Re: LGB: what transformer to buy?

Tom Tricep wrote:
Hello All: I am about 3 minutes new to LGB. I just purchased a 0-4-0 LGB with
tender on e-bay. I intend to run it around my christmas tree. What
transformer do I look for? Eventually I am prolly going to the garden
RR scene.

See below.

What track do I look for, or is that a no-brainer? Just buy LGB track?

Aristocraft is also good, and cheaper. Just make sure you buy the solid-rail stuff, not the hollow-rail type (as made by Bachmann for example - that's OK for a Christmas tree layout, but n.g. for outdoors, where it's likely to get stepped on and smushed into a twisted mess.)

How do I go about adding sound? Is that hard?

Not if you use DCC - see below. But trackside sound systems are also available, google on Model Rectifier Sound for more info.

Thanks in advance, and thanks for taking the time with an extreme

Tom Tricep

First some clarification: LGB runs on direct current (DC), so a transformer will _not_ work - a toy train transformer just steps down the alternating current (AC) in your house to a lower voltage. (Only Lionel and other O-gauge tinplate, and Marklin HO run on AC. The rest of the world uses 12V DC to run trains.)

What you need is a "power pack" - a combination of transformer, rectifier, and speed control. It puts out 0-12v (nominal) DC. LGB engines don't need much current, being very efficient lokies, so a larger HO power pack will do nicely - look for about 2 amps maximum output. Depending on brand and bells and whistles, it will cost $50 to $100. LGB also makes powerpacks, so you could get one of theirs, but you'll pay more.

I urge you to hie yourself to the nearest bricks-and-mortar hobby shop, and ask questions, converse, explain yourself, and generally have a good time talking trains and finding out what you need to know. (You will often find better prices than on e-bay, too, as e-bay is notorious for overpriced, so-called "rare" model and toy train stuff.) If you post a suitable request giving your city/region, you should be able to make contact with garden/large scale railroaders, and IMO that's essential. They are a friendly bunch, and you will not only learn a lot, but make life-long friends.

Since you've expressed an interest in going outdoors, I suggest you get a copy of Garden Railways Magazine, which is all about large scale stuff, and you will find a slew of ads, and dealer addresses and websites. Warning: reading this stuff may infect you with miniferroequinitis, an incurable but very enjoyable disease, whose worst symnptom is a tendency to spend loadsadough on li'l trains. You might even end up building that garden railway.... :-)

DCC: Digital Command Control. This uses the rails as a bus for power and for control signals. The engine contains a voltage-controller/rectifier, plus a decoder, which interprets the control signals in terms of speed and direction, and operation of add-ons like sound modules, loco lights, and such. The main drawback is that you need clean track, and an electrically continuous circuit through the rails. Since garden railways aren't known for either of those properties, wireless versions of DCC are available for this use. A starter unit for DCC (power source, controller interface, controller, and one or more loco-decoders) will cost around $200, but in the long run DCC is cheaper, since you don't need all the paraphernalia associated with a control panel. I would suggest you delay that decision until you have found some garden railway enthusiasts, and learned from their experience. NB that you should stick with NMRA compatible DCC - there are a few proprietary systems around, but they don't play well together.


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