160' run ,power, pulling capacity and grade ....

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by kfh227, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. kfh227

    kfh227 Member

    I guess I am a newbie but I will ask.

    I want to do something simple. I have the opportunity to run a nice setup around a large room (a game room that is the second floor of a boathouse). I figure the run will be a single loop with 160' of track.

    ----- Question on powering the locomotive
    My experience with O scale is my dads old train which is probably a 16' loop. When the engine gets to the tracks farthest from the power source, it always slows down (It a pre-war train). It is very noticeable. I can only imagine what a 160' run would be like.

    So, how can this be overcome at low cost? I was thinking of running some heavy wire like 10-2 or 8-2 along side the track and tapping in every 30 feet or so. This would reduce voltage drop greatly.

    EDIT: I just had the realization(I have a BS in Electrical Engineering ... 10 yeas ago) that all I need is a current source, not a voltage source. So long as the power source keeps the amperage constant, the train should run steadily. A current source is a simple circuit. I could research it and build one if I need to.

    ----- Pulling capacity
    I figure 20 or so cars will be pulled (eventually) due to the size of the track. In terms of locomotives, what should I be concerned with? Do I need multiple engines? Also see my section on grade.

    ----- Grade
    I might end up doing 2 loops around the top. Some sections will run next to each other and some sections will be stacked. So for the stacked sections, what kind of grade can I do? I like the Southern 2-8-4 Berkshire and remember, I expect to do 20 cars. I figure the grade would be 3" over 10' would be the most I would want to do. That is a 3" change over 120" , so this is jsut under a 3 degree grade. Due to the rooms layout, I can toy with the grade a bit. I can remove the grade mostly, but I want to know what is realistically possible.

    ----- Cost
    Can track, an engine, power and controls be done for under $1,000? From my research, I think I can do the track for about $400 (2.50 a foot). I found an engine I like for $280 (Southern 2-8-4 Berkshire). What will the rest of the "stuff" cost?

    ----- Random
    The most fun I am going to have is building a bridge that is about 12' long. I can not wait.
  2. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    tap into your track every 6 to 8 feet, and get the biggest transformer you can afford, MTH makes one thats 400 watts, we have on ant the club works great. and the bigger wire will help.
  3. kfh227

    kfh227 Member

    Is this pretty much standard procedure?
    How come so much wattage is needed?
  4. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I don't know if #8 wire would be required. Sounds like a bit of overkill. I would also suggest running the wire under the benchwork where its out of sight, not along side the rails. Use short feeder wires from the buss wires, through the bench to the rail. My personal thoughts.
  5. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    the longer your track the more power you need. remember that you said that your dads train slow down when its not close to the track that the transformer hooked to?......

    most starter train sets comes with a small transformer, lionel sets comes with an 80 watt transformer. just enough power for the small loop of track that comes with the set, you can add some track and be ok, but a 160 foot is alot.

    if you have 160' of track with an 80 watts with power to just one piece of track. im betting it will creep along on the other side of the room. if you hook up a bigger transformer, like a 275 or 400 watt the same way, it will not slow down as bad if not at all. and by using bigger wire like you said will also let you use more of the power . and if it still slows down at all run your wire beside or under your track and run track power to the track every 8 feet. or even every 10.

    FYI the lionel 80 watt transformers are junk and dont last long in some cases, lionel even recalled a bunch of them.

    at the club we run a 400 watt transformer and run power to the track every 4 feet. and we dont have no where near 160 feet of track yet. maybe 50 or 60 feet on one line. and when we only had 1 track power wire to the track out trains would slow down alot, and we had 400 watts on 60 feet of track.

    another reason you will need a big transformer is you said you want to pull 20 cars. the more cars , the heaver the train , the more power you will need.
  6. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    Hi KFH

    Lot's of question in one post.

