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Cnverting DCC locos to DC

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Posted by CSX Robert on Thursday, September 23, 2021 2:03 PM

Overmod
Assuming you have a way to modulate control signals onto variable DC in a way a DCC decoder will recognize.

There would be no need to do that.  Most decoders are designed to run on DC. If it has sound, then it's not going be sychronised witht the motion very well, in fact, there's a good chance the loco will start moving before the sound even starts.  If you're a "roundy-round" user (you tend to start a train and just let it run around the layout) that may not be an issue, but if you tend to do much switching, I imagine that would get pretty annoying pretty fast.  If you don't like the sound, remove the decoder or just clip the spoeaker leads.

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, September 23, 2021 2:28 PM

Just a question...are there really that many HO locomotive models that are only sold as DCC/Sound engines, without a "DCC Ready" DC version also being available? Most engines I've seen are available both ways. Yes, maybe the LHS only has the sound version of an engine you want available, or the only version of a now-discontinued engine you've been able to track down is the sound/DCC version etc. but it seems to me most / all engines are made in both versions(?)

Stix
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Posted by CSX Robert on Thursday, September 23, 2021 2:45 PM

wjstix
Just a question...are there really that many HO locomotive models that are only sold as DCC/Sound engines, without a "DCC Ready" DC version also being available?

I don't kow about HO scale.  In N scale sure, most locomotives are available as DCC ready, but not all.  If there's one or more that you want that is only available in DCC and sound, then it's not much consolation that most are available without.

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Posted by woodone on Thursday, September 23, 2021 4:21 PM

I think that running a DCC dual mode decoder with an MRC power pack might run into the power pack delivering a pulse whith modulation voltage. Do not know if that is the case or not, has I have not used an MRC power pack for years. At one point in time with DC, plus whith modulation was a way to make a DC motor start at a lower voltage. With DCC  the decoders see the pulse whith modulation has a signal and responds to that- just an thought.

 

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Posted by jjdamnit on Thursday, September 23, 2021 4:27 PM

Hello All,

gmpullman
The one "sure-fire" way to make your locomotives operate on DC...power is to simply eliminate the decoder altogether.

I completely agree!

However...

As I often quote Albert Einstein,

"Once you open a can of worms the only way to get all the worms back in, is to use a bigger can."

For this "reclamation" you will need:

  • A good set of jewelers screwdrivers
  • Quality soldering iron; along with the appropriate solder and flux,
  • Small gauge wire (30 AWG) color codes to conform to NMRA standards
    • Additional tools would be a "solder sucker" and desoldering wick. These both leave clean soldering pads, especially important for PCBs with holes.

In my experience diesel locomotives are less complex to work on than steam.

An additional plus to this reversion to DC is you can inspect the running gear and electrical components and do any upgrades as necessary to keep them running into the future.

With steam drivetrains, from what I understand, the wheels need to be "quartered" to sync with the side rods. Be aware of this with reassembly after inspection.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

tsd
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Posted by tsd on Friday, September 24, 2021 6:21 AM

Has anyone ever really played with CV's? Mentioned BLI engines and I know they can be turned. CV's to adjust at what voltage the engine starts at for motor, and what volatage will set it to max speed, etc. That way one can get much more range out of it. Sometimes even turning back EMF off can help.

Many who run DC do have DCC or if a lot of BLI engines a DC Master, which would allow CV changes then.

 

As some have said, it is really easy to go DC from a DCC engine (at least BLI). If the 4 pin connector is only being used for motor and not motor and track power, then one can just move the 2 wires for motor over to the other 2 open pins on the same connector and now the motor is connected right to track power. Or worse case, splice into track power. Of course sounds will be off then, but some CV's can be tweaked to help with that, or simply unplug the speaker from the connector. That way the changes are really easy to reverse in the event DCC control is wanted back. I have done this for a couple customers who really wanted just straight DC on some of their BLI engines, and it's always worked out well. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, September 24, 2021 9:25 AM

tsd
As some have said, it is really easy to go DC from a DCC engine (at least BLI). If the 4 pin connector is only being used for motor and not motor and track power, then one can just move the 2 wires for motor over to the other 2 open pins on the same connector and now the motor is connected right to track power.

Where were you when I needed you?

