SD40T-2 DCC Conversion

sams Aug 31, 2022

  1. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Ok ! Hey there! So I am mostly an N scale guy but I do have some HO trains I would love to eventually run on an HO layout. Cross your fingers for the future! I currently have two other Athearn blue box SP with Tsunami 2 decoders which are great. I wanted to add another to the fleet for a full consist of 3. A bigger loco of course for the front.

    I have my eye on one at the hobby store. Its got a very different paint scheme I haven't seen. All the walking areas are painted black as well as some of the nose. I'm assuming they did this for sunlight reflection but who knows. I'm not to historic on these. It just looks great but its $340. I'm saving but not now lol


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    Here you can see the inside tab is not removable I don't think!

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    My next great idea was this. I have had a old $40 (back in the day) Southern Pacific SD40T-2 That could possibly work. The motor runs fine and there is plenty of space. I ran into these guys (ready to roll retrofit decoder) from Athearn. They say they are pretty much drop in motor/decoders and then you hook the rest up. I've been looking and from the looks of them compared to my original equipment. The ends (driveshafts) coming out of the worm gears to flywheel connection look nothing the same. Even the push in tab that goes into the flywheel is not represented in the picture

    Here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1333582862...wktpwy72T0QTFCHTMETFr3GeDUk=|tkp:BFBMyJK-nt5g

    I'm going to keep researching but thought It would be a cool thing to make a thread for. If you have any advice or ideas for connecting these let me know. I might even have to call Athearn to see if they have other parts of the drive shaft I can fit! Anyways

    Enjoy the evening!
     
    sidney likes this.
  2. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    This is a site that explains what you need to do to convert a blue box Athearn to DCC using the components you have on hand. The diagrams are handy.

    https://wiringfordcc.com/ath_pa1.htm
     
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  3. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the input! Unfortunately that decoder does not exist anymore. Or at least It is way outdated. I understand the concept is still the same.
    So I still have a decoder to find that will operate a Stratocast light and Im still on the hunt for a beacon light. I was looking at a few but cant really seem to find one that rotates.

    I did find a few pictures that have the light on southern pacific locos themselves. That was satisfying as now it will even be prototypical. Still though have to find the equipment to install.

    Anyone have any suggestions on where I can find a rotating beacon or stratocast Light ? And a DCC decoder that will operate it. I'll be going to the store tomorrow to ask some questions guaranteed! I want this done and running !!

    Cheers!
     
  4. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    A true rotating beacon does not exist in HO scale. In some cases, rotating lights don't exist in real life either. Some railroads used multiple stationary lights that flashed in succession to simulate rotation, a bit like old movie theater display lights that looked like they were moving or flowing.

    Rapido models this well on their B36, although most locomotives and decoders use a single light with a complex flash pattern to simulate rotation using varying brightness. This is the most practical way to do it, since the assembly is straightforward, and the CV list probably had a lighting effect for the beacon you can simply select.
     
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  5. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Well I think you @Mr. Trainiac might have answered this post I am posting.


    Happy Labor Day! Just wanted to reach out to the Model Railroad communities and see I have what I need here.

    So Parts are in and I'm going to install front and rear head lights as well as a beacon light. I have a TCS T4X Mobile decoder that should set me up right. After going through the manual about setting up lights I ran into a few things I wasn't sure of.

    The first one being wires for the motor. The motor has metal contact clips on both the top and bottom. Each of which have a spring to send current around. If I block both of these from the frame would I be able to solder a wire right to the contact strip. Just seems easier...

    The second thing is the beacon light. I am reading through the manual and it says it already has a strobe setting that all I need to do is program. For Example If I want to use Single Pulse Strobe 2 (highlighted in purple..see below photos..) I would program what ever color wire is connected to it and plug in the variable for that wire.

    So if it was connected to the brown wire I would plug in a value of 47 for cv 53 to get that effect.? This makes sense or am I lost haha Cheers !



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  6. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Another thing I was wondering! What size acrylic tubing would I use for the front and rear headlights? I know they have it but they have many different sizes ! Yikes !
     
  7. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    In the past, I have used the Streamlined Backshop lens/optic set. They are basically a plastic rod to which you glue a SMD LED on the backside. Their diameter is 1.7 mm. This page has some instructions, most importantly the drill bit size you need to drill out the headlight bezel. The holes on Athearn locomotives are slightly undersized to fit the incandescent bulb. https://store.sbs4dcc.com/SBS4DCC10-pkHOScaleAthearnHeadlightHousingLens.aspx

    In regards to your previous post about lighting CVs, strobes are not rotary beacons. Here is video showing how both a model and real stratolight beacon work:
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    A strobe effect is a rapid flash, here is video showing an Amtrak F40 with strobes:


    You need a fade between cycles to simulate rotation. Using the Flashing Light or Gyralight setting will probably yield better results.
     
    sams likes this.
  8. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    @Mr. Trainiac Happy Friday! Glad I was able to get over to the board today. I dig those Amtrak lights! to bad I'm not going That hard lol. I appreciate you sending me that link.

    After a few days the gentleman I watched do this same conversion was able to specify where He got these rods.

    First here is the video if you care to check it out:


    Also the link to the size acrylic Rod I needed.
    https://www.plastruct.com/collections/strip-amp-rod-2/acrylic?page=1

    This website is really neat as well. I've never heard of it. They sell an array of items. Any acrylic rod you need they have in multiple colors and they have a lot of scratch material if you wanted to build any sort of buildings. If you know, you know I suppose haha

    I am still waiting on a few other items to put this together. Then we can try out the Gyra settings you mentioned. Glad The decoder gave me a few options!

    Cheers!
     
  9. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    So Stoked! All the parts have started raining in. Going to be putting this together soon. Cheers!




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  10. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Today was Solder Sunday! As the joke implies I did quite a bit of soldering today. Adding the finishing touches to the SD40T-2. I will be making a short write up of how to accomplish this and many other ideas you may want to throw on your locos. Though there are a few out there already. I noticed in the few that I watched that a few steps were missing. Also sources on material and what not.

    For now here is a teaser. Everything worked out good. Now I just have to clean up the wiring and get on the program track to really set it up. Then possibly consist. One step at a time!
    Cheers and happy sunday !

    https://youtube.com/shorts/LPnrJH_Qy3A?feature=share
     
  11. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

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    Hello! Hope your saturday is going better than expected. This might be that one time in a lifetime I say the word fortunately instead of the word unfotunately. That prefix has a red dot on my back, I swear.

    Today was a good day to finally get this thing on the track and run it. It did decent at the club but had a few pickup issues. So again went ahead today and cleaned more and took a bunch of gunk off the wheels. Still looking for a set of newer ones.
    I had a "goof proof" moment. I was installing some quick plugs and possibly fried the decoder in the process. Long story but the "magic smoke" came out to play! so function 1 is stuck with POWER ON and cannot be programmed. I now have a permanent cab light which is ok. The best part is that now that couplers are on I can drag a train down the track. Still working on the write up and here is some progress! Have a good eve y'all! Cheers!


    https://youtube.com/shorts/xsgzBa9guuA?feature=share
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2022

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