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Author Topic: Athearn "Blue Box" F-7s and Do-It-Yourself DCC Conversions  (Read 2167 times)

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« on: August 30, 2008, 10:48:27 PM »

(1) Are Athearn "Blue Box F-7s DCC ready?

(2) In an earlier discussion (3/10/08), it was suggested that I use the Digitrax DH163AT (with the top and bottom clips) decoder.  I bought 4 Digitrax DH163AT decoders.  Is this advice the same for both the older Athearn diesels and the "Blue Box" Athearn diesels?  If not, then I will use these in just the older Athearn diesels.

(3) In that same discussion, I was cautioned I need to isolate the motor (with paper or electrical tape).   Is this advice the same for both the older Athearn diesels and the "Blue Box" Athearn diesels?  In Athearn's "exploded" drawing for F-7A diesels, there are motor mount pads.

(4)  In that same discussion, I was cautioned that the clips hold the motor together and hold the brushes and springs in place...and to be careful in pulling them off or be prepared to so some searching.  Is this advice the same for both the older Athearn diesels and the "Blue Box" Athearn diesels?  The reason that I ask this question is that when I examined Athearn's "exploded" F-7A drawing for a "Blue Box" F-7A, I didn't see brushes and springs anywhere in the drawing...the engine uses a "worm drive and motor mount screws hold the engine in place.
(5) Is the Digitrax DH163AT the right decoder for the Athearn "Blue Box" F-7 diesels or for only the older Athearn diesels?  If not, what is the right Digitrax decoder to use with an Athearn F-7 "Blue Box" diesel?

(6) Do I isolate the headlight, too?  I saw in another recent discussion on DCC installations that the headlight mounting bracket is connected to the frame.

I am just trying to be careful here before I do anything.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2008, 10:50:18 PM by BradKT » Logged
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.

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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2008, 11:30:54 AM »

What you are basically asking is whether Athearn "Blue Box" locomotives are the same as the  older, pre-Genesis locomotives.  I believe the answer is yes.

If you visit Athearn's website, they actually list three series of locomotives - Genesis, Ready To Run, and Kit.  I believe the RTR and kit are both what you call Blue Box.

In any event, if you have both a Blue Box and an older locomotive, it takes only seconds to pop off the shells and compare.  The older version is not really DCC ready but the decoder with the clips makes it so.  It appears that you have done your homework and understand the steps and have only one real question on wiring up the decoder - the headlight.

One side of the headlight lamp is connected to the chassis via the mounting bracket, at least on the older locomotives.   This leaves you with two choices.  Either isolate the headlight from the bracket and solder the white and blue wires to it or leave it as is and solder the white wire to the tip of the lamp.  The latter is simpler and gives a somewhat dimmer, much longer lasting headlight.  The only down side is that the headlight brightness will change if you are  running an analogue locomotive at the same time.

Remove the existing motor clips slowly and/or keep a finger over the end near the motor commutator.  Then the springs will not launch themselves into outer space.  Save a second by yanking the clips off and spend an hour looking for the springs.

Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
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