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Decoder fitting for a Bachmann Lord Nelson - DCC - Tutorials - Getting You Started. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Mon Jan 5th, 2015 08:56 am
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SRman
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In response to a request from a member on RMweb, after fitting a decoder to my first Bachmann Lord Nelson with split chassis, here is a step by step guide to how I did it, using my second LN as the example (I didn't take any photos for the first one!). This one is no. 850, Lord Nelson, renamed and renumbered from no. 864.

Some of the photos are a bit blurred as I was trying to hold the model and operate the phone camera at the same time, but I think the results are sufficiently clear to show what I was doing or what I am talking about.

To start with, remove the body from the chassis. This is retained by one screw under the cab and with a tab on the chassis slotting into the body under the smokebox at the front.








Next I removed the two remaining screws holding the chassis wheel keeper plate / spring and brake block detail (I'll refer to this as the base plate from here on), after springing out the brake rodding (note that I actually took the screws out before lifting the body off - this doesn't affect the process).





After this, I removed the cylinders, which are simply a force fit on metal extensions from the chassis. Then I levered the motion supports off; these are also simply a force fit, like the cylinders.






There are three screws holding the chassis halves together. One of them also holds the solder tags on to the front end of the chassis. Before we remove the base plate / axle retainer, I prefer to remove the front screw, pull out the plastic plug from the other side and release the two solder tags. I didn't do this on the first conversion and ended up breaking one of the wires coming up from the bogie.

You might wish to mark which tag is on which side, perhaps with an ink marker pen. This will assist identification for reassembly and connection of the decoder wires later.

If you have a later release LN from Bachmann, these tags may not be present as Bachmann quietly dropped the extra pickups from the specification. In that case, you may wish to add some brass or copper tags later when reassembling the chassis, to ease the job of connecting the decoder track wires.




Now lever the front end of the base plate up, just behind the bogie, lifting it and moving it backwards slightly to unhook the rear part that hooks over the chassis end.






This leaves the wheels, axles and valve gear free to be lifted out of the chassis.




The remaining two screws can be undone to allow the split chassis halves to be separated. Watch out for the plastic spacers: two white rectangular ones at the bottom and two black plastic washers around the upper two plastic plugs (that the screws go into). Also ensure you don't lose the plastic gear.






I actually use a little black-tack (or mastic material) to retain the spacers in their places so they don't get lost and don't shift when reassembling the chassis.




The motor just lifts out, but keep an eye on the two black plastic cup washers that go over the end bearings. Also, make sure the thrust bearing stays put (it is wedged into the chassis where the worm gear touches it). Note also that the motor has a small red spot marking the bottom which was connected to the right-hand chassis side - this brush will get the orange wire from the decoder. As an extra precaution, I chose to wrap the motor in insulating tape but this is not really necessary.

Remove the two copper/brass (or whatever!) springs that bore on the brush tags.






Now prepare the decoder. This one is a TCS M1, which is very compact yet able to handle over 1 amp loads. These give reasonable running qualities at good prices and are covered by TCS' 'goof-proof' warranty, which means that if something goes wrong with this installation, they will replace it with no quibbles. I bared and tinned the grey and orange wires. Don't forget to thread on some heat-shrink tubing before soldering the wires to the motor brushes: orange to the red tagged brush, grey to the other one.

Slide the heat-shrink tubes over the bare wire ends and brush tags and apply heat.








Now resite the motor in the chassis half. The decoder wires are only just long enough and are routed through the gap between chassis halves.




The chassis halves can be reunited, ensuring all the plastic spacers are in place (a bit of black-tack stops them moving or dropping out during handling, as mentioned earlier). I replaced two of the screws but not the one at the smokebox end (yet). I did temporarily push the plastic plug into the smokebox end hole to align the spacer washer.

Next I replaced the wheel sets in the chassis and clipped the motion supports and cylinders back in.




Next I clipped the base plate back in, hooking it onto the rear of the chassis first then sliding it up and pushing it home at the front, and replaced the two screws.




Now for the final connections. I shortened the black and red wires from the decoder, stripped the ends and tinned them. Note that I have also cut short the function wires (white, yellow and blue - green and purple additionally if using a TCS M4 decoder as I did with Lord Anson) and "tied" them up with a section of heat-shrink tubing. If you are going to fit lights or firebox glows, or other extra functions, these are the wires you will need in addition - that's beyond the scope of this essay.




Solder those red and black wires to the solder tags attached to the bogie pickup wires. Make sure you identify the right-hand wire (as you look from the back towards the front of the loco) and solder the red wire to that. The black wire goes to the left-hand tag.Now you can pull the black plug back ut of the chassis at the smokebox end, insert it through the left-hand solder tag and then through the chassis. Insert the screw through the right-hand tag then screw it into the plug through the chassis.

Finally, add a section of double-sided tape to stick the decoder to the very front of the chassis.




Now test on the programming track. Mine read back properly so I reprogrammed the decoder to number 850, tweaked the inertia and momentum settings (CV3 = 20, CV4 = 15 as a starting point for my tastes - yours may be quite different), then gave it a track test. Again all was well, so it was back to the workbench to refit the body.

