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Need DCC help

Started by joshuawoodz, March 28, 2023, 07:43:23 PM

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Purchased a GE 44 ton Switcher that said dcc ready on ebay.  When I went to put a dcc decoder in the dcc is not an 8 pin socket but a line of metal tabs.  Is there a decoder that snaps into place or do I need to solder a dcc decoder on?  I tried to attach a picture from Facebook, not sure if it will work.


This is for a TCS hard wired decoder. It will work with any 8 wire decoder.                 Joe

Ralph S

Let me get this straight, when Bachmann states that the locomotive is DCC ready, does it mean that you have to perform a rewire , i.e., soldering of more than wire to make the loco DCC capable, as you have shown in the TCS url.

Below image shows different Bachmann labels for DCC ready, and the last one states DCC.

I was thinking of purchasing the GE 44-ton switcher that is DCC ready, but it you are stating that DCC ready means making circuit modifications then DCC ready is not "plug and play" capable.

I haven't found the GE-40 ton switcher in DCC, only the GE-45 ton (as shown in bottom label in image).

I'm not setup to perform circuit modifications yet, no work bench, so DCC ready really means it's not Plug and Play.  Am I correct in this assumption on Bachmann locomotives?.


I don't own a 44-tonner, but all the other Bachmann 'DCC Ready' locos I have were plug and play out of the box. The only time any hard wiring was involved was when I also wanted to add sound.

If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.


The ONLY thing DCC ready means is that the motor leads are isolated from the track pickup leads. This is a must for DCC as the track power must pass through the decoder, and not be fed directly into the motor.

DCC ready locomotives can have a socket for plug n play decoders, but that is not necessary to be DCC ready. It is best to do some research on the locomotive you want to purchase before you buy if you're not comfortable hardwiring a decoder.   
Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA

Ralph S

The main reason I am not wanting to perform this DC to DCC modification is that I'm so far, not set up with a meticulous shop bench where I can peacefully perform circuit modifications   Maybe once I get a better handle on my shop bench, like owning a Dremel, smaller soldering iron, etc, then and maybe I'll tackle that.  I'm still in the initial phase of using hammers, large pieces of wood, large screws, tweezers, small screw drivers, and large soldering irons phase.


I've always paid a tech to do DCC/sound installation work. For 100 bucks or whatever the charge is, you know it will work right and you won't be frying any expensive components because you did something stupid somewhere. Or poking the soldering iron through the tender shell. Which I have seen done.

Also, I always thought that when you said "DCC," you also meant "sound."  It's beyond me why anybody would want to put DCC into a locomotive but leave it a silent runner. You can always turn the sound off if you don't like it, but somewhere along one someone will want it.

While I'm talking about sound, the other thing I don't understand is why some folks want to turn it down so low that you can't hear it more than 3 feet away from the engine.  I get it that some places have multiple engines running, and I'm usually operating by myself, but that soft volume thing is something I just don't get it. Real trains are LOUD, especially if you have ridden inside a steam locomotive cab at speed.


Quote from: trainman203 on April 24, 2023, 05:40:09 PMAlso, I always thought that when you said "DCC," you also meant "sound."  It's beyond me why anybody would want to put DCC into a locomotive but leave it a silent runner. You can always turn the sound off if you don't like it, but somewhere along one someone will want it.

You model a steam shortline so you don't have to deal with a room full of diesels idling, including those on the other end of the railroad that is supposed to be a hundred miles away. The cumulative effect can be maddening, and certainly doesn't sound like a real railroad anymore. A little sound goes a long way.

So, if I am only going to have a couple of sound equipped locomotives why would I put a $100 decoder with complex wiring in a locomotive when  $20 decoder will do exactly what I want it to do? Especially if I am spending the extra $80 for features I am going to disable anyway? If I'm going to spend that kind of money on a decoder, it will be something that overcomes some of the shortcomings of DCC, like a BlueRail decoder that uses Bluetooth instead of the track to transmit the DCC signal.

