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I have just bought my first two DCC ready steam locos after having mixed results on 5 conversions. The new stock are Hornby R2459 GWR 4-6-0 Castle Class "Wellington" and Bachmann 32-003 Blue Riband Steam GWR 4-6-0 Hall Class "Kinlet Hall". Much to my surprise, neither had any information on fitting decoders. Hornby had a small slip stating that the DCC unit should not be operated without the (supplied) insulation sleeve being in place. (The leaflet with the Bachmann E-Z Command decoders - 36-551 - I intended using stated "never wrap the decoder in insulating tape! Who do you believe?)
I fitted a decoder to the Hornby first. Once I had realised removal of the forward weight made room for the decoder it was quite straightforward as the decoder slid into the spot left by removal of the weight. Once programmed, the loco runs well.
The Bachmann was a very different kettle of fish! On taking the body apart, I was shocked to see absolutely no room for the decoder. I went looking on the Bachmann website for some guidance. On the page "Fitting Decoders to Bachmann locos" the first thing I noticed was the statement 'We are not able to recommend a decoder for each locomotive...' - amazing given that they market decoders!!
Further down the page you find some info on fitting. Under Blue Riband Steam they say 'Those with a space and decoder socket present no problems. Remove body, fit decoder and replace body. A popular approach on other locomotives is to completely remove the factory fitted circuit board as it's not needed for DCC and use the space to fit a small decoder. Otherwise, locate the decoder in the tender."
Removing the circuit board would not leave room for the Bachmann decoder and fitting it in the tender requires a small hole to be cut in the tender base. I am very reluctant to proceed further at this stage for fear of breaching warranty and have sent an Email to them requesting advice on fitting a decoder. I'll keep you posted on progress.
 

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QUOTE Removing the circuit board would not leave room for the Bachmann decoder and fitting it in the tender requires a small hole to be cut in the tender base.

I had to do just that with the Hornby White Knight. It was supposedly dcc ready yet there was no room for decoder. It was a trauma.
See Dougs review for how he got on.
Unfortunately with smaller locos there is less space to put them in. I would suggest using the extra small ones intended for n scale. Alternatively you may wish to brush up on your surgical skills as thats what most people have had to do. I think your warranty is toilet paper once you have started messing around with your locos innards.
 

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My Standard approach to most installations is to remove the manuafacturers DCC plug, and hard wire in the decoder of my choice. I always test the decoder prior installation. My method has the following advantages:

1 I can be sure that my wiring is 100%.
2 I've found, as well as others that plugs can be faulty and cause decoder failures.
3 I make more space for the decoder by removing the plug.
4 My method means that generally no weights need to be removed.
5 I try to avoid decoders without a wrapper, as they are the most difficult in tight spaces while trying to
avoid shorts.

It's still inconciveable that British manufacturers dont make use of the tender space where available to house decoder plugs. This change requires only a little effort on behalf of the manufacter, and would reduce a lot of frustation with installations. In Bachmanns case the use of tender pickups would improve running reliability.
 

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Regarding sleeves and tape.

The decoder should not touch any metal perts of the loco - hence the sleeve. And the decoder should be allowed to cool off as it gets warm - hence the no tape idea.

You have to use common sense to negotiate between the two situations. Place the decoder in a spot wher it won't touch any other parts and loosly cover if there is a danger of contact. I place the decoder on double sided sponge tape and then sometimes fold the excess wires over the decoder and then cover the whole thing with tape to keep together. This works fine.

 

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Sometimes with decoders a little bit of research can help. Lenz in their infinite wisdom make the Lenz Gold in two variations. One with a JST socket and one without. The JST socket is the rather large 9 pin socket mounted on the actual decoder PCB. This can in some situations Interfere with the fitment in some models. The Hornby A3, 8F and Black Five are three that come to mind as is the Bachmann Ivatt Class 4, 4MT tank and Standard 5. All these models present problems with the JST socket so you can buy the Gold decoder without the JST socket, Lenz has attached all the wires to the decoder PCB and so saved all that height restriction. In some cases an alternate decoder may have to be sourced like an NCE 12SR or 14 SR decoder. These are actually "N" scale decoders but with a current capacity of an "HO" scale decoder. I've used these in the 8F, 7MT with socket, Black Five and A3 as well as Bachmann's Ivatt class 4, Royal Scot, WD 2-8-0 and A-1. These decoders while not having exactly the same running qualities of the much higher priced Lenz decoder perform satisfactorily. I will when time permits install a smaller "Z" guage decoder with similar current capacity into a Bachmann J72, 3F tank and Class 3 tank with hopefully no fried decoders on these split frame chassis.

