Athean f59phi - installing older shell on newer DCC model

warnerj01 Apr 12, 2018

  1. warnerj01

    warnerj01 TrainBoard Member

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    Hi guys,

    I want to add DCC and possibly sound to my Seattle Sounder f59phi. This model uses the older shell.

    I saw on Spookshow that the shells are fairly similar and that a few mods to the shell may allow me to put the old style shell on the newer DC or DCC/sound model.

    1. Has anyone tried putting the older style f59phi shell on the newer model? I'm willing to modify the boards and shell, so that's not a problem. Was it really hard?

    2. Does the newer model, even the DC version, run that much better that it is worth buying a new model and swap the shells? I love running my 2 Seattle Sounder sets and their locos, I also have a third spare one. I am willing to spend the money on the new body. Once I swap the shell, I plan to not use or sell the old loco and the unused shell.
     
  2. Ryan Wilkerson

    Ryan Wilkerson TrainBoard Member

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    I recently installed an ESU non-sound decoder (Part# 54650 LokPilot V4.0 Direct Micro OEM) in a first generation F59.
    You might be able to get the sound version of this decoder and install it and get superior sound and motor operation (compared to the decoder that comes from Athearn)
    Hopefully you can get to this page and see the photos: https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=44148.0
     
  3. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    YES! The old version has a 3-pole motor. The new version has a 5-pole motor.
     
  4. warnerj01

    warnerj01 TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the info, I can't see the Pictures until my account is approved. Just waiting on that.
     
  5. Ryan Wilkerson

    Ryan Wilkerson TrainBoard Member

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    My son just ran the F59 Coaster with the ESU decoder and he commented that it never hesitated or stopped with three loops around the layout. This is an older layout and some locomotives have problems with the old Atlas switches.
     
  6. warnerj01

    warnerj01 TrainBoard Member

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    My current N scale Sounder Locos are rock solid runners.

    I am trying to decide if I should
    1. Upgrade the older model locos with DCC decoders.
    2. Is it worth putting sound in these Locos? Great Sound or not worth it.
    3. buy the new DCC and Sound model and figure out how to install the old shell on the new frame.
     
  7. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    I have a stock 2nd generation Athearn F59PH with Tsunami sound. Unfortunately, I shorted the decoder after removing it and putting it back (not knowing the speaker wires also served as insulation from the motor). Athearn told me it costs over $100 to replace it. But I'd need a new sound decoder anyway as the stock doesn't seem to offer any solder points for additional lighting functions (I want to install working ditch lights). Should I go Tsunami 2 or another brand? Anyone know which one would fit, and give me additional lighting functions?
     
  8. Ryan Wilkerson

    Ryan Wilkerson TrainBoard Member

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    How comfortable are you with installing DCC?
    If it were me (I've done ~100 DCC installs...mostly drop-in style), I'd upgrade the older model with either straight DCC or go with sound. If you're going to go with sound, get the best. In my opinion that would be ESU. The Tsunami isn't as flexible and doesn't sound as good.
    You have two of these right? If so, you could install a non-sound ESU decoder in one and see how it goes. If if goes well, convert the other one to DCC with sound.
    http://www.spookshow.net/loco/f59ph.html
     
  9. Ryan Wilkerson

    Ryan Wilkerson TrainBoard Member

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    I'd go with ESU. I used a 54650 (non-sound) in my F59. It's not a perfect fit (interior light pipes were removed) but it runs really well. I plan to install individual LED lighting.
    Streamlined Back Shops has a variety of ESU decoders....You can get a good setup for $100 or less.
    http://store.sbs4dcc.com/ESU54650LokPilotV4.0DirectMicroOEMNMRADCCDecoderDrop-InforPost-.aspx
    -Ryan

     
  10. warnerj01

    warnerj01 TrainBoard Member

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    While I haven't installed a decoder yet, I'm fairly confident I can do it. I've repaired DC locos and soldered some circuits.

    I have 3 Sounder locos, but one is a duplicate road #.

    I found a new donor f59phi with DCC and sound for $135 shipped; it has the tsunami Sound decoder and newer motor.

    I'm trying to determine if I should buy that loco and figure out how to modify the Sounder shell to fit the new frame or buy a nicer ESU decoder and install it in the older model.
     
  11. Ryan Wilkerson

    Ryan Wilkerson TrainBoard Member

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    If you're new to DCC, trying to learn on an expensive decoder might not be the best idea. Learning usually involves making mistakes and doing so with an $85 decoder wouldn't be how I'd want to start. If you are planning to run two locomotives together, I would recommend using the same decoder brand for both, even if one is sound and the other is non-sound.
     
  12. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    I once had the older version F59PHI (Metrolink). I think it was actually my first N scale loco when I became n N scaler in 2006. After finding out there was no decoder for it (not DCC-friendly), I ended up selling it and buying the newer version with sound.
     

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