Rock Island Model Rosters

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by rockislandmike, Aug 28, 2002.

  1. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Re: The Rock make a come back?

    Me too, Andy!

    At least it exists on my layout (P2K E8A with Walthers Budd passenger, diner, and baggage cars, and an IHC PS observation car).

    Wish they made a RI dome-observation car. One ran on the QC Rocket. It was named "Big Ben".

    It would be great to have ANY passenger train to Chicago from here. But AMTRAK is cutting back, not adding routes.

    I think either AMTRAK will make it, or routine passenger train travel will be history. None of the major roads want anything to do with passenger travel, and no one has the capital to make a new road, like a new Rock Island Lines.

    Too bad, so sad .....


    Nice photos, switcher and weathering job, Mike!
  2. Wolv33

    Wolv33 Member

    I read somewhere where the Rock cannot possibly make a comeback, because some company that they used to service bought the line's name, and refuses to let it be used.

    That is why the group here in Missouri CANNOT use the Rock's name for the railroad they are reconstructing on the old Rock line from St Louis to Kansas City.


    Made a couple more orders today. One to TrainStop in CA...two Bachmann Plus B23-7 units for Santa Fe-B&Y.

    The other is a second order to Trainworld:

    4 NS Motive Power (2 GP60 NS, 2 GP60 NS Op LifeSaver)
    4 Santa Fe (2 SD45 B&Y, 2 GP50 B&Y)
    4 CB&Q (2 SD45, 2 GP35)

    Mike, I nominated you for a forum mod. LOL! Probably for the fallen flag forum. Though I have no control over the voting.

  3. Wolv33

    Wolv33 Member

    Absent minded me.....sorry.

    Great job on the weathering Mike!

    Where ya gonna put those at? They look like they would be cool in some heavy industrial area.

    Ummm, next time try taking a couple steps back. A couple of the guys over at the former RR-line told me to do that when using a digital camera. It does make a difference. If you get too close the picture comes out blurry or fuzzy.

    Besides, you got just a little of that nicely weathered car in there! I want to see the whole thing, and anything else you have that looks that good!

  4. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    Some people!

    Thanks fo the info wolve. I guess someone doesn't want to be reconized with one of the nations greatest railroads. It's their lost!

  5. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    The two Athearn SW1500's were purchased as is, Andy. The only changes I made was to alter one of the unit's road number (both started out as #947); and then weather the heck out of 'em.

    These two will eventually either work one of the two small switching yards THE ROCK will own, or perhaps a cement factory (I now have three two-bay hoppers for The Rock).

    Wolv, I forgot to send it to you last night, but I put our combined inventories and target rosters together in a spreadsheet. I'll go send it right now.
  6. Wolv33

    Wolv33 Member


    Did you send the file yet? I haven't received it if you did.

    Cancel the Trainworld order...

    I have put up with their shitty (can I say that here?) customer service for the LAST time!

    Not only did the lady on the phone, who was supposed to be helping me out, carry-on 4 different conversations on the phone with other people, while on the phone with me.....I got the email return receipt of my order, and basically they did NOT send me an order# like last time.

    They told me that I could send my money to them, they did not quote me on any shipping costs, other than give me a range to pay extra, they told me that "it was on a first come first serve" basis, and that my order may not even have any items to fill by the time it got to them (money order), and when I asked a question of what Athearn BN units they had in stock, I was told that they "COULD NOT DO A SEARCH ON A ROAD".

    I replied by telling them that they could refund the remaining amount of my last order, and I would take my money elsewhere to a company that had better customer service. To hell with their low prices!!

    So, I am DONE with TrainWorld. This was the most unfriendly and rude company I have had to deal with so far! They need a course on customer service skills too!

    Anyhow, I was just wondering if ANY of you had the same experiences or similar...


    ROCK rolling stock is simple to do, if you ever get stuck. They use one solid color and their logos. You just have to find the data for the cars themselves. There is a HUGE decal lot going on Ebay. I do not remember what it was going for, but I know that when I looked at it Monday, it still had 5 days to go.

