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How to build a model railway with Market Deeping Model Railway Club. Part 2: electrics

If you would like to build a model railway, then Market Deeping Model Railway Club can help.

In this, the second part of their guide, club chairman Peter Davies talks us through choosing the electrical side.

Missed Part One? Read it here.

Market Deeping Model Railway Club (10976188)
Market Deeping Model Railway Club (10976188)

After you’ve decided what scale you are building your layout in, there’s the choice as to whether the layout should be digital or analogue. Oh, sorry, there I go again. More jargon!


  • Analogue (or DCC ready) locomotives require a 12 volt DC supply. Speed and stopping are easily controlled. If you decide to have electrically operated points, they will require a separate 16 volt AC supply and appropriate switching. Most mains transformer / rectifier / controllers you can buy in model shops supply both 12v DC and 16v AC so you only need to buy just one. Often sets that are purchased complete, come with their own mains transformers, etc. Analogue control has been around since early in the 20th century.
  • DCC or digital control is a new emerging field. Locomotives operate at 16v AC and must have an electronic chip fitted. Locos are purchased “DCC Fitted”. They can also frequently be fitted with a sound module. Operation of such locomotives and trains is far more “real” in the sense that movement is usually steadier, especially at low speed, they can be made to produce realistic noises, lights can be controlled and, all in all, they perform just like the real thing. However, they are more expensive than analogue locos and by some margin. A fully fitted, chipped (00 gauge) loco with a sound module could easily cost £300 or more while its DCC ready version (identical to look at) might only be £160. Digital controllers, too, are more expensive.

The other great advantage of digital is that, with the right additional electronic kit, locos can be controlled from your phone. In Market Deeping Model Railway Club, we are currently building just such a layout and hope to have it on show (not in finished condition though) at our exhibition next year.

These are definitely NOT toys but accurate, detailed scale models. They should all be handled with care to keep them working properly and in pristine condition.

Given the choice and were I to be starting in the hobby now, I’d opt for digital control even if it meant saving up for stock over a longer period of time. For all generations, it’s a great time to consider starting the hobby with that Christmas list still to write!

To find out more, you can contact the club through its website, Facebook page or by e-mailing chairman@mdmrc.org

I’m happy to advise or pass on any questions I can’t answer to someone in our club who can.

Next time: Designing the track

Model railway club for children looks set to launch in new year

Vandalised Woodcroft layout goes back on display

Peter Davies and Sir Rod Stewart on The One Show

Additional material with thanks to Barrie Church.

Market Deeping Model Railway Club is delighted to announce that its 2020 Exhibition (16-17 May) at Stamford Welland Academy will be sponsored by: TC Harrison Ford of Stamford (main sponsor), Country Court Care, British Sugar, BRM /RM Web, Trains4U.com (Fengate, Peterborough), Morestore Self Storage and Land Sheriffs Ltd.

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