Laugh

-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 Overmod on Friday, September 24, 2021 9:51 AM

jjdamnit
With steam drivetrains, from what I understand, the wheels need to be "quartered" to sync with the side rods. Be aware of this with reassembly after inspection.

Note than on electric models it is important to get all the drivers in the SAME "quarter", but that does not have to be the precise 90 degrees that real steam engines would use.

My advice was, and is, to buy or make a quartering jig, and use that to get consistent angle of quarter between opposite crankpins.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, September 24, 2021 3:46 PM

I had thought that the drivers on one side needed to be lined up pretty much exactly to stop the rod pins from binding.  Whether the left and right sided are quartered isn't relevant at all except for appearance. Real locomotives were quartered to reflect the double acting single driving pistons so maximum torque was available for one driver set or the other if the other was at end of cylinder. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, September 24, 2021 4:31 PM

I have considerable experience running the latest brand new diesels from a number of manufacturers with both plain DC and DCC.  My layout has a DPDT toggle switch to allow power to go to either the MRC Tech 7 (DC) power supply or to the NCE Power Cab.

1.  Rapido specifically states NOT to use certain MRC power supplies because they do not provide the "pure" filtered DC current which is required by today's locos and instead can destroy the decoder.  They are NOT the only manufacturer to recommend against use of older power supplies.  Bowser specifically does NOT recommend use of their DCC/Loksound equipped engines in plain DC mode at all regardless of your power supply (this is partly for loco performance).  It does NOT matter what manufacturer MRC says, if you use those older power supplies you are just ASKING for trouble.  A number of people have trashed their Rapido decoders by doing this, and it's in their instructions as a warning not to do this, so I'm pretty sure they know what they are talking about.  I would not trust one word MRC says on this matter because I've seen the poor plain dc performance of the current Loksound decoders firsthand.  After brief testing, I stopped attempting to use plain DC.

2.  In fact, the MRC 9500 is an older power supply, and while perhaps not as old as the ones specifically mentioned in the Rapido Instructions, I would not use it to run ANY dcc dual mode decoder engine at this late date.  It just is not as good as today's MRC Tech 6 or Tech 7.  My local train store would warn against using it for today's dual mode engines.

At my house I ran plain dc and dual mode engines for awhile, but after seeing and enjoying some of the benefits of full blown dcc operation (mainly I like the cool lighting features) there just came a point where we didn't use plain dc anymore.

My son has one engine left that does not have a decoder yet, and we might just sell it rather than attempt conversion to dcc.

When buying engines, it is now easier (and more cost effective) to just buy the full blown sound and dcc version (at least for the models I am buying).  I did recently purchase two Athearn Genesis plain DC Gevo units, to try, and then when I got the full blown ScaleTrains Gevo units in with the dcc and sound, well for the $70 price difference it became more cost effective to just buy the full blown ScaleTrains dcc/Loksound units (which are much nicer models than the Athearn Genesis versions, just regarding the detailing and see-through screens).

(Realistically I am not going to be able to get the sugar cube speakers, decoder, and get somebody to perform an installation, if I wanted to do that, for less than $70.  Not likely going to happen.)

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, September 24, 2021 5:50 PM

Lastspikemike
I had thought that the drivers on one side needed to be lined up pretty much exactly to stop the rod pins from binding.  Whether the left and right sided are quartered isn't relevant at all except for appearance.

If you thought about this for 15 seconds or so you will realize that it does matter that the angles on the 'off' side have to be consistent with the pins on the 'one' side.  If you only have rods on one side of course it won't matter how the pins line up, but to have rods of fixed length on both sides, both sets of pins must have equal interspacing over 360 degrees of rotation.

Note that 3-cylinder engines have the outside throws at an oblique angle, and some 4-cylinder engines have them opposed.  Very few model engines have scale inside motionwork, and usually rely on the rods to drive all but one of the drivers, so some of the concerns with accurate phasing 'matter' there, too.  If an 'opposed' engine of this kind is at FDC or BDC and there is play, slop, or misalignment, some of the rods may 'try to go the wrong way' when pushed, resulting in a bind.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, September 24, 2021 7:48 PM

Not seeing this at all. But since this thread is about converting DCC locomotives to DC and I have no intention of trying to take apart a model steam locomotive at present it seems appropriate to just ponder this another time. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, September 25, 2021 12:44 AM

Earlier version AHM/Rivarossi steam engines had plastic driver centers (with metal tires) on metal axles.  Eventually, the plastic wheel centers become loose and the drivers slip out of quarter.  The resulting bind will literally stop the loco in its tracks.  Some would try supergluing the plastic drivers onto the metal axles, but that is only a temporary fix. I once rebuilt a Rivarossi 2-8-8-2 with new (oem replacement) drivers...

