New member in the UK

soupsandwich

Registered
2 Feb 2021
5
0
63
Leicestershire
Hi all,

New member here. I'm space rich but cash poor relatively so have decided already to go with Battery power and plastic track. I have a 200 ft by 60 ft rectangular back garden so the cost implications of electric track are pretty obvious I guess. I plan to start with a simple loop nearer the house with the addition of a much larger loop sending locos out into the beyond at a later date. I have a workshop down the garden and aim to see passing trains on and off throughout the day while working.

With that in mind I would like to have as high powered battery system as possible so would appreciate any heads up info on where to go for the stuff needed to convert the two second hand trains I have, both Bachmann's, into battery powered, if indeed that is possible ? RC is not essential but I would like to haul longish trains so I guess high power is key ?
I would have a go at converting but any pointers as to folks wot do it for payment would be welcomed, as well as where to get the conversion stuff from too if I felt able to take it on myself.

I'm looking forward to getting out and doing some major civil engineering on a miniature scale as soon as the weather starts to look up, as it did today and have been wandering the estate (!) scoping out routes a la Kingdom Brunel

Any advice as I say would be welcome and I will probably be on these forums regularly bugging you all for more advice as things progress and problems, some of which some of you probably have already spotted, arise

Cheers glad to be here.
 

Paul M

Registered
25 Oct 2016
6,591
1,077
57
Royston
Welcome to the forum Mr Sandwich, or can we call you Soup?:D Have you a real name can use?
Plastic track has been used successfully, butwhether it will suit your requirements in the long run may be questionable, it tends to be adversely affected by the sun, so it may be more practical to go for metal rails from the outset.
 
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Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
30,064
3,604
North West Norfolk
Hi and welcome.

Which Bachmann locos are you wanting to convert to battery power? You may not need to use massive battery sets.

For example, a 4-6-0 will generally run OK on 14.4v of AA cells and will haul a train of sufficient length.

Also, this 45 tonner runs on the same size of battery pack, and there are some reasonable gradients in my garden. The wagons are Bachmann Spectrum or Accucraft 1:20.3 scale and are larger and heavier than the standard Bachmann or LGB wagons.

PICT0004.JPG
 

ebay mike

Retired, but still hoarding. (GOF)
6 Dec 2011
3,806
670
Norfolk - edge of nowhere.
Welcome. There's nothing wrong with battery power, but you may find the plastic track somewhat restrictive. There are a limited number of sections available and I don't recall seeing anything other than small radius curves. Second hand brass rail track can be purchased quite cheaply - around £3 per food which i s not that much more than new plastic stuff and will last an awful lot longer.
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,580
3,920
72
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Welcome to the forum Mr. Butty man. My suggestion would be to start small and grow. That way you can learn your craft with help from the forum and as you move forwards gently start extending as you can with second hand metal railed track. Do not be put off by second hand, Peco rail can be connected to the larger sized rail by converter fishplates so anything goes. As for battery, there are plenty that will provide you with Battery Packs, look in the Battery Forum to see many conversions most using RC admittedly. FOSWORKS will provide NiMh packs made up to whatever size and shape you want. Don’t forget the smart charger as well. Control can be an issue and I personally would suggest Radio Control but cost may mean a bit of a delay in that regard therefore a trundle speed is best so that little damage can be caused by derailments at higher speed that a big battery pack can give. You will also need to think about switches and reversal, I tend to prefer 2 SPDT switches to make a Stop go Reverwe option. Wired the correct way you just have both forwards for forwards, both reverse for reverse and one different for stop. You can see below that the motor is connected to the power by the dotted lines, move one switch and the motor is not connected to one of the power leads thus stopping the train. It is good practice to mount the switches one each side visible on the loco then just one is flicked quickly to stop the train. However it should be noted that this sort of driving can be hard on gear trains but is reduced with slow trundle speeds.

FC3AE5F5-0B12-4D3D-9C6C-4AFA6E8D0122.jpeg
 

ge_rik

British narrow gauge (esp. Southwold and W&LLR)
24 Oct 2009
10,005
1,103
Cheshire
www.riksrailway.blogspot.com
Welcome to the forum and to the joys of battery power. If you decide to use NlMh cells then make sure you get get Low Self Discharge (LSD) versions. Normal cells lose their charge when stored and it's frustrating to have to charge up each loco before you can run it. The beauty of battery power is you can run trains almost immediately - no track cleaning or firing up beforehand.

