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DCC Concepts Powerbase

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I am thinking of using the DCC Concepts 'Powerbase' on my hidden reverse loop to avoid giving trains a helping hand. Can someone tell me if the magnetic fields of the powerful NEO magnets that have to be mounted under the loco will affect the DCC decoder?

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If the decoder is mounted atop the chassis then I would imagine the field effect would be insufficient to cause any issues, however - if you have any sound fitted loco's with speakers located low in the model (fuel tanks, etc) then high power magnetic fields will not do the speakers any good at all and may cause distortion rather than running issues.

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As has been mentioned, this is a 'reversal' of Tri-ang's Magnadhesion, and is a follow on to the version released by Busch a few years ago with their Z-gauged track, H0 scale 'Mine' train sets - in which adheson is/was improved by laying the track over steel plates .... in the case of the starter set this was supplied as 4 'large' sheets, which together covered the entire area of the supplied oval of track.

However they now appear to have progressed to including a metal strip in each piece of individual track ... a much better solution! .. and CC have now made this idea available to a wider audience

 

As history records, the benefit of Magnadhesion was 'lost' when steel rails, and to a lesser extent, driving wheel rims/tyres, were replaced by nickel silver.

 

The greatest effect of the magnetism is when it forms a complete closed circuit - as with keeper plates on a magnet, and once separated with an air-gap, the magnetic field then falling away with the distance, according to the field pattern.  Magnadhesion used magnets mounted in the chassis and, in close-proximity, between the driving wheels, which, when steel, were in contact with the steel rails forming a closed magnetic circuit through the rails.

 

As the magnets are mounted within the loco, they will not move in relation to the decoder or loudspeaker - and so it is only as the field pattern changes, when entering or leaving the controlled area, that an induced current is likely.

 

A Loudspeaker has been mentioned, which originally prompted these thoughts of mine: but the design of the magnetic field in a loudspeaker is heavily concentrated across the small internal gap in which the voice coil moves... and I would suggest this is unlikely to be affected much by the additional nearby field .... certainly not if a loco is able to pull away from the end of the affected section!

 

Of course, if the strength was that of 'in contact', there would be the risk that at the end of the 'aided section', the loco could not pull itself away!

So everything is operating 'with a gap' reducing the strength ... except for attracted iron filings etc etc...  

The problem now being to find suitable locations within the loco to place the small and powerful Neo magnets.

 

As the loco approaches the magnetically aid-able area, Fleming's law will tell us the direction of the induced current, and Lenz's Law reminds us that its related to the speed of crossing the lines of flux... ie the faster, the more induced current.

However, even with a model Bullet Train or HS2, I doubt the induced currents will adversly affect a decoder, even if mounted low in the chassis, between the magnet and trackbed.

 

The benefit will vary with the scale/gauge because this tends to affect proximity to the rails and the magnetic circuit passing beneath:

In Busch's Mine railway there is an obvious benefit, such that the manufacturer uses and relies on it!

 

With OO/H0 models - unless the magnets are fitted between the wheels as with Magnadhesion - you are simply using the gapped-fairly-close-proximity field from the Neo magnets (mounted as low as possible in the chassis containing the driving wheels) induced into the strips beneath the rails; and gaining downward force as if extra weight, such that a proportionate increase in frictional force is obtained for better tractive effect.

 

Better results would therefore be likely with Code 75 rail rather than 100, or the 5mm-overall height Rocoline Code 83 Track-with-trackbed that I use .... unless I can mount the strips up, within, the trackbed itself.

Edited by Phil S
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I've just spent a (very rare) free afternoon in the railway room fitting a trial installation of powerbase to the 1 in 35 climb out from the branch storage area.

 

I did not use the glue and weight down method shown in Model Rail and recommended by the manufacturer but used double sided carpet tape to fix the metal plates. Much quicker, and so far it seems to work.

 

Once I've fitted a loco, I'll do some haulage tests and post the results.

 

Alan

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Some preliminary findings....

