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So, if I may summarize, Beth, tell Atlas to get off the stick and start delivering stuff.   Their box used to say "the future of O", and they were right. This is the future they have delivered.  Nothing plus nothing equals nothing, as the song says.   No more excuses, If they need to work 16 hours a day seven days a week for a while to get things going DO IT.   I had to do it to make new product delivery dates many times and even if you did and the product was delayed more that couple of weeks people got fired.  And I'm certain I'm not the only one.

@rplst8 posted:

A lithium battery fire burns hotter than the melting point of steel.  I'd recommend a ceramic container.

I hate to help take this post off topic, but just to help out the folks interested in the battery conversation...

There are different types of Lithium batteries. Mainly Lithium Ion batteries are used in phones, laptops, and many EV cars. These batteries are volatile and absolutely can catch fire and burn extremely hot.  Lithium Polymer batteries are another type which is typically found in the Radio Control model hobby. They are extremely power dense, meaning they are light and pack a lot of juice. They are also very flammable. They are known to catch fire if crashed, dropped, overcharged, or mishandled. They tend to explode and throw super hot bits of themselves onto their surroundings setting it ablaze. I know people that have lost homes and cars to LiPo batteries. Less energy dense, but far safer are LiFePo4 or Lithium Phosphate batteries. You can drive a nail straight through a cell and it will not catch fire. These are the types of batteries that I prefer for anything that isn't weight critical (Trains, boats, trolling motors, etc...) because they are safer, but still half the weight/size of a comparable Lead Acid battery.

The most important bit of advice is to make sure you use an approved charger for the type of battery you have. Only charge within the parameters of that battery. For example, charging LiPo batteries at too high a rate, for too long, or on a charger that has malfunction is a recipe for a fire. I've flown LiPos in my RC planes for 20 years and the advice has always been to NEVER leave a LiPo on a charger unattended. Do not turn your back on those things. They have improved over the years but the chemistry and propensity to go into thermal runaway and combust still exists.  Again, LiFePo4 batteries are much more forgiving. I recommend them for Dead Rail over all other types unless you are a seasoned expert and know what you are doing.

Hope that helps someone. Do a little research and don't just assume all Lithium batteries are the same or it could bite you. If anyone wants to discuss further I'm happy to help, just PM me.

Jonathan makes some excellent points re Lithium batteries.

Look, battery technology has come a long way in the past few years...for a myriad of applications, from automobiles to ultralight R/C aircraft intended for indoor (still air) flying.  There are caveats for a lot of commonly used batteries.  Heck, what have we learned along the way about ye olde alkaline batteries and their shortcomings of charging, long-term storage, etc., etc..

The  point of discussing the potential of 'dead rail' in this hobby is to project what current...and future...batteries might do to change the hobby...for the better, hopefully.  I've said it many times, but if you want to see what Lithium batteries have done to revolutionize the R/C industry, go to a full line hobby shop, the R/C counter.  Chat with the folks behind the counter about what's happened...R/C airplanes, cars, ultralights, helicopters, drones, powered boats/ships, sailing vessels, construction equipment, military equipment, robotics.    Ask the folks who favor the Large Scale (typ. G) branch of model railroading most commonly used outdoors...how NOT having to maintain rail condition for electrical continuity has changed their enjoyment of the hobby.

Yes, there are bad stories about batteries in most branches of the R/C hobby industry.  Many of them are borne of bad assumptions, misinformation, ignoring instructions and fine print therein among the users...NOT the manufacturers.  But there are a lot of positive experiences, excitement, enjoyment among those hobbyists who want to learn and be a part of this evolution.

IMHO, to dismiss the possibilities of dead rail and battery power in the future of O scale model railroading would be as embarrassing as some other famous past predictions among 'experts' about technological change/impact that has now become commonplace and necessary in our daily lives...like some guy by the name of Bill Gates in 1989:"We will never make a 32-bit operating system!"...or Ken Olsen, 1977: "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home!"    ( It's easy to find those memorable gaffes in a few key strokes.)

Favorite quote: "There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball.  So we must suffer the screwball gladly", Kingman Brewster  (Former Yale University president, ambassador to Great Britain, et al.

KD

@rplst8 posted:

I guess I'll take your word for it?

Do a little more research. That is not a prismatic type LiFePo4 cell. Which just illustrates my point. Lithium batteries are different and people need to understand what they are dealing with.

Notice that there is no fire or even smoke after the puncture. Do that with a LiPo and everything will be on fire. I've been using all of these different types of batteries for over 20 years and I'm trying to help educate people. How about you?

Last edited by jonnyspeed
@clem k posted:

Is there room for batteries, sound, and smoke in a diesel locomotive.

