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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My first posting but I'm sure you guys can help me.

I'm starting a layout after many years absence and reading through this forum and the usual publications it seems obvious to go down the DCC route for a new layout However I have a number of old Poole built Farish loco's that I would like to convert to DCC but I'm not sure what effect DCC will have on these as they were built to either be running or left in an isolated section. They were not built to sit idle in a powered section of track, is it likely to burn out the motor and should I plan to add some isolated sections or do the decoders help protect the motor? Finally I only intend to use two function wired decoders on the loco's (can't see any reason for more functions as I don't plan to use sound), are there any types I should avoid installing on Farish kit.
 

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Hi noelp and welcome
I have converted several old farish locos to dcc. However if you're unsure what to do you might want to think twice. A search here will help.
You haven't said if They are steam or diesel and also what era from farish? Steam locos can be converted with the use of a dcc supplies digihat. Search the dccsupplies website. I believe Poole diesels require 2 digihats but I haven't tried this.
Whatever you are doing, dcc will not make poor running dc locos run well. So if you don't have 5 pole motors in your locos I would forget it. In fact in most cases I would forget for a couple of reasons. If for instance you have an old black 5, consider seriously buying a new version black five. The detail is superior and the conversion to dcc is simple, a plug in decoder, twenty second job, as opposed to converting an old version which is visually inferior and will probably take a couple of hours to convert.
As to functions on decoders, in n gauge it's not really an issue in British locos. All 6 pin plug in decoders allow lights and motor functions, which is about all we can fit in. Steam thingies and dcc operated uncoupling is for the 2 mill people I think hope this helps
 

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As it seems you plan to fit decoders to you locos, sitting idle on a powered section of track isn't an issue. The decoder doesn't send any power to the motor unless you command that particular loco to move.

You may be thinking of something you read that a single loco without a decoder can be operated on a DCC system. Most (not all) DCC systems are capable of doing this but it is not recommended, especially for N gauge motors which seem particularly likely to be damaged by the DCC current. So the advice is to fit a decoder to any loco before you run it on DCC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply and for info these are steam with 5 pole motors and as I have 10 of them it would be a bit expensive to replace them all which was why I planned to add decoders. I was looking at using the digihat as these look the easiest to install and I appreciate these will probably never run as well as a purpose built DCC model but thought it may be worth trying to update them. I also have a couple of DCC ready Dapol steamers so my only other options would be to go down the DC route with the old kit and build a separate DCC layout ( even more expensive) or sell the old kit.
 

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I've done 3 steam and a diesel for a friend and they weren't much trouble. You have to make sure that the decoder doesn't get any supply from the chassis, or anywhere else except the red and black wire. The Digihats isolate the motor brushes from the chassis, but you have to check every inch of the way with a multi meter to make sure there's no chance of contact.

Having a lathe, I made the Digihats myself, which saved my mate a few bob, as he's got some more to do yet.

We used Digitrax DZ125 decoders, which were the smallest we could find in his price range. Personally, I'd have gone for Zimo, but you'll get other views.
 

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Hi noelp
You should be fine if you use 5 pole motors.

As pointed out above, it's not that difficult and with careful examination of the chassis you can convert the locos. Just check and double check that the motor is isolated from the chassis. If it's not, you've lost a decoder. For this reason you might want to look at decoders with goof proof warranties such as TCS or Lenz, but of course these are more expensive than the digitrax suggested.
In steam locos you will almost certainly only need to use four wires from a decoder, 2 to the pickups, and 2 to the motor. You won't need lights on old farish steamers, and therefore all the wires except red black grey and orange can be cut off, unless you plan to reuse the decoder elsewhere. Good luck and let us know how you get on.
HTH Cheers.
kirky
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Guys, Thanks for the replies. I can't remember where but I do recall reading something about motors burning out but couldn't remember the detail so before I went any further I thought I'd check. Still have to decide on the decoders and asking which are the best is like asking how long a piece is - everyone has thier own opions. I had narrowed it down to NCE, Lenz or Digitrax but I also need to buy the command station and was thinking of using one brand for both the decoders and station, decisions, decisions - life was a lot easier when all you had was DC.
 

