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How To Convert A Non DCC Locomotive Into A DCC Locomotive

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

While many may find this task daunting, when broken into bite size steps it is actually quite a straight forward and enjoyable experience knowing that you will soon be able to run this locomotive on your DCC system. I have carried this process out on a HO scale Athearn motor and bogie setup that i am using on a soon-to-be announced project, but this same process can be used on many other locomotives.


May i first state this: The process that is to be showed is how to do it on more modern day chassis, ones that are of solid steel with a motor held inside the middle are a lot harder to convert to DCC, it is possible but quite tricky, as the basic requirement for converting to DCC is that power goes direct from the pick-ups to the decoder then from the decoder to the motor (is that confusing? yes, well i was never one to be good at explaining stuff).



First off:


My decoder of choice for this conversion is a Hornby R8245 Sapphire Decoder, reason for this choice: quite simple, it was the only one I had on hand



Step 2:


Because this decoder has a 6 pin plug on it, we can chop that off as I will be hard-wiring the decoder to the locomotive (keep the plug as it may come in handy some day)



Step 3:


Here in this picture are the wires that we will require from the locomotive. The two wires on the left (purple and white) are from the pick-ups on the bogie, the wires on the right (purple and purple) are from the motor. I only want to use this decoder to control the motor, so hence why there is only four wires.


Step 4:


To make life easier when soldering the decoder, break out the soldering iron and the solder and tin the wires.

Step 5:


To prevent the wires from shorting out, slide some heat shrink on to the wires BEFORE you solder the decoder wires, make sure they are a 3-4 cm down the wire so that they don't shrink while you are soldering the decoder wires.


Step 6:


Now it's time to solder the decoder wires to the locomotive, because I only want to control the motor I will not be using any other wires apart from red, black, orange and grey. The Red wire is soldered to one of the pick-up wires, and the black wire is soldered to the other pick-up wire. The Orange wire is soldered to one of the motor wires, with the grey wire being soldered to the other motor wire (remember to tin the Decoder wires BEFORE soldering so that you have an easier time soldering them together)




For those that are more digram related people or want to add other features like lights etc.. Hornby has supplied a lovely wiring diagram for their decoders (see below image)


Test Time:


Before going ahead and applying the heat shrink and calling it a job well done, give it a test to make sure it functions the way you want it to.





Step 7:


If you have established that it operates the way you want it to, then slide the heat shrink over the exposed joins and apply heat, I also reduced the length of the other wires from the decoder (I left some wire length, just in case I wanted to add lights etc... in the future). To stop anything from short-circuiting the decoder I also added a large piece of heat shrink over the decoder, be careful when applying heat as too much could damage the components inside





Well, that's a good job done, hopefully you found this guide useful, if you get stuck or come across any bottlenecks, feel free to email me at railscale33d@gmai.com



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