Note: I also used the opportunity to lubricate the motor bearings and gears while everything was accessible earlier.Here is Lord Nelson hauling a test goods train under DCC control.






I hope this helps somebody and hasn't been too boring or laboured.



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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2015 01:24 pm
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Petermac
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A great tutorial Jeff - many thanks. :thumbs

Whilst  there is little chance of ever seeing a Lord Nelson on Maxmill, watching an expert chipping split chassis locos is always interesting. 

You make it look/sound so simple but I recall my frustrations when John Dew talked me through my split chassis V2.  I think the only thing I didn't break was the weight ..................:oops::oops::oops:

I still have the odd split chassis to do and may just pluck up the courage to attempt another having seen how simple it is ...............:roll::roll::mutley:mutley



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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2015 03:35 pm
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I am with Peter in thanking you Jeff.
An excellent step by step tutorial and one for the reference book.
Thanks,
derek.

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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2015 05:47 pm
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SRman
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Thanks Peter and Derek.

I realise that it is with some trepidation that one attempts their first such conversion. So far I have done two Ivatt 2MT 2-6-2Ts (the triangular motion supports are the tricky bit on these), a class 04 diesel shunter, a London Transport Pannier tank, and the two LNs. 

I wouldn't say they are dead easy but if you take things slowly and logically, and keep the various screws and spacers arranged so you know where they came from and where they need to go back to, you shouldn't have too many problems. 

The only other things to really watch for are making sure there is room to run the wires (generally, through the space between the chassis halves is a good bet), and where the decoder is going to fit in. I know of a few online contributors who actually ground away parts of the block on their 04s to make room for a decoder. My friend Doug did his 04 first and showed me that there was sufficient space to hide a small decoder (TCS M1 in his and my cases) under the cab floor. The Ivatts have largely enclosed cabs so the decoders can be taped on top of the cab floor and be barely visible.

I am eyeing off my original Bachmann Standard class 4 4-6-0 for the next split chassis conversion, but I also have a Hornby LBSC Terrier and a Hornby Hogwarts Castle I want to hard-wire. The Terrier will use a TCS Z2 decoder standing up behind the boiler backhead in the cab, like the two previous ones I have done. The Castle is a thornier problem as there is not much space for a decoder.



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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2015 06:33 pm
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Petermac
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Don't suppose you have a Bachmann Jinty or Class 39 to do ....................................:roll::roll::roll::roll::roll::roll:



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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2015 07:44 pm
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A hearty well done to Jeff for taking the trouble to show the process.  I have done three in my time, each time the operation was a success but performance suffered, so I refuse to do these. 

Peter, Bachmann's Jinty has a later chassis.  The very early models are not DCC ready (I had one but it got converted to EM and you can see my bodging in the thread) but hardwiring is not terribly difficult.  Later models are DCC ready.

John



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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2015 10:39 pm
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Petermac
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My Jinty is pre DCC ready John - I can't remember exactly when I bought it but I'd guess around 2006 or 2007 judging from when I bought the first DCC loco - a pannier .............

The J39, also non-DCC ready,  was purchased in 2007.



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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2015 11:40 pm
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Did you buy these new Peter?  I seem to recall that by 2007, models were routinely DCC ready.  I got mine quite a long time ago. 

I have no experience with the J39, so can't speak to that. 

John



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 Posted: Wed Jan 7th, 2015 01:06 am
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Both new John.

I think, at that time, both versions were available but I bought mainly non DCC ready locos because I had no intention of ever going down the DCC route ..........:roll::roll:

A bit like at school - I learnt German because I'd never, ever need to speak French ...............;-);-)



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 Posted: Wed Jan 7th, 2015 05:36 am
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Peter, as John said, the Bachmann Jinty is a later chassis, not a split type. Find somewhere to tuck the decoder (possibly the bunker or cab), desolder and detach the wires from the brushes, then solder the grey and orange wires to the brushes and the red and black wires to the wires that came off the brushes earlier.

The J39 is a split chassis type. There is no valve gear to get in the way so is straightforward (I haven't done one but friend Doug has). The hardest thing with this one is finding somewhere to place the decoder.

Thanks for the compliments too, Peter and John.

Another hard-wiring job to do is a Bachmann 3F chassis. Now this one was actually DCC-ready but relies on a connection to the tender, where the socket is. Since I have slotted the loco chassis into my white metal Southern Q class 0-6-0, I need to rewire the connections so the decoder will be in the locomotive. I did have a Bachmann J39 chassis in this one but the 3F is much closer to the correct wheelbase and also much easier to convert to DCC.



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 Posted: Wed Jan 7th, 2015 09:01 am
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Cheers Jeff.  Not a bad idea to put the decoder in the 3F body, if you can find space.  The wiring harness between loco and tender can be a royal pain the you know where.  There aren't even pickups on the tender wheels.  Something to ponder.

