Beginners' Guide to Garden Railways

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
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Melbournesparks

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An overview of the results of the survey about battery power and charging - https://riksrailway.blogspot.com/2022/05/battery-powered-locos-survey-interim.html

Rik
Pretty interesting. I wonder how many people have more than one charger because they charge multiple locos at once, vs having different chargers for different battery chemistries?

Something that would be fun to know is how many kilometres everyone's locos do in an average running session, and with what sort of loads. I don't even really know the answer for myself, I'll have to build a dynamometer car and do some tests.
 

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
10,319
1,153
Cheshire
www.riksrailway.blogspot.com
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Pretty interesting. I wonder how many people have more than one charger because they charge multiple locos at once, vs having different chargers for different battery chemistries?

Something that would be fun to know is how many kilometres everyone's locos do in an average running session, and with what sort of loads. I don't even really know the answer for myself, I'll have to build a dynamometer car and do some tests.
I'm compiling a follow-up survey so I could try to ascertain that - if I can find a way of phrasing it.

It would be interesting to find out distances travelled, but I suspect very few of us would know. Sounds like another project ,,,,,,, :)

Rik
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
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I'm compiling a follow-up survey so I could try to ascertain that - if I can find a way of phrasing it.

It would be interesting to find out distances travelled, but I suspect very few of us would know. Sounds like another project ,,,,,,, :)

Rik
Whilst I could work out the loco distance traveled (in scale km’s) on each of the 3 workings, adding shunting to that is pretty well impossible as each session has different complexities with the shunting requirements. Hm tricky.

Sorry I missed the other survey, will go and do it now.
 

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
10,319
1,153
Cheshire
www.riksrailway.blogspot.com
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As a follow-up to my previous survey which was focused very much on a specific issue - a few people asked if I could make a more generalised survey as a follow-up. Well here it is.


Rik
 

Melbournesparks

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Whilst I could work out the loco distance traveled (in scale km’s) on each of the 3 workings, adding shunting to that is pretty well impossible as each session has different complexities with the shunting requirements. Hm tricky.

Similar problem here, counting the number of return trips run is easy enough but there's plenty of other stuff that goes on as well. The point is that at some point the energy demands of the traffic become more than is practical for battery capacity, and most of the last few pages of this thread have been essentially arguing about whether the average person reaches that or not. Now with actual data it seems like the answer is pretty conclusively no, most people's locos don't do enough kilometres in an average day for that to be a limitation.
My personal theory is that the "average" number of kilometres in a day is in the low 10's for most people, but there's a few outliers who do way more with way heavier trains and without having some metric for traffic intensity it's hard to compare the two.
 

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
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To answer a previous question :
I put 'three' chargers, as I have three different battery 'chemistries'..

PhilP
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
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As a follow-up to my previous survey which was focused very much on a specific issue - a few people asked if I could make a more generalised survey as a follow-up. Well here it is.


Rik
Another day, another survey. Completed.
 

Paul M

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25 Oct 2016
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Gentlemen, this is all very unseemly. Surely the majority of folk realise what's good for one person doesn't follow what's good for another. All methods of control WILL have drawbacks as well as advantages.
 

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
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I am intrigued by this apparent conundrum. I have offered my responses to both surveys. However one thing I have found in life is that no matter how much you percieve you have common ground with others they will always have a different view point on some issues. Add to that my life could be summed up as a, mostly, happy number of coincidences, happenstance and serendipity - i.e. no plan but still quite satisfying (so far). And that is how I view my oddysey through this hobby from its start to my present situation. Sit back and enjoy yours and others railways, whatever its constituent parts, for what it as represents to those that built it. End of sermon. Max
 

dunnyrail

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I think what Max is saying could be along the lines of rule 1. Without doubt there can be some venom against what works for you whatever that may be Live Steam, Clockwork, Battery, DCC or Analogue Track Power (nothing implied in the order there). I hope that while I am a battery proponent, my guidance to newbies would be along the lines of ‘battery is an option’ not the b all and end all though to me it is in the garden. This set of questions would be interesting if thrown at Gauge 3 proponents who tend to be predominantly Battery or Live Steam.
 

beavercreek

Travel, Art, Theatre, Music, Photography, Trains
24 Oct 2009
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Thank you Rik, for the nicely put together guide for beginners, I have always found your website/blog interesting and full of usefull information and 'how to's'

My layout is based on US running (Rio Grande narrow gauge and Mainline). I have far too many locos from little 0-4-0s through to giant 2-8-8-0 via small and large diesels (1:22.5, 1:20.3, 1.:24 and 1:29 scales) and also live steam (mainly 1:20.3).
I was a beginner back in 2006 and started with analogue (the venerable Aristo/crest Train Engineer.
Then I added DCC with Massoth central station.
Then added battery using Aristo/Crest Train Engineer Revolution R/C.
Added 2 R/C DCC equipped battery locos using Tam Valley and Stanton Cab system
Then added Live Steam using the Deltang RC system with one TX to control 12 different locos (but I have kept simultaneous running to just 2!).