 

Loco - Bachmann standard 4 2-6-0. DCC control. I can't comment on the OP's question about the magnets possibly affecting the decoder as on this loco the decoder is in the tender.

 

I chose this loco as it has always been a bit of a rice pudding special and up to now the cure has been Bullfrog Snot on the rear pair of drivers. This gives the opportunity to compare differing approaches to the problem. The loco has also been fitted with tender pick-ups which can be expected to increase drag a little.

 

Peco code 100 n/s track on 1 in 35 gradient

 

Tested with Bachmann 4 wheel wagons.

 

Number of wagons started successfully from a stand on 1 in 35.

 

Loco without mods other than tender pick-ups  - 8 wagons.

 

Loco with 2 magnets on Powerbase  - 12 wagons.

 

Loco with no magnets, and Bullfrog Snot on rear pair of drivers - 21 wagons.

 

I ran out of time for further tests, but will try fitting some other locos in due course.

 

Alan

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Hi Alan

 

if this is the result then the magnets have not been mounted low enough - we managed 30+ with our own standard 4 loco. direct magnet placement is OK with locos with small drivers like the Jinty, but as wheels get larger, you do have to lower the magnets relative to the railhead.

 

The magnets need to be within a couple of mm of the railhead... ideally closer if using code 100. For that reason we have made a special mounting etch that has many different length "saddles" to hold magnets between the drivers low down - they are invisible when painted. Should be available ex stock at Hattons, Gaugemaster and other retailers.

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Am I right in thinking that Bullfrog snot seams the better option?

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Am I right in thinking that Bullfrog snot seams the better option?

Not necessarily.

 

As Richard has said, the height of the magnets above the rail is the critical factor. The test results were obtained using the magnets fixed to the loco baseplate, using the pockets supplied in the pack, which does mean there is a significant gap above the rail.

 

Subsequently, I tried sticking another pair of magnets underneath the originals, thus giving 2 stacks of 2 magnets each, which brought them within 1mm of rail head height.

 

The difference was somewhat marked... the loco walked away from a standing start up 1 in 35 with 29 wagons. It would have taken more, but the train would have been longer than the gradient.

 

I have to admit to being impressed - the height of the magnet in relation to the track is clearly critical, but if positioned correctly, the improvement in performance is substantial.

 

I have since fitted another couple of locos using the mounting fret offered by DCC Concepts, and the results have been good enough to convince me to fit the system to the steepest gradients on the layout on the climb out from the lower deck storage, and to equip those locos that currently find these challenging.

 

One small problem that has shown itself is that when the track was laid, some years ago, I deliberately used steel rail on some of the the rising gradients as it seems to give better grip than nickel silver. There are some lesser gradients on the scenic part of the layout that also have steel rail, but are ballasted, so I don't want to pull the track up to fit the powerbase baseplates. The powerbase magnets are powerful enough that any imperfection in the track laying results in the magnet pulling the loco off the track and locking it to the steel rail, even though non-fitted locos do not find a problem. This is not a criticism of powerbase, and would not be an issue for nickel silver track. Hopefully, a little track fettling will be enough to solve the issue when I have the time to do it.

 

As to which is better, it depends on your needs - Bullfrog Snot works well enough, is easier to install on an existing layout and would be cheaper than fitting a lot of track and locos with Powerbase, but might require fitting additional pickups and lead to more frequent track cleaning. It also needs to be re-applied from time to time. Powerbase is claimed to actually reduce the need for track cleaning, but I've not used it extensively enough to form a view on this.

 

I've decided that powerbase best suits my needs and will be using it on those locos and gradients where it can be of use.

 

Perhaps using both systems together would give the ultimate haulage performance...

 

Alan

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I am contemplating using the power base system but have a couple of questions. Does any body know how the magnets on the locos interact with the under track magnets used for the kadee uncoupling system? Secondly would the magnets fitted to the locos work with just steel rail, i.e no base plates fitted. I am just past the planning stage and the baseboards are under construction so i have to make these decisions soon. As regards the Kadee uncoupling system i could use the electro magnets but this decision must be made before track laying commences.