If you go down the li-ion route you don't have problems with discharge when stored and you have to find less room for battery packs as each cell is 3.7v rather than the 1.2v of NiMh. You do need to be very careful with charging and battery protection though.

I don't think you'll have problems with hauling long trains whichever source of power. Here's one of my locos with three li-ion cells in action.


If you want a bit more info on battery power you might find my blog posts useful


Rik
 

soupsandwich

Registered
2 Feb 2021
5
0
63
Leicestershire
Wow, lots of info already. Thanks for that.

The two loco's I have are the 4-6-0 ET & WNC 'Big Hauler' (?), 3rd generation as far as I can determine and the smaller White Pass & Yukon 2-4-2. These I got as they were a good price, had some cosmetic damage I can repair and, well, they look cute. How shallow is that.

Can the metal track be linked to plastic track if fixed firmly at the join to the base ground ? I think maybe I could get a reasonable deal per foot on new plastic given the amount I will need but maybe that's a bit optimistic. Adding using metal would be an option later and I'd like the chance to use shallower curves but it seems so expensive on Ebay for used stuff, again given the amount I will need.

What is the battery compartment on the tenders I have for ? And what type of battery goes in there ? Tried a standard 9v but it wouldn't fit !

Will have to think hard about which battery system to use, seems complex but hopefully will be as easy as pie once I've been at it a while.

Any tips on track bed ? If making a concrete base how deep should I make the trench ? There are a lot of trees and mature shrubs in my neck of the woods so ground movement may be an issue ?
Even with all the potential issues, It's all v exciting ain't it ?!
 

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
30,064
3,604
North West Norfolk
Wow, lots of info already. Thanks for that.

The two loco's I have are the 4-6-0 ET & WNC 'Big Hauler' (?), 3rd generation as far as I can determine and the smaller White Pass & Yukon 2-4-2. These I got as they were a good price, had some cosmetic damage I can repair and, well, they look cute. How shallow is that.

Can the metal track be linked to plastic track if fixed firmly at the join to the base ground ? I think maybe I could get a reasonable deal per foot on new plastic given the amount I will need but maybe that's a bit optimistic. Adding using metal would be an option later and I'd like the chance to use shallower curves but it seems so expensive on Ebay for used stuff, again given the amount I will need.

What is the battery compartment on the tenders I have for ? And what type of battery goes in there ? Tried a standard 9v but it wouldn't fit !

Will have to think hard about which battery system to use, seems complex but hopefully will be as easy as pie once I've been at it a while.

Any tips on track bed ? If making a concrete base how deep should I make the trench ? There are a lot of trees and mature shrubs in my neck of the woods so ground movement may be an issue ?
Even with all the potential issues, It's all v exciting ain't it ?!
The 2-4-2 (Columbia) is a nice looking engine, but lacks adhesion. However, nil desperandum as it will not require a large battery pack.

Philp (RC Trains - see website) is your man for advice as to what will work in what loco in terms of RC kit.


The Bug Mauler has been converted by a few people, but before you go too far, you'll need to make a decision about battery type / technology. Before you dive into that one, make a very large cup of coffee and do a bit of research as to whether you want to use NiMh or LiPo - there's pluses and minuses in either direction.

I'm a simple person, and have stuck with the comparative simplicity of NiMH but JimmyB and Rik (among others) have both used Lipo very successfuly.
 
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trammayo

Interested in vintage commercial vehicle, trams, t
24 Oct 2009
21,236
3,526
72
Co. Mayo
Hello & welcome. I have quite a few Big Haulers and other Bachmann ones. The tender does take a 9v battery but I find some brands are just a fraction over size. You can always file the opening a little bit. I use metal track and, as mentioned, it is a good option. I run on track power but only simple analogue. The battery is for the sound and needs the tender to be plugged into the loco. Mar 25 (1).JPG
 

playmofire

Registered
23 Oct 2010
7,241
757
North Yorks
Can the metal track be linked to plastic track if fixed firmly at the join to the base ground ? I think maybe I could get a reasonable deal per foot on new plastic given the amount I will need but maybe that's a bit optimistic. Adding using metal would be an option later and I'd like the chance to use shallower curves but it seems so expensive on Ebay for used stuff, again given the amount I will need.
What make of plastic track are you planning to use?
 

