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Fitting Decoders - DCC - Tutorials - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed Mar 12th, 2014 04:24 am
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toto
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I have started this thread as I have a number of loco's that need decoders fitted and as I'm not too confident of tinkering with certain types.

there is a list of various classes that will be victims over time on my main Rosebuddy thread which I shall shift over on to this one once I get a more accurate and updated list together when I get home on Friday night.

this thread serves two real purposes to me. One, hopefully as Max southoz suggested, anyone who has the knowledge of "how to" fit to a specific class might assist me by talking me through it which in turn, I shall try to provide photographs to back up the posts and hopefully it can act as a reference of sorts for others.

secondly, it gives me something to be getting on with whilst I work away from home. There at least 20 odds to do, probably more and they cover a variety of classes.

Have a look on the list and let me know if there are any particular items that would be of help / interest.

I can only keep this thread going at the pace that I can afford the decoders so it will be over time, but, I hope to keep a reasonably steady stream coming through until the deed is done at which point, anybody can feel free to keep it running with items that have not been covered.

I hope this thread proves useful and of interest.

any comments or suggestions on how I can improve on the above would be gratefully received.

cheers

toto

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 Posted: Wed Mar 12th, 2014 05:50 am
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Sol
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Toto, have a look at
https://clarahost.clara.net/www.bromsgrovemodels.co.uk/decoderinstallation4mm.htm



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 Posted: Wed Mar 12th, 2014 01:13 pm
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toto
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Thanks Sol,

A great resource. Looks like there's no point in me trying to reinvent the wheel then. :mutley

I think this post can come to a close. :mutley

Toto

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 Posted: Wed Mar 12th, 2014 10:13 pm
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Petermac
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No it can't Toto - John at Bromsgrove hasn't got them all in there and, last time I looked, some of the linked ones didn't connect ..............:cry::cry:

I'll look at your list in the layout thread to see what you've got but I'm sure there are some that could do with refreshing ..............:roll:




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 Posted: Wed Mar 12th, 2014 11:15 pm
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toto
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Hi Petermac,

I looked at The list of loco's covered and did note that some of the classes covered were either hard wired versions or older models etc.

I'm more than happy to cover any that people will find of use so the post is re-opened provided there is enough interest for it.

I've just bought 9 x 21 pin decoders ( 4 x Lenz Silver and 5 x Hattons own ).

So what I would ask is that people initially try and ask for something which requires a 21 pin decoder. I will buy some 8 pin and a couple of 6 pin ( for class 03's ) over the next few weeks.

Any comments / views....... Welcome.

Cheers

Toto

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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 04:29 pm
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BromsMods
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Petermac wrote: No it can't Toto - John at Bromsgrove hasn't got them all in there and, last time I looked, some of the linked ones didn't connect ..............:cry::cry:

I'll look at your list in the layout thread to see what you've got but I'm sure there are some that could do with refreshing ..............:roll:




Can you be specific Peter?  PM me with links if you can.  It does take some time to go through a website and check links - unfortunately people move their resources or the website just disappears.  Dapol, for example, have removed all of their N gauge guides.  I was told these would be reinstated "soon" but that was months ago!!

Of course, if anyone has installation guides they have done and they are for locos not already in our listings then you could forward them to us for inclusion and we will host the resource.  After all, as Toto has said, there's no point in reinventing the wheel!



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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 04:36 pm
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Petermac
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I'll see if I can remember those that didn't connect John. :thumbs

I thought you'd gone off for a life of leisure in the Caribbean or something and assumed your guides were now just a legacy. :cheers



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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 04:37 pm
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toto
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Hi John,

I will hopefully be starting my first decoder installation this weekend providing my decoders have arrived from Hattons. ( ordered yesterday )

I will include photo's and be as specific and clear as I can. If the posts are any good and clear enough in a manner that makes them useable, by all means help yourself.

