DCC on N gauge

I am putting together an N gauge layout (first venture into model railways since I was in my teens 50 odd years ago). So far I have the Farish SW Trains 3 car DMU and the Farish GWR Railcar (the era of my set is "what I like"). I am curious about DCC and was wondering if there was a web site that tells in simple terms how to fit DCC decoders into these trains where (I believe) there are no sockets provided which means, presumably, going back to the soldering iron. Or is DCC in such trains a non-starter? Answers in easy words please for a total beginner.

Reply to
Keith Willcocks
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I can't help with those specific examples.

You will need to partially dismantle the chassis as well as using the soldering iron. Also beware of the ping-fuckits. Those are the bits that go ping (brush springs mainly) and you go "fuckit" as you grovel around the floor looking for them.

There's a DCC in N Yahoo group

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you can ask this sort of question.

There are some examples of farish conversions in the files area of the DCCUK Yahoo group. Lots of N (even Z) modellers there, too.

Gerry Spencer sells a brush isolating kit for Farish steam chassis

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but his market will probably be killed by DCC Supplies's "DiGi-Hat". These aren't always neccessary, e.g. see the 4MT conversion in the DCCUK pages, where all that's needed is an insulating shim (plasticard) and to drill out a clearance hole in one of the collector strips.

The newer diesel chassis are a doddle to isolate the brushes by just filing away the bit of the chassis that contacts the brush holder and wiring the decoder outputs directly to the brush holders. You do still have to take the chassis apart to pick up the input connections for the decoder.

If you are an ebayer, beware the "split gear" problem on Farish chassis and check that locos run smoothly on DC before attempting to convert. BR lines

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have a range of Farish spares if you knacker anything. Service is good and he responds to e-mails.

Admitting some bias (we sell them), I can recommend the Zimo MX620 for N gauge.

If you want cheap, the Hornby decoder is small enough, but seriously lacking in features. It's probably a good deal for lighting the DMU if you don't want to run wires between cars.

I hope this helps,

Andrew Crosland

Reply to

Firstly, get a book on DCC, and/or google on "DCC for N gauge scale".

Secondly, DCC is supplied in a number of ready to run N scale locomotives, mostly American outline, so DCC in N scale is not merely feasible, it's becoming SOP. And for your specific question: DMU's have plenty of space to add a decoder, and perhaps even to add some weight (which will improve pickup and therefore running.) However, if the models have not been designed as "DCC ready", then you may have to cut away bits of plastic and or metal chassis to make room for the decoder. I'm not familiar with your Farish models, but the ones I recall from the 70s and 80s were crammed full of metal.

Thirdly, make sure you use only an NMRA compliant system. Don't skimp on the money either: the better systems cost more, but are worth every penny.

Fourthly, go to the NMRA website (nmra.org), navigate to the DCC section, and study the wiring code. NMRA has (very wisely IMO) specified colour codes for the wires, so that installing DCC with a soldering iron is almost foolproof. Use their information in conjunction with any other information you find.

Fifthly, if you do decide to go with DCC, do so without using ordinary DC "for the time being." You'll invest money in DC controllers, switches, etc, that you should be putting towards DCC. It is possible to wire a layout to run on either DC or DCC (not both), but IMO that's a waste of money and time. It's also surprisingly complicated: basically, you wire the layout for DC operation, then add electrical switches at strategic points to reconfigure the wiring (== flow of electricity) for DCC. BTW, on medium and large layouts, wiring for multi-train DC operation can equal and exceed the cost of the DCC system.

Sixthly, DCC exacts a technical price on the rest of the layout. It requires very clean track, no shorts or power gaps/interruptions at turnouts (points), or elsewhere. To keep a layout clean, it pretty well has to have its own room (and no smoking: cigarette smoke turns into gunk that adheres to every available metal surface.) Turnouts have to be tuned or rewired to prevent shorts from metal wheels bridging the gap between running rail and open point rail, and to ensure live frogs. Most older rail- or track-based signalling circuits are not compatible with DCC (but DCC does make it easy to have protoypical signalling.) Etc. (That ominous "etc"... :-))


Reply to

My thanks to both respondents. You have given me some valuable information and some good places to look for more information.

Reply to
Keith Willcocks

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