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Jbuerger View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02 Feb 2016 at 10:16am
Hello, I am a current modeler of US prototype railroads in HO scale. I use Digitrax DCC for controlling my railroad. I often travel to Europe for work and have taken an interest in the Eurpoean railroads. My question is, am I able to operate HO scale European models on my current railroad without modification to the European models?
Is the wheel flange height compatible?
Will the DCC decoders installed in the engines work with my current Digitrax system?
I understand couplers will not be compatible.
Are there other questions I've forgotten to ask?
Thank for your assistance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Railwriter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2016 at 3:53pm
Okay, I'll give these a try.
 
Yes, the American and European (NEM) digital standards are compatible.  You can use your American controls to run European digital locomotives.  You should be able to program addresses and other features with your American equipment. 
 
The answer for flange height is, "It depends."  But, it should not be a problem, other than with very old European models (1950s and 1960s).  It also depends on what type of turnouts your have and how deep thee flangeways in the frogs are.  The more recent the European models, the shallower the flanges on the wheels.
 
Couplers:  Almost all modern European HO models come with standardized coupler pockets, which allow you to exchange couplers and and select whichever couplers your prefer.  It is my understanding that there is even a Kaydee coupler made to fit these pockets, so you could have a car with a US coupler on one end and European couplers on the other end.
 
Hope that helps.
 
-- Ernest
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jbuerger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Feb 2016 at 2:08pm
Hi Ernest,
Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I'm going to investigate further, but feel much better about the possibility.

Regards,

Joe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote el Gato Gordo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Feb 2016 at 5:58pm
One thing to keep in mind is that an American HO system is powered by both rails.  You won't be able to run Märklin trains since they use a 3 rail power system, like Lionel (only better).  But regular 2 rail powered Euro trains should run just fine.

Cheers!
Gordon
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jbuerger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2016 at 8:14am
Hi Gordon,
Thanks for taking the time to reply and the clarification about the Marklin vs other Euro models, very helpful.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RRVRR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2016 at 10:47pm
If your track is code 83 or 100 almost every European rolling stock will run if it is less than 10 years old.
It is also right that there are US couplers available that fits the NEM pockets (have a few myself). It's called Item# KAD-19 by Kadee - HO NEM 362 Coupler.

About Maerklin and other Manufacturer you have to be carefull because there is more and more manufacturer that actually are in the 2-rail market that now also produce 3-rail. So you only can be sure that Maerklin will not work, for all the others ask if they are DC or DCC because the 3-rail is AC powered. Most decoder available are multi-protocol decoders that can handle both. So it is best to ask specific about the power source if you buy used items not from a dealer like Reynaulds. ESU Locos as an example can be used on both systems because the pick up shoe can be removed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jbuerger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2016 at 10:06am
Thank you for this very helpful information.

Regards,

Joe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BR42 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2016 at 8:47pm
Hello:

Actually the decoder and the pick-up shoe or the least of the problems when one tries to run 3-rail Marklin compatible trains on 2-rail track.  The two sides of the AC engines and cars are usually connected causing a massive short when placed on 2-rail track.  Just got a Shell tank car from Marklin when visiting my old home town of Essen.  Before I bought it, I checked whether or not they had DC-wheels in store.

ESU is the exception, they came up with a brilliant solution using the same loco on both type of track.

Ulrich


Edited by BR42 - 09 Feb 2016 at 8:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RRVRR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Feb 2016 at 8:29am
Right Ulrich, I was just referring to Locomotives. In general Maerklin still uses axles where the two wheels are connected and not insulated what make it impossible to use Maerklin rolling stock to use on DC (DCC) because the short both rails (plus and minus) out. On the other side all DC rolling stock can be used on Maerklin.

The only solution is to switch the axles out to insulated ones. For me it is to much of a hassle to find the right ones that fit. Maybe someone her is more experienced in doing it and can help, would be also interesting for me to know if there is a source available to look this up. 
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