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Analog and DCC Wires, Engines and Transformers

Richard has a question for readers:

“My layout is not wired yet. However I have all analog engines, I would also like to buy DCC engines. How can I run both? I have analog transformers now , should I also buy a DCC transformer? Can I wire my set up to be able to run both type engines? Thanks for any help.”

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5 Responses to Analog and DCC Wires, Engines and Transformers

  • Glen Wasson says:

    You may easily switch between DC and DCC. Reverse loops will be/may be a problem. Our little club layout Rail Roadrunners of Yuma is moving that way. Not done but in process.

    Glen Wasson

  • Frank says:

    Most DCC locos will automatically work correctly on a DC track. Some have functions such as bells and whistles and brake sounds which can be accessed without a DCC controller.

    On some DCC locos I have, the bell and whistle are operated by suddenly flipping the track polarity (the loco continues forward as normal), this only requires wiring a reversing switch in the controller or track wires. The braking (screech !) sound is activated by rapid deceleration.

    If you first build the layout DC, leave the track section connections easily accessible for when you want to change to DCC. On a DCC layout, wiring is much simpler, as each DCC loco is controlled by digital signals from the controller, so the layout just has one power bus going under all tracks, instead of different sections being repeatedly switched for different trains as on DC.

    It will be well worth buying a basic DCC book to understand the principles, it should also have diagrams for making reversing loops &c work.

  • Kevin says:

    DCC is totally different than DC. It needs more than a “transformer”. But it’s still easy to connect and run.

    Note you can’t run DC and DCC on the same track at the same time.

    You can put a switch between your track and the two systems so you can choose which one you’d like to run at any given time. Buy a switch that’s called DPDT-center-off. This is a dual-pole, dual-throw switch. The center off position assures the two systems never connect to each other when the switch is thrown. The switch probably ought to be rated for about 5 amps. There’s lots of 10-amp switches easily available, from Radio Shack or similar.

    Wire your layout like usual. Run it on DC to get things going. Put in the DPDT switch with the center two connections going to the rails, one pair at one end going to your DC power supply, then the other pair of connections at the other end of the switch going to the DCC system. That’s about it.

    Like mentioned by Glen above, you need to be aware of “reverse loops”. If you don’t have a layout where the locomotive can turn around and come back on the same track in the other direction, then no problem. If you do have a loop that comes back on itself, for DC you need to add wiring and a switch to change the polarity of the rails. In DCC you need an automatic-reverser. Not too hard wither way.

    To get started, a small system like the Digitrax Zephyr is a good one, as it’s rather powerful as it is, and fully expandable. If you belong to a train club, or if there’s someone in your area who belongs, it might help to get whatever brand DCC system they use as they will be very familiar with it and can easily help you as you progress with it.

  • Joe says:

    I have a layout with two separate loops. Each loop can be controlled by it’s own DC controller or by a single DCC controller. A switch from each loop is connected to receive power from either a DC controller or the DCC controller. I simply switch each loop to whichever controller I want to use. Thus, I can run each loop on it own DC controller, or one loop on its DC controller and the other loop on the DCC controller, or both loops on the DCC controller.
    This works well for me because I have old engines that are strictly DC as well as newer engines that are DCC.

  • Ferdinand D'Angelo says:

    have a lionel 0 guage layout with 5 trains running. Is it very expensive to change over to DCC operation ? Being retired on a fixed income I don’t know if I would be able to change my system over or not ? Thank you for any help.

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