Even in the model world, quartering absolutely does matter.

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Posted by mfm37 on Saturday, September 25, 2021 9:00 AM

My thought is to dissconnect the motor outputs from the decoder and connect them to the rail connections. This would be relatively simple with a wired connection but plug connected decoders will require some research to get the right two terminals. Once the decoder's motor motor outputs are isolated from rail power there should be no damage to the decoder. This would allow the motor to be controlled by the DC input on the rails. Available sound features would still be available through the decoder.

Martin Myers

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, September 25, 2021 9:35 AM

I am likely to offend people on both sides of this question, but here goes. Everything I am about to say is my opinion, an opinion based on 50 years in the hobby and 25 years of converting DCC locos back to DC. At least a third of my 145 locos came with DCC or DCC with sound.

First, there is no ONE answer on how to do it, all of these "speculative" suggestions only apply to one brand or another, one "era" of DCC evolution, etc. You are not answering the OP's question by providing incomplete "guesses" at how to do this. But this is typical of the Facebook "sound bite" responses these days.

To the OP, I sent you a private message and offered to help. I understand that part of the forum software may not be working for you. But if you want help, let me know.

I am amused by all the wishy washy people in the world who cannot decide if they want DCC or not. No offense intended, I'm just not someone who changes my mind once I have evaluated the facts and made a choice.

Again to the OP, and others. There is no one answer, each brand/version will be different.

But three things are for sure, if you want good DC operation, you need the decoder gone, you need to forget sound, and you need throttles better than 90% of the "power packs" that have ever been made.

If you do want sound, suck it up and get DCC.

I bought BLI/PCM "stealth" locos.......... I have not bought a whole lot of BLI products in total. They have made it clear they don't care about my business, and that is their right.

In most cases until recently, factory lighting boards that are separate from decoders can be retained and rewired for DC. 

But in every case, you must learn the wiring protocol for each brand/model and then understand the requirements for GOOD DC operation.

Kevin, next time you want to back convert a DCC loco, please call me. We will get it done.

And Kevin is right, me, Kevin, Wayne, the OP and other DC operators don't owe any of you an explanation for our choice, and we are tired of being told why we should have made a different choice.

All of you should have made different choices, about era, road name, layout construction, curve radius, purchases of specific brands........  How does that feel?

I think all your layouts need signal systems.......... you think I need DCC and sound, we're even.

I have not been around for a few weeks, getting started on my layout and busy with other things. Maybe you will hear from me again when I feel like sharing my progress.

Or maybe not?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, September 25, 2021 9:48 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

And Kevin is right, me, Kevin, Wayne, the OP and other DC operators don't owe any of you an explanation for our choice, and we are tired of being told why we should have made a different choice.

Well said, Sheldon.  Yes

Rich (a dedicated DCC operator)

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, September 25, 2021 11:46 AM

Sheldon

Thumbs UpBowBowBowBow



Mel


 
My Model Railroad   
http://melvineperry.blogspot.com/
 
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Posted by mikeGTW on Saturday, September 25, 2021 1:08 PM

I'm totally with Sheldon  at home all DC   he says he has aobut 145  engines so I went downstairs  I'm at about 142  some have been converted from DCC those receivers I take to the club and install in anyone's engines that want or need one

Been doing this way too long to change now and would be expensive  

I also use PWM throttles and they work just fine

Here's one of my older ones It's an athearn   and it runs at same speed as any other engine I have

tsd
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Posted by tsd on Monday, September 27, 2021 6:49 AM

Newish to these fourms, but been around working on BLI engines since 2011. Approved/authorized by BLI directly to do so. 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, September 27, 2021 1:55 PM

tsd

Newish to these fourms, but been around working on BLI engines since 2011. Approved/authorized by BLI directly to do so. 

 

First, welcome, second, so why is BLI so arigant about the DC thing? Would it really be that hard to make the factory wiring details available for those who want to make changes? Any kind of changes?

