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Switching from DCC to DC

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Switching from DCC to DC
Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, February 22, 2020 11:11 AM

I have a logging branch on my DCC layout that I am getting ready to make operational. I got a DC Rivarossi Heisler many years ago for the purpose of working this branch. This Heisler will be the only loco working the branch so the thought hit me that it would probably be cheaper if I just wired the branch to run DC rather than buy and install a decoder in the Heisler. I would have to have an interchange section of the layout that could operate in DC or DCC mode. My thought is to have a switch that would flip the bus line on that section between the two different power sources. Since I am a lone wolf operator, at no time would I need to be running both DC and DCC locos in this interchange section simultaneously. I'm not the sharpest guy when it comes to electronics but it seems to me this would work. Does anybody see a downside to this? Would a double pole/double throw switch be what I would want for this?

From a previous layout I have a DC power pack and a tethered throttle that is long enough to reach both ends of the logging branch so I wouldn't need to invest in those. 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, February 22, 2020 11:16 AM

I can run my layout on DC or DCC.  I use the Atlas switches, but I think your DPDT switch is a better way to do it.

Just make sure one is completely off when running the other.  If a DCC loco happens to jump any gaps, the decoder is history.

Mike.

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, February 22, 2020 11:52 AM

I would suggest using a DPDT with center off just to remind you which mode you are using. 
 
I also run dual mode.
 
 
Mel
 
 
 
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Posted by floridaflyer on Saturday, February 22, 2020 12:55 PM

Second Mel's suggestion for a center off DPDT, insures that section is dead until you make a decision which one you want. Other wise the section is always live in one mode or the other and that could cause problems

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Posted by richg1998 on Saturday, February 22, 2020 3:50 PM

Our club use to run only DC for some years.

When we went to DCC, we tried some blocks in DC and some in DCC. Our DC hand made throttles were good for about 2.5 amps. We use to double or triple diesels.

One time someone crossed and we were all gabbing. Smoked the NCE Power Pro Booster. After that, DC at home.

You may never run ionto this at home.

Rich

If you ever fall over in public, pick yourself up and say “sorry it’s been a while since I inhabited a body.” And just walk away.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, February 22, 2020 5:19 PM

mbinsewi
If a DCC loco happens to jump any gaps, the decoder is history.

richg1998
One time someone crossed and we were all gabbing. Smoked the NCE Power Pro Booster.

 

Installing a decoder in the Heistler doesn't look all that complicated — I believe that would be your best option!

 

Three truck:

https://tcsdcc.com/installation/ho-scale/1467

Two truck:

https://tcsdcc.com/installation/ho-scale/1465

I've heard yet more horror stories of "bridging the gap" both with programming tracks and/or DC/DCC combined sections. You really need to have an isolated section as long as the locomotive and be sure of the [electrical] switch settings before crossing over the isolated section.

IMHO, not worth the risk. Get a decoder.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, February 22, 2020 7:36 PM

gmpullman

 

 

I've heard yet more horror stories of "bridging the gap" both with programming tracks and/or DC/DCC combined sections. You really need to have an isolated section as long as the locomotive and be sure of the [electrical] switch settings before crossing over the isolated section.

IMHO, not worth the risk. Get a decoder.

Good Luck, Ed

 

I agree with Ed "bridging the gap" so I drew up a simple fix for someone that would like to do what the OP ask to do.
 
By using a 4PDT toggle one can easily install an isolated section of track to prevent a mishap by an engine crossing a gap between the DC and the DCC operations.
 
Click to enlarge
 
The Isolated section could be the length of a locomotive and protect both systems.  The Isolated section would be dead (no power) in the DC position.
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, February 22, 2020 8:05 PM

I do agree with Ed, he has many tracks, and trains on the layout at once.  Any thing could happen. 

I'm like the OP, just me running trains, and I can run both, but never at the same time, and 2 engines with trains on the layout at once is rare.  I might run a continous main line train, while switching with another, but that is a rare occasion.

Thank you Mel, for showing a way that those of do this, can add some saftey and isolation to what we do.

I like the OP's idea, with his ops., but I haven't looked, as Ed has, as to the install of a decoder in the OP's loco.

