There are two major track system principles (in H0), which very often
causes hot discussions in newsgroups, forums and mailing lists on the
Internet from a kind of "religious" viewpoint - the Märklin "3-rail" with the centre
studs, and the "2-rail" from several manufacturers (which looks more like the real tracks, no studs in the middle).
Killing a myth...
It is however a common myth that "3-rail" only works for AC and "2-rail" only works for DC. This has
absolutely nothing to do with what kind of current is applied to the tracks. AC on 2-rail tracks has been used in Märklin Gauge 1, and DC on 3-rail tracks is described in another article on this site.
Electrically speaking, both track systems have 2 current feeds, only
What does this mean to me?...
This basically means that the track system is of no major interest when you are going digital. The difference is that a "2-rail" track has the "+" on one of the rails, and "-" on the other. The "3-rail" has "+" on the middle stud contact rail, and "-" on both "real" rails. This is of course a very simplified view since the track systems differ in other aspects too, but not in any way that affects the possibility to go digital. The "electricity flow" of the track
system chosen must however be considered in digital too, and it seems like the "3-rail" Märklin system is much easier to wire electrically, as it is also when running in conventional mode. No "turnaround loop" isolations are needed as the common "2-rail" usually needs to shift current polarity in the
rails in certain situations. Digital systems work with both kinds
"Hey, there are a lot different digital systems out there !!!"
I've heard of Lenz, Märklin AC digital, Digitrax, Roco ,Wangrow, Zimo, Selectrix and a lot of others...
All you do is talk about track electricity and such stupid stuff !!!
Wasn't this mean to be some kind of introduction to digital railroading
Whaddaya mean, track system doesn't matter? It can't be like you say,
that seems too easy....
Whooaahh, hold your horses...
It's too early to pose this question about different manufacturers
of digital equipment, as we are only talking about the carrier (track) as an
"electrical wire" here for now.. But the answer could be "It is really as easy as this".....
Summary of some issues in this chapter
- The track system used doesn't really matter. The basic electrical properties of the different track systems must however be handled in digital operation too..
- Since this site is for us "marklin-users", the bias is of course orientated towards the "3-rail" track since it is easier to use and
maybe also more reliable electrically. But this has nothing to do with the question of going digital or not...
Q & A section
Now I'm confused... Are you telling me that I can run my Märklin loco directly on 2-rail "DC-track" if I go digital ?
No I'm not, since the Märklin loco has different electrical wiring than DC locos. They have a slider that picks up
current from that middle stud rail and the wheel sets are electrically shorted, so they would cause a short on 2-rail tracks. The procedure to convert a Märklin loco to fit 2-rail tracks is rather tedious since all track contact must be isolated from the chassis,
in most cases there are so many metal-metal connections so
"simply" just isolating the wheel sets will not be enough...
Usually a lot of work has to be done...
Ok, the other way around then, A DC loco on Märklin track ?
Well, this is actually a lot easier in most cases. But you will have to convert your loco to fit the 3-rail system. Please take a look at the article written by Martin Silz about this on this site,
"DC on Märklin tracks"...
Can I use my old M-track in Digital ?
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