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Nigel's Workbench - On Members Workbenches. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 06:00 am
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BCDR
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Bachmann Class 56xx DCC conversion

I have been following Toto’s thread on DCC conversions and throwing my 2-cents/pennies worth in, time to give a concrete example. I have put this project under Nigel’s Workbench Members Projects/Members Workbenches), not wishing to pirate his thread with a long post. It is really a how-to project, converting an older model from DC to DCC sound, and I hope the description will assist others in having a go and making the switch to DCC. I have never done one of these engines before, and total dismantling was required to get what I wanted. It turned out to be an interesting and relatively easy conversion.
 
The engine. This engine, a Churchward 0-6-2 tank, was bought second-hand (by mistake, I actually wanted a Class 57xx) in what looks like unused to light use. First thought was to resell; next thought was I actually like the look of the beast. My gauge is EM, I had a set of Ultrascale wheels available, these were a straightforward swap, and I just need to transfer the rods. DCC sound? Why not!
 
I tested it out on the rolling road before starting. Very smooth and quiet in both directions. There is built-in momentum from Bachmann’s use of a worm/flywheel. The engine is a hefty affair, coming in at around 290 gm. The body is retained by two screws hidden underneath the NEM coupler pockets at either end. I used a magnetic -tipped screwdriver to get these out as they have a habit of flying off into the darker recesses of the workshop. The chassis is a reasonably tight fit in the body shell, front, and rear down at the same time. This clearly is an older model; the motor is the open can three-pole design.
 


The 56xx after fitting EM gauge wheels (on EM track).



Decoder and speaker location
. No wonder it is hefty, there are weights everywhere! Cast chassis for the motor and bottom half of the boiler, worm/flywheel covered by a weight that fits under the Belpaire firebox, plus the weight in the bunker. It turned out to be DCC Ready. I prefer “DCC Good Luck”. This is a DC to DCC Ready factory conversion that has taken little (if any) account of the reality of fitting a decoder, and good luck trying. The decoder circuit board and blanking plug are clearly an afterthought. Out of interest I went and got my Digitrax HO decoder that I use for testing (better to fry a $25 decoder than a $180 sound decoder). The dimensions of this decoder are 30 x 12 x 5mm (l x w x h), which is comparable to offerings from Bachmann and Hornby. It does not fit, as there is not enough space in front of the weight in the smoke box, or on top of the 8-pin female plug connector, and there is definitely no room for a reasonably sized speaker and a decoder in the boiler. An N-gauge decoder fits, as does an ESU Loksound mini-decoder and a Lenz Silver mini. With that weight to drive, I prefer to use an OO decoder. It was also possible to put the decoder in the space occupied by the over-the motor weight (just), but motors generate heat, so not an ideal place for something that needs to loose heat.


 

The chassis - weight everywhere.









DCC "Ready" but where oh where is the decoder supposed to go? Body shell behind at the same height.



I spent an hour just looking at the chassis and thinking about decoder/speaker location, wiring runs, and doing some test fitting. In the end the obvious place for the decoder and speaker is in the cab/bunker, as they will be out of site with a bit of camouflage. This also leaves the option of putting a small bass speaker in the front end of the boiler later on.
 
Body work. Next step was to dismantle the body shell. The coal molding in the bunker is a push fit and pulls out, the cab roof, front, and back cab sheets are a single molding that came out after a bit of persuasion using a palette knife inserted into the seams from the inside. A large weight in the bunker sits over the rear pony wheels. The front face is the representation of the bunker doors, toolboxes, and seats. I checked the CoG, with the bunker weight in place, it is a tad rear-end heavy, and removing it put more weight over the driving wheels. With the bunker weight out of the way, there is room for a reasonably sized speaker and enclosure that will sit on the floor of the cab with the speaker facing down, and the decoder on top of the speaker enclosure.  While I was working in this area, I took the opportunity to move the brake standard on the fireman’s side in and back by 1mm. Fireman Fred would have broken his knuckles if he used it where Bachmann put it.
 


The naming of parts.





20mm speaker enclosure fits well in bunker.



The top of the bunker front face (tool boxes, seats) is normally visible from the outside; I may do a resin casting of the bunker face, painted up and the top third fixed to the sides above the speaker/decoder. I am waiting for permission from Bachmann Europe to do this as it may involve copyright.

 
The bunker floor already has 3 holes for the weight location lugs, more holes were drilled where the speaker was going. With the cab back on and the coal in the bunker it is very difficult to see the decoder/speaker enclosure. I covered the top of the decoder with some black craft paper to stop light reflection.  With a driver and fireman at the doors, it will be hidden from sight.
 


