Question about current set-up

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by LocoIndy76, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. LocoIndy76

    LocoIndy76 Member

    I'm am REALLY new at this so I hope these aren't stupid questions.

    1) I currently have Bachmann EZ track and i wanted to know if ANY no decoder locomotive will run on it, or only Bachmann? At some point I would like to upgrade to an Atlas Locomotive.

    2)Can I change the "couplers" on the Bachmann's I have now? They are shaped like a G and connect to each other..... I seem to have problems with them staying together, and then have problems getting them "coupled" in the first place. I am interested in the magnetic version instead.

    Thanks for any help you can offer!
  2. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I'm sure you've heard this a thousand time, but there are not stupid questions. Just one caveat to that is that in modeling, you can get a dozen different answers to your question, and each one of them will be correct. Frequently answers depend on the success and personal preference of the individual that answers.

    But in this case, there is one answer, that is yes, you can run any N scale engine on any N scale track. If nothing else, there are standards for track and wheel spacing. And yes, you can replace your couplers. You can go to Micro-Trains web site hereand they have charts as to what type of coupler to order for your engine.
  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I'll answer question #1 since I'm not sure what couplers you are describing in #2. Some who model regularly in N scale might provide better answers.

    Any N scale track will run any locomotive built to run on that gauge track. The track is not the determining factor about decoder-equipped locomotives.

    There are 2 control systems currently in widespread use - DC and DCC.

    DC controls the speed of the locomotive by varying the voltage on the track. The electric motor inside the locomotive is wired directly to the locomotive wheels to pick up the varying voltage. The higher the voltage, the faster a DC electric motor turns, and the faster the locomotive goes. Note that all locomotives that are on the section of track being powered receive the same voltage and polarity. The locomotives proceed at whatever speed that voltage produces (usually different for different locos), all in the same direction. A lot of effort goes into keeping each locomotive in electrically separate sections of track (called blocks) so that the locomotives can be independently controlled.

    With DCC, the throttle and base station provide a series of alternating polarity fixed voltage DC pulses to the track. This provides both the digital commands to the decoders and power for the motor to be passed through the decoders. There is a decoder inside every DCC locomotive, usually with a unique address. With the throttle you select which locomotive you are addressing, and then send commands to that loco. The decoder interprets the commands and adjusts the power to the electric motor accordingly.

    The problems come when you are using DCC controllers with a locomotive that has no decoder, or you are using DC controllers with locomotives that have decoders in them.

    The first case - DCC controller with a locomotive with no decoder - depends on your controller. A few DCC controllers - Digitrax and Bachmann, maybe others - can run a DC locomotive, but usually not very well, and it makes quite a bit of noise. But you cannot let a DC loco sit still on DCC powered track without eventually damaging the motor.

    The second case - DC controller with decoder-equipped loco (apparently the case you are asking about) - really varies with the decoder. Many newer decoders can auto-sense the controller and pass through a DC voltage to the motor. Some require particular configuration variables (CV) to be set instead of auto-sensing. The rest of the decoders cannot handle straight DC, and the magic smoke will disappear out of the decoder when left on DC power. The exception is that quite a few locomotives (I think Atlas does this) have a jumper plug that replaces the decoder and allows the loco to run on DC. Many decoder-equipped locos come with this jumper installed at the factory - the default is DC, not DCC. Read the instructions that come with your loco carefully!

    yours in confusion
  4. LocoIndy76

    LocoIndy76 Member

    Thank you both for the GREAT replies....

    I looked up the webite and that is helpful..

    I KIND of undertood the DC and DCC thing, but now I understand it further. I knew I had a DC set-up, that's why I was asking about Non decoder engines, but it's good to know I could possibly use both if the cirmcumstance were there... I have noted that DCC locomotives are a little more expensive, so I have been looking at the no decoder version since I don't have a DCC set-up.

    Thanks again!:thumb:
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    The only incompatibility between locos (and cars) and track is that some of them won't run on the sharper curves.
    The big plastic couplers are called Rapido couplers because that company first developed them. They released them on the world without patent restrictions so every maker used them. However, they are big and clunky and there aren't any good uncoupling ramps for them.
  6. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    Heres something to think about though, you could always invest in some dcc equipped locos and run them now on dc without any alterations, and when you can finally go to dcc, they will be ready.:thumb:

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