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I have some track laid with steel rail and have found that the power base magnets pull the loco sideways towards one rail or the other, and can ln some circumstances pull a loco off the track and leave it beached on one rail. This has been a particular problem with my M7.

 

I've no experience with kadees but would think it quite likely that there would be an interaction, depending on the relative polarities of the magnets.

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Ask the Powerbase manufacturer for their opinion.

 

My instinct would be better to use the Kadee electromagnet uncoupler. There's likely to be some interaction between the loco magnet and a Kadee permanent track magnet, even if it is only a couple of jerks as the loco magnet(s) runs on and off the fixed magnet.

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Has anyone tried Powerbase on a helix? If so, what were the results?

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Helix? Did someone say helix?

I am guilty I'm afraid, yes I am using the power base with a helix, pictures of the beginning of the build can be found in the layouts section, under Kirkby in ashfield.

And yes it works! I have it going up 4 and a half storeys each end, obviously you only need to lay it under the 'up' track.

But I have 3rd radius going up at one end and of course 4th radius going up the other end ( a helix at each end of the layout for those who had a late night).

I run mainly steam outline, but do have half a dozen Diesels, which don't really need the power base, however some of the steam locos had problems with a 10 wagon train so needed a helping hand.

Go on eBay for magnets, lots of shapes and sizes and loads cheaper.

Don't forget to put small 2mm x 2mm x 1mm magnets on front pony wheels, they follow the curve much better and are much less prone to 'hopping off'.

 

Cheers Ive

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Helix? Did someone say helix?

I am guilty I'm afraid, yes I am using the power base with a helix, pictures of the beginning of the build can be found in the layouts section, under Kirkby in ashfield.

And yes it works! I have it going up 4 and a half storeys each end, obviously you only need to lay it under the 'up' track.

But I have 3rd radius going up at one end and of course 4th radius going up the other end ( a helix at each end of the layout for those who had a late night).

I run mainly steam outline, but do have half a dozen Diesels, which don't really need the power base, however some of the steam locos had problems with a 10 wagon train so needed a helping hand.

Go on eBay for magnets, lots of shapes and sizes and loads cheaper.

Don't forget to put small 2mm x 2mm x 1mm magnets on front pony wheels, they follow the curve much better and are much less prone to 'hopping off'.

 

Cheers Ive

 

Ditto for getting sheet mild steel shim,  inexpensively by the 6" wide roll, from any machine shop supplier. Cuts to shape/size with cheap, sharp scissors

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I have to agree Andy, I am a tool maker so gauge sheet is plentiful! 

 

Ive

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I recently watched an upload by Hornby Magazine on you tube hoping for their opinion on whether the power base system is worth it or not. I was very disappointed to find it showed trains running up and down gradients but no before and after shots of locos hauling those trains with and without magnets fitted to demonstrate the difference. They didn't even say what code of rail was used. It was just a promo to buy a certain issue of their rag.

Yes DCC Concepts on their you tube site has videos of before and after shots of trains running up 1 in 30 and 1 in 60 gradients but naturally they will say it makes a huge difference they want people to buy their product. What I was after was an independent unbiased proper video review but as yet there are none.

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ins-lay-tps.jpg

 

 

ins-clos-fix1.jpg

 

I can recommend the use of magnets as trackwork jig construction clamps on our "Switchworks tm, Pro Bases" tm, which operate on the same principle and use the same materials. But the magnets are free to drop down to their lowest level. The non-linear attraction with distance is very apparent however. They really clamp down strongly as you get close to the surface.

 

Andy

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My instinct would be better to use the Kadee electromagnet uncoupler. There's likely to be some interaction between the loco magnet and a Kadee permanent track magnet, even if it is only a couple of jerks as the loco magnet(s) runs on and off the fixed magnet.

