Beginners help with multiple locos

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by MILWFan, Jan 15, 2003.

  1. MILWFan

    MILWFan New Member

    Hello all;

    I've been lurking here for a month or so, lurking in and out of Model Railroad mags for twenty odd years, so I FINALLY decided to buy some N scale locos and rolling stock and get after it once and for all.

    So . . .a basic question, which I hope isn't too stupid. I have a few locos at the moment, Atlas GP35, Lifelike GP 38 and a Lifelike SD7 - another Atlas GP 30 and Lifelike GP38 on the way - then I need to stop for a while! I like to see long trains and I want to run multiple locos, but the ones I have must all draw different amps with different results, as they travel at different speeds with the same throttle setting.

    Will this damage them? How is this typically done?? Any help greatly appreciated!! Thanks.

    Milwaukee Road Fan
  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    Welcome, Fred. Question back atcha - are you using or planning to use DCC? Has a bearing on the answer.
  3. MILWFan

    MILWFan New Member

    I';m considering the MRC prodigy system - but right now my question and situation is much more basic. I'd like to know in a no block system, what is the effect on each engines drive train. I understand block wiring, and will probably make the plunge in to DCC without doing a complete block system.

    But right now, I am using no blocks, just a simple long mainline that I like to see the trains go around on. One train only, not multiple trains. But I'd like to do a consist so I can pull longer ( 30 -40 car) trains. I don't want to damage these locos if one is pushing/pulling faster than the other.

    so i'm just looking for the most basic of info to avoid damage. It seems to me from what I've read that you can adjust the engines response to a certain amperage with DCC so all locos pull the same, correct??

    thanks for any and all info!! :) :)

  4. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    A simple answer would be that each loco will have it's own set of electrical characteristics which are probably different that any other loco that you purchase - whether it is the same loco from the same manufacturer or something completely different. That said, if one loco runs faster at a given throttle setting than another, consisting them will result in either the faster dragging the slower or the faster pushing the slower. The result will be more wear and tear on the faster engine and abnormal performance all around.

    In DCC you can match locos by establishing speed tables for each engine so that they will both perform the same at a given throttle setting. You cannot do this in straight DC.
  5. MILWFan

    MILWFan New Member

    Thanks David - that's the info I was looking for and what I thought. My main concern is avoiding mechanical wear and tear, so I guess I'll have to do some speed trials to try to match the locos up the best that I can, or avoid the consist idea until I go with DCC.

    appreciate the info!! :)

  6. Gavin Miller

    Gavin Miller Member


    I'm with you. I like long trains with several lashed-up locos on the front.

    But I have learned that the only way to do this successfully is to use locos of the same make together. For example, all Katos or all Life Like but not a mix of the two. Kato locos will more closely match each other's speeds (if one is slightly faster, put it on the front so you don't get the "bashing" effect as it is trying to push from behind).

    Caution with the latest Atlas releases. I believe they have responded to market pressure and geared them slower, so Old-Atlas/New-Atlas will also be a problem.

    Here's a pic of four of my Katos (2 x SD45, 2 x C30-7) hauling a long container train over a bridge on our local NTRAK club layout.

    Attached Files:

  7. billk

    billk Active Member

    "Where there's a will, there's a way."

    Keep in mind that model RRers have been running lash-ups, double headers, etc., long before the advent of DCC (and will be long after it's demise).

    There's more than one way to do almost anything. Debating the way is one of the more pointless exercises in existence.
  8. MILWFan

    MILWFan New Member

    Gavin; that is a great looking photo - just the kind of thing I like! Here's another newbie question - the fourth unit is running long hood forward - what do you need to do with the wiring to accomplish this - reverse the polarity I would think?

    Haven't done that type of thing, so is it quite simple on most units? any how to's you can point me to?

    Thank you!
  9. Gavin Miller

    Gavin Miller Member


    The direction of travel on the tracks is determined by the polarity of the rails, not which way the loco happens to be facing.

    Thus you can put two different locos on the track back-to-back, turn up the throttle and both will move in the same direction.

    This can be demonstrated even with just one loco by running it
    along the track (say) "westbound". Then stop. Lift it off the rails and rerail it in the opposite direction. Turn the throttle up. It still runs "westbound". The only way it will reverse direction and run "eastbound" is if you flip the reversing switch on your throttle. EVERY loco you put on the track together will run in the same direction.

    Kind regards
  10. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    This Works...Sometimes

    Fred's question is weather or not he can run multiple units with out the benefits of DCC without causing mechanical/electrical harm to his locos. The question of polarity has already been answered.

    From simply a mechanical standpoint the answer is "Yes and No"
    Locos from different mfgs. have different electrical and gearing characteristics. Weather or not they will operate together is simply a matter of experimentation. Don't see how any harm could come to them.

    The fastest loco at a given voltage would be the lead engine and the second fastest loco at the same voltage would be the second loco in the lash up and so on......

    You will also need to experiment with the actual physical direction in which the locos are placed on the track either short end or long end first. This is due to the "cut" and "pitch" of the gears...ever notice how a loco will run better in one direction then in another?

    By trying different combinations in the lash up...always with the fastest engine as the lead engine one should be able to come up with a combination where all the locos in the the lash up will reasonably operate well together. It won't be perfect but will be usable. You won't gain a lot of "pulling power" as the faster locos will be pulling the slower ones. The "pulling power" won't be multiplied by the number of locos but you will see some slight increase if you can get them fairly evenly matched.

    Hope this helped:)
  11. Gavin Miller

    Gavin Miller Member


    I agree with what you say, however I was specifically answering Fred's above question about the orientation of the locos in a consist.


  12. MILWFan

    MILWFan New Member

    This is why I've been "lurking" here learning, and why I posted the question here. A very helpful group, indeed, without any one upsmanship.

    I definitely appreciate the input, and my question has been answered.

    Muchos Gracias!

  13. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    Eh, let's not be too hasty Fred.

    Eh, let's not be too hasty Fred. I didn't get the chance to put my two cents in.

    I agree with all the above.

    Thank you,

    The Management

    Mark :)
  14. jdh

    jdh Member

    ok, we left out one obvious thing....

    you can have one powered locomotive, and the rest as dummy [non-motored]. A-B type units are commonly sold this way.

    another thing you can try is to wire a resistor into the motor circuit on the faster locomotive to slow it down.

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