A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
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February 12, 2012

Update on the Stanton Cab

While I am doing scenery work on my layout, I'd thought I post an update on the Stanton Battery Cab.

If you have been following this blog, you know that when I first learned of the Stanton Radio cab, I immediately saw the advantages for my layout and ordered one with a battery pack. The throttle and decoder unit arrived, but the batteries are on back order so I have not yet installed it.

The Stanton Cab was designed by an Australian engineer Neil Stanton, who is associated with Purdue University. He is also a model railroader. Paul Gillette of MRH podcast interviewed him and it is well worth listening too if you are interested. Here is the link to the podcast. He also makes a powered truck, which diesel modelers will be very interested in. But back to the cab.

Northwest Shortline is marketing the system for him. They have a small network of installers and dealers that are handling various aspects of the production. The cottage nature of the company combined with the poorly organized website that NWSL has and you end up with a product that very few people know about.

I have not operated my unit yet but I can describe it.

The cab is the radio transmitter. It acts as the base station. You need one cab to run one train. For each train you want to run you need to get a hand held cab. There is no base station or booster.

Inside the loco you install their decoder package. It consists of the Stanton radio receiver and a standard dcc decoder. NWSL packages them in one hardwired unit. I have one with a Tsunami TSU-1000 sound decoder. They also offer a NCE decoder option.

You can run it off power from the rails, or install a battery. I already have a Easy DCC system, so I am not interested in the using the Stanton system off rail power method. I want it for the battery power option. But as I mentioned, I don't have the battery yet.

The Stanton battery system can take a trickle charge off the rails. I plan to add the radio-battery units one by one to my railroad keeping the easy dcc system for the other locos that have just dcc and rail  power.

If the Stanton system works out, I plan to retrofit all my locos. That is not that big a job as my layout has 5 locos right now with one more on order and one being scratch built.

As far as my critical path planning goes, I still have about one third of my track to lay and 9 turnouts to install. If I were to continue to use DCC I need to order frog juicers and a reversing circuit for my wye. But, if I convert my fleet to battery power, then I don't have to bother wiring the new section. That is a highly desirable option, as I dislike wiring. Though I must admit the frog juicers take most of the hassle out of wiring.

The transition then will be tricky for me as my regular dcc units will not work well in the new section if I dont add the frog juicers.

If all goes well and all my locos are converted to battery power, I can pull my DCC system and keep it for my N scale or other projects. The batteries can recharge off any inexpensive power charger hooked to the rails.

I am sure that most of the progressive DCC manufacturers are working on battery power and in 5 years it will be the dominant mode. HO modelers will especially be interested in the power truck as it frees up the interior of the diesels for batteries. Then the weight in your loco will provide power as well as pulling effort.

This is next revolution in indoor model railroading. The outdoor guys have been doing it for a long time now. With small battery packs becoming available we can join in.


  1. Looking forward to your review of this - it seems very promising. Radio control with battery power is clearly the next evolutionary step (especially in the HO scale world), and it will be wonderful to get away from rail power considering how much effort is put into wiring, power routing, control panels, track cleaning...

  2. Bernie, talk with Duncan McCree (Tam Valley) before you invest anymore in the Stanton Cabs.

  3. Ted,
    I have heard Craig's description of Duncan's system. I am not sure I want to base this as an add-on to a DCC system. I prefer to get rid of the DCC system if possible. I like the stand-alone nature of the Stanton system. It would makes taking the layout on the road much easier. An important consideration as I develop my ACW road show.

  4. I am the resident CI at NWSL and I'd like to comment on a couple of things. I believe you can control up to 15 engines from one cab tho I am not certain there is a quick key with which to toggle engines (in other words you need to key in the loco address on the fly). I will talk with Dave Rygmyr tomorrow on this for more clarification.

    We hope to have the batteries for the S-Cab available soon. I personally prefer the battery option as a stay-alive device to reduce the stalls as experienced with conventional DCC and more deliberately for track you just don't want to wire. Steep grades come to mind. Slippery ol' Nickel Silver rail could now be rubber if one so desired (and could find it). Or that out-of-reach hidden track you hate to have to clean.

    The Stanton Cab is being marketed and carried by NWSL. The Stanton Drive that you mentioned is a NWSL product fully supported by NWSL. It is Neil's brainchild and iirc he helped fund its development. The Stanton drive is a very effective unit and I've installed dozens in everything from Bachmann Doodlebugs (including Neil's S-Cab demo) to some pretty nice high end Overland Brass. We sell quite a few to the On30 and On3 Critter crowd. Right now we have 2 axle versions but just Fri. Dave showed me the 3 axle prototype. So those are coming.

    I just finished the latest MRP and must tell you that as an MR and Wargamer I very much enjoyed your article! Congrats on that. As 7th Street Shops I painted several HO scale USMRRs for a client and sorta got into this era. I've always been a Civil War buff. What colorful and fascinating equipment. I'd love to do a similar layout and have long considered something in No. 1 scale (1/32). Lotsa won'nerful scratch-buildin’.

    Derrell Poole

    1. Derrel,
      Thanks for the note.

      I am really looking forward to getting the battery. Once I do and get it installed in a loco I'll post a more detailed review. I like the fact that the Stanton System can stand alone without a DCC system.

      I too had thought about a 1/32nd scale ACW layout. Please keep us posted on your progress in that project.

    2. Thanks Bernie,

      LOL. Thinking about a 1/32-scale layout. About all I have time for it seems.

      Perhaps you’ve seen the latest NWSL Newsletter so at the risk of repeating that I talked with Dave about the S-Cab’s ability to control multiple engines and he in turn talked to Neil about it. The S-Cab can store up to 15, 2-digit addresses from 01 (00 is reserved) to 99. Press loco# key in the address and hit enter. Nothing fancy.

      I also asked about the status of the Batteries but didn't get a definitive answer. I'll try to expedite your order as soon as we get them.

      I noticed in browsing thru the Blog that you are turning your own scale gun barrels. I am an avid user of the Sherline tools and these are the perfect project. I'll have to try some myself. Any chance you could point me to a ready source of drawings and spec.s? Just a word or direction. Your time is valuable too.

      Maybe a few pieces will be my first components to a 1/32" layout. Ha!




    3. I appreciate your help.

      If you go with 1:32 scale modeling your are set. The military miniature hobby has all manner of 1:32 scale civil war accessories. They call it 54mm scale. You really don't need to turn your gun barrels if you don't want to, as there are several companies that make them in that scale. I believe Verlinden makes some really nice ones.

      For example see


      The military miniature warehouse is a good source for 1/32 (aka 54mm) ACW supplies.