Holes to let sound out. And the handbrake standard move in and back by 1mm.



Rewiring. The circuit board, chokes and capacitors were removed, as most DCC decoders have inbuilt electrical suppression (ESU Loksound certainly do). I was not tempted to recycle the 8-pin plug/circuit board. This left 2 wires coming from the wheel pick-up wipers – red and black, and 2 wires going to the motor terminals –a gain red and black. The latter are incorrect and nonstandard; they should be grey and orange. Another clue to the hasty conversion of what was a DC chassis. I removed the motor and mount from the chassis, and cut off the wires. I filed the support posts for the circuit board screws flat. There is now plenty of room for an 8-pin female plug wiring harness. If sound is not required, stop here and use a small OO decoder. I am planning on working oil lamps, and I’ll control these directly from the decoder wires, as the connecting wires will run under the running plate front and rear (this will be the subject of a future post).




Chokes, resistors and non-standard wiring.





A new blanking plug and the one that came with the 56xx.





Old wiring and circuit board removed and the surface filed smooth.


I used an ESU Loksound V3.5 decoder. This has a GWR 2 cylinder sound profile (Howes of Kidlington). I now wire DCC decoders indirectly to pick-ups and motor terminals using a wiring harness with an 8-pin female plug at the end. This way a cheap decoder can be used to make sure everything is wired correctly, and then quickly swapped for the intended decoder (or in the future an upgraded one). I used a recycled ESU Loksound 8-pin female harness. I stripped 1 cm from the ends of the pick-up wires, and then threaded heat-shrink tubing onto them. [Experience has shown that it is better to put the heat shrink in place prior to soldering]. The red and black harness wires were stripped at the ends, and the wire ends twisted together (red to red, black to black. The twisted wires were soldered-up (no-clean flux, 145° solder), and then folded flat against the wire pointing away from the heat-shrink tubing. The heat-shrink tubing was slid over the joint, and shrunk in place using the barrel of the soldering iron held in close proximity. I soldered the grey and orange wires directly to the motor terminals.




 ESU Loksound wiring harness with 8-pin female socket wired to pick-ups and motor terminals. Correct color for the wires.



The decoder wires from the boiler to the bunker were routed on the inside of the cast chassis to the side of the motor and under the firebox weight. There is enough room to pass between the body shell and the backhead into the cab.




 Decoder in cab space. Extra wires for future lights.



Speaker. I used an ESU Loksound 100 ohm 20 mm speaker and matching enclosure. The speaker wires are not soldered directly to the decoder; I use mini male-female 2-pin connectors. [Tip: I have some large metal clothes pegs that I clip on the speaker wire to the decoder that act as heat sinks]. This means the speaker wire can be run through bodywork, etc., and then connected to the speaker, or the speaker can be changed without de-soldering and re-soldering the wires to the decoder. I have found these speakers to be satisfactory with enough bass for my ears. Good enclosures are essential to stop back sound and muting.


 
20mm speaker with 2-pin connector.


Assembly.
The speaker and enclosure were fixed to the floor of the cab using 2 self-tapping screws. The rewired motor and wiring harness were put back, and the leads and plug from the decoder routed through the backhead and alongside the motor. I used some double sided foam tape to keep the wires in place in the boiler.




Decoder and speaker in cab.





Decoder covered by black craft paper, cab back on and coaled-up. Needs a crew.



That’s it. A bit more drastic than usual, but I did manage to recycle the wiring harness, decoder, and speaker from another GWR 2 cylinder engine. Nothing special regarding tools and supplies, jeweler’s screwdrivers, large needle file, variable power soldering iron, no clean flux, heat shrink tubing. The most useful piece of equipment I have is the illuminated angle poise lamp/magnifying glass. What’s next? Some running oil lamps (DCC Concepts), driver, and fireman at the doors, and some light weathering.



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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 03:36 pm
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toto
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Wow,

Sort of leaves my plug and plays in the dark a bit.:mutley A very detailed conversion with excellent pictures for guidance.

A bit beyond me as there were too many things to consider at once and I think it needs a leap of faith as once started, there's no going back it is amazing how so much can be shoe horned into such a small space.

I'll be reading this again, and probably again in order to clarify some of the tasks in my mind but it does make good reading and the only thing better than having a tutorial like this at hand would be having the tutor sit beside you as you do it.

I'll look forward to seeing more of the same.

I picked up a 7F a 3 F and a class twenty this morning and brought them along with a set of watchmakers screw drivers, and a selection of other small tools as well as a camera for reference photo's".............. And left the decoders.:thud

However, I may just use the time to take the loco's apart for a dry run and familiarise myself with whats to come. I appreciate that there won't be anywhere near the involvement that you have had with the above but I suppose I have to start somewhere. I need to now go out and look for an old runner with which to try some more serious amendments.

