DCC and Turnouts

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Christopher62, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

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    Hey guys, kind of a newbie here... If you want to wire your layout for DCC operation, do you have to buy special turnouts or can any turnout be made DCC compatible? Thanks gang!
  2. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    A quick Google search on "DCC turnouts" will lead you to some helpful advice. He also offers a list of DCC-friendly turnouts.

    Basically, you want a turnout that has an insulated or power-routing frog, and insulated point rails.
  3. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

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    Thanks for the link... I think... that stuff looks pretty confusing to the layman. So if I bought one of the Atlas Layout packages (The Yardmaster is the one I am thinking of getting) would those turnouts that come with the kit be suitable? Thanks again.
  4. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Yes, the Atlas turnouts are DCC friendly. What you may find is that with that big isolated frog, short-wheelbase locos (like little steam switchers or industrial diesels) or locos that don't have 8-wheel pickup may stall. Then you have to power the frog with a relay, so that it gets power from the correct rail depending on which way it's thrown.
  5. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

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    I will make note of that. Thanks for the input Squid.
  6. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    De nada... :)

    I wouldn't worry about the power routing unless you actually have a problem. I've run DCC on Atlas turnouts without it, and for most new locos, I haven't had any problems.
  7. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

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    Speaking of locos and since you seem to be fairly knowledgeable, are there any modern day loco models (HO scale) that would navigate an 18" curve?
  8. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Sure. Pretty much all the 4-axle power will do 18" radius no problem. 6-axles will do it, but they're much happier on 22" or larger.
  9. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

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    Good to know! Now would those 4-and-6-axle locos be representative of locomotives that would be found on railroads today?
  10. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

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    Yes, see the pic from a GP38-2 Canadian National I took a few months ago.

    [​IMG]
  11. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

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    I have used powered frogs all my life, both with DC and DCC and have never had a problem. Since I use some small steamers that are notoriously fuzzy about power pick up, a powered frog eliminates one source of the problem. The same would apply for the smaller diesels.
  12. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Chris,

    While there hasn't been any new 4-axle power built in the last 10-15 years, there's still lots of them on the road. The two roads you likely see most often where you live are CSX and NS. CSX still has lots of 4-axle units in service from GM (GP38-2, GP40-2, , GP60) and GE (B30-7, B36-7, B40-8), and NS has a similar collecton of EMDs. CN has pretty much done away will most of its mainline 4-axle power in favour of the SD70/75 and the big GE's. They still use GP9's and GP38s for branchline, local and yard service though.

    Lots of smaller railroads have exclusively 4-axle power. In your neck of the woods both the Ann Arbor and Tuscola and Saginaw Bay run 4-axle power. A little further afield you'll find a bunch of RailAmerica shortlines doing the same.
  13. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

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    Squidbait....There are several (many, I think) who have this encyclopedic knowledge of the ins & outs of locomotive history...past & present, right down to where some of these "relics" from the past can still be found. :eek:

    Where do you guys get all this stuff..?? :oops:
  14. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Gus,

    I've been a train geek since I was about 4. I obsessed over trains as a kid, picked up (and kept) every MR and RMC I could find. I started reading Trains as a teenager (and although girls diminished my interest in trains through my teens, they didn't kill it entirely ;) ).

    I'm also an information junkie. I read. A lot. I've got books and mags up the wazoo, and I'd just as soon surf the web and learn things than watch TV. Add to that that I'm an academic by nature and practice, and I become a train/railroad info-geek extraordinaire!
  15. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

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    That would do it...!!! :thumb:
  16. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

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    Thanks guys for the cogent replies. The reason I’m asking about the locos is that I’m trapped on the horns of a dilemma… I’m trying to get back into the hobby after a 30-year hiatus. I just want to start with one of the basic HO scale 8x4 layouts - one of the Atlas Kits – so as not to get overwhelmed. I want my railroad to be representative of modern times. However it pains me knowing that I cannot run the longer (modern) locos on a layout of that size due to the turning radii. As such I am trying to determine what prototype locos would still be found in operation today whose model counterpart could negotiate the smaller scale turns.

    On top of that I am researching what locos would be found where? To wit: If I wanted my railroad set in Maine, would I ever see a BNSF or UP locomotive there? Or a NS out west?

    Dang all these decisions! This is probably why I have been researching and reading magazines and surfing the ‘Net for two years but have yet to buy even a piece of track! LOL!
  17. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Christopher,

    If you've got the space, don't fall into the trap of the 4x8. It's common, it's popular, it's easy, but it's dated and limiting.

    All the kit does is package your purchases in one box. If you go with a "better" (my definition of "better" not necessarily yours) track plan, say from a Model Railroader projects book, you'll still get a shopping list of the track you need, which you can pick up at the LHS or order online.

    If you've got a little more room, a modular, or around-the-walls plan like the HOG will give you broader curves to run larger locos (although you'll be surprised how much space they take up!), and will give you more room for scenery and trains... rather than having everything jammed into 4x8 feet.

    If 4x8 is all you've got, and you really like the big power and long trains, maybe you should consider going N-scale.

    As far as roadnames - nowadays with leasing, power-sharing and equalization miles, you can see just about any railroad's units anywhere in North America... also, the old saw "It's my railroad, I'll run what I want" applies.
  18. Christopher62

    Christopher62 Member

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    Thanks Squid. You've given me lots to think about. I will take it under advisement.