Converting to DCC

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by SR39, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. SR39

    SR39 Member

    I am interested in converting to DCC. All of my engines are DC. I do not feel comfortable converting them myself. I guess I would if I had to. Do any of you know of dealers or others that are reputable for conversion of DC engines. Also which boards do you recommend? Any help would be appreciated.
  2. woodone

    woodone Member

    Good for you!:thumb: You will like DCC, it is very nice to use.
    Do you have a system yet?
    What type of locomtives do you have that need decoders?
    If you have not got a system yet try this guy .Litchfield Station, Home Page
    He does installs too.:wave:
  3. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Bruce at Litchfield Station is an excellent choice. He does have a backlog. Go to his site - he has a page that tells you about getting on the list, packing and mailing, etc.
  4. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    Start with drop in decoders if you have some newer engines. Wait on the one that need hardwiring and especially the once that you have to do some frame work.
    You soon feel comfortable to do all your work yourself. Some of the manufactures (Lenz, and others) even have the no questions asked warranty. Which is nice if they go up in smoke because of a user mistake.
  5. berraf

    berraf Member

    I understand your doubts because I had the same when I started to convert engines. It's not so cool to start the Dremel and cut in the loco frame.
    But I found some good "how to:s" on the internet and gave it a shoot and it worked for me so if I could I believe anyone could but start with a rather new loco which will give you a minimum of headache sign1
  6. woodone

    woodone Member

    If you don't feel comfortable in doing the work yourself, I would have at least one locomotive done by someone else. When you get it back, and it runs, take the shell off and see what was involved in getting the locomotive DCC equiped. You might find that you can or can not do what you see what work was involved. If you don't have the skills to do what you see, your best off with someone else doing the work for you.
    I think it would be very disheartening to try converting a locomotive only to ruin the locomotive, and have spent good money on something that now does not work! I think that might lead to a unhappy DCC experience, and you might not want to vist it again anytime soon.
    Start simple and go slow, the learning curve is very expensive.
  7. Boilerman

    Boilerman Member

    When I got in to DCC I converted my first loco my self, it was the Kato Mike.
    I got the info on the conversion off of the net. all went very well, I took my time and did not hurry, looked at the photos often to make sure all was done correct.

    I know that perhaps my skill-set is above average to tackle that as a first install but the article was first class and spelled everything out in detail.
    Yes I did worry about screwing the thing up but I am the type of person that will do what I can before I pay someone else to do what I think I can do.

    My second attempt was on a older diesel that required Frame modification, I did that with a Dremel and hacksaw blade.
    I was successful but what a battle making the frame mods.

    I ended up purchasing a small milling machine that I now use for my frame modifications.
    This was an expense that not everyone would be willing to expend or know how to operate, but with over 100 locos to convert to DCC I figured the $500.00 or so for the mill was less costly than having someone else do it for me.
    Besides I like to tinker with these small locos and I have fairly good soldering skills.

    I still have over 75 more loos to do and I keep buying more so the number of locos that need decoders installed keeps growing.

    I have been in this hobby since the early 60's and and modeling / collecting N-scale since 1972, I have seen a lot of improvements in the equipment through the years and DCC in my opinion is the best thing to come along.

    Keep in mind if you do not try you will never now what you can do.

    Some of the drop in installations are very easy on the newer diesels as you only need a screwdriver, Kapton tape and the ability to read and understand the instructions that come with the decoder, and quite frankly I find programing harder than the installation process.

    I hope that this may give some one enough encouragement to attempt an installation of their own.
  8. atticn

    atticn New Member

    dcc just can't choose

    wall1Ready to purchase a system down to two choices.super chief 5amp or nce power pro 5amp:confused:
  9. berraf

    berraf Member

    Take the one that's cheapest :thumb:
  10. woodone

    woodone Member

    Get the one YOU LIKE! Does the hand held unit fit your hands? Does anyone you know have a system like the ones you are looking at?
    Anyway to try before you buy. A club or a friend that has a system?
    Just some questions to ask yourself.
    The one thing I do know, you will love DCC.:thumb:
    There are somethings to learn, but you will get the hang of it real quick.:mrgreen:
  11. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Probably don't get the one that's cheapest! Never works anywhere in life...

    I use the Radio Super Chief, couldn't find any handheld to touch it for controlling multiple trains. Not many others in fact have simultaneous control for two, even. I use a Zephyr for my test track on the workbench, which is a bit simple but certainly works...
  12. myltlpny

    myltlpny Member

    I have the Digitrax Zephyr system, with a few upgrades, and I can only say good things about it. From what I've heard the NCE sysem is pretty good, too. So, I don't think you can go wrong either way. The issue comes down to features. I'm sure you could view both operators manuals online and get your own opinion. Again, I'm very happy with my digitrax Zephyr. Now, I did add a few extra cabs, and I've yet to reach max current, but all in all, I think it was a great upgrade from my MRC Command 2000 system.
    As for installing decoders, I think I agree with Engineshop. Start out by doing the easy drop-in decoders first. While they might be a bit more expensive initially, their ease of installation will not only get you started faster, it will give you at least some idea of how to get into a loco to hard wire a decoder later. I've installed about 30 decoders (of all types) so far. At this point, there probably isn't a decoder I can't handle. And there are people here who have far more experience than me.
  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    When you are ready to go past the drop in decoders, find a loco that has two visible wires going to the motor, then cut them and put in a 4-wire decoder. Then try to find a place to hide the decoder.
    I don't think you should start with a cheap locomotive: they often don't have any wires that you can find and cut into. Some don't even have a motor you can get at.

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