Newbie: Locomotive with DCC installed?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Cheetah20, May 24, 2007.

  1. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    baldwinji - sorry I knew the Zephyr was the system...
    I just put it down wrong in a hurry...sorry
    BUT thanx........thats awesome and I understand a lil more now !!
    So ...I will buy something like the Zephyr DCC and a DCC ready loco.....
    Am I good to go?.....(almost afraid to post-sound like a
  2. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    I will start with 1 DCC ready loco..
    and may go to a second track/engine...............

    So this 1st engine (although only in DC mode)
    will still work with the Zephyr?? what I was getting at :)

    PS>>> thanx to you too Jim
    "The loco is set up to operate on DC power as it comes from the factory by a circuit card that is removed when installing a DCC decoder"
  3. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Yes, sort of...

    Whatever you do (if you don't buy a loco with DCC installed), get a loco that you *know* has a drop-in decoder available (normally referred to as 'plug and play'). Don't fall for a loco that calls itself "DCC-Ready" -- this is a con, and means that there isn't a plug and play decoder and you have to muck about when installing. For example, look here:Digitrax

    (This is just a list, not a suggestion of where you should buy it from). You can see the "plug and play" decoders listed, so as long as you buy the right loco you know how much you're in for when you want to go DCC.

    Any modern DCC loco will work perfectly well on a DC system without trouble. Lots of its features will be missing, but only those ones that a DC loco wouldn't have anyway. A DC loco sort of works on a DCC system, but it's rubbish. It hums like fury all the time and if you have any DCC locos you won't ever want to run the DC one. Forget about that feature for anything other than loco testing.

    The Zephyr will control the loco that doesn't yet have the DCC installed, but it will hum. If you have spent the money on track, loco, and Zephyr, you'd be mad not to do the extra $30 to make it all work lovely.

  4. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    Thanx 'tillsbury' ..that helps greatly!!!!!!!!! :)
  5. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    You'll wish you got DCC equipped, you can do ready, and add the decoder later, but it will probably cost you more....

  6. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    Yeah Jeff...
    then I'd be bugging you guys on 'how' to put the decoder in
    Yeah...I've been lookin' for DCC installed/equipped .....
    'pay me now or pay me later' kinda thing ...
    Should I ask about the ones that are installed???
    or are they all have similar qualities..?????
  7. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

  8. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

  9. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    ahhhhhhhh thanx CannonBall....
    can they be purchased and replaced easy enough?...
  10. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    If you know what you're looking for.
    Coulpers come in various lengths for different applications and I don't know what goes to what. It also depends some on how the loco is made. Some you can just switch outt the coupler and others you have to replace the whole truck.

    Since I don't do any switching and prefer continuous running, I left mine all rapidos to save the headache. Now I just have the headache of finding the cars and locos I want with rapido couplers.

    Believe me. If you want knucle couplers, it's easier to start out with them on your locomotives and rolling stock rather than dealing with changing them out.
  11. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    With the greatest respect, Cannonball, I don't agree. All magnetic couplers are not equal. The only ones I've found to work reliably are the body-mount Micro-Trains ones, part 1041. They can be made to fit on almost everything except for really weird locos and very long (70+ foot) cars, where you need truck-mounted couplers only if you have small radius curves. Every single one of my locos and cars I've swapped out whatever was on them for 1041's, and they work beautifully and reliably for hands-off switching and for continuous running.

    There are five capabilities needed for a coupler to work properly: (1) it needs to stay connected going forwards over an uncoupler, (2) it needs to stay connected going backwards over an uncoupler, (3) it needs to connect when two bump together, (4) it needs to uncouple when pressure is released at an uncoupler, and (5) it needs to move aside and stay uncoupled when two bump together over an uncoupler. Unless the couplers can do the appropriate thing at each of these five points, 95% of the time (that is, 1 in 20 times you will need to try again), they are a pain in the butt to use.

