Converting a published track plan to DCC?

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jaynjay

New Member
I am modeling the Model Railroader "Pennsy Middle Divison" as seen in the Kalmbach book under the same name. The track wiring section of the book doesn't mention DCC wiring. The layout features two reverse loops. Do I use the published plan and just add an isolated section of track for setting up locomotives? I thought (incorrectly, I guess) that DCC meant little or no wiring.
 

CP9302

Member
DCC means no block wiring. One wire to each rail with jumper wires at regular intervals is all you need. The reversing loops require additional wiring. You can wire them the same as in the book, using a manual switch to change polarity. Or you can buy DCC reversing loops to handle it automatically.
 

modelbob

Administrator
jaynjay said:
I am modeling the Model Railroader "Pennsy Middle Divison" as seen in the Kalmbach book under the same name...
That's a great looking layout. I'm going to model the PRR and bought that book last month for some ideas. It won't work in the space I've got, but I'm going to use the general "look and feel" of the layout in places on mine.

Are you going to model it as is, or are you changing anything? There was only one thing that bothered me about the layout, that was at the mine and it's easy to work out. In the book they've got a photo of a train heading for the mine with a loco and caboose. Great shot, but what's he going to do when he gets there!?! ;)

(It's a small, stub end, 3 track yard. With the loco on the point, you're trapped, can't drop your cars off. In actual operation you'll need to push the cars in and pull them out. Easy enough to do, and prototypical as well....)
 

ak-milw

Member
If it were me I would use the automatic reversing units with DCC. They are easy to wire an you never have to worry about throwing a switch to reverse! :cool:
 

jaynjay

New Member
modelbob said:
That's a great looking layout. I'm going to model the PRR and bought that book last month for some ideas. It won't work in the space I've got, but I'm going to use the general "look and feel" of the layout in places on mine.

Are you going to model it as is, or are you changing anything? There was only one thing that bothered me about the layout, that was at the mine and it's easy to work out.
Actually, I just moved to this area (Indiana) from the West Coast and this is the first time that I have ever had the room to build a good size layout. I had the backdrop up, framework done, and was in the tracklaying operation. (Notice, the past tense usage). Then Winter came, and I realized how cold it was in the basement. So I am ripping everything down and appart and am putting up walls with insulation in the basement and adding more heater outlets down here. It is proving to be very difficult because we moved here and made the basement our "play room" complete with big screen TVs, two computer stations, my wife's sewing and guilting area, storage, plus the layout. So the basement is a mess for now.

Now, for the layout. I am using the Pennsy plan; but making it a branch of the SP&S. I saw the push-pull right off the bat. The thing that really bothered me about the plan was the lack of industry, other than the mine. My idea was to add an extension off of the lower section (Ridge Tunnel) and add an old business district with some industries that require boxcars, etc. I am also changind the river area and adding a dock and tugboat. Hopefully, I will be back into layout construction in a few months. I am doing all of the re-modeling work myself, except the drywall mudding. I can do one or two sheets of drywall myself, but we are putting up 52 sheets and that is way to much for me.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
Block wiring is not necessary, but sometimes it's a good idea for troubleshooting if there's a short somewhere, and it isn't obvious. Block wiring will allow you to isolate sections of the layout.

Kennedy
 

grumpybob

Lake Shore Lines
Would have to agree with Haggis. In some cases you may find that a layout is so large that you have to break it electrically into blocks to prevent a short from bringing down the whole system.
 
N

NHGuy

Guest
I too agree with Haggis an GrumpyBob. Any DCC layout should be wired into electrically isolated 'blocks' called Districts. An electrical district is nothing more than breaking the layout into managable pieces for trouble shooting problems and independent operation. The other benefit is if something shorts in section A, sections B-F won't be effected by the short.

The most common short is running the points of a switch not lined for the route you want. In DCC a short is detected by the Command Station. It shuts down to protect itself and the place where the short has occured. It also protects against damage to your engines, track, metal wheels, etc. So if you have your whole layout wired as one power district, the whole layout goes down. Whereas, if you divide it up into smaller power districts, when it shorts in one district it won't take the whole railroad down with it. So you can see where this would come in handy.

Reverse loops in DCC work the same way as in DC. They both can use a DPDT toggle switch to change the rail polarity. The advantage with DCC is you can buy an automatic electro or electro/mechanical reversing modual to do this for you and do away with the DPDT toggle. On my NCE Command Station there is one already built in to use. You can buy reverser moduals from MRC, Tony's Trains, NCE, Digitrax and some others. The MRC is a low cost, reliable, and easy to install reverser modual. To wire one up, you isolate the reverse loop like you would on regular DC and gap both rails into and out of the loop at the turnout. The reverser has 4 wires. 2 go to the 2 rails (or power buss) BEFORE the turnout, and the other 2 wires go to both rails of the loop after the gaps. Pretty easy.

