HO operation on a car battery.

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Gil Finn, May 12, 2007.

  1. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Am I typing yet??

    Half the time my posts disapppear before I am finished..:confused:


    This week I secured yet an other storage unit for an unrelated use but thought, given it's size, I might have several uses for it.
    The idea is to store boxes and boxes of inventoried and labled trains, yet to be done. Also to shelve some individualy.

    I am thinking since HO is dc that I could put my train table in there and with a deep well marine battery, a regulator and a potenioniter (spelling?) or reosta,t which ever is appropriate, run some trains and some 12 volt camper lifgts.

    So what would I need to regulate the juice and reduce it to HO requirements?

    How many watts, volts and amps does HO engines require?

    An other thing it is that across the road in walking distance is a a puplic access fishing spot.

    I could keep a cooler, tackle and lawn chair in it to fish a bit and mostly kick back and watch the river flow. How 'bout them apples? :mrgreen:

  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Hmmm.... very interesting possibility and very interesting question. Would be cool to do some fishin' and sittin' and also run some trains.

    As for voltage, the 12 or 13 volts of a car battery are right on target. As for wattage, a typical loco pulls less than 1 amp, and 1 amp at 12 volts is 12 watts. I think a 12 watt controller would work just fine. Not sure exactly what type of controller you would need, but a rheostat or potentiometer should work. Just make sure it can handle 12 watts or so.

    Say the loco draws 1/2 amp at 6 volts. This would only be 3 watts of power. 12 watts should be plenty if you are only running 1 train. And a car battery should run a lot of train-hours before it would need to be recharged.

    Any more opinions on this?
  3. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    Gil, this is nothing new to me. I used to live in an RV that had more 12v power taps than it did plug sockets. I had an N scale layout then and ran the whole thing from a 12v power tap. I controlled the power by running it through the speed controller of an old Tyco power pack. I simply disconnected the wires from the power packs transformer from the speed controller and replaced them with the wires from the power tap.
  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Beautiful! Why didn't I think of that? Most of the internals in a simple power pack are there to transform the 120 volt AC into the lower voltage DC needed by the trains. Just gut an old power pack, do away with all the AC conversion parts, and hook the DC in.

    Great thinking!
  5. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    In the early days of HO, this was common. In an old model railroader, I saw an ad for a 110 volt AC motor, which directly drove a 12 volt DC generator to power trains with. This magazine was from about 1950. Seems kinda silly to use electricity to generate electricity, but diodes had not been invented yet and rectifying AC to DC was a bit more of a challenge!

  6. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    It should work out side for G sale as well do you think?
  7. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    You guys just be aware that a 12 volt car battery can deliver several hundred amps, more than enough to destroy your motors, melt your rails and set your table on fire (ever seen a car burn down?). As long as you have a circuit breaker (or fuse) to protect your equipment from short circuits, you'll be OK. Most power packs (not all) cannot deliver more than 2 or 3 amps at the most, and are protected against shorts.

    I'm not saying don't do it! Just protect the equipment... :thumb:
  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Another excellent point. A direct short could "burn the house down":cry:

    Definitely need a fuse or circuit breaker for protection.
  9. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    A 2.5 amp fuse will prevent that.
  10. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    For many years, that was the way DC layouts were powered - car batteries with a "trickle feed" to power them up between operating sessions. If the batteries died during a session, someone would have to go out to their car and bring in their battery to use!!

    No one has done this regularly for like 50-60 years - once reliable DC powerpacks became available, they quickly became preferred to batteries.
  11. woodone

    woodone Member

    Don't forget, you must get the batteries charged, the smell that comes from charging a battery smells like rotton eggs. Then you have the mess to contend with, then there is the corrosion! You must keep the terminal ends clean or you will not get any power. Battery acid everywhere not a good thing!
    Power packs are much simpler and easier to work with.
  12. CBCNSfan

    CBCNSfan Member

    I don't know but I'd use one of those small inverters 100 Watt or so, inverters 12VDC to 120AC, you can get them at any of the big retail stores in the automotive or marine section. Then just use your normal controllers. Seems safer and easier to me.
    [​IMG] Willis
  13. woodone

    woodone Member

    I guess I need to ask why? You still need power to charge the batteries.
    Why would you want to use 12 v to make 110 v?
  14. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I went the inverter route on mine in a way. The layout was hooked up to 1 of two batteries. An inverter also ran off that hookup to power a battery charger that kept the other battery charged. When the first battery ran down, I would disconnect the power leads from it and connect them to the charged battery. The battery charger would then be connected to the battery that needed to be charged. I hardly ever had to plug the charger into a standard outlet.
  15. CBCNSfan

    CBCNSfan Member

    Well if your throttles work from 110volts then you just plug them into the inverter socket and you don't have to modify anything, just use normal controllers like everyone else.
    A point to keep in mind while operating off a battery, a short circuit, if a lead doesn't melt a battery could explode so if you do jury rig something up to run directly off the battery please ensure you have a fuse or circuit breaker protection for yourself and your rig. I have a 1750 Watt inverter in our rig so that on the road we have 110 for appliances. Comes in handy :mrgreen:
    [​IMG] Willis
  16. woodone

    woodone Member

    I had to go back to the original post to see what I had missed.
    You guys are talking about a power source for out in the sticks(RV-storage building or what ever) NO 110 voltage. Batteries would work, but they are very heavy. Sure would not want to have to pack them very far.

    If you can make a invertor that will run off one battery and charge a seperate battery and never have to get to a 110 voltage source, you have got a perpetual motion machine in the works.
  17. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I very nearly did it.8)
  18. budrogers

    budrogers New Member

    Hi Back in the 60's the model railroad club in lowell massachusetts powered there layout with car batteries. I was only 13 at the time so I don't know the specifics on how to do it although it seemed to involve a pair of jumper cables. Bud
  19. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    They turned off our power and water.
  20. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    It was just a thought, if the storage place had power I would live there. It is a cross the street from one of my favorite fishing spots.

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