 

 

I decided to give the product a try as with re-planning in my head I believe I will be needing an incline to access a fiddle yard below the main layout after it is built. The DDCconcepts package just arrived this morning and I can see that the base plates are not magnetic, they're just present below the track to attract the small but powerful magnets fitted to the loco. It will be a few weeks before I get the first bit of the layout fitted and wired up but as far as I can tell the product should not affect coupling systems like Dingham and Kadee, especially if the loco magnets are fitted away from the bufferbeam but the small magnets are quite powerful so it's tricky to say with smaller engines but at least rolling stock won't be affected and you don't really to add magnets on your little shunter locomotives.  

Edited by steves17

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Hi,

 

A while ago I put together a DIY traction pull tester.

 

After I'd tested a number of locos on Hornby track I bought some Powerbase strip and their magnets.

 

A Replica Railways 64' chassis went from 55g to 77g pull @12 V DC after fitting just two out of the four magnets recommended. That's a 40% increase.

 

The Replica Chassis is a bit light on its feet as its meant to fit inside an EMU or similar so the result I got may be misleadingly good.

 

I will have to repeat the tests once I've weighted the chassis up to represent the expected final weight of the powered vehicle.

 

I'm hoping to borrow a Dapol 68 to see if the extra weight they have crammed in gives significant extra traction.

 

Regards

 

Nick

Edited by NIK

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Hi,

 

A while ago I put together a DIY traction pull tester.

 

After I'd tested a number of locos on Hornby track I bought some Powerbase strip and their magnets.

 

A Replica Railways 64' chassis went from 55g to 77g pull @12 V DC after fitting just two out of the four magnets recommended. That's a 40% increase.

 

The Replica Chassis is a bit light on its feet as its meant to fit inside an EMU or similar so the result I got may be misleadingly good.

 

I will have to repeat the tests once I've weighted the chassis up to represent the expected final weight of the powered vehicle.

 

I'm hoping to borrow a Dapol 68 to see if the extra weight they have crammed in gives significant extra traction.

 

Regards

 

Nick

 

Extra weight will pretty much always give extra traction - especially on an all-axle drive such as the 68. (Not always the case with single motor bogied locos, or steam locos if the weight is not placed correctly.)

For example, the Bachmann Class 66 and 70 share the same drive train, but the 66 is definitely a better puller than the 70. The 70 is markedly lighter than the 66 due to the narrow body meaning that there is less metal in the chassis

 

An oft-forgotten added benefit of powerbase (or extra weight) is the improvement in pickup - especially useful for small 4 wheeled locos.

 

Cheers,

Mick

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Extra weight will pretty much always give extra traction - especially on an all-axle drive such as the 68. (Not always the case with single motor bogied locos, or steam locos if the weight is not placed correctly.)

For example, the Bachmann Class 66 and 70 share the same drive train, but the 66 is definitely a better puller than the 70. The 70 is markedly lighter than the 66 due to the narrow body meaning that there is less metal in the chassis

 

An oft-forgotten added benefit of powerbase (or extra weight) is the improvement in pickup - especially useful for small 4 wheeled locos.

 

Cheers,

Mick

 

Hi, I haven't pull tested many locos & Multiple Units but the one with the highest pull was a OO Bachmann Class 47 (116g total @ 12V DC, all wheel drive, weight 532g, large body to put conventional alloy weight in).

 

The loco/MU with the highest traction per driven wheel set was the Bachmann OO 4-Cep @ 23g. @12V DC.

 

I have a spreadsheet for calculating drag due to the gradient a train is going up, the equation for which seems to tie in with practical tests I've done.

 

However for the drag due to track radius equation I found on the internet based on tests using HO stock with RP25 wheelsets doesn't seem to agree with my practical tests using OO British stock and wheels - I may have to do more investigation and perhaps make a DIY dynamometer like I have seen on the internet.

 

 

Regards

 

Nick

Edited by NIK

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Hi, I haven't pull tested many locos & Multiple Units but the one with the highest pull was a OO Bachmann Class 47 (116g total @ 12V DC, all wheel drive, weight 532g, large body to put conventional alloy weight in).

 

 

 

Nick

 

Try and get your hands on a Hornby 60 - better than a Bachy66 (and probably 47 as they have a similar sized lump of chassis)

 

Cheers,

Mick

Edited by newbryford

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Rather than start a new thread I thought I would add my experience to this.