    The reason your Dad's layout slowed down was resistance in the track to the voltage. Thus adding feeder wires every 6 to 8 feet will help. Wire size should not exceed 14 gauge. I prefer 16 gauge. Now come the question: Are you every planning on running a Command System on this layout? If so, which one, TMCC (Lionel) or DCS (MTH). If you aren't sure, then wire it in a Star (Home Run) pattern and it will work for both systems. You can refer to this web page for info on it, Proto-Sound 2.0 Official Sitetest

    Grades: In RR we use percentage of grades over angles. 2% is the max that RR use. They prefer less than 1.5%. 3" over 120" length is 2.5% This will require a heavy load on your engine. If your grade goes around a curve it will want to pull the cars off the track.

    Cost: this depends on your wants and what you by. If you are looking at the top of the line MTH or Lionel, the $1,000 won't by your engine.

    Pulling: again many factors to consider. Are you pulling freight or passenger cars with lights? Are they new cars or PW older cars? New cars roll and pull with less force.

    Is there a club or other hobbyist in your area that you can visit with?
  7. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    spanky, correct me if im wrong, but isn't lionel inclines at 5% if spaced like the directions say?

    also.... one way to get away without need as much power is by running Williams engines, they are powerful but dont use that much juice and can pull the world.
  8. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    had a double post
  9. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    :mrgreen: I think your getting the point, you will need additional feeds. That will prevent any type of slow down because of reduction in current along any point in the track.

    Can you do it all for around $1,000 for the track. It may be possible if you use the older Lionel 0-27 type track. I would expect to spend more. There are several choice of track on the market. Before someone taints you I would suggest look at it all and buying the type and style that you like. I will note that some people have noticed a higher level of noise using a track that comes with a plastic base such as MTH Real Trax and Lionel Fast Track.

    A twenty car consist is not very long so the power source is not a large problem. I should know I pull ones that almost touch each other on a track half the size you are going to use. I would consider a 100 Watt or large power source. again there are several good choice from manufactures. I will add one remark in support of the Lionel CW- 80. It is a very, very good transformer and only suffers from some bad units that were produced awhile back. There have been no problems reported on the CW-80 since this time.

    If you want it simple then you don't have to worry about much more. If you want to use a remote control then again I'm not going to point to one over the other. They are both good and each has strong points and weak points. It would be unfair for me to say one is better than the other because it would only point to my company alliance. Lionel Legacy is the newest system out on the market.Welcome to Lionel Model Trains The other system is just as good and Spanky gave you a link for it.

    Grades are fun and people have even pushed the grade to around 5% with no problems, how ever 2% will give you the best results. Will the engine you select pull 20 cars with no problem up a grade? That is a hard one, however there are ways to add weight to any engine to help.

    Now the price of engines range from $100 to over $1,000. A better quality steamer can be bought for around $200-$300. The large more scale/detail engines will be in the range or $1,000 and more. So you have many choice again that should only be based on what you want and like. New cars will cost between $30 and $50 each as an average. Again the price can go higher depending on scale and detail. Just remember certain engines and cars will require a minimum sized curve. Curves are stated as 0-27, 0-31, 0-36, 0-48, 0-60, 0-72. There are other sizes but this should give you the idea that I am trying to point out. Just remember the larger the number the longer the engine and car you should be able to run on your track. For example if the size curve on the bx states you need 0-48 curves then it will not be able to run on curves smaller than that.

    Building the layout is the most fun. Clubs are fine but not the only way to get ideas, though it among the best to make friends and get direct hands on help. There are several books, magazines, forums and take the time to view the several videos post in the many threads. Here is my first layout.

    YouTube - My world

    YouTube - Long Trains

    Have fun and don't let anyone steer you to only one manufacture, take a look at them all and make the choice that you like. However I strongly urge you to consider all options of track and control systems prior to laying you first piece of track.
  10. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    Yes OZZY it is. But he wishes to pull 20 cars. I have a 4 % grade on mine and can't pull more than about 8 passanger cars, but then I am into the curve thing I talked about


  11. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    this is where im going to like about DCS or TMCC, latch up 2 or 3 engines and not worry about grade or curves.
  12. Geno

    Geno Member

    Alot of good information here- I will assume you want to run traditional (semi-scale) trains since you make no mention of scale trains.