    Might want to check that out.

    There was a lot of talk about pooling orders, while we were in the RROnline chat session this evening. TrainChaser is talking about creating a buyers club, so you might want to talk to him about that. To me it would be prudent, since I do not like paying over $80 for an Atlas unit. If we can get our Atlas, Kato, P2K and other expensive items for 50 and 60% off, then I say we should go for it!

    Talk to ya all later.

    Mike, next chat is scheduled for Sunday evening at RROnline. You might want to be there. Its cool to finally interact with other members in realtime.
  7. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    ZEPHYR !!!

    When I got home, my Digitrax Zephyr had arrived and was waiting for me! A good way to end a Friday workday!

    So now I get to investigate the world of DCC ... good thing my two Atlas Master locos (RI GP40 and BN GP38) already have decoders - just got to change the DC plug on the dual decoders.

    So checkiing out DCC operations should keep me busy for awhile....

    - George
  8. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Hey, did I ever mention my LHS had a Digitrax Zephyr set in stock, and has for the last month or so. $260CDN.

    PS - got my 6-bay cylindrical undec today thru ebay. Unfortunately, *NONE* of the extra pieces were in there - no coupler pockets, no bay hatches, no couplers. So, either the eBayer was trying to rip me off, or Atlas just messed up. Could be either, I'll email the seller first I guess.
  9. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member


    Ok ... over all, them good 'ol boys from Georgia have a mighty fine product!

    Hookup was a easy. Just insert the track wire ends (stripped) into their repective holes and screw down the connectors (a small jewelers screwdriver works just fine) for a very secure connection. Plug in the AC power supply (PS315) and you are basicly done (I haven't added a program track nor extra throttles yet).

    I tried DC operation first. The display came up with "00", which is the non-DCC loco address (it actually comes up with the last setting(s) used, which I like! To choose a different loco address, just press the "loco" button, punch in the numbers for the loco address you want, and press "loco" again to select). I had put an Atlas Master GP40 (Rock Island, of course!) with the dual mode decoder still in the "DC" mode on the track. One thing I noticed is that there seems to be less power to the track in this mode vs the Athearn power pack /throttle that I have been using - at full throttle I had much less speed and no headlight from the Atlas loco. For a P2K E8A, I had headlights, but also less power.

    OK ... on to DCC ....

    I opened the hatch (RI locos don't have DBs!), pulled the plug (a small pair of curved needle-nosed pliers worked just fine), re-inserted it for the DCC mode, and popped the hatch back on. Easy as pie, Atlas! Good job on the design!

    OK ... now Atlas Master decoders are set with the loco address as the last two numbers of the road number. I've got #385, so I simply pressed "loco", punched in "85" and pressed "loco" to select. And there I was! Under DCC, I had as much speed as ever. And headlights! My GP40 finally has headlights! At least as bright as a P2K under full power (nowhere near as bright as Kato or Stewart, though). The lighted numberboards looked good, too! And, of course, they are on when the loco is at a stop unless I turn them off by the F0 button.

    The loco was very responsive. And I love the "Break" feature! The loco slows down very phototypically to a stop. This fuction can be adjusted for the level of breaking desired.

    Ok ... I have another decoder equipped loco ... my Atlas Master BN GP38 (You thought I only had RI locos?) ... I quickly converted it to DCC mode like the GP40, selected it's address (#2175, so "75" it is), and now I had control of TWO lcoos. The first thing I did was one of the things I wanted DCC for ... run an MU!

    Setting up the MU was easy! I let the GP40 be the lead loco (as fitting for a RI loco), so set it up to run forwards (to keep it streight as to travel direction, I turned on the front headlights). Now I set up the GP38 to run backwards (back headlights on). I wanted the GP40 to be the controlling address ("TOP"), so I pressed "loco", keyed in "85", pressed "loco" to select (as before), but this time pressed the MU key next. To add the BN to the consist, I then pressed "75" and then "t/+" to add the BN.

    ALL RIGHT !!!

