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I am new to this site. Can anyone tell me how to differentiate between DCC and ‘ordinary' locomotives?
Andrew.
 

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If in its correct box locos those which can be fitted with a DCC decoder will have boxes marked as DCC Ready but otherwise are an "ordinary" model. Those already fitted with decoder should be marked DCC fitted / DCC Sound or similar and the underside of the loco often has a similar marking. Visually there is no difference and many locos are offered both as DCC Ready and DCC Fitted and/or DCC Sound.
 

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Now this can be a real issue, what BH says above is quite right - but if you buy a secondhand loco or one which has been shop used it may be a loco boxed as DCC ready yet has been fitted with a decoder or one which says DCC fitted and the decoder has been removed, in some cases the decoder may be there but blown.

Now this gets dangerous, a loco with a decoder can be blown on non dcc track and a loco without a decoder is likely to go to the races at top speed (as it supplies about 18(volts) on dcc equipped track.

Your remedy here is to look at the servicing sheet and open up the beast and so it is either in the tender or the loco, open up the location and then pull out the decoder or the blanking plug, if you have a decoder tester such as the ESU that is the best way to see if it is OK if you find a decoder in which case you can program this to whatever code you wish it to respond to if going dcc

NEVER EVER mix decoder locos with non decoder locos - either way
Also be aware to code up on the main track you will also code all the other locos on the track to that same number so use a prog track.
Get an ESU tester - worth the pennies and test on that but connect it to the prog track output (I speak about Roco Z21) other systems should be similar and code it before fitting to the loco.

The ESU tesater
 

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Obviously, when buying second hand, you need to check because you don't necessarily know what modifications the previous owner has made.

Now this gets dangerous, a loco with a decoder can be blown on non dcc track and a loco without a decoder is likely to go to the races at top speed (as it supplies about 18(volts) on dcc equipped track.
This isn't quite correct. A loco with a decoder will not be blown on non-DCC track - all decoders are designed to work on DC track. Where they might have a problem is if DC track has a 'Relco' (DCC and Relco Units - Model Railways On-Line) or similar high frequency continuity device (they are incorrectly sold as 'track cleaners') attached. Continuity devices typically output 50V or more which is way above the 29V NMRA spec limit of decoders.

A loco without a decoder placed on a DCC track will not race off because the track voltage is AC, not DC. You are more likely to burn the motor out. Having said that, some DCC systems such as the Lenz system do have the ability to operate a single DC loco on address zero so are more 'friendly' to non-decoder fitted locos. As time progresses, I suspect less and less systems will support this.
 

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I am new to this site. Can anyone tell me how to differentiate between DCC and ‘ordinary' locomotives?
Welcome Andrew. I will go back a step, and ask do you have a DCC system?

If you do, the quick and easy check is to put the new purchase on the programme track and attempt to read the address. A DC loco is 'dumb' so you will get an error, a loco with a decoder installed will read back an address. (I purchase a lot of cheap 'but should be good' s/h when the opportunity presents, and the information from vendors and on boxes often fails to match the item; but cheap makes up for that!)
 

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Now this gets dangerous, a loco with a decoder can be blown on non dcc track
Unlikely.

If DC running is enabled in the decoder, it will work as a DC loco. You will need to turn the control up a bit to get enough volts for the decoder to come to life. A PWM controller may confuse the decoder but is unlikely to damage it.

and a loco without a decoder is likely to go to the races at top speed (as it supplies about 18(volts) on dcc equipped track.
Unlikely.

What's is likely is that the loco will buzz or hum and, depending on the motor, may overheat and let the magic smoke out.
 

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Up to the purchaser but a decoder is £20 upwards and if you blow it - it is done, so have a look first, then test and you will save annoyance and heartbreak, now if you have about 6 locos investing in infrastructure is maybe not a big option but be careful, so it is cheap to have a look, usually 2 screws and you are in.
 

