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Hydraulic Shunting Diesel in  TT scale   

Hydraulic Shunting Diesel full size


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The web site of a model railway enthusiast in Dublin, Ireland !

AC or DC Power for my  Model Trains ?


Basically there are two types of power systems your model railway can have.

The first and by far the most popular system is DC electricity. This is based on a system where each rail is one side of the electric circuit, and the loco wheels, axles, and motor complete the circuit. So one rail is minus ( - ) and the other rail is plus ( + ).
There is a little fancy wiring to learn to make the most of this system. But at the heart of it what you need to know is very simple, and it revolves around having the power going to each section of track separately. Then you can switch on or off a track section, like eg the shunting yard.  When this section or zone  is "off" the train in the yard is motionless, even though the train on the main track "loop" may have full power.

The other system is Marklin's system of AC power. In this system both rails are minus (- ) and the plus ( + ) current comes from a centre rail, which is a line of metal studs fitted in the middle of the sleepers. This system is very clever and a bit easier to wire up, but with the arrival of DCC digital computerised control I feel it is unnecessary. Since with DCC control (which we will look at next) the DC system is greatly enhanced. 

So I feel the most flexible choice is to get a DC train set. Typical manufacturers of good quality DC equipment include Roco (excellent stuff), Tillig (TT scale and HO scale) , Piko (great value and good quality),  Bachmann, Fleischmann, Trix and Hornby.