    The Atlas ones don't disconnect properly, and many other MT ones have the slinky effect and make a real mess if you're trying to run continuously. MT truck-mounted ones are tricky to do switching with as they often don't reliably connect and disconnect and easily cause derailments as they produce uneven force on the wheels going backwards through switches. Kato ones aren't designed for uncoupling.

    MT make all sorts and I don't really know why. For example there is a special one for the Kato F7A loco, but I found it very loose and unreliable. Saw off the old one and put a 1041, it fits fine.

    So, whereas I used to be selective about what I bought, now it's easy. I'll buy any old car or loco that I like the look of, knowing that I'll chop off the couplers and put proper body-mounts on and swap the wheels for lo-pros.

    Once you get into the swing of it, making perfectly working lubricated MT 1041's from the bulk packs takes less than a minute per coupler.

  12. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    now I'm
    should I just not worry about the couplers or BUY all the same?
    Magnetic are most popular?
  13. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Sorry to confuse things! Sadly, the model railroad hobby is full of stuff being made that is very confusing -- I remember not being able to get any answers at all when I started!

    There are three attitudes to take with couplers:

    1.) Don't worry about them. Use Rapidos if you already have them, or because they reliably stay together on continuous running trains. You can mix and match by making yourself a 'connecting' car that has a Rapido on one end and a knuckle coupler on the other, thus allowing you to connect any car you like, of any coupler type.

    2.) Don't worry much and use manual uncoupling -- with some sort of pick or tool to unclip the couplers when you want to do so. You can still use anything you like (as with 1 above) but most people gradually try to move to knuckle couplers if only because they look nicer.

    3.) Aim for completely hands-off uncoupling with under-track magnets, so you never have to touch your cars or locos. This can be done, but if you want to do lots and lots of switching and you're the kind of person who expects everything to work perfectly every time, you'll want to go to MT body-mounts and small rare earth under-track magnets, as I described before.

    Of course, at any time you can change between the above methods without really incurring additional cost other than the difference it would have been to start with. I just wanted to make it clear that in order to reach target (3) above, you *don't* need to concern yourself with what couplers any car comes with. Just buy the cars you like.

  14. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    I know there was NO intent for confusement Charles.....its just me!!!
    I've been on my laptop..
    morning, noon and night...reading, learning and trying to understand.
    My first step was accomplished today as my layout has been cut and put up :)
    thanx again...
  15. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    I see alot of good deals on EBAY...with DCC installed.............
    1) is a LENZ decoder good?
    2) is it ok to BUY off EBAY?

    Me again :)
  16. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

  17. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    If you can swing it, I'd skip used and go new for your first one. There are some great deals on new stuff on there as well. I'm not saying it's a bad engine but if you're just starting out, you may want to save used for later on when you're better equipped to handle any problems that might come up. Besides, what fun is an engine with a broken front coupler? ;)

    If you're not picky about your road name and still want black, here's a nice NYC that's DCC equipped for $80.00 plus shiping.

    eBay: Atlas N Scale U25B Diesel Engine DCC, NYC #2509 (item 300115352582 end time Jun-02-07 20:24:00 PDT)
  18. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

  19. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Model Train Stuff are fine. I've also had good experience of 4NScale (, and Feather River Trains (

    For DCC locos, though, you should be looking first at Tony's ( Apart from selling locos and DCC (and knowing most of what there is to know about both), they also install DCC into new trains for you, pretty much for no more than the best price of the train and decoder. I've bought great stuff like the Kato Mikado from these guys, and then you can sit and laugh at all the trauma on the internet about how difficult it is to install DCC in that loco... :))) You can choose what kind of decoder and they do sound too...

    No connection with any, of course, but bought DCC locos from all of them, and will likely do so again.

  20. Cheetah20

    Cheetah20 Member

    Still learning the different types of decoders and what they give you....:confused:
    isn't sound ALOT more expensive???
    but thanx...will check those others out...:wave:

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