Ozzie21

QUOTE (neil_s_wood @ 1 Jul 2006, 13:55) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I had to do just that with the Hornby White Knight. It was supposedly dcc ready yet there was no room for decoder. It was a trauma.
See Dougs review for how he got on.
Unfortunately with smaller locos there is less space to put them in. I would suggest using the extra small ones intended for n scale. Alternatively you may wish to brush up on your surgical skills as thats what most people have had to do. I think your warranty is toilet paper once you have started messing around with your locos innards.
 

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True, but you can order most decoders with or without NRMA 8 pin plugs. Lenz supply the Gold decoders with both a plain and with a plug wiring harness. It's often horses for courses with decoders. I like only a couple of brands and only a couple of decoders in those brands. Most people base their purchases on cost but base mine on what that decoder will give me for the loco I'm installing it in. With standard decoders in UK outline models I will fit a Lenz Gold, if I'm adding a sound module, or a Silver providing the space is there. If it's not I'll use an NCE N12, N14 or Z14 depending on space. I also use Soundtraxx or Loksound decoders if sufficient space exists for speakers and such. These decoders work well on two cylinder locos but not so good on 4 cylinder UK locos as they tend to replicate US Articulated compounds rather than simples. Here's hoping Southwest Digital will release some UK steam sound decoders to go with their diesels.

Ozzie21

QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 3 Jul 2006, 01:14) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>TCS MC2 a brilliant decoder, small, does'nt need pampering, and if your into plugs you can order one with it.
 

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>Here's hoping Southwest Digital will release some UK steam sound decoders
Their 2 cylinder Great Western sound decoder is out now.

David
 

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Okay now I have an excuse to buy a Manor or a Hall. Damn I thought I wasn't going to buy any GW stuff


Ozzie21

QUOTE (dwb @ 4 Jul 2006, 03:00) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>>Here's hoping Southwest Digital will release some UK steam sound decoders
Their 2 cylinder Great Western sound decoder is out now.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks to all who responded to my posting. Bachmann have gone up in my estimations with (1) a quick reply to my query and (2) an easy solution to the problem.
The reply from their Service Dept. said
"Thank you for your enquiry. The space for the decoder is in the cradle just ahead of the motor. Remove the block of metal that's in it when the loco is shipped.There's a channel beneath the motor bracket to run the decoder wires round to the decoder socket."
Lo and behold there is plenty of room to fit even the big E-Z Command 36-551 decoder and the wiring. It was a simple job to instal the decoder. (By the way, the loco runs well.)
Why on earth Bachmann cannot include these simple instructions with the loco defeats me! Why get your customers offside and also give their own technical people extra queries to answer??
 

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QUOTE Why on earth Bachmann cannot include these simple instructions with the loco defeats me! Why get your customers offside and also give their own technical people extra queries to answer??

Maybe they are hoping the kind of people who buy this loco are not interested in decoder installation? But probably lack of planning.
 

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The drawback to removing that weight is loss of traction. You may find that the loco will haul one or two less coaches. I've found that the hauling capacity of many of the Bachmann and Hornby steam locos is not so good. So you may find that you'll have to add weight over that front driving axle to compensate for an over sprung front truck. To illustrate, I bought a Bachmann Royal Scot which after having it's decoder fitted I put it on a train of 8 new Hornby Stanier coaches, it slipped. I removed the spring from the front truck and it could manage the eight cars. Same deal with the Bachmann V2. With four Mk1's it was happy with six it slipped. I removed the springs from both trucks and added some lead shot to the trucks. Now it'll haul eight cars.

Ozzie21

QUOTE (cliverob @ 4 Jul 2006, 09:48) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks to all who responded to my posting. Bachmann have gone up in my estimations with (1) a quick reply to my query and (2) an easy solution to the problem.
The reply from their Service Dept. said
"Thank you for your enquiry. The space for the decoder is in the cradle just ahead of the motor. Remove the block of metal that's in it when the loco is shipped.There's a channel beneath the motor bracket to run the decoder wires round to the decoder socket."
Lo and behold there is plenty of room to fit even the big E-Z Command 36-551 decoder and the wiring. It was a simple job to instal the decoder. (By the way, the loco runs well.)
Why on earth Bachmann cannot include these simple instructions with the loco defeats me! Why get your customers offside and also give their own technical people extra queries to answer??
 

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[quote name='cliverob' date='1 Jul 2006, 01:42' post='9185']

"I went looking on the Bachmann website for some guidance. On the page "Fitting Decoders to Bachmann locos" the first thing I noticed was the statement 'We are not able to recommend a decoder for each locomotive...' - amazing given that they market decoders!! "

Hi
I also noticed this "strange" wording - I suspect it may be due to "competition" legislation but it seems stupid not to include information on which of their own decoders is/are suitable for a particular model.