Or, are they so into the RTR mentality this hobby is moving to that they don't want us to work on them? We are too dumb, and they know better what is "good" for us?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, September 27, 2021 2:49 PM

We built a DC layout with three cabs. It is also wired to add a DCC system at some point. The DCC will plug into the same power feed as Cab B. We can easily disconnect Cabs A and C when we wish to run DCC.

Some quite nice old stuff isn't worth the powder to blow it up let alone the cost and labour to add even a motor decoder. We invested in MRC 760 and 780 to power the DC layout.  I've tested running DCC using my MRC Tech 6 and everything works fine.

For my home layout, learning about DC and DCC with the first layout I elected to go DCC. All new locomotives are DCC with sound. Adding sound to older locomotives also isn't worth the cost or labour either so I have 6 TCS decoders on order, four are LL8 plug in type for several Proto 2000 hood diesels. Two,are those small TS1  nine pin which will plug nicely into a Genesis Mikado and I think will plug into a Mehano Santa Fe although of that has an 8 pin I'll either make a harness connector for it or use a LokPikot 5 with 8 pin wired already. I have two LokPilot 5 to install in my C Liners. 

Converting a DCC locomtive back to DC without just fitting a dummy plug seems to be to be  like a lot of work for little advantage, just to avoid buying a MRC Tech 6 for a $100 or so.

Alyth Yard

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tsd
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Posted by tsd on Monday, September 27, 2021 3:32 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 I would not quite say they are against it or anything, but from a production standpoint I imagine it must be easier to just make 1 decoder and install 1 way verses splitting production and such.

Wiring can be different too as some engines I see they use the 4 pin for both power and motor and in others just motor. So I suppose if they just always had the factory use the 2 pin connectors for power, then it would be easy for people to just move 2 wires and be DC only for the motor. I don't have much say with them as to what they do and stuff, though have made some recommendations. I am just greatful that they sell decoders to me for the purpose of putting them in other engines, even non BLI engines for those who really like their decoders. 

 
tsd

Newish to these fourms, but been around working on BLI engines since 2011. Approved/authorized by BLI directly to do so. 

 

 

 

First, welcome, second, so why is BLI so arigant about the DC thing? Would it really be that hard to make the factory wiring details available for those who want to make changes? Any kind of changes?

Or, are they so into the RTR mentality this hobby is moving to that they don't want us to work on them? We are too dumb, and they know better what is "good" for us?

Sheldon

 

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Posted by csxns on Monday, September 27, 2021 4:29 PM

MikeyChris
"dual mode" locos that really don't run well on DC.

Never had problems with dual mode decoders with the MRC 9500 I buy new locos and they all have dual mode decoders because that is the way they come but like I say they run great with my two 9500's.

Russell

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, September 27, 2021 6:25 PM

csxns

 

 
MikeyChris
"dual mode" locos that really don't run well on DC.

 

Never had problems with dual mode decoders with the MRC 9500 I buy new locos and they all have dual mode decoders because that is the way they come but like I say they run great with my two 9500's.

 

 

Do you double head/MU locomotives? Do you do that with locos from different brands? Do you do any switching?

I do all those things with DC, but dual mode decoders are problematic for that in most cases.

The Pulse Width Modulated throttles I use will not even work with most decoders.

I use AristoCraft wireless radio throttles, and almost all my trains are pulled by more than one powered unit, not always the same brand. Yes you can do that with DC.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, September 27, 2021 6:32 PM

Lastspikemike

We built a DC layout with three cabs. It is also wired to add a DCC system at some point. The DCC will plug into the same power feed as Cab B. We can easily disconnect Cabs A and C when we wish to run DCC.

Some quite nice old stuff isn't worth the powder to blow it up let alone the cost and labour to add even a motor decoder. We invested in MRC 760 and 780 to power the DC layout.  I've tested running DCC using my MRC Tech 6 and everything works fine.

For my home layout, learning about DC and DCC with the first layout I elected to go DCC. All new locomotives are DCC with sound. Adding sound to older locomotives also isn't worth the cost or labour either so I have 6 TCS decoders on order, four are LL8 plug in type for several Proto 2000 hood diesels. Two,are those small TS1  nine pin which will plug nicely into a Genesis Mikado and I think will plug into a Mehano Santa Fe although of that has an 8 pin I'll either make a harness connector for it or use a LokPikot 5 with 8 pin wired already. I have two LokPilot 5 to install in my C Liners. 

