Options for adding DCC to older Atlas N Scale GP40

LifeTrekker_ Feb 16, 2022

  1. LifeTrekker_

    LifeTrekker_ TrainBoard Member

    Hi All, this is my first post here after deciding to get back into the hobby, and I have a DCC specific related question for you.

    I picked up a couple of used Atlas N Scale GP40s from a local hobby shop recently in my favorite livery, (DRGW), and would like to add DCC to both of them since I don't currently have any equipment and am making a fresh start in the hobby.

    The first one is a 1997 model and looks to me like it is DCC ready and a simple drop in decoder would work here. But my question is primarily about the other one, which is a 1996 model. It looks like it must be an older model that was not specifically designed to be DCC drop-in decoder compatible. So my question is, what are my DCC controller options for this one?

    Sent from my SM-G973U1 using Tapatalk

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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2022
  2. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter


    1st welcome to The Trainboard, there are many very talented, knowledgeable individuals here that are willing to help.

    I am not one of those folks but I THINK your DCC choice is rather limited for the older unit. Check out TCS decoders and especially their CN two part decoders. If you are not turned off by soldering you can easily add one of these to the old unit. I did it so anyone can do it. These are not sound decoders!
    LifeTrekker_ likes this.
  3. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    Here is a link to a good install of a wired-in decoder by Brad ( nscalestation here ) ....

    http://n-scale-dcc.blogspot.com/search/label/Loco: Atlas GP40

    It shows a TC decoder but you could use any number of other manufactures small decoders such as a Digitrax DZ126T or ESU 59826 LokPilot 5 Micro. I'm starting to use the ESU over the DZ126T as it is only a couple dollars more and I believe a better decoder with more options. You could probably also add a sound decoder like one of ESU small LokSound decoders but the speaker would might need more modifications to the frame.

    Another option probably for that loco might be TC decoder like this one....


    ... that replaces the light boards but still requires some soldering. Another good install by Brad in a different loco here....

    http://n-scale-dcc.blogspot.com/search/label/Decoder: TCS CN

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2022
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  4. LifeTrekker_

    LifeTrekker_ TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the tips and leads guys. I really appreciate it. And no, a little soldering doesn't bother me, so if that's what it takes, it's not a big deal.

    Thanks again.

    Sent from my SM-G973U1 using Tapatalk
  5. drgwspup

    drgwspup TrainBoard Member

    If you go with TCS decoders, go with the CN-GP decoder instead of the CN decoder. It is a little smaller. The CN is a really tight fit into the old Atlas Kato engines.

    FYI, the CN-GP is out of stock at TCS (not discontinued- sounds like supply chain/chip issues) but you can probably find them at one of the online dealers.

    Since you are a Rio Grande guy (like me) I have a couple older DC Atlas GP-30s in the stacked Rio Grande logo. Very low run time as I have never had, but will in the future, a permanent layout. I bought the newer Atlas releases with the small Rio Grande logo as that fits my modeling period better. But at the time I was psyched just to see a DRGW factory painted loco. Anyway these two units are surplus to me, so PM me if you are interested. I'm sure we can make a deal work

    Aurora, CO
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  6. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

    The lokpilot 5 (59820) looks like it would work tucked under the rear light board. I've got the z2 installed in several locos but prefer the motor handling characteristics of the ESU which is what I installed in my GP9. The big difference with the GP9 frame and the 40 install-wise is there appears to be a bit more room under the rear light board on the 40 making that a no brainer place for the decoder.

    Below are pics of my install. It will be a little different as I installed the decoder at the front since there was no room advantage between the front and rear boards. I had to remove the factory LED resistor because it was in the way when getting the board tucked in under there and replaced with a 750 ohm surface mount resistor then did the same to the rear to match. The purple jumpers are to close the gaps left after the original resistors were removed. You shouldn't have to do any of that though with all the room under the rear light board.


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  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    Nice idea (y). Hope I remember it :(. Nice install,

    freddy_fo likes this.

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