With the benefit of Lee Willis’ well written “All I Have Learned About Supersteets” and “Anatomy of a $110 Supersteets 18‐Wheeler” I purchased Superstreets vans and step vans along with some track. Like Dave Allen, my first modification was to add lights using the Evan Designs 1/43 lighting set. The next project was to motorize and light a fire engine. The wheelbase of the step van chassis is just slightly less than that of the Corgi Mack CF fire pumper. The construction of the fire pumper lends itself well to mating it to the step van chassis with only a few minor modifications to both. The Evan Design 1/43 Police Car lighting set with 3 mm LEDs plus 3 additional flashing LEDs were used for the lighting.
I purchased a Y switch that now allowed me to have the fire engine pull out of the fire station and drive “around the block”. I also added a Dream Player Lite from Pricom Design that I set up with a sound file of a Federal Q siren. By removing a center rail joiner from the road at the door of the fire station and running a wire with a pushbutton from the center rail power terminal, I could now have the fire engine exit the station with all lights “ablaze” by pushing a button. Well, everything worked well. But what if: I could back the fire engine into the fire station under its own power; the engine could have a siren as well as horn sound on board; the lights could be turned on before the engine started out of the station; the fire engine needs to stop at the scene of a fire and keep all the lights going full brightness. The answer – command control. After ruling out MTH DCS and Aristocraft/RMT Crest Train Engineer due to component size and availability, I realized that I could use my MRC Prodigy Advance system that was sitting idle after upgrading to MRC Prodigy Advance 2 on the N scale side of the house. I began to look at what was available in O, HO, and even N decoders. Train Control Systems (TCS) has a wired decoder (M-4T) designed for use in trolley’s with a brake light/tail light feature. Digitrax has a wired sound decoder (SDN144PS) that can be customized with sound sets from their website or by developing or modifying your own sound set using their software and hardware interface. The sound volume with the N scale size speaker did not have enough volume. I replaced it with an MRC speaker twice the size with its own baffle. By using the RDC sound project from the Digitrax website as a starting point, I removed some of the sounds that were not appropriate and replaced the bell sound with a siren sound file and the locomotive horn with a truck horn sound file.
The DCC has also allowed me to run multiple vehicles on the same roadway and be able to adjust the speed individually.
The only problem - when the trains run, their sound (and track noise) drown out the fire engine sounds. I’m following the discussions on how to reduce track noise with renewed interest.