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Why Didn't Live Steam Take Off?


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In my case, because of the competition from DCC, which for the same scale of spend was going to run all my locos, and offer a huge upgrade in operational flexibility. Had Hornby offered their live steam compatible with DCC - and there is no fundamental obstacle as DCC will run at up to 22V on track and current supply is only limited by the amplifier output - then I would have had it. (What's more, Hornby would have necessarily had a superior DCC offering too...)

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Hi all,

As stated the advancement of modern technology and I suspect price. Plus no guarantee that the engines will perform the same with varying external conditions. My well work well in a nice warm house. but in a garage of outbuilding I suspect that the performance would drop.

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8 minutes ago, Mark Saunders said:

Personally I am looking forward to the day when there are 4mm scale battery powered locos using the track to charge them being driven by radio control.

 

Makes track wiring problems a thing of the past!

 

Mark Saunders

 

Ah yes, the days when every delicately detailed plastic model has to be torn apart every 3 years to change the battery,  Including the all the lit coaches, and the buried wireless operated point motors and signals. :)

 

Tim

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1 hour ago, 34theletterbetweenB&D said:

In my case, because of the competition from DCC, which for the same scale of spend was going to run all my locos, and offer a huge upgrade in operational flexibility. Had Hornby offered their live steam compatible with DCC - and there is no fundamental obstacle as DCC will run at up to 22V on track and current supply is only limited by the amplifier output - then I would have had it. (What's more, Hornby would have necessarily had a superior DCC offering too...)

 

This begs the question. Could a Hornby live steam locomotive be retrofitted with a suitable output DCC chip so that it can run in live steam mode on an existing DCC layout?

 

Any thoughts?

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6 minutes ago, Hitchin Junction said:

 

Ah yes, the days when every delicately detailed plastic model has to be torn apart every 3 years to change the battery,  Including the all the lit coaches, and the buried wireless operated point motors and signals. :)

 

Tim

The track/wheel interface has always been the achilles heel of railway modelling, any proper battery operated offering would not involve tearing models apart.

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Just now, Colin_McLeod said:

This begs the question. Could a Hornby live steam locomotive be retrofitted with a suitable output DCC chip so that it can run in live steam mode on an existing DCC layout?

Has been demonstrated. Not seen it myself but reportedly much superior to Hornby's control system because the DCC decoder operates the motor that controls steam admission much better. (The high current track supply to the boiler is via a relay operated by a decoder function.)

 

3 minutes ago, woodenhead said:

The track/wheel interface has always been the achilles heel of railway modelling, any proper battery operated offering would not involve tearing models apart.

It would be reasonable to hope that a well designed package would have a range of rechargeable batteries and plug and socket system; and designers would integrate these under removeable panels or directly through an access in the model underside. Then after ten years of success with this, some bunch of wannabees would come along with Battery Operation Lotsa Locators zero  eXtra (Boll0X) as the 'new standard to replace all the others'...

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37 minutes ago, Mark Saunders said:

Personally I am looking forward to the day when there are 4mm scale battery powered locos using the track to charge them being driven by radio control.

 

Makes track wiring problems a thing of the past!

 

Mark Saunders

Isn't that pretty much what Protocab does?

 

https://www.protocab.com/welcome

 

Pity this sort of system has never taken off

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6 minutes ago, Hitchin Junction said:

Lugging the battery in a trailer behind a tank loco might  be a clue.

 

Tim

As long as you don't want to have a light engine :D

 

Hauling trains it would work, and you could simply swap out the coach and set your train off again.

 

But the point is, and it does sort of hark back to your original comment, as it stands Proto-cab isn't plug and play.  For battery operation to work it needs to be built in at the outset and for that there simply isn't a market especially whilst Bachmann and Hornby both have their DCC solutions to sell.

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25 minutes ago, spamcan61 said:

Isn't that pretty much what Protocab does?  Pity this sort of system has never taken off

It is permanently shunted into the lay by loop, while the traffic on the main line keeps going past.

 

The problem it has is that the potential customer base is existing railway modellers that actually operate their models, the huge majority of whom will have track power model railway layouts. DCC got there first as the massive upgrade over DC, and was a simple 'add on'  to any existing layout with reasonably adequate wiring; and easy conversion of existing 12V DC locos, providing much enhanced control flexibility, and way improving running reliability compared to DC. There's the elephant in the room, a simple to implement and effective competitor in place with about thirty years to secure its position, well entrenched; and I would suggest the 'interested in something better' customer group are largely on DCC now.

 

So the RC/battery system has to persuade that group of its 'something yet better' offering with advantages such as:

No layout wiring problems - have a wired up layout that works, so no immediate benefit

Fine individual loco control - got that already thanks

Reliable operation - got that already thanks

 

And to obtain these advantages (which don't amount to much):

Bin your existing control kit, and buy and install new gear, including bulkier kit in the locos

Accept a far less flexible and therefore more expensive user interface

Expect to have to regularly replace the rechargeable batteries

 

That's a very hard sell indeed.

 

When you consider that my DCC system bought many years ago will potentially address and operate any of hundreds of locos on the layout, from just one handset without any palaver, the primitive nature of R/C becomes apparent. It is still based around thinking dictated by control of unconstrained vehicles which must be protected from signals from other sources. This does not apply in the same way to model railway. A single control handset with a signal address architecture of 'unique layout password'+ 'loco address' is the system required for model railway. Anything less is a second rate design for model railway purposes, and results in unnecessary expense (which only purchases added inconvenience) for the potential customer because of the numerous 'bound' controller handsets required.

