DCC and Steam

Papa Apr 1, 2010

  1. Papa

    Papa TrainBoard Member

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    I am new to N scale and have a small (5) engine roster of all diesel engines. I decided to go DCC from the start. I also have an O Scale layout which has all command engines of which the majority are steam. The reason I have not entered the market for N scale steam engines is that I want DCC and it seems it is a little more complicated go put decoders in steam than the easy DCC Ready diesels. Is my intimidation warranted? Papa
     
  2. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

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    N-scale steam runs the gamut from difficult to relatively easy to simple plug in to DCC equipped. Some of the difficult ones are the Bachmann 4-4-0, Athearn 2-6-0 and 2-8-0, and the Atlas Shay. Some that are hardwired but still relatively easy are the Model Power 4-4-0, 2-6-0, 4-6-2, and 2-8-2, and the Bachmann 2-8-0, 4-8-4 Light Mountain and older runs of the 2-6-6-2. Some drop-in or plug-in include the Intermountain Cab Forward, Kato GS-4,and Con-Cor 4-8-4 and 2-10-2. Some that come DCC equipped are Athearn Challenger and Big Boy(both with sound and DCC), Walthers 2-8-8-2(also with sound), and Bachmann 4-8-4 Heavy Mountain, newest run of 2-6-6-2 and coming but not here yet is a new run of 2-8-0 that is DCC equipped.
     
  3. BedfordRob

    BedfordRob TrainBoard Supporter

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    I had similar trepidation and I've certainly not got through the range of DCC fits to steam locos that some here have.

    However, recently I've converted

    IM AC-12 - easy peasy plugin
    Spectrum 2-6-6-2 - soldering required, space issues not quite so tight
    Spectrum 2-8-0 - most fiddly so far, required a bit of soldering but nothing too demanding. Space was the primary issue.

    It's not as daunting as I imagined. I find I just need to go slowly and be careful.
     
  4. jdcolombo

    jdcolombo TrainBoard Member

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    I'd add the Walthers 0-8-0, which also has an NMRA plug in the tender and is a relatively easy DCC conversion. Avoid the first run, though, which had a few QC problems.

    The other issue with N scale steam, frankly, is whether a particular model runs well and will pull a realistic-length train (I view "realistic length" as 25 forty-foot cars; you can adjust your own expectations accordingly). My personal choices for easy DCC conversion PLUS excellent running/pulling characteristics would be as follows (in no particular order):

    Kato GS-4 (drop-in decoder available from Kato)
    Intermountain AC-12 Cab Forward (NMRA plug)
    Athearn Challenger (factory DCC and sound equipped; new run available within a week)
    Athearn Big Boy (factory DCC and sound equipped)
    Walthers Y3 2-8-8-2 (factory DCC and sound available)
    Bachmann Heavy Mountain (4-8-2) (DCC on board)

    I don't yet have any experience with the brand new DCC-on-board Bachmann 2-8-0; nor do I have any experience with the newest version of the Bachmann Spectrum "J" (although others have recommended it highly).

    John C.
     
  5. kmcsjr

    kmcsjr TrainBoard Member

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    What steamers are you looking to convert? Let us know and I'm sure you'l get instructions or someone will let you know it can't be done.

    Also, here's a great reference for fining out if DCC is practical for your model. It also contains great info on about every US n scale loco out there dating back to the 60s
    http://www.visi.com/~spookshow/trainstuff.html

    oops I still gotta work on my reading comprehension... I thought you had a few already
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2010
  6. Bigboy4884

    Bigboy4884 New Member

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    Although not currently available (you can still find them on eBay though) the Con-Cor newer 4-8-4s and the 2-10-2s are both easy tender plug-in decoders and both run quite well.
    I am no expert at soldering and am well into the bi-focal stage but I have 3 of the early Life-Like Y3 (pre-Walthers) that I hardwired with very little difficulty. The biggest problem I have had after doing several steam and older diesels is finding the space for the decoder. Once you identify a good spot for it, it really is not hard.

    Bigboy4884
     
  7. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

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    Welcome to train board bigboy4884.
    I'm new to doing N-scale steam. So far I have a CC GS-4 in WP plug and play decoder.
    B-mann spectrum 2-8-0 I just wired a dz123 into it. And a Kato GS_4 waiting sound. And I'm starting to look for more steam, since the quality is getting better.
     
  8. Papa

    Papa TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, guys for all the input. I may yet venture into the deeper waters of DCC steam. Papa
     

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