Rookie needs advice

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by RoRo, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. RoRo

    RoRo New Member

    Hello everyone ; I'm going to be setting up my niece's 5x10 bench, eventually for two seperate runs. I 'm going to keep any switching, limited to yard entrance/exit, as she is only 5. No DCC, as I don't want to complicate the operation. My problem is the transformer choices. I would like to have 2 seperate controls. Should I go for the MRC [or other manufacturer] with dual controls on 1 unit , or get seperate transfomers ? What would be the minimun power output, that I should be getting? I have a few Athearn engines that will be pulling everything. I would like to keep costs down as mush as possible. I have the standard Bachmann transformer that I plan to use for accessory's only. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. RoRo
  2. JeffGerow

    JeffGerow Member

    Since you "require" two controls -- I'd use two separate power packs (as I did when I was DC). That way, two operators (you and your daughter) could operate without getting in each other's way. Of course, the down side of this is that, since it's DC and you want to operate two trains simultaneously, someone must be switching block control switches (probably you) so one controller is not actually operating both trains.

    While you mention that you're not using DCC for "simplicity" -- I found that DC was (is) far more complex for running multiple trains than DCC. I, too, have a small layout (also 5x10') and I originally ran it with 7 blocks and two DC power packs. Running one train was easy and fun -- the second train added a lot of complexity -- too much for me. When I was by myself, it wasn't too much trouble to keep track of which train was where and switch the controls appropriately -- but when someone else visited and distracted me, I found both trains in the same block quite often. It was especially annoying when a faster train found itself in the slower train's block...

    You did mention "separate" tracks -- if you mean two isolated loops, then the switching problem is non-existent - Pheww!

    [...and DCC will definately cost you more...but it adds the fun of sound, remotely controlled lights and accessories, etc.]

    As far as power, probably even the power pack you have is enough to power an Athern, but if you ever plan on having lights in your passenger cars, or cabooses, you'll want some more capacity. I think the minimum would be 12 Volt-Amps (VA) (that's 12 Watts at 12 Volts, or 1 Amp) which is about what an old Athern engine draws (newer ones draw less). You'll never be sorry if you get a higher capacity pack - 18 VA or even higher. I had used the MRC, I believe, Model 1500, which has a 18 VA output and it served me well for several years before I switched to DCC (and I would NEVER go back). Swap meets are good places to get used transformers at cheap prices -- make sure you check that it, in fact, works; before you take it home.
  3. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

    The MRC Dual pack costs almost as much as an entry-level MRC or Atlas DCC system. If you want to run 2 (or more) trains on the same track definitely go with DCC, especially for a 5-yr-old.

    DCC is definitely simpler in any situation, except running one train at a time.

    If you plan to have 2 separate loops (NOT connected in any way) and run 1 train on each loop, DC will be OK, of course. But I don't think that the "dual" packs would be good if more that one youngster will be running trains. They're OK for one person running 2 trains.

    You and the kiddo have fun. Sounds great! :)
  4. RoRo

    RoRo New Member

    Thanks for the advice. There will be two seperate loops for now, untill I can see that she can handle everything with care. It sounds like dcc is the way to go. I don't know much about dcc, I'll have to spend some time getting acquainted with it's functions.
  5. Jim T

    Jim T Member

    Hi RoRo, I'm pretty new at all this and am building a 4x8 from the book "From Set to Scenery". Anyway, I set it up for DCC with the Digitrax Zepher and love it. I've had several grandkids (ages 4-7) running it with the auxillary throttle and they do great. The nice thing about DCC is that you can set up max speed so no worry about getting things out of control. In fact I let them run the throttle and I am conductor and switchman so we can do switching as well as run trains with no worring about blocks. They love it.

    Cheers, Jim

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