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1 hour ago, woodenhead said:

The track/wheel interface has always been the achilles heel of railway modelling, any proper battery operated offering would not involve tearing models apart.

 

Well it certainly is an Achilles' heel for a too cheaply made toy, or a model designed without much thought for that aspect of it's engineering.   But even 0-4-0's with a modicum of weight and some form of working suspension that keeps all wheels touching the rails don't seem to have a problem. Ditto for track work that doesn't have unpowered or plastic vee crossings.

 

I always found wiring the track to be a fun and educational part of the hobby. All the magic of invisible remote control, at very little cost. Really great for youngsters entering the hobby and a welcome escape from buying everything and making nothing. 

 

Tim

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2 hours ago, Hitchin Junction said:

 

Ah yes, the days when every delicately detailed plastic model has to be torn apart every 3 years to change the battery,  Including the all the lit coaches, and the buried wireless operated point motors and signals. :)

 

Tim

I change my batteries every time I use the loco!. On track charging is coming, 

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1 hour ago, Hitchin Junction said:

And going back on topic. I don't see live steam producing 4mm scale model clouds of smoke , harmless and clean for indoors, or otherwise. Like time, some things just don't scale down.

 

Tim

 

Exactly... a 1:76 scale model with 1:1 scale steam doesn't work.. bit like representing "scale water" using H2O

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1 hour ago, woodenhead said:

As long as you don't want to have a light engine :D

 

Hauling trains it would work, and you could simply swap out the coach and set your train off again.

 

But the point is, and it does sort of hark back to your original comment, as it stands Proto-cab isn't plug and play.  For battery operation to work it needs to be built in at the outset and for that there simply isn't a market especially whilst Bachmann and Hornby both have their DCC solutions to sell.

No it does not, it depends on the loco and there most certainly is a market for the correctly priced and specified product. IMO Protocab is too expensive and has a restricted specification.

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1 hour ago, 34theletterbetweenB&D said:

It is permanently shunted into the lay by loop, while the traffic on the main line keeps going past.

 

The problem it has is that the potential customer base is existing railway modellers that actually operate their models, the huge majority of whom will have track power model railway layouts. DCC got there first as the massive upgrade over DC, and was a simple 'add on'  to any existing layout with reasonably adequate wiring; and easy conversion of existing 12V DC locos, providing much enhanced control flexibility, and way improving running reliability compared to DC. There's the elephant in the room, a simple to implement and effective competitor in place with about thirty years to secure its position, well entrenched; and I would suggest the 'interested in something better' customer group are largely on DCC now.

 

So the RC/battery system has to persuade that group of its 'something yet better' offering with advantages such as:

No layout wiring problems - have a wired up layout that works, so no immediate benefit

Fine individual loco control - got that already thanks

Reliable operation - got that already thanks

 

And to obtain these advantages (which don't amount to much):

Bin your existing control kit, and buy and install new gear, including bulkier kit in the locos

Accept a far less flexible and therefore more expensive user interface

Expect to have to regularly replace the rechargeable batteries

 

That's a very hard sell indeed.

 

When you consider that my DCC system bought many years ago will potentially address and operate any of hundreds of locos on the layout, from just one handset without any palaver, the primitive nature of R/C becomes apparent. It is still based around thinking dictated by control of unconstrained vehicles which must be protected from signals from other sources. This does not apply in the same way to model railway. A single control handset with a signal address architecture of 'unique layout password'+ 'loco address' is the system required for model railway. Anything less is a second rate design for model railway purposes, and results in unnecessary expense (which only purchases added inconvenience) for the potential customer because of the numerous 'bound' controller handsets required.

See the BlueRail new chip offerings. Actually the 2.4Ghz radio control protocols are sophisticated. They have to be to fly a drone and model rail radio control uses a similar  system and the single best thing is NO WIRING, great if you hate wiring

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The answer to the OP seems self-evident: nobody was interested; they wanted to talk about something else instead.

 

My two pennorth would be that in 00 it’s too small, fiddly and gimmicky.

 

Live steam in larger scales took off in about 1860, and remain exceedingly heathy, especially in G1 and 16mm/ft, where in the latter especially it is at least as widely used as battery, which is the other main option.

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14 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

The answer to the OP seems self-evident: nobody was interested; they wanted to talk about something else instead.

 

My two pennorth would be that in 00 it’s too small, fiddly and gimmicky.

 

Live steam in larger scales took off in about 1860, and remain exceedingly heathy, especially in G1 and 16mm/ft, where in the latter especially it is at least as widely used as battery, which is the other main option.

 

Yup - just a matter of scale.

 

1506406447_P1130374S.jpg.bf73f2af0f33cac43d9ea64dc14ec051.jpg

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5 hours ago, Sir TophamHatt said:

Why didn't live steam really take off?

I thought this would have been more popular than sound.

 

Hi,

 

I understand the financial crash in 2008 and the rise in wages in Chinese model railway factories forced Hornby to withdraw their OO live steam range.

 

RE DCC: Hornby's live steamers require about 40 volts (at 5 amps) so is a degree of incompatibility on the voltage side. The temperature inside the loco may make using a DCC decoder difficult.

 

Regards

 

Nick

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