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  • Topic: Looking for Pros & Cons for locos & sound systems

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    • January 23, 2010 9:14 AM EST

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      I have been looking into purchasing a couple different steamers and I am interested in the following engines and would like some input (thoughts) on them please. I am looking for good dependable engines that I can run battery power & decent sound(convert later if need be) that are priced under $500. I know that the different manufacturers all have their good and bad sides to these. The top 3 are my favorite picks and are what I am looking for first but that does not mean I won't pass up a good deal on the others first. As for now all I have is my Annie and with Johns help it will be getting converted over to battery power here soon.

      1) 2 or 3 truck Shay, (I know the better ones from Bachmann are the third series) any other ideas as to other manufacturers?

      2) a Forney Engine, any input on these

      3) a Climax, what are the better ones here

      4) a Mogul

      5) A Connie

      I have even been looking into a few porters but want to wait on them until a later time.

      Part two to this is sound systems I have seen four or five different manufactures and I am totally confused so any help here would be great.

      Thanks everyone,
      Sean
    • January 23, 2010 10:45 AM EST
      • Spokane Valley, Washington St.
         
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      Is the $500 including engine, sound card, receiver, transmitter and batteries?
    • January 23, 2010 10:55 AM EST

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      QSI/G-wire your first install will be $405 because of the $189 throttle. Every engine thereafter would be just $216 thereafter until retailer goes up on product. You can do a battery car for under a $100 if you have a boxcar with a sliding door or a covered gondola. With the engines you have you probably would have an additional $18 for the adapter board to PNP for the sound decoder. Any Aristo engines would just simply be plug n Play eazy peazey. With other than Aristo you need some wiring expertize, and electronics knowledge which I am not proficient in, and stay with Aristo engines. A typical install after your first engine is around 45 minutes or less, after you figure out the first time. Hardest part is getting into the mother board which is not hard just sometimes time consuming. I do have a k-27 that required wiring and an adapter board but I had Noel Wilson out in California do the hard part then just plug n play once the wiring taken care of for me. On Aristos don't have that problem. The Regal

      These are my diesels ALL equipped with QSI/G-wire and I have a Mallet and a k-27 too!
    • January 23, 2010 11:09 AM EST

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      Ooops I should have stated that no the $500 is just the range I am looking to spend on the engines, everything else comes after that. As for the electronics part I am dead in the water with that stuff so if there is some simple explanation or diagram then I will pick it up fairly quick. I should also state that the battery set will be mounted in one of my box cars so I can run it with the different engines.

      Jerry what is QSI/G wire? I have seen it posted before but know nothing about it. I just did a search on it so now I understand what it is and does, Thanks.
    • January 23, 2010 12:09 PM EST
      • Spokane Valley, Washington St.
         
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      Your list of locos are fine.
      But I would avoid the Connie unless you want to order a Barry's new gearbox for it.
      I own everything on your list, all battery RC, and have no gripes except for the Connie.

      Part 2:
      I run 100% Phoenix sound cards, either the P5 or 2K2, depending on installation.
    • January 23, 2010 3:15 PM EST
      • UK/Ontario/Oregon
         
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      Sean wrote -


      1) 2 or 3 truck Shay, (I know the better ones from Bachmann are the third series) any other ideas as to other manufacturers?

      Unless you have in excess of $3500 to spend, there are NO other makers of a big-scale Shay - the Westside Lumber electric from AccuCraft can still be found around $3000-3500, but apart from Bachmann, that's it.

      2) a Forney Engine, any input on these -

      LGB make a 1/19th approximation of the SR&RL 0-4-4 Forney - still to be found on e-*** for about $300-400, maybe less. It is a powerful hauler, although not a particularly exact model. The new Bachmann model looks pretty good, but is waaaaaay over-priced.

