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CVP Annouces HO-size Loco Boards

CVP has added microAirwire loco control boards to its extensive Dead Rail offerings. The new boards fit in narrow-hood HO diesels. 

BlueRail Ships 200 Boards in 2 Months

 Dave Rees of BlueRail Trains reports they've sold 200 bluetooth loco control boards in less than two months and has added auto-updated software features like ditch lights and chuff rate calibration, plus a new Android app.

Dead Rail Society co-founder Pete Steinmetz installs of TVM, CVP and BlueRail systems in locos with battery power. He sells complete Dead Rail kits for self-installers and is also a source of hard-to-find, high quality LiPo battery packs in the right sizes for smaller scales.

Dead Rail Suppliers


The field of smaller scale Dead Rail is relatively new, but the list of manufacturers and supplies is growing rapidly. Some of the most recent are not DCC compatible. Please let us know your experiences with any of these systems and any others. Here is the latest list:

Dead Rail System Comparison

Mainstream Systems DCC Sound
CVP Yes Yes
Del Tang No No
Stanton Yes Yes
Tam Valley Yes Yes
MRC No Generic
BlueRail Trains No Generic
Other Systems    
Crest Electronics No Generic
NCE (decoder only) Yes No
Bachmann/BlueRail No Generic
G Scale Graphics No Generic

Duncan McRee is a Dead Rail Society™ founder and his Tam Valley Depot is a prime supplier of Dead Rail™ electronics. His idea is to allow the hobbyist to use his existing DCC electronics, adding batteries and radio controls, instead of having to start from scratch. He supplies miniaturized transmitters, receivers, and related electronics, while also providing advice on batteries, switches, etc. His $5 42-page PDF Wireless DCC Radio Control and Battery Power for Model Railroad Locomotives has lots of how-to information and is highly recommended. Info on the new TVD high power receiver is here

CVP Products' Airwire line of model railroad battery/radio control equipment is well known among large scale modelers. Airwire is widely used with garden railroads where track corrosion is a never-ending problem. More recently, CVP has come up with its COVRTR receiver which is suitable for O, On30, and HO.  

Update July 2016: CVP announces new microAirwire900 HO-size loco control boards. Flyer with details here

Blue Rail Trains sells circuit boards for Bluetooth control of locomotives from smartphones. Battery operation is provided for, as well as wireless firmware updates, and an expansion port (for future sound add-ons). BlueRail is also the OEM Bachmann's line of EZ-App trains. They have a YouTube page with dozens of videos showing how BlueRail works to control locos, produce sound, and even control accessories. Also a User Showcase with detailed photos of modelers' installations and experiences.  Model Railroad Digest has an, informative interview with David Rees, BlueRail's founder. The March 2016 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist has another interview with Rees, giving further details on BlueRail's system. They are working on local emissions testing to qualify for sales in the UK, the EU, Australia, and New Zealand. Happy buyer comment: "Battery powered bluetooth controlled locomotives work beautifully." Update July 2016: Over 200 boards sold.

Del Tang, a UK manufacturer of radio control system for boats, planes, cars, has a popular version for trains. Small and inexpensive, not DCC but they do control speed, direction, and lights -- rumors of sound in the works. The On30 Guy is a distributor in the US and has a much better website than the manufacturer. Del Tang is an easy, popular first step to Dead Rail. Here are a couple of interesting YouTube videos showing Del Tang installations in different scales: Ge Rik's garden railway and Steve Sherrill. And another

DeadRailInstalls.com Dead Rail Society co-founder Pete Steinmetz is an experienced installer TVM, CVP and BlueRail systems in locos with battery power. He's also a source of hard-to-find high quality LiPo battery packs in the right sizes for smaller scales.

Neil Stanton invented his own Stanton S-Cab Dead Rail™ system a few years ago and is now one of the major suppliers. He markets transmitters, receivers, and his innovative 'BPS' Battery Power Supply that can both charge batteries from the rails as well as scale battery voltages up to loco-powering levels. 

Model Rectifier Corporation has a new system named Freedom One for radio control of locomotive speed and [generic] sound. It is not specifically listed as Dead Rail™ but the data sheet makes it clear that a modeler can substitute a battery for track power and still control all locomotive functions. Steve Sherrill has kindly passed along the manual to his Freedom One equipment, along with his handwritten notes. It can be downloaded below. 

MRC Freedom manual.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [640.3 KB]

NCE has entered the Dead Rail business with a NO-SOUND decoder that is compatible with Tam Valley, CVP, and Stanton transmitters. Link to manual below.

D13DRJ Manual
Adobe Acrobat document [119.0 KB]

Crest Electronics has The Revolution Train Engineer for large scale trains and is now moving into smaller scales. No DCC, but the system has generic steam or diesel sound. 

On a web page and couple of YouTube videos (found here and here), Bachmann announced a new line of model trains using Bluetooth control and smartphone apps, to be released in Spring or Summer 2015.  The new line is called EZ-App Wireless Train Control. It is being developed in collaboration with Blue Rail Trains. Track power is required but this development is interesting for possible future Dead Rail™ applications. Still in the vaporware stage, but we will provide updates as they appear.

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© Jan Twardowski, Dead Rail Society LLC