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Walthers HO scale Trainline Railtech train set

Read this review from Model Railroader magazine
Walthers HO scale Trainline Railtech train set
Walthers HO scale Trainline Railtech train set
Train sets are a popular way to get started in the hobby of model railroading, but modelers often have to discard their original set locomotive when upgrading to Digital Command Control. The Railtech train sets from Walthers eliminate that by including a DCC locomotive and a control system that, though simplified, will run other DCC engines. The set also includes an oval of track that’s compatible with other Bachmann E-Z Track parts, easing the transition from train set to growing layout.

The set includes a locomotive three freight cars caboose controller and an oval of track that can be expanded with other Bachmann EZ Track products
The set includes a locomotive, three freight cars, caboose, controller, and an oval of track that can be expanded with other Bachmann EZ Track products
Rolling stock and track. The four cars that came with our sample train set are an Illinois Central 50-foot plug-door boxcar, a 50-foot Union Pacific flatcar, a 50-foot Wisconsin Central mill gondola, and a CN wide-cupola caboose. All are equipped with Barber S-2 roller-bearing trucks with plastic RP-25-contour wheels on brass needle-point axles. The cars’ Kadee-compatible knuckle couplers were mounted at the correct height.

Except for the caboose, with its separate cupola and end railings, all have 1-piece molded plastic bodies with details like ladders, grab irons, and running boards molded in place. The tabs that hold the boxcar’s body to the car floor are visible on the car’s sides. The car bodies feature nice rivet detail, separate brake wheels, and smooth, even paint. The smallest lettering is straight, crisp, and legible.

The set comes with 16 pieces of steel- rail Bachmann E-Z Track – twelve 18" curve sections and four straights, enough for a 36" x 54" oval. The fact that the terminal rerailer is on a curve, instead of one of the straights, lets you run the set using just a circle for that classic under-the-Christmas-tree scenario. And when it’s time to expand from train set to layout, the track is compatible with other Bachmann E-Z Track products.
The WTL12 controller can run five DCC and one direct-current locomotive separately through its six locomotive address buttons
The WTL12 controller can run five DCC and one direct-current locomotive separately through its six locomotive address buttons. The motor, bell, horn, and other sounds are produced by speakers in the controller box.
Entry-level DCC. I’ve seen direct-­current power packs and accessories that used DCC-like control boxes to trigger sound and lighting effects on dual-mode sound-­decoder-equipped locomotives. That’s what I was expecting from this controller, but what I found was kind of the opposite. The Railtech controller is a DCC system with simplified controls and a sound generator built into the ­controller’s box.

The system is compatible with National Model Railroad Association DCC standards, and it ran every decoder-equipped locomotive I tested on it. The controller includes a throttle knob, ­power and direction buttons, buttons to address five DCC and one DC locomotive simultaneously, and a headlight ­button that’s equivalent to Function 0. It doesn’t have any other function buttons and no provisions for decoder programming beyond the address.

The controller has a built-in sound system. Two speakers mounted beneath the controller emit diesel motor sounds that increase in pitch when the throttle knob is turned, whether there’s a locomotive on the track or not. Two buttons control sound volume. Others let the user trigger bell, air horn, coupler clank, and talking defect detector sounds. Either of two sound sets can be assigned to each locomotive address button; the first sound set is generic, and the second sounds similar to an Alco diesel. There is no steam engine sound set.

Motive power. The locomotive is a model of an Electro-Motive Division GP9M, a general-purpose road switcher rebuilt with a low nose, often reusing parts from an earlier EMD locomotive, such as a GP7 or F unit. The model ­resembled photos of GP9Ms I found ­online, though I was unable to locate a photo of one wearing CN’s North America paint scheme, which was first used in 1992. The prototype for CN no. 4497 was converted to a yard slug in 2000.

The WalthersTrainline GP9M has been around for years, and its workings have been updated with the addition of a Digital Command Control decoder. This basic decoder controls the locomotive’s motor and headlight.
Walthers HO scale GP9M
The decoder is dual-mode, which means it can operate on DCC or direct-current layouts. I tested it using a MRC Tech 4 DC power pack, an MRC Prodigy2 DCC system, and the Walthers Railtech controller that came with the set. The locomotive ran smoothly and quietly on both DCC systems. On the Prodigy2, the engine didn’t start moving until speed step 6. After I programmed the decoder’s start voltage setting to
64, the engine responded to speed step 1 by rolling at 5.4 scale mph.

When I ran the locomotive on DC, it exhibited a glitch. When running in reverse at high speed, the motor would stop and lurch before resuming, about once a second. At first I thought this might be due to gear binding, until I noticed that when the engine balked, the front headlight briefly flashed on, as if the power pack’s direction switch had been toggled. Since I would guess that most people will run the engine on its included control system or another DCC layout, this doesn’t seem like a major issue, but it’s worth noting.

WalthersTrainline has made it easier to get started in Digital Command ­Control with its Railtech Digital Trainset, offering DCC power and flexibility in an entry-level package. This is a train set that won’t just go back in the box once the Christmas tree comes down.
Price: $225

Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
P.O. Box 3039
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Road names: Canadian National, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and Norfolk Southern

Set features
  • 36" x 54" oval of steel Bachmann E-Z Track (16 pieces)
  • Three freight cars (boxcar, gondola, and flatcar, assorted roadnames) and caboose
  • Rolling stock includes Kadee-compatible knuckle couplers, at correct height
  • WalthersTrainline WTL12 Railtech Digital Command Control base station with sound
  • “World’s Greatest Hobby” DVD

Locomotive features
  • All-wheel drive and electrical pickup
  • Digital Command Control
  • decoder
  • Can motor with brass flywheel
  • Kadee-compatible knuckle couplers, at correct height
  • Minimum radius: 18"
  • Molded grab irons
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Working headlight

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