Power Pack question

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by foulrift, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

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    Hi everyone-
    A quick question-I am going to need to be replacing my 30+ year old power pack and would like some recommendations? I am wired for DC (no plans for DCC).I don't need a lot of features except for possibly momentum control.I not really familiar any of the manufactures except for MRC . I only need to run one loco on a small layout so I'd like to know what you guys are using. Thanks- Bob :thumb:
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    I think general consensus would be with you... for DC powerpacks, you really can't go wrong with MRC.

    They have a variety of models - including ones with momentum. How realistic/useful it is to you may require a "test drive" at your local hobby shop. ;)

    Andrew
  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    one loco on a small layout - Any MRC pack should suit you fine. I have a TechII railpower 1400 and it works great for a small layout. You may pick up a used one cheap from ebay or a train show, as many modelers upgrade to DCC. I do wish I had walkaround control, and when I eventually go DCC, I will probably go that route.

    Kevin
  4. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

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    I have the MRC "Sound & Power" power pack.
    Its about fifteen years old and was made at around the dawn of bringing sounds to layouts. The steam sound is kinda cool, but the diesel can be annoying. And the horn is run by a slider, so its more generic "blast" than anything. If you had a big bass speaker, I'm sure its ok,(I had mine hooked up to some enclosed "Rear deck" car speakers...wasn't bad).
    It can run my mid-sized layout(no plans for DCC yet), but I do want to upgrade to MRC's "Control Master 20". Kinda hard to switch industries with a central control area. Though it is good excersize running back and forth to the throttle after spotting cars.

    Any way, an MRC Tech 4, is what you might be looking for, and is perfect for a small layout.
  5. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

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    Thanks for the replies guys.Now at least I know which direction to head in. Thanks again-Bob
  6. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    MRC definitely makes some solid packs, and the Tech IV's are very good. Either the 260 or 280 will give you solid control with momentum.

    You didn't say what your budget is, but if you're just looking for a basic, inexpensive pack, the Railpower 1300 or 1370 will work well for you, and the Spectrum Magnum power packs are very good too, and you can pick them up for $20 or so on EBay.

    Looking through the Walthers catalog, there's some other interesting choices... like the 2A Crest ProTech Ultra for $20.
  7. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

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    When I'm running DC I use a MRC Tech4 280.
  8. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

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    Thanks again for the replies. Budget is a little tight right right now but I think I may be able to start saving for a power pack.
  9. ZeldaTheSwordsman

    ZeldaTheSwordsman Thomas Modeler

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    I use a simple Bachmann pack. It's just barely small enough to fit in my pants pocket.
  10. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Do we really want to know why you go around with a power pack in your pants? :p sign1
    Is that a throttle in your pocket, or are you just happy to be on The Gauge? :lol:
  11. ZeldaTheSwordsman

    ZeldaTheSwordsman Thomas Modeler

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    sign1sign1:p:p:lol::lol::p:p
    I don't walk around with it in my pocket all the time. I was just saying that that's how small it is.
  12. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Zelda, is this the pack you're talking about? It's the one Bachmann includes with most of their train sets these days. It's OK, but it's only got .7 amps output. For $40, it's a bit on the cheezy side (IMHO)

    If you're buying new, for less money you could get the MRC Railpower 1300 (.8A) for $35, or the Railpower 1370 (1.2A) is on sale for the same price.
  13. foulrift

    foulrift Bob

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    Thanks again for the replies. A throttle in my pocket? Hmmmmmmmm!!! Not my cup of tea. Bob
  14. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

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    It's really quite easy and cheap to get walk-around control in DC. I built a very simple transistor throttle in a hand-held housing for $7 worth of parts (at Radio Shark prices), added a coiled telephone handset line with a 4 pole plug, and connected the layout-mounted receptacle to a train set power pack turned to full-on.

    http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/Throttles.html and http://www.awrr.com/throttle.html have simple throttle circuits you can easily build. My circuit came from an MR article in the '70s using a single Darlington transistor for output. I used a Radio Shark plastic project case with aluminum bottom that measured about 3.5" by 1.5" by 1.5". Mounted the throttle pot and direction toggle on top. Mounted the Darlington transistor to the aluminum bottom plate for the case as a heat sink.

    Even today at Radio Shark prices, what I did would cost less than $20 total. I enjoy being able to be beside the train, even on a 4x6 layout. And it helps immeasurably to be very close to the spot for trouble-shooting.

    hope this helps
  15. ZeldaTheSwordsman

    ZeldaTheSwordsman Thomas Modeler

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    This is the one I mean. Today, it comes in black with a red controller as opposed to brown with a beige one.
    [​IMG]
  16. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    Ah. You'll find that the more you use that one, the less fine control you have over loco speed. Especially once you get a few really fine-drive locos, like Genesis, Atlas, P2K... Basically there's not much output with those between 0 and 1-2 volts.

    Actually, you might not be able to creep your locos now, since that's just a straight DC output, and the MRC packs are all (I believe) pulsed DC, which gives you smoother, finer control over loco speed.
  17. ZeldaTheSwordsman

    ZeldaTheSwordsman Thomas Modeler

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    It works just fine for me. I've been able to make Henry creep along just fine. The only problem's I've had were on dirty track, although it worked better than my train set pack in those situations.
  18. brakie

    brakie Active Member

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    Actually for small layouts using one locomotive of any brand those Bachmann power packs isn't that bad.

    Some times we forget our basic knowledge of such things.
  19. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    I have 3 of them. I can't use them for switching with my N scale locos, since they just leap away as soon as I crack the throttle. Same with my Katos and Atlas in HO. It's OK with my Atlas S2/S4, since the things weigh so much, it takes a bit to get them going, and it's alright with my On30 ones. All things considered, though, I much prefer my Troller Transcab or the MRC packs.

    They are quite handy as stationary power supplies, though. For 12VDC with not much draw, or light-duty AC, they work fine. They're also very handy as paperweights. :p :D
  20. ZeldaTheSwordsman

    ZeldaTheSwordsman Thomas Modeler

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    Well, for the original poster, there's always the old standby: An ordinary 100-ohm wire-wound radio rheostat, combined with a master switch and a reversing switch.