Dead rail LC or LC+

Hi all, reading another post in another forum about dead rail trains got me thinking. Since all LC/LC+ locos will run on DC is it possible to create a dead rail LC or LC+ layout. What I am thinking about is a car being towed behind the loco, where the baggage car would normally be. This would have trucks with normal pick up rollers and wires from the outer rails into the car. Inside the car would it be possible to connect those wires to a lithium battery? So instead of those trucks picking up power from the rails they would be putting down 12v from the lithium battery pack inside the car. The LC/LC+ loco could pick up this power in the normal fashion from the conductivity in the rails. Is something like this possible?

Frank Ventura

choochoo@technologynation.us

 

 

... Another dedicated member of the model railroad quality control department. whenever I see quality, I try to control it...

 

Original Post

You do not really want your battery to feed the loco via pickup rollers to the track.  Any other loco on that track with batteries would have them in parallel, and that really is not dead rail.

Yes it would be easy to just send the 2 battery wires from you carrier car to the loco via a fuse and tap into the input power wires.  Removing rollers from the circuit.  OR add a switch so that it is either or.  Similar to how GG-1 with this feature work.  One position is track power, the other position is Pantograph power.  G

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G, it is too bad there is no accessory power connectors that we could plug the battery into like on LGB locomotives. Although tapping into the pick up wiring of the loco isn't too difficult, I'm not sure if I would want to render a fairly new loco to being unservicable by a delaer with such a mod. 

Frank Ventura

choochoo@technologynation.us

 

 

... Another dedicated member of the model railroad quality control department. whenever I see quality, I try to control it...

 

Frank: I've done a number of battery powered locos. Your idea of feeding the battery voltage back down to the track is clever and has merit. It avoids the issue of trying to fit the battery into an engine chassis that is already crowded with electronics. As pointed out, the track you are running on must be entirely free for its whole length of any other power consuming devices to avoid needlessly draining the battery. I have several setups with the battery in a trailing car with power fed to the engine just ahead via a small cable and this works well. Will look very carefully into this new idea.

BOB WALKER posted:

Frank: I've done a number of battery powered locos. Your idea of feeding the battery voltage back down to the track is clever and has merit. It avoids the issue of trying to fit the battery into an engine chassis that is already crowded with electronics. As pointed out, the track you are running on must be entirely free for its whole length of any other power consuming devices to avoid needlessly draining the battery. I have several setups with the battery in a trailing car with power fed to the engine just ahead via a small cable and this works well. Will look very carefully into this new idea.

Doesn't feeding battery power from a trailing car to the track defeat the purpose?   How does that become different that feeding the rails power from a transformer or power supply?   You'll still have reverse loop/wye issues with two-rail.

You'll also still have contact issues with dirty track except the contact problem can be with the locomotive or the battery car.

Rusty

I don't think battery power is ready for O gauge yet.  In its current state of development, it brings its own set of issues.  But I do like the idea of R/C direct to the loco.  Unless you're planning on a fully-automated layout with track sensors, computer-controlled switches, etc., I think having a central command base propagating a signal through the track is a disadvantage.

I know of two companies, LocoLinc and Airwire, that offer fully-featured direct R/C systems.  Although they are designed for battery operation, it should be pretty trivial to get the decoders to work from track power.  If I were going to operate on a complex club layout with tunnels, over & under, closely-spaced yard tracks, multiple blocks, etc., then this is what I would install in my locos.  It would operate just fine alongside TMCC and DCS (except probably more reliable!)

Also, I'm not interested in running my trains with a cell phone.  I like the fact that both of the above-mentioned systems still offer physical controllers.  My $.02.

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

Let's deal with a number of key points.

Currently available batteries are capable of running any size model train if properly implemented.

Feeding battery power back to the track does put you right back with the track to engine continuity issues and may be its biggest drawback.

Operating trains from an iPhone/iPad is a dream and a lot of fun.

Gee guys, it just occurred to me that 3 rail dead rail is a bit of an oxymoron. Think about it, if you're going to go to the trouble of dead railing your engine, what's the point of the third rail?

Big_Boy_4005 posted:

Gee guys, it just occurred to me that 3 rail dead rail is a bit of an oxymoron. Think about it, if you're going to go to the trouble of dead railing your engine, what's the point of the third rail?

Because if it is a 3 Rail engine the two outside wheels are the same circuit.  You need the 3rd rail. G

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BOB WALKER posted:

Frank: I've done a number of battery powered locos. Your idea of feeding the battery voltage back down to the track is clever and has merit. It avoids the issue of trying to fit the battery into an engine chassis that is already crowded with electronics. As pointed out, the track you are running on must be entirely free for its whole length of any other power consuming devices to avoid needlessly draining the battery. I have several setups with the battery in a trailing car with power fed to the engine just ahead via a small cable and this works well. Will look very carefully into this new idea.

