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Model Railroading > Controller for older layout

Date: 07/30/20 23:21
Controller for older layout
Author: Heymon

My son is becoming interested in HO trains so he's kind of rekindled my previous interest in them, but we are decidedly "novice" at this and we're just trying to get some things running.  However, nearly everything we have is pretty old (back when I was a kid and my set was a Tyco Bicentennial set).  I recently acquired a vintage 8 X 5 layout and my question has to do with hooking power to it.  It has the wire clips where you just insert bare wire from a simple controller, but the only controller we have is one of those simple Bachmann ones with the plug in connector.  I am looking for the best way to get things "live" so we can run a train or two.  The locomotives are all older, basic models, but he does have one DCC unit.  There appear to be several powered switches as well.  Can I just cut the plug off the Bachmann controller and use it or do I need a different controller.  Not sure if I have supplied enough detail, but any help is, well, helpful.


Date: 07/31/20 11:57
Re: Controller for older layout
Author: TCnR

For basic DC operations, yes just get the two wires to connect to the two rails. Doesn't make any difference which one connects where, they can be swapped at anytime. Best practice would be to unplug the power pack from the wall while working with the wiring, also to check with a voltmeter. I don't know of too many people besides me who would do that though. There is a chance the power pack is not working correctly and that's how you would know ahead of time.

+ Would need more info for the switch motors, probably something along the same lines with a seperate set of wires. Should be some sort of way to select a switch motor as well, maybe something that was cut away from the rest of the layout, or some other scenario. The switch motors probably use around 12 volts. The track switch itself probably works as is without additional wiring, since the set up worked at some point. Modern track switches, technically called turnouts, could be complicated but could be real simple as wwell.

There is a version of a DCC set up that would allow running on DC, no idea how to identify it. There are many books and websites that would explain it in more detail.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/20 12:40 by TCnR.

Date: 08/01/20 10:57
Re: Controller for older layout
Author: Heymon

Thank you for that insight!  I'm sure I will be back with more questions down the road.  


Date: 08/06/20 19:19
Re: Controller for older layout
Author: YoungOldHead

IF the power pack has accesory ternminals you may be able to use those for the power switches without needing another source of power. Typically the older units had 4 screw connectors. one was dc for the trains the other labeled accessory or "AC". It was basically a constant electrical feed. Although thats going back to when I was a kid and you wired track switches to a board and a momentary jolt of power threw them. Hand throwing works well and cal be a fun learning experience too.

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