Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

What about cheap loco's?

1610 views
10 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    August 2008
  • From: Gadsden Alabama
  • 13 posts
What about cheap loco's?
Posted by NC&StL on Thursday, August 7, 2008 8:03 PM
I am old to the hobby but I am new to DCC.  What about the older loco's that I have detailed out the wazoo, BUT they are like AHM GP-7's and F's that cost $10 - $20 when they were new.  If they run good on  D C will they run good on DCC? (Sounds like a dumb question but I have to ask).
Bob Gadsden, Alabama Once served by L & N, Southern, Tn Al & Ga and of course NC&StL
  • Member since
    July 2003
  • From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
  • 13,757 posts
Posted by cacole on Thursday, August 7, 2008 8:24 PM

As one who is old to the hobby and old to DCC, let me be quite frank: 

I started out in 1960 by building MDC and Tyco metal steam locomotive kits, and also have some of those old AHM, Rivarossi, Bachmann and Lima diesel engines.  I have not tried to convert any of them to DCC because their motors run too poorly and DCC would be a waste of time and money.  Some of them won't even run at all, anymore.  Many diesel models of that day had plastic wheels with traction tires and the motor mounted to one truck, and the other truck, which was not powered, had metal wheels to pick up current for the motor.

I would not plan on spending $20 or so on a decoder for a $10 engine when there are many on the market today that run so much better.  In my experience, the locomotives you have take off like a jackrabbit after the throttle is turned about half way up, and only know two speeds -- full throttle and stop.  Motors like that are not candidates for DCC.

If those older locomotives have sentimental value put them on a display shelf and buy yourself some new engines that are DCC equipped or at least DCC ready.  Mine sit in a locomotive museum on the club layout.

  • Member since
    August 2007
  • From: Maryland
  • 178 posts
Posted by mikebo on Thursday, August 7, 2008 8:33 PM
My opiniion is if they run good on DC, don't draw alot of current (under 1 amp is my cutoff, less is even better) and have electrical pickup from all wheels, I'd spend the $20 for a TCS T-1 or NCE D13SR decoder.  Especially if you've spent a lot of effort detailling them.
Mike Modeling Maryland Railroads in the 60's (plus or minus a few years)
  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: Los Angeles
  • 199 posts
Posted by Randall_Roberts on Thursday, August 7, 2008 8:48 PM

cacole's answer is good.

The short answer is, yes a $20 decoder should work fine in your $10 locomotives.  

Randall Roberts Visit http://modeltrains.about.com Subscribe to the FREE weekly Model Trains newsletter.
  • Member since
    August 2008
  • From: Gadsden Alabama
  • 13 posts
Posted by NC&StL on Friday, August 8, 2008 8:54 AM
I appreciate the replys. It's just after getting a Rivarossi E properly attired in Southern Crescent green, with all the details, I hate to let it sit.  Of course it could be on the tracks waiting to leave with a consist I guess. Thanks everyone.
Bob Gadsden, Alabama Once served by L & N, Southern, Tn Al & Ga and of course NC&StL
  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Amish country Tenn.
  • 10,027 posts
Posted by loathar on Friday, August 8, 2008 1:39 PM

 mikebo wrote:
My opiniion is if they run good on DC, don't draw alot of current (under 1 amp is my cutoff, less is even better) and have electrical pickup from all wheels, I'd spend the $20 for a TCS T-1 or NCE D13SR decoder.  Especially if you've spent a lot of effort detailling them.

Yeah. You should check how much current your old motors draw first. The NCE decoders would be a good choice for a cheap decoder. 1.3 amp continuous and 2 amp peak.
http://cgi.ebay.com/NCE-D13SRJ-HO-DCC-Decoder-9-Pin-plug-524-125-Athearn-GP_W0QQitemZ150279090798QQcmdZViewItem?_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116
I've even seen these for about $12/each in 4 packs if you keep an eye on E-Bay.

  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: Orig: Tyler Texas. Lived in seven countries, now live in Sundown, Louisiana
  • 25,640 posts
Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Friday, August 8, 2008 2:04 PM
One of the main things in DCC is to have the motor completely isolated from the frame. On many of the older locos that's impossible or close to it. Many Mantua locos had the motor built into one truck with a direct draw from that truck while the power was returned to the track through the other truck. If memory serves this is the description of the Mantua MU-2 drive which was also used in many Tyco locos as well as those of some other makers. Many Bachmann's had the motor built into the chassis with the brush on one side connected to the chassis and the brush on the other side connected to the rear wheels by a wire. I have one similar to that that I was able to remotor and keep the motor isolated so it could be converted to DCC, which I did. If the loco didn't mean so much to me I would have simply tossed it in the trash can. Converting it was a LOT of work and required much grinding and elbow grease, as well as a couple of shoehorns to fit a new Bachmann GP40 shell to it. Almost all my other old locos (pre 1980) have hit the trash can. The only other one I kept is a Bachmann 0-6-0 lettered for the L&A. I don't intend to run it.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
History Channel Club life member.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


  • Member since
    August 2008
  • From: Menifee, California
  • 20 posts
Posted by mikept on Friday, August 8, 2008 3:42 PM

I would agree.  I am new to the Forum (this is my first post/reply) and new to DCC, although I have been into model railroading since the late 50's. I, however, have been on the sidelines for the past 15 years and am just getting more active again since I've retired.

Anyway,  I have several older HO Rivarossi steam engines (old time 2-4-0, 4-4-0s) that were sitting in there original boxes since the early 80's.  I just finished converting one of the 4-4-0s to DCC using an NCE Z14SR.  The motor's max stall current was less than an amp and the one I converted ran well,to my surprise, on DC right out of the Box. It has the motor in the tender.  After conversion, with the decoder in the tender, The engine runs great under DCC, At least in MHO, since it is my first conversion.  I plan on converting the others after I investigate whether I will be able to put sound in them, possibly using a micro-tsunami.

As a side note, I have a MRC Prodigy wireless and, so far, I think it is great.

 

Mike

  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: US
  • 406 posts
Posted by donhalshanks on Sunday, August 10, 2008 1:52 PM

Sorry to ask a novice question, but what do I have to do to determine the current draw by a locomotive? (I do have the DCC rampmeter, and a regular multimeter).

Thanks, Hal

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: Amish country Tenn.
  • 10,027 posts
Posted by loathar on Sunday, August 10, 2008 3:54 PM

Take a digital multi meter that reads DC milliamps. Wire it in line between one leg of your power pack and the track.(meter black lead to power pack DC and red lead to track) As you run your locos through their speed range, you will see the amps go up or down. Turning the power pack up all the way and holding your loco down on the track so the wheels can't spin will give you your stall current or the maximum amps that loco can draw. This # should not exceed the decoders stall amp specs.

Understand?

  • Member since
    July 2008
  • 1,188 posts
Posted by mfm37 on Sunday, August 10, 2008 4:16 PM

Relatively simple with your RRampmeter.

Connect you DC supply to one side of the Rrampmeter. Positive to the red terminal, negative to the black terminal. Connect the other side of the Rrampmeter to a piece of track. Place the engine to test on the track and hold it so it won't move. Turn the throttle all the way up and read the current on the RRampmeter. That's the stall current.

Pick a decoder with a higher current rating than your engine's stall current.

 Martin Myers

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!