Decoders for Katos

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by b28_82, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    Does anyone have a step by step on how they put in a decoder into the older Kato locos. I have 3 SD45s and 1 C30-7 that were made before they started making everything decoder ready and i'm a wee bit intimidated that i'm going to screw up one of these locomotives up when i wire a decoder in them.
  2. tomgschilling

    tomgschilling New Member

    Jake, if you go to the North Raleigh Model Railroad Club, they have detailed instructions on installing decoder in all kinds of locomotives including the Kato SD 40/45. Their site address is:

    If you need help drilling down once at their site, let me know. ...Tom
  3. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    I use this web site for my SD45s. He also has some instructions for other engines as well. The only change I made on my Kato SD45s was in step 7. I made the frame changes he only suggests. Click on the two links in the last line of step 7 to see what I mean.
  4. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    Tom - I'm not sure if I found what you were talking about, but I did find something from the Aztec manufacturing company. If thats it, cool. If not, could you point me in the direction you had in mind?

    Roland - I can't find what you're referring to. If you could point me in the right direction on that website, I would appreciate it. Just about all I saw was thousands of pictures of just about any locomotive ever created in just about any paint scheme created. I will definately be going back to that website. I love that kinda thing.

    Thanks guys for the links. :thumb: :thumb:
  5. tomgschilling

    tomgschilling New Member

    Jake, I think you were in the right place but just in case you weren't, here's the drill down. Once at the site click on:
    NTRAK and N Scale Model Railroading with Digital Command Control (8/10/04)
    Installed Wired DCC Decoders in N Scale Locomotives (7/10/04)
    Index to Detailed Instructions

    Then you will see a list of locomotives and the Kato SD 40/45 will be on it. In this particular case they give you a choice of instructions to follow:
    Aztec........the first one is a rather abbreviated Adobe PDF (you'll need Acrobat reader to read it) which I think talks about generic hard wired decoder installations
    Aztec........the second one is another PDF, also abreviated, and talks about how to install a specific Digitrax decoder.
    Col Andre Kritzinger - I couldn't get this link to work.
    David Harris - this one looks promising and contains pictures and details on the frame modifications to install a Lenz LE0511W decoder. Couple of things. First, these instructions would also work with a Lenz LE0521W and you'd get BEMF. Second, at first glance this doesn't look like a real easy installation. I haven't tried it nor did I study all the pictures that closely but if you're timid about tearing the loco completely apart and then milling out some of the frame there are two other alternatives. First, go to Tony's Trains and I think you'll find they will install a decoder for you for a pretty reasonable fee. I've done this on several occasions and haven't been disappointed yet. The easiest thing to do is call Tony's (800 978-3472) and tell him what you're up to and he'll give you a price. You mail him the loco and a check and sit back and wait. The second alternative is to go the Aztec site and see if they have a decoder-ready frame for this loco. I haven't tried this approach but many have. My understanding is that you take your loco apart, mail them the frame and they mail you a replacement already milled. I'm told they also provide instructions for the decoder install.

    So that's it. Thoroughly confused? There are pros and cons to all three alternatives and basically it depends on what your druthers are. Are you an adventurer, want to expand on your DCC skills by experimenting or do you want a locomotive up and running fairly quickly? And, of course, there's the cost involved............. Hope this helps. ...Tom
  6. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    Yes,it was very helpful. I went to the most generic PDF which doesnt have any manufacturer's name for the decoder. It was just labeled decoder, hehe.

    As far as doing the mods to the frame and such; I am not the kinda person that is intimidated to the extent that I would pay somone to install a decoder (at least not before I try it first) I love playing with my dremel. :D If i destroy the first SD45 frame, I will send the other two in to Aztec and get the moded frames in, or try a second time and if i still screw up send the last one in. haha

    After seeing the generic instructions, I got a better idea as to how one would wire a decoder in an N scale locomotive. If there is anywhere where theres pictures of where one would mill out the frames i would greatly appreciate it.

    Just FYI kinda info.. I like to find out how someone goes about doing a project that i havent done before so i can get an idea of how it is done so i can either copy or change what needs to be done.

    Thanks again for the help.

  7. engineshop

    engineshop Member

  8. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    No biggie. Thanks for the link. quite helpful. Now i just need a decoder :p minor detail.

  9. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    I am using the Digitrax DZ123 with two functions (rear and front lights) since the Kato SD45 is not easy for wiring ditch lights and the decoder is only around $16. If you want four functions, the Digitrax DZ143 is a good choice but cost more than double.

  10. NSseeker

    NSseeker New Member

    engineshop- where do you get your decoders? I haven't seen any place with that kind of price.
  11. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    NSseeker - Tonys trains sells them for $15.75 per DZ123.

    Roland - Thanks for the recommendation on the decoders. I think i'll probably go for the DZ123 because it'll be my first attempt, i dont plan on having more than the lights for a function, and the price is great. Its nice that the price for the N decoders is lower than their HO equivalents. I just bought a DH123 through my club for $20.00. Its going to be a replacement for the very first loco that i but a decoder into. Nothin like having the very first loco that you installed a decoder in smoke up on ya huh. :p
  12. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    Here are a few tips I learn over the last year.
    - After you milled down the frame and cleaned it, assembly the frame with the plastic spacers and check with a ohm meter if you have no short. Little pieces, almost invisible, can bridge the to frame parts.
    - make sure that all wires that are inside the two frame parts going down to the brushes can be moved around easily after you assembled the frame with the motor. If the wires feel stuck that is a bad sign. Only a slight pressure on the wires by the frame and the plastic insulation is probably gone and will create a short.
    - before applying power and after I checked about a dozens of times for shorts, I put my engine on the programing track and check the address of the decoder. My commander unit uses only a low current for that which does not harm the decoder in the same way 18V would do. If there is a short I did not detect, the decoder will return an error message. This saved me or better the decoder already twice.
  13. sschaer

    sschaer Member

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