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Heruss

Has N Gauge become more reliable?

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So it's a simple question really for the N gauge modellers out there... has N gauge become reliable enough to do an end-to-end layout? It's because I am limited on space that I have started looking seriously an N gauge for a future project based on Swadlincote Station, where I can fit in more of the trackwork and details I want.

 

I flirted with N gauge many years ago and wasn't very pleased with the results or the way the stock worked and it seemed I would have to invest heavily into kit built models which I wasn't able to do...

 

Having glanced through Grafar's current offerings I can now actually purchase a lot of the stock that ran along the Loop quite convincingly with the Black 5's 3MT's, Crabs, and 4F's especially... never mind that the rise of 3D Printing could allow me to cover stuff like the 2Fs four of which ran on the Burton and Leicester line until near the end of steam, often visiting the loop line on one of the four pickup goods which travelled through there. This was also replaced with a single 2MT "mickey mouse".

 

But then we come back to the question of reliability. Can modern N gauge run slowly and reliably? I ask this because I'd want to be able to spend time moving the stock around steadily and to take my time when running the pickup goods (they weren't quick, after all). I know couplings are no longer a problem thanks to the new magnetic ones from Dapol, but still, my main question stands... can you help out dear RMwebbers?

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Slow running on new models is a great improvement over the old-school Farish offerings. Dapol's "super-creep" motors in particular seem to be very good. Farish's forthcoming coreless loco drive will also be watched with interest.

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Modern N scale is a sat improvement on N scale 10 years ago from my experience using N scale chassis in 009 locos to buying the current N scale diesels for use on my N scale layout and steam locos for a future layout.

However I have found that some of the steam locos have required a lot of running in to get them moving smoothly at low speeds, in particular the Dapol M7 and standard class 2 tank. The diesels require much less running in and the recently introduced Farish Tornado loco ran very well once the crank pin screws had been tightened ran very smoothly with little running in.

 

Ian

Edited by roundhouse

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Depends what you wanted to do really.

 

Even the old Farish, properly maintained on well laid and maintained (clean) track, it was fairly good particularly if you just had trains going round and round.

 

However, it depended what sort of layout you wanted - shunting could be a bit erratic as slow speeds. But as noted above, the new Dapol supercreep mechanisms are very good at slow speed.

 

But use Setrack points... and you'll still have issues in places, particularly in short locos. Use electrofrog points, wired properly, and you shouldn't have much problem at all.

 

What sort of stock and layout project did you have in mind?

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My experience, and it has been echoed on previous discussions on RMWeb and the N Gauge Yahoo group, is that you have to do your own quality control, at least for steam locos.

 

You will need to trust your luck to a certain extent and be prepared to send poor runners back to the retailer until you get a "good un". This is obviously easier when you purchase from a local model shop than if you get the loco by mail or internet order, or at exhibitions. At times I have got very annoyed with the inconvenience of having to keep parcelling up locos and sending them back, but it is great when you do get one that runs like a sewing machine.

 

Also be aware that as production is often in small batches these days in N, the retailer may not be able to get an exact replacement. You need to test as soon as possible and get it back to the retailer if there is a problem.

 

Problems you might see include poor electrical pick-up (often easy to remedy by adjusting contacts), lumpy running and waddling (often due to non-concentric wheel sets).

 

Douglas

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The layout project itself is an end-to-end layout based on Swadlincote station, which sported a goods yard using nothing but 3-way-points (space restrictions 8 wagons a siding, perfick for a smaller scale layout). I am looking into wether I could make it a "roundy roundy" type by having the loops on either end off of the scenic section to allow for that reliability, but space is at a premium. The stock would be almost exclusively Steam and the layout would be set in the mid 1960s with the occassional DMU and Type 2 "Rat" for variety's sake (Daily passenger trains ended in 1946 but I'm using modellers license on it to give me more variety as Saturday Shoppers and Sunday Football specials continued right to the sweet and bitter end) for the most part traffic would be handled by 4F's with some smaller locomotives like the Standard 3 tank handling passenger services and every so often a "big" double header pushing its way through as a Saturday Shopping or Football special. (often some ten coaches long or more and needed to be double headed to deal with the steep grades)

Edited by Heruss

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We often buy a loco whilst exhibiting at a show so have our own test track behind the layout and can test a new one so if there is a problem we then take it back. This is particularly. Useful as we fit decoders once the locos is tested on DC. We have had a number of Dapol locos that works fine on dc butnot at all once a decoder is installed and at a show last summer we bought a Dapol class 67 and a decoder to fit off the same trader, tested the locos on dc then installed the 6 pin decoders but it wouldn't work and took both back. The other Dapol locos and decoders we bought worked fine. Of course not everyone can do that if they are just visiting or don't have a test track but often we are asked and gladly test locos for others at a show.