 

I retrofitted two long (each is about 32' there and back) under board loops with 1 in 30 gradients and 2/3 radius curves to convert a roundy round to a dog bone. Don't ask about my sanity. The combination of acute curve resistance and steep gradient is a formidable challenge for any system.

 

I chose Powerbase as the only plausible way of recovering at least some performance.

 

Results have been quite mixed.

 

Where it is possible to get the magnets low down at the optimum 1mm above rail height and a sufficient quantity of magnets - results have been very good and in line with expectations.

 

Note that the metal plates are underneath the sleepers so it makes a difference depending on your track code and sleeper thickness. The finer the better.

 

The metal plates appear die cut, and have a very slightly concave side. I suggest placing them concave side down.

 

If you have nicely modelled locos with brake rigging - it is likely that the brake rigging will have to go. You should think about that before you start

 

You can see the magnets hanging down underneath, but only close up, and you can paint them black.

 

Many locos have a number chassis screws and a bulge (for the gear housing)s in the bottom chassis. Placing magnets around these screws and bulges can be a real challenge If you are not willing to cover them up and can severely restrict the amount of magnets you can mount underneath.

 

Sometimes existing screw holes can be used in conjunction with the screw holes in the brass frets to mitigate this to a certain extent.

 

I found the brass frets quite weak; it is recommended that you solder up the corners if you are so inclined, but this seems a rather ad hoc solution. Better would be pre bent non magnetic aluminium or steel I suspect. That might cost more.

 

The mounting holes on the frets were too small for the coarse pitch screws provided, and tore the frets up in use. Trying to drill out the frets also tore them up. Perhaps a QA issue, or I might be a bit heavy handed. You could just superglue the frets in place.

 

In practice, I find the smaller the loco, and the more occluded the bottom of the chassis, the less effective Power base is as a system, but the more it needs powerbase! Tender drive locos seems to suffer the disadvantages of small locos.

 

Bigger loco drive locos with plenty of space to fit and hang the magnets benefit most. This produces an outstanding performance gain.

 

As Richard has mentioned above, to get the most out of the system you need to get the magnets to 1 mm of the rail head for best performance. Just watch out that you don't have anything sticking up, perhaps decouplers or foot crossing in the way.

 

And as noted above it also improves pickup consistency noticeably.

 

regards

Edited by ColHut

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Hi,

 

I took the static pull tests I did with the Replica 64' OO powered chassis with and without two of the four recommended Powerbase magnets and put them into my experimental gradient and curve calculator:

 

post-29876-0-15211700-1519579834.png

 

That's the no magnets and metal plate prediction no better than 1 in 76 gradient with 20" radius curves and six Mk1 coaches.

 

post-29876-0-46702500-1519580038.png

 

That's for two out of the four recommended magnets plus metal plates prediction: max 1 in ~33 gradient with 20" radius curves and six Mk1 coaches.

 

However the Replica chassis is underweight compared to a modern loco chassis and adding the weight of a body and some ballast weight can get the static pull up to 80 grammes without using Powerbase.

 

I don't know how adding weight to a chassis that has Powerbase magnets will work. Maybe the effect will be additive or will there be a frictional limit between wheel and rail?. I will have to do more tests.

 

Getting the tractive effort up without adding much weight might be beneficial as the loco won't have to haul much extra weight up a gradient.

 

 

 

Regards

 

Nick

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I found the brass frets quite weak; it is recommended that you solder up the corners if you are so inclined, but this seems a rather ad hoc solution.  Better would be pre bent non magnetic aluminium or steel I suspect.  That might cost more.

 

 

 

Running a very thin bead of solder in half-etched bend lines has long been an accepted way of strengthening folds in etched metal. They are naturally weak points at the bends, I can't remember when I haven't done this on the many kits and detailing parts I've assembled.

 

The advantage of the "flat pack" nature is that it takes up less packaging space and you can always bend them at angles other than 90 degrees to make different heights.

 

Cheers,

Mick

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