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Old 07-07-2011, 01:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I've been studying, reading, and listening to people discuss the options of power in garden railroading and their opinions also but I've never found a place that gives percentages on who uses what type of power and why. So I'd like to conduct my own power poll. Everyone who reads this, please give a brief response. I'd appreciate it.

1. Please tell me what kind of power you use to run your garden railway.

2. And the reason why.

Is it simply power to the rails from a transformer? Battery power? DCC? Something else?

For example: “I use DCC because.............”

Feel free to give as much information as possible.

It seems to me, after 5 or more years of research, that money is one reason why people choose one method over another. Another reason is personal preference. All some people want is one train circling their layout while they sit and relax, while others want to see many trains running at the same time and therefore they need DCC or battery power. I'd just like to hear from as many people as possible before I power my mainlines so I don't make any mistakes as I lay my track. Some methods are cheaper than others but I'd like to keep my options open. FESTUS
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Boiling water (All joking aside, it is very satisfying) I also still have two electric locomotives powered by battery power. I think it is far more trouble-free than track power.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Battery power for all of the reasons Richard gave.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I use battery power. My locos are set up to run on track power or battery. I don't have power on my RR but some folks that I visit have track power and I use their power, others have live steam tracks with no power. Battery power lets me run on more railroads IMO.

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Old 07-07-2011, 03:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Track power :
A: I'm indoors where live steam aint such a hot idea.
B: My engines are small two axle beasties with zero room onboard for batteries and RC controls, and
C: I already had a bunch of powerpacks laying around
Have Fun With Your Trains!
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Old 07-07-2011, 03:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Power source: Alcohol... and not the drinkin' kind (that ain't allowed on the real RR's so it ain't allowed on the CMBY RY).

Why: Because it boils water the same way that real Steam Locomotives did. I would use coal or fuel oil if I could afford that kind of setup. Heck, I'd be using a full 1:1 locomotive if I could afford it!

If all I wanted to do was run trains, just to watch them go, I'd be using battery power, because it would eliminate the hassle of dirty track and the additional pre-setup needed to clean it (it is bad enough to have to walk around knocking twigs and leaves off the ROW and check for track problems when I want to run my Live Steamers! Yeah... I'm lazy!).

I am sure there are those that think the time spent preping a Live Steam Locomotive ("oiling around") and getting steam pressure up is wasted time and would prefer to clean track.

I think I agree with you that cost is the major deciding factor, but I don't think that money is the full measure of "cost"... time, perceived hassle, ego massaging, and nostalgic pleasure are the real measures and there is no direct way to equate those to money spent. The whole hobby is expensive and we spend our money on what seems right to us and claim the "other" methods are bad because we don't want to admit that maybe we are spending too much on a toy.

And then we sometimes change our minds and pick some other power source.
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Old 07-07-2011, 04:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Didn't someone just do this recently?
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Old 07-07-2011, 05:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I did good ole DC track power for years. While quite doable, it required too much maintenance for me. I have converted most of my locos to battery power (don't use the rest).

If you are a collector that has to have one or more of every loco made, battery power is probably cost prohibitive. If you have say, ten or fewer locos that you run on a regular basis, battery power makes all kinds of sense. No setup time other than placing the equipment on the track. After you run, put the loco on the charger so it is ready for the next time. Use Lithium-Ion batteries, and they won't lose their charge between sessions.

Control systems for battery power can give you all of the functions you need, plus more. You can run multiple trains on the same track at the same time (until they collide), MU units, trigger sounds, etc. But if you want to remotely flush the toilet in the caboose and have control over every lamp in the train, you should look into DCC (Sorry Greg. Almost afraid to mention DCC anymore.)