      3) a Climax, what are the better ones here -

      Bachmann or Aster, take your pick. Oh yes, try finding either one - Bachmann have been off-line for around four years now but appear from time to time on e-***. I know where there is an Aster three-truck sparkie version, but at around $3800 plus shipping it might be not to your taste.

      4) a Mogul -

      Bachmann make a very old-style [pre-1890 style Mogul], and the tiny so-called 'Indie' which is VERY small indeed, being based on a two-footer, The LGB 'approximation' model in many guises [best IMO is the C&S with the bear-trap stack] just goes on and on - their most popular model ever built, some say. VERY expensive new, now, with MTS, can be found on e-***.

      5) A Connie - Hmmmmm.

      Bachmann make a plastic one that needs care and attention, as has been mentioned already, and AccuCraft make one out of tin for around $2000 or so.

      I have even been looking into a few porters but want to wait on them until a later time.

      On your own here - Bachmann or nothin' again

      tac
      www.ovgrs,org
    • January 24, 2010 3:11 PM EST
      • Deer Park, Washington
         
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      Sean Brownson said:
      As for the electronics part I am dead in the water with that stuff so if there is some simple explanation or diagram then I will pick it up fairly quick.
      Sean, you need to realize that installation of a receiver and sound card is a black art best done with chicken bones rattling and Fr. Fred dancing nekkid under a full moon. Don't let anyone tell you different! :lol:
      ____________________________________

      Not only does my mind wander, sometimes it walks off completely.

       

      Some people try to turn back their odometers.  Not me.  I want people to know why I look this way.  I've traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren't paved.  Will Rogers.

    • January 25, 2010 12:33 AM EST

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      There are locos where you can just plug in a battery, sound and r/c... they have Aristo sockets... About the only "non black art" locos made... the only "easy" combination is the QSI system. Oh, I believe Tony has a pretty simple system, but the sound card is separate from the receiver and from the ESC, but I'll bet Tony makes cables to plug everything together.

      But all the locos listed do not have the Socket, only the Bachmann K27 does... If you were running 1:29, the Aristo consolidation will be out later this year.

      Regards, Greg
      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­massian.co­m

    • January 25, 2010 7:35 AM EST

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      First, Thank you all for the input and personal emails. I really do appreciate all of it since I am still learning about all this and it is not only fascinating but rather diverse in the products and what can be done. I have enjoyed reading all the info

      As for an update I just bought another Annie the Durango & Silverton bumble bee with tender which will be relabeled for pulling my Cripple Creek & Victor gondolas. By the way if anyone has a few of those gondolas sitting around that you want to part with let me know please, I need 4 more, to give me a total of six, Thanks. I have bunch of real ore that I have picked over the last couple years four wheeling my in my truck (gold, silver and others that I am hauling in them).

      Steve, I do not think that I want to see Fr. Fred dancing nekked under the moonlight LOL. Nothing against you there Fr.Fred!
    • January 25, 2010 11:15 AM EST

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      As for the specific locomotives, I think that's been covered rather well, except that I would argue that the Bachmann connie isn't quite the dog others think it to be. Mine's been pulling faithful service for 7 years now. I know of many others pulling similar faithful service for their owners. True, the main driver is the Achilles' heel, but if it splits (and again, there are many that have not), you can replace it by ordering a new one from Bachmann's on-line parts store. (Or, upgrade to Barry's drive. It will cost you more than the locomotive, but you'll not ever have to worry about it again.)

      Sound? If you want absolute top drawer sound, go with Phoenix. Fully customizable with features out the wazoo. Buy the board, buy the computer interface, and you can tailor your sounds to your heart's content. The PB9 works with any kind of control, while the P5 is specifically DCC compatible. (Then, there's the P5T interface which allows you to control the P5 via non-DCC systems.) The Phoenix will give you the most flexibility in terms of allowing you to choose your particular brand/type of controller.