I use DC for my complete main line, to test locos for DCC conversions.  Test over, DC unpluged, disconected from the track, and DCC back on.

Mike.

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Posted by davidmurray on Saturday, February 22, 2020 8:36 PM

To the orginal poster:

Would it be possible to have a secion of track, twice the length of a Loco that is gaped and never powered.  Back cars into this section, pull away, back other engine in from the other end, couple and pull away?

No power, no bridging possible.

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by snjroy on Saturday, February 22, 2020 11:15 PM

I installed decoders in two of these engines. The most complicated part is removing the body (there is a hidden screw under the water cap in the back). No need to change the motor - just make sure the decoder is rated at 1 amp stall. You won't regret it - it will give you way more flexibility on the layout if both sections are connected.

Simon

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, February 23, 2020 12:06 AM

I am going to suggest you use a 4PDT toggle. These can be found on eBay for about 10.00.

Wire a DPDT section of the switch so that it switches the transition track.

Then, isloate a 12" section of track on either side of the transition track and wire each with one rail through a section of the 4PDT switch so when the transition track is DCC, the DC section is unpowered, and when the transition track is DC, the DCC section leading to it is unpowered.

This will add an extra layer of safety for you.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Sunday, February 23, 2020 4:32 AM

I used my MRC Tech 6 on my last ISL..The new one will be DC only and my power will be either my Controll Master 2 or my CM20.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


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Posted by gregc on Sunday, February 23, 2020 4:57 AM

i use an NCE PowerCab which plugs into an 6 conductor RJ-12 jack which provide power (~13V) to the PowerCab and track connections.

when i play with a DC locomotive, i plug a simple PWM throttle into the jack.  i disable analog mode, CV 29 bit 2 on my DCC locomotives

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, February 23, 2020 1:29 PM

davidmurray

To the orginal poster:

Would it be possible to have a secion of track, twice the length of a Loco that is gaped and never powered.  Back cars into this section, pull away, back other engine in from the other end, couple and pull away?

No power, no bridging possible.

 

 

I don't think that will work. The logging branch has several switch backs and will take its loads to the interchange yard. It will end up doing a runaround as will the loco making the pickups and setouts. Having a dead section of track would be too limiting.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, February 23, 2020 1:39 PM

OK, if I decide to go with a switchable DC/DCC set up, I understand the dangers if a DCC loco bridges the gap into the section that has been switched to DC. If I have a DCC loco stationary in the switchable section and I then flip the switch to DC, is that going to cause problems or is it only when it passes from a DCC section to a DC section?

I still haven't made a final decision. One reason I am reluctant to install a decoder is my soldering skills are not the best and anytime I go under the hood on a loco there is a real possibility of my ham hands doing some real damage. In another thread I told of a problem I had with a Bachmann Consolidation. I was forced to open up the tender. I thought I had taken care of the problem but in reassembling it, I broke one of the tiny recepticles off the tender that the loco plugs into. I'll probably have to send it back to the manufacturer now to get it repaired. If I ordered a replacement part, I'd still have to solder some very tiny wires onto the terminals of that part. Way beyond my skill level. 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, February 23, 2020 3:45 PM

Has long has that switchable section of track is off, no problem. 

If your going to change to DC ops, why even have a DCC loco on that track?  Keep it on the DCC track, or remove it from the layout.

If you move the DCC loco on to the powered DC track, problems!

Isn't there a "drop in " decoder for your loco?  Have you checked decoder sites like TCS? or even Digitrax?

Is your loco a Spectrum consolidated?

I just looked at Ed's link to the TCS install of a decoder in your Heisler, it doesn't get any easier!  The decoder plugs in.  It probably takes longer to open up the loco than it does to install the decoder.

Mike.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, February 23, 2020 5:18 PM

 A decoder might cost $20. Messing up and crossing the gaps with both Dc and DCC enabled will cause a lot more than $20 in damage.

 Switches, deasd track sections, or completel disconnects will avoid the problem of damaging something, but it's just as easy to install a decoder in the one loco that doesn't have one than make all these changes just to support said loco.

                                        --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, February 23, 2020 6:25 PM

mbinsewi

Has long has that switchable section of track is off, no problem. 

If your going to change to DC ops, why even have a DCC loco on that track?  Keep it on the DCC track, or remove it from the layout.