My point is; decide what kind of functions and how you plan to operate your railroad before making a decision on a power/control system. Since you probably don't really know the answer to that until you have played trains outside for awhile, I always suggest you just start off with conventional DC track power and decide later. Yes, you will likely spend more on track than you have to if you later switch to battery power. But a good solid track system is always a good thing.
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Old 07-07-2011, 05:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Track power when I first got into the hobby in 1985. Then switched to all battery in 2006. Never looked back.
Gary Armitstead
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Old 07-07-2011, 08:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Take your pick. I run a bit of everything.

1. Track Power - I run most of my trains on plain old track power because that is what they came with and I can do pretty much everything I want to do with it - plus it is FREE. I did not have to pay for anything extra to make it work. Also it is Obsolete Proof because a 30 year old loco runs just as well on a brand new or a 30 year old power supply. If all I want is to make the loco go forward or reverse and have sounds for chuff, bell and whistle I get that with track power.

2. MTS/DCC - By quantity the next highest number of locos run with LGB's MTS or DCC because a lot of my LGB locos came with factory installed decoders. Best of all I can run those same locos under plain old track power which is what I usually do. Actually the last time I tried to run a couple of decoder equipped locos I had forgotten what their loco ID was and it took a lot of time for me to figure out how to get those locos running. Of course there are newer and fancier DCC systems that have different features but I'm unwilling to spend any money on them. Usually I tend to reserve running MTS/DCC for when I have several friends over who want to run different trains and I can hand each of them a different throttle.

3. Revolution - By quantity this would be next because most of my recent purchases (since LGB went bankrupt) have been Aristo-Craft and the drop-in simplicity and low cost of the Revolutions made it too easy not to try it. Since I cannot run these locos under track power without removing the Revolutions, I tend to only run them with the Revolutions. For me they are the simplest to figure out (other than track power) plus unlike track power I can have power going to multiple locos but control them individually.

4. DCS - By quantity this would be next. This includes my MTH locos because they came from the factory ready to run with DCS and also work with my O Gauge DCS equipment. Here too I often run them under track power but occasionally I bring out the DCS and that is even nicer.

5. Live Steam - Aristo-Craft made it too inexpensive not to try it but I only run it infrequently.

6. Battery - The new Aristo-Craft locos are so easy to switch to battery power that I have a couple of little vacuum cleaner batteries that I occasionally use to run the Aristo locos on someone else's layout. Again infrequently.

Everything is relative and this is not a particularly inexpensive hobby although many folks are happy without spending a lot of money on it and they probably have every bit as much fun as those with huge layouts. In my case it did not cost that much more to add the ability to run pretty much everything on the same layouts as long as the track is set up to run under track power.

For me I let the loco determine the way I will run it. If it is an Aristo-Craft loco I will probably run it with the Revolution (and if taking it somewhere I will bring a boxcar with a battery). If it is a LGB loco I will probably run it with MTS/DCC and or track power. If it is a Bachmann or USAT loco I will probably run it under track power.

This is not always true. Sometimes I have put a decoder into some non-LGB locos and sometimes I have put Revolutions into non-Aristo locos.

Generally I would rather keep a loco the way the factory made it rather than to convert it to something different. I'd rather not do a lot of work to change anything to anything else unless I have a specific need to be filled.

I don't think any system is the best or that any system is bad. They are just different. I have yet to find any system that I would want to change everything over to.

If anything I like the fact that they are not all the same.

I think a lot has to do with how many locos and how many operators. Big layouts with a lot of operators are probably best with battery power. Layouts with a lot of locos may be cost prohibitive to convert to battery unless battery cars are shared.

Most of all I suspect most people tend to have a preference in what they want. They may be well advised to stay with track power until they are sure and then to go with whatever it is that appeals to them. Sometimes advice reflects more what was suitable for the person giving the advice but may not reflect the particulars of the person receiving the advice - no matter how well intended the advice was.

My best advice is to try them all or at least as many as possible. Most likely one will strike your fancy more than the others and that is probably the one for you. Don't rush to make a decison if a lot of money may be spent as the result of that decision. This is a hobby - to be enjoyed at your leisure.

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