DCC in a Bach On30 0-4-0 Porter?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by capt_turk, Dec 10, 2004.

  1. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    Has anyone done a decoder installation in a Bachman Spectrum 0-4-0 Porter?
    I have a TCS M1-P decoder to install in the loco. I am wondering if anyone has pics of the disasembly and installation of a decoder in the loco. I haven't as yet figured out even how to take the loco apart to get at the wiring.
  2. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Turk -

    Perhaps the nastiest installation I've done, I fear. Getting the body shell off is a royal pain. It's a very, very tight fit, the engineer/fireman figures in the cab will almost certainly get pulled off during both disassembly and reassembly. Your best bet there is just to make sure they're inside the cab when you reassemble and then re-glue them using tweezers or similar after you're all reassembled (yes, it's as much a P.I.T.A. as it sounds).

    Also make sure you remove the click-on steps at front and rear otherwise they'll come flying off. Technically removal is very simple, just a couple screws, lift front and rear "clips" in... but in practice it's just sort of a beast.

    Once you're disassembled, the decoder fits pretty easily inside the "firebox" housing of the cab. Reassembly is perhaps slightly easier, but not much.

    Sorry I didn't take photos to show you the steps -- but can tell you you're not doing anything "wrong", it really is a quirky little install!

    PS - The schematic/directions from Bachmann are quite helpful in figuring it out. If you've not get them, see if you can get them from the bachmann site or their message board. I can scan them for you, but it's gonna be a few days before I could get to it... Holiday season is my "looney" time at the office, I fear...
  3. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    PS - Mine's HO, not ON30, but suspect the mechanics are all very similar...
  4. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    I've ended up getting the decoder installed. As you said, it was a royal pain in the caboose.

    Mine doesn't have any figures in it. After finally getting it apart, I find there is only one wire going to the motor. The second contact sticks up through the gear train box underneath the motor. I ended up cutting the contact tab off flush where it comes out the gear box and soldering the power lead from decoder to it. I put a small piece of tape over the solder joint to insulate it. The decoder ended up in the cab. I had to grind a channel for the wires into the water tank U where it fits over the boiler and in the cab to line up with the channel I had made in the water tank.
    I thought about getting the power for the decoder from the contact wires that feed power to the cab light, but didn't trust the contacts to be reliable enough for that.
    I glued the decoder on the inside of the cab below the side window. I havn't really figured out how to disguise the wires, yet.
    My measurements showed that there was not enough room above the motor for the decoder. If the water tank had been hollow, it would not have been a problem, but the water tank is used as wieght for the loco, and is about a quarter of an inch thick.

    I've just bought a second 0-4-0 Porter and may try grinding out a pocket on the inside of the water tank for the decoder.
  5. capt_turk

    capt_turk Member

    Anyone looking to put a decoder in a Bachman Spectrum 0-4-0 Porter, all I can say is don't waste your money. The Porters(at least the older ones, not DCC ready, are junk. I've purchased two of them. Both were poor runners to start with. Both have quit working within a short time. The wiper system is small pins, held against the wheels by a small springs, to get track power. These pins get stuck, or the springs are not strong enough. I've tried adding other wipers also, with no luck. I've read that the newer ones use a different wiper system. As far as the older ones go, I won't waste my money buying another one.
    Those of you that have also bought them, what has been your experience's with them?
  6. Bucks Owin

    Bucks Owin New Member

    Gee, my experience is so vastly different that I wonder if we're talking about the same lokie!

    Far from being "junk", mine has run beautifully straight from the box and can "creep" right alongside my Spectrum Shays! I have "heard" of the wipers giving trouble and requiring a different spring for the "plungers" but I have had no problems in that regard....

    I liked mine so much that it is presently torn down for a sound decoder install....(LC-090)



    BTW, I realize that this topic is a very old one and I apologize for being such a "Johnny come lately". I stumbled in here while doing a search on this very subject.....
    Guess I just had to put in my $0.02 in defense of "junk B'mann Porters"!
  7. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    I had the same experience as capt_turk. I installed a decoder in a similar method, but actually replaced all the wiring in the entire loco with the decoder wiring. My 0-4-0 must be a "newer" model as removing the cab and disassembling was actually quite easy. The cab was held in place by being pushed into a small slot on the floor of the cab. It easily popped right off.

    After assembly, for some odd reason, it will run decently (not great) with the motor removed (but still wired up to verify correct wiring). But when placing the motor back in the loco, it doesn't run at all. I've checked with a multimeter and the wheels are receiving power, so I suspect the wipers are the problem. I have verified that each wiper makes contact with its respective wheel, and even added a little conductive lube to each. Still no luck.

    So I'm stumped as to how to get it to run. I may disassemble it again today and see what I can find...

  8. ukon30fan

    ukon30fan 0n30 Rail Baron of Leeds

    In defence of the original 0-4-0's, From the word go, I swapped out the plunger springs for those from the Kadee freight trucks part # 622s if I remember right.
    mine are still going strong. It was during the replacement of these springs I decided these lokies were never gonna go DCC when I could afford decoders !
  9. Bucks Owin

    Bucks Owin New Member

    Just a thought or two...

    DCC requires CLEAN track and wheels to perform well, so keep that part as sanitary as possible. Polishing the rail with Flitz seems to work very well....

    Also, one could consider adding a little weight both for more drawbar muscle and for better contact between wheels and rail....

    When everything is "right", the lil' Porter performs quite well IMO. If you happen to consider adding a small tender for ease of sound installation, I would also utilize the tender wheels for signal pickup. It sure won't hurt anything! Especially on rough logging trackage... :)



    If all else fails, sell it to me cheap. I like 'em! :)
  10. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    Well, I took the motor out and cleaned it off as much as possible. A heavy application of white grease with teflon and a tiny drop of gear lube on the motor shaft and she runs like a champ.

    Perhaps the motor was mounted a little off, or perhaps it needed better lube (or both.) Mine seems to work great.


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