John



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 Posted: Mon Apr 13th, 2015 06:03 am
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Hi John,

Had to read the write-up twice to see where the power was coming from. The bogie pickup tabs - ingenious. An alternative is to drill and tap a split chassis (MAZAC is as soft as butter compared to hard brass or steel) for an appropriately sized round head bolt, connect the wires to the bolts (wind under the head or solder the wire to a washer) and then tap the power directly from each half. Essential if it is an 0-6-0 or similar chassis or the bogie does not have pick-ups and chassis tabs.

Nigel



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 Posted: Mon Apr 13th, 2015 01:53 pm
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Yes, I have been lucky in that several of my chosen subjects for conversion had the extra bogie wheel pickups and therefore had the tags to solder wires to already. The Lord Nelsons (both of mine) and also the two Ivatt 2-6-2Ts I did were all cases in point.

Drilling and adding a self-tapper is the best alternative where there were no extra pickups to start with. The 04 diesel  and the split chassis LT pannier that I did fall into this category. The previously mentioned J39 split chassis would also benefit from the 'screw in hole' method.

Peter's pre-DCC-ready Jinty is much simpler to do because it doesn't have the dreaded split chassis! :lol:



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Hi Jeff.  I thought that I had six Pugs , but , when I sent a photo of my Shunter ( which had the same appearance as the others) I was put in my place. True they are all built on the basic chassis , but two have got side tanks, and only three have saddle tanks. I have purchased the July Model Rail which has an article on fitting DCC, this could  be prohibitive to do all six. And one of the Motors appears appears to be different. Plus the fact that the article recommends using a stay alive, which may be necessary ? But all of my Locos negotiate the electrofrog points okay.Have you got any opinions on " Stay Alive" ( nothing to do with the Bee Gees?)     All the best  Kevin



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Hi Kevin. 

As all of my points are electrofrog and have polarity switching for the frogs, I have not found any real need to use 'keep alive / stay alive" capacitors. The one and only locomotive I have fitted really didn't seem to show any noticeable benefits on my layout.

I have read where others have found it a useful facility. It looks like it's "horses for courses"; you may have to experiment a bit, using one of your locos as a guinea pig. The Hornby 'old-style' 0-4-0 chassis may well benefit, but I can say the new-style 0-4-0 as fitted to the Pecketts don't seem to need any help (at least, on my layout).



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Hi Kevin,

I'm with Jeff on stay-alives. With electrofrogs, wired point rails, clean rails/wheels (tread and backs) and wheel wiper contacts you shouldn't need them (0-2-0 excepted, and they're far and few), as the largest gap is the rail joint. Easiest way to make sure is a scheduled cleaning (every month).

Nigel



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Hi Kevin

None of the frogs on either of my layouts are switched.  Clean wheels and clean rails are the go.  I remember John Dew (who uses the Lenz stay alive decoders), fitted a piece of dead track to a spur and his loco ran on a foot or so and hit the buffers.

The DCC Concepts decoders in my wagons come with capacitors attached, but they don't help when the tracks and/or wheels are dirty.  Proper stay alive devices use super capacitors of around 1 Farad.  Commercial bolt on devices typically only have a fraction of that capacity.

I think that they are an urban myth.  :lol:



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 Posted: Sun Jul 2nd, 2017 11:49 am
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Hi Max.   Thank you for your reply. As a" Newbie" to DCC. This time around,    DC was more straight forward, I am willing to have a go at DCC. And when I heard about the article in "Model Rail " August  2017, I went straight out and purchased a copy. Just to read the article by George Dent. And his shopping list for the job was: DCC concepts  Zen  ZN8H Decoder with stay alive £22.95 . BR/LNER DML-LNER locomotive lamps, red aspect £19.95.
Ditto lamps with White Aspect. Purchased from Gaugemaster. And as the author prefers to use 8 pin Decoder sockets( and has some already?) rather than hard Wire Decoders . I already have the 0-4-0 loco in question , one of the "Dirty half Dozen". From eBay . I thought that I would give it a go, and I am always willing to take expert advice.
I don't know if you have read this article? But it looks good to me.  All the best   Kevin



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Hi Nigel.  Thank you.  But when I hooked up my "entry level" DC Decoder to the Puzzle Yard track all of the dirty"Half Dozen" eBay locos had no trouble negotiating the points at a "Crawl Pace" . But I prefer the sound of Locos either the Steam locos Chuffing along or Gurgling (or whatever you call it) as the Diesels do.All the best. Kevin



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 Posted: Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 05:35 am
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Hi Kevin,

Max has the nail on the head (it's in Bristol), stay alive capacitors are really designed to keep the sound from spluttering out and then in (or having that diesel start up again), not to keep the locomotive moving for anything but a few inches. Read somewhere that a decent one will be the size of a goods van. I believe most decoders are designed to only accept current for a few seconds from a capacitor. If you want a locomotive to run on dead track it's LiPo battery power (or the finger from the sky). Better off spending a few minutes a month making sure it's all clean and oil-free, and that the track is actually conducting the electrickery.

Nigel




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