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Setting Up a Layout Using Old Equipment

Richard is seeking advice from others:

“I am about to set up a layout and I have only old equipment that was bought in the 1970’s-1980’s and I am wondering if I will have any problem adding modern trains or electronics to an old equipment layout? I am going to start building soon. I have a room about 10 feet by 8 feet.”

7 Responses to Setting Up a Layout Using Old Equipment

  • Dale Arendssays:

    You might. Older locomotives in the smaller scales generally didn’t have much space inside them. You might be able to cut way part of the internal block to add circuitry. You didn’t mention what scale you are using. I would also look into replacing old wheels with one having more realistic flanges.

  • Rudolph Blawsays:

    Richard, not knowing what country you’re in, it’s hard to tell. In the US we have had the National Model Railroad Association for many decades which set the standards, allowing different manufacturer’s equipment to run on NMRA standard track. If you have 70’s US equipment, it will run properly and the newer equipment works on older rails and switches. However, if you take Fleischmann, Trix or other European brands pre NEM (Normen Europäischer Modellbahnen or Normes Européennes de Modélisme ferroviaires) out of the seventies, it will not run well on modern track and probably derail on the switches due to the non standardized wheels and (huge) flanges. But standardized wheels and couplers can be installed. As far as electronics go, many locomotives are convertible to DCC but not all, usually due to a lack of space for the decoder. You need to be technical enough to take the old beast apart and see if a DCC decoder will fit inside, then rewire the whole thing. You can always stick with DC and a transformer for the time being and convert to DCC later. Standardized couplers and wheel sets are readily available at your hobby shop or online. Keep in mind that modern passenger cars are scaled exactly according to the real thing and no longer shortened as was often the practice in the sixties and seventies. That means, for HO scale, they need a 24″ radius minimum or the car will derail. Find a track design that fits in your 8 by 10 feet room, probably a figure 8 or a collapsed 8. I don’t think you’ll have any problems, just “challenges”. That’s part of the fun of this hobby.

  • phil johnsonsays:

    Richard; I still have stuff from the same time frame. You’ll find the detail back then was gross. locomotive performances not as good as todays. one of the first things I did was change out wheels (metal) and trucks. Next was eliminating nonbrass flywheels along with motors drawing more than .5 amps. Brass track and snap track was replaced with NS flex. welcome back

  • David Broadsays:

    It depends on manufacturer and country of origin. For the UK The original UK 00 gauge Hornby Dublo locos from pre WW2 will run happily on code 100 rails and have room for decoders, though the 0-6-0s need bits sawn off the chassis weights and the non insulated brush holders insulated. They are current hungry but new super neo magnets cure that. The post war Triang and Triang/Hornby stuff needs re wheeling right up to around 2000 and even then is marginal on live frog points. some of the square axle bogie wheels are only 14mm gauge and the US outline loco wheels are knurled for traction and some have huge flanges. Plus side is they last for ever where modern stuff seems to be in trouble after six or seven years. Other plus side is they can cost 10% of new stuff and for me that’s crucial.

  • David STOKESsays:

    By equipment I am going to assume you mean locos and rolling stock. In Australia in the 1970s and 1980s Lima, Triang/Hornby and Lifelike were the off the shelf products and all will run happily on code 100 Peco and Atlas track components.

    Although DCC is the new operating system good old straight DC still has a place in the hobby so don’t jump in to the electronics issues with this equipment – clean the wheels and commutators, if you can remagnetise motor magnets, check wheel gauge and back to backs and fit compatible couplers on all your equipment so you can shunt without hassles.

    If you do these things and lay your trackage with care old equipment will still give you many years of enjoyment.

  • Donnis Davissays:

    Some wonderful advise here, you may also want to check and see if there is a Model Railroad club in your area. Most clubs today have updated to DCC and a sources of vast information. Welcomeback to the hobby and enjoy it with old friends or new friends,

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    Personally, I´d stay away from DCC and use analog DC, as that is what I use. For me DCC is too complicated and way too costly for what it does. I can run consists on my straight DC as well as DCCers can with their consists. I personally do not like the tinny sounding sound that DCC in HO scale produces. It is sub zero to me. If I want sounds I´ll just use a CD with train sounds in my train room. If you use straight DC you can get your layout up and running with little outset of $$. When my controller died, my wife bought me an MRC Tech 7 controller to use on my layout and I have the pieces to construct a controller out of my wife´s old Dell computer power supply. It puts out 3.75 amps at 18 volts DC and I just got a PWM motor controller to go with it. I´ve already tested it out with a temp hookup and it works fine. I also just spent over $200.00 on changing out all the plastic wheel sets to Walthers Proto 2000 33¨ and 36¨ wheel sets as well as getting enough Kadee couplers to change all the old rolling stock truck mounted couplers (talgo) to body mounted Kadee couplers. Now I should be able to make up some pretty long trains. Happy railroading!

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