Engine Speed Matching Advice

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Herc Driver, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I tried looking for this information in The Academy but haven't found it yet...so here's my question...

    I'm interested in correctly matching some of my engines to pull longer trains (approx 20 to 25 cars). What methods do people typically use to accomplish this? This will be on my non-DCC layout using a MRC260 Tech4 powerpack rated at 20 amp total output (23 volts dc/18.5 volts ac). I'll be matching Bachmann Spectrum, Life Like, and Kato diesels. The entire layout is flat...no grades at all. Also, how do you determine how many diesels should be connected to pull a number of cars? I have not weighed each car to know the total weight being pulled yet...but are there some recognized standards or rules of thumb to go by? Any information will be helpful.

  2. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    There is probably a scientific way of doing it, but I put 2 locos on track a couple feet apart. I'll note if the speeds are different, and if so, try another with one of them. Trial and error until you find 2 that run together. Also, some run a different speed backwards, so if you want to hook tail to tail, that doubles the testing necessary.

    If it gets more complicated than that, it's not a simple solution for this simple mind.

    Lynn :confused: :eek:
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thank you. I wasn't sure if there was more to it or not.

    Ah just one more item on the long list of things to do..........
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    With DC, there is really no way to match any two locos. You either have to do it by trial and error (as noted above) or put the faster one in front. I think that is the general rule... it may be the other way around...?

    If you go to DCC, it will (theorietically) be easier to match locos with different gearing and from different maufacturers via "speed tables" and other variables that can be programmed on the decoder.

    As for how many locos should pull a given consist, model trains always have too much horsepower represented. Models generally cannot pull the scale equivalent of the prototype, so we generally have more engines and shorter consists than the real thing. I believe that the ratio in the prototype is about 3/4 to 1 1/2 hp per ton of train, depending on grades, etc.

  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Not only can a model not pull that much load, but most layouts couldn't handle it even if they could. Let's take a typical consist that runs on the BNSF near us, of say one-half mile. In N scale terms, that would be around seventeen feet (actual). Around here, I've seen consists that were much longer, some with as many as seven engines. I'm just guessing at the length, but when the first engine crosses Meeker Blvd, and the gates are still down at Bell Rd., that's well over a mile between the two, or around 65' HO. :eek:
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I think it was CPR that recently upgraded one of their passing sidings out west in the Rockies - they increased the length to over 1.2 miles to accomodate "longer" trains ;) :D


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