Decoder headaches...engine recommendations?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by TrainNut, Jan 24, 2006.

  1. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    To make a long story short, I have some N scale engines that I have been trying to convert and I really wish Murphy would stop trying to help me so much. Sooo, I said to heck with it and went and bought a new Atlas engine with a decoder already in it. To say I was disappointed in the performance would be an understatement. It was dismal - took it back. Can anyone recommend some specific diesel engines that EITHER have decoders from the factory and they have had very good luck with OR an engine that I can buy and then change over with little to no hassle. If it makes a difference, my club is using a Digitrax DCC system. Thanks.
  2. rksstl

    rksstl Member

    Hi TrainNut, what kind of problems were you having? I have all Atlas locos with drop in Digitrax decoders and they run great. Give us some more info and maybe all of us can help. There's a great group of guys up here and believe me Murphy has help all of us. :D
  3. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Okay, you asked for it! To start with, I asked a local DCC expert which decoder would be best for my two locomotives. He recommended one - which I ordered. Once I received it, I test fitted the new board to see how much modification the frame needed. Then I started grinding. Unfortunately, I ground off so much that the frame became frail and broke. At that time, I called the DCC expert back up and said "What the hey? This thing still won't fit." At that point, he confessed that he had recommended the wrong decoder. Soooo, now I have just received some new frames from Atlas and am thinking of sending them to Aztec Mfg. to get them milled to accept a Lenz GoldMini-W decoder with golden white LED’s. Thing is, before I dump another $58 bucks into this engine ($44 for the decoder and $14 for the Aztec milling), I thought I would just put that money towards a brand new engine and keep my GP-7's DC as they still work great on the 00 setting at the club (except for the reverse loop). Sooo, I went down to the good ol' Hobby Bench and bought myself one of them new Atlas engines with the decoder already installed ($130). Took it out to the club that night all excited only to find the thing would not respond on the factory 03 setting. Finally after a while, we got it to move a little of it's own accord to discover that it was extremely lethargic at accepting commands (like 5 seconds), and it had a top speed of about 35 scale mph. It almost seemed like it was stuck on a momentum setting because every so often it would just stop and then it acted like it had to let the momentum build up again before it started off at a rip roaring rate of a snail. Finally, we pulled it off the track and inspected the wheels (which we should have done first) to find out that they were absolutely filthy. Hmmm, brand new locomotive, lotsa problems, filthy wheels. At that point, I decided to return the locomotive. IF I had of cleaned the wheels, it may have improved the performance BUT, it did not sit too well with me that I had purchased a "NEW" locomotive that had already been run enough by someone else to filthy up the wheels.
  4. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    I, too, have an n-scale Atlas engine (GP-9) that I bought decoder equipped and have been disappointed in it's performance (Doesn't start rolling until speed step 26) :( . However, I have purchased other Atlas and Kato locos that take the drop-in decoders and they all work just fine. Slow startup at step 1 and acceleration to speed. Even the ConCor Pioneer Zephyr was an easy install and perfect performer.
  5. rksstl

    rksstl Member

    Yep if the wheels were that dirty that will cause the problems that you described. DCC requires very clean everything wheels and track. I had a hard wired GP-30 that I never could get to run as well as my locos with drop in decoders I blame that on the motor not one of the new slow speedones. I have a Atlas GP-38 that absolutey crawls I use it for yard duty. On setting 1 you can barely tell its moving. I also have 2 SD-35 and 2 SD-50 all Atlas with digitrax drop in decoders that run great. BTW Aztec frames are worth the money if you really like the loco your getting them for. I think I'd have a talk with Your LHS about that NEW??? loco too.

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