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Which Decoders Work on Older Engines?

HO guy Steve asks:

“Is there anywhere I can get a list of what decoders will work on some of my older engines?”

3 Responses to Which Decoders Work on Older Engines?

  • don batmansays:

    pretty much any non-board style decoder should work for you. Isolate the motor electrically from the frame , make sure frame halfs are isolated from each other.

    I am in N scale – so my stuff never gets close to 1 amp draw. Not sure about HO. You may want to use 1 1/2 amp decoders to be on the safe side.

  • Alsays:

    There’s a lot of info on the web about this subject. It boils down to your relative emotional attachment to the loco(s) involved. You want to be sure that they are running smoothly in analog mode before you involve yourself in converting them to DCC. The least expensive mobile decoders have about a 1 amp capacity. To be sure you will be okay, you will need to know what your equipment’s stall current is. Stall current is the amount of current draw shown on a test meter when you force the loco’s drive wheels to stop rotating while current is applied. So long as the metered current draw is lower than the capacity of your decoder, conversion can proceed. I think that Allan Gartner’s website wiringfordcc.com is a good source of information in this area.

  • Billsays:

    Steve,
    Don’t know how old you are talking about. Digitrax, TCS and Soundtrax all provide you the opportunity to find a decoder based on the loco you are looking to convert. The Digitrax site covers a wider range. I use it to find out what amperage capacity I need then go elsewhere as I don’t care for the sound files in Digitrax. If you don’t want sound their decoders are fine. I have loco’s from the 90’s and can find them all there.
    If you are looking for much older then you can try to find a conversion for your model on line, You tube or a forum. No luck there then you can still do it but results will depend to a large extent on how prepared you are to do this. You have to measure the maximum current draw to start(stall current). Make sure the motor is isolated from the track power then figure out how much space you have or can create and look to different manufacturers for decoders that fit and provide the current you need.
    If you are really old locos you may want to convert to newer cam motors to reduce the current draw.
    Good luck.

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