Regards
 

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Actually the basic bachmann decoder is quite useful, but it is basic and quite large for tiny spaces, it has a horse bag on it for insulation. Fit a TCS M1 it's great decoder, and now even better with B-EMF or dither depending on your choice. It also fits in the Tiniest of places just the job for British loco's.

horse bag on it for insulation why do Lenz insist of fitting this instead of a proper wrapper, do their decoders still run as hot as they used to ?
 

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QUOTE (Ian 47 @ 2 Feb 2008, 15:12) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>On the page "Fitting Decoders to Bachmann locos" the first thing I noticed was the statement 'We are not able to recommend a decoder for each locomotive...'

Not really - if they did people would complain about the advice given.

Personally, I think it would be better if the choice of decoder was left to the buyer and it was easy to fit ! Unless, of course a top spec' decoder was fitted in the factory.
 

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Hey guys- similar to your thread, but another examaple of exactly how "DCC Ready" some of these models really are. I use TCS MC2s which are made to fit N Gauge models. Below is my story from this week..............

Following a visit to the Festival of British Model Railways at Harrogate during the weekend I got several bargains. Namely, Hornby BofB "Sir Keith Park, M7, Dynamis reversing module and 5x TCS MC2 chips with the NEM 8 pin harness. The locos were great bargains from "Much Ado About Toys" stand where they were selling off loads of Hornby stock at knock-down prices. I could only get 1 reversing module from Digitrains, but they have them on their website for the same price- £7.50 less than Hattons. The chips were a good price also- working out about the same as Bromsgrove models web-price. I got another scenic mat- grass for a knock down price too!

Fitting the chips last night was not as easy as it should have been for DCC ready locos. One night of fiddling with the M7 trying to squeeze in a N-gauge chip was not fun- it simply will not fit anywhere in the chassis area and you have to remove a tank weight. Note- they are screwed into the tanks filler tops and glued on the sides. It's easy to lose some fine piping details when apart- and the coppered pipes have snapped off which is annoying. With the tank weight removed the TCS chip is fitted and the loco runs well on 28 speed step setting.

Sir Keith was much simpler- although again watch for the fine piping detail being pulled apart when removing the loco body. Also, the speedo cable is very fine with a tiny screw fitting. I re-fitted the coupling rod assembly temporarily to avoid it getting bent whilst handling the loco. The chip fitted straight into the smoke box recess and the whole process took about 25 min- re-assembly is fiddly since the rear body lugs and front chassis fit are tight. You end up wiggling it all into place and hopefully not trashing the fine coppered pipes at the cab end. Fitting all the brake and hydraulic hoses, couplings and steam ejector pipes took another r30 min or so and the result is amazing! Im going to weather the fire box (rust) and brake rods but leave it at that I think since the model is easily the most detailed offering that I have on my fleet currently. Really impressed with it. The lifting lugs on the tender need drilling out too- I note that they are drilled on the M7 tank tops. I set the TCS MC2 to 128 speed steps on the Bof B and left the capacitor suppression unit in place (for the time being) since it didn't seem to make any difference to running.

Cant wait to finish the reversing loop and get the locos running on a decent stretch of track. I think that "Sir Keith" will look great pulling the Pines Express Mk 1s that Ive got.

The show was good with plenty of layouts- although only 1 DCC with sound which was very impressive. The other layouts were some of the ones featured in BRM over the years and it was great to see them live. I particularly liked the show layout which was busy but not overcrowded- unlike Warley. Some of the products now available are really impressive- but I need to get a working model before buying any more&#8230;&#8230;&#8230;&#8230;&#8230;.

I saw brass name plates and headboards for the WC conversion that I want to do (Triang WC to "Swanage") and the Pines Express and Bournemouth Belle headboard but will order them off the Web since the stall (247) was busy. Ive got their address so hopefully will be able to pick up some stuff from them. I might also try Wissendens.

Next to do on the layout is the reversing loop and I want to add a length of track to the other end to allow run around of locos whilst the other dumbell is being built. Hopefully, that will happen this weekend&#8230;&#8230;&#8230;&#8230;..
 

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QUOTE (Watty @ 21 Feb 2008, 07:40) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>.. I set the TCS MC2 to 128 speed steps on the Bof B and left the capacitor suppression unit in place (for the time being) since it didn't seem to make any difference to running..
In time you may notice that the BoB exhibits a slight effect like 'cogging' on the slowest speed steps, just a slightly less than smooth rotational progress of the wheels. Snipping out the capacitor(s) will fix that. Like many other DCC users, I chop out all capacitors routinely now; although some of my oldest decoder installs still have capacitors in place, because the running is perfectly smooth. Quite a bit of variability despite nominally identical decoder and motor/chassis combos; probably to be expected with what are in real terms low-cost items.
 
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