I am a complete novice at this so I think I would wait and see the results first. :mutley

Cheers anyway

Toto

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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 04:47 pm
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Petermac wrote: I'll see if I can remember those that didn't connect John. :thumbs

I thought you'd gone off for a life of leisure in the Caribbean or something and assumed your guides were now just a legacy. :cheers

Hi Peter

I've shut down our retail operations but have retained the website and update calendars and release info as often as I can (usually daily, if I'm here and can find the time!).

I have been away for 3 months "down under" - but even that is a distant memory now!!



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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 04:50 pm
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toto wrote: Hi John,

I will hopefully be starting my first decoder installation this weekend providing my decoders have arrived from Hattons. ( ordered yesterday )

I will include photo's and be as specific and clear as I can. If the posts are any good and clear enough in a manner that makes them useable, by all means help yourself.

I am a complete novice at this so I think I would wait and see the results first. :mutley

Cheers anyway

Toto

Hi Toto

Why not email what you have produced to one of our email addresses (support at bromsgrovemodels.co.uk would be a suitable one) before publishing it and I'll see if I can produce your material (with acknowledgements, of course) in our house style.



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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 05:57 pm
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toto
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Hi John,

I can give it a bash. Is there any specific format that the photo's should be in, ie Gif, JPG etc.

I take it there would not be a problem in me still including these in the forum posts ?

What other information would you like added, for example, decoder type, loco model references etc ?

Cheers

Toto

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 Posted: Thu Mar 13th, 2014 07:16 pm
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All the images I use are JPG, but I can convert most formats.  The larger the images the better as I always put on an option to view a larger image from the thumbnail.  Annotation of images is always a good idea if you can.

As much detail as possible about installations is always a good idea - see some of the guides which are mine on the site (they don't take you to an external link) for some ideas on content.

I would expect that YMR would be pleased to have the guides as well.  The only problem with a forum based approach is the indexing/ease of location of a particular installation.



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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 12:29 am
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BCDR
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John (Bromsmods) has some nice descriptions on how to put decoders in a wide range of locomotives. I've even used them as a reference source. Those contemplating putting a decoder in themselves might want to consider the following, based on my experiences of the past 5 years (and some 75+ installations in modern and not so modern locomotives).

1. Buy good quality decoders, especially when considering sound. And never skimp on speakers.

2. Never hard-wire if at all possible. Use a wiring harness with an appropriately pinned socket. Bitter experience after frying 3 sound decoders. I use Loksound harnesses, there are others.

3. Not all "DCC Ready" models are. They may have a DCC socket and the assorted capacitors and chokes, often there is not room for anything except one of those mini, double-sided and horrendously expensive decoders. Guilty parties - Bachmann, Hornby, Heljan. I cut it all away, remove the circuit board, and hard-wire a harness. Even when I want light functions (that's what all those extra wires are for coming out of the decoder). Worst example is I think the Hornby 14xx (and from memory the Hornby 4-6-0 County).

4. Pre-DCC models have their own challenges. Some examples:

A. Hornby Dean Goods. There is (just) enough space between the backhead and boiler weight for a small decoder (TCS). Anything larger requires butchery. Take the boiler out, and using the lagest file to hand, remove metal from the top to create some space for the decoder. If sound is required the speaker(s) will go here, as there is no room in the tender. Power leads need to go to the tender, use 2 pin mini/micro pre-wired male/female connectors (e.g., those from Miniatronics or similar).

B. Bachmann Collett Goods. No room in the boiler, plenty in the tender. Use 4 pin connectors, because you don't want to have to dismantle the tender when you want to separate it from the engine. Drill small holes in the coal to allow sound to come out if installing a sound decoder.

C. Early Bachmann Warship (non-DCC model). There is no room! (not that there is very much in the DCC ready version either). Get rid of the circuit board on top, take that file again and reduce the height of the chassis over the wheel towers. If you use plenty of masking tape you don't need to dismantle the thing. Just keep the metal out of the gear towers (the motor is a sealed can anyway). You can just about get a speaker in using foam tape as the speaker box.

