Absolute beginner needs some DCC pointers

Hi all,
I'm happy to confess I am an absolute beginner to railway modelling, and am currently looking into DCC and baseboard materials.
Some questions:
a) How "convertable" are older RTR models? I have acquired an old Hornby GWR 0-6-0 pannier loco, but have no idea if it is possible to convert it to DCC.
b) The DCC marketing boys seem to be suggesting Lenz Compact as the way to go, but I have seen a remote control "Piko" system which seems to look OK (although I haven't managed to find a manual in English). Anyone got any experience of this system? I'm probably looking at 5 locos maximum, and an estimated 7 or 8 turnouts. Having the option of computer control at a later date does appeal a little.
c) I'm considering Sundeala as a baseboard material, but of course it's expensive compared to MDF or even chipboard. Is this necessary, or can I get away with a cheaper material? The layout (about 3 metres by 4 metres) will be housed in the garage.
Thanking you in anticipation of your help.
Regards,
John McG
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"JMcG" wrote

There's very little which cannot be fitted with a DCC decoder, the main consideration is choosing a decoder which will take the amount of current demanded by the motor and which is small enough to be accomodated within the body of the loco.
I can see no real problem in converting the Hornby 0-6-0PT tank. There's no shortage of space inside the body and the motor should have a stall current well below 1 amp.

The Lenz Compact is probably a good choice. It will accomodate up to 99 addresses and with a 3amp capability should be suitable for your requirements. I'm currently operating a double track layout measuring over 20' x 10'6" using one and it will power at least six modern OO-scale locos without any problems.
I will add that I continue to use conventional DC control for point motor operation.

I've used Sundeala on my layout and whilst it went some considerable time without problems it has now started to warp. If I were starting out I'd probably go with chipboard if I wanted a flat board, but I am contemplating other options for a portable layout I have in mind.
John.
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