I don't think my question made it through the ether- so I will pose it again, primarily to Allan, but also to anyone else who cares to respond. I have become the owner of several very nice Euro engines, i.e., Roco, Fleischmann, Piko, Jouef, Liliput, Hornby, Bachmann Branchline. Mostly recent production, but some older and still almost new. Oh, also have a Marklin with a decoder already installed. I have received a Digitrax Zephyr system. I want to run these on it. Where do I start to research decoders for these engines? I know Bachmann has suggested decoders on their UK website, haven't found any others as yet. Also will the Marklin run with the Digitrax unit or will I need to change the decoder. That's it, let me know if possible.

-- Steve Trout (, September 08, 2003


I do not have many answers concerning which decoders to which engine, however, i do know that the "Marklin Digital" system is not compatible with other forms of DCC. The two main reasons being that Marklin is intended primarily for use with their own AC powered trains. The second reason is that the "Marklin Digital" system does not follow the standards of manufacture as specified by the American "National Model Railroad Association." and thus has an incompatible control signal. The NMRA standards are what allows a modeler to buy and install a DCC system of their choice with out the worry of having to make sure all the locomotives in their roster have compatible decoders as all NMRA standard built decoders can operate on NMRA stanadard built DCC systems.

-- James R. Mitich (, September 10, 2003.


No, you question didn't fall into the ether. I've just been too tied up lately. The ability for other experts to answer is what makes this forum the ideal place to ask your question.

I still haven't gotten to my Roco and Fleishmann locos. They have been #2 on the list for a while, but new #1's keep getting in the way. This spring, hail totalled my garden railway. I'm still fixing it. My website, long overdue for a facelift, is getting it now. Check it out! I'm bummed about not doing either of these locos, too. They are really nice looking machines.

Even if I had done them, the information may not help. It seems no two locos, even the same model by the same manufacturer, are a like. Over time, every manufacturer makes changes.

You have a number of locos I have never seen. No matter. I have not met a locomotive yet that I could not put a decoder in. It may not have been easy, but it was always doable. There are really only a few things you need to worry about and only one of them is important.

Important: MAKE SURE THE MOTOR TERMINALS ARE ISOLATED FROM THE FRAME OF THE LOCO. Sometimes the frame of the motor is one of the motor terminals. If you have two wires going to two terminals on the frame, chances are you are good to go. If you are not good with an ohm meter, have a friend check it out for you. If you don't have two wires, you will need to isolate the motor. THESE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AS YOU CAN DESTROY THE DECODER.

It is easily sailing from here.

The NMRA specifies which wheels the red and black go to. See my website or the NMRA's. If you get them backwards, not only will you not hurt anything, you may not even notice it.

The gray and orange go to the motor. Which terminal? Don't sweat it. If you get it wrong, just switch them. Many decoders have a CV you can alter to change the motor direction without switching the wires. I personally prefer to switch the wires so I can program my CVs without worrying about which loco I wired wrong. It's not a big deal, so the decision is yours.

If the headlight is connected to the frame, you can leave it and only attach the white wire to the headlight. It will run at half brightness. I have found in such situations, that it is just as easy to rip out the headlight and replace it with a grain of wheat bulb that has two wires going to it. I suppose there may be some locos that you cannot do this to, but I haven't encountered one yet.

Be sure to see my section on wiring locomotives. They really are not hard. I provide the write-ups so that if you are fortunate to have a particular model I do, you won't have any guess work. The guess work won't kill you and as long as you are careful about the motor and the frame, you won't kill the decoder either.

-- Allan Gartner (, September 10, 2003.

Hi, Wiring european locos is much the same as American outline, the same rules apply. Because of their smaller size some modification of the chassis may be required if they are not DCC ready. One major point to watch out for is that European models have RF suppresion installed, in the form of capacitors, inductors or resitors.Remove all of these,as they affect slow speed running with silent drive decoders (high frequency drive).Jumpy slow speed running. The old Fleischmann pancake motors have one side connected to the chassis on the motor circiut pcb, it needs to be cut, to prevent a short to the chassis. I have used lenz decoders 1014 is nice,TCS both the T1 and M1 are very nice. As for European decoders the Viessmann 5246 has to be almost the best decoder on the market.Now my decoder of choice. CT elektronic 50 is also very good but the 51 that replaces it has had some problems. I hope this is of some help. Regards Tom Hobson Adelaide ,South Australia

-- Tom Hobson (, May 11, 2004.

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