How does the MTH big boy look on 1:29? Wait for Aristo Mallet?

Greg Elmassian

Well, I, like many G scalers have been drooling over "big iron". I
had a hard time trying to decide between 1:29 and the more pristine
1:32 1 scale.

After looking at 1:32 offerings, which were primarily really nice
scale models which cost thousands of dollars, and looking at the
size, which seemed noticably smaller than the 1:29 stuff, I have gone
to G scale.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the MTH big boy running a string of
Aristo heavyweights on the big G scale modular layout at the Queen
Mary show.

After visiting the MTH booth (which was outside next to the entrance)
and the Aristo booth with the mallet up on rollers, I kept coming
away with the impression that there was very little difference in

I finally went up to the Aristo booth, and used a piece of paper to
measure from top of the rail to the top of the sand dome on the
mallet... zip to the outside, and ask the MTH guy to stop the train.

There was only about 3/8" difference in height! Now, of course I know
that the big boy is bigger in real life, but if I am to spend $1,000
on a compound loco in the near future, that MTH is hard to beat! The
sound system sounds great, the loco looks great, it is able to cope
with 4 foot radius curves (looks awful, but on 5 foot curves, no
problem).. and the smoke unit, wow. It puffs!

I'm seriously considering getting the MTH unit, and converting it
over to DCC... although they have a remote control system, I think it
is not DCC.

Now, a big boy in 1:29 would be great, and bigger, but how long will
that be?

Something else caught my eye... the operating cars. It might be fun
to get a few for the kids visiting...

It gives pause.

Of course, I think the compounds are the exception.. If I look at the
rest of the loco's available in both scales, I can get a Mike,
Hudson, etc. for $300-$400 in G scale, and I'm up at $800 to stay in
1:32 even from MTH.




Goodie from Queen Mary show: rerailer

Greg Elmassian

Last large scale train show I was at I saw a long piece of abs
plastic that was a "railer" for putting trains on the track. Looked
like a nice idea, but I said to myself "self, the wheels are real
big, so why do you need this"

Well, since then, I have put down a large test loop in the back yard,
and I can't tell you the number of times I have got down on my knees
to find I don't have the wheels quite on the track. Not a good idea
with DCC!! (shorts the track, and I have a 10 amp supply!)

Well, on my second lap through the show I found them again, at the
splitjaw booth. It is item #10332, called the E-Z Loader. $35 sounded
high, but it is a thick piece of gray abs plastic precision milled to
sit on 332 rail, one end straddles the rails and elevates the ramp,
the other end is milled to guide the trucks onto the rails.

Very nice for locos as well as cars. I put a picture in the photos


Soundtraxx - Tsunami update from Queen Mary show

Greg Elmassian

I stopped by the Soundtraxx booth. Talked to Nancy (I'll get her last
name) from Soundtraxx. I had called them about 2 weeks ago asking
about what the proper horn was for my USA Trains F3 units. She was
very helpful on the phone, knowledgable, friendly, etc.

So it was nice to meet her and introduce myself in person. We talked
a lot about the Tsunami. Here's a number of points:

(For those who don't know what this is, it is a DCC combination motor
decoder and sound decoder, with the 2 parts linked so the motor load
information gets passed to the sound decoder)

1. The back-emf issue. The motor decoder still uses back emf as I
posted in the gscale group. The patent garbage makes it so they
cannot put it in their ads. As I said before, and Nancy confirmed,
the concept of using back emf for motor control has been around
forever, but somehow a patent was issued.. It does not matter, their
decoder uses it, and most importantly it is the key to changing the
motor sound (and others) dependent on load. For me this is a big
deal, locomotives sound very different on and off load. Nancy
confirmed this info.

2. The decoders will come in G scale sizes, in terms of amperage, a 4
amp and a 8 amp. I would not recommend anything smaller in G scale.
In fact, the USA trains GP9, and some others can even exceed the
capacity of the 8 amp unit. You might have to use 2 decoders in these
units (the units have 2 motors in parallel, thus you could break up
the 2 motors, but it could have difficulties... more in a subsequent
post)... Nancy confirmed my opinion, that many modellers
underestimate the amperage of their locos... in short measure full
stall amperage, which can be WAY higher than the running current.
I'll expound more on this in a subsequent post.

3. Soundtraxx has never announced a delivery date. Unfortunately some
of their dealers have "guessed" and these guesses are sometimes taken
as an official Soundtraxx announcement. Nancy indicated that they are
hoping for August, there are some component delays, but as soon as
the components are there, they are ready for full production runs,
i.e. the floodgates will open. There is no waiting list, because they
are already geared for production, and it's so close.


