Rivarossi DCC Challenger (late model)

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I would appreciate any helpful hints on installing a Digitrax 121 decoder into a late model(2002) Rivarossi Challenger. (HO scale) Specifically disassembly of loco and whether or not headlight must be replaced. Also, how to get the reverse light to operate with DCC.

-- Ray von Bober (rlbober@hotmail.com), February 25, 2003


Rivarossi has made so many improvements (that's a good thing!) over the years, it is impossible for me to keep up. It seems every time I open one of their Challengers, it is different than before.

Manufacturers are changing decoders for the better.

Short of my web page becoming a money maker so that I can constantly update it, the best any of us can do, and this applies to myself as well, is look through the collection of locomotive write-ups and pick the one that most applies to you. It may not completely apply to you, but it's definitely better than starting from scratch!

If you are willing to write up the differences you found, I would welcome them as addition to the website so that others may benefit.

Regarding the headlight, there is one thing to check for and one thing to keep in mind. The thing to check for is how hard is it to connect the blue and white wires to the headlight. While either wire pass through a metal hole that could rub and wear through the insulation? Worse, is one side of the headlight connected to the frame of the locomotive for it's electrical connection (or in some other way directly connected to the pick ups that cannot be easily defeated.

I found in an earlier locomotive I worked on, defeating the connection to the pick ups was too much work.

The thing to keep in mind is that grain of wheat bulbs are relatively cheap. You have to be on a mighty tight budget to not be able to afford them. More importantly, a wiring error to the existing headlight has the potential of blowing a a decoder. Compare the cost of the decoder to replacing the headlight. If that doesn't convince you, factor in how much trouble it will be isolate the existing headlight.

You by no means must replace the headlight. I simply recommend you do so when isolating the existing headlight is too much trouble or the risk of damaging the decoder is there.

I have no idea exactly what the particular Rivarossi you have is like, but you should not have any trouble deciding if it is easy to isolate the headlight or if it is easier to simply replace it.

-- Allan Gartner (bigboy@WiringForDCC.com), February 28, 2003.

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