D). LIma GWR Diesel Railcar. Pick-up on one side of the bogie only. Not good enough for DCC. Buy a Hornby. Wait, have you seen the price of the Hornby compared to a good Lima example? Check my post in Members Workbenches for a "how to do it". With the whirrrrr from the gears you don't need  a sound decoder! If installing sound, put the speaker (and decoder for that matter) in the chassis well where the weight goes.

E. Keyser white metal kits. Bin the K's motor and wheels. Get new ones (Mashima, Markits or Gibsons).

F. Roxey "Howard" 0-4-0 diesel. This uses a Tenshodo Spud, which in DC has 2 speeds, zero and maximum. The pick-ups need to be isolated from their connection to the motor terminals. Cut, wire up, use the smallest decoder possible because there is not very much space in the body. Runs marginally better in DCC mode. Not enough torque and a low ratio (15:1).

G. Bachmann split chassis models (Manor, early 57xx, Jubilee). Assuming the axles are OK (if they're split you're sunk, check if you have erratic running, park it in a siding somewhere or get replacements from Bachmann, although not for the Manor), it can be done. The issue is getting power from either side of the split chassis. Loosen the frames so the terminals of the motor are accessible, remove the springs connecting them to either side of the chassis, solder orange/grey wires to the terminals. Glue a small piece of plastic in the hole where the spring was so the motor terminals do not short out on the frames. Dap of liquid insulation doesn't harm either. Unless you fancy soldering MAZAC (which requires aluminum solder and a very special and nasty flux) or drilling and tapping the frames for terminal screws, glue 2 wired (black, red) pieces of thin P/B or brass strip to the inside bottom of the axle cover so they connect with the frames. In the case of the Manor run the leads to the tender (drill holes as required in the chassis). Use 4-pin mini/micro male/female connectors. I've seen some very dubious methods in the model railway press, for example, solder squares of aluminum to the terminals. Aluminum, brass, hold on, that's a battery! One of them will corrode with time. In the case of the 57xx the decoder goes in the cab.

Some really easy ones. The Mainline Warship. An embarrassment of space inside. Plenty of room for a bass speaker and a regular speaker (or 3). The Heljan Western (getting the body off is the difficult bit). Plenty of room for the decoder, but the speaker needs to be in the fuel tank. Run speaker wire down through the gear tower well, drill lots of holes in the bottom of the well. Any modern tender engine (or tender without motor). Hornby Castle, 28xx, Bachmann City, etc.

Not so easy - the latest Bachmann Class 20. DCC ready, no room for a sound decoder and speaker. End driving compartments are closed boxes, making running light wiring installation a challenge. The Heljan Hymek. Where on earth is the speaker supposed to go? Shoehorn fit. No speaker case, I had to use foam tape and that after some chassis removal.

Think outside of the box. Most sound decoders will run 2 speakers with appropriate adjustment of the power. Why not a double headed Warship? I used a Bachmann warship with one speaker, and a de-motored Mainline Warship with the second speaker (an eBay purchase that didn't run that well, I removed the motor, filled the space left with lead). I have on my HO layout an F3A+B unit that is powered on the A unit with a Loksound decoder (and speaker), and has a Loksound sound unit in the non-powered B unit that is driving the circuit board, not the wheels. Two separate address that are consisted, it can only be run on half volume. I also have the GWR/BR Brown-Boveri oil turbine (Silver Fox Models) that has a QSI sound decoder driving 2 speakers (it's design to run 2) on a Bachmann Class 37 chassis. 

Many will realize right off that most of the above will invalidate any warranty. If uncomfortable with the prospect of decreasing the value of a model by at least 50% get the installation done by an expert.

