I would like to run a small portable 00 gauge layout in an out-building
which has no power supply.
Would it be possible to use a 12 volt car battery as a source of electricity
or would it be too 'heavyweight' and damage the loco motor?
If it is not feasable, are there any other types of re-chargeable 12 volt
battery that could be used?
The 12 volts won't damage the motor unless its faulty but you won't be
able to connect that to the track without a controller otherwise your
trains will be running full speed all the time.
So you will need a controller that will take 12 Volts DC input to
control your trains.
40 or so years ago it was a common way of doing things but it might be
hard to source such a controller now as most have an AC input either
230V straight from the mains or around 16V from a transformer.
More importantly a Car battery holds a lot of energy and can release
it quickly if you were to get a short which often happens with
derailments. Your rails, stock, derailed Loco and wires connecting
could melt in seconds.
It is essential that any wires connecting to the battery have a fuse
link in them to protect things. For a small 00 layout 2 amp would be a
good start point and easily obtainable in car accessory shops with
holders to suit.
You could use other types of 12V battery like the sealed Gel batteries
used in rechargeable lawnmowers /wheelchairs Radio controlled models
etc. Easier to carry around ,tend to have terminals that it is easier
to connect smaller wiring to rather than the large type on a car
battery. Incidentally if you are buying a new battery specially and
really need a large one then get a deep cycle or Leisure battery
rather than a car one . They cycle between charge/ discharge better.
OTOH and old free car battery will run an OO train a fair while even
if a bit tired.
Again fusing is essential with any rechargeable battery.
Fairly sure the stumbling block will be the 12 DC input controller.
I'd be tempted to buy an inverter to give out 230 AC ,and just use a
standard train set up. However some modern controllers might not like
the quasi sine wave out put and pure sine wave inverters are more
Actually something I'd like to know myself .I run a track cleaning
train through an old Hammant and Morgan Clipper powered from an
Inverter which in turn gets it's power from a solar panel charging the
battery .originally for my pond pump it has more than enough for the
train as well which runs for hours keeping the track clean as the sun
But I haven't risked running the DCC equipment from the Inverter,
anyone done that?
I'd also investigate a weather-proof extension accord/cable, of the type
used by building contractors, etc. If you don't already have on, install
a weather-proof ground-fault protected plug outside the house, and run
the cable to your shed, where you can connect it to a standard
power-supply/controller. The exterior plug is handy for other things,
such as vacuuming the car.
In message , Roger Thomas
Perfectly feasible - just make sure that you use a controller that has
short circuit protection so that you do not allow too high a current to
flow through the model railway wiring.
Most current hand-held and panel controllers such as those from
Gaugemaster or Modelex work fine from 12v DC (mind you I do think you
get 13.2v from a car battery) even though they were originally designed
for a 16v AC power source. You will also be able to power accessories
such as point motors or lighting from the battery.
One thing to be careful about - if you intend to use more than one
controller on a layout that uses common return wiring, then you will
need a separate battery for each controller. This can be avoided by
wiring each track section completely separately and using double-pole
switches for cab-control.
You have not said whether you are using analogue or DCC control systems.
Most DCC systems use a DC power input so the battery should be OK as a
power source for a DCC system - just check the specifications to be
If you need more help - ask!
Yes, but fit some appropriately rated fuses or circuit breakers immediately
after the battery and before it goes anywhere else.
A car battery will deliver a huge current if it gets a short circuit,
hundreds of Amps. Enough to burn straight through any moderate diameter
wire. An alarm battery will give slightly less, but still enough to do
A chap I knew (now died a few years ago) used to run his layout on a handful
of AA batteries. Simple two-transistor speed controllers with centre-off
direction switch. He'd get a whole day out of the batteries. AA
rechargeables would also work, though note that quite a few types deliver
nearer 1.2v than 1.5v, so you may need 10 for a full 12v, not the eight
Many DC controllers are OK on pure DC, though not all (some need the ripple
from 50hz AC to work some of their tricks). Most DCC systems need DC input
of appropriate voltage.
That's definitely possible. Fuses are essential, a car battery will
supply 100s of Amps for a short period and will soon let the smoke out
of your layout in the event of a fault.
Virtually any sort. You need enough in series to get the voltage up,
and high enough capacity for an typical operating session. You can get
9Ah NiMH but they will cost you more than a car battery.
Check whether the battery type you choose can be left in a discharged
state or require constant trickle charging (not so convenient if you
have no other power source).
Assuming you have a controller which will work with 12 volt DC input, then,
instead of using an actual car battery, you might consider using one to the
'powerpack' devices as sold for starting cars when the car battery is flat.
Some models have 12 volt 'car cigarette lighter' type power sockets (e.g.
you had one of those power packs, and rigged your controller to a car
cigarette lighter type plug, it would be simple to connect and disconnect
the battery pack, which would be clean and easy to carry indoors for a
recharge, when required. And you could start your car in emergency, too ...
Alternatively, some power packs also feature 230 volt AC inverters, e.g.