So why even use a car, just connect a battery to the track.  But we drift off the Dead rail portion of this. G

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GGG posted:
Big_Boy_4005 posted:

Gee guys, it just occurred to me that 3 rail dead rail is a bit of an oxymoron. Think about it, if you're going to go to the trouble of dead railing your engine, what's the point of the third rail?

Because if it is a 3 Rail engine the two outside wheels are the same circuit.  You need the 3rd rail. G

If you dead rail a 3 rail engine, the center rail loses all meaning. You aren't drawing power from the rails. The battery pack connection bypasses the wheels altogether, and feeds the controller board directly. The rails are dead , so the fact that the wheels are electrically connected makes no difference.

That was my point.

ChooChoo1972 posted:

Hi all, reading another post in another forum about dead rail trains got me thinking. Since all LC/LC+ locos will run on DC is it possible to create a dead rail LC or LC+ layout. What I am thinking about is a car being towed behind the loco, where the baggage car would normally be. This would have trucks with normal pick up rollers and wires from the outer rails into the car. Inside the car would it be possible to connect those wires to a lithium battery? So instead of those trucks picking up power from the rails they would be putting down 12v from the lithium battery pack inside the car. The LC/LC+ loco could pick up this power in the normal fashion from the conductivity in the rails. Is something like this possible?

What you are suggesting here is something short of true dead rail. You would want to apply the battery power directly to the controller board in the engine. Dead rail is really not intended for indoor 3 rail, though it can be done. It was developed for garden layouts where it's difficult to keep the track clean in the weather.  I've even heard of some HO guys using it.

I have a buddy who's into On3. He's decided to dead rail his layout, but he has reverse loops, so it makes a little sense. Part of the exercise is about how he communicates with the engine. He's an electronics wiz and is developing his own system. You don't have those issues, which is why this concept seems a bit off to me. 

BTW, for LC+ you may need 18V, so bigger battery pack. They'd still fit though.

GGG posted:
Big_Boy_4005 posted:

Gee guys, it just occurred to me that 3 rail dead rail is a bit of an oxymoron. Think about it, if you're going to go to the trouble of dead railing your engine, what's the point of the third rail?

Because if it is a 3 Rail engine the two outside wheels are the same circuit.  You need the 3rd rail. G

With dead rail, the rails are not part of the circuit, making a third rail superfluous.  The battery supplies power directly to the control circuitry that runs the motor, lights, etc.

A dead rail locomotive can be run on your kitchen table, floor or sidewalk without any tracks...

Rusty

First step in planning a battery powered LC+ is to measure current drain under various operating conditions to make sure that batteries can handle the drain. Following are readings taken on a Conrail Rectifier #4605 at 12.4VDC which is the nominal voltage of the battery I plan to use.  (Note: The LC+ electronics becomes active at 8.0VDC and appears to run well at 12.0VDC)

Startup prior to controller connection   80ma                                                                                                  After connection to controller               100ma                                                                                                  Bell                                                            110ma                                                                                                  Whistle                                                      135ma                                                                                                  Dispatcher                                         130-150ma                                                                                                  Low speed running                           300-350ma                                                                                                  Medium speed running                 800-1000ma                                                                                                 

These readings are a bit higher than those of my BlueRail locos, but are not enough higher to cause any real problems. Thought those of you who want to try such a project would find this data useful.     Will keep everyone updated. 

Big Boy and Rusty, I realize in a true dead rail you do not even need rails.  Tested plenty of battery operated G on the kitchen floor  BUT please read the original post the op was asking about.  He was going to use his pickup roller to transfer battery power from his battery car to the train.  That means it will go across rails.  In which case for 3R engines, you need the center rail.  I was trying to stay on topic.  That was my context when replying.   G

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GGG posted:

Big Boy and Rusty, I realize in a true dead rail you do not even need rails.  Tested plenty of battery operated G on the kitchen floor  BUT please read the original post the op was asking about.  He was going to use his pickup roller to transfer battery power from his battery car to the train.  That means it will go across rails.  In which case for 3R engines, you need the center rail.  I was trying to stay on topic.  That was my context when replying.   G

Exactly what is the advantage of having a battery car power the rails?

It doesn't do anything to eliminate the issues with dirty track (the BIG advantage of Dead Rail,) loss of contact over switches and crossings or complicated trackwork.  If anything, now there's two potential issues with electrical contact with the track contact by the locomotive and the battery car.

Plus, anything else parked on uninsulated tracks with a load will also draw power from the battery.

Other than as an experiment, I see no advantage to powering the track from a battery car.

Rusty

 

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