If you move the DCC loco on to the powered DC track, problems!

Isn't there a "drop in " decoder for your loco?  Have you checked decoder sites like TCS? or even Digitrax?

Is your loco a Spectrum consolidated?

I just looked at Ed's link to the TCS install of a decoder in your Heisler, it doesn't get any easier!  The decoder plugs in.  It probably takes longer to open up the loco than it does to install the decoder.

 

The logging branch interchanges with the mainline so there has to be a section where both the DC and DCC locomotives can operate although not at the same time. Having a dead section of track is not and option since runaround moves will be involved in the interchange. 

The Heisler is an older Rivarossi. They now make that same loco with factory installed decoders or at least DCC ready (plug in decoder option). Mine will require some soldering. I've never been good at soldering and I've had lots of practice. It's one thing to solder a feeder wire to a section of track. It's quite another when it involves sensitive electronics. It's a skill I've just never gotten the hang of and I avoid it whenever I can. Kind of like an air brush. I never learned to use one of those either. 

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, February 23, 2020 7:56 PM

 There's no need to solder directly to the electronics of the decoder. You need one with wires, ni plug ont he end. These are actually the most inexpensive types of decoders. You solder wires (small, but still wires) to wires, not to the electronics. At least for the track input power, the motor output power, and lights front and rear. 

 A full size one might not fit, but they can also be had with a 9 pin plug. As such, you can set the electronic bit aside while soldering the wires, then plug it in. The TCS MC series have disconnectable plugs and are much smaller. The MC2 has a 7 pin plug and socket. You unplug the wiring harness while connecting it to the loco wiring, and then plug the decoder in after it's all done. 

 As it's the older model, it probably has incandescent bulbs for the headlight. You would probably want to replace those with LEDs and resistors, because the hot light bulb will possibly melt the plastic around the headlight housing. That's the most complicated part of the whole thing.

                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, February 23, 2020 8:30 PM

John-NYBW
Having a dead section of track is not and option since runaround moves will be involved in the interchange. 

OK, thanks, I get what your saying about  the Heisler.  I don't understand not having a place for a "dead" track, that can switched either way, gets in the way of a runaround move?  You can't do a runaround move using both DC and DCC at the same time.

Maybe it would help if you could show a track diagram of what your doing.

Going either way with DCC and DC is very doable, but both can't be operating at the same time, UNLESS the DC has seperate power supply, and NO WAY is connected to the DCC power.

The idea is fine. each needs it's own isolated power supply.

My thoughts are, to do this hobby and make things work takes development of some skills.  Soldering is at the top of the list.

I guess I'm not totally understanding the situation.  A track plan would help.

Mike.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, February 24, 2020 5:18 AM

One solution would be a dead "interchange" secation-a 3" snap straight  section will work. All you need to do is shove your interchange cars to the DCC gap. A turnout would be required to have a place to put the inbound cars out of the way so,you can place the outboud cars on the interchange. This is a common interchange setup between short lines and their interchange road(s).

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


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Posted by snjroy on Monday, February 24, 2020 7:02 AM

I always take the baby steps approach. I was in your shoes a few years ago, and my first step at this was to install a toggle switch that TOTALLY alternated the layout between DCC to DC. That worked until I learned how to convert most of my locos to DCC. My soldering skills improved as I practiced. I started on low-cost Mehano steam locos. Now that I am getting pretty good at this, I am gradually removing the decoders from my first installs to more expensive locos. I agree that the bulb is the most complicated part on the heisler . But with the baby-step approach, you don't need to install a new light right away. Early steam engines did not operate with their lamps on during the day anyway...

Simon

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, February 24, 2020 10:10 AM

BRAKIE

One solution would be a dead "interchange" secation-a 3" snap straight  section will work. All you need to do is shove your interchange cars to the DCC gap. A turnout would be required to have a place to put the inbound cars out of the way so,you can place the outboud cars on the interchange. This is a common interchange setup between short lines and their interchange road(s).

 

The operating scheme calls for the Heisler to come out of the switchback branch into the interchange yard leading the cars to be interchanged. The runaround track is part of he interchange yard. The mainline trains making setouts and dropoffs at that interchange will also use that runaround at times. Adding a second runaround to the switchback just isn't feasible. A dead section of track isn't really an option.  