DCC has been around since the mid 1970's in the UK (the whole concept came out of the University of Southampton apparently, digital command of the National Grid through the wires), IMO it's a pity that UK manufacturers have for so many years treated DCC as an afterthought, rather than an intrinsic part of the design. I can appreciate why completely retooling a diesel chassis just to accomodate DCC is a costly endevour, but tweaking it (the Bachmann Western is a prime example, as is their Class 37) by adding a DCC ready socket is often not enough. Properly designed DCC ready should mean just dropping the decoder (and speaker) in. Tender engines fortunately are an easy modification since the demise of ringfield motors.

I think it's worthwhile expanding the thread, I've certainly got a few specific examples I can share, if only to point out the pitfalls.

Nigl



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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 12:48 am
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Think I'll stay DC :roll:



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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 05:14 am
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Hi Ed,

I've described most of the hard ones (message, it can be done), and some of the easy ones. Most DCC ready locomotives (diesel and steam) are straightforward. Some of the "DCC Ready" ones were done using what was a pre-DCC chassis and a new circuit board, those have issues (not insurmountable). DCC Ready tender locomotives just require popping the body off the tender and plugging in the decoder. I enjoy getting the old stock to run under DCC (currently the oldest is a 1970's Hornby Saint), that sometimes takes a bit of ingenuity with respect to wiring and where does the decoder go? Especially with a split chassis 0-6-0 tank or pannier. With the modern, small decoders they can be fixed to the underside of an 0-6-0 cab with double sided tape and be out of site. I've even slipped them into the bunker of a Hornby 2757 pannier, which is an open cab, and the bunker of a K's 14xx.

I'm sure if you take the plunge somebody will have converted the locomotive of your choice and can point out the issues if any. Just ask. If you are running anything more than a small branch line with a single engine in steam (or in diesel) DCC is the only way to go. In my experience the older engines run better with DCC (shunting speed of 1-2 mph compared with 4-6) and with variable momentum are much more fun to drive. I only started modeling 10 ago and after a couple of years in DC went 100% into DCC (and 80% sound). No regrets. My next layout (currently a-building) will be DCC.

I'd like this thread to continue, I'm willing to provide a description of some of the conversions I've done over the years. Perhaps others can chip in (so to speak).

Nigel



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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 06:19 am
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Hi Toto,

Dug out the Bachmann Class 20. Mine currently has the body off as I'm converting to EM gauge, and I need to replace some of the steps and handrails. I have a sound decoder and speaker, so space is tight, as the top of the chassis cannot be reduced. The locomotive is a bit of a mongrel, I bought a Class 20 running chassis for another project which never got started, then a green body shell from Bachmann, and I used a recycled sound decoder re-blown with Class 20 sounds.

No before and after pictures. The existing circuit board was removed, along with the capacitors (the oval things) and chokes, which freed up an awful lot of space, and an 8-pin harness wired in. All electrical connections were soldered-up and insulated with heat shrink tubing (best to put this on before soldering, as I have found several times). I have a Loksound decoder that sits over one wheel gear turret (cab end) on a piece of 3M double sided foam tape on the top of the frame, then the wiring harness, then the speaker (which as you can see is a big rectangular one, size does matter here). No room for a speaker enclosure (width-wise and verically , so the back-sound is blocked with 3M double sided foam tape. Cheap and cheeful and it works. The speaker sits underneath the fan grille over the other gear tower. Quite effective. And yes, it does all fit under the body shell (just), probably a mm to spare. The decoder was recycled from a GWR Manor (steam) to the Class 20 by Howes. Highly recommended. Usual spaghetti of wires as I have plans to put in directional lighting when I figure how to get the cab off (suggestions anyone?).

The real issue is space, if you use a small mini-decoder then you should get away using the circuit board that is there. I now remove all circuit boards so I'm starting from scratch. I also stopped shortening any wires from harnesses and decoders.