Absolutely. If it can be done in HO it can be done in O:

If I could get my wish Lionel would make 2R Hi-rail battery powered engines and a new line of 2 Rail Hi-Rail track. That would enable them to run on traditional 3R layouts or 2R layouts. MTH had the right idea with Proto 3/2, but they fell a little short due to a few critical misses in their design. With a little tweaking the MTH Hi-Rail engines would have been able to run on code 148 2R Atlas track but they got the gauge and tread size wrong.  I have a feeling that most 3R modelers stay in 3R because they can get big trains in a smaller space. Not because they love the look of 3R track. Of the prominent 3R modelers that I've spoken with every one of them would rather have 2R track. They don't want to give up Smoke and Sound and they definitely don't want to have to double the min. radius or more to run traditional 2R models. I really think a new line of 2R Hi-rail models, possibly deadrail, would convert a lot of 3R modelers.

Just my 2 cents...

Last edited by jonnyspeed
@jonnyspeed posted:

Absolutely. If it can be done in HO it can be done in O:



If I could get my wish Lionel would make 2R Hi-rail battery powered engines and a new line of 2 Rail Hi-Rail track. That would enable them to run on traditional 3R layouts or 2R layouts. MTH had the right idea with Proto 3/2, but they fell a little short due to a few critical misses in their design. With a little tweaking the MTH Hi-Rail engines would have been able to run on code 148 2R Atlas track but they got the gauge and tread size wrong.  I have a feeling that most 3R modelers stay in 3R because they can get big trains in a smaller space. Not because they love the look of 3R track. Of the prominent 3R modelers that I've spoken with every one of them would rather have 2R track. They don't want to give up Smoke and Sound and they definitely don't want to have to double the min. radius or more to run traditional 2R models. I really think a new line of 2R Hi-rail models, possibly deadrail, would convert a lot of 3R modelers.

Just my 2 cents...

Jonathan, I agree with a lot of what you say. I think a new line of 2R Hi-Rail will possibly get the new to semi-new folks in 3 rail to convert. Someone younger who hasn't been in the hobby a very long time and has yet to amass a large collection and it is also someone who does not have an affinity for running Lionel PW. I do not see the guy who has been in the hobby 20+ years with a large collection of locomotives converting to 2 Rail even if he could run the locomotives in the same curve radius he does in 3 rail. That person just has too much invested in 3 rail to make the switch and I don't blame them. I think it's fairly rare to get a convert from 3 rail. When I did it I had less than 10 locomotives. Most guys that come to 2 rail come from HO. I am just stating what I have seen over the years using this forum as a judge. Maybe I am wrong because there are people out there that do not participate here. However, I do see a possibility that if there was a new line of 2R Hi-Rail maybe some of the more seasoned guys in 3 rail would add a loop of it to their layout.

By the way, I just wanted to mention, when you said that Atlas cancelled the run of the SWs I had a Raritan River SW on pre-order. Recently I did the same thing as you: About 6 weeks ago I saw an Atlas SW (NYC) on eBay go for over $500 so when I saw a 3 rail UP SW for $80 I bought it with the intent of someday converting it to 2 rail. Unfortunately, I read somewhere, possibly on this thread that the parts are no longer available from Atlas. Isn't that wonderful?

This has taken an interesting turn.  I have with me an EarthX LiFePO4 battery, approved by the FAA for aircraft use.  Expensive as all get-out, and I know nothing about it (yet).  It is so light you would think it was empty.  16 amp hours.  A normal 12 amp hour battery will start my aircraft 70 times between charging.

I bet that a tender-size battery of the same type would be the next step.  But at $600 a pop, not yet ripe for model trains.

Reverse loops are handled easily with a Tam Valley juicer.  Four wires, if I remember correctly, and its done.  Totally automatic.  I wired a wye with one  4pdt switch.  Just flip the switch when the engine comes to a stop after clearing the points and your done.  No problem with either one of these nasties.

Are these the problems that are holding down 2 rail sales?

Ed

There are now functioning, successful solid state battery prototypes reportedly made by a few companies (e.g., QuantumScape & Samsung), and only 4 to 5 years away from being mass-produced.  Smaller, lighter, greater charging density, greatly reduced charging time, longer-lasting as dendrite formation is limited or eliminated, less toxic ingredients - it is like the holy grail of batteries.  It will ignite a revolution in everything from laptops and mobile phones to motor vehicles to renewables to the nature of our electric grid; the model train will evolve as well.  It will be an exciting time to be involved in the hobby.

All of which is to say:  Deadrail and RC model trails will become more prevalent, and they will likely run on 2-rail track!

David

@Ed Kelly posted:

Reverse loops are handled easily with a Tam Valley juicer.  Four wires, if I remember correctly, and its done.  Totally automatic.  

I'll have to look into this, thanks for the tip.

I wired a wye with one  4pdt switch.  Just flip the switch when the engine comes to a stop after clearing the points and your done.  No problem with either one of these nasties.

I've read that allowing the engine to come to a halt on dead track, especially with a lengthy train behind it, is not good for the drive train.  I think this is how gears get stripped of their teeth or cracked.

Additionally, this method only works for conventional operation, since at least for DCS locomotives there is no watchdog signal.