      The next option in terms of sound would be the QSI "Magnum" board. This is an integrated sound and control board for DCC control. QSI is a close second to Phoenix in terms of sound. Like Phoenix, you can get their programming software and computer interface, and completely customize sounds for your locomotive. It's not like "the old days" when you bought a "Rio Grande #455" sound system and were stuck with whatever sounds were loaded on the chip. Both the Phoenix and QSI systems have ever-expanding sound libraries from which you can daisy-pick bells, whistles, air pumps, etc.

      If you go with the QSI board, your choices for control are a bit more limited. QSI is a DCC-prototocol board, so if you want to run it off of batteries, you're going to have to use either the Airwire or NCE G-wire controller, and hook the QSI to the G-wire receiver. I use the word "limited" only in terms of the specific throttles you're able to use, not in functionality. The QSI/G-wire combination is arguably the most full-featured system out there. The only downside is that to access the higher-end functions, you've got a bit of a learning curve in terms of programming the system to overcome. Not insurmountable--and here again, the computer software/interface makes life much simpler.

      Other (far less expensive) sound systems can be found from Dallee, MyLocoSound, and others. I've not heard them, but most users seem to think well enough of them. They're not as full-featured or programmable as the higher-end ones, but that's to be expected.

      Frankly, unless you know right off the bat that you're going to want the high-end control that DCC affords, I'd investigate a control system based on two criteria: quality of sound and user interface. The majority of higher-end control users want control over the speed, direction, bell, whistle, directional headlights, and maybe a few extra accessories. Pretty much every system on the market (Aristo's Revolution, LocoLink, RCS, G-scale Graphics, Airwire) give you that. Each has its own unique user interface, and since that's how you're going to be running your trains, you want it to make the most sense to you personally, and be a comfortable as possible. Dollar-wise, they're all fairly competitive with each other. It doesn't make a ton of sense to me to sacrifice comfort and intuitiveness to save a few bucks, so go with what feels best to you.

      Later,

      K
      ____________________________________
    • January 26, 2010 12:18 AM EST

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      "The majority of higher-end control users want control over the speed, direction, bell, whistle, directional headlights, and maybe a few extra accessories. "

      That's the lower end Kevin... higher end want to control more sounds that that! The low end guys what what you listed.

      Coupler crash, air hose disconnects, rod clank, dynamo, and on and on...

      The QSI user interface, i.e. programming software looks like it was designed in this decade, the Phoenix is a very old program and it shows.

      You can also customize various settings beyond the sound in your QSI so that resetting it, resets it to YOUR defaults.

      Regards, Greg
      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­massian.co­m

    • January 26, 2010 2:52 AM EST

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      Thereby is the trade off.

      Successive private polling has indicated that most R/C operators do not want all the bells and whistles, so to speak, that are on offer.
      Kevin is correct. It has been my experience that after the initial Ohhh!!! Aahhhh!! of full service sound systems. the operators quite often turn them OFF. They are more than happy to blow the Whistle/Horn or ring the bell but after that they cannot be bothered.
      I know of many Garden RR's that actually ban sound systems, or at least make you turn them down so others can hear themselves think.

      All the "extras" come at a cost. The full service TX hand pieces of both AirWire and NCE are significantly more expensive than RCS or even the TE REVOLUTION. Let alone the really low cost 5/6 channel 2.4 GHz R/C systems now available. I am well aware that you have the ability to, in theory control as many locos independently at the same time as you wish. However, I know of very few operators that actually do that. Why??? Because the operators have to be VERY dexterous to handle any more than one at the same time on the same track. Three is simply not possible. The human brain is simply not capable of processing three different functions at the same time. The end result are crashes.

      Multi loco handpieces are fine for one operator to run all the locos, but what if you need two (or more) hand pieces for extra operators? Each additional TX hand piece makes having multiple operators a much more expensive proposition.

      Whilst Greg is correct in describing those that want all the bells and whistles as "high end" users, they are in the majority.