    I had a MU train with lead RI followed by backwards running BN, all under control! The two A-M locos ran very nicely together! I saw no need for the BN to have it's headlights on, so I simply selected the BN ("loco...75...loco") and hit the F0 to turn off the BN lights. Then selected the TOP address ("85") to run the MU. Note that each loco in a MU needs an address, so you can't use one address for the entire MU and have others available for other locos/things.

    One nice feature is that the Z remembers this setup when powered down. So when I wanted to stop (gotta eat SOMETIME!), I was able to shutdown the system, then continue to run the MU after supper!

    Well, it's not much, but it's a start!

    - George
  10. RI541

    RI541 Member


    Bear with me on this as I'mm DCC illiterate, But if you are running a mu lash up and you hit the MU button on the controller this makes both units run at the same speed?

    If this is the point. Then I might have to rethink this DCC and go for it. The big problem is trying to wire the decoders in N-Scale. As most of the locos I have are not DCC ready.
  11. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member


    Have you ever worked with micro electronics? They are a real pain.!:eek: I hate when I have to fix newer Ham Radios for people. Those darn surface mount components are a pain!:( :mad: :eek:

    DCC for N Scale shouldn't be that bad. Is it?
    Andy:confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:
  12. Wolv33

    Wolv33 Member

    I am considering DCC. I was all for DCB til I found out it cannot control the trains like DCC can. If you could integrate the two together, I would be all for it.

    So with the MU capability, I guess that does away with the need for dummy units. I wonder if this would work for Athearns...not the Genesis either. I am talking Blue Box, though I realize there would be conversions to be made.

    90% of my motive power is Blue Box Athearn, and I have been getting one powered for every 4-engine consist. The rest of the consist has been dummies. Perhaps if I got DCC, I could concentrate on getting all powered units and do away with dummy purchasing?


    What do you think? You still have dummies? The only real problem I have with the dummies are that they have to be consisted to run. Each engine should be able to run on its own power, since they won't always be in a helper or MU position. They might be the lead unit sometime.

    Lemme know now, so I can stop buying dummies. LOL!

  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hope it's alright for a non RI guy to respond here. Regarding DCC and dummy units: Really makes no difference, if you didn't need the extra tractive effort with DC, same will apply with DCC. Even with DC you could have used all powered units(up to the current limit of your power pack) DCC does give higher current (5 amp typical, 2.5 with Zephyr) NOTE: The MU function does not make all units run at the same speed. There are speed tables which you can utilize to speed match. Also CF2 (I think) allows you to set the starting voltage. That is, the first click of the throttle can send out whatever voltage you set it for, this does a pretty good job of speed matching, just set all decoders value for CV2 so that the loco starts moving on the first speed step. This is much simpler than messing with all the speed steps, but doesn't give as precise a match. Only you can determine what is good enough.
    Back to dummy units. The Athearn dummys come with plastic wheels and trucks. I have ordered thru my local shop powered trucks in order to get electrical pckup. I will install a sound only decoder in the dummy. There is plenty of room for a couple speakers. Then I can put the dummy in a consist and have sound. The extemely limited space available in powered units makes speaker installation a chore. By using a dummy I can add it to various consists so all have sound for less investment.
    AS George has found, DCC is great, and not as difficult as is often believed. What he hasn't mentioned (yet) is how nice it is to run trains without having to throw block switches. Or, for new layouts, wiring fewer blocks. Have fun!

  14. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Thanks for the input, Gary! You know far more about it than this DCC beginner!

    Shane, as Gary said, if the locos are mis-matched, power-wise, one can (must) program different speeds into the locos to make them match. In my case, however, the GP40 and GP38 Atlas Master locos are reasonably well matched (same loco except for shell, I think), so I was able to simply MU them together. I saw no jumping or hesitation to suggest a problem - the consist ran smoothly.

