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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all

I am new to this forum, and joined because I am about to invest in my second childhood and would like some advice!

I inherited the family train set from my older siblings when I was a child (which is now somewhere else in the family), and it was good old HO/OO which was probably the most popular scale then and I suspect still is. I have decided to go for N-gauge this time as there is a clean slate. I like the idea of having a much denser track layout and generally more going on...

However, I have just been reading bits about these new DCC or digital controllers. If I were to buy an analog train set, would I be able to use any of it if later on I decided that I wanted to changeover to DCC? Would some of the engines be upgradeable to digital or not? If so, how easy is it to do? Or should I start from day one with a DCC train set? The DCC sets and controllers seem prohibitively expensive to me!

Any advice would be grately received.

Thanks
hawkmoth
 

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Hi Hawkmoth! Welcome!
00/H0 is the most popular but all scales have their advantages.
As for the DCC aspect I'll leave that to someone else as I am a dummy!
Regards,
Les
 

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Hello hawkmouth.

Welcome to the forum. where are you from?

You will find plenty of advice for your DCC questions in the DCC section fo the forum but i will have a go at answering your question.

in theory n gauge loco'c can be chipped for DCC. and it has been done. But generally it is very fidelly work and finding space for the decoder can be very difficult if not impossible.

but there are many n gauge loco's that come DCC ready. so they wouldnt be a problem. as far as i know, the only brittish outline loco that comes DCC ready is the Peco collet loco -and it aint cheap!.

If i were you and i had a clean slate, i would either go for n gauge DC or HO/OO DCC.

You also have to bear in mind that as people get older, often they just cant see the N gauge stuff. many people shift up a scale mid-life.

As far as buying controllers is concerned, its really a case of how much do you want to spend? i think its better to save up and get the best you can afford, even if the loco's you get at first are really nothing special. one day you might get a nice loco and find that your controller cant cope with it or cant operate some of the functions.

Peter
 

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QUOTE (pedromorgan @ 27 Nov 2007, 09:37) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>in theory n gauge loco'c can be chipped for DCC. and it has been done. But generally it is very fidelly work and finding space for the decoder can be very difficult if not impossible.

but there are many n gauge loco's that come DCC ready. so they wouldnt be a problem. as far as i know, the only brittish outline loco that comes DCC ready is the Peco collet loco -and it aint cheap!.

The Collett is the only one that comes ready fitted with a decoder but all Farish and Dapol locos launched new in the last 18 months or so are DCC ready. Dapol have a 6-pin socket but with Farish you have to solder wires to the PCB which is a little fiddly. Future models from both suppliers are likely to have sockets. Older models (including re-releases in new liveries) will be more difficult to fit with decoders. For more detail please ask here or look at their websites.
 

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I am a retired chap who has been a railway modeller for many years. When I moved house a few years ago I needed to start from scratch again. At that time I seriously considered N gauge but in the end opted for OO. This was for two reasons. Firstly my eye-sight wasn't getting any better and I thought N was a bit fiddly. Secondly, I didn't think that N gauge steam engines with their chunky wheels looked all that realistic. I have recently decided to go DCC and I'm not finding it easy to get decoders into some OO engines so what it would be like with N gauge I can only guess at.

I suppose that it really comes down to what space you have available and what sort of layout you want. If you want a double track main line layout and you've got less than about 10ft by 6ft available then N it is. Fortunately I'm using the garage so have a decent amount of space for OO.

Good luck with the project whatever you finally decide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First of all, thanks to you all for replying to my questions. I suppose I should tell you a little bit about myself...

I am nearly 40 years old, an electronics engineer by profession, and have a couple of kids (7 & 9), who ultimately will benefit from the trains. Because of my job, I have been very used to dealing with electronic components, soldering to very small scale, and the like. I guess not many people have that background. I therefore have the kit and experience to deal with the decoders. I am also into woodwork as a hobby so should have no probs constructing stuff!

I guess the frustration is, that after reading a few websites that it just doesn't seem that there is a standard for this new DCC stuff. I have read about NMRA and the like, but still there seems to be lots of ifs and buts depending on what you buy and from which manufacturer.

Late last night I came across the Fleischmann kit. This seemed quite impressive. I like the modern-ish diesels and electric trains, and will ultimately go for that era of trains (sorry but it's my age, I don't remember steam trains!), I also like the Continental European trains (German, Swiss, etc). The Fleischmann sets below are different in that one is analog but "upgradeable" to digital, whilst the other is pure new digital stuff :

Set 9367 (upgradeable to full digital) = £105
Set 89394 (already full digital) = £157

Fleischmann Website (Germany)

Fleischmann Direct UK

They are upgradeable in that they are fitted out with a NEM 651 socket for installation of a decoder.

