I want to add some 2 rail to my layout.  The 2 rail side of the hobby is like crickets for getting started.  I definitely want to have DCC so I am tetherless or not at a control panel. What companies provide proper controls for O gauge?  I can't afford brass, so as I see it Atlas or MTH will be my choice for motive power.  Any others out there?  My initial exploration for track would probably be Right  O Way flex track. Hand laying is NOT an option or of interest. Who makes turnouts?  Any comments, suggestions or thoughts to help clarify the desert of initial start up info will be appreciated.

    

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I would choose the DCC control system based on what your buddies and friends do.    Get a system that someone  you know has so you can ask some of the questions you will have starting up.   Once  you get going it won't matter, but sometimes you need some help getting set up.

All the major systems will run any scale.    It just depends on how many locos you plan to run at one time.   More locos need more amperage.    NCE and Digitrax have basic 5 amps systems which will probably run 3-5 locos simulataneously.    NCE also has a 10 amp system and Digitrax an 8 amp system if you need more.    And if  you still need more, you break the layout into "power districts" similar to blocks in 3 rail but much bigger and you add a booster for each one rated at 5 or 8 or 10 amps etc.    

CVP( EasyDCC) and Lenz also have good systems.    I think MRC is in the business with a DCC system also  now.   I don't know much about it, but the ads seem to imply it is aimed more at smaller operations and maybe rated 3 amps.    I think digitrax has a base system called a Zephyr that is rated at 3 amps also.

After you select the control system, you can pick any "Decoder" from any mfg that you like the price of and that will support the amps the loco draws.    Most newer MTH and Atlas locos draw less than 2 amps and many draw less than one amp under load.

At this point in your two rail adventure, seriously spend some time on the "dead rail forum" .  RC battery is the way to go IMO.

The biggest mistake I made getting into 2 rail was jumping in with a fist full of cash from selling my #1 scale equipment.

Any wired control system can burn up $$$$$ boards with derailments or other shorting events.  Protecting expensive electronics can be an expensive venture in and of it's self.  Shipping locos for  service with burned out electronics can be another adventure. 

Bells, whistles, flashing lights and an array of sounds can be like glitzy girls, attractive but high maintenance.

It took years to sell off my errors.  Take your time.  Hide your check book and cards.  Listen to consumers, not sellers.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

the battery systems certainly sound good, but you do need control boards inside the locos for that too and throttle to communicate with them.

As an aside, with DCC you can use any brand of control board in a loco as long as it is DCC compiant (compatible works but not as well).    So if you do damage a board, you can do a replacement  yourself, you don't have to send it in for a proprietary repair.     And installs are really quite forward.

As for burning up expensive equipment - I have damged or burned up some very cheap decoders, but never a command station or booster or throttle.    And when I screwed up a decoder it was my fault.    I would get antsy and want to test it partially installed and have a bare light wire or some other function and it would hit a hot rail and fry the decoder.   If I had been careful and insulated these or finihsed the install before testing - I don't think I would have damaged or burned up any.

Tom Tee posted:

At this point in your two rail adventure, seriously spend some time on the "dead rail forum" .  RC battery is the way to go IMO.

The biggest mistake I made getting into 2 rail was jumping in with a fist full of cash from selling my #1 scale equipment.

Any wired control system can burn up $$$$$ boards with derailments or other shorting events.  Protecting expensive electronics can be an expensive venture in and of it's self.  Shipping locos for  service with burned out electronics can be another adventure. 

Bells, whistles, flashing lights and an array of sounds can be like glitzy girls, attractive but high maintenance.

It took years to sell off my errors.  Take your time.  Hide your check book and cards.  Listen to consumers, not sellers.

With all respect Tom, I haven't fried a MTH board set myself yet from any derailment. I use Lionel PH180's on the O scale 2 rail and Bridgewerks DC packs with auto blade type 10 amp fuses outback on the G scale.

 So for me, this statement isn't true. I wouldn't consider any of mine is high dollar protection at my house.

I am not against anyone looking towards dead rail. When I went in, it wasn't a good choice for me running big consists for long periods. I heard a lot of posts from other users about how great battery was, who eventually had to replace all their batteries that died off and that was very expensive!

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

LNE Fan … 3rd Rail also produces 2-rail engines occasionally. They're more expensive, but with more prototypically correct details, if you enjoy such things. For several years now, Atlas has had problems bringing their engines to market because of turnover overseas. We're hoping that they get these problems squared away soon.