All of the battery locos need charging but their needs are different depending on which power source they are using and the battery chemistry:
14.4V-22v li-ion or 19.2v NimH battery packs for the medium/big battery diesels, geared locos rod engines.
12V to 14.4V packs (Li-ion or NimH) for the smaller diesels and steam outline. (sometimes bigger packs if the locos have sound and maybe multiple lights and longer trains)
5 to 6v for the power-packs in the R/C live steam locos
The utilisation of different amp/hour capacity battery packs varies depending on how long the possible running session and how much power draw the locos exhibit.

There are now 20+ locos utilising batteries in some manner (I am including about 5 that use a trailing wagon for the battery that can hook up to different locos).
I have two chargers for the lot.
Both of them are smart chargers with multiple variable outputs for all of the different battery types.
Provided that I do not exceed the combined output limit that the the charger can output, I can have up to 4 locos (or battery packs) charging at the same time for each charger.
So I could have a total of 8 locos charging at the same time. The most that I have had is 6 of the live steam loco battery packs charging at the same time.
Most of the time I do up to three of the bigger battery packs at the same time.

I have had both chargers for about 6 years and they have never let me down......... oh dear, why did I say that!!!!!!!?
 
Last edited:

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
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North West Norfolk
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Know that most people in the US run much longer trains that the average presented on this forum.

Greg
That's a fair point. Generally, with shorter trains (although US outline) I get 3 - 4 hrs using NiMh (if I can be bothered to try for that long ;);) - with two trains aternating on a single line, that'd be 6 - 8 hrs playing trains).

The trouble is, with battery and motor technology improving all the time, things change. Having said that, bearing in mind that a lot of US mainline outline trains like Aristocraft and USAT have quite a significant current draw, you're probably still in the right ball park.
 

GAP

G Scale Trains, HO Trains, 1:1 Sugar Cane trains
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I have 7+ locos the majority steam outline, (2 small diesel) with a mix of Li chemistry batteries and NiMH chemistry.
I own 4 chargers 2 which I bought and 2 which I inherited. 2 are set for NiMH charging and 2 are set for Li charging.
I do not get the length of run time out of the NiMH as I do out of LI (x).
I am in the process of changing the NiMH out for Li-ion as they fail and they will fail as they are nearly 15 years old (1 so far).
The way I manage my locos is similar to the way the 1:1 railway that I volunteer at.
We run the locos on fare carrying days (an operating session) the the day after we clean the boiler tubes, grease the rods, top up the coal bunkers and perform water quality checks after filling the tanks.
I run my locos for the operating session and the next day I charge any batteries that require it. As my locos do not need all that much attention the act of charging batteries I treat as a maintenance day.
Having 4 chargers available in my charging area allows me to service all my locos at once.
When I first started I went straight for the battery option (mostly because I had seen it demonstrated and recollections of cleaning the track continuously on my HO layout) and only had 1 charger.
I personally prefer battery as I do not have the hassle of running cables across my yard and I can bring out a loco at a moments notice and set it running and not have to worry about dirty track or faulty joiners.
Finally people can write battery charging into their operation narrative which ever way it pleases them as I did as a maintenance function.
 
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Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
32,471
3,868
North West Norfolk
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I have 7+ locos the majority steam outline, (2 small diesel) with a mix of Li chemistry batteries and NiMH chemistry.
I own 4 chargers 2 which I bought and 2 which I inherited. 2 are set for NiMH charging and 2 are set for Li charging.
I do not get the length of run time out of the NiMH as I do out of LI (x).
I am in the process of changing the NiMH out for Li-ion as they fail and they will fail as they are nearly 15 years old (1 so far).
Yep, I started with NiMh and have, so far, not moved to Lithium based because I didn't think I'd sensibly manage the two different charging regimes.

If I wrote everything down, such as which loco uses which charger (oh, and which R/C handset :p ) then it probably shouldn't present a problem, but that's a big 'if' .............. I'm not that organised.

However, for some strange reason, I can remember the voltage of the battery pack inside each loco :confused: and there's quite a variety :rock::rock:
 

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
5,300
595
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
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I only use NiMh batteries for my locos. I too worry about the care needed, and the expence of, more specialsed chargers for the more energy dense battery technologies that are now starting to prevail throughout the hobby world. If it meets my needs I do not see the need to change. Hence my love of the old Sierra sound cards, even now. When I (on very rare occaisions) run track power,I use my old Train Engineer set up. Live steam, where supplied for original RC equipment like TX's, I use non-rechargable - they last a very long time in that application.