Thanks for sharing the above and keep them coming.

PS leave the easy ones for me. :mutley

Cheers

Toto

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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 05:58 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Toto,

Thanks for the comments. Theoretically this is a "plug and play", but like a lot of first generation models it really was an afterthought with no sense of where the decoder was actually going to go. And this would have been before the current crop of mini decoders, some with the pins on the board.

I may yet swap the ESU Loksound V3.5 for a V4.0, as the choice of speakers is a bit limited for the V.3.5 (100 ohm). The V4.0 is quite happy with 4-8 ohm, which gives a much wider choice, including those neat "sugar cubes" that Max likes. It would also enable me to get more space in the cab/bunker. Having an easily detachable, rather than a hard wired decoder makes this easy.

You're spot on about starting with an older model when doing anything more than plug and play.


Nigel



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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 07:04 pm
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toto
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Hi Nigel,

I'll look for the cheapest runner I can find :mutley that way nothing really lost if I cock it up.

It's still good to see how the experts do it though ........ A bit of on line training.

Cheers

Toto

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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 09:04 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Toto,

Nice of you to think so but I'm no expert, I just like seeing what can in fact be done to older UK engines made prior to DCC becoming more common. It also helps being in North America, where DCC is in fact the accepted norm, rare indeed to find an exhibition or club layout (or for that matter home layout) in HO or N scale that is not fully DCC (and more often than not sound). The club I go to is 100% DCC, no DC allowed.

Basic sound decoders (Digitrax) can be had for less than $50.00 US (around £35.00), $60.00 US with 16-bit sound (around £40.00) and with locomotive specific sounds. And with full functionality. Not as sophisticated as the likes of QSI or ESU Loksound, but they do the job well, and certainly benefit from higher quality speakers. There are a number of UK sound files available - Standard 5, Class 8, 15, 31, 37, 40, 42, 108, 251, 411, D16/LMS 10000, V2, and a GWR 2-4-2 Prairie (which suits almost all GWR/BR 2 cylinder locomotives). Retailers will burn in the sound file of choice, normally for free. I've tried the last one, I'm going to try the Class 108 next (nearest sounds to the GWR diesel railcar, not bad for the money, and I have 3 of them to convert to DCC). 

Almost everything about DCC is straightforward, like most things electronic it has an awful lot of technobabble which has little if any impact on learning how to use it. Plenty of primers around that put it into clear, understandable language (for example http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/nswmn2/DCC.htm#Contents).

Even basic systems should have a decent range of functions. Same goes for decoders. I found it disconcerting that Bachmann have partnered with Soundtraxx to produce "economy" sound decoders with limited functionality/form. "Design Smart" again? I have a Hornby pannier with the DCC system totally integrated into circuit board such that a replacement decoder cannot be used (no socket). Another candidate for total replacement. And the 4-pin decoder? (1 function essentially, direction of travel). I really hope this trend does not lead to even further marginalization of the UK market away from main-stream developments.

Nigel



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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 09:30 pm
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toto
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Hi Nigel,

That is the UK all over for you.......... Rip off Britain. They seem to like to take a complete product, take it apart and sell it to you a bit at a time to make the most out of it that they can.

We are paying well over the odds for available technology. We do have a choice........take it or leave it. :mutley

Cheers for now

Toto

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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 09:49 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Toto,

Tony's Trains in Vermont, does mail order, and will burn the required sound files. Nice people, friendly and knowledgeable. Or Nancy's Trains in North Carolina, also very good. Must be somebody in the UK. Digitrains. Wickness Models in Scotland.

Nigel



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 Posted: Mon Mar 17th, 2014 10:48 pm
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toto
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Hi Nigel,

I will have to read up on the various levels of decoders, sound and speakers as I really don't have a clue.

It would be good to have some of my 37's, 25's , 22's and 47's with sound and I have 5 A4's that I would like to have done but at the UK prices, it won't be happening anytime soon.

I am still ploughing cash into my layout build at the moment so that has to take priority over sound ............. I could always slim back on my loco budget :mutley

To have one loco with sound would sound a bit pitiful. I would like to have enough put by for say half a dozen. Probably the diesels and then another bulk job done on half a dozen steam.
So unless I can get sound decoders at a reasonable price then. :hmm

I also need to have a look at speaker prices as well ............. Never ending but all in good time. For the moment I have some basic DCC decoders to get trains running.

Anyway, I look forward to your next master class.

