2017-04.2: Brass steam locomotive decoder swap

13 Apr 2017

Average: 4.6 (11 votes)
19:42 - Apr 2017 Act II - Brass steam locomotive decoder swap (2017)

Last month Matt Herman from ESU demonstrated the features of their  “Full Throttle” LokSound steam sound decoder.  This time around, he and host Trevor Marshall discuss the process of changing out decoders in brass steam locomotives.

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tpmarshall's picture

At the end of this segment, Matt says he looks forward to seeing some video of these locomotives running on my layout. Well, I'm happy to oblige!

Matt (and others): You can check out the "video" category on my blog to see a few from February, 2017 - including both 10-wheelers and 2-6-0s.


Enjoy if you go exploring!

- Trevor

LV.U23B.501's picture

How about filming a DCC and Sound install on an Overland Models brass diesel for your next episode?  

Warflight's picture

I never got that... cutting the 8 pin from a decoder to hardwire. I have always wondered if it would be better to build an 8 pin socket, hardwire that in, and then plug the 8 pin decoder in. That way, should you ever need, or just want to replace the decoder somewhere down the line, it's all now "plug and play".

Just something that I think about, now that we live in a world of modular layouts, and plug and play locos and the like.

tpmarshall's picture

Hi "Warflight":

It depends on the specific model - and each modeler's preference will vary - but for me, there are a few potential benefits to hardwiring decoders.

- In the case of this model, the space inside the locomotive is pretty tight - too tight to add a plug/socket.

- The NMRA plug on decoders is not insulated - and this was installed inside a brass model. Adding insulation to the plug/socket might have made the assembly bulkier and also less flexible for fitting into the boiler.

- There are more wires on the decoder than can be accommodated by the eight-pin plug/socket assembly, so I would be hardwiring some of the wires anyway - or adding more plugs/sockets, which would take up additional space in the boiler which I didn't have.

- Plugs/sockets might work themselves loose over time, since a locomotive can experience a fair bit of vibration. Hardwiring guarantees that's not going to happen.

Again - everybody's preferences will vary. Some will find the plug/socket to be beneficial. Others will not. Hardwiring works for me, given that I don't plan to replace this decoder - something easier to say now that the locomotive is equipped with an ESU decoder that can be upgraded via a download, instead of needing to be physically removed and sent back to the manufacturer.

I hope this helps.

Happy modeling!

- Trevor