Converting a DCC locomtive back to DC without just fitting a dummy plug seems to be to be  like a lot of work for little advantage, just to avoid buying a MRC Tech 6 for a $100 or so.

 

You still don't get it. 

Maybe one day someone with a real control system, DC or DCC, will invite you to their layout to participate in an operations session.

Then MAYBE you will get it, maybe not.

But I am not making any effort to explain it to you.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 6:06 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Maybe one day someone with a real control system, DC or DCC, will invite you to their layout to participate in an operations session.

I saw my first example of real layout operations when I was going to college in Nashville in 1985.

Of course, back then, the operation was all DC. It was amazing what could be done with a well thought-out wiring plan and a signalling system. Train control was very straight-forward, and very little actual effort was put into "running the layout" as opposed to operating a railroad.

The layout owner was 100% into operations. Scenery, prototype fidelity, and general atmosphere took a back seat to realistic operation.

Once the trains were running, it all seemed very realistic.

While I have no intention of ever duplicating such operations on my own home layout, it was an eye-opening experience.

-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 richhotrain on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 6:40 AM

SeeYou190
  

I saw my first example of real layout operations when I was going to college in Nashville in 1985.

Of course, back then, the operation was all DC. It was amazing what could be done with a well thought-out wiring plan and a signalling system. Train control was very straight-forward, and very little actual effort was put into "running the layout" as opposed to operating a railroad.

The layout owner was 100% into operations. Scenery, prototype fidelity, and general atmosphere took a back seat to realistic operation.

Once the trains were running, it all seemed very realistic.

While I have no intention of ever duplicating such operations on my own home layout, it was an eye-opening experience.

Speaking for myself, but perhaps for some others as well, "real layout operations" seem fascinating, but I lack the prototype knowledge or the desire to engage in such realism. It just seems too tedious and time consuming to hold my attention.

Rich

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 6:58 AM

richhotrain

 

 
SeeYou190
  

I saw my first example of real layout operations when I was going to college in Nashville in 1985.

Of course, back then, the operation was all DC. It was amazing what could be done with a well thought-out wiring plan and a signalling system. Train control was very straight-forward, and very little actual effort was put into "running the layout" as opposed to operating a railroad.

The layout owner was 100% into operations. Scenery, prototype fidelity, and general atmosphere took a back seat to realistic operation.

Once the trains were running, it all seemed very realistic.

While I have no intention of ever duplicating such operations on my own home layout, it was an eye-opening experience.

 

 

Speaking for myself, but perhaps for some others as well, "real layout operations" seem fascinating, but I lack the prototype knowledge or the desire to engage in such realism. It just seems too tedious and time consuming to hold my attention.

 

Rich

 

Designing, building and setting it up can be tedious to a degree. Well thought out systems are not tedious to operate. 

Just because you you have a control system that makes it easier to simulate prototype operations, does not mean every train movement has to be some big prototype like production.

Some people do get deep into that, others just want create a simple to use system that creates that illusion for the viewer. 

What is tedious is control systems that require too much unnecessary button pushing, like throwing turnouts from a DCC throttle.......

That is why I have one button route control from multiple locations.

That's why my dispatcher does his job, so the engineers need only control the speed and direction of their loco.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 7:32 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Designing, building and setting it up can be tedious to a degree. Well thought out systems are not tedious to operate. 

Just because you you have a control system that makes it easier to simulate prototype operations, does not mean every train movement has to be some big prototype like production.

Some people do get deep into that, others just want create a simple to use system that creates that illusion for the viewer. 

What is tedious is control systems that require too much unnecessary button pushing, like throwing turnouts from a DCC throttle.......

That is why I have one button route control from multiple locations.

That's why my dispatcher does his job, so the engineers need only control the speed and direction of their loco.

Sheldon 

I am a "lone wolf" operator of my layout, and I am not a member of a club.

What I often wonder is, how many lone wolf operators conduct operations, as opposed to mostly just "running trains".

Rich

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 8:08 AM

My guess, based on what I read on this forum, and people I have known, 50/50.

But good control systems are not just about ops sessions, they are about easy, logical control as well. Atlas control switches and power packs do not provide that in DC. 

And DCC does not automatically supply that unless other aspects are well thought out, like turnout control. 

Sheldon

    

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