Cheers

Toto

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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 08:04 pm
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BCDR
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Put the rods on this morning, plus some Bachmann crew (sans legs) to see how it would look with crew in the doors.
Not bad, I really need that bunker front coming down, and should probably reduce the height of the speaker enclosure a bit.
I'm a bit restricted for choice of speakers, as this is a100 ohm output decoder. Looks like I also need to adjust the sanding pipes.
And get some real coal in the bunker.

Some detailing work for the future: Bachmann missed a few details on this model. There should be a blower pipe running from
the cab front sheet to the smokebox across the top of the boiler.
The water tank mushroom air vents also need reducing in height. There is also a step on the front of each of the water tanks
that Bachmann missed. There should also be a whistle shield, and blanking plates on the front cab sheet where the 2 small
porthole windows were covered up. The steam brake cylinders behind the cab steps could do with a bit of beefing-up.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Bachmann's representation of the raised bunker back (to protect the rear lamp) is a bit crude, as are the representations
of the bunker back lamp brackets. It also needs an ATC shoe for the front (which was quiet prominent given the lack of
front-pony wheels. The indent to the bunker back was done in 1934, which is exactly the time-frame I need.

That "GWR" on the sides of the tanks is however a problem, as this firmly dates the model to 1945-1947. For 1934
need either "Great   Western" (the space between Great and Western was intended to have the crest) or the
GWR monogram, as this was the year that the change took place. 

One thing that really struck me about this model is all those hand rails. Not one of them was molded. Really adds some 3D
to the sides. Plus the rivet detail, which is almost spot on.







Nigel




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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 08:09 pm
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Hi Toto,

Thanks again for the comments. One thing I've found over the years is that quality = money, there are no bargains. I use Digitrax these days for the cheap and cheerful items, ESU Loksound for the more detailed (or kit-built) UK items, ESU Loksound Select for the North American items.

Nigel



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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 08:40 pm
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Hi Nigel,

I would agree with your statement, in fact, I will expand on that if you don't mind. This hobby = money. Every aspect of it. However, I did not walk into blind and if I did not think I could afford to do it right ( ish ) I would have left well alone. :mutley

The subject of decoders and sound is just the latest in a long line of expensive items. You just need to spread out the cost a bit. It would be great to just have it there to spend as you like......... Anyway, back to the real world.

I haven't got anywhere with the fitting of my decoders as intended as I left them in the house making a hasty exit on Monday morning. However, I did get the chance to read over the instructions of the 4F, 7F, Class 20 and a sentinel that I bought on Saturday morning.

The 7F mentions the boiler pivoting at the front. I take it what it means is that when you have taken out the screws, you lift the rear of the boiler ( the cab end ) first and ease off towards the front ?

Apologies if this sounds a bit of a stupid question but I'm very fresh with regards to taking these things apart so would rather ask at the risk of looking a numpty.

Do you have any experience with the 7F ?

Cheers

Toto

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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 08:56 pm
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We just need the video now Nigel.:thumbs



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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 10:00 pm
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Did you do anything different with post 9 Nigel as it seems to have gone a bit wide?.



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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 10:10 pm
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Hi Toto,

Money. I decided some time ago to have a plan, budget and to stick to it. Impulse buys tend to wreak havoc, so I don't, tempting as a £75 reduction on a locomotive might be. I recycle a lot, re-blowing a sound decoder is a lot cheaper than buying a new one.

Sorry. I've never done a 7F. If the new model the plug should be in the tender. Two screws underneath. If it says pull down the end of the boiler then do so gently. Any resistance stop, and have a look at what's happening. This is where tha illuminated magnifying glass comes in very useful. Looking at the service sheet also normally gives clues.

Nigel



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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 10:12 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Alan,

Yes I did notice. Nothing that I can think of.

Nigel



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 Posted: Tue Mar 18th, 2014 10:13 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Reg,

Wot, run an engine? I thought they were to look at and admire! Seriously, I will see what I can do.

Nigel



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 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2014 08:42 pm
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BCDR
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Hi Reg,

Forgot how big .mov files are - 1 mb/second. The limit here is 2mb, and no .mov files. Zipping does very little with a .mov file (10% reduction). So I posted it at UTube running on the test track (http://youtu.be/pKTmsfYSGR0). Copy and paste the link. Bit slow loading as it's not streamed.

NCE DCC system, power level 1 (of 99). It's running at a scale 0.87 mph (± 50%, measured over a distance of 6 inches). The hiss in the background is apparently take from a real GWR boiler "on the simmer" with the pressure valves just gently releasing steam - the hallmark of a first-class fireman. My Nikon Coolpix has a relatively poor microphone. As I was test running it my wife inquired if I could  possibly keep the noise down (from 3 rooms away). DCC sound setting is at 50% in the interest of harmony.

Nigel



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