Concerning the NCE DCC system and components … I started with their basic 5amp system and decoders many, many years ago when DCC was really starting to gain traction in HO. They were really nice and helpful folks to this novice, with a phone call.  

Welcome to 2-rail and DCC … it really is a lot of fun.

I have mostly 3 rail a lot on my layouts but also some 2 rail scale track. Have used Atlas, Gargraves and old Truescale road bed with hand spiked rails. My switching layout I used what I could find of some used Roco track and switches, and Gargraves in the yard this works well with DC. If you are buying the MTH engines with the Proto 2/3 you can buy them with scale 2 rail wheels or with 3 rail wheels; then you can simply take off the center rail pickup flip the switch from 3 to 2 rail and run them on the Gargraves 2 rail turnouts with the high rail wheels. You can also if you get an engine with 3 rail Hi rail wheels buy a replacement wheel set for the diesel engines for 2 rail wheels. The MTH proto 3 engines will run on DC DCC or best with the MTH control system. 

A friend with a large 2 rail layout has been very happy converting several engines to battery powered with a remote control.

Here are some photos of me running 2 rail on a dual gauge club garden railway. The CN engine is Weaver 2 rail brass with Lionel TMCC control system. The CP Steam is 2 rail MTH, the SP diesel 3 rail proto 2/3 with the center pickup rollers removed 1 screw and switch set from 3 to 2 rail and both running with MTH DCS system. The TMCC and MTH DCS I can run from a distance for speed and sounds with hand held remotes.

b1b3IMG_7288IMG_7852IMG_7862

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Do a search on this forum for BPRC (Battery-Powered, Remote-Control).

I've been running BPRC for over 4 years now, 3-rail engines and rolling stock on 2-rail code 148 Micro-Engineering, Atlas, and Signature Switch track/switches.

I started in 3-rail and didn't want to spend the $$$, time, and effort of converting/selling the 3-rail stuff to buy 2-rail stuff.  I did however tear up the old 3-rail layout, replacing it with Mianne benchwork and 2-rail track a year and a half ago.  I'm finally got my track like I wanted it and have been putting down minimum ground cover the past few weeks in hopes of bringing it to some form of life.

No changes to the rolling stock (except Kadee couplers) and removed the rollers on all passenger cars.

The real changes were made to the engines.  Had to remove all the center rollers and electronics except the dc can motors.  Installed a receiver, battery, and other necessary electronics (on/off switch, charging jack, LED lights) in the engines and purchased a couple of transmitters and battery chargers.

They run just as good if not better than before, but the current installs have no sound or smoke (yuck, don't like it anyway).  I've converted MTH, Lionel, Atlas, 3rd Rail, Williams, and Weaver engines to BPRC (close to 20 now).  I have an old Williams/Samhongsa brass N&W Class J 4-8-4 that weighs 14lbs and I never thought a 12v battery would be able to handle it but it runs great.  I get 2 to 2.5 hours of run time and it takes about that long to recharge.  All of my batteries are in the engine or the tenders (steam), but they could also be installed in a trailing boxcar with tether.  I have 2 Williams/Samhongsa USRA 2-8-2 and 2 USRA 4-62 brass engines also converted to BPRC.

One of my best running engines is a MTH RailKing Imperial USRA 0-6-0, excellent slow speed for switching.  Another excellent runner is a Lionel 4-8-2 Mountain.

The only engine I feel needs work on is a new Williams by Bachmann USRA 4-6-2, a bit jerky on startup but I think a washer on the drive shaft/gearing would fix it.

Here's another excellent runner, a Weaver 4-6-0 chassis (thanks Ed Rappe!) sporting a homemade boiler, pulling a 4-car train.  9.6v NiMh battery in the tender, excellent slow startups

DSCN0425DSCN0426

In the 4+ years I have not a one single failure of any electronics.  Batteries are good for hundreds of charging cycles.

Another plus...NO wiring to the layout!  Don't have to clean track if I don't want, don't have to worry about a derailment and shorting out any components (I'm a firm believer that applying 18+ VAC to the rails and running trains that arc and spark, is a sure way to blow up some electronics).  The ONLY issues I have had was when I forgot to throw a turnout the right way causing a derailment, my fault not that of the track or the electronics.

