Yesterday morning, I met Terry, the owner of Ohkwari Sales, an E-Bay store. He is also here in Central AZ, and close enough to the UP main that we watched a pair of GP40’s (including a HLGX Rent-A-Wreck) switching from his yard. Terry is modeling the now underwater Rio Grande Black Canyon Route in On30. I have ALWAYS loved narrow gauge steam, and as a kid, I had to ride the Calico and Ghost Town Railroad. Little did I know then, but those gaudy steamers were really Rio Grande Southern #41 and Denver and Rio Grande #340. Hell, I STILL drag the wife and kids on that train whenever we go to Knott’s Berry Farm!
Anyways, back to the subject, Terry’s layout is running a NCE DCC system with sound, and soon I found myself with a throttle in my hand pulling D&RGW C-16 #271 out of Cimarron, CO. Even without scenery and a VERY short mainline, I saw the benefits of DCC, and more importantly, the incredible sound of the steam escaping the cylinders, brakes squealing when slowing down, and a steam blow-off when sitting still….with a little coaxing, I am sure that I could have figured out flange squeals! The only thing that was missing was the bass of the sound, and with a small speaker in the tender, it’s not hard to see why.
In 2011 and 2012, Lance Mindheim wrote in his blogs about this very issue, and he discovered that computer desktop speakers helped it out, to an extent. He eventually wound up using a Tsunami decoder and wireless headphones to get the desired effect. Just his sound system is worth more than what I have in my layout!
Being the cheap bastard that I am, I figure that I could switch to a Bachmann Dynamics DCC for $87.50 shipped, or a NCE Power Cab in the $150 range…the Power Cab offers walk around capability. A decoder for my GP35R would be in the $30 range, and with a possible 6 locos to convert, that can easily get up there quickly. A Soundtrax Tsunami is in the $115 range, while a MRC decoder is in the $65 range….a simple pair of computer speakers are around $10….
Thanks for the nifty write up!! Two small corrections though: 1) it’s On30, not On3 and 2) that’s not the mainline, it’s a continuous run track for guys like Lenny and David who like to watch ’em go round and round (maybe you too, I dunno). The east bound main will actually go through the straight side of the turnout at the Crystal River bridge and continue on to Sapinero. That turnout represents the west end of Crystal Siding albeit with a bit of modeler’s license involved, ie, the east end is back in Cimarron ;-), 😉 That track at the west end of Cimarron disappears into the scenery and represents the route over Cerro Summit to Montrose with again much liberty being taken cuz it comes out at Crystal. Operations will be point to point with return loops at Cimarron and Sapinero. The hidden roundy-round track through Montrose will be used as west end staging during ops. Traffic will consist of mostly stock trains, mixed freights and a daily passenger train each way with an occasional Master Mechanic’s Special (can’t leave out Uncle Art). Also an occasional wreck train (there were plenty of those) and snow removal (lot’s of that as well). Scenery will include very compressed versions of the Cimarron River Canyon, the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon, Chipeta Falls, Curecanti siding and of course, the Needle. The Sapinero scenery will all be on the backdrop. The structures will be a mix of both kits and scratch builds. I figure it will take the rest of my life to finish it and then my kids can figure out how to get it out of the building. Heh, heh, heh, DJ, you dirty guy.
I grew up in Montrose and actually went to school with the kids from Cimarron who rode a bus to MCHS everyday. That’s a great trip to make occasionally but every day????? It can snow like hell on Cerro. Cimarron was like a second home to me cuz we were there so often, hunting, fishing, sledding, hiking and of course the cabin I told you about (I’d rather not discuss the cabin in this blog cuz I’m writing a book which may or may not get finished before I move to the depot in the sky). Onward and upward!!
Perhaps you can just add a decoder as it fits into your budget until you have all your engines dcc. Also, you might be able to pick up a bargin on one of the trainboards from someone who purchased an entry level or basic system and is upgrading to a larger system. I don’t run dcc but maybe in the future. (I purchased a system once but when I looked at all the engines I had at the time that would all need decoders I just saw $$$.) Also, Montrose is an interesting place and would make an interesting small layout.