New to DCC : LUSENET : Wiring for DCC : One Thread

I am new to DCC. I am in the process of planning a new HO layout with my son. We have about the space of three 4x8 tables to use. Possibly a little more. We look to operate probably no more than three or four trains at a time, as all we want is to see the the trains go. I suppose my two main questions are at this point, (1) Can non DCC locomotives be converted to DCC? (2) I have heard people say they can run 10 trains at once with NO special wiring. Is this possible? Thanx in advance.


-- Robert L. Merritt (, October 19, 2003


1) Qualified yes - some engines just don't seem to have room for decoders, but electrically speaking I know of no reason that most engines could not be converted. I have seen some discussion on coreless motors having problems, but I don't have any coreless motors so I have not pursued the problem.

2) Another qualified yes. You can have a single loop of track with 10 trains running on it providing you have the power. "Special" wiring in the case of a loop is feeders to the rail every 3 to 6 feet from a common buss. Add reverse loops, lots of switches, etc. and wiring is still easier than dc, but certainly more complex than a loop. Most DCC users break their layouts into sections for power distribution and troubleshooting (on a single loop with 10 trains and one power block a single short can shut the whole thing down - and then you have to figure out which train did it)

-- Charles Lewis (, October 20, 2003.


I have a few more things to add to this discussion. These are lessons I have learned with helping my girlfriend design and build a layout.

In response to question one: Can non DCC locomotives be converted to DCC?

It has been my experience in my custom model paint business that any DC powered model train locomotive (A.C. Powered Lionel Types require special equipment to run off DCC) can be converted to DCC. THe most common problem as mentioned by Mr Lewis is finding a decoder small eneugh to fit inside small switcher type locomotives. I have sucessfully installed 1 amp decoder made for Z Scale in side of Porter 20 ton diesle switcher(HO Scale). But between the motor, the gear box, the wheels, the electrical picups, and the decoder, I almsot didnt get the shell back on. So the answer is yes, depending on howmuch time and effort you are willing to devote to installing it.

The socond most common problem I have is finding decoders with high eneugh amperage ratings for older locomotives. I have one client who is having me custom paint alot of Brass Locomotives for him. He is also specifying decoder installations. These locomotives are 30 to 35 years old and thus draw signfigantly higher ampergaes than modern units. On a 4-6-2 I just finished the motor was drawing a whopping 8 amps in the stall test. The only decoder available we could find in a timely fashion was one intended for G scale. Fortunatly to the roomy tender, Its size was not an issiue.

In regards to your second question: I have heard people say they can run 10 trains at once with NO special wiring. Is this possible?

Again yes this is. The layout my girlfriend and I are designing is in the 4' X 12' range and is going to be a modular set up. The reverse loops and wyes that Mr. Lewis Refers to are not on this layout and thus those wiring considerations are eliminated. Even so, where applicable we are still going to follow the wiring reccomendations as suggested by Mr. Gartner in the main Wiring For DCC website. This will ensure reliablity and ease of maintainence many years down the road.

While I am here I would like to reccomend a system configuration to you. In analysing the style of operations my girlfriend would like on her layout we found that at most no more that two trains would be running at a time with a third on very rare exceptions. This is close to what you propose to be running. But with a maximum of Four to Five trains in your case.

The DCC package we found to suit our situation best is the following package.

1. Digitrax Zephyr Starter Set 2. DT300 Throttles 4. UP-5 Universal Connection Panels.

I reccomend the same package to you but since you are running than we are I also reccomend an additional DB-150 Booster to balance out your power needs on your slightly larger layout.

I just want to mention real fast that all Equipment cited are Digitrax Products.

Glad I could be of assistance.


James R. Mitich

-- James R. Mitich (, October 20, 2003.

Regarding coreless motors, they don't offer a big problem, but you have to use the right sort of decoders. They don't like the low control frequencies used in older decoders, but many newer decoders offer a high control frequency as an option. I'm very happy with Zimo decoders, all of which have this feature. Teh MX62 is all small enough to be fitted in most small steamers.

-- Jan Frelin (, October 31, 2003.

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