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Author Topic: DCC conversion of a standard Bachman Northern 4-8-4  (Read 9534 times)
lrbusjockey


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« on: March 26, 2013, 09:49:09 PM »

I am such a newbie to the world of N gauge model railroading.  I am just getting started on  my layout which will reflect the city of Chattanooga, TN and the surrounding are during the 1950-60's.  I have several older Bachman steam locos that I would like to convert to DCC.  Does anyone have information as to how to do this for the standard Northern 4-8-4?
Also have a Norfolk and Western Class J that I would like to convert.

Thanks
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termite

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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 05:07:21 AM »

The J is fairly easy. Once you get the shell off the tender, there is a circuit board that has numbered holes (some with jumpers on them) take the jumpers off and solder the wires from the decoder in the holes. there should be a diagram in the paper work that comes with the J showing which wire goes where.
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skipgear


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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 10:48:19 AM »

The early standard line J is not the same as the Spectrum J. It is not such an easy install as you have to dissassemble the loco to issolate the motor and headlight. It also lacks tender pickup so it can be sketchy on dirty track with only the drivers and in some cases, trailing truck used as pickup.

Before installing DCC in the loco, confirm that it works. Many of the old J's suffered from axle gear cracks that rendered them useless. I have a box full of parts to confirm that. At least 8 of them in parts and pieces that between all them, there are not enough parts to make one.
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Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950
termite

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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 02:04:37 PM »

Oops, sorry about that Tony, I did the one thing you should never do. I assumed he had a late version of the J, instead of asking which one he had Embarrassed
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lrbusjockey


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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2013, 08:07:58 PM »

Hey, Tony.....thanks for the info. I have placed the 'J' on a test track and it runs.  However, the main drive wheels seem to separate from the frame.  Is this normal.  The forward and trailing trucks seem to be functioning normally.
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skipgear


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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2013, 09:21:23 PM »

Sounds like it is destined for the junk pile. The axles are cracked and allow the drivers to slip. This was a big problem with Bachmann locos of that era.

The new J is 10 times the loco that the old one was. The new Northern is much improved also and both nolonger use the white nylon for the gears so no more cracked gears/axles.
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Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950
Mike C

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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2013, 11:40:16 AM »

It doesent have to be a total loss though. Bachmann has a great repair policy. Contact Laura in the service dept. and she will tell you what to do. Basically you will send the loco and I think 25 bucks to the service dept, and they will most likely send you back a brand new loco. ( If they are in stock )  otherwise they will probably give you other options depending on what they have at the time.......Mike
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rustycoupler

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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 04:48:15 PM »

I just bought a new standard line 4-8-4 and it runs great, i would like to convert it to dcc. Is there a walk through with pictures for this loco? The biggest problem i think i am going to have is keeping the drivetrain together during dissasembly. Then getting it back  in quarter. 
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Moose

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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 03:11:57 PM »

Mr RustyCoupler,

I plan on converting a 2012 version of the Bachmann 4-8-4 one of these days. I took a few photos & notes with the shell off a few weeks ago, otherwise, no dis-assembly.

DCC Conversion notes:
1. Split frame
2. Shell removal requires removal of three screws and prying shell aft sides away at cab floor slots
3. Locomotive electrical pick-ups not visible with only shell removal
   (Spookshow.net states forward six drivers are electrical pick-ups as are the pilot & trailing trucks (one track each)
4. Motor electrical pick-up via small metal contacts which are bent around frame slots
5. Threaded shafts for the shell aft two fasteners block running wires from motor area to locomotive aft end
6. Shell inside contours appear to be snug to the split frame contours, not allowing pathes for light, electrical pick-up or motor wiring
7. Tender was not disassembled, however, unlikely that it can be so (probably glued shut, is very light therefore probably all plastic, etc.); A DCC-ready tender would be the best solution for housing a decoder and gaining additional electrical contact.

NOTE: How does one contact an Administrator on this site? I tried to upload a photo of the loco with the shell off, but received an error stating the file exceeded the upload folder size. However, the photo did not exceed the size limit. What the hey?
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 03:15:30 PM by Moose » Logged
richg
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 03:32:18 PM »

SOP is to use a photo hosting service like Photo Bucket.

http://s98.photobucket.com/

Rich
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Riptrack

Bad Order


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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2013, 07:55:28 PM »

The tender on the SF northern 4-8-4's (coal tender) does come apart but can't say for certain if the oil tenders do as I haven't owned one of those yet. I've taken a Richmond Controls mod for the 4-8-4 northern and added electrical wipers to the tender axles for better electrical pickup. Two other wire attach to the motor on the steamer and is connected at the drawbar with a mini plug to the tender.
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If someone comes up to you and says,..."Smile....Your On Candid Camera!!"......You just got punked at your model railroad club!!
skipgear


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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 11:38:51 PM »

Converting one is not hard but you really need to add tender pickup to get the most out of it.

There is plenty or room to run wires as the shell does not fit the mechanism tightly.

One thing to note...the first one I did had issues where it would randomly short the DCC system. It turned out that the motor, without the original frame contact tabs, could twist enough in the frame to allow the case to short between the two frame halves. Use some tape to insulate everything around the motor before reinstalling.

Here is the last one I did, with a ConCor extended range tender from a Berkshire behind it.



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Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950
rustycoupler

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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2013, 12:49:10 PM »

 Skipgear, did you have to seperate the frame halves to do the conversion? It looks to me to isolate the motor this has to be done.
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skipgear


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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2013, 11:43:38 PM »

Skipgear, did you have to seperate the frame halves to do the conversion? It looks to me to isolate the motor this has to be done.

I don't believe you need to. The motor is fairly well exposed in the frame and the frame contact are just friction fit. I did anyhow because I also swapped the traction tire driver from the #3 axle location to the #4 so it would pull better. This is a really easy loco to work on. It's not hard to put back together once you get it apart. There is an exploded view included with the loco that helps.
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Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950
rustycoupler

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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2013, 03:42:04 PM »

Another question would be is, do you remove the brush caps to solder the wires on or just leave them.
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