Steve’s Western Pacific Layout

We are currently running 5 cabs on battery along with the 7 original cabs. As a side note the S-Cab throttles do not provide any direction information for the signaling, which is not a problem when using CTC with a Dispatcher as he sets the signals. The signals do drop to red as normal but when we run without a dispatcher the signals do not give a green indication. So when we do not use a dispatcher  we switch to a form of ABS signaling that does not require direction information. Of course with the Chubb  system this is accomplished with a simple program change!


I believe that battery operated locomotives coupled with DCC will in the future  be the system of choice as it does not depend on track contact for power or communications.


Battery Powered Trains

In 2012 while at a railroad meet I was introduced to S-Cab which is a DCC radio controlled throttle for trains running on battery power. No track power is needed for power or communications. I had been experimenting with this technology for some time without much success as to meeting my requirements and expectations. With the Chubb system we were saddled with a restriction of only seven mainline cabs.  S-Cab solved this problem!


I purchased one cab and the necessary components and installed them in the non motored “B” unit pictured to the left. This setup powers two trains from Milpitas to Salt Lake, both out and back for a total of four trips over basically the entire railroad. We found we would loose power on the forth trip out of Salt Lake.  I then installed a short power track at each end so the unit could recharge between runs. This solved that problem!

Stalling has always been a problem in the yards, so this was the next project. There was no way the components would fit in a switching locomotive so I went to a solution the railroads used when additional power was needed. This was referred to as a cow and calf. On my railroad the calf is non powered and contains the battery, the battery maintenance components and a DCC decoder that allows the throttle to communicate with the locomotive.

The Cow and Calf yard switcher.

After a time of experimenting and some changes to the system we then installed the units in  GP35 and GP7 road engines. The GP35 works the Reno yard and makes a run to Oakland and back. One advantage with the system is that you can charge the battery with track power. As a safety backup I leave track power on in both the Stockton and Reno yards so the battery is getting a boost constantly. The GP7 is assigned to the Fruit Express out of Salt Lake running to Turlock. The power is then used by the Valley Can that serves Turlock, Stockton and Fruitvale. Then returns to Turlock where the power  is then used to return the Fruit Express to Salt Lake.

These are photographs of the GP35 installation.

Even during the short time I have been using the system we have seen improvements in the battery's.  These are 3.7 volt battery's. The battery maintenance board handles the recharging and kicks the voltage up  to the level needed for reliable operation.

Further information on the S-Cab system can be found on their web site at


GP35 Installation

GP7 Installation