I haven't been able to find any reason to keep 21 pin DCC sockets, so they go as well (why buy a space-filling adapter?) and I have used 8 pin decoders for several years now.

Nigel










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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 01:14 pm
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toto
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Hi Nigel,

You certainly know what you are doing that's for sure. I am a fresher to all this but I am interested in getting more confident with it.
I have a few loco's to do and to pay to have them chipped is at least £5.00 a go.
I have already done some 25's and a 37 and a couple of others and to be honest, they were not to difficult. The hardest part is usually getting the shell off. The rest is about 30 seconds work.
Again, I have never tried cutting out the socket and hard wiring as I'm not sure where all the wires would go but it is something that I think I will have to look at. Even cutting out the capacitors put shivers down my spine but the more I read on it, the more confident I feel that I would not screw it up.

I appreciate your additions to the thread, please feel free to continue all you want. I will be adding to it myself over the next coming days but it will not be as " involved" as your installations as I am not including sound ( yet ). Mines will be at the other end of the scale, the plug and plays.
Once I get my head around the wiring and what they all do, I may try hardwiring, especially where I come across some of the more space starved loco's.

I should be adding to this either tonight or tomorrow depending on when my decoders arrive from Hattons. One thing, I did not realise until lately that the 21 pin decoders were simply an interim measure. I thought that maybe the manufacturers had " plans " for the other pins. From what I now gather, 8 pin is the standard and all that is needed, even if you want to install sound. With this in mind, I may start buying 8 pin decoders and cutting away the 21 pin sockets and hard wiring, just as soon as I can work out the connections.

Once again, cheers for adding the above and don't be a stranger to the post.

Cheers

Toto

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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 07:40 pm
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Hi Toto,

Thanks for the comments. I'm not that sure I know what I'm doing some of the time, but it seems to work most of the time! I do a fair amount of scratch building and modification of RTR locomotives, so I've got used to the idea of what I term hacking and bashing. I live in Canada, so sending a locomotive back to the UK for warranty work is just not cost effective anyway. Invalidating the warranty by removing the electrical noise suppression gear is a minor consideration. Which reminds me - I was reading recently that modern Hornby electric motors are a bit special. Found it. Taken from http://www.hornby.com/profile/1055491/. A good guide to DCC, very clear.

Motor Suppression
Hornby Locos and electrical products are certified to EU EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) standards; they meet or exceed laid down requirements of the standard that covers emission of RFI (Radio Frequency Interference.) The suppression of the RFI from our products is achieved by design technique and utilisation of suppression components as needed.

Electric motors suppression is achieved by fitting internally on the commutator of the motor; “varistors”. A “varistors” is a voltage dependent resistor; which suppress voltage spikes. These are electrically placed between each winding of the motor. External from the motor, it is usual to find a ferrite sleeves, chokes and a capacitor.

Decoders and Motor suppression
The Hornby ranges of decoders are designed to work with any motor suppression fitted left in place. Removal of the suppression components is not generally recommended as it will mean the item no longer meets the EMC requirement.

However, some motor suppression components and decoders in combination may cause issues with smooth running. This is usually caused by the back EMF monitoring feature built in to some decoders becoming confused. Back EMF monitoring is designed to maintain constant motor speed when the motor and loco comes under load on an incline etc. The motor suppression capacitor can affect the reading of the back EMF value thus causing unstable running. Also, faulty suppression components have been known to cause unpredictable and jerky running.

In these extreme cases of bad running you may have to remove the motor suppression components. Modern electric motors which have built in suppression components (varistors) may be fitted with sufficient suppression to keep RFI emissions within reasonable limits; without further external components. Older motors were somewhat more primitive in design and contained no internal suppression can cause problems if any suppression components external to the motor are removed.