Where I have converted a loco from track power to Battery/RC, I have a rough rule of 1TX to 3 locos. I label the TX's identifying which loco is bound to which TX. I try to mix up the loco types on one TX so that there is the maximum opportunity of running like with like during a session. E.G. On one TX there will be a a geared logging loco, a passenger Mikado and an "oddball" like a little Porter or a diminutive Victorian ten wheeler.

I should admit now how I am a convert the DCC track power.......but that is only with my nacent indoor 009 NG layout. For me the benefits are very obvious, especially if you have sound fitted to a loco. Funny how we arrive at our particular preferred methods of operation. Horses for courses, as they say. Max
 

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
10,319
1,153
Cheshire
www.riksrailway.blogspot.com
Country flag
Yep, I started with NiMh and have, so far, not moved to Lithium based because I didn't think I'd sensibly manage the two different charging regimes.

If I wrote everything down, such as which loco uses which charger (oh, and which R/C handset :p ) then it probably shouldn't present a problem, but that's a big 'if' .............. I'm not that organised.

However, for some strange reason, I can remember the voltage of the battery pack inside each loco :confused: and there's quite a variety :rock::rock:
I've now standardised on li-ions but when I had a mix of NiMh and li-ion, I wrote what was in the loco on its underside using one of those gold marker pens. Although I also kept (and still do) a booklet with sections for each loco logging what it's equipped with, any changes/repairs/maintenance and each time I charge it (inc. start voltage), it's handy to make sure just before setting up the charger. Mind you, the iMaxB6 is very good at sensing what pack is in the loco - but even then it's not foolproof.

Rik
 

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
10,319
1,153
Cheshire
www.riksrailway.blogspot.com
Country flag
I only use NiMh batteries for my locos. I too worry about the care needed, and the expence of, more specialsed chargers for the more energy dense battery technologies that are now starting to prevail throughout the hobby world. If it meets my needs I do not see the need to change. Hence my love of the old Sierra sound cards, even now. When I (on very rare occaisions) run track power,I use my old Train Engineer set up. Live steam, where supplied for original RC equipment like TX's, I use non-rechargable - they last a very long time in that application.

Where I have converted a loco from track power to Battery/RC, I have a rough rule of 1TX to 3 locos. I label the TX's identifying which loco is bound to which TX. I try to mix up the loco types on one TX so that there is the maximum opportunity of running like with like during a session. E.G. On one TX there will be a a geared logging loco, a passenger Mikado and an "oddball" like a little Porter or a diminutive Victorian ten wheeler.

I should admit now how I am a convert the DCC track power.......but that is only with my nacent indoor 009 NG layout. For me the benefits are very obvious, especially if you have sound fitted to a loco. Funny how we arrive at our particular preferred methods of operation. Horses for courses, as they say. Max
I too have specific Txs for specific locos - and have them listed on a sticker on the back of the Tx. However, it's so easy to rebind a loco a a different Tx (or Selecta channel), I sometimes swap them about a bit - especially if I decide to run a couple of locos which have been bound to the same Tx.

Rik
 

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
10,319
1,153
Cheshire
www.riksrailway.blogspot.com
Country flag
I have 7+ locos the majority steam outline, (2 small diesel) with a mix of Li chemistry batteries and NiMH chemistry.
I own 4 chargers 2 which I bought and 2 which I inherited. 2 are set for NiMH charging and 2 are set for Li charging.
I do not get the length of run time out of the NiMH as I do out of LI (x).
I am in the process of changing the NiMH out for Li-ion as they fail and they will fail as they are nearly 15 years old (1 so far).
The way I manage my locos is similar to the way the 1:1 railway that I volunteer at.
We run the locos on fare carrying days (an operating session) the the day after we clean the boiler tubes, grease the rods, top up the coal bunkers and perform water quality checks after filling the tanks.
I run my locos for the operating session and the next day I charge any batteries that require it. As my locos do not need all that much attention the act of charging batteries I treat as a maintenance day.
Having 4 chargers available in my charging area allows me to service all my locos at once.
When I first started I went straight for the battery option (mostly because I had seen it demonstrated and recollections of cleaning the track continuously on my HO layout) and only had 1 charger.
I personally prefer battery as I do not have the hassle of running cables across my yard and I can bring out a loco at a moments notice and set it running and not have to worry about dirty track or faulty joiners.
Finally people can write battery charging into their operation narrative which ever way it pleases them as I did as a maintenance function.
I actually have two chargers (both iMax B6s) but generally only use one of them and keep the other as a spare. I suppose I could use the second to charge up a second loco, but I've got into the habit of just using one. I keep a log of which loco was charged when - but in addition when a loco has been charged it sits on the shelf facing forwards - and when I return a loco to the shelf which has just been run, I face it inwards. That way, whenever I decide to run some trains I just take forwards-facing locos off the shelf.

If I decide to have a themed running session (eg Southwold locos only, diesel locos only), then I make sure any uncharged locos which are needed are charged up the day before.

Rik

Rik