    Wolv, I only own one dummy (an Athearn P40 AMTRAK). I bought it because I will ALWAYS run the powered P40 with the dummy P40. Except for this case, I planned to always use powered locos MU'd together (will have to resort to the speed modificaiton tricks that Gary told us about I'm sure for some of the consists - like the Atlas GP40 with the Athearn blue box GP38-2 that I want to run together!). They make a wireing decoder harness for the blue box Athearns that I will need to get soon for my P40 and the GP38-2 ... will let you know how well it works!

    Gary has a good idea about using the dummys as sound systems - I had not thought of that use! Might have to re-think the dummy issue!

    I can't comment on block switches - as I have never had them! Except for a case where you wanted to isolate a section of track for a specific purpose, controling trains by controling track always seemed illogical to me.

    Running on DCC is like running the LOCO instead of the track! It's fun and lot's more phototypical to be able to run a loco in any direction I want regardless of what the other locos on the layout are doing. And to conrol my headlights ... and some day soon, I hope ... to control my horn, bells and ditch lights, too!

    Later ... it's late!

    - George
  15. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member


    Wolv - a final thought on dummys.

    Each loco in a MU consist requires a separate address. The Zephyr can have up to 10 addresses. For my planned layout, this is (just!) enough, but for your bigger system you would need more addresses, I think.

    You could accomplish it by going to the Empire Builder or the Chief (and having much more address capability), OR by using more dummies, instead of MU'd powered locos!

    It would depend, I guess, on if you would have certain locos that would ALWAYS run together (like my P40s).

    A thought ......

    - G
  16. Wolv33

    Wolv33 Member

    Thanks Gary and George,

    Don't go getting all upset, but I was actually looking at an Atlas/Lenz set instead.

    I was told I could run 99 different locos with the Atlas Commander. They (Atlas) also recommended LENZ decoders that I could easily install into my Athearns.

    I think you guys have pretty much convinced me that I have ENOUGH dummies. Gonna concentrate on getting the powereds from now on.

    Don't know much about sound either. Although, I could look into the dummies being used for that. I too want the bells and horns, and if they have the actual diesel sound that would be cool too.

    I have already started buying units with directional lighting. My first was the SD60M P2K.

  17. Wolv33

    Wolv33 Member

    Just had an afterthought....

    My diesel repair facility is huge... 9 tracks wide and at least 17 feet long (not counting the MOW yard and facilities)...

    So I am STILL going to need dummies for that area.

    So, I guess I will concentrate on two fronts:

    Operational units
    Diesel Repair units

  18. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Wolv -

    The Digitrax Zephyr can run ANY decoder, to include the Lenz.

    Likewise, the Commander can run Digitrax decoders.

    And both can run Soundtraxx and Atlas decoders (I am running Atlas dual mode decoders with the Z now).

    So you don't need to choose your DCC controller by decoder type. The one exception to this that I've heard of is the MRC Prodigy, which can do certain things ONLY with an MRC decoder!
    This is a good reason to avoid this one!!!

    We are having a "discussion" about Zephyr vs Commander on the Atlas DCC forum - you might want to read some of the comments and/or ask questions there!

    Here is a breakdown of DCC system capabilities:

    Note the number of CABS that can be run for both systems. Also note that the MU capability of the Z has been determined!

    It's getting to the point where choosing between the Zephyr and the Commander is like choosing flavors of ice cream - each person has their favorite, and both are good!

    The only point I will make is that more functions result in more capabilities to control things like various lights, sounds, and other remote objects (like turnouts).


    - George
  19. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    My 2 cents

    I have neen told that the NMRA got together with the model manufactures when DCC was in developement stages. They made a contract that any of the DCC encoders and decorders will work with each other.

    I thought you would like to know. :D

  20. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    George, Just wanted to clarify one thing. All locos in a consist do not need their own address. If you will always run certain locos as a consist, you can simply program the same address in them both (or all). If you want to break up this consist, you would then need to change one of the addresses. Consisting in this way saves address slots, which are in short supply with the Zephyr. If you want to run cab units back to back (or any situation where one of the consisted locos is running normal direction backwards) you can still use same address, just add one to the value in CV29 (I think, I am at work, can't say the CV for sure) This changes the normal direction of travel while leaving all other settings the same.


Share This Page