To answer Ralph, though, don't let the lack of a workbench stop you from doing what you want to do. Most of my modelling has been done at the kitchen table. I do not have a workbench and haven't for over 15 years. I've wired decoders there, built a myriad of kits, and even built track including many switches. It has worked because I made it work. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. If you wait for the ideal conditions you'll never get anything done.
Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA


I don't know about other brands of decoders, but Soundtraxx decoders have CV 113, which has two functions. The first is that it keeps the sound turned off until you either move the engine or activate a function like the whistle or bell. The second is that you can set a timer at any interval you wish to turn the sound off once it's on and the engine standing still. So I never have that problem with multiple inactive engines creating unneeded sound. Hot steam engines at rest make a whole lot of noise too, between the blower, the air pump, the injector, and the dynamo if the headlight is on.  And mine are all set to go silent after 5 seconds.

If you want only a couple of engines sound equipped, well, yes, a limited function cheap decoder will do. And I can see that in a diesel consist, really, only the lead unit needs sound.  I couldn't live like that though.  Every engine actively used on my layout has sound. And there's a lot of them. It took money and time to get there but I have what I want.

And, about the work bench.  At one house I have a card table, which is mostly adequate but collects too much junk most of the time and requires frequent clean off and organization. The other place, all I have is a TV dinner table. I have to say, it is too little for anything meaningful to happen on other than coupler and wheel set installations.  I have built a couple of boxcar kits on it, and the experience is totally frustrating, not having enough room for the tools needed, having to go into a toolbox all the time, and having stuff roll off.

I knew a guy in Baton Rouge with one of those giant triple-garage filling layouts.  He had a shop that was the size of a small bedroom. Multiple test tracks down one entire side, another side was a 12 foot long work surface, another side had a drill press, saws, and a paint booth. I don't remember what else, but it was beyond the wildest dreams of anything I might ever have.  The guy had retired from a Railroad management position so, of course, everything was super organized, with all the tools hanging in the right place on pegboard walls.

Ralph S

Sorry I don't log in on this forum as often as others do, but when I do, ...I must say "wow", that
the responses are incredible.  Anyway, I'm kinda a neat freak, after working 40 years in my work environment kinda makes one think like work.  "A clean work bench is a safe workbench".
The guy in Baton Rouge with his bench working in another area, would be great for me, but alas, I don't have the work space for that.  As for having placing or performing work on the kitchen table, my wife would go nuclear/postal/you name it on me.  Let alone the fact that DCC decoders with sound make noise ...but in the kitchen?

I kinda like the idea of having only a few engines with sound, since all of my layout will be in the same room.  Like it was stated "...having to deal with a room full of diesels idling, including those on the other end of the railroad, i.e., across the 16 x 20 ft room (layout) that is supposed to be a hundred miles away" makes sense to me.  Let alone the added cost of the high price sound decoders.  I wonder why Bachmann doesn't sell cheaper versions of the sound decoders.

Anyway, after careful consideration of all the responses, I committed to one day convert a few of my old locos with maybe a DCC simple decoder.  I also will do something a little different in that, my workbench will be part of the train layout, where one leg will enter/exit the workbench area. That area can also be my track programming area.  Just remember too much noise will wake a sleeping beauty.

This brings up another topic, that I'll address in the general discussion area. 


Bachmann used to provide in certain engines an incredibly stripped down sound decoder called "sound value."But I don't believe it was offered for sale separately.

These typically are replaced by sound – oriented modelers with more advanced decoders and may be for sale cheap on eBay, Check.


I have one Bachmann Engine that came with a sound value decoder which I intend leaving in that engine, at least for a while. And that is the USRA Mikado.  The only reason I would do that is that two of the whistles in there are very beautiful sounding and pleasing to me, and both of been dropped from the Soundtraxx library.  They are the Southern 3 chime and the Crosby 3 chime.  Whistles by those names appear in newer Soundtraxx decoders, but they are not the same sound, and not as nice to my ear.


Hi JWard; "The ONLY thing DCC ready means is that motor leads are isolated from the track pickup leads."
I agree... but have trouble with it too.

"DCC Ready" should mean it's designed to be "easily upgraded" to DCC. When you must solder install, snip wires, etc then it was not truly DCC ready. Any DC loco can be converted to DCC, depending on how much re-designing you have the skills to perform. Ho-hum...


You always have to solder the wires to the speaker.

I despise soldering.  Always have.