    I agree with Spankybird's recommendation with wiring size and pttern- 14-16 ga wire is plenty for the loads we run, and a 'star' pattern (home run wiring) will keep the voltage drop to a minimum, as well as keep you from having to rewire if you go to MTH's DCS or run Lionel's TMCC command control system. I think power feeds every 15-20 will be fine, considering how much track you will have to run.

    I also agree with Ozzy's recommendation to go with a large power source like MTH's Z4000 (380w), Lionel's new ZW (360-720w), or MRC's AH601 (270w). All have dual throttles, and will let you control two blocks of track (the ZW can control up to 4 blocks). The CW-80 is fine for short trains and small layouts, but doesn't even come close to having enough power to push trains around 160' of track, let alone with 2 -5% grades.

  13. kfh227

    kfh227 Member

    a big thanks and more questions/comments

    I just read everything and I am going to go through everything and address all comments in order.

    I forgot to mention, one small thing. This will be an around the room setup that goes at the top of the wall of a game room (2nd floor of a boathouse). The total run is about 160 feet (40x40' or so). I'll get some exact dimensions this weekend.

    The second option is to do a layout that is Anywhere from 4'x8' to 6'x12'. I could go bigger, but I need to see how much space I am dealing with and what will not be so big as to take over the room. A big thank you for the pictures and the videos. I was going to do an n-scale layout but I frankly do not want to deal with derailments so I think I am sold on O gauge.

    Pros and cons of a high track vs a layout are welcome.

    Onto your responses. Having an electrical engineering degree, I'll explain the problem that occurs when the power source is farther away from the engine. It's a phenomenon called voltage droop. Here's information on it:
    Voltage drop - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Anyways, since the consist will be up 8 feet in the air, the wires will not be visible if hidden behind the track. I'd rather buy over sized wire now than thinner wire now and having to just buy the thick stuff later. Also, heavier gauge wire will reduce the need for a higher wattage power source since there is less voltage drop with heavier wire.

    I'll be back ... I have to watch a premier I've waited months to see.
  14. kfh227

    kfh227 Member

  15. kfh227

    kfh227 Member

    Oh, as for controls, I might do 2 tracks around the room .... TBD

    If I were to do an around the room setup, is there any way to disable reverse? Reverse along with people other than myself running the trains will end in derailment. Not a desirable outcome ;)
  16. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    :mrgreen: Tons of questions and just as many plus answers to those questions. I will tackle the short list. There are no rules that prevent the running of scale with semi scale cars or engines. They all work fine together so it is only subject to your likes or dislikes.

    Wire size is again up to you, just so you never go to small going to big will not hurt. I would expect most people running more than a set type layout are well aware from actual operation of voltage drop. I guess we have been there done that so we tend to make sure we give enough feeds along with the correct wire size.

    TMCC/DCS the short answer is yes if the engines are so equipped. I will let others voice their pros and cons about the limits of each system since my experience is primarily with TMCC. However when using a combination of TMCC and MTH engines you will not be able to control more than one MTH in conventionla mode.

    Reverse - yes you can disable it. With TMCC /MTH you can also add a speed control.

    Sound effects - yes you can turn them off.
  17. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    Renovo - I would caution you or anyone from using to large of a wire gauge. DCS transmits an RF single thru the feeder wires as well as line voltage to the track. It has been test that 16 gauge wire is best for maintaining a good RF single with low Standing Wave Form. I have worked on layouts with 14 gauge and I personally use 18 gauge on my layout with out problems.

    You can use lager gauge wire from the transformer to the TIU but from the TIU to the track should be less than 14 gauge.
  18. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    It may be one of those reasons I don't bother with DSC.:mrgreen:
  19. kfh227

    kfh227 Member

    Thank you for all the responses. I probably will skip DCS and TMCC altogether. Just makes for less headaches and since I will not be around always, simplicity will b the best option.

    It's good to hear that reverse and sound can be disabled. Kinda curious about how this is done. On my dads old Lionel, reverse can be disabled on the train itself. Is this still the case? What about sound. Where is that disabled?

    Thank you all. I appreciate all the help I am getting.
  20. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Most engines/tenders have a switch located on them.

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