As for my space for the layout, I have an attic in my garage which is 2m wide, and can be up to 5m in length (but more than likely will be much less, ~3m).

At the moment I am thinking about going for one of these Fleischmann sets... let's see what else I dig up online tonight!!!

Thanks
Steve (hawkmoth)
 

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Hi Steve,

The 89394 set uses an "entry level" controller which does limit further expansion. Have a look at the sets 66368/9 - these come with the Twin-Centre which is a nice bit of kit - the only drawback with this is the maximum number of functions available - i.e. 9, which may be enough for you anyway. It's good value too.

The only thing to make absolutely certain about is that any kit you buy is NRMA complient - that means that decoders from "A" will work with control systems from "B" without problems. Avoid kit that is just compatable - there is a huge difference (see the DCC threads for more details - hard hat recommended for some threads, especially those containing words begining with G or H !).

There are other very good systems out there e'g. Lenz, Gaugemaster, Ecos, Digitrax just to name four. Try to decide what features you want & if you want a desk type unit or a handheld, then, if you can try & have a play with as many systems as possible before you make up your mind. Local dealer availability may be a bearing as well.

We use the Twin Centres on St.Laurent & the Lenz LH100 on my LGB Garden Railway, as well as selling quite a lot of the Gaugemaster units - if you want any further information on these feel free to send me a PM.

Hope this helps.
 

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Hi Steve, (Hawkmoth) and welcome to the forum,

There are plenty of people on here who will be able to give you plenty of advice in DCC. My only recommendation would be to stick to one of the long established manufacturers of kit - you will have fewer problems. dbclass50 I know uses Fleischmann twincentres with very few (if any) problems. It's nice to see you are looking at European N - it will keep goedel company
.

The other advantage with the period you have selected is that you can still run a few steamers on the main.

Keep us all posted.

Regards
 

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QUOTE (BRITHO)It's nice to see you are looking at European N - it will keep goedel company
.
Good point BRITHO!! I'll be less mad now that I can stop talking to myself!

QUOTE (hawkmoth @ 26 Nov 2007, 23:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have decided to go for N-gauge this time as there is a clean slate. I like the idea of having a much denser track layout and generally more going on...

However, I have just been reading bits about these new DCC or digital controllers. If I were to buy an analog train set, would I be able to use any of it if later on I decided that I wanted to changeover to DCC? Would some of the engines be upgradeable to digital or not? If so, how easy is it to do? Or should I start from day one with a DCC train set? The DCC sets and controllers seem prohibitively expensive to me!

Late last night I came across the Fleischmann kit. This seemed quite impressive. I like the modern-ish diesels and electric trains, and will ultimately go for that era of trains (sorry but it's my age, I don't remember steam trains!), I also like the Continental European trains (German, Swiss, etc). The Fleischmann sets below are different in that one is analog but "upgradeable" to digital, whilst the other is pure new digital stuff :

They are upgradeable in that they are fitted out with a NEM 651 socket for installation of a decoder.

As for my space for the layout, I have an attic in my garage which is 2m wide, and can be up to 5m in length (but more than likely will be much less, ~3m).
A very warm welcome hawkmoth!

How delightful that you should be thinking about N scale and European outline too....where to start, where to start! Firstly higher track density and more realistic gentle curves in a given space are strong advantages of N scale, and 2 metres by 3 metres will be enough space for large and ambitious layout. Add multiple levels or use L-girder construction and you will room for even more.

Regarding European outline, most models are of German and Swiss prototype although there is plenty of stuff for other countries such as Austria in particular and France, Netherlands Italy etc. if you look hard enough. The main manufacturers are Minitrix (or Trix), Fleischmann, Arnold and Roco who all produce (or produced, in the case of Arnold) excellent models in recent years. Kato and Hobbytrain are worth a mention too, and also Lima Minitrain if you can find it! Everything from the latest TGV to the earliest Bavarian steam locomotive is available so don't think stepping down a gauge will in anyway restrict your options!

Flywheels, drive on all axles, directional headlights and very high standards of detail have all been the norm in Europe for quite a while, in advance of British N technologically by years. The UK is now moving in this direction (hoorah) with models from Dapol etc. but the revolution has taken a long time to cross the Channel. The larger European market helped, as did German perfection in engineering.