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Second hand can have its advantages if you do use dcc; bought a Bachmann 03 for what was a good price for the basic model and on receiving it found it had Kadees fitted, an immediate saving their as I also use them, and then on flipping it upside down to check all pick ups looked to be correctly aligned noted a sticky label with its running number on it,um.. lets luck inside; one 6 pin decoder which then made it a very cheap 03:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Welcome Andrew. I will go back a step, and ask do you have a DCC system?

If you do, the quick and easy check is to put the new purchase on the programme track and attempt to read the address. A DC loco is 'dumb' so you will get an error, a loco with a decoder installed will read back an address. (I purchase a lot of cheap 'but should be good' s/h when the opportunity presents, and the information from vendors and on boxes often fails to match the item; but cheap makes up for that!)
Hi.
I do not have a DCC system. Can I assume that if a loco fails to work on my system, it is a DCC enabled loco. Is there a way of making a DCC loco work on ab ordinary track?
 

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Hi.
I do not have a DCC system. Can I assume that if a loco fails to work on my system, it is a DCC enabled loco. Is there a way of making a DCC loco work on ab ordinary track?
There are a number of reasons why a loco fails to work on DC, only one of which may be a fitted DCC decoder, which is not set to run on DC. So to answer your first question, you can't assume it doesn't run on DC because it is DCC fitted... and the only positive way to confirm it is / is not fitted, is to take the top off and look. Whether it is fitted with a decoder, which is / isn't set to work on DC, or not, the best option, for DC, is to run the loco properly set up, with a Blanking Plug, for DC running.

So - most modern [DC] locos have a socket already built in, which can accept a DCC Decoder - by simply plugging in the matching decoder. [There are several types of decoder, identified by the number of pins the decoder needs to plug into the socket - 6, 8, 18, 21 and a few other numbers] Those locos that have not had a DCC decoder fitted will have another plug placed in that socket, [called a Blanking Plug] in place of the DCC decoder one. These Blanking Plugs, simply connect the Motor parts of the socket, with the correct pick-up parts of the socket, which enables your DC input to connect and work.

The Blanking Plugs are often found with their DCC fitted locos, but if not, can easily be purchased at model shops [you may even find that you can get one for free, they are so common].

To sum up: if your new loco doesn't work, you will need to take the body off and see what "is" there and start from there, one bit at a time, to see which bit might be preventing it from working. Also, if it is DCC fitted, it is best to replace the DCC decoder with a Blanking Plug [with the right number of pins].

Hope this is helpful.

Julian


Julian
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There are a number of reasons why a loco fails to work on DC, only one of which may be a fitted DCC decoder, which is not set to run on DC. So to answer your first question, you can't assume it doesn't run on DC because it is DCC fitted... and the only positive way to confirm it is / is not fitted, is to take the top off and look. Whether it is fitted with a decoder, which is / isn't set to work on DC, or not, the best option, for DC, is to run the loco properly set up, with a Blanking Plug, for DC running.

So - most modern [DC] locos have a socket already built in, which can accept a DCC Decoder - by simply plugging in the matching decoder. [There are several types of decoder, identified by the number of pins the decoder needs to plug into the socket - 6, 8, 18, 21 and a few other numbers] Those locos that have not had a DCC decoder fitted will have another plug placed in that socket, [called a Blanking Plug] in place of the DCC decoder one. These Blanking Plugs, simply connect the Motor parts of the socket, with the correct pick-up parts of the socket, which enables your DC input to connect and work.

The Blanking Plugs are often found with their DCC fitted locos, but if not, can easily be purchased at model shops [you may even find that you can get one for free, they are so common].

To sum up: if your new loco doesn't work, you will need to take the body off and see what "is" there and start from there, one bit at a time, to see which bit might be preventing it from working. Also, if it is DCC fitted, it is best to replace the DCC decoder with a Blanking Plug [with the right number of pins].

Hope this is helpful.

Julian


Julian
Thank you
 
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