Interesting point whether the warranty would be invalidated if Hornby's instructions were followed. All the decoders I use (except for a few Digitrax cheapies that I use for testing) have inbuilt suppression circuitry (always worth checking), and are unlikely to generate snow on the neighbors TV (assuming it's a valve one from the 1950's). I've never found that removing suppression circuitry from an old Hornby open frame affects its running with DCC. I have no idea whether the Mashima can motors I like to use have internal suppression. I doubt it.

I was also waiting for the reason why 21 pins were introduced. Nothing materialized. Well, except for the debacle with the Dapol 22 pin socket. Many decoder manufacturers such as Loksound and QSI went the other way, with double ended decoders, one end for the conventional 8-leads, the other for the additional wiring for lights and other functions. My QSI decoder in the Kerosene Can (the GWR turbine) has 14 additional wires for Mars lights, ditch lights, search lights, warning lights, etc. Plus 4 leads for the 2 speakers, which have independent volume controls. I have a few 21 pin decoders (Bachmann City for example) but am steadily standardizing on 8 pin decoders.

I noticed that you have a Bachmann Jubilee on the "to do" list. Is this the old (split frame) or the new model? If it's the old model they suffered from "split axle" syndrome where the plastic axle sleeves would fracture with age and exposure to oil. Easy to check, take the wheel set out, and have a look at the plastic axle sleeve that slides over the stub axle of the wheel. If it's cracked or split it's only a matter of time before the wheels will wobble, slip and cause motion lock. Happens normally on the gear axle, which is subject to a lot more torque than the other axles. Bachmann should still have replacement wheel sets, but the rods have to be swapped over. Peters Spares carries the plastic axles, but you have to watch the diameter of the hole as there are 2 variants. The early 57xx model (the ex-Mainline model) suffers from the same problem. Two models to keep away from when buying second hand.

I'll post a few more "problematics" over the next little while. As you are finding out most conversions are plug and play, the difficulty is getting the body off some of the diesels. A supply of wood tooth-picks is essential for some models. It's the smaller ones that are interesting and more challenging because of space constraints. I actually have a Hornby 14xx and Bachmann 56xx scheduled for DCC conversion. The 14xx I've done before, the 56xx, a GWR 0-6-2 tank engine, is new territory for me. Not new, probably "early DCC" with an 8 socket board optimistically thrown in for good luck. Large can motor with a worm/flywheel combo, which is ideal for DCC. From the diagram, space under the hood looks tight, although there may be space in the smoke box for a speaker. Large bunker though, which should take the decoder. I'll provide a blow-blow with pictures.

Nigel



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 Posted: Fri Mar 14th, 2014 09:20 pm
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toto
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Hi Nigel,

Still trying to digest the suppression notes and will read them over until I understand it.......could take a wee while. :mutley

The jubilee was purchased about a year ago, new from Hattons. As you say I would need to remove the axle to determine which model it is but I would like to think its the latest.

I think because I only tackled some of the easy fits to date, I haven't come across any tight or awkward issues so far with regards to space. However I did have an issue with a Heljan class 47 that just seemed to come apart in my hands once the shell came of. Everything seemed to spew out to meet me. That ended up going into my local dealers to be corrected.

The more I read on this subject the more fascinating it becomes. It's amazing where you can fit a decoder.
I am just in the door and no signs of my decoders having been delivered from Hattons. Fingers crossed they come tomorrow as it will let me tackle my first conversion in a while.
I will similarly provide a blow by blow account of how I get on ( with photographs ) some of them will cover what is probably old hat and not very taxing for yourself but my idea is to build up a head of steam and so e confidence by tackling one or two easier loco's first, and progress from there.
thanks yet again for the above post. It is very informative and helps understand a bit more of the black art of suppression etc.

Cheers for now.

Toto

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Petermac
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I've read that the Bachmann J39 (non DCC ready) is not easy to convert.  Would I be better getting rid of it (even though it's hardly done 25 metres running) ?

Also, I have a non DCC ready Bachmann Jinty I wouldn't mind chipping .............:roll::roll:  Have you done either one Nigel ?



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