Regarding DCC, I haven't upgraded to it yet because my new grand layout is still at the planning stage so in terms of DCC boxes and controllers I don't know much. However from the perspective of the locomotives, DCC is very easy and is either plug-and-play (everything in the last 10 years from Minitrix has an NEM socket for example) or a case of soldering in a decoder. And decoders are getting very small now...the newest one from CT-Elektronik is the DCX75 which is only 11 x 7.2 x 1.4 mm ... namely very very small!

Also all European mainland models are designed to comply with European NEM standards (not the NMRA ones which are American and used in the UK too) although the standards are fairly similar e.g. European trains run on Peco track perfectly.

My website Eurofima Prima! is full of European N so if you are in need of a headache I recommend a visit (link below)!

Worth visiting are:

http://www.trix.de/ - for Minitrix N
http://www.roco.co.at/ - for Roco N
http://www.fleischmann.de/ - you know about this one already!
http://www.lemkecollection.de/ - or Hobbytrain N and Kato N
http://www.hornby-deutschland.de/ - for re-releases of Arnold models (they had a massive range, only a very very small amount has been re-released)
http://www.dapol.co.uk/newsn.html - 1:148 instead of 1:160, but revolutionising N gauge in the UK with their customer-focused approach.

http://www.n-club-international.de/messe/start.html - Stuttgart International Meeting 2007 - 500 metres of N scale continuous running double track! About 900 pictures here!
http://www.1zu160.net/ - the 'central' Euro N news website, forum and information source (in German, but the pictures are multi-national)
http://www.spurweite-n.de/ - useful database for info on a model, best used in conjunction with:
http://www.modellbahn-spur-n.de/ - another excellent database, and more up to date

And many more...

Hope some of this is useful to you!

P.S. I nearly forgot the excellent website that inspired me a huge amount - John Whitby's Swiss N layout: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/john.whitby/
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well there you go Gödel! Thanks to all other new posters and welcomers too, I can't say that I am going to be of any use in here (yet), as it is your support I am seeking (obviously)!!!


I guess you are Austrian, Gödel? It was this year I went on a motorbike tour in Switzerland, around the areas of Neuchatel, Bern and Interlaken, taking in some breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps. The motorbike ride was just fantastic, as you can imagine. It was here that I saw the great mountain scenery and the punctual Swiss trains going in and out of never ending tunnels. This has been my inspiration for my train set! It has to be more interesting than landscaping the Waterloo to Southampton line (with all due respect)!!!


I have been to Vienna a couple of times too, and you can see that the trains run very smoothly indeed. I went around Vienna in the trams too, which was good fun.

I agree with everyone's comments about density with N-gauge, this has also been an easy decision to make. But then there seemed to be so much difference between analog and digital, and then again differences between continental and UK or US N-gauge! All very confusing. I just don't want to invest in the wrong thing, as this stuff ain't cheap!

Now, after reading all of your comments, and Gödel's very comprehensive list of links and stuff, this has helped me greatly. I really do appreciate it. I like your comment about "German perfection in engineering" too!!! As a proud British Engineer, this always makes me giggle! I think the difference is that German Engineers are given a higher status (& salary) in their country, whereas in the UK if you say you are an engineer, people wrongly think that you are just a washing machine engineer! So there is little respect over here! With respect to n-gauge, I guess there is no risk in buying German n-gauge trains and sets, like Fleischmann, as you say the attention to detail & technology maturity should be excellent.

Once again thanks for all the links and inspiration, and ultimately helping me decide on the way forward...

cheers
Steve
 

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QUOTE (Edwin @ 27 Nov 2007, 10:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>The Collett is the only one that comes ready fitted with a decoder but all Farish and Dapol locos launched new in the last 18 months or so are DCC ready. Dapol have a 6-pin socket but with Farish you have to solder wires to the PCB which is a little fiddly. Future models from both suppliers are likely to have sockets. Older models (including re-releases in new liveries) will be more difficult to fit with decoders. For more detail please ask here or look at their websites.

For what it is worth, I have just had a decoder fitted to a N gauge Farish jubilee class Trafalgar by messrs Digitrains with no problem.
 

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Hi Hawkmoth,

There has to be a story behind that 'handle'.

Welcome to MRF and happy modelling. I am also an N Gauger and, while I cannot add much to what has already been said I am able to confirm categorically that it is possible to fit decoders into even the smallest N Gauge loco.

I am not as experienced as yourself in electronics, and that's putting it mildly, so I assigned the task to Digitrains who have fitted decoders to 12 locos for me including a tiny Grahame Farish GWR 57XX 0-6-0 pannier tank. It has a CT-Elektronik DCX74 which is 13mm x 9mm x 1.5mm so with the new, even smaller, DCX75 anything should be possible.

Look forward to seeing you around the forum,

Expat.
 
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