Overall, I realize that much of this is solved in some way or another in the 2-rail world and DCC.  My points were for 3-railers looking to convert.  When you add up all those hurdles and the cost, converting from 2-rail to 3-rail is less than likely.

Dead rail does solve a lot of these problems - I totally agree.  However, we need to be careful about trading poor aesthetics of 3-rail for the potential hazards of lithium batteries.  I understand they are getting safer and I'm not against them.  As I've stated in my other posts, I just think on-the-fly charging is a safer, and more convenient, bet than charging off the layout.  That's my only argument.  Not that we should never allow lithium batteries in our homes. Not that dead rail is stupid.  Not that 2-rail is a waste of time or that 3-rail is king.  Just that the tradeoffs should be considered and a safe and practical mass market solution is what eventually wins out.

Part of me wonders if batteries could be avoided entirely with model railroads by using large supercapacitors.  Their biggest drawback is that they don't stay charged very long, however they also charge very quickly.  As far as I know, they don't suffer from the aging side effects that rechargeable batteries do and they aren't as hazardous to recycle.

A locomotive powered by a large supercap or bank of supercaps could recharge on-the-fly on intermittent 2-rail powered sections placed strategically around the layout, with the supercap carrying the load between charging points.  The only drawback is that when the layout powers up, it may take a minute or so for the supercaps to charge to full capacity.  Signaling would all be OTA, hopefully with some standard common to all manufacturers, and dirty track would not be a concern either.

Last edited by rplst8
@Ed Kelly posted:

Reverse loops are handled easily with a Tam Valley juicer.  Four wires, if I remember correctly, and its done.  Totally automatic.  I wired a wye with one  4pdt switch.  Just flip the switch when the engine comes to a stop after clearing the points and your done.  No problem with either one of these nasties.

Are these the problems that are holding down 2 rail sales?

Ed

Only the mythology surrounding such stuff is the contributing factor.  That and the other myths surrounding space and cost.

But sales are probably not really impacted much by anything other that failures to deliver what is advertised in a timely manner combined with very little of broad appeal being offered. How many years are people waiting for announced or advertised items.   It's also a relatively small segment comparatively but also diverse in interests so broad appeal products are challenging. 2 rail is also generally not possessive of a buy everything as it comes onto the market collector mentality.

@Ed Kelly posted:

Reverse loops are handled easily with a Tam Valley juicer.  Four wires, if I remember correctly, and its done.  Totally automatic.  I wired a wye with one  4pdt switch.  Just flip the switch when the engine comes to a stop after clearing the points and your done.  No problem with either one of these nasties.

Are these the problems that are holding down 2 rail sales?

Ed

I have a PSX-AR by DCC Specialties that I used for my turntable. It is the same as the Tam Valley. Just 4 wires. Very easy to hook up and it switched the polarity quickly. Sometimes I would see a slight spark but the locomotive did not slow down due to incorrect polarity.

@mwb posted:

2 rail is also generally not possessive of a buy everything as it comes onto the market collector mentality.

Which begs the question - if Lionel would switch lock, stock, and barrel to 2-rail battery powered units with some form of OTA DCC - wouldn't the "collectors" just continue to buy it anyway?

All Lionel would have to do is offer interchangeable wheel sets (high-rail and scale) and they would instantly broaden their market appeal getting collectors, 3-rail operators, and 2-railers.  For the 3-rail operators they would just need a Legacy to OTA DCC bridge - and that should simplify the electronics package considerably. Obviously, I'm assuming it would continue to support conventional running for those not into command and that collectors mostly just keep them on the shelf.

The primary reason that I am a 3-rail runner is that I can run large engines in a relatively small space.  The minimum curve on both my home and club layouts is O-72.  I can run any 3-rail engine on these curves.  Many, if not most, 3-rail layout builders on the forum run on curves smaller than O-72.

I believe that if 2-rail models were designed to negotiate O-72 curves and had the same detail level as Lionel Legacy or MTH Premier, then the 2-rail segment would take off.  The biggest reason that 2-rail remains a small hobby segment is that the large curves require too much space.  NH Joe

@rplst8 posted:

Which begs the question - if Lionel would switch lock, stock, and barrel to 2-rail battery powered units with some form of OTA DCC - wouldn't the "collectors" just continue to buy it anyway?

I believe they would. It seems to me that "collectors" are buying the brand; the model itself is a secondary consideration. You see this with almost anything: a collector of a certain brand of glassware will buy a piece, whether it's a cup or a serving platter...

Mark in Oregon

Last edited by Strummer

I just don't think battery technology is refined enough to have a dependable train layout unless you want to spend a lot of time on battery maintenance and charging.  Batteries for RC airplanes are finicky, short-lived, and relatively expensive.  I usually settle for Ni-Cd or Ni-MH batteries and accept the higher weight just to get some longevity.  Many don't even want the Protosound 2 battery; they replace it with a BCR.

Also, three rail track with the center rail removed is still gigantic (try it), which may explain why S gauge (usually) offers both hi-rail and scale track and wheelsets.

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