Hope this helps.:)

Bill S.
 
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CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
Posted by NHGuy
I too agree with Haggis an GrumpyBob. Any DCC layout should be wired into electrically isolated 'blocks' called Districts. An electrical district is nothing more than breaking the layout into managable pieces for trouble shooting problems and independent operation. The other benefit is if something shorts in section A, sections B-F won't be effected by the short.
Hi just wondering, I also agree, but would like to add that I would wire it sort of normal for DCC, but instead of using electrical switches for isolation of the blocks/districts I would use plugs and sockets. Reason for this is the switches themselves could break down and be a source of problems, and they do require additional wiring.
Cheers Willis
 
N

NHGuy

Guest
Wiring DCC is 90% easier then wiring for DC block control. There is an easier way for dividing up power districts then using the toggle switches. 1st: plan the areas that you want as district. On the plan, take different colored highlighters and divide the track plan up into managable areas. I look at it as where do you want to create a short barrier so that during operations you won't shut down the whole layout with the one your working in. You will now have a visual of what to do. Planning is cheap and useful. It can always be changed.

Gap both rails to the district you want to create. But run the power buss wires all around the layout. They make 'circuit breakers' such as NCE's EB3 or Tony's Trains PS 1 2 3 and 4. If you divided the layout into 4 power didtricts then the PS4 is the one you can use. This has 4 outputs for your 4 power districts. It takes the place of toggles and will only shut down that area where the short has occured. The power buss goes in one side and comes out in 4 different independent circuits for your districts all with an electronic circuit breaker for protection. The amount of voltage required is programmable. So you can set them as you wish. Just connect them up to the 4 power districts and your up and running. 5 connections. Thats it! The power buss is also cut into the 4 districts. This gives you an independent power buss for each district. You connect the circuit breaker wires to these and then the feeder wires to the rails from the power district. Make sure that all the power buss wires are not connected together but through the circuit breaker card. Of course, within those power districts you should add feeder wire to the rails about every 3 feet or so. This insures that power to the track and signals to the decoders from the Command Station are not degraded. A good rule of thumb is solder a feeder to every piece of flex track or hand laid track length. Don't depend on the rail joiners.

The results: Your railroad will be a dependable running, enjoyable layout to operate.
 
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N

NHGuy

Guest
Willis I checked out your web site. Nice. Did you know Pentrex has a VHS tape that has your railroad on it? It's "Those Incredible Alcos Vol#3". When they get to M630's the CB&CNS Rwy is featured.

Bill S.
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
Hi All, well Bill I was picturing something like a switch, however Tony's cct breakers and reversing modules look really neat, much better than what I was thinking of. DCC may be a long way off for me as there will be 20 plus locos requiring decoders. I'll probably never finish the layout, but it a hobby and it keeps me active
Thanks for the kind words about the website, didn't turn out too bad for someone who didn't know what he was doing :D. I was aware there was another VHS tape with some CB&CNS on it didn't know it was Pentrex though. David and Pat Othen produce VHS tapes of the railway from Sydney Terminus to the Truro CN interchange. The Alco's have all been cut up for scrap except for two which are in the US rusting away at this time.
BTW I have a couple of NH logos for an Avatar if you are interested, they should be about the right size for the forum.
Cheers Willis
 
N

NHGuy

Guest
Yes If you could send the logos to Bob. He said he could manke them into Avatars. Thanks.

Any intital cost of a DCC system is expensive. There are a few DCC systems that a lower in cost and pretty good. (MRC). You have to think ahead with a system. I chose NCE because it is simple to use and very expandable. It takes a little time to learn how everything works but when you take it out of the box and hook it up, and you have an engine or 2 with decoder in them, your up and running within about 20 minutes. Once you get over the initial cost of the system, a decoder for each engine costs about the same or less in many cases than detail parts to super detail your locomotives or cars per engine. In some cases you can get decoders for 10 bucks new. You just have to look around.

I've changed and will never look back at DC. The operational side of running your layout like a transportation system is much easier with DCC in my opinion. But you have to be careful. That head-on collision is very possible with DCC because engines CAN run in opposite directions on the same track!;)

Bill S.
 
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N

NHGuy

Guest
Thanks for suppling them Willis. As you can see I've already got one.

Bill S.
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
Hi Bill your welcome, I have a mess of them so if anyone else has a request I can have a look to see if I have one.
Cheers Willis
 
Auto Reversing Loop Module...

I use 1 auto reversing module to control 2 loops...because there are never 2 trains on each loop at the same time and I love how it work seemlessly. I bough mine at Tony's Train Exchange.

Also...you made me laugh really hard when you described your current basements areas of use....I particularly liked your wifes GUILTING area :D
I'll have to design a special area for my wife for that...with a door that closes. :p

Regards,
 




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