09 June 2010

A digital Hoover, and a disappointing portal

A quiet evening last week saw me take the plunge and convert my Hornby class 50 loco to run on DCC. It was supplied DCC-ready so the process was not difficult: just lifting the shell off, unplugging something, fitting the DCC decoder into the resultant socket, and putting the shell back on. But the shell has so many delicate pipes and dangly bits that I've been very reluctant to do it, for fear of breaking something. It shows how hesitant a modeller I am if I can't even trust myself to do something as simple as that. Memories of the Great Train Accident, recounted in brief here, still haunt me I guess.

But I have finally done it, without incident, and as a result I have a functioning, digital Hoover that responds to my every whim. Well, it doesn't make a cup of tea, or even clean the stair carpet. But it does take DCC commands, and it does haul a seven-coach train up the outer incline with no loss of traction. In my book, that's a result.

And, with the shell off, I can see that it's a monster of a motor. Far bigger and heavier than the power plants in any of my old locos. Maybe that's the real answer to my incline conundrum: upgrade all my old locos with more powerful motors and add ballast to weigh them down. Would that be cheaper than buying new locos? I have no idea at this point.

Track-laying continues around the outer incline; there's no point showing another picture which is just a variant of "here's some more track what I laid". After a while, they all look the same. But I promise to post a short video when I can run a train all the way from the storage sidings round to the B1u station approach. That should be next week or the week after.

But what is this "disappointing portal" of which the title speaks? Well, I figured I should be ready for the scenery by getting hold of the tunnel portals for the two inclines. I ordered and received two Peco portals (LK-32) in readiness. I have to say I find them very disappointing. They're flimsy and not very convincing-looking, and it's not clear how I am supposed to attach them. Glue, I suppose. I would probably have been better off waiting, and looking a bit further afield. And maybe I will still do that.

I did, though, get good service from Buffers Model Railways ("As featured on James May's Toy Stories", so says their website). I would use them again, and recommend them.

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