2-rail track can get pricey (especially turnouts) but you pay for what you get.  All 20 or so of my turnouts are Signature Switch and I wouldn't have anything else (even tried to make some myself, failed).

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

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I have bought a fair amount of Atlas 2 rail track. ( more than I will ever use). I have Lima O scale trains to run on it. I'm not sure but guessing it takes 12 pieces to make a circle, I do know but can't remember what I have but I do know it's tighter than what Atlas offers anymore, and I have a full box of it, which I think is enough for two circles. 

My passenger cars if I remember correctly are 21" ( I have 4 of them I believe lol ) I haven't set these up other than a test track, to run the engine. I plan to make a second level in one corner of my layout and put these up there. 

Just an idea for another brand of 2 rail which I believe you could get DCC into.

Bill

Hi Dave, I have converted the Williams 44T to BPRC. Using the RailPro system you get control, sound and radio in a decoder the size of a granola bar. This size battery will run for 2+ hours. RailPro is an hybrid system offering DCC compatibility and full radio control.  You can contact me directly for more details. 

Don

 

I installed a BlueRail receiver (with sound) in a Williams E7 and a Weaver RS3.  Initially the sound comes out of my Ipad, but in the E7 I installed a bluetooth speaker/board I got form Target for $5.  I installed a 1" cube bluetooth speaker board in the RS3.

The E7 had plenty of room, the RS3 was tight but I managed to get everything, including the 9.6v NiMh battery (1"x1"x4"), inside the shell.

Here's some youtube videos I made a while back, not great quality but it'll show you a few things:

https://www.youtube.com/channe...Po5QaYxZH2g/featured

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

LNE Fan,

trying to address your original questions.....

all but one 2 rail O scaler I know that is running DCC is using NCE.  The other fella is using the Digitrax from his HO days.  The NCE 408 non sound decoder seems pretty popular since they handle 4 amps and are easy to set up since they are from the same company that makes the system.  There are so many decoder options for sound that is would take 20 threads to cover all of them.  I can share my experiences if you want to hear them,   There are a couple high end turnout companies (about $100 each) that I understand are great.  Atlas can be found at a discount or on the second market for a good bit less.  They have pros and cons but an awful lot of guys use them.  There is also a number 6 Roco that pops up that are very reasonable but the tie size and spacing is off and it is code 156 not 148 if that matters to you.  Building turnouts is a learning curve but really liberating once you get there.  You are only dealing with a couple dollars of rail and ties so if you you make a wrong cut it isn't yhe end of the world.     As for buring up things in DCC, connecting any of the output leads to a power rail will destroy the decoder in a mini second.  But once they are in, I have had no problems except with some early version MRC 5 amp sound decoders.  All three lost driev power after a few years.   There must have been a time where decoders could be damaged with "derailments"  because I have heard it so many times but I have been in DCC with 30 engines since 2013 and they are darn near prefect.  I have had 100s of derailments (usually operator errors) and a coupke rare occations where a siderod will lock up but it has never hurt a decoder.  I even got one wet one time but dried it off and it still works. There is a circuit breaker board that you can install between the nce and track.  It is very sensative so it protects the decoder.  Also the decoders I have experimented with have internal protection against pulling too many amps thru them and will simply cut out.  But you shouldn't be installing a decoder that isnt sufficient for the engine.

Here's a quick test I did of DCC and battery power last year.  It's an Overland MP15AC chassis with Maxon coreless motor upgrade, Tam Valley DRS1 receiver, Stanton BPS-v4 battery manager, Stanton 2P 850mA battery, Loksound Select HO, TCS Keep Alive and Tang Band 1925s speaker. No tuning of motor slow running yet.  Operated by Digitrax duplex DT402D and Tam Valley DRS1 transmitter. Ignore the backgound hiss, that's from my stupid phone camera.

Overall this is a very nice package imho. I doubt it would fit in a Yoder 44-Tonner, but it did fit in the MP15AC and I think it would fit in an Atlas SW9 with a bit of juggling. It worked great, but in my particular case the radio range wasn't enough inside a brass loco shell. It worked fine in a plastic shell.

I would have stuck with it if I was starting out now, and didn't have a 25-year investment in track-powered DCC that I wanted to run in parallel while making the transition to battery power. Plus I got hooked on ProtoThrottle next but that's another story... 

Pete M

Frying decoders since 1994

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