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Recent News

February 8, 2017


After a number of ideas didn't pan out very well, I finally came up with a solution for installing a sound decoder in my H20-44.  The decoder shelf is a 3/4 x 2-3/4 x 1/8" piece of styrene.  It does a more than adequate job of supporting both the decoder and decoder wires, as well as keeping the latter and the speaker wires away from the rotating drive shaft.  The only space available for the speaker was in the front nose of the shell.

The sound decoder is a Loksound Select Micro with an 8Ω-1W TDS SuperSonic Small speaker and matching enclosure.  The speaker measures only 8 x 13 x 2.5mm in size.  Once pressed into the enclosure, the sound is quite impressive.  I bought two speakers with the idea of wiring them in parallel.  However, the sound is so good with just the one that I'll hold onto the other and use it for another sound install.

When I first wired and ran the H20-44 using the Loksound Select Micro decoder, the motor-contol was nice and smooth for speed steps 004 and > but jittery and pulsating with speed steps 003 and <; nowhere near as nice as the results I was getting from the motor-only TCS M1P decoder I had installed in it last month. After concurring with a couple of knowledgeable MRRers on the MR forum that the BEMF was probably overcompensating at the slowest speeds, they encouraged me to use the automatic motor tuning feature* to see if that would correct the problem. 


*[All the automatic motor turning feature entails is 1) placing the locomotive on a 3' piece of track connected to your DCC system, 2) changing CV54 to a value of 0, and 3) pressing F1.  The locomotive started out at full throttle but only went ~12" before abruptly stopping.  Test complete.]


The result?  My H20-44 switcher now runs as slow as it did when it was operating with the TCS M1P decoder, or ~0.25sMPH.  Now I have both excellent motor-control AND a great sounding switcher.


Next on the agenda: Installing front & rear LED headlights.  (See 3rd picture on left for preview)

January 14, 2017


Three "new" undecorated switchers that will soon grace my NYC roster:

  1. NJ Custom Brass NYC M-1 0-10-0 switcher (Arrived 1/23/17)

  2. Alco Models FM H20-44 switcher (Arrived 1/20/17)

  3. Kato NW2 switcher (Arrived 1/18/17 - Horn-hooks and all)

When it comes time I think I'll definitely start with painting and detailing the diesels first to reduce my learning curve when I get around to the 0-10-0 & 0-6-0.

UPDATE: January 24, 2017

  1. Kato NW2 switcher - I'm still working on trying to get the shell off.  The Kato website has a special web page dedicated to that because it's such a tight fit.  I'm afraid I'm going to rip the foot boards right off the front.

  2. Alco Models FM H20-44 switcher - The unit came with the brushes already isolated from the frame.  I have a TCS M1P decoder temporarily installed at the moment.  After 45 min. of break-in time, the switcher will now to ~0.25sMPH at speed step 001 - without hesitating.  I'm currently looking at the possibly of putting in sound.  However, there are some inherent issues with space and moving parts that will have to be dealt with first before I can do that.

  3. NJ Custom Brass NYC M-1 0-10-0 switcher - Presently I have the boiler removed from the frame and checked the motor for isolation.  This one will require isolating the brushes before a decoder can be installed.

January 13, 2017


I just installed a Loksound Select decoder in this Cor-Cor NYC Aerotrain.  The decoder is located in the locomotive and the Digitrax 8Ω rectangular speaker (~26 x 15 x 9mm) is in the sound car directly behind it.

The speaker is temporarily hard-wired to the decoder so the locomotive and sound car are "tethered" together.  I will eventually be installing a couple of inline connectors so that the two can be separated and stored/transported more easily*.  I also fiddled with the lighting-effects and now the two inner headlights (next to the outer headlights) will flash like ditch lights when you press F6.


Con-Cor did a really nice job with this version of the short-lived Aerotrain and the Loksound EMD 12 Cyl 567 sound files are terrific.  The only thing I wish I could set up is the rear car taillight to flash like the flashing front headlights when the locomotive is moving forward.  If it's possible it might require either rewiring or remapping.

*2nd pic shows female jumper with male header that should work well.


[Update: The idea worked...but the jumper sockets are too long for the space.  Planning to try another method in a couple of weeks when the parts come in.]

January 10, 2017


I bought an undecorated Atlas Master Series "Silver" S-2 switcher in the latter part of 2016.  After I successfully installed a TCS M1P decoder into it, I was astonished to find that the LED headlight that came with the unit didn't even line up with the headlight lens in the shell; so much so that it wasn't even visible through the lens hole.

I set out to rectify this by bending the metal legs of the LED so that it hung down over the front nose of the chassis.  Unfortunately, this only yielded a modicum amount of improvement with only 1/3 of the LED now visible.  The front of the LED also pressed against the inside of the shell, keeping the shell from seating properly on the chassis.

With the aspect of using the 3mm LED as a headlight looking rather dismal, I turned to warm-white 1206 SMT (surface mount technology) LEDs, which have a fairly flat profile.  I found that 3M foam tape worked quite well securing the LED onto a ledge at the front of the S-2 chassis (Photo 1).   In order for the SMT LED to sit flush with the surface of the foam tape, I had to unsolder and re-solder the wires onto the front sides of the soldering tabs.

With a little bit of adjustment I was able to center the SMT LED through the lens opening in the shell (Photo 2).  As you can see the output is quite good (Photo 3).  Once I get the shell painted and detailed for the NYC, I'll install the lens in the shell.


Ironically, as dismal as the front headlight alignment was on this Atlas S-2, the rear headlight needed no alterations at all.  In fact, Atlas did a great job of providing single in-line connectors for each rear LED headlight wire so that they could be conveniently unplugged & plugged when removing and installing the cab.

As far as cost, I picked up a bag of (20) warm-white SMT LEDs off eBay for only $7.00, plus S&H.  If you're looking for a replacement LED and room is at a premium, these SMT LEDs will do the trick for you.


[Click pictures to enlarge]

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