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QUOTE (Noelp @ 13 Apr 2011, 14:20) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Guys, Thanks for the replies. I can't remember where but I do recall reading something about motors burning out but couldn't remember the detail so before I went any further I thought I'd check. Still have to decide on the decoders and asking which are the best is like asking how long a piece is - everyone has thier own opions. I had narrowed it down to NCE, Lenz or Digitrax but I also need to buy the command station and was thinking of using one brand for both the decoders and station, decisions, decisions - life was a lot easier when all you had was DC.

DCC Rule 1 - there is NO advantage in buying your command station and decoders from the same maker. Buy the best command station for your purpose, and then buy the best decoders for your purpose.

DCC advice - if you are comfortable using computers, then look at the JMRI/DecoderPro software for setting up decoders. To use it you need a computer interface to your chosen DCC Command Station, and the price of the interface can vary a lot between Command Station makers. Some are free (just a cable), some around £30-40, others nearer to £60 and a few are over £100. Not every system can connect to JMRI, check compatibility (on JMRI website) before you spend money on a command station.

For N size decoders, in my experience you pay more for better performance. With old Farish, superb running is possible, but the loco needs to run well on DC first, then a good decoder can make it superb.
Bachmann own-brand 6-pin. Adequate, at a very low price. Its a rebadged Soundtraxx motor decoder.
Digitrax DZ125. Not too bad, again good price.
TCS smaller BEMF decoders. OK-ish, but I think their designs work much better in OO than N scale.
Lenz Mini Silver+. OK, but overpriced in my view; CT and Zimo are noticably better.
Lenz Mini Gold+. No point buying the Gold over Silver unless you have space for Power-1 module inside loco (which you don't in most N locos).
CT DCX75. Best motor control you can buy. Documentation poor (though there is stuff on the net about them, including my own work).
Zimo MX621. Close, arguably equal to the CT. Documentation excellent. Overload protection excellent. Probably the best on the market.

I've never tried an NCE decoder, and the Gaugemaster one appears to be yet another badge-engineered product (cannot remember who they got it from). There are a few other small decoder makers, typically German, which are not generally sold in the UK.
 

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I too am using DigiTrax DZ123 / DZ125
These are a good compromise between size and functionality

As above, there are no issues with burning out of motors whilst they are sat on "live track"
However, make sure that the power settings are returned to zero when the loco comes to a stop (and not a very low speed setting that results in no movement, such as 1 or 2)

I have had one 3 pole motor converted and as this model is just as good as any other 5 pole motor
However, it was very good under DC, it was more of an experiment to see if it was possible
Equally, I have some 5 pole motors that perform poorly in comparison
The trick is to replace worn parts whilst stripping the models down as part of the conversion
Therefore buy some replacement brushes, refit them irrespective

Ironically, some of these older models run better than some of the latest (BachFar) DCC ready versions, which annoys me greatly
 

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QUOTE (Nigel2001 @ 13 Apr 2011, 14:02) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I've never tried an NCE decoder, and the Gaugemaster one appears to be yet another badge-engineered product (cannot remember who they got it from). There are a few other small decoder makers, typically German, which are not generally sold in the UK.

I thought I read somewhere that the guagemaster decoders were re badged digitrax decoders? Can't remember when or where. They certainly visually appear similar.

Kirky
 

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QUOTE (kirky02 @ 15 Apr 2011, 19:36) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I thought I read somewhere that the guagemaster decoders were re badged digitrax decoders? Can't remember when or where. They certainly visually appear similar.

Kirky
the digitrax dz125 is what gaugemaster badge as dcc 22 or 23. not sure about the bigger decoders.
 

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My first posting but I'm sure you guys can help me.