Went to the Queen Mary show yesterday

Greg Elmassian

Drove up yesterday. Only took 1-1/4 hours from Carlsbad.

Got there right about 10am when it opened. Stayed until 3.

Made 2 laps of the show inside, and spent time at the outside

For those of you who haven't been there, it is in the actual ship.
It's freeway all the way there, easy trip. $8 for parking.

The exhibition hall is 3 stories inside, you enter on the top floor,
which is open in the center. The "big boys" are on this floor. One
floor down is more exhibits/dealers/manufacturers, and is likewise
open in the center. The bottom floor is "normal" and has the big
modular layout in the center, with a few exhibitors around the sides.

If you hang out on the stairways just above the bottom floor, you can
see the entire layout which is quite large. The layout is a big oval
with a smaller oval in the center that connects to the large oval at
each end. A small train runs in the center, and the large trains run
on the 2 outer ovals which have broad curves in the corners. The
outer loops ran passenger trains and longer freight drags.

There was everything from the Accucraft 1:20.3 narrow gauge engines
to an MTH Big Boy. Interestingly enough the MTH looked fine with a
string of Aristo heavyweight passenger cars.

There were passenger trains with USA trains aluminium passenger cars
and PA's or F units..

Overall the show was fine, but was hoping for more new stuff... Nice
to see the MTH actually on a layout, new roadrailer from Aristo, but
that was all I saw new.

I was disappointed with the layout inside. It's big enough to run
quite a few trains at a time, and an Amtrack 3 unit passenger running
mindlessly on the inside loop, and 2 trains running equally
mindlessly on the outer loops.

You would think that breaking the main lines into 3 blocks could do
it easily. I know that manning displays at the show is a pain, but I
think something could be done to run more than 3 trains on such a
large exhibit.

I did have a good time talking to a few exhibitors, which I will
detail in further posts.


more dcc!

Greg Elmassian

Got the 8 amp NCE D808 decoders installed in the USA Trains F3A and
F3B... ran a consist, really easy with the NCE controller pro...
definitely the nicest way to do this.

Want sound, but really want the sound to vary with the engine load.
Only a couple of ways to do this, either a motor decoder that outputs
the back emf data to a sound decoder or a combination motor sound

I was kind of stuck with the USA trains F units, since NCE only
warrants the 8 amp decoder with USA trains stuff... There are no high
current decoders that output the back emf data, Lenz makes a 1.5 amp
decoder that does this, using a serial interface called SUSI. There
are some SUSI sound decoders, but they are all european sounds as of

The Soundtraxx people will release the Tsunami combination motor and
sound decoder that modifies the sound based on locomotive load.. very
cool... even cooler, they plan for an 8 amp decoder!

OK so I'm a happy guy, just have to wait for a while...


ok so I got a decoder and opened the bachmann loco

Greg Elmassian

wow, what a lot of wires! 2 sets of power wires from a hole between
the motor and drivers (i.e. can't see inside) that come up into the
boiler. There are 2 switches that are behind the smokebox door, one
does the on off of the smoke unit, the other sets the default
direction (nmra is different from standard g scale)

trying to figure out if I should go to extra care to be able to
restore the stock dc wiring or not.

got a 4 amp decoder from NCE, came with the DCC system (10 amp

asked some questions on the forums, waiting for some answers.

Wireless DCC

Greg Elmassian

I also wanted to run wireless throttles, since I intend to ring the
house with track.

You can buy wireless throttles, but they are clunky, expensive, and
they do not have 2 way communication (not all of them).

Enter Kam Industries. They make a software package that runs on a
pc, sends the commands over a serial cable to your control module
(the box that puts DCC commands on the rails). The package receives
commands via 802.11. So you can use any Windows CE handheld that has
802.11. Very cool.

Will be installing a DCC receiver in a Bachmann loco this weekend,
and then will try the wireless software.


could use some discussion

Greg Elmassian

I thought there were more computer-savvy people in San Diego that
have garden railroads.

Oh well, I'll ramble.

Decided to go with DCC because I want to run multiple unit diesels.

At first there was some difficulty determining which manufacturer to
go with.

Well, the solution is simple if you use USA trains locos, you MUST
go with NCE equipment, since they are the only people who make a DCC
decoder that is over 4 amps.. Some of the USA trains geeps can take
up to 15 amps at stall.

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