      Most battery R/C locos actually do not have any sound at all.
      ____________________________________

      Best wishes,
      Tony Walsham

      Remote Control Systems. www.rcs-rc.com/
        Modern technology. Old Fashioned reliability

    • January 26, 2010 5:35 AM EST

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      TonyWalsham said:
      Most battery R/C locos actually do not have any sound at all.
      Is that because they don't want to reduce the run time on their batteries? I've been removing the sound from my motive power. Simply because it is cheap, factory sound that, sounds terrible. Maybe one day I'll have the extra cash to try an aftermarket sound system. Ralph
    • January 26, 2010 6:06 AM EST

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      For all sorts of reasons Ralph.
      Mostly because many LS'ers find the "not exactly correct" sound systems very annoying after the intial Ooohs!!! and Aaahs!!! are dispensed with.
      Yes, some people could be not using sound because it could reduce run time, but I don't think that is the main reason.

      Don Sweet tells me, apart from the Whistle/Horn and Bell controls, the most asked for controls are volume related.
      I get asked a lot to enable the Dallee feature of being able to switch off the diesel rumble but still have the Horn and Bell controlled.
      ____________________________________

      Best wishes,
      Tony Walsham

      Remote Control Systems. www.rcs-rc.com/
        Modern technology. Old Fashioned reliability

    • January 26, 2010 7:11 AM EST
      • UK/Ontario/Oregon
         
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      TonyWalsham said:
      Thereby is the trade off. Successive private polling has indicated that most R/C operators do not want all the bells and whistles, so to speak, that are on offer. Kevin is correct. It has been my experience that after the initial Ohhh!!! Aahhhh!! of full service sound systems. the operators quite often turn them OFF. They are more than happy to blow the Whistle/Horn or ring the bell but after that they cannot be bothered. I know of many Garden RR's that actually ban sound systems, or at least make you turn them down so others can hear themselves think. All the "extras" come at a cost. The full service TX hand pieces of both AirWire and NCE are significantly more expensive than RCS or even the TE REVOLUTION. Let alone the really low cost 5/6 channel 2.4 GHz R/C systems now available. I am well aware that you have the ability to, in theory control as many locos independently at the same time as you wish. However, I know of very few operators that actually do that. Why??? Because the operators have to be VERY dexterous to handle any more than one at the same time on the same track. Three is simply not possible. The human brain is simply not capable of processing three different functions at the same time. The end result are crashes. Multi loco handpieces are fine for one operator to run all the locos, but what if you need two (or more) hand pieces for extra operators? Each additional TX hand piece makes having multiple operators a much more expensive proposition. Whilst Greg is correct in describing those that want all the bells and whistles as "high end" users, they are in the majority. Most battery R/C locos actually do not have any sound at all.
      100% agree with you, Tony. I'd like to be able to operate lights - say, ditch lights - but on the other paw certain makes of 1/29th model already have this feature without the benefit of extra cost. As a steam fan, I like the noises I hear when the loco is stationary, and as it pulls away, but prefer to trigger the bell and whistle when I feel like it. I like that one system seems to have an engineer or fireman going around the loco with an alumite grease, but it's a mite odd to hear it without seeing the little guy doing it. As for the cab-talk available with the MTH DCS system, words fail me [temporarily]. I've never heard a word spoken in a cab of any modern diesel loco that was audible at five feet, let alone our viewing distance... Keep it simple, I say, and preferably cheaper than the $300-400 it all seems to cost these days....EACH. tac www.ovgrs.org
    • January 26, 2010 9:58 AM EST

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      Simplicity of installation on Aristo engines, price, wow factor, choice, functionability, to do what you want when you want, QSI/G-wire all the way for me. The functions are there IF you choose to use them or as you say just the basics man just the basics. I don't like the idea of paying installers $800+ unless prices have been lowered since I inquired! for each engine to do what I can do myself in 45mins or less, on Aristo engines PNP. Unless you are a wiring and electronics Guru, which I am NOT! That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Regal