Paul2727

Registered
5 Jun 2018
647
85
The Cotswolds
What is the battery compartment on the tenders I have for ? And what type of battery goes in there ? Tried a standard 9v but it wouldn't fit !
Is the battery compartment you refer to under the water filler flap? If so it's normally a standard 9v battery. (Terminal end down.) If this is not the case it's worth taking off the tendr body (4 screws on underside.) to see what's going on. Some models had a batter to power the sound card and some used track power to do the same. In that case the 'battery compartment' would be obsolete.
Paul.
 

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,998
566
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
Hello and welcome. So you want to run long consists. The important things is to make it as easy as possible for any given loco you use. Any loco will have its limit - it will slip at the very least - that will be governed by the power of its motor, gearing, the amps its motor can safely draw and its adhesion. Other factors that will limit its capability will be any incline built into the track, the tightness of the curves/points and what types of rail, wheel and bearing material you are using. All things that create frictional resistance.

Bachmann locos, both their Big Hauler derivatives and some of their "Spectrum" large scale offerings are noted in long term use to have issues with the durability of elements of their drivetrains. I have a few of their products. You may wish to make sure you keep some key spares if you plan heavy consists for them. Mick/Tramayo probably has the greatest practical experience of their use and durability.

To make life easier for any loco make sure you use the largest radius curves and points practicalbe. There is a lot of frictional resistance caused by wheel flanges grinding against rails in curves. The wider the radii the less of a resistance. It helps if your stock as well as the loco is running on metal wheels, with axles running in ball bearings, or at least phosphor bronze plain bearings, on a metal railhead. Again to minimise friction. Plastic track is not noted for its durability or robustness when trod on. The chunky code 332 rail based types (LGB's for example ) are.

It goes without saying you need to make sure your line is as level as possible throughout to minimise excessive drain in amps power and stress on the locos gear train and motors. With a battery powered loco your run time between recharges is dependent on the total capacity of the battery pack fitted, measured in milliamp hours. The bigger the load you put on the loco, weight of consist plus frictional losses the faster you drain the battery.

George Schreyer's Large Scale Trains Page One of the first link I bookmarked when I got involved in this hobby 17 years ago. Particularly this Large Scale Tech Tips It'scan old one but it is still the benchmark for others. A lot of useful tips on Bachmann products. Max.

P.S. I'm in the process of converting all my Bachmann locos at the moment to battery power, rc operation with sound. All are Spectrum Fn3 type products of various vintages
 
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soupsandwich

Registered
2 Feb 2021
5
0
63
Leicestershire
Hello & welcome. I have quite a few Big Haulers and other Bachmann ones. The tender does take a 9v battery but I find some brands are just a fraction over size. You can always file the opening a little bit. I use metal track and, as mentioned, it is a good option. I run on track power but only simple analogue. The battery is for the sound and needs the tender to be plugged into the loco. View attachment 281462
Guess that's it, battery was just too big so will try other makes. Thanks
 

Gizzy

A gentleman, a scholar, and a railway modeller....
26 Oct 2009
34,136
1,754
60
Cambridgeshire
www.gscalecentral.net
Welcome to the forum.

As others have suggested, go with brass track. It'll work out cheaper long term.

I'm not sure that ECR track can be joined to the usual LGB/PIKO/Aristo makes?

I have some Bachmann plastic track used for storage which mates to LGB, but it is difficult to find....
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,580
3,920
72
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
You are unlikely to find joiners that are specific to join plastic and metal track. But some very thin brass cut to fishplate size and bodged around with piers ought to be made to work.

As for depth of concrete for track base, it is not required to be too deep perhaps 4-6 inches would be ample. If you have any old metal kicking around put it in the trench to strengthen things up. Where you have trees using Concrete Beams to pass over the area where the roots are likely to be. Concrete Gravel Boards will work just as well.

You may find that a build of a big line Is a quite capital heavy experience, I can see the need to keep costs down but scrimping on track by using plastic is the worst option of all. Have a look at Igor‘s home made track which may be a good option for you.


Start small and build over time.
 

JimmyB

Semi-Retired; more time for trains.
Hi and welcome, I am with Jon on plastic track, it does have its place, and I have some to enable me to run trains inside when the grandkidd (eventually) visit, and the weather is to poor to go outside. To be honest it is almost a costly as second hand brass track of evilbay, and the brass track will last longer :)
 

Choppercook

Registered
29 May 2019
81
3
65
Norfolk
Hi and welcome, Cookie from Norfolk, A photo of my battery converted LGB 2-4-0 Loco on plastic trick , I use a car RC transmitter and receiver , car ESC and a 11.1 lipo battery in the tender works well for me , have had the track down for over 2 years
 

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