Newbie Q - Controllers

Hi,
I'm rekindling my childhood model railway dreams, and have designed my layout (v simple - 2 ovals, with a fiddle yard in the middle). However,
i currently only have 1 controller, and can only run one engine at a time. I want to run two engines (one on each track), and I need a 2nd controller.
Can someone recommend what controller I should get (am on a limited budget), or perhaps someone has one for sale ???
Rgds,
Ian
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Ian Cornish wrote:

Visit your local hobby shop and look around. Or buy a recent issue of a popular mry mag and study the ads. :-) "Limited budget" - we're all on limited budgets, so I understand your dilemma. It's basically "Can I get a cheap but adequate controller?" Answer is yes, you can, given your layoout style and apparent operating preference ("One engine in steam", eh?)
I do have some for sale, but since I'm on the other side of the pond, postage will likely exceed any savings.
If you want to run just one engine on each controller, then a train-set type controller will be adequate. (Eg, Bachmann, Hornby, etc.) You can often find used ones on bargain tables at shows, or your local hobby shop may have some. If you also want the controller to supply power to the point motors, you may find that it's not adequate, the engine may hesitate when you throw the points. You may want to buy a third controller just to power the turnouts. Sometimes 2 cheap controllers are a better buy than 1 expensive one.
The higher priced controllers are however not only more powerful, they also provide smoother control and are generally more durable, so you should consider them as well. Sometimes going cheaper is false economy.
Good luck!
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Ian Cornish wrote:

Gaugemaster - they do something for around £30-ish including the transformer for mains. Its a decent quality controller for a reasonable price. Alternatively, Gaugemaster also do some controllers which take nominally 16-18v AC input, for which you can use the transformer brick which comes with 20W/12V halogen desk lamps sold at Homebase for under £5. (The model with a clamp to hang the lamp on a desk, the transformer is just a powerbrick, ideal output for running a model railway controller. Throw the lamp away (or use it for spares !)).
If you were not on a tight budget, I'd have said go to digital (DCC) control, but not the cheapest option.
- Nigel
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Ian Cornish wrote:

Many of the model shops that advertise in the model railway press split train sets, so they often have the smaller controllers going cheaper, although these wouldn't be as advanced as others.
The much maligned ebay is also a good source, I see some Hornby controllers, new as split from sets for immediate sale for £14, some auctions are at cheaper prices.
Have fun with your railway. David
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I wish, the speed controllers are that much on their own. The plug-in mains transformers are that much again. Also Ian would need at least two spare mains outlets within reach of his layout. The H&M 2000 is probably an easier option.
(kim)
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Phil: No - now is the most economical time to go into DCC with a simple Bachmann EZCommand controller - available for under 50 ukp (save up if necessary - its better in the long run) and just 2 loco modules at this stage (another 20ukp) - and NO wiring complexity as you evolve your layout or additional swirch costs.....etc
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Phil wrote:

thanks to all who have responded. It sounds like I should be getting either a HM2000, or looking into DCC. My main question around DCC is whether it would run my engines, which are all Hornby engines at least 15 years old. I don't intend buying new ones. Would I be able to get decoders for such engines ?
Ian
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Ian Cornish wrote:

Yes, though you will not have instant plug-in sockets on the locomotives. You'll have to disconnect the wires to the motor and insert the chip in between (4 wires in total, 2 to the motor brushes and 2 to the wheels). You may have to use a little ingenuity to fit the chip inside (possibly carving a small amount of chassis here and there with a file or knife), but there will be no ready to run 00 locomotives which cannot fit a chip if you spend the time working out how.
Whilst I can understand wanting to keep the old locos going and keeping the budget down, don't dismiss new stuff - the best of new OO items are absolutely superb compared to stuff around 15+ years ago.
- Nigel
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Phil: You don't say which type of engines - but the answer is basically yes. However, some are easier than others. Availability of suitable decoders is NOT a problem.
It divides perhaps into : Xo3/X04 motor types (old loco drive steam locos) What may be worrying you, and a posssible problem if the motors are in bad condition - is the current consumption - running and stalled. This is used as a basis for choosing suitable decoders - and Lenz quotes differently from ZTC for example:
Lenz method as I understand it: 'stall the loco by stoppin it moving - but if the wheels continue to spin that is okay - it represents a max load.
ZTC- stall the motor (stopping all movement) - a higher current but considered an unrealistic situation by Lenz.
The rating is usually for a maximum of 3 seconds. The ZTC method reflects more the initial current when the motor is originally stationary - which should only be transitory.
Stall current on an Airfix 2-6-2T for me was 1.4Amps Most are 1 amp or less. A meter costs from 5 pounds and is always good to have.
Ringfield drive (diesels. electrics or tender drive steam.) see below...
Other chassis with smaller motors usually taking 1/4A - 1/2Amp ish
NOTE there have been several variations in the actual construction of the Ringfield Motors. It is important (VITAL) that BOTH sides of the MOTOR are isolated from the track. Hornby Ringfileds in the past have used the SCREWS to make the connection throughto the relevant bit of chassis (similar problems arise with Bachmann/Mainline Split chassis with no 'internal wiring').
In the case of the Hornby Ringfield I opened out the 'slot' in the metal brush-arm, and applied insulation (folding around the INSIDE of the opening) to ensure that I could hold it in position with the screw - but with the screw and brush-arm being isolated from each other! (Its actually quite easy to do).
For XO3/4 - cut the insulation sleeve into 2 pieces, and use 1 piece on each side of the motor - thus isolating both brushes.
SOLDER all new connections. (Buy a temperature controlled iron if possible - 9.95 recentlyin Maplins)
I mostly use the Macoder for Steam Locos, and a 4 function LENZ decoder (allowing for lights in the future) on all diesels etc.
(The Bachmann decoders are basically Lenz decoders supplied and warrantied through Bachmann)
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Ian Cornish wrote: [...]>

Installation of DCC on older locos is a hassle. The motors have to be insulated from the frame, you usually have to mill away some part of the frame or weight(s) to make space for the motor, and so on. Also, older locos have inefficient motors that draw lots of power, so you need a decoder that can handle an amp or more - not cheap. Etc. My advice: don't go there. There may be somebody who will do it for you, but you say you're on a budget, so ---
Just get an H&M unit.
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Decoders apart, Bachmann's E-Z controller has a maximum power rating of 1.0 amp which is only enough for one older type of locomotive. You would need a Lenz Compact which is rated at 2.5 amps but will cost almost double.
(kim)
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"kim" wrote

mains
easier
The Hornby trainset controllers are sh#te, they offer extremely poor control and are seriously unreliable.
I wouldn't touch an H&M 2000 with a barge pole either, due to reliability issues. A far better option , albeit a bit more expensive, is a Gaugemaster 'D'. We've sold these for nearly 20 years, they have an enviable reliability record, and come with a lifetime guarantee.
John.
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You could try one of those Bachmann controllers which have been split from their trainsets. I bought one brand new for £10 plus postage from Ebay and it's pretty good for the price although they don't have an auxilary power output for points, signals etc.
Fred X
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