    • January 28, 2010 1:52 PM EST

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      Quote:
      ... "The majority of higher-end control users want control over the speed, direction, bell, whistle, directional headlights, and maybe a few extra accessories. " That's the lower end Kevin... higher end want to control more sounds that that! The low end guys what what you listed.
      Forgive the disconnect. When I say "higher-end control users," I'm referring to anyone who wants something beyond simple analog DC. In the context of just that subset of the population, then yes, the "low-end" folks want just the bells and whistles, while the "high-end" folks will want the grease guns and dynamic brakes, too. There will always be those who push the envelop of control--and for them I am grateful. Had it not been for those individuals, we wouldn't have even half the controls we do today. But the simple truth is that the "high-end users" as Greg defines them are not the majority of modelers. They're the trailblazers forging the way for the masses to slowly migrate. The masses use bits and pieces of that technology to suit their own needs, but rarely push it to its fullest potential. Over time, more people will adopt the added features, but will most likely do so only when it's simple (such as a plug-and-play interface, GUI programming, etc). It's dirt simple to plug in a QSI board into an Aristo loco and be off and running. It's similarly dirt simple to plug a Revolution or an RCS board into the same socket and be off and running. If you want the high-end functionality of the DCC systems, then your choices are few. You've definitely got "function" taken care of, but you're limited in terms of available "forms" (i.e., controllers). If you know you're not a "power user" with a desire to control every last little detail, then you've got a much broader selection of suitable systems. At that point, "form" takes a much higher position relative to function since--at that level--most systems provide similar features. How the controller fits into your hand and interacts with the trains becomes the dominant consideration. That's a purely subjective consideration. Later, K
      ____________________________________
    • January 28, 2010 3:27 PM EST

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      Sound? Turned off?
      Yes. it happens. Reason: Unless you actually watch a loco moving, the chuff-chuff-chuff can become annoying. Watching and hearing adds to the fantasy. Not watching a specific train means conversations or some other activity involving the layout. Most often at open houses, conversations are invaded by the sound. For many, and me, because the sound is repetitive, and is all-too-familar, watching the train alone provides enough imagery.


      Dr. Laura
    • January 28, 2010 9:45 PM EST

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      You can turn the sound down a bit to avoid becoming obnoxious.

      The more advanced sound systems will do random things like letting off steam, the pumps, etc. Diesels will have the blowers come on and off.

      Other advanced systems will read the load so that the chuffs change with load, and the latest ones will do a very nice job of "drifting" where the loco is almost silent.

      These variations add interest and reduce the repetitive nature of just the same chuffs.

      Regards, Greg
      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
      PLEASE NOT­E: Please do NOT use private messaging, i­f you have­ a questio­n, feel fr­ee to emai­l me priva­tely, u­se regular­ email onl­y: greg@el­massian.co­m

    • January 29, 2010 7:00 AM EST
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      Greg Elmassian said:
      You can turn the sound down a bit to avoid becoming obnoxious. The more advanced sound systems will do random things like letting off steam, the pumps, etc. Diesels will have the blowers come on and off. Other advanced systems will read the load so that the chuffs change with load, and the latest ones will do a very nice job of "drifting" where the loco is almost silent. These variations add interest and reduce the repetitive nature of just the same chuffs. Regards, Greg
      As you say, Greg, some of the sounds just add to the general atmosphere of a loco, like those you posited in your post. I have half a dozen QSI-fitted H0 locos, and have the actual sounds turned down really low so that they are only obvious when starting away with a big load on our club track - thereafter the 'drift' comes into play, and I'm happy for it to be like that. A few of my 1/29th locos also have the QSI system, all run off DC, and mostly used on demo days to the public who may never have either seen US/Can stuff before, and most certainly not heard the noises that go along with them. My bigger AccuCraft locos have either Sierra or Phoenix systems, and of course, the real steamies don't need ANY sound systems at all! tac www.ovgrs.org
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