spectrum steamers DCC ready

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by ChadYelland, Dec 31, 2007.

  1. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    I want to ask you exsperianced engineers before i go dissasembling new engines...
    I Have 2 bachman spectrum DCC ready 4-6-0's I'd like to know what model decoder i should get, am I looking for a DH123D, DH123P, DH123PS, DH163,P, PS, IP I'm totaly lost if have read the discription of each on the Digitrax website but I can't tell one from the other. I belive they have an internal plug with jumpers ready for a decoder and harness. I'd like to stick to the Digitrax brand name as that is what my system unless you recomend another brand of decoders.
    I allso have 2 bachman spectrum 2-8-0's DCC equiped should I change them over to Digitrax decoders, what type of connection is inside of them are they Plug or Solder installations?
  2. PWRR-2207

    PWRR-2207 Rogue Islander

    Digitrax Decoder Dilemma

    For starters - If the 2-8-0's work and do everything you want, leave them alone. If you do decide to change, they are tight on space and will require a DZ sized decoder (Yes, the 'Z' is for Z scale :eek: so you know there is not much room.)

    As for the 4-6-0's, they have room for HO sized decoders designated 'DH' by Digitrax. The only two Digitrax recommended options for the Bachmann Spectrum 4-6-0 are the DH-163PS (all the lights, special functions, whistles and bells, plugs into the 6 port plug on the board inside your loco) or the basic DH-123PS (does not have the extra three wires for special lighting or a plug which means you have to either solder or slide the rubber caps over the wire ends onto the existing board).

    Now if you decide you want sound, get a can opener because that is another can of worms...
  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...I've got one of each of those steamers, purchased DCC ready. They both have "plug & play" boards in the tender, so a decoder with a short harness will do the job. I installed a DZ123 decoder in the 4-6-0. There really is no room for anything else. As for the 2-8-0's, unless they don't meet your operating expectations, I'd leave them alone.
  4. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    the plug and/or decoders are in the tender or the engine? all 4 of my engines have the exact same tender if thats the case.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Strange....My 4-6-0 has an "Ol' timer" (for lack of the proper name) sort of tender-about early 1920's. The 2-8-0 has a more modern tender - about mid 1930's style. Regardless of tender type, the decoder board should be in the tender-the engine is packed full with the motor and weight.
  6. Bones

    Bones Member

    If you do go with the DZ-123.... don't.

    The DZ-125 should be shipping to retailers soon.
    It is the DZ-123's replacement, and has a few improvements. The best improvement.... it's even smaller now.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The tenders form the 4-6-0 and 2-8-0 are not the same in my experience. They even connect differently - the details escape me, but on one, the tender plugs into the loco, and on the other, the loco plugs into the tender; they therefore cannot be swapped... :(

    However, inside they are more or less the same, with the NMRA 8-pin plug and so on to allow a decoder with harness to be "plugged and played".

    You do NOT have to use Digitrax decoders simply because you are using a Digitrax DCC system. Any NMRA compliant decoder will do - MRC, TCS, Lenz, Digitrax, Soundtraxx, etc, etc.

    If you plan only on having the basic operations, then get the simplest decoder. Steamers generally do not need extra functions like light effects and so on, because they did not have them originally...! If however, you wish to "upgrade" at some point to sound, you may want to choose a decoder to which a "sound only" decoder can be added. Otherwise you'll have to replace the decoder with an "all-in-one" sound decoder.

  8. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I seem to recall that the high & low drivered 4-6-0s were different beasts to install. I have neither of these, nor have I installed decoders in anything other than a rivarossi 2-8-4 and an athearn 2-8-2...so I am certainly not an expert (or perhaps even a novice :p)
  9. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    Here is a picture of my 2x 4-6-0 and 2x 2-8-0's tenders look alike to me, If i wanted to install sound/dcc is that difficult? and what would you recomend? because its something I'd like in the future.
  10. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    It's kinda hard to see the tenders.... I know one thing for sure...I couldn't fit a pin in the tender of my 4-6-0. The 2-8-0 probably could have one fitted, with a little careful surgery.
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Installing sound is not hard, it just takes patience. If at all possible, get plug and play components. You may still have to solder the speaker wires though, so practice your soldering A LOT beforehand. This is not something you want to screw up.

    The basic steps required to install sound are not that different from scratchbuilding. You need to modify the tender one of two ways in order to let the sound out.

    1) Drill out the coal load with hundreds of tiny, randomly spaced, randomly angled holes. If you view the engine mainly from the side, have the majority of holes facing up. If you generally view the engine from overhead, angle the holes more to the side.

    2) If you want to preserve the coal load, or you have an oil burner, you will want to face the speaker down, and therefore drill out the bottom of the tender. The good news is it does not have to be as neat, but the bad news is it usually requires more modification.

    Next you need to construct a box inside the tender to contain and amplify the speaker sound. Some decoders come with the parts for this - you might want to check if there is a decoder specifically for the 2-8-0 (I think there's on from Soundtraxx) or the 4-6-0 (not so sure on this one).

    Then you need to squeeze everything into the tender. Don't be afraid to modify some internal parts, like the weight, or even change the positions of screws that hold the tender shut. Try not to mess with the wiring, but even this can be modified if need be.

    Can you post a better shot of the tenders for the benefit of those following along?

  12. ChadYelland

    ChadYelland Member

    Heres a better picture, look the same size and style to me. They do have opposite plugs for a minute i thought i could swap a DC tender for a DCC one but no luck.
  13. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...Those look like the one on my 2-8-0....I think you can fit a decoder & speaker in there... You will probably have to do a little re-arranging of the components in there, but I think it's doable...
  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    They do look the same...! Interesting...

    In any case, it looks like the 2-8-0 tender, which is reasonably large. You should not have any problem fitting sound in there, and the good news is that the decoders are getting smaller all the time.

    Contrary to my statement above, it appears that Soundtraxx does not have a "kit" for the Bachmann steamers. However, they do have the new micro-Tsunami out now, so you can (theoretically) get a bigger speaker! ;) :D

    One of the easier components to modify in the tender is the weight. You can usually cut it, take it out, or whatever. You can add weight back in in the form of peel and stick lead weights where there is space.

    Start by looking at the exploded diagram of the tender, and then open up the real thing and look around. If you're nervous about this, take some pictures as you go along to help with re-assembly.

  15. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    If you decide to go ahead with this...a word of caution. You should not unscrew the trucks from the tender, unless its ABSOLUTELY necessary, 'cause it's a pain in the neck to get them back together, and they are polarity reversed. (Don't ask me how I know.....wall1) The tender shell is held in place by a single screw right behind the front tender truck....

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