Digital Age Thomas?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by HoosierDaddy, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Has anyone put a decoder in the HO gauge Thomas the tank engine by Bachmann? If it's possible, that may affect my choice in which DCC system I choose. I'm trying to decide between the Digitrax Zephyr, Altas Commander and MRC Prodigy Advance. Of course there are things I like and dislike about each, but I'm leaning towards MRC if and only if I can convert my locos to DCC since it doesn't support DC. The only one I have a real question about is the Thomas engine, size wise. Unfortunately, if Thomas can't enter the digital age, then I'll limit my choices to Digitrax and Atlas. No use having a system that my boys can't run their favorite blue engine with.

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Yes it is possible. A guy at our modular club has done it. I do not know what decoder he chose. We use Digitrax systems at club setups, and guys have decoders from NCE, Digitrax, Soundtraxx, etc, etc. All work fine together. (Almost) any dcoder will work with (almost) any system, as long as both conform to NMRA specs. If space is at a premium, you can always put in an Nscale decoder, as long as it is rated high enough (amps).

    In terms of your home system, I'll put in a good word for the Zephyr... I have recently acquired one, and I find it easy to use for operating and programming. It also has the "look" of a DC powerpack, which may make it more "kid friendly" than some of the small knobs or push buttons that you find on some systems. The throttle knob and direction/brake lever will be familiar to anyone who has used a DC pack.

  3. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    I have a Thomas with the decoder. Works fine (runs better than it did under DC actually). It's a Lenz encoder - LE0511 - very small N/Z decoder. Pretty easy install, there's a void space in front of the cab/behind the motor where this decoder fit nicely.

    I'll concur with MasonJar, though -- the decoder you buy and the system you buy are probably related very little if at all. I use decoders from Lenz, MRC, and TCS with my Lenz system without a hitch.
  4. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Thanks for the replies. I guess I wasn't too clear on why I was asking though. I understand that systems and decoders can be mixed and matched. I wasn't sure if there was physically enough room in Thomas to fit any brand decoder. kchronister answered that question completely. Thanks

    The Prodigy Advance will only run decoder equipped locos, no analog locos at all. If a decoder couldn't be installed, then I was going to limit my system selections to those systems that will run analog locos. One way or another Thomas has to remain a really useful engine. I'm still not sure which system I'll choose.

    When the time comes kchronister I hope you don't mind me asking for more specifics on decoder installation with this engine. It will probably be the first decoder installation that I try other than a plug and play I need to put in a Stewart.
  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    HD, just an additional point of view:

    Now and then I have a friend over which brings along some DC locos to run it on my track. (He has quite a collection of brass engines, but no layout.) Had I chosen a system which can't run DC engines at all we couldn't run his engines.

    Now if you are sure that you'll never invite 'DC guests' to your layout, of course the MRC Prodigy will be ok. But otherwise?

    Just my 2¢ worth...

  6. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    In the end it was exactly that issue that moved me off the MRC system... I could have done w/o ability to run DC trains myself, but too much "visiting" motive power would have been ruled out.
  7. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Yeah, that's something I hadn't though about. I am leaning more and more towards the Zephyr. The ability to use my existing DC throttle through the jump port is really attractive. When you compare prices between systems and then factor in having to by an additional handheld unit to allow two operators with any of the other entry level systems, the Digitrax shines. I might as well get some additional use out of the Tech4 I have, and my boys are used to the controls on it.

    Ask me again next week and my answer may change, but for now it looks like the Zephyr.


Share This Page