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, February 24, 2020 10:14 AM

mbinsewi

 

 
John-NYBW
Having a dead section of track is not and option since runaround moves will be involved in the interchange. 

 

OK, thanks, I get what your saying about  the Heisler.  I don't understand not having a place for a "dead" track, that can switched either way, gets in the way of a runaround move?  You can't do a runaround move using both DC and DCC at the same time.

 

The point is that both the mainline and branchline have to use the runaround track in the interchange yard. That means I have to have a section of track that can operate in either DC or DCC mode if I choose not to convert the Heisler to DCC. I can't completely isolate the DC section from the rest of the layout. 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, February 24, 2020 10:31 AM

John as far as I can you never said you wanted to run DC and DCC at the same time, yet many seemed concerned that you will manage to do that inspite of a center off DpDT switch.

I'm not sure how that system fails unless you have a loco chugging along on the keep alive power while you switch from DCC to DC.  The other way to do it is with a plugs or connectors.  Have a female connector for the bus and a male connector for each: DC and DCC. 

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, February 24, 2020 12:27 PM

I get what he wants to do, but he has me confused with the runaround track, making it sound like he might be trying to use both at once.

I think Larry's suggestion is trying to address what he wants, using his DCC loco to shove cars on to the DC track so the DC loco can couple to them, or visa-versa.

I'd sure like to see a track diagram of what he has, and what he wants, with the runaround track.

Mike.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 24, 2020 12:29 PM

 He's talking about sharing a track, not switchign the entire layout. ALl it taks is for a metal wheelset to bridge the gap and DC is conencted to DCC in that circumstance. Or either the DCC loco or the DC loco runs past the gap. Having the DPDT set so the interchange track is DC will not prevent a loco or cars being shoved fromt he DCC side into the interchange, or a DC loco or cars being shoved from the DC side into the DCC side.

Not much of a photo, and you have to click on it to actually see it because Photobucket, but here is an install in the old round motor Rivarossi Heisler:

http://www.railroadredux.com/2011/03/adding-dcc-to-a-rivarossi-heisler/

 October 2011 Page 32 of Model Railroad Hobbyist has a more detailed how to on adding DCC to the older models.

                                       --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, February 24, 2020 2:04 PM

rrinker
 He's talking about sharing a track, not switchign the entire layout.

I get that Randy, and then he states he doesn't have room for a shared section, because of a runaround. Confused

Maybe we'll see a track plan for what he wants with the runaround.

Mike.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, February 24, 2020 2:36 PM

John-NYBW

 

 
BRAKIE

One solution would be a dead "interchange" secation-a 3" snap straight  section will work. All you need to do is shove your interchange cars to the DCC gap. A turnout would be required to have a place to put the inbound cars out of the way so,you can place the outboud cars on the interchange. This is a common interchange setup between short lines and their interchange road(s).

 

 

 

The operating scheme calls for the Heisler to come out of the switchback branch into the interchange yard leading the cars to be interchanged. The runaround track is part of he interchange yard. The mainline trains making setouts and dropoffs at that interchange will also use that runaround at times. Adding a second runaround to the switchback just isn't feasible. A dead section of track isn't really an option.  

 

To save headaches I would use a dead section.. Nothing wrong with a push/pull operation.

My Summerset Ry shoves the outbound cars to the NS interchange and places the inbound cars on a side track,then places the outbounds on the NS track for pickup.

We use a former CR caboose on these shoves so the conductor has a place to ride after all its a two mile trip.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Your first mistake may be your last!" Safety First!

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, February 24, 2020 5:15 PM

mbinsewi

I get what he wants to do, but he has me confused with the runaround track, making it sound like he might be trying to use both at once.

I think Larry's suggestion is trying to address what he wants, using his DCC loco to shove cars on to the DC track so the DC loco can couple to them, or visa-versa.

I'd sure like to see a track diagram of what he has, and what he wants, with the runaround track.

Mike.

 

No, they are not both going to use it at once but both need to use it. That means the runaround track has to be able to switch from DC to DCC and back. There's no getting around it. There has to be a section of track that is switchable. A dead section is not going to get rid of that requirement. 

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