I'm starting a layout after many years absence and reading through this forum and the usual publications it seems obvious to go down the DCC route for a new layout However I have a number of old Poole built Farish loco's that I would like to convert to DCC but I'm not sure what effect DCC will have on these as they were built to either be running or left in an isolated section. They were not built to sit idle in a powered section of track, is it likely to burn out the motor and should I plan to add some isolated sections or do the decoders help protect the motor? Finally I only intend to use two function wired decoders on the loco's (can't see any reason for more functions as I don't plan to use sound), are there any types I should avoid installing on Farish kit.
I have just DCC'd Two Poole built duchess locos using the digi hat, one with a second hand Lenz 0.4amp decoder and one with a new Lais decoder costing £13 on ebay, both are extremely smooth, even on number one speed, I use a gaugemaster prodigy advance and the basic settings I have programmed are: Start voltage 40, acc 8 dec 8 TV180 these settings work well for me, but other smaller farish locos only need start voltage set at 1, for some reason 40 seems okay for the duchess engines, maybe as they are heavier than the plastic bodied jobs. If you use the digi hats, be aware that you can't remove them easily as the insulation sleeve tears easily- I tired the fit and did a insulation test before fitting the brus and spring, and destroyed the kynar sleeving, in the end tamiya masking tape did the job insted, but the second loco i fitted the brush and soring then tested for insulation and all was good. Hope this helps, but do it as they are well suited to this conversion. One loco was new old stock, the other was used but in good condition when I bought it.
 

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Just fitted a Lais decoder to one of the Poole built duchess locos and speed steps 1 to 4 were like gear changes, very jerky and a big increase in speed. It was suggested online to cancel BEMF so i did this and the loco woudn't move at all, so I did a factory reset, and then I tried the acceleration number, which I originally set at 9 for the lenz decoder, but I tried 30 as a trial, and the difference was amazing! much smoother take off from start, so in the end I put in 50 for acc, and 10 for dec, and it totally smoothed out the problem, so for Lais decoders this may help anyone having the same problem.
 

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... in the end I put in 50 for acc, and 10 for dec, and it totally smoothed out the problem...
I find it surprising how little use is apparently made of CV's 3 and 4. For 'road' traction that has to move heavy trains, 50 is about as low as I start. Values in excess of 150 in CV3 will deliver a good representation of a steam loco starting an unfitted freight at the heavy end of its load rating, picking up one wagon at a time at below walking pace so the guard isn't thrown off his feet, then gradually grafting up to the usual circa 20 mph line speed.

I am regularly disappointed at exhibitions when DCC operated locos snatch an unfitted freight all into motion within two seconds, and are running at circa 20mph within a train length.

Seeing such an operation at one show on a very well modelled layout, and the DCC system in use was Lenz which I have, I asked whether I could demonstrate what was possible. The loco was already programmed so it ran at scale for 20mph at speed step 12. I used PoM to set CV3 to 180, then resumed control and started it away by entering speed step 12. Predictably enough it smoothly and slowly eased into motion, and went away gradually grafting up to line speed. Opinion was violently divided. One of the exhibitors was most impressed. The other three wouldn't consider it: why would we want to do that?; we exhibit to drive the trains...
 

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I find it surprising how little use is apparently made of CV's 3 and 4. For 'road' traction that has to move heavy trains, 50 is about as low as I start. Values in excess of 150 in CV3 will deliver a good representation of a steam loco starting an unfitted freight at the heavy end of its load rating, picking up one wagon at a time at below walking pace so the guard isn't thrown off his feet, then gradually grafting up to the usual circa 20 mph line speed.

I am regularly disappointed at exhibitions when DCC operated locos snatch an unfitted freight all into motion within two seconds, and are running at circa 20mph within a train length.

Seeing such an operation at one show on a very well modelled layout, and the DCC system in use was Lenz which I have, I asked whether I could demonstrate what was possible. The loco was already programmed so it ran at scale for 20mph at speed step 12. I used PoM to set CV3 to 180, then resumed control and started it away by entering speed step 12. Predictably enough it smoothly and slowly eased into motion, and went away gradually grafting up to line speed. Opinion was violently divided. One of the exhibitors was most impressed. The other three wouldn't consider it: why would we want to do that?; we exhibit to drive the trains...
Well most online sites i have gone on recommend between 5 and 15 for acceleration, but I guess it depends on the make age and model of loco, but it shows that some experimenting with numbers sure does come up with some good results, anyway as long as you know the factory reset code you can always start over, but thanks for your input, as I thought I may have done something wrong, even though it has the best results, DCC is a long learning process for a beginner like me.
 
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