragmatic answers, not the accomplished modeller, who will always do it his own way. Given the thread origin, adding complexity isn't all that useful.

The problem exists even if there are no reverse loops as the constraint then becomes that the loco must always be placed on the layout facing the same way physically. Not an issue except that its a pointless excercise.... The average modeller just isn't all that disciplined and doesn't really gain from the added complexity anyway.

Its never going to be an easy issue for the 2 rail DCC modeller nor will there ever really be any layout based or visible advantage. You could certainly make internal switching - the circuitry isn't at all hard to do but it'd need to be electronic not relay based for reliability. All seems a little OTT unless you like maiing work for yourself or your "hobby joy" is electronics not trains, as its an invisible fix to a problem that need not exist.

More prototypical huh... I hope you are using axle hung motors and appropriate braking circuitry on those loco's :) :)

Are there images / is there info anywhere on the possible Peco Catenary?

Kind regards

Richard
 

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I actually like the look of electric locomotives with pans up.

However in todays day and age there is no specific advantage of powering catenary unless you have a specific purpose in mind. My clubs exhibition layout has a double track main line and while both lines have catenary, only one is powered. This is to ensure that the oush train stops in the appropriate spot.

Goof catenary is like good track work. The better it is the better it looks and operates.

John
 

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QUOTE Does anyone on the Forum with an OHL layout use the catenary for current collection at all, and do you use DC or DCC?
Not sure what to say here...

Essentially my layouts are Keith's layouts, so the literal answer has to be yes.
Carstairs is (or was, last time I saw it) wired for overhead throughout, including the fiddle yard. It was always intended to be so, following on from the success of its predecessor 'High Gill' over many years on the exhibition circuit.
However, many club members have chosen to 'wimp out' in recent years over making their locos work from the wires only. If/when I get round to actually constructing my next proposed project it will certainly feature working OHLE, and maybe even 3rd and 4th rail. Just because it can, no other reason, and probably DCC to boot.
As Keith said, if you have gone to all the trouble to set up all the equipment to look and feel like the real thing, it seems a shame not to go the final step and use it properly too...
Incidentally, I have uploaded a video to 'You Tube' of a trip round Carstairs on the 'down' line taken a couple of years ago at a club meeting. Search for 'Carstairs & Law Junction'. You will see just how effective the wires look when the effort is made. Fiddle yard wiring is rough and ready, being curved to follow the track, but on the scenic section the wires are straight and tensioned between masts. Select 'watch in high quality' for best results.
 
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Hiya

Its worth having a go at scratchbuilding it if as it looks harder than it actually is. However If you dont want to it will be a good idea to wait and see what Peco do.



More on my site.

Cheers

Jim
 
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