Ian

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Then I know to ask you if I ever see a lovely American N gauge layout with an RMweb sign on it :P As it stands it's all a bit pie in the sky thinking as I haven't even begun to look at costs for such a layout. I am leaning towards an 8x2 layout giving me a good four feet on each board for the necessary trackwork. A lot of the coaching stock would be shorter in the form of the suburban stock available and trains were rarely longer than 3 or 4 coaches, or ten or so four wheel wagons in their prototypical length due to the steepness of the grades, so 8 feet seems sufficent.

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I think anything from the last 20 years is likely to run well.

 

The newest stuff from Farish and Dapol is generally very good, but equally the older designs have 5 pole motors (except anything made before 1983 in the case of Farish, but that's a long time ago now!).

 

I've been able to make some fairly old mechanisms crawl beautifully with nothing more than a careful overhaul. Some occasionally need some fettling, and generally the worst thing that can be wrong with them is quartering (mainly on Bachfarish reruns of the older Farish designs). This too can be adjusted.

 

Many criticise the older Farish mechanism, but this is generally unjust IMHO - there are some issues (primarily split gears in diesels), but the motors themselves are smooth and reliable, and take quite a bit more punishment than modern can motors. Locos need to be able to sleeper crawl for me to be happy with them!

 

Newer Dapol (Britannia, B17, B1 and most diesels) are fitted with 5 pole skew wound motors which run very well so long as they don't have the soft brush syndrome. Farish units use a smooth running 3 pole can motor.

 

Also, don't forget Union Mills from the Isle of Man - they produce various 0-6-0, 4-4-0 steam locos of some of the lesser classes. They are very solidly built and very good runners again.

 

In short you have little to worry about I'd say - I remember changing from OO to N in 1997 and being amazed by the performance of my first loco - a Farish standard 4MT tank. And things have generally only got better since then!

 

Cheers,

Alan

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I'm curious about Union Mills as they do some stuff I might be after (2P, for instance) but I cannot seem to find a website for them? Seems a bit odd in this day and age.

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Also sound wise 'n' gauge is getting easier to fit sound chips ....Dapol /farish which is about time i say. :senile:

Mark.

Edited by BROADTRAIN1979

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I'm curious about Union Mills as they do some stuff I might be after (2P, for instance) but I cannot seem to find a website for them? Seems a bit odd in this day and age.

 

It's a one man business, and Colin Heard who runs it generally deals over the telephone. Maybe this is oldschool, but I think he's happy running a small output concern - I suspect if he had online ordering demand would overwhelm him!

 

Cheers,

Alan

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Haha, thanks Alan. I'll see if I can get myself a catalogue of some sort then...

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If he's good, he's good. It's just a shame I haven't a clue about what his actual products are!!!

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My experience is that the modern n-gauge diesels run perfectly smoothly and all mine are able to crawl along sleeper to sleeper with no issues - provided I keep the track and wheels clean! Having said this, I have an old Poole era class 31 - runs very smoothly - its just rather noisy! No experience with n-gauge steam, but friends who have indicate that all is good in their world re. reliability and smooth running.

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So it's a simple question really for the N gauge modellers out there... has N gauge become reliable enough to do an end-to-end layout?

 

...

...

 

But then we come back to the question of reliability. Can modern N gauge run slowly and reliably?

To be brutally honest I get a little frustrated by the frequency of questions like this. It's not just down to the stock, it's what you do with it...

 

if the rolling stock is well maintained...

and you have resonably well laid track...

and you use a decent quality controller...

 

then N gauge has for a very long time been 'reliable enough for a shunting layout'... witness Andy Calvert's 'Nether Stowey' of the mid 1990s and my own 'Red Wharf Bay' first shown in 2001 and still ocasionally exhibited for two prime examples. We both used nothing but ready to run chassied locos and a mix of RTR and kit built rolling stock and both used high quality KPC controllers. We did both use automatic couplings though to aid shunting (Andy DGs, me B&Bs)

 

Yes, on the whole the more recently produced items are even more reliable when properly maintained, but, the finer wheel standards of some place an even greater emphasis on taking care with track laying and the modern motors do not take kindly to many old fashioned controllers...

 

Of course if modellers never bother to clean the wheels or track, and insist on using some crude old controller that's little more than an on-off switch no model in any scale